Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween 2014: Wild Kratts Style!

Both of my boys love, love, love the show Wild Kratts on PBS. I love it too. So when they decided to be the Kratt brothers for Halloween, I was excited. I found some great ideas for making creature power suits on the cheap; and I was ready to make Caleb's chair look like the Createrra.

Here was my inspiration:

Martin and Chris Kratt.

The Createrra

Easy enough, right?



Wheelchair turned Createrra!

Not too shabby for a homemade costume, if I do say so myself.

Talking on his Creature Pod.
Benjamin loved his costume. He was so excited to wear it. 

Here's how I made the costumes:

I bought black v-neck tshirts and cut off the sleeves to make them look more like vests. I used blue/green felt for the design. I hand stitched these...because I don't own a sewing machine. I put a small velcro circle in the center to hold the Creature Power Disc.

I made Benjamin a Creature Pod using cardboard that I painted blue. I found the photo online, printed and then laminated it. I added some buttons and a wrist strap made out of felt. 

Benjamin wanted something to hold the Creature Discs in, so I made this pouch out of black felt (again, hand stitched) in about 10 minutes. Super easy. The Creature Power Discs I found online, printed and then laminated.

$1 black gloves that I stitched felt to.

 You can go to the Wheelchair Costume blog for detailed instructions on how I made the Createrra.
As always, cardboard and a hot glue gun are my main tools.



This may have been one of the easiest wheelchair costumes I've made. The Createrra was pretty simple and didn't take me long at all to put together. I think I only spent about $25. I'm pretty proud of it!





Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wheelchair Costume Blog

Just a friendly reminder to those of you that create amazing wheelchair costumes for your kids, I have a wheelchair costume blog that you need to check out. I need more costumes to feature and show-off. So, if you tackle the creative task of making a wheelchair costume, please consider letting me share your creation. Just click the link below:


The site is designed to be a "how-to". It's a great resource for folks that need ideas or help in creating a wheelchair costume. But it's only a great resource if I have plenty of costumes to share!

4th Shuntiversary

Last Friday was a special day in our house. We celebrated Caleb's 4th Shuntiversary! His shunt officially turned four years old on the 24th. A working shunt is a good thing so it is something we celebrate in this house. Plus any opportunity to eat chocolate cake is a good thing.


"I don't need a fork mom."

Friday, October 24, 2014

Tapestry of Grace: Year One, Unit One

When I first decided to homeschool the boys I researched and researched curriculum. I had my eye on Tapestry of Grace, I loved the idea of it, I loved the cycle through history, I loved that I could teach more than one grade level at a time....but I was scared of TOG. It seemed overwhelming and I was already overwhelmed by the thought of homeschooling. So I decided not to do TOG for our first year of homeschooling. But as I ended our first year, I knew that TOG was going to be my choice this time around. I have loved it. Absolutely loved it.

One year of TOG is broken into 4 units, 9 weeks each. We just wrapped up our first unit and I had to share some of our highlights. This curriculum has blessed me so much that I had to post about it. The curriculum starts at the beginning of human history (with Creation) and covers the Ancient World. We spent a lot of time on Ancient Egypt which was absolutely fascinating.

I tried to do several of the hands-on activities so that both boys could do things together. They loved the projects.



They built a Ziggurat; an ancient temple of Mesopotamia. 


A sugar cube pyramid.


We learned a lot about embalming and mummification. We even mummified an apple!

The boys thought this was really cool. Natron was a special salt/preservative the Egyptians used to drain all the fluid from the body. For our Natron, we used a mix of salt and baking soda. The peeled apple sat covered in Natron for a week.

Priestly turbans and breastplates.

Towards the end of the unit, we began to learn about a few Jewish holidays.
We made Challah bread, It was pretty, and yummy.

The boys also made a Shofar which is an ancient musical instrument still used today as part of Jewish traditions and holidays. The boys liked these because they were quite noisy. 

One thing that I liked, that I didn't expect to like, was the lapbook.
Lapbooks are optional in TOG and I was hesitant to do it but I'm so glad we did. At the end of our 9 week unit we had this huge completed lapbook with information about all the things we learned. It serves as a great review for the unit and it was a way for dad to see everything we learned as well. 

Obviously TOG isn't all hands-on activities and lapbooks. We read a lot of history focused books as well as literature. Caleb loves to read so this is a good fit for him. TOG also fosters independent learning which is something that Caleb needs more of. 

Benjamin's primary curriculum isn't TOG. I went with My Father's World for his Kinder curriculum but I pull him into as much of Caleb's studies as I can. TOG is so rich that there are plenty of activities the boys can do together. Benjamin is always in the room with us so he hears a lot of what Caleb and I read together. He is definitely learning alongside his brother. 

Here he is working on some Kinder activities. 

All-in-all our school year is off to a great start. Homeschooling has definitely been a blessing. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to do it. 

I know some folks like to know what curriculum other homeschoolers use...so here ya go. You can learn more about each curriculum by clicking the link. 

A very rich curriculum that cycles through history. It's a bit intimidating at first but once you get the hang of it and realize that you don't have to do everything, it is a liberating curriculum. I love it. 

This is Benjamin's primary curriculum. It is very open and go. It doesn't require a ton of planning. There are a lot of books and hands on activities as well. 

