Monday, January 21, 2013


Today is not the typical recipe or neat thing I found on the internet. I know, I throw these at you all when you least expect them! Today, I share a part of my real life and as many of you know, I tend to be honest about our struggles, our joys and our real life issues. So, far in the last year alone I've thrown deafness/hard of hearing issues, alcoholism, autism, Tourette syndrome, ADHD, OCD, Sensory Processing Disorder, etc. at you all. To be fair, you've all handled it really nicely! I will say that I get a lot of questions about having kiddos with these various disorders but, the thing I get the most questions about is homeschooling. Which considering I grew up publicly educated, seems to buck the norm.

JD picked yellow as his color of the day. So, he's picking yellow things out of the picture cards, while he eats his yellow snack. It took him six months of work with his speech and occupational therapists, as well as daily work at home to even be able to do his colors! So, we brush up on them every now and again.

JD practicing with the leftover beans he used to make his name earlier. He traced the numbers and then was working on putting the correct number of beans in each square. Towards the number eight, I began to loose him though! lol He kept at it though.

People are curious about the motivations behind it, or how I do it with two special needs kiddos, or my personal favorite, "what about socialization?". So, here I am, outspoken momma of two special needs boys who homeschools, answering just a few questions that I get asked all the time. Maybe it will help someone out there decide whether to go for it or not. Maybe it will open eyes that there is not only one "type" of  homeschooler out there! Maybe it will help those of  you out there who think that homeschoolers let their kids run amok! Yes, I get that remark on occasion too! Or maybe it will just satisfy your curiosity about what goes on in at least one homeschooler's home. Kind of like when you catch yourself reading those trashy magazines in line at the grocery store and you just want a peek behind the curtain! Speaking of, I read the titles on those and maybe it's that country girl who didn't really care what anyone else was doing, I just wanted my bull J.C. and a good book or maybe it's just me but, I have no idea who half of these people are on the magazine covers! Yes, I fully admit it, I am not a reality T.V. junkie, which apparently is who half of these people are. I'm the nerdy girl who sits up watching Morgan Freeman's Through the Wormhole, or The Universe but, I digress. Back to homeschooling...

JD practicing tracing his numbers. He wanted to work on the chalkboard that day, so this is what we did. It's a great idea, according to their OTs!

How did I fall into homeschooling?
And yes, I fell into homeschooing! I had begun homeschooling my oldest by the time he was 2. He knew ALL his colors, his shapes, could name every letter of the alphabet, he was doing 24 piece puzzles all by himself, he was a wiz kid and I had run out of the typical preschooler things to teach him. So, little by little I began working on drawing his letters and numbers as well his name. Seemed like a natural projection of what I'd already been doing. Next thing I knew, I had removed him from a special education preschool, where I fought everyday with the school system, and dove head first into homeschooling.

DW working on handwriting...still! As a kiddo with TS and SPD, he still has issues with handwriting. So, we work on it every single day. I make him trace simple words and then rewrite them on the next line. His handwriting has come far enough along, we are due to stop doing this soon

Why did I still choose to homeschool?
I get asked this a lot, a lot! I was once told that I homeschooled because I was too lazy to work. Which I laughed at and turned the other cheek to. I used to be a mover and shaker, getting 6 promotions in 3 months, getting paid to wine and dine clients even. I hated it but, I did it because that's what I got paid to do. So, laziness is not really in my vocabulary, obsessive is, neat freak is, nerd is even, but not lazy. :) And if you ask anyone who homeschools, lazy is not something we get to be!! There's lessons, meals, trying to keep a house in order and outside activities...I could go on, trust me!
I chose to homeschool because it was an extension of my being a mom for me. While other little girls dreamed of their weddings growing up, I dreamed of a Victorian house, with 16 rooms all filled with adopted children (because I was never going to get married), and a homeschool room where they could follow whatever course of study interested and best suited them. Weird, I know but, I don't think I have ever been called normal! :) Anyway, I do not think that you're child being educated in the public school system is wrong in any way but, for me, I not only needed to be there for my oldest as much as I could to help him through whatever issue one or more of his disorders were throwing at him but, I wanted him to have a stress free environment. Ok, as much as it could be "stress free". At home though, he can tic without judgement, he can stand up if he needs to, etc.
Not to mention growing up in farm country, now living in a "big" city - alright no city in Nebraska could be "big" by most standards. It's just that when the only towns you've lived in had a population less than 3,000 and that was counting farmer's dogs, cats, cows, chickens, horses and our donkey Sporty (yes, we had a donkey), towns like Lincoln and Omaha are HUGE. They also bring with it a new set of people, who don't all teach their children the same values or manners that small town folk are used to. I could tell you stories! So, for me, I wanted to pass on the values of saying hello to someone as you pass and look them in the eye, of knowing your neighbors, of manners this next generation has seem to forgotten.

What do you use for curriculum?
I'm a notorious eclectic kind of gal. What does that mean? Well, I have structured curriculum in the house and I use it but, not for everything. Sometimes just as a guide line for what my boys should know by the end of the year. I scour the internet some nights looking for ideas, printable or lesson plans if I think it will work. I even sort of unschool by letting the boys lead me in what they want to learn in some areas. We learn a lot through play because, well they're still young and we can! We do field trips, sometimes to the same place for a different thing. Example: The zoo for penguins this next week and then the aquarium in the spring. That's my favorite thing about homeschooling, I can tailor the lesson and/or speed for where they are. Which a public school can't do.

