What I Have Learned

Things I've been thinking about lately......

If I could share something that I have learned in life what would it be?  Well, it would be that no matter what cards you are given in Life you can still play your hand and play it well.  This is your one chance at life live it, don't just watch other's live theirs.  And Success isn't determined by the amount of stuff you have collected, titles you've acquired or money you have earned.  True Success is when you lay your head on your pillow at night and can say that today you did your Best.  You showed up, gave from your heart and hands and lived your Best.

When did Your Best suddenly became not enough?  I remember in school...I did my Best and I went to sleep at night satisfied.  As I got older, became a Mom, a Wife, a part of a Community that all changed.  It all became clear that My Best wasn't good enough.  Mix in Social Media and all the Self Help books that surround us daily and we begin to doubt even core Bests that we have known and believed for years.  And instead of sleeping like a Baby we are scared stiff in a puddle of sweat as appointments, to-do lists, negative thoughts, worries and doubt fill our minds to the point of a full on anxiety attack.  Yes, this has happened to me....numerous times.  
Now how do I cope besides letting go and letting God handle it.  I just wake up every morning and do my Best.  I've realized that I can do one moment at a time.  This moment, there is no need to worry about next Wednesday or start mapping my Black Friday Target route in May.  You miss too many precious moments with the people that really matter when you do that.
I don't want to Miss Any More Moments......


KidsEmail.org ~ REVIEW


Do you have a separate Email Account for your Kiddos?  I mean their just Kids....I didn't get an Email until I was 22 years old.....wow have the times changed.  Kaden was 6 when he opened an account, but he never checked it, it was basically for log in purposes for games on his tablet.  But, now at 9 he accesses it pretty often and many times honestly I'm not there.  And without my watchful eye I worry.  Just the other day he asked me what Sexy meant?  Where did he see this word?  An add popped up on the side bar.  Yes, it provided a moment for me to educate my Son and to talk about a topic I was hoping we could wait a few years before addressing.  Thankfully his innocence only took a few minutes to smooth over until he was back doing what he was doing.  But, in time 2+2 will add up and he will have many more questions.  When I heard about KidsEmail.org I was wide eyed and bushy tailed!  We were Blessed with an Annual Subscription from them in exchange for my Review of my experience.  YAY!!

This service is geared toward younger children which was perfect for 9 year old Kaden, but they also have an older Kid option that gives a more grown up look.  I decided to have Mahala use the older option since she is 16, almost 30....hahahaha! :)  The set up and log in was very easy and fast.  I was super impressed with the ease and organization.  Nothing stinks more then being excited to set something up and realizing you need a special college course just to set it up, let alone use it.  I will be honest Mahala wasn't really on board with the whole thing....she felt like it was too juvenile.  Note to self...Maybe I shouldn't have sprung this on her while I was surfing through the younger Kiddo set up.....picture Below!
Not Mahala's Thing!

More Mahala's Thing!!!!
Kaden, was much easier...he didn't really care he just needed to make his deals on a few games.  Unfortunately, he has been on some of these games for a few years and we had to send in written requests to get his email changed.  We haven't heard back from them yet.  So, we have not been able to swap his game emails over to this new account.  But, as a personal email to communicate with his cousins and Aunt this works perfectly.  He uses it like I use my phone to text.  I didn't let him do that before because I was worried about what would pop up.  

So, what exactly can we do with this service to provide safety to our Kiddos.  You can control who your Kids can send to or receive an email from.  You can control who is on their contact list....all of these things are able to be customized, for Kaden he has a set 5 people.  But Mahala I have allowed this to be done with her and she can add anyone.  I feel comfortable with that because I get a copy email of all incoming mail.  You also can decide if pictures, attachments and links are ok to receive and or send.  This was when I did a Happy dance.....I mean can I get my own account PLEASE??? 
I'm not done yet...my Favorites are coming up.  You can have commonly known Bad Words taken out, place a tag line at the bottom of all communications so that the recipient has no excuse to not know your Kiddo is in fact just that a Kiddo!!!  And probably one of Mahala's Favorite options is you can have a Special notification set up to be sent to all Senders that their email is delayed at the moment pending on parental approval.  Yes, Mahala Loves this, because she doesn't want to deal with creeps.  She's a Teen, but knows as her Parents we have her best interest at heart.  The Notification looks kind of like this.... 
Dear bugmenot@hello.com,

MyDaughter@kidsemail.org is only allowed to receive email from approved senders. This means that your email to MyDaughter@kidsemail.org will be delayed until the parent of this child reviews and approves the message. There is no guarantee that your message will be delivered to its intended recipient

Can we all just sit back and Smile a little here!!! :)

There are many other options too, You can ground your child from using their email by putting a lock on it.  I'm assuming this would be great as an incentive to a Teen.  We have not had to use that, but it is available, along with a time frame.  I wish Social Media came with a shut off timer. :)  You can modify the look, so your Kiddo has several styles and colors to choose from and they can totally make it their own.

