Tag Archive | special needs children

Hello 2015!!

New year 2015

 

I know I am a little late, but honestly I don’t start my new year resolutions until after my birthday on the 5th. Why deprive myself of cake and celebration!?! I made it another year and, dang it, I earned that slice of cake!

So my new year starts when winter break is over and normal life resumes. Well as close to normal as this bunch can get.

I have thought about my new year’s resolution for sometime now. Months actually! I feel like 2014 was my year to find myself. I found out that I have a passion for homesteading that I never knew was there. And not only homesteading, but natural living, without all the chemicals and medications. I like being able to keep my family healthy without the use of antibiotics or over the counter drugs. I like cooking from scratch and knowing what is going into my food and that the items are of the best quality that I can find.

But there were many areas that I floundered at. I don’t want to say fail because that is so negative. I feel like I never failed. I may not have put my best effort in to them, but I never failed, so floundered is the perfect description.

So here they are my resolutions:

  1. Learn more and love life~ Enjoy it, every minute! I noticed my anxiety has flared up a little bit and I want to get a handle on it better so I can accomplish this task. Just get healthier in general. I see too many family members fighting different diseases and I don’t want that. I wanna be around for a long, long time.
  2. Expand our homesteading. I would love to get where we can raise our own meat and add some more egg layers to our little flock. Ducks are coming only because they are so cute!
  3. Separate myself from the negativity. Too many times I let other people’s life choices stress me out and worry me. Yes, they are my family and I love them, but they are not my immediate (in my household) family and those are the ones that need my guidance and attention. So I am going to learn to Let it go! (cue Frozen song here)
  4. Blog more and interact with more bloggers. Expand this and possibly make a business that will thrive and I can be extremely proud of.
  5. Spend more time with my kids. This year my oldest is turning 18!!! How did that happen I have no idea?!? But I feel like I blinked and her childhood was gone. So I am using that as an eye opener and cherishing every moment I have left with them all.

To help me with these, I will probably set little mini goals each month. I seem to do well with a to do list type thing. Sometimes I get so busy with just the everyday stuff that I look up and a whole month has gone by. I would like to try to slow down a bit and that is my overall theme of the year.

Slow down and enjoy being me!

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My Favorite Childhood Holiday Cookie: Pecan Balls

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Growing up my mom wasn’t around a lot, so my memories of traditions are very few. But one thing I do remember is these amazing little bite size cookies. I couldn’t get enough of them. Well one year my mom decided that I was too old and stopped making all the cookies and holiday feast. It all fell on me. I searched every cookbook looking for a pecan ball recipe. What I didn’t know until I got this beautiful thing called internet is that they are actually called Mexican Wedding Cakes.

Then it took quite a few years to perfect the recipe to how I remember them tasting. Now it has become a tradition with my kids and they know it is not Christmas without this cookie! I even got my picky lil man to try them this year and it was instant love.

I really hope you enjoy this cookie as much as my family does.

Mexican Wedding Cakes

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 8 tbs confectioner sugar, plus more for rolling in
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients except pecans with a mixer until well blended. Add pecans and mix.

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I used my smaller cookie scooper on these because I like them to be 1-2 bite size. Scoop and roll dough into round small balls. Place on lightly greased baking sheet.

Pecan Balls

As you can see I put a lot on one sheet because these cookies don’t spread, they hold their form. I managed to get on batch on one sheet. They do puff up a little so you may have a few that are touching but nothing you can easily pull apart.

Bake for 11-12 minutes.

Pecan Balls

As you can see they look almost the same after baked. So you have to do a touch test. You want them a little firm and a very light coloring.

Cool completely then roll in additional confectioner’s sugar. Now if you are like me who absolutely does not wait until they are cool completely; then you will have to roll them again in a day or so. If they last that long!

Pecan Balls

Enjoy!

 

December Preschool

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The holidays are here along with the hustle and bustle. This time of year always throws off our homeschooling schedule. I just have way too much cooking and shopping to do. Along with all the fun holiday activities! There is visiting Santa, Christmas crafts and baking, visiting fun holiday places and watching all those movies. So why not make that a part of homeschooling. I know I learn something new every year, so I am sure your kids will too. Plus your kids are only young once and you want to enjoy these little memories before their too big and too cool to hang with you. Believe me! I know!

