Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Our first Lapbook...."sort of"

I was wandering around Wal-Mart the other day and came across this really neat multi-page dry erase learning notebook. It had about 3 dry erase boards with pre-school activities on the front and back. I had every intention of purchasing said board until I decided to make my own as I tend to do with everything in life. I am someone who hates buying anything that is possible for me to do myself.So before I make the splurge I always come home and research the possibilities either in my head or online.

So what I ended up deciding, with a little help from the internet is to put a cheapo notebook, some laminate folders and a set of dry erase markers to good use. I purchased some cheap but cute 1.00 fabric, a .50 cents clearance princess folder for deco and came home to make Georgia's special book.

In total I spent spent 7.20 cents which was about .50 cents more than the book at Wal-Mart which is fine with me since it is custom and I can change the pages anytime I want which actually makes this invaluable. It is also fine with me because as it stands with this book Georgia has over 50 learning activities from the alphabet to concepts! Unlike what would end up happening with the pre-made book there is no way for her to get bored. Did I mention my book came with markers? ;-)

The price is as follows:

Binder: .75
Markers (with eraser on tip): $3.00
Laminate folders: 1.95
Fabric: 1.00
Folder: .50

I know this isn't your "classic" lapbook but it is the first thing of it's kind we have done. We do plan on making a classic folding lapbook but it is something I want to do with Georgia during her private learning time this Saturday. This is however something that is so easy to make anyone could do it. If you want to avoid the crafty part of the book you could just use the binder as is, purchase one with a clear folder & print off something or buy one with a print. I just did it this way because I know how much my kids love things with a personal touch. Georgia tends to be more drawn to something that fits her personality, it's a bonus if her name is on it.

The second Georgia saw the book she went nuts with joy. She was screaming "Mommy I just love princess and school class!". Then she sat down at her desk and started working hard. As soon as I left her to her own devices she started TRACING pictures. Tracing was one of the things she has been refusing to do in class. Don't you just love reverse psychology?


Site of the day!

Everyday I am going to try to bring you a website which offer tools for Homeschoolers. There are thousands of sites out there with more coming online each day. If you have a website that has great FREE school tools you would like to serve up for our daily website focus be sure to leave a comment.

Now I know so many of you know and love the following website but as a new homeschooling mom I found it such a valuable resource to our needs especially since we do not purchase a curriculum.

Homeschool Express has an extensive collection of homeschool freebies including 16,000+ worksheets, funtime games, make worksheets, online math, activity fun worksheets and United States Units. This website is a must have for any homeschooling family. They also have thousands of for purchase E-Workbooks @ excellent and affordable prices.

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Family time in a nutshell!

Illustration by: David Brinley

One of my special needs homeschool groups "Homeschooling Special needs kids" on Facebook encouraged us to see how many hours we gain back with our children by homeschooling. I took this challenge a little further and figured up how many hours a year the average family loses with their children ALTOGETHER. If you are away from home for any reason this number goes up.

There are 8,766 hours in the year. The average kid goes to school about 1600 hours a year, most people sleep an average of 1600 hours a year so in total they lose 3200 hours a year of quality time with their kids. That is 88 hours a week out of 168.

Year: 8,766
Sleep: 1,600
School: 1,600
Total loss: 3200 hours
Weekly hours: 168
Weekly loss: 88

This theory does not include hours worked away from home that do not coincide with school, extracurricular activities or time spent away from the family for other reasons. Add up your "extra" time away and deduct it from our numbers to see an accurate representation of your personal time lost as a family.

Looking at the above chart it makes me realize why so many parents wonder why it is they do not know their kids. It also makes me realize that people who "think" they DO know their kids cannot possibly do so since they don't spend enough time with their children to properly know them. The average parent turns their child into an "independent" being before children should ever turn into one and they don't even realize it! Now I am totally realistic in the fact that I know you cannot avoid the sleeping issue but you can do something about the rest of the time. Fewer extracurricular activities, less alone time, homeschooling , there is always a solution to get time back to be with your children.

I shared my findings with my husband who told me he hardly ever saw his family during his teen years. Between school, football, band, work and farm chores he was lucky to see them an hour or two a day. It is funny the things we never realize about someone until you have your eyes opened. Hearing his account of his daily routine made me realize why it is he was so open to the idea of homeschooling.

Want to see how badly you need more time with your children? Take today's activity challenge!


Do you know your children?

Have your child make a list of at least 10 questions about him/her and print out two copies. Both of you sit down as not to see each others answers and answer all of the questions then compare notes. Do the same to see if your child knows YOU. Once you have done this exercise ask yourself again "Do you know your children?"

IDEA: While you are taking the "Kid Quiz" why don't you let your children take the same quiz about each other since it is equally important for siblings to have a quality relationship. Altogether this could make for a seriously eye opening experience.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Crayon Update!

For anyone who was interested in how Miriam reacted to the scented and textured crayons that I made the other day this post is for you! :-)

To sum it up I am deeming this project a success. At first Miriam wasn't sure if she wanted the crayons or not but then I put them in her hand, put her hand to her nose and immediately her mood changed. She touched them with her mouth, rolled them between her fingers, smelled them and yes colored a bit. Although, the coloring was in fact "a bit" because all she wanted to do was enjoy the crayons as an object. She did like smelling the paper which was scented even more than the crayons were by the time we finished coloring. I was VERY happy to see that the paper was successfully scented because that made the process of "making" them a total success. The crayons you buy scented do not even come close to scenting a piece of paper as much as these did. In the end I think once she puts two and two together that it is the crayons making the paper smell so yummy and wonderful she is going to be a coloring lunatic!

My next step on the crayon making adventure is picking out a particular scent that fits each crayon. I have a feeling I am going to be up for a challenge, not picking the scents because I already have those down but finding the scents. Anyone got any good websites for finding scented oils for cheap?

