Students At Home

For Everyone who Learns at Home

Teaching My Kids About Politics

y-and-recorded-message-from-donald-trumpGrowing up, politics was a big deal in my family. My dad never missed an opportunity to vote, even if he had to leave work early to make it to the polling place on time. Usually, he took me with him. I learned early that voting is our right and responsibility as American citizens.

That’s why turning 18 was a big deal for me! I could finally vote! What an honor and privilege! And when my study abroad semester found me living overseas during the 1996 election, I eagerly signed up to receive an absentee ballot (I still have the Egyptian newspaper that announced the winner!).

Fast forward to this year. I’m now a mom with two kids. They’re both in middle school and definitely opinionated about all kinds of topics like their favorite music, cars, food, beliefs and books, so it makes sense to include them in our political discussions.

Plus, hubby and I are both very into politics. Even though we don’t always agree, we do often watch political talk shows and the news together, and we regularly discuss current events. In fact, everyone knew well in advance that I would be taking over the remote when the conventions aired. They’re a highlight for me since I love the patriotic stories. (And I also hoped that this year’s conventions would help me decide who to vote for!)

We’re now less than two months away from the election. I’m still not totally convinced on which presidential candidate will get my vote, but my kids have their minds made up, and their arguments for their candidate are very logical and convincing. My son even likes to listen to the recorded political phone calls we receive.

I finally captured his joy tonight. He listened to the whole message from Donald Trump with a highly animated look on his face, and was so excited!

Because it was a big deal to him, I decided to post the picture on Facebook. Some of my friends shared his enthusiasm, others commented on how handsome he looks and one  lady blocked me.

I actually laughed when I saw that she blocked me, then I deleted her comment. And that led me to consider whether I was right to post something political on my page.

Generally, I avoid controversy. Life is hard enough without starting fights online! But I am proud of my kids for being interested in politics and for making their own political decisions. I believe I owe it to them to teach them how to weigh the candidate’s words and actions, consider all the facts and decide who they will support. That’s why I shared my son’s picture. I wanted to support his right to his own opinion and share with my friends that he has been listening and learning and knows who he wants to win. I’m proud that he is willing to stand up for what he believes in, and I won’t apologize for that!

So whether or not you agree with him or with me, know that I will not unfriend you (unless you get obnoxious, rude or mean about it!). I welcome conversation and support your freedom to vote, live and choose as you wish. Those are the same values I wish to teach my children as I equip them to participate in their democratic right and responsibility.

God Bless America!

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Has Your Router Been Hacked?

A few years ago, a Facebook friend started sharing posts by Kim Komando. She’s a tech guru with tips on how to do everything from how to choose a new phone to how to secure your online accounts. I became a fan and have used dozens of her tips over the year. Today, I found a new one that I want to share with you.

Use this tip to test your router and find out if it has been hacked. It only takes a few seconds, and if there are any problems with your router, you’ll receive clear steps on how to fix it.

Happy surfing!  TPLINKrouter

Good to do: Test your router to see if it’s been hacked – Here's how

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Organizing with Kids

 

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Play time!

I’m always looking for new ways to keep our toys organized. My son collects toy cars, and I find them all over the house – under the kitchen cabinets, in my bedroom, under the sofa and yes, in the toy box.

Because of his autism, he sometimes decides that he wants to play with a particular car or truck. If we can’t find that particular toy, he gets anxious and upset. That’s one reason why we need a toy organization method that works! Plus, I want my kids to enjoy playing, but I don’t want someone to get hurt or the toys to get broken.

So far, we’ve tried a few toy organization methods.

  • Bins – He sorts his toys into a cube bin: one for cars, one for water toys and one for figurines. The key is to get him to put his toys in the bin AND to sort them so he can find what he wants quickly.
  • Toy box – Our neighbor gave us a cute wooden toy box that’s decorated with animal pictures. It reduces clutter since most of the toys fit inside it, but finding anything inside is a mess.
  • Rectangular bins with lids – He can toss his toys into a bin and stack them in his closet. The toys aren’t sorted by type, but at least they’re off the floor and out of the way! The bins are clear, too, so he can see what type of toy is inside.

I asked Candy at Finding Order in Chaos for suggestions on ways my family can stay organized. If her tips help, let her know!

And I’m always open to additional suggestions. What toy organizing solution works for you? Please share your ideas here!