Activities planned for the month:

  • Elf on the shelf
  • Putting up our tree
  • Visiting Santa
  • Mailing a letter to Santa
  • Baking Cookies
  • Pinecone Painting
  • G is for Gingerbread~ Gingerbread paint, making gingerbread men or house
  • Learn about reindeers
  • Poinsettias
  • National Cocoa Day~ measuring and mixing (that’s math people!)
  • Grinch day~ Learn about kindness. Pin the heart on the Grinch and grinch juice as a snack. Plus watching old and new version of the movie.
  • Candy Canes~ Cane Hunt, Playdough, Paint and erupting Candy canes
  • Polar Express PJ Party
  • 1st day of Winter
  • Snowball Fight and Homemade Snow Fun
  • Advent Calendar
  • Walt Disney’s B-day December 5
  • New Year’s Eve

 

Field Trips planned:

  • Disney World~ At Hollywood Studios, they have an amazing light display called the Osbourne Family Lights. It is the best display I have ever seen. And, of course, the lighting of the castle at Magic Kingdom. This year Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Olaf are lighting the tree. Very exciting!
  • Park
  • Florida Aquarium
  • Lowry Park Zoo
  • Lowes for the monthly building activity
  • Looking at Christmas lights

Because it’s a busy month, I haven’t planned out everyday. I just made a list and when I need an idea I search through and grab the ones that appeal to me that day.

For more ideas visit my pinterest boards. Christmas Activities for school and December preschool lessons

I also have a Christmas board that has a lot of Elf on the Shelf ideas and Advent Calendar activities.

 

 

Cooking with kids~ Chicken Cordon Bleu

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A long time ago, as in a few months ago, I would just buy those frozen Barber Chicken Cordon Bleu. Times has changed, money is tight and since I would have to buy 4 packs for one meal, it had to go. So I was at the store with my kids, wondering what to fix for dinner. I wanted Chicken Cordon Bleu and knew I had already thawed out chicken at home, decided to fight the urge to buy it premade and made my own with the help of Brianna.

My lovely assistant

My lovely assistant

 

This recipe is very easy for kids to make because it’s pretty hard to screw up and really doesn’t involve any measuring. So I knew it would be perfect for my special child to make. Plus there was no recipe to read just listening to Mom.

Ingredients:

chicken breast~ I use thin sliced, but if you prefer the thicker ones just adjust your cooking time.

Dijon mustard or honey mustard

seasoned bread crumbs

oil or cooking spray

deli sliced ham and swiss cheese

This is what I used, but honestly the ingredients can be switched out to fit your families taste. I would have prefered honey mustard, but didn’t have any.

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Coat both sides of the chicken with a thin layer of Dijon Mustard.

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Then coat with breadcrumbs.

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Saute in a pan until lightly brown on both sides. You can use butter, coconut oil or grape seed oil. This will take about 5-7 minutes depending on the temp of your pan.

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Remove from pan and stick on a cookie sheet. Add ham; as much or as little as you like.

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Another thin layer of mustard.

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Then top with the cheese. Then I pop these in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. I want to make sure the chicken is done and the cheese is melted. Now if you are worried about the cheese getting burned, you could always put the chicken in the oven before you add the mustard and cheese. Bake for 5-10 minutes and then add continue with recipe, baking another 5-10 minutes.

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And then VOILA! The finish project! It was delicious! I usually add a cheesy rice as a side (almost like a risotto) and some corn or broccoli.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

3 year Blogiversary

 

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Growing a large family 3 year blogiversary

 

It was 3 years ago today that I decided to start a blog. A place where I can vent and connect with the world. I also did many searches for large family blogs and couldn’t find any. So I decided that that was the direction I wanted to go. Over the years it has morphed into an eclectic collection of moments in our lives from homeschooling to homesteading. I try to keep it real, but classy and positive at the same time. I hope I have provided some humor along with some ideas and tips to help with your lives. All I ask is that you spread the word.

 

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Now let’s take a look back at my top post over the last 3 years.