What about socialization?
I can't tell you how many times I hear this. Quite frankly it makes me go bananas. I mean pull my hair out, run through the street yelling bananas! lol Wouldn't that be a sight! During the spring, summer and fall, we have the entire neighborhood of boys in our house. They love to eat all the goodies I make and have on hand. Most states or areas, have a homeschool support group or community group that gets together and does things like flag football, Lego club, etc. They play, talk with and meet peers all the time! For our boys, we were involved with the local TSA (Tourette Syndrome Association) support group and the Hands and Voices chapter so that my big buy could meet other's like himself and recently, we started going to the local Autism Society's functions to meet other kiddos like both boys but, mainly my youngest.

We still go out and have fun! My son put stickers on my face, so I got to put some on him! :)

Or we go to meet Monster Truck drivers two days before we go to Monster Jam. Which left my ears ringing for hours afterwards. That can happen when you're 4th row from the floor and in front of one of those piles of cars they need to drive over! I should've worn the ear protectors! :D

Or they hang out with the neighbor boys and have a snowball fight, with the biggest kid of all, their dad! :)

Another shot of them rolling down the hill with one of the neighbor boys.

Or one of their favorite things to do though, is spend time with their Papa, which we try and do once a week. We bring him his favorite cookies that we tweaked and my famous granola bars and he builds paper airplanes with them, or plays with magnets, or takes them to the buffalo farm (which they LOVE).

Sorry for the terrible cell phone pictures but, I never seem to have a camera in hand when I need one! :) I shared these so that maybe I can dispel one of the myths that homeschooled children are sheltered. My boys are out and about and have a lot of fun too, whether it's with their peers or with their family. So, please if you don't homeschool, please dismiss the thoughts you have about socialization. Our kiddos get out as much as yours do! Homeschool groups have sports leagues, meetups, co-op teaching groups, etc. we don't lock them in a closet, with no sunlight and only let them see us! :D Yeah, okay no one has ever said that to me....yet, I'm sure someone has thought it though! 

Alright, enough of my rambling. If you stumble upon this and homeschool, I'd love to know what you're favorite part of homeschooling is! For now though, I'm getting ready to take on my self-appointed "kitchen helper" and make spaghetti for dinner. Nothing I love more than kiddos in the kitchen! Truly I do, sometimes though, it's like running an obstacle course with him but, he loves to cook and there's something about him drowning in my apron that makes it all worth while! :)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Recipe Burglar and Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

So, now that I have a working computer, albeit a dinosaur, I thought it was time to share the lovely (and seemingly the favorites around the neighborhood), peanut butter cup cookies. Well...that was the idea anyway but, when I went to find my lovely recipe the other day, it had vanished along with two other ones! I think my wee "kitchen helper" absconded with my recipe cards! So, I will share my back up recipe from Joan over at Chocolate, Chocolate and More.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Her recipe makes about 2 to 2 1/2 dozen, if I remember correctly. It has been a while since I made hers but, trust me, they are delicious! I will share the original version of hers and then how I altered the directions a bit. That's just me, always tweaking, changing and modifying, or so I've been told!

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I add about a full tsp or a smidge more)
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
24-30 mini Reese's peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar together. Add in peanut butter and beat again until combined. Add egg and vanilla. In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly add in flour mixture until they're all combined. Roll into 1 inch balls.
Her directions: Place each ball into the cup of an ungreased mini muffin tin.
What I did: I made 2 inch balls in a regular ungreased muffin tin! 

Bake for 12-14 minutes.
What I did: Bake for allotted time or until just barely turning golden and then removed from the oven. They will look almost undercooked but, keep in mind they will continue cooking as they sit there.

Her directions: Immediately after removing muffin tin from oven, press one Reese's cup into the center of each cookie.
What I did: I inserted Reeses mini PB cups. I let them cool only for anywhere from 2-4 minutes to the aforementioned 10 minutes depending upon how "done" they looked when I removed them. (In other words, how distracted I got before I removed them from the oven! lol)
She had a great notation to put the Reeses in the freezer about 20 -30 minutes prior to start and it is a great tip but, if you don't do this, it's not the end of the world. It just makes things easier. Also another tip I remember was that if you were having difficulty removing them, to use a butter knife to remove them. I believe that is where I got the idea to use it from.

Anyway, either way you make them, they are amazingly delicious. Albeit not diabetic friendly or probably not really healthy but, I can tell you that they are a crowd pleaser. I almost always have to make a double or triple batch...which I don't recommend! It's harder to mix completely the more ingredients you have in one bowl! They're super good though, I am NOT a peanut butter fan at all, never have been and I would make and eat these without the peanut butter cups! Yes, oh yes, it's that good!

Hope you enjoyed her recipe and/or my take on it. If you do, pop by her page, which I've linked above and check out her other goodies! Now, off to find the kitchen helper's hidy holes...I'm not sure I'll ever find them all until he's grown and gone! :)