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Need a Smile? Check Out This Cute Snack!

healthy snack

I opened Facebook today and saw this cute snack staring at me from a friend’s wall. It instantly made me smile! Not only is it cute, but it’s healthy and my kids would eat it! Those are huge reasons to be happy!

Do you have any cute and happy snack ideas? I’d love to see them!

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When Momma’s Cranky

Hubby came home from work this morning and needed to borrow a few dollars for breakfast. I know he chooses to not carry a credit or debit card so that we can save money, and he doesn’t often ask for cash, but for some reason I felt cranky about his request today. He noticed, of course, and called me on it. I was able to apologize, but I also wondered what was going on.

Maybe my crankiness is because I:

  • Didn’t sleep well last night
  • Haven’t had enough coffee (I’m only on cup one, and it’s already cold.)
  • Feel irritated about a missing item I thought for sure was on my desk
  • Am angry with myself for misplacing the missing item
  • Feel anxious about the kiddos’ dentist appointments since I’m not sure how my son will respond or how the technician will react to him
  • Am choosing to be angry instead of gracious.

No matter why I was acting cranky, I can’t deny the tension between us and acknowledge that I am not being gracious and need (and want) to be!

So what will I do about it? How can I handle these cranky moments?

1.I realize that I’m the problem. I’m annoyed and am letting that control how I act.

2. I take the time I need to get myself centered. Prayer, some time alone and a date with a book or my noise cancelling headphones and praise and worship music should get me back on track.

3. I set priorities. What NEEDS to be done before the kids and I head to the dentist? Do i need to check social media, find the missing item or do dishes? No. Instead, breakfast, gathering my purse, teeth brushing, quiet time and a second cup of coffee take priority with my limited time this morning.

Ahh, that’s better! I can think clearly now and am feeling more relaxed. Okay, day, let’s go and be kind!

What do you do when you feel cranky? What helps you relax and unwind? I’d love to hear your tips!

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#momtexts

Anyone a fan of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon? I am usually sleeping by the time he comes on, but someone shared his post on Facebook today, and I took a break from work to listen. It’s hilarious! Anyone have any funny #momtexts to share?

http://www.foreverymom.com/hilarious-mom-texts/?utm_content=buffere9aa4&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

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Zones of Regulation: A Behavior Breakthrough

It’s a yellow/blue kind of day. I woke up feeling blah, and I’m not sure why.

Maybe it’s because I didn’t sleep well. Maybe it’s the donut I ate for breakfast. Maybe it’s the busy day I had yesterday at the pool.

Whatever the reason, I’m glad to be able to use the Zones of Regulation. They help me acknowledge how I feel and give me actionable steps to fix my day and prevent me from going into the angry zone.

I discovered the Zones of Regulation a few years ago. My son’s speech, occupational and behavior therapists encouraged us to use the Zones as part of our behavior toolbox. With the Zones, my son can figure out how he’s feeling. That’s the first step to regulating his behavior and helping him stay on an even keel so that he can learn.

Over the years, I’ve adopted the Zones, too. After all, I have emotions like my kids do. Plus, I can’t parent well if I’m not taking care of myself. Especially in the past few months, I’ve been using the Zones to keep in touch with my emotions and process my feelings.

What are the Zones of Regulation?

According to the Zones of Regulation website, the Zones is a “systematic, cognitive behavior approach used to teach self-regulation by categorizing all the different ways we feel and states of alertness we experience into four concrete zones.  The Zones curriculum provides strategies to teach students to become more aware of, and independent in controlling their emotions and impulses, managing their sensory needs, and improving their ability to problem solve conflicts.”

In a nutshell, the Zones help us figure out how we’re feeling. They also give us tools to help us manage and regulate our emotions. It’s a tool many therapists use, and it’s been a beneficial tool in our home.

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Think of the Zones as Traffic Signals

In an ideal world, everyone would be in the Green Zone all the time. As we all know, though, emotions change. Sometimes, we can go from Green to Yellow in a matter of seconds. Don’t believe me? Try saying no to a toddler and watch them change from cooperative to obstinate in a hurry!

That’s where the Zone traffic signals come into play. Like traffic signals tell you how to drive on the road, we use traffic signals to identify our Zones.

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Green means you’re good to go. In the Green Zone, run errands, clean the house and play games without worrying that someone will be overwhelmed, throw a fit or object to the activity.