First Day of School 2013

Homemade Pizza Dough

Building our Coop de Ville

 

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My Favorite Post:

I’m Southern and I can’t bake biscuits

This is my favorite post because I always ask myself why can’t I make biscuits. I grew up watching Grandma make them. I have tackled some pretty difficult recipes and have honestly impressed the heck out of myself sometimes. But biscuits are my Achilles heel! UPDATE: I still haven’t found and made a good biscuit yet!

Selfie! OH wait am I too close!

Selfie! OH wait am I too close!

 

Theses are the post that sum me up as a person. These post show who I am perfectly.

Our Frugal Disney Vacation

City Girl living a Country life

Check in with my flock

Family Dinners

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Let me know your favorite post and what you would like to see more of.

 

 

Beginning a new school year

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This is from a few years ago, but totally captured how I felt beginning this new school year.

This school year has had so many ups and downs that I am scared to see what the next 8 months bring. I just couldn’t get everything going. I had no motivation. Plus I was lost trying to homeschool 3 kids at 3 different levels. This was a first for me. Even when my girls were all home, they were close to each other that I could teach them all and then give different activities. But this year was different.

I have a High schooler,Cailin, as if that isn’t stressful enough. All the questions of am I doing the right thing? Am I screwing her up for life? Am I giving her enough classes or too much? What about college?!?

Then I have my special needs daughter, Brianna. She learns something but still struggles with 1st to 2nd grade math. We haven’t moved past basic division because she get so frustrated. She loves Science and Nature but hates writing and history. She gets frustrated if I try to help and then in the same breath frustrated that I didn’t help. *SIGH*

Last is my darling son, Dakota, who is extremely smart and retains things very quickly, but HATES SCHOOL!!!!! He would rather play with video games and toys or watch Disney Jr than pick up a crayon. He can write his name and recognize most letters. He just learned to count to 25 but would rather learn adding and telling time. Like I said extremely smart, but also my “I can’t” kid, which I have never had to deal with before.

Needless to say in the last month and half that we have been suppose to be doing school, there were a lot of struggles, tears and me saying I was done. I sat down with the kids a few times and tried to brainstorm what would help all of us. What I heard was

  • I hate being in my room reading from 10 different textbooks (Cailin)
  • I want more science ( Brianna and Cailin)
  • I want more projects or hands on stuff (both again)
  • I want more art (both again)
  • I like stickers, painting, storytime, circle time, fun games and toys, BUT NO COLORING! (demanding  darling son)
  • Cooking (all 3)

For me, it was research time!

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Maybe we were unschooling all along! Snow ball fight in Florida!

 

Unschooling
Unschooling was one of the first methods I checked out. I knew I was tired of worksheets and blah reading. And I also knew I was burned out. And I knew I just didn’t have it in me to be stressed out and worrying about curriculum deadlines. But I was worried about Cailin not having enough credits or requirements to get into culinary school. I knew she would read and learn on a daily basis, but what about Brianna. During the weekends all she does is sleep, walk around the yard or sleep and watch TV. She has no goals, interest, hobbies or independence. She needs me to lead and direct. Then there is Dakota, who as I stated earlier would play video games all day long.
I didn’t like the couple of days we tried it and neither did the kids, except Lil Man. At the same time, there were some readings about how unschooling is letting go of everything. No chores, no rules, eating whatever they want, basically letting them make their choices. Again this is not going to work in my house.
  1. I am a control freak and so is my hubby.
  2. My kids will eat junk food instead of making healthy choices.
  3. I am trying to go organic and that stuff is expensive. If I let my skinny mini special needs child go on free will by the end of the day my groceries will be gone. She doesn’t eat because she is hungry. She eats because it is 8 o’clock, 12 o’clock, 5 o’clock or because she is bored.
  4. I have a VERY hard time getting the kids to do their chores as is, if I let them choose then nothing will be done, other than me listening to Hubby complain.
  5. I have a large family and I am only 1 person!

So some of the ideas didn’t sit well with me.

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Doing a fun project just because we can!