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Keeping on...?

Heaven help me this day is going so HORRIBLE. Georgia is being downright crazy with defiance with a parade of "No's" and "I can't do it's". She is trying to do anything, all she wants to do is color the worksheets instead of actually do what they say. Her behavior is just absolute insanity and I am at a loss. Such a loss I had to send her out of the classroom and down for an early nap. All I can figure is that she is tired. Does this ever happen to you and if so how do you deal with it? When we walked into the classroom this morning she was happy and ready to go but the second I started trying to get her to actually "work" our day just fell to pieces.

I am thinking I am going to stop asking her to "write". I know 3 years old is a little young for some children to write letters but she wanted to try the first few days but once she saw the effort required and started hearing her A's were not A's (I am thinking I am not supposed to LIE to her..lol) she started giving up. I don't want her to have a dislike for learning so I am thinking about just writing the A's for her on those worksheets until she is ready to take the reigns on her own because this is frustrating for all of us. She loves drawing and working on shapes. She even likes writing numbers , it is the letter that are bothering her, she will trace but do nothing but moan and hold the pencil over the lines when it comes to writing one outright. I end up spending half a lesson arguing her "I can't do it's" with "You can do it, do not say can't". It is taking away from Miriam learning time and is hurting her learning time.

I think I am going to make her a dry erase book out of photo album sheets. That way when she wants to practice she can have something readily available to do so while saving on printer ink and school supplies. Looks like it is CRAFT TIME!

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Laundry soap on a dime!

With a little help from...The Duggars!

In our home we are always on the lookout for ways to save money but about a year ago when my mother in law suggested we "make" our own laundry soap I was quick to turn the other way. Sometimes it feels like people go to extremes to save a buck or two and since my mother in law is one of those people that go to said extremes I have a tendency not to hear her when it comes to things like this. Not to mention that I am a little weary when it comes to putting just anything into my precious front loader washer. But while searching through a website for the incredibly large family "The Duggars" I came across a different recipe for this laundry concoction. One that has all kinds of details from how much you would save to how many loads a batch would serve up. It was also very clear that this particular recipe WOULD work well in a front loader machine which was all I had to hear to move forward with my science experiment.


hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Borax

- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water.

-Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)

-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

Total Cost for ME: 14.26 cents (we had a bucket but it broke so we had to spring for a bucket which we got at the hardware store)

Price per LOAD? Front Loaders: About 0.3 cents Top Loaders: 0.12 cents per load

How many laundry soap purchases? 20 32 load containers

Savings? $ 185.54

Savings per Year? (I buy twice a month) 205.52

Did you notice that a front loading machine gets up to 640 loads out of ONE batch of soap? When I saw that I absolutely knew that there was no way in the world I would ever be purchasing expensive front loader soaps ever again if this worked half as good as I have heard. And frankly if I did not have a front loader the difference in quantities would almost be enough to purchase a front loader had I not already had one. The recipe was very easy, although the ingredients were a little challenging to find. I first went to Wal-Mart who I knew at one time carried Borax but apparently they are quite a bit unreliable when it comes to buying things a second time around. I did end up finding both the Borax and Arm & Hammer at H.E.B. but had to go a hardware store for the Fels-Naptha which seems to be the place to go to find ALL of the products. Besides those challenges the only other issues I had was having to wait a full 24 hours to try it out and the fact that the soap smells so good and CLEAN on it's own there is no use to add any type of oils. My house was a mess but could have easily fooled anyone who came to the door because it smelled like laundry heaven before I ever put a load into wash. Speaking of wash, I would not be hard-pressed to say that I actually like this soap better than my normal laundry detergent. It did a really good job getting the kids filthy clothes clean and left them smelling fresh and wonderful. I definitely give The Duggars laundry soap recipe a big fat universal THUMBS UP! Now as far as Jim Bobs tuna fish recipe, well, there are not enough thumbs down in the world to show how much I truly detest this slop worthy concoction. Sorry Jim Bob, The Bramlett's love you but don't quit your day job!

(IE: Tuna mixed with BBQ sauce..ACK!)

HINT: If you cannot find "Fels-Naptha" You can use Zote Soap & Ivory soap leaving me to believe that you can use just about ANY bar of soap. I bet Ivory would smell wonderful and since it is a natural soap bar it would be choice for sensitive skin. Miriam has sensitive skin, I will get back to you on how this soap effects or doesn't effect her.

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Quiet day!

We have been enjoying our quiet Bramlett Sunday. By back is still pretty torn up so we skipped church. When I wake up in the morning my back feels about as bad as it did the first day it went out and doesn't start feeling better until half way through the day. It makes mornings very hard to say the least. We have just been sitting around talking, playing and watching TV, pretty much having a classic lazy Sunday afternoon which has been a nice change. Tom did however go mow the yard which was much needed since we haven't been able to do recess time all week for school. I am going to enjoy going outside for Gym and recess this week. I have all kinds of things planned like soccer, T-ball and kickball.

Earlier today I spent about 20 minutes making the Duggar's liquid laundry soap. It was actually a nice relaxing experience. The soap smells like HEAVEN in fact our entire house smells like it has been scrubbed down. I have a more detailed post of this project coming tomorrow once the soap has set for 24 hours and I have tried it out. I have heard experiences from several people though and they say it is an excellent alternative to store bought soap.

Anyway, I think I am going to go print off some worksheets for tomorrow & clean up my kitchen so I can get dinner ready. We are having Chili Dogs and Oven fries. Yum Yum!

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Crayons, Crayons, Crayons OH MY!

So as per my last post I traipsed on down to Wal-Mart and bought myself 60 boxes of crayons for a mere 12 bucks, picked up some scented oil and came home to bask in the glory that is "making scented and textured crayons".

