on homeschool, learning, and new chapters…

dinosaur unit homeschool

A few months into homeschooling, and I realize, that my years of teaching and my master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, don’t mean so much.  I ran into a father I knew from my sons’ school a few days back.  He casually mentioned that the only reason I could homeschool is because I was a teacher.  I laughed, and said, if anything, it’s a detriment! My teaching years were rough, and it’s one of the very reasons homeschool will ALWAYS be on the table for my family.

This fall, I had only one “student” enrolled here at the homeschool.  My youngest, dear Monkey, is by far, the most challenging teacher I have had.

I no longer look at him as a “student”, but rather, a partner in this messy process known as homeschooling.  Sometimes, it’s messy. Sometimes, it’s so beautiful, to see a connection made, a lightbulb moment.

I’ve learned that so much time in a school day is wasted.  Kids can accomplish great feats in a 1:1 environment.  Kids can learn to read without a structured program or curriculum.  Some readers are born from love of shared reading, like Monkey.  He astounds people at how well he reads.  I never taught him, he just absorbed the culture of our home.

I’ve learned that learning happens best in the real world, on the move.  I’ve learned for most kids, ignite the fire of curiosity and step away.

I’ve learned WAY more about dinosaurs that I’ve ever thought possible.  I could be raising the next dinosaur whisperer.

dinosaur unit homeschool

I’ve learned that kids sitting in desks and chairs is quite possibly the WORST thing to happen to childhood.  Working on the floor is grand.  There’s more math at the farmer’s market or grocery store than there is in any primary math curriculum.

I’ve learned fresh air cures all. Recess should be early and often.  Monkey and I walk at least a mile or two a day.  He is much more focused after a long trek with the dog.

I’ve come far in this semester, and now, it’s time to reflect a bit.  Homeschooling has magnified the ugly parts of me: my impatience, my disorganization at times, and my tendency to burn the candle at both ends.

It’s reinvigorated the teacher side of me: the playful, the curious, the fun.  Except, this time, it isn’t other people’s children.  It’s my own.  Sure, I don’t have the energy I did when I was 23 and childless, but I still have that love for learning.  There’s no greater gift I can give him than the time we’ve had.

As far as my oldest son Moose, we’ve been flexschooling Moose this year.  He leaves his autism program early each day, so we have time to work on life skills.  Simple things like shopping off a list at a grocery store, when it’s not a sensory overloaded hellhole.  A visit to a Nature Center.  Time to learn to ride a bike! All of the things we didn’t have time for when ABA therapy dominated our lives a year ago.

autism and life skills

A 7 hour school day is exhausting for him, so the early dismissal makes for a happy Moose.  The direction of Moose’s school days is in limbo now.  He is a “learner on the move” and the traditional school paradigm, isn’t really working for him.  Kinesthetic and tactile learners do not fair well in a visual/auditory classroom environment.  Most autism classrooms are heavily invested in PECS, and after 5 years of beating working with PECS visuals, I think a change is due.

He turned 7 this past October, and his language has flatlined.  Anxiety and severe eczema have dominated this entire semester. He isn’t reading, or doing the basic academic goals lined out in his IEP without maximum assistance.  I will never give up hope, but rather, we will leave no “therapy” or “avenue” unturned.

The only thing we really haven’t tried at this point, is NOT outsourcing a thing.  School is outsourcing, homeschool is the DIY hands-on approach that could possibly elevate Moose to the next level.

I’ve been trying out some Montessori methodology with him and have had great results.  I was told he would only whole word read, and NOT learn phonics, but he is learning the sounds and letter formation through Montessori sandpaper letters!  Sure, it will take more time and energy, but we will get there.

montessori homeschool

So, homeschool, seems the only viable option for him as well.  The Chicago Public School system has between 13-16 kids in their autism programs, which, is WAY to big for him.  He needs as small as possible.

Here at the homeschool, class size of 2!  Plus, one obnoxious school mascot.

With question, he will be home with Monkey and me this fall, if not sooner, depending on a variety of circumstances.  If anything, I need some time to plan and prep.  I’m looking into some additional training this March on Orton-Gillingham methodology.

I never set out to be a “special needs” teacher.  I remember when I was subbing for a bit, after Moose was born, I was placed often in sped classrooms. It never dawned on me that I would be thrown head first into this world of special needs on the other side of the desk.  I remember when I was a classroom teacher, feeling awful, that the IEP process was such a colossal pain.  I remember it took an ENTIRE school year to obtain services for one of my lowest students.  The system is broken.  It truly is.