 

Project based learning
Project based learning was next. I liked how it was very hands on and I knew my kids would love that. But it was once again child led. We tried this for a few days. My oldest began a project, did very well, but hasn’t touched it since. My youngest just wants to read the Mo Willems Pigeon books, but no activities to go with them. And Brianna refused to read the book, picked out a cat, started to make a cat but then got frustrated. Once again I helped too much and then not enough.
Meeting time
We sat down again and went over everything we liked and didn’t like about the last few weeks. The things we took away from this meeting were pretty simple. My kids liked when I was teaching them and planning the activities. They didn’t want to have all that responsibility, but they do like a say in what we learn. Which is fine because I love Pinterest and planning all those activities.
My kids hate writing! So I will include that in with other subjects.  Brianna loved Little House in the Big woods and Cailin wants to read Shakespeare. UMMM OK!!! Everyone wants more science. Heck, if all day, everyday was just science they would be happy. Cailin was doing Biology and she liked what they were teaching just not how and Brianna is very interested in animals, insects and plants. Take away textbooks, add some hands on activities, videos, interactive notebooking and field trips~ you got yourself and very fun science curriculum.
I struggled with History and Art. That is not my thing. American history, YES! World History, NO! So I have my mom helping me to put that together and make it more hands on. They liked our curriculum, Story of the World, but wanted art tied into it and more videos and hands on. I have to admit in my we have to finish this now, I would skip a lot of hands on activities. Yup bad mom of the year here. But it’s okay, because I am reformed now! And again, thank God for Pinterest and lovely homeschool blogging moms who have the answer to my struggles.
This helped with my older kids, but what about Dakota. Well for one, he likes to say he is smarter than his sisters. So I being the mom I am told him if he doesn’t do school and they do school eventually he won’t be smarter. Don’t judge! He is my stubborn one and if it works it works. But seriously, I also noticed that if it is something that catches his attention, he will participate. The other day, the girls were observing and drawing in their nature journal outside, which was his idea (a miracle). He had to have a nature journal too. And so he sat, drawing and from time to time running to catch butterflies. That in my book is a success!
In the end
We can’t and won’t be labeled. We are Unschoolers. Everyday is learning if you really pay attention and think. We think we are just living, but living and learning goes hand and hand. So me explaining why the dumbass who just cut me off in the car is a dumbass is learning. Or why we need to go get this for the chickens or why we don’t buy this brand or version of the food. It is valuable information that they are soaking up and storing away.
We are Project Based because we love using our hands and really being able to observe and process it. We love a good project but also know when to move on. It doesn’t consume our lives.
We are Teacher led because my kids want to spend time with me and listen to my knowledge. And let’s be honest, I don’t know how many more years I have with them and I am going to enjoy them. They are getting older you know.
We are Curriculum Based meaning we follow a curriculum but it was set up based on suggestions from the kids. Which must mean we are Child Led also.
Look I don’t know about you, but recently the reality has hit that my kids aren’t staying little. I have a year and a half until my oldest public school daughter graduates and goes off to college and 4 years with Cailin. Those years are going to fly and I just want to enjoy. I want to make memories and laugh. I want to have fun and live. I want to enjoy this season of my life before the next comes around. So I am not looking to check off a box of another school subject done. The only boxes I want to check off is moments lived!
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Picnic time

Challenge update~Harder than I thought, Not giving up

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When I started out on this challenge I thought I had it all planned out and it was going to be fun and exciting to eat new and healthier foods. But, boy, was I wrong. It has been difficult. I have met resistance from my family. Even my kids are saying it is not worth it. Hubby thinks I am crazy. And Grandma doesn’t care one way or the other as long as she is fed 3 times a day. My son has had plenty of meltdowns because Mommy won’t buy him poptarts anymore. At least once a week, I have wanted to just give up, throw the towel in and let the family have back all their favorite junk. Hubby hasn’t helped by wanting to eat out ALL THE TIME.

I am not giving up! I am just rethinking my plan.

First, I am focusing on one thing at a time. I know I said not to overwhelm yourself and it was a case Do as I say, not as I do.

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Step one: Eliminating as much GMO’s from our diet as I can. 

So there are 4 specific items that I have heard could be GMO.