What you will need:

CRAYONS (at least 4 boxes if you want "exact" colors) NOTE:Cra-Z-Art crayons work better than Crayola. Crayola is already scented and do not take the scent well resulting in the need for MORE oil which could ruin your crayons.
Mini Muffin Tin
Scented Oil , any scent
optional textured mold
(you can mold them in the pan)
Hot off the stove water (for cleaning)
Small medicine or oil dropper (one small enough to fit in the oil container)
Medicine Syringe or Large Dropper
Piece of a plain wire hanger long enough to stir but for the end to keep cool enough to handle.


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Peel off Crayon wrappers & break crayons into small pieces placing them into individual muffin cups by color.

3. Add 8 drops of Scented Oil of choice to each crayon filled cup using the small dropper, rinse as needed but be sure to DRY the dropper to prevent too much liquid.

4. Place pan in oven watching carefully because the crayons will be melted in minutes then remove from oven. NOTE: If you leave them too long they will smoke up your house.

5. Stir each tin with the metal clothes hanger. NOTE: I wouldn't suggest utensils as they are thick, COLD and could potentially set your crayons in the pan too quickly.

6. Using the large syringe/dropper (if you chose a mold)remove the liquid crayon from the pan and eject into each mold starting from light colors to dark colors. You have to do this quickly so it is best not to clean the syringe every time. If it gets too gunky rinse quickly in the hot water.

7. Once the liquid crayon is in the mold tap the molds lightly and put aside or place in freezer until frozen. Should you chose freezer take care not to leave them too long as they set quickly and could break.

8. When set run the BOTTOM of the mold under hot faucet water until they release then tap them out of the pan onto a paper towel.

9. Once out of the pan the bottom of the crayons might be a little rough. You can either use the bottom and color away , sand off the access with a butter knife or run them along the bottom of a warm pan for a second.

My Experience:

This was such a fun and exciting project to do, especially knowing what a difference it was going to make to my daughter. Initially I used 2 different types of crayons because I wanted to see which ones worked best. I used classic "crayola" and a brand called "Cra-Z-Art" which I had never used before. I found once cooled that the Crayola brand crayons still smelled a lot like the crayola scent instead of the scent I used (which was cinnamon and Tropical fruit both really strong) but the scentless Cra-Z-Art smelled like a dream and scented perfectly! I was so happy in the end I used our old crayola crayons and took the chance purchasing the 60 boxes of Cra-Z-Art crayons. I even looked up crazy art online and the reviews were EXCELLENT! It seems many are in agreement that the quality of these inexpensive crayons is very very good.

As far as the color, I actually PREFER the Cra-Z-Art to the crayola.

1. They melted better.
2. The color is actually dead on with Crayola if not BETTER than Crayola.
3. You don't get that "crayon" smell which I actually like but when it comes to this project it is a serious thumbs down.
4. On paper you can actually feel the Cra-Z-Art crayons and for a blind person that is a HUGE plus. I know sighted people prefer it to be smooth but in my world smooth is BORING.


When I chose my colors I went ahead and used "like colors" with all of my crayons. For instance I used 4 of the different typed of reds, 4 different blues, 4 different purples, etc. The color might not be that fabulous solid red but it is close enough. My daughter is blind and she is not going to exactly notice the difference. Doing this in the end I will be left with extra crayons which means once I use all the crayons up I can make fun mix/max colors for my sighted children.

I was also very lucky to have found these crayons during back to school for only .20 cents a box. If the cost is an issue during regular season you can easily have a crayon drive around town using craigslist, bulletin boards or the community section of the news paper. You would be amazed at how many people would be willing to get rid of old broken crayons, especially for a good cause like helping a blind or disabled child. And lets not forget that old saying "Waste Not, Want Not", I think that still applies to crayons?

At first I wasn't really sure what would be the best way to go. I didn't want to come online and order the special molds that my daughter would love until I knew molding them would work. I know it is possible because I have seen molded crayons but I am at home and do not have anything "special" to use. I just used basic things around the house like a Popsicle mold, a muffin tin and one of my husband tungsten rods to stir, (he is a welder) which to you is the clothes hanger. And of course having a disabled child who is on a lot of medications med droppers are readily available to me. If you do not have one you can find them in the pharmacy for next to nothing, some pharmacists will give them to you free of charge if you ask. I bought nothing but the crayons and oils which cost me a total of 15.00 for 60 boxes of crayons (24 Packs)& 2 scented oils which in the end will be a HUGE difference from the prices of already scented crayons. By the time I ordered two boxes of crayons with shipping I would have spent almost 20 bucks, making them myself I have enough crayons for at least 30 packs if I play my cards right. Even at regular prices of about .75 cents - $1.00 a box you will see a significant savings. If you count that I wanted textured as well, wow, I would be broke before I could blink because crayons are not exactly "durable and long lasting".

I am so happy with how my crayons turned out. And hey I am not even going to waste the crayola set , I am sure my 3 year old is going to be throwing a fit for her sisters "special" crayons. When that happens I will break out with the "not really scented" Crayola's. They smell enough that she won't care but the smell difference for Miriam is HUGE.

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What would you say or do?

Have you ever been out in public and noticed someone with a child you might think has the same type of disability as your own child and desperately want to say hello but you don't quite know how to get the words out? This has happened to me so many times and knowing how I would feel if someone walked up to me blurting out "IS YOUR KID BLIND" it is not the easiest thing in the world for me to do. I don't want to offend the parents and I don't want the child to feel "different" or out of place. I also do not want to go around shouting out their possible business to others. Not that I myself am ashamed or anything I just know there is a time and place for these types of discussions. I also know that finding a child who is blind with Autistic tendencies in my tiny town is a very rare thing. When I see someone I want to know them because I know I would love to have a support network of moms who "get it" and I know most other moms would want the same.