Yellow cautions you to be aware. Slow down and take a few minutes to identify how you’re feeling. Then take steps to address the anxiety, get out the wiggles or deal with nervousness so that you can move forward.

Blue gives you an opportunity to rest or re-energize. Take it easy, rest and relax.

Red means stop. Make sure everyone is safe and step back. Don’t push, prod, nag or move forward until you have calmed down and are out of Red.

What Zone are you In?

The Zones of Regulation are a constant part of my family’s daily routine. We often ask each other, “What Zone are you in?” It helps us figure out where we’re at emotionally. Depending on the Zone we’re in, we can change our schedule or use other coping strategies like exercise or games to help us calm down, rest or feel better.

The Zones help my family, and they can help your family, too. Take a look at these resources for more information.

zonesofregulation.com

socialthinking.com

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What’s in your purse? :)  I found ticket stubs from a train ride we took two years ago, hair ties I haven’t seen in six months and used tissues in mine!

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We All Learn at Home

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When I first started this blog, I was homeschooling my two children. Home education had always been a dream of mine because I wanted my kids to have the opportunity to learn at their own pace and study topics that interested them. I also wanted a flexible schedule that allowed us to sleep in if necessary, enjoy a short school day and help my husband in his business.

We homeschooled for five years until my daughter asked to attend public school for third grade. To be honest, I resisted at first. It took a few weeks for me to let go of my dream. And it turned out to be the best decision we could have made for her because she flourished in her classroom.

The next year, her younger brother started public school under different circumstances. He has autism and other special needs, and his needs because more than I could handle at home. Because his transition to school was a little more challenging and because I was no longer homeschooling, I stopped writing this blog.

A month ago, I decided to revive it. I was reading through my journals over the last three years and realized that we have learned a ton of lessons in our home even though we were no longer doing school at home. I’m also a writer at heart and needed a space to express my thoughts, opinions and things I’m learning.

Seth Godin‘s blog post from July 3 hit a chord with me. He’s a writer and business mentor, and here are his words.

We are all home schooled

“Day after day, year after year, it’s the interactions we have at home that have the biggest impact on who we become.

Public school is an essential part of our culture. But the inputs and foundations that parents create are essential and they are truly difficult to outsource.

What would happen if you figured out how to spend two hours a day, every day, without electronics, with your kids? Looking them in the eye, being present, doing projects, setting standards, raising the bar, learning, seeing, hearing, connecting, challenging, questioning, being questioned…”

Whether you home, public, cyber or combo educate your kids, they and you are learning when you’re at home. You make an impact on  your kids, and they can teach  you lessons, too. I know my kids teach me new things every week. What have you learned today?

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What’s on Your Reading List?

my bookshelf

I spent the majority of my childhood with my nose buried in a book. My bus ride was always 30-45 minutes long, and I read almost the whole time. Plus, I often read at home. I remember an uncle teasing me for sitting in the corner with my nose in a book instead of socializing at a family gathering, and one night I dared to stay awake all night to read a mystery! I still fondly recall the hours I spent as a child with the horses of Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s family, Jim Kjelgaard and his dogs and Janette Oke’s courageous, strong and resilient pioneers.

It’s no surprise that one of my favorite things to do is visit the library. Every summer, I pick a shelf and grab all the books that look interesting. While my kids swim, when i need a break from my web content writing job or before bed, I read my way through the pile.

Another way I pick books is by selecting interesting titles from my handwritten list. Whenever friends and family members would recommend a good book, I’d write it on my list.  I also saved newspaper clippings that listed interesting books.When I needed a book to read, I’d log onto the library’s website, search the catalog and request the book. It would be waiting for me in a day or two, and I could stop by and feed my inner book lover.

My book search joined the technology age when I discovered Goodreads. It makes adding books to my “to read” list easy. I simply enter the title in the search bar and click “Want to Read.” When I’m ready to order books from the library, I browse my Goodreads list and pick something that sounds good. After I read the book, I can mark it as “Read” and even leave a rating – how fun is that?

Today, I found even more books to add to my list! Daphne Gray-Grant compiles a list twice a year of books she recommends. Check out her summer post on her blog.

I know some of the books on her list are going on my summer reading list. What’s on your reading list this summer? Post your recommendations in the comments or friend me on Goodreads.

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