  1. Corn
  2. Wheat
  3. Sugar
  4. Potatoes

Corn is the number 1 thing I keep hearing warnings about being GMO. Which sucks because it’s the only darn vegetable I can get my son to eat. I have tried finding organic frozen corn and haven’t had very good luck. I emailed Publix and asked about their corn. They said they try to stay away from buying GMO corn. But this isn’t a 100% fix. I have also read you can’t even trust the corn from your farmer’s market or fruit stand. I contacted our local farm stand and sure enough they said yeah it probably is. WHAT!?!  So with that being said, I am just limiting our corn intake. Instead of every week, I am doing once in a while. I was able to find a very small bag of organic corn (frozen) at Publix for an insane amount of money. It would take 2-3 bags to feed my family, but worked out great for my corn casserole which only calls for a small amount.

Wheat is the next on my list. I have been going crazy looking for reasonable organic flour. We go through  A LOT of flour because we make most things from scratch. And $5.99 per 5 lb bag was not going to fit in our budget when I am buying 10-20 lbs a month. But after much research, I found that the King Arthur brand is Non-GMO. I pay $4.99 for a 10lb bag of regular flour and King Arthur is $7.99 for the same size bag. I can live with that. Plus I love that it is unbleached and the texture is light and fluffy.

Sugar was the next thing that perked my ears up. Some sugar is not made from sugar cane, but rather sugar beets which is GMO. So I did buy a few small bags of organic sugar that I found at Walmart on sale and added my coupons to it. Wasn’t too bad, but again I go through 10+ pounds of sugar a month. So not feasible. BUT after more research, Domino states on their facebook page that they do not use GMO sugar and it is from Pure sugar cane. Any sugar stating from Pure Sugar cane is good, anything else stay clear of.

Potatoes haven’t gone GMO yet. But the potato big wigs are petitioning to get GMO potatoes approved. Plus it is on the dirty dozen list so I figured let’s be safe and just go organic. I have found the best place is BJ’s for organic potatoes. They had a much bigger bag for the same price of Publix.

So out of my top 4 (and I am sure as I learn; I will add more) 2 items I can keep buying the brands I love, one item I will cut back on and the other I found a good deal. AWESOME!

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How I did my research.
I realized instead of reading a million books and each one saying something different; I would go straight to the source of all info, the internet.  I would search the name of my favorite brand or food item and add GMO at the end. It was literally that simple and in moments I would have my answer. This all started with my stress over oats. I heard all Quaker and Kelloggs were GMO. I assumed my oats were crap and I was looking for an alternative. I was stressed over the price compared to how much we eat, plus I give them to my chickens. Then I did a simple search; which said several times; there are no GMO oats. Which is why Cheerios can say they are GMO free! From here, I started thinking so what else have I been spending extra money on unnecessarily. Thus, my research began. Another tidbit I just learned is Popcorn is safe. No such thing as GMO popcorn!
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I am never going back
There were a few items that I found I loved and will be keeping in our regular diet. Coconut oil is my new favorite oil. I love the smell and it taste so clean. I did realize that I need to buy the bigger size at Costco compared to the one at BJ’s because we use it for everything. Frying, baking, seasoning my cast iron and most importantly making popcorn. Grass fed hamburger is the other item. For months, I kept complaining that the meat had a raunchy smell to it. And when I would make burgers, my hands had so much grease that I had to use dish soap to get them clean. It was gross. Well grass-fed meat has none of that. Plus I made an amazing steak the other day from grass-fed beef and my hubby loved it so much he ate the leftovers 2 days later and said it tasted even better.  And that is enough to make me a believer. Butter from Grass fed milk is another one. Yes I have to remember to sit it out so it softens but totally worth it. I have never tasted such wonderful butter. And let me tell ya, we love our butter. But now I am in Heaven.
Now the things I can’t make a commitment and change to a healthier item. Mayonnaise~ I bought this non-Gmo, organic, expensive brand and I hate it. The texture is funny and the taste is blah! We don’t use mayo a lot so I am willing to compromise and buy Duke’s olive oil mayo.
Organic dirty dozen fruits and vegetables are a must; along with any other great deal I find on organic produce. I sealed the deal on the decision the day I was driving down my back roads with my family. We drove past a strawberry field being prepped for planting season and we got hit with this awful smell. At first, I thought it was a skunk dead in the area, but then Hubby said that’s the stuff they spray on the fields. Needless to say, I was grossed out! So we are trying to grow a lot of own, but if we can’t then organic is the way we are going as much as possible.