The reason for this post is because I was at the market today purchasing items to make homemade laundry detergent (that post will come later) and I had this very experience. I pulled into a parking space at the exact same time another family pulled in. I watched the father help their son very carefully out of the car then I watched dad wrap the boy in his arms and walk him into a seat in a shopping cart. Inside the store I noticed the child's eyes were closed, his hands constantly moving for stimulation as I also noticed him running his arm along the cart to find his mothers hand. I walked all over that store even though I had everything I needed trying to think of what to say, how to approach the situation without bringing attention or making anyone uncomfortable. In the end I totally chickened out!

Georgia and I walked back to the car, I reached for my soft drink and saw a pen and a pad of paper sitting in the seat next to me. Then a thought crossed my mind to write a nice note and leave it on their car. I did just that explaining about Miriam and how I didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable but if they were in the same boat as my family I would love to hear from them sometime. In the note I left our home number and details that they could also find me on Facebook and Blogger then folded it and left it on their windshield. I am not sure if I will ever hear from these strangers or if my choice to leave a note was the right thing to do for "them" but I know I had to let myself be known and put myself out there.

If this was you, what would you have done?

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Project on my mind!

So, my brain has been storming like crazy today, as usual. I ordered some scented crayons recently and have been thinking about why it is I paid 7 bucks a box when I could have made them myself utilizing back to school crayola prices? Right now crayons are between 15 - 25 cents a box! If I buy some essential oils and some cheap molds to go with them I can make TONS of crayons for less than 1.00 a box in the long run. Once the sales are over I can do a crayon drive for old broken crayons.

These are the molds I am going to buy which are 7.75 each for 5 cavities...

Classic Crayon shape...

And my favorite ..LEGGOS!

It seems like a pretty easy task to make your own crayons, you just melt and put in a mold. Crayola now makes a crayon maker....

but upon reading the reviews I am not sure I want to invest the thirty bucks. Plus I am not so sure how I would place in the scented oils. I think I will save more money if I go with the molds and she will end up getting thicker crayons and textured shapes. I just love being crafty!

Has anyone else made their own crayons?


Must be doin something right!

Tonight was our weekly shopping excursion. The day of the week Georgia gets to stay up late and have time out with mommy shopping for groceries and what not. On our outing I learned a few things and one of the things I learned is that Wal-Mart is packed to the hilt with TRIANGLES. Did you know the signs above the isles are triangular? Did you know the plastic bag turntable is triangular? Or that the isle shelves have triangular holes? If you didn't you do now and for all that knowledge you have to thank one Georgia Bramlett, 3 years old, because apparently thanks to her mommy she is a wealth of information after a measly week of homeschooling! So to all of you who didn't trust the fact I would be able to teach (because we all know my children have yet to walk, talk, think or breath thanks to me being such a HORRIBLE mother. 'insert rolling eyes here') sit on that for a while. You now know some of the most worthless information in the world but at least the information is triangular!

All kidding aside, Georgia has known her basic shapes for a while (yes I taught them to her) but she was never confident in her knowledge. I am so happy to see her willing to express herself with perfect confidence!

Now for your enjoyment in my brightest and loudest Georgia voice I declare "TRIANGLES MOMMY, TRIANGLES"!!!

Do you know your shapes? If so...find the triangle! :D


Friday, August 27, 2010

New Background...

I decided we needed something more upbeat so I spent an hour changing things around earlier today when Tom got home. I love it when he gives me free time to click around on the computer! I got the background from

If you have never visited their site you are totally missing out! Normally I use Cutest Blog on the Block , which I also love, but I live the shabby vintage look of all of their layouts. Check them out!


What a day!

Well another day has come and gone. Normally this would be the end of the week and I would be screaming "Thank goodness it's Friday" but I decided to make up for that day we missed due to my back and continue tomorrow. Tom will be at work and it will just be us here anyway. I am also thinking that on Saturdays when Tom gets home in the afternoon that I will have some one on one time working with Georgia. Not much time, maybe an hour and a half so we can do some of the workbooks I bought for her. The workbooks are useless to Miriam and I like the girls to do joint activities so I am not using them. I think Georgia would enjoy the one on one time with me.

I am also planning on building a file system for the girls to store their completed work which we will go over at the end of the year. I am going to pick up one of those big 3 drawer plastic drawer units at Wal-Mart and put each girls name on their drawer. That way at the end of the day they can have the chore of putting their work away in their own space.

Now on to today which was "fun" to say the least. Miriam was in one heck of a mood today being defiant at every turn. She can be a little spitfire when it comes to doing things she doesn't want to do which is pretty much anything you WANT her to do..lol. Normally if she was at school she would get away with the behavior because she would be disrupting the class but at home we have a "don't care policy". Which means scream or no scream, fit or no fit, you are going to do your work, we don't care about your tantrums. Even if that means doing the work WHILE having the fit. Miriam has now started to test the limits to see if she can get away with the same things she got away with in school. As if mommy suddenly turned into an elementary school teacher, no relation. She is quickly learning that the same rules we have at home apply in the classroom. In our home there is no such thing as a disability. Miriam is not treated any differently than our other two girls and by no different I truly mean no different. We might adapt things so she can get more out of them but the things we adapt are the same things her sister use. It is VERY important to us that she not grow up to be one of those people who feel sorry for themselves or feel "entitled" to everything because they are different. It is very important that Miriam be raised to KNOW that just because she is blind it doesn't mean she is "special" beyond the fact that certain things need to be modified to accommodate the blindness and beyond the fact that she is loved. I want Miriam to say to anyone who feels sorry for her and comes at her with some remark like "oh how sorry I am for you that you are blind" that she doesn't understand why they would feel sorry for her when there is nothing wrong with her. We do not see blindness as something wrong, she is here , put on this earth by God as a blind person. She doesn't have a cold nor is she afflicted with cancer. She is just blind!