I love this program. It is mastery based and hands on when using the base 10 blocks. 

This is our first year to use this science curriculum. So far I like it. It has a very simple approach with reading and then notebooking what you learn. Plus there are experiments throughout. 

TOG has a writing curriculum (optional) that does cover some grammar to an extent. I still use First Language Lessons as a supplement. I used this with Caleb last year and I really like the simplicity of it.


Now that we have wrapped up our first unit, we are taking next week off! The beauty of homeschool people, you can take a break whenever you want!

Just minutes after I published this post, I received the following questions from Tristan. I figured I would just answer them here just in case anyone else is curious.

- Did you buy a lot of books or are you focusing mostly on using the library? Or a mix? 
Honestly, for this first Unit, I did purchase a lot of books, only because I didn't have the confidence to steer away from the recommended books. I used as much as I could from the library but there were so many books that the library didn't have and couldn't get. So yes, I spend more money on books than I would have liked. BUT, after doing one unit, I feel more comfortable with finding similar books to the ones recommended. I don't plan to purchase any books for Unit 2 unless they are books that are needed for several weeks and I can't get them from the library. I think it would be easy to supplement books from the library even if you can't find the exact book recommended. 

- Did you get "Writing Aids"? If so, what do you think of it?
I did get Writing Aids. I like that the writing assignments tie into what we are studying. I'm not sure writing aids is necessary though. It's a little too early for me to say "yay" or "nay" on this one. I need a bit more time using it before I can give a good answer. I'll get back to you :)

- Did you go with Print, Digital, or both? 
Oh, I struggled with this too. I did get both. I knew I wanted the print because I like paper. I didn't want to have to learn how to navigate TOG using only the DE version. I think someone that is a confident TOG user would handle DE better than I would. I wanted physical paper that I could hold in my hands. I went ahead and got both just because adding digital to print wasn't much more money and I liked that I could print directly from DE and search through DE easily. I rely mostly on the printed version but the DE is nice to have. Just using DE is way cheaper though.




Thursday, October 23, 2014

Zoo Field Trip

Today the boys had a field trip to the zoo with Sonshine Club (one day a week co-op/mother's day out for homeschoolers). It was a great opportunity to enjoy the gorgeous weather and to meet some of their new friends. We had a great day.

Right when we got to the zoo there was a presentation with a few birds of prey and some other animals. I've mentioned before that Caleb is quite obsessed with birds.

 As you can see, he was very interested in the program. This is so his element. 


My boys.

 Both boys got up close and personal with some birds. I think this was a highlight for both of them.


This child is in heaven right now. He loves birds. Loves them. And he is so knowledgeable about them. He spends hours and hours pouring over his bird books, studying, learning, and marveling at their beauty. The other day he thought he saw an American Dipper bird in our backyard so I went to get his North America Bird book (it has over 700 pages people) and Caleb knew exactly what page the American Dipper was on! The exact page! It was remarkable. 

He's so handsome. He looks so grown up all of a sudden, maybe the longer hair makes him look older. He wants to grow his hair out and it's starting to curl a little. Adorable.

Benjamin loved seeing the birds up close too. 

Even Glenn made a bird friend.


All personality this kid.


Can you see the band-aid on Caleb's chin? Not so funny story: Caleb had his eyes set on the Harpy Eagle, so much so that he didn't see the huge drop off a curb in front of him. I saw it happening in slow motion and was absolutely powerless to do anything.  He went right over that curb in his chair...and landed on his face. On concrete people. Oy. How this precious child didn't break his face in that fall is a mystery to me. He managed to only scratch his chin. It could have been much worse. Once I realized he was okay....and my hands stopped shaking....and my heart settled down, I gave him a good mom lecture about looking where he is going! 




Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pumpkin fun at the Arboretum

Every fall the local arboretum has this amazing display of pumpkins. Every year I plan to take the boys. Every year we don't go. Well not this year! We finally made it to the arboretum to see the pumpkins. And we got to go with our buddy Bryce, which made it even more fun.

This boy loved the pumpkins. Loved it. He was all smiles and would stop and pose for me whenever I asked. 


My boys.

"Hey Benjamin, hold this pumpkin and smile at the camera"

"Hey Caleb, hold this pumpkin and smile at the camera." 


Caleb had a ball with Bryce. These two were a mess. 


I'm not sure what this is. 

Benjamin is being cooperative and giving me a nice big smile. Meanwhile, Caleb is rolling his eyes at me. 


Shreddin' with WCMX

It's been awhile but we managed to get Caleb to another WCMX clinic last week. 

"Look ma, no wheelie bar!"

We've been letting Caleb use his wheelchair without the wheelie bar attachment. He's nine so it's about time (maybe past time) for us to ditch the bar. He has spent quite a bit of time wheeling around our house with a helmet on while he practices. He is doing amazing. It gives me a heart attack of course. I just try not to watch. He loves not having it on though because he can really wheelie far back. Plus I think he likes scaring me.


While Bubba was shreddin' on the ramps, Benjamin was running around like a maniac. This boy is pure energy folks. Seriously. 

Love him.



Caleb did tackle one rather large ramp (at least large in this momma's eyes) but I didn't get a picture of it. I couldn't watch because I was so afraid he would tip backwards without his bar on. He didn't of course. He did great...as usual. 

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