It’s so different advocating for your own kids. These aren’t just students who will move on next year to a teacher down the hall.  These children are my heart, my life.  I’ve grown tired.  Tired of fighting the systems and powers that be.  Tired of the revolving doors of therapies and opinions.   The David and Goliath story reigns true. But sometimes, David knows best, instead of putting your energy in the fight, you put your energy into the two reasons you fight instead.

homeschooling and autism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Clean Microfiber Sofas: A Cautionary Tale

how to clean microfiber

Age the age of 23, still young and clueless, and clearly in a red phase, I bought not one but two red microfiber sofas. Picasso had a blue phase, right?  I had a red phase with leopard pillows.  It was like Guns and Roses circa 1987 up in here.

Things like children and pets were not on my radar at that point, but dinner parties and drunken nights in with friends were.  Those nights often involved a lot of wine, chocolate fondue, and other foodstuffs that led to spills.

The saleswoman promised, “It’s such an easy fabric to care for! It will survive years of wear and tear!”

Lies, all lies.

how to clean microfiber

I’ve read “the pinterest” where promises of rubbing alcohol, baby wipes, and tears of a unicorn will clean said microfiber beasts.  I’ve sat late night, with small rubbing alcohol pads, and bristle brushes attempting the remove the years of filth from small children and a messy Boston Terrier named Doodle.

never buy microfiber sofas

These attempts at repairing the microfiber to its original state just made it worse.

Truly worse.

Have a look for yourself.

This is my microfiber sofa, ten years in, in the alley behind our home.  On my 34th birthday, mind you.

cleaning microfiber sofas, how to clean microfiber sofas

Putting this out for the junkman ranked right up there with graduating from grad school and the births of my sons.

The best way to clean microfiber is to remove all traces of it from your life if you have small children or slobbery pets.  After a decade of living within a microfiber prison, we’ve moved on to more wipeable, kid-friendly fabrics.

Like what I did way back when to my microfiber-covered dining chairs.  (That DIY gave me back hours of my life).

If you ever want children, cats, or dogs-opt for either 1.) leather 2.) some vegan form of leather or 3.) something with a slipcover you can wash.  That’s it.  Don’t let some salesperson convince you otherwise.

Look them in the face and tell them lies, all lies.

As I type this right now, my new sofa-in it’s neutral color and wipeable goodness stares me back and winks, “Hey there, I’m what you’ve been dreaming of for the past six years”.   It’s like getting hit on by Brad Pitt.

The energy we expend hating things in our home isn’t worth it.

So rid yourself of the beast. The energy vampire, if you will.  Let microfiber be dead to you.

Stay tuned later this week of the reveal of my new sofa.  A decade in the making.

 

 

Off to recline on my new sofa,

Nicolette

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small treats & the little things…

***

Across the street from Moose’s therapy clinic, is a darling little flower shop.  Strangely, it is just two doors down from the place where I met my husband, almost ten years ago.

Funny, how life comes full circle.

Moose and I occasionally take field trips in this darling little shop, but today, after an exceptionally hard day, I walked across the street alone while he was in speech and OT.

I was never a girl that loved flowers, until this past year.  Even in my garden, I’ve always favored the practical over the pretty.

This winter, something changed in me.  I found myself fawning at the flower departments in grocery stores, buying the cheapest bouquet I could.

Suddenly, my home felt alive with flowers present.

Then, I remembered back when I was 19, visiting my best friend in Manhattan, that I sat next to a woman who talked the entire flight back to Chicago.  She said, “Most people indulge in wine, cigarettes, daily lattes.  Not me.  It’s fresh flowers.”

15 years later, I get it.  Now, I get it.

A mere $1.50 that will greet me as I slave over dishes for the next week.  A reminder of my wedding day.

I love gerberas.  There’s something about this flower that can center a whole room.  That can take your mood and flip it on its back.

With the stress of back to school life already here, I need all the help I can get.

xoxo
Nicolette

p.s. What small treats and little things do you indulge in?  Even if they are free.  Like locking yourself in the bathroom when the kids are screaming… {I do that too.}
Don’t read and run.  Your turn. Go.
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the luckiest: happy anniversary…

‎”Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.” 
– Rick Blain







To the luckiest man on earth….


First comes love…







Then comes marriage…









Then comes, two little tyrants who destroy your home, your sleep, and your youth two little men.










Love,
The Wife



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