We had a great day at school once we got over Miriam's want not to hold a crayon or marker. I know she cannot see the paper but one day she will need to have the ability to write and coloring is the first step towards that. I also get how boring it must be for her to sit there and color but asking her to hold a crayon and move it along a piece of paper is not that hard! So after a scolding and after reinforcing that I am not bending to her will she decided to hold her coloring tools. She may not have painted a picture worthy of hanging in the Guggenheim but what she painted was beautiful because SHE did it by herself with no hand over hand action and I am proud of her. I am proud of both of my school girls because they did a great job today!

Miriam's work! If you look at the felt shape collage and the shape work page you can see Miriam's art work. My hand never touched hers to make it move, there was no hand over hand aid whatsoever! The only help she got from me was picking the marker/crayon up, putting it to her hand and ordering her to hold it when she decided to be defiant and drop it. She also opened her mouth to count the beans WITH us in the bean exercise and was even willing to move the beans on her own. Trust me, these things are HUGE!

Oh , I almost forgot,she was also made to pick out her own felt shapes for her collage. I bugged her with "choose one" until she got so annoyed she did..lol


Georgia's work! It amazes me how much this 3 year old little girl loves school. She has a little trouble tracing but this is new and I know she will be an expert in a few weeks if not sooner. She gets better everyday! She has much of this stuff down already, she knows all her basic colors, shapes and knows how to count to 10
(a little more actually). I just wanted to start at the beginning regardless if she knows it. I want her confidence level to go up a bit. She is going through the "I can't do it" stage. I have no idea where she learned those words because I can assure you we don't ever say we can't do something. Tom and I are both CAN DO, WILL DO people. There is a reason why I have bruises all over, have had 10 sprained ankles and have thrown my back out several times. I don't know my own limits because I honestly do not think I have any..lol


Update to my last post...

I meant to say all of this last night but it got really late and I cut myself short....

I wanted to add that I am a realist and I know I am blessed with the financial ability to stay at home with my children. There was a time where we would have never had this chance, we now have it because my husband worked very hard to secure this life. We are not wealthy, are not even middle class by definition but all of our bills get paid and we can enjoy outside activities on occasion. I understand some people cannot afford to do this and live comfortably. I also understand that it is not always the fault of the teacher. The last two years I was very happy with Miriam's home room teachers. Her homeroom teachers always took my advice and tried their best to make Miriam a part of things. They did not push her to the level she needed to be pushed but as with every political arrangement there are limits to what the "employees" can do. I am sure if teachers were not fought at every turn they could do a better job getting through to children but the public education system IS in fact nothing but a political scheme. The major conflicts I usually end up having (with the exception of teachers in Clarksville, TX who did NOTHING to better her education but feed her and nap her.) are with VI teachers and/or specialists. VI being the number one worst people at accepting advice or thoughts from parents! I still stand by the fact that a home-school education if taught by parents that put their all into the education process is the BEST and ONLY option for homeschooling. If there is anyway you can manage to home-school then I highly suggest trying it. Homeschooling can be done around your schedule and many states have programs like K-12 that offer FREE at home education.

If you work 9-5 you can home-school in the evenings, if you work at night you can home-school in the afternoon after you have slept. The nice thing is that home-school does not take the massive amount of time public school steals from you. And you don't need a classroom, you don't need fancy furnishings or wall posters all you need is the will and the knowledge that this IS the way to go. I have read so many experiences of homeschooling and I know your kids will thank you for it!


Reasons why I home-school!

So, earlier today I got an email from someone who read my blog claiming that I was doing my daughters an injustice by schooling them at home. I have received many negative “reviews” from many people, my mother in law , my mother, teachers, friends, etc and honestly I could care less about any of their opinions. If they do not have faith in our decisions as parents and intelligent people they do not deserve to have an opinion. But I did decide to let everyone know a few of the never ending reasons why we decided to home-school our daughter.

Reasons why I decided to home-school!


1. ..I and my husband as our children’s parents are the ultimate educators. Nobody can ever know my children and their needs like we do. I grew so sick and tired of having to argue with the school, therapists, teachers, etc... as to what my child is capable of. I got sick and tired of hearing how "behind" Miriam was, behind on things I KNOW she can do because I have seen her do them. What the heck happened to make educators think just because they have a degree they are suddenly the end all of education? Number one even to the person who spent 27 hours in labor with them! My opinion matters, in fact, being the one with her all day everyday , my (and my husbands) opinion is the ONLY opinion that matters. Just because she doesn't trust the educators enough to open up doesn't mean she cannot do what they cannot see.

2. ..why would I want to send my daughters into a public education system full of fear? A system where so many of the schools have metal detectors and a long history of violence because of children raised lacking morals? A system where you cannot even feel safe in a building that has it's own police force? Schools should not need metal detectors or their own police. They shouldn't "need" to tell kids guns, knives and other WEAPONS are forbidden on school grounds. Kids should be raised by parents who teach them this is not acceptable, they should know that bit of information before they ever enter the school premises!

3. ...I don't want my other daughters to grow up having to fight for their sisters right to be treated fairly and equally by their peers (or for them to be bullied). I don't want my children to fear everyday because of some sick bully whose parents could care less about him/her taking his/her family issues out on my children. My daughter(s) should love school, not be afraid of who was going to make fun of a certain difference they might have. So many kids are cruel and I demand to CHOSE who my children spend an entire day with.

4. ...I can chose what they learn, how they learn it and mold everything to fit Miriam's needs as well as the needs of her sisters. If I want to teach from the bible so be it! If I want to stand up and have a dance contest in the middle of class so be it! If I want to play music all day to help Miriam learn so be it! Our classroom is OURS to do with as we see fit. To make learning more than just grades and report cards.

5. ...everyone who goes to public school is at the mercy of the school. A child cannot speak their mind to a teacher, cannot have an opinion, if they do they get detention or suspension. Nobody can have an opposing opinion and not be told they are wrong. Public education suppresses our children's talents and personal character to make us zombies to the system. My children, like all children, are unique and will learn in an environment that caters to their uniqueness.

6. ...I have had 2 different schools tell me in ARD meetings how important Miriam was to their "budget". Her first school told me they got tons of money for Miriam and were actually angry when I pulled her out. Her second school confirmed that she did bring in a good chunk but quickly turned it around by mumbling "but oh, it all goes to her education". Somehow given that she seems to learn more at home during the summer than she ever did at school I highly doubt it! In the end Miriam is just a number.

7. ...why should my children have to fight for attention in a classroom of 1 - 2 teachers/aids with 10-20 children (some schools even more). My children like all children deserve one on one attention. And Miriam NEEDS it...ALWAYS. One on One education is as important to her well-being and growth as water is to the same.

8. ...at home I have everything Miriam needs to be properly educated (again, every for Gia and Soph as well). Schools, classrooms and assignments are all designed towards sighted non special needs children. Why would I want her being educated at a school not fit for her needs? You wouldn't send your child for dog obedience training why should I send my child to be trained to be something she cannot be which is sighted?

9. ...I love them like no teacher can love them. Love and learning go together hand in hand. The bible teaches it is a parents duty to educate their children and I believe it is because of the massive amount of love put into our hearts the day we give birth to a child. With that kind of love we are capable of anything and everything even providing our children with a quality education. And what you do not know you can learn! In fact it is proven that home schooled children often times have higher test scores than a child raised in the public education system.

10. ...we believe in family values and we want our children to learn those same values. We want them to learn what is proper and what isn’t, to say please and thank you, yes Mam, no Mam, yes sir and no sir! I have witnesses the behavior of children in schools and I want my children to have no part of it. The things Miriam came home saying her first year made me want to wear earplugs every day she came home just to avoid hearing what nasty or rude thing she learned that day. Miriam is VERY impressionable and some things I do not want to her to be “impressed” by.

11. ...there is no reason a child should have to be up before daylight to learn. Children need more sleep than adults, their bodies are still growing. The only reason a child has to be at school by 7:30 in the morning is because the teachers have to have enough time in the day to teach EVERYONE which they usually do not get around to doing. Kid disrupts class that is 5 minutes, lining up for lunch 10 minutes, going from one class to another 5 more minutes , sometimes 5 or more times a day depending on your grade, going to / coming in from recess 15 minutes, boarding a bus 10 minutes, ride to school/ home on the bus 15-30 minutes one way. It is all about wasted time which adds up and the fact that public schools require too much of it with not enough results to account for the time they get. At home they get to learn without all the interruptions then they get to spend quality time with their family where learning doesn’t necessarily have to take a break.

12. ...they can get just as much peer to peer interaction as home-schooled children as they could at school through home-school “groups”. The only difference is that I will personally know the children AND their parents. I will know where they live, how they live, what their standards for education are and their morality level. To home-school is not to deny ANYTHING , including interaction with other children.

13. ...just because a teacher went to school and has a piece of paper giving them permission to “teach” doesn’t mean they are “good, honest” people. I hear everyday of a teacher getting arrested or fired for improper conduct with students. Conduct ranging from violence to lewd conduct. If a school cannot keep children safe from teachers do you honestly think they can keep your children safe in any other way or teach them adequately?

I can keep this list going the next 10 miles but I think I have made my point. I swear I am going to print this blog post and from now on I am going to keep it handy. Anyone who questions me or belittles my choice to home-school can read it and eat their words. Anyone who criticizes a home-schooler does so because A. They are educators who feel threatened or B. They haven’t the faintest idea what they are talking about..ignorance should NOT be bliss. I am happy with my choice to home-school and if I could go out there and tell every parent to do so I would. In fact, I think I am going to do just that. I beg of you to consider home-schooling, whoever you are. ESPECIALLY if you have a special needs child. Sure , educators will tell you how important it is to have a “professional” when you have a child whose needs are different but that is just because they want to keep their job. If I were an educator I can only imagine how scared for my job I would be if everyone decided to keep their kids at home. But truthfully your kid needs YOU and they need ONE on ONE. ALL special needs children need one on one education and all non special needs would benefit from it. If you have thought of home-schooling in the past put your fears aside and make the choice. I can assure you that your life will be free of many stresses should you decide to leave the teaching to YOU. This is my first year but in the past few days I have never been more sure of my decision!

God Bless,
Jenna Bramlett


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 3 of our first year!

School went really smoothly today and I am starting to get into a routine. Each day the girls have their lessons, they have lunch, Miriam has her hour 1/2 of one on one while Sophia & Georgia nap/play, then they get to watch an hour of cartoons while I work on the next days lesson. I am not using a set curriculum but making my own. Which means if I cannot find the worksheets or activities I want online then I make them myself. Given that Miriam needs to have everything adapted to fit her needs I just feel it is a waste of money to pay that kind of money for a curriculum that I wouldn't be able to use most of. I figure why bother, just do it yourself and anyone that knows me knows that this kind of thing is just up my alley.

Today we worked some more on our Letter of the week "A", our number of the week "1", counting to 5 (which both the girls can do but I want Miriam to make a habit of doing it if asked) and our shapes of the week "Triangle, Square, Circle". Yesterday I made up some worksheet packages for each lesson. When we started the year I had a set half hour by half hour schedule. I know some people who keep to one of these but I am starting to realize that my schedule is too much. We finish an activity in about 20 minutes (sometimes less) before the girls have had it. So I think we are just going to wing the time from now on making sure it is kept within the time frame we normally have but it isn't going to kill anyone to end early. (well maybe Georgia because she is addicted to this classroom..lol) If we finish the activity in 15 minutes we will review then move on to the next. Miriam has about the same attention span as Georgia, sometimes a little less. I want her to learn and if I push her she is going to clam up, we had some issues today with that very thing because we had too many counting exercises for her patience level. Today we actually started everything late because we had a repairman come over to fix a bunch of stuff all over the house. We started at 11:30 and finished all activities , minus Miriam's speech, O&M and OT, by 3:00 which I think is pretty good. We just skipped the other for today. She only had one day a week of each at public school, at home she has all 3 everyday so she can stand to lose a day.

My goal for Miriam is to have her willing to sit and color, cut & paste and actually get some enjoyment out of it, to be vocal using words ALL the time to express herself, to not bite herself anymore and to be able to use the potty. We do potty breaks for her after every activity and she actually asked to potty last night and that is a breakthrough. Another breakthrough is that she is "enjoying" playing with Leggos and is actually attempting to stack them on her own. She has never done this for me before and started trying herself on day 2 which is amazing. Today she actually managed to "build" a structure, picked out her own blocks for the structure and took care in not breaking it once erected. I am so amazed by this and so proud!!! :D

Anyway, here are some pics of our activities and craft for the day. Sophia was napping during craft center so she didn't get one. :( But we made musical horns out of towel paper holders and foam. Should I be concerned that Georgia loves using scissors as much as she does? lol

And here is a pic of Miriam doing a wall hand stand during our gym/exercise time. I have a feeling she has done this before because she lasted 2 minutes and was prepared before she ever hit the wall. Georgia lasted about half a second so no pics..lol


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

First day at school!

We had an amazing first day of school even though it was cut an hour short by a dumb mommy who threw her back out. All week long we are working on learning the Letter A, the Number 1, Triangles, squares & circles as well as many other things. Our day is packed full of fun things, from music time where we play instruments and learn songs to Gym where we get a little workout to music. During our entire day I had music playing softly to keep Miriam interested and it worked wonders! We had a few little fits but they were nothing like she normally has. Whenever she would start losing it I would stop talking and start singing our lesson instead , it worked every time! Everything she colored or wrote I traced the day before in puffy paint so she could feel the edges. I also added braille to everything so she could learn the braille letters and words for things. I am so happy with how things went I just wish we could have finished the day!

Pics from our second day because my camera was not working on the 1st.

Today at school!

Oh and I forgot to show you our Bramlett Journal yesterday. I made the journal myself and once a week we plan on having some kind of tactile or sensory activity. Tomorrow we will be having a touch and feel scavenger hunt and recording our findings. We will put all kinds of "things" in the journal that we find on our adventures to make it not only a written journal (which I will translate into braille) but a tactile and sensory filled journal as well. All of these things are why she is at home. I feel so blessed to be able to give her a classroom molded to fit her needs.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Crazy week!

OK, I have two blog posts coming your way with pictures of the classroom and the first day of school but the camera has been having issues keeping charge, I think I need to buy a new battery. I had a little accident yesterday trying to catch up on things, I bent down to shove a little box under the bed and sent my back into a frenzy leaving me with a major back sprain and one serious bruise to boot. As a result we lost today because all yesterday I could not bend into an upright position and this morning was no better. I am feeling a little better now but am dreading going to bed for fear I will end up suffering for it. I am so bad about knowing when to do things and when not to do them and I hate waiting for other people. I have a serious problem with taking "help", which I know annoys the heck out of everyone. It used to be I could do anything but right now I am just not in good shape so the things I do seriously backfire on me.

None the less, I just love our classroom and so does Georgia. She is always telling me how much she loves it and always tells me "thank you mommy" every time she comes into it. I am so thankful that little girl is not disappointed because I know how much she was looking forward to school. Hopefully Miriam is equally pleased but with her it is hard to know for sure. Tomorrow we have a great day planned! I have been up for the last hour or so working on some alphabet, number and shape coloring pages for Miriam using puff paint to raise the edges. I have also brailled almost everything in this room. I even added pictures and braille to each girls seat (also added some velcro to Miriam's). My goal is to find our hand brailler and add braille to the furniture. I must say I think I could braille with my eyes closed now..lol

Anyway, I just felt like writing a bit. I promise to get back asap with the pics as soon as I get my camera to hold a charge.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Our Classroom!

Well, Tom and I have finally finished the classroom for the girls. It was LOADS of hard work but it is worth it. We decided to make our master bedroom the dedicated space since it has the access to the backyard and a bathroom. That way we do not get any wanderers during school time. The two of us built everything in the classroom except for my desk which was a couch table, I just added a curtain to hide my mess underneath. The kids table used to be an old desk that was falling apart I drew on the shape, Tom cut/anchored (it was too thick for me to cut with his ancient saw) and I painted. The bookshelf was an old upright that had rot at the bottom so I broke out with the power tools cut off the bottom, put it on it's side and rearranged the shelves. The calendar is not what I set out to make but it works. Everyday we come into the classroom, look outside to check the weather then we chose from the pictures in braille and add weather pics which attach with Velcro. We do the same with the day of the week , month and date. The rug was painted, it was an old stained kids rug. Eventually I want to add a big star in the middle but I ran out of steam..lol I even made the backpack hanger on the wall..lol The chairs in the room were an awesome and CHEAP Wal-Mart find (as was the mirror at only 5 bucks!). They are thick and hard plastic and I paid 5 bucks each for them which was a lot less than I expected to pay for chairs. The room turned out just like I had hoped. Because of Georgia it had to look like a real classroom. She has been looking forward to the day she goes to school for so long and believe me she knows what a classroom looks like!

Anyway feel free to click on the pics for a tour of the room. :-)


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Oh I forgot!

I also recently started a new blog dedicated to my love of Christ and how he works in our lives. I have decided that I truly want to dedicate my life to Heavenly Father in more ways that church, prayer and bible study and this is the beginning of that life!

In God's Shoes

Also , if anyone knows any parents who might be interested I have created a new support group on Facebook for those who home-school blind children. Please pass on the link so we can all share our ups and downs and learn together! Any blind or visually impaired young person with a facebook account is also welcome to join the website. Insight from those actual homeschooled would be AWESOME!

Blind & Visually impaired Homeschoolers


Busy, busy getting ready for school!

Since I had the appendectomy the week I was planning on starting school we postponed things until our local school starts which is Monday. Things around the house are a little crazy right now trying to get everything together to start a new classroom. We have books, school supplies, craft projects and ideas coming out the wazoo! My head is constantly coming up with something new to do. As a matter of fact Tom and I had a discussion about where would be the best place to have our homeschool and we decided to have a dedicated room. So we will be moving out of the master bedroom, into Sophia and Georgia's room and having the girls share a room until we move to Oregon where we will seek out a home with homschooling space. Miriam REALLY needs the contact because since we moved Georgia in with Sophia she has become such a little recluse and we DO NOT want that. We think this might help to solve the problem of her being antisocial. We chose our bedroom because of the access to the back yard and the bathroom. I think is would so be much easier to really focus on potty training Miriam during school hours if the bathroom was not down the hall. Miriam has a tendency to "roam" and in our room everything is easily accessible with no place to roam. We can also lock it off during the day and have more room to store supplies. It is kind of tough giving up our big old room for a small one but if it helps our kids to learn by having a dedicated space then we will live. We don't do anything in our room anyway.

Anyway, I am sad to say I do not have much else to report other than that..lol I have made our daily Curriculum. The activities will change daily but the schedule is set. I have to go buy a dry erase board so I can take this schedule and make it big. I will use velcro for the days of the week. I will be doing the same kind of thing with a calendar. I will seriously be implementing the braille embosser and I am excited to put my braille skills to the test!


Back (to be done during naptime, it is for Miriam only)


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fun weekend!....NOT!

Since Thursday I had been having horrible stomach pains. Thursday we thought I had gas, Saturday we thought it was "other" issues. I even went to a movie by myself thinking it was nothing big. The pain I was having had calmed down and my stomach was sore from all the craziness with it the days before (so I thought). Sunday morning I got up to go to church however and the pain was so bad I could barely walk. I couldn't touch my stomach, sitting felt like knives going through me so naturally this Sunday it was my turn to go to the hospital. We got there , found out it was going to be a while because they would have to run many tests so I sent Tom and the girls home. No need for them to have to wait and suffer for hours because I had a tummy ache. A few hours later and a cat scan later Tom was getting a phone call telling him I was being rushed into Surgery before I keeled over and died. Apparently my appendix was on the verge of bursting. According the the DR. he wasn't a little surprised it did not burst days ago so it seems I have a little someone on my side up above who wants to see me live this life. He did assure me that a few more hours it would have burst and a day later I would have surely been dead. Which to me translated to my passing out cold while Tom was at work and my children having to live with their mothers dead body for hours being scarred for life. Needless to say I was SCARED TO DEATH! At the same time the DR. was telling me that my gallbladder was failing me and would eventually need to be removed as well but given the emergency situation they did not want to remove both at the same time. He did say that if the 3 rather large gallstones started bothering me that I would end up back in the ER prepping up again to go under the knife. I was told to change my diet drastically and lose weight immediately.

I spent 2 days in the hospital stuck in "Isolation" because that was the only room they had available on the surgery floor. I had no clue until my husband told me and once he did it certainly did explain why when the Clergy came in to "pray for me" she stayed on the other side of the room by the door ready to run at the slightest cough. And why cleaning staff wore masks to clean my floor and take out the garbage! I was assured people had been told I was not going to cough on them and kill them but it seems they did not believe the nursing staff. (maybe that should have concerned me? lol) For the entire 2 days I ate NOTHING. I had an IV stuck in my arm, some rather interesting broth that if you focused really hard you could pretend you were eating roast beef (which incidentally I am supposed to stay away from now that my gallbladder is "failing" me, lay off the red meat), yummy (sarcasm) sugar free vanilla pudding which if anything could have totally substituted itself for unseasoned hamburger meat..blech, coffee strong enough to kill Juan Valdez (or my husband which is saying a lot..lol), and lots of warm cranberry juice. By the time I left I had a bruise on my butt from the worlds most uncomfortable bed, 3 holes in my stomach, a massive headache, bruises in both arms from ill places IVs and Morphine to kill the pain from all for a lifetime..so hooray for that! It was the 17,000 dollar vacation of my dreams...or shall I say, nightmares!

I am so glad to be home with my wonderful family , sleeping in my own uncomfortable bed. My uncomfortable 6 year old bed has never given me bruises on the butt!

I would like to give a small Ode to my Appendix however. We have come a long way together, it has been a friend, a foe and...well...whatever the else appendixes are supposed to do it did that too.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Miriam's Rash!

When we woke up this morning to get ready for church Miriam's rash was just HORRIBLE. It had lumps starting to fill with puss so Tom took her to the Emergency room in Georgetown. Turns out she scratched her Eczema outbreak so much she gave herself a staph infection. Poor baby is now on several medications and in a lot of pain. I am so glad we did not decide to go to the pool yesterday. Not only for her sake but for the sake of others. now if only we could teach her not to scratch!