So, what did we think about the Annual Subscription?  I Love it and so do the Kids....especially Mahala who wasn't on board at first.  But, from her mouth she said I am happy to not have to see or worry about seeing anything surprising.  Kaden, is like whatever...he just knows that Momma has his Best interest at heart and that's all that matters to him.  And That's good enough for me.  I think it's worth it to have your Kids step out into this world slowly with the comfort of having someone there giving some protection as they slowly grow into responsible young adults.

Check out what's new over at KidsEmail.org with Social Media today!!

Crew Disclaimer
KidsEmail.org Annual Subscription


Eat Like a Camper

I get asked frequently how in the world do I cook while on the road and stick to all our dietary needs!?!?!  Well, the answer is....I don't!  I decided when we were going to take this little adventure that somethings were going to need to be tweeked and some where going to get tossed right out the window.  And you know what?  Nobody has died yet!  There are several things that we wouldn't give up or tweek like daily vitamins and essential oil routines.  Water only has been mixed with a few rootbeers and gatorades.  We have had not a drop of milk and only dairy free cheese.....but our lips have touched real icecream.  Veggies have come strait from a bag and we have even bought bagles and bread.  I figure it's a rhythm in our lives right now and I decided to go with it and as long as we are semi happy then that's good enough for me.  One thing I'm proud of is I can say we are still Big Yellow Arch FREE....4+ years still, I can almost count on both hands how many times we ate outside of the campground on this 9 week journey.....not counting the week Skylar and Leslie flew out and met us. 

Normally, on days we are driving inbetween campsite...like if we are dry camping or waking up early to drive 6 hours to our next destination; we will pull out the blender or as healthy of a muffin I can find.  I also, use premade breakfast sandwiches from time to time.  But, nothing beats eggs and sausage cooked outside with a nice hot cup of joe in your hands.  This is what we eat most days or an omelet.  
Lunch is always leftovers, salads or now sandwiches.  We have been staying away from bread for a loooooong time.  But, this trip we have had to modify that and we tend to do helf sandwiches, meat and cheese roll ups or salads.  Most of the time the bread is not finished on mine and Kaden's plate and we are the ones who need to stay away from it.  Both Kaden and I will have our hot dogs and burgers bun-less though....some things have not changed.  I love to cut up melons, grapes and apples and stir in a little lemon and some orange slices.....toss it all in little ziplock bags and when we hike, go to the pool or for a quick snack we just grab a few of them.

Dinners we tend to grill up a ton of seasoned chicken breasts once a week, grill a few burgers and hotdogs and throw meat in the instapot for stews or pulled pork sandwiches.  These are divided out over quinoa, salad, steamed veggies and a few times we have had GF noodles.  We aren't super exciting....but it keeps my kid's bellies filled, warm and happy......also the bonus of finding a fantastic ice cream brand that we can't get back at home so we have been splurging BIG time!
Time to wash up some dishes....till next time!


Teaching Your Kiddos While Your On The Road

We took a nature hike today and I was impressed how eager Kaden was to get out and explore.  Mahala on the other hand was fine doing book work in the air conditioned RV.  Our plan is to do an hour of book work a day while we are on our trip.  The important thing for me is to remind myself we are not just camping.  We are trying full-time on to see how it feels.  Will it work for our Family?  I most definitely could continue full time in this RV from here on out.  But, will it be right for us at this point?  Is it going to work with Kaden?  How will we work and make money?  What about Dr.'s appointments and therapy?  We have a lot to think about these next 2 months....and having a routine and sticking to it is crucial, especially with a child on the Spectrum.

Part of our routine is personal health, chores, Spiritual growth, exercise and learning.  Our kids read like it's their full time job.  In our RV right now we have over 100 books that we brought with us.  We are crazy readers, a few days a go we literally bought 3 additional books.  Not to mention I brought my Kindle with us too and I have 100's of books on there.  So, we get our reading done for sure.  I'll talk about all the things listed up there, but today I was going to talk about the learning on the road situation.

For this trip we brought a little something for every subject area.  Kaden only brought books for English along with his daily journal.  But, Mahala brought her complete English curriculum including Spelling and Vocabulary.  Every day they read and journal and then an hour of whatever book work they want to do.  While we are on the road driving we stop at least once at some sort of educational museum or monument.  While there we go around as a Family to look, read, explore and ask questions.  I want my kids to seek out education, not be hand feed a bunch of facts and dates only to recite them once or twice and then forget them.  We are a very hands on Family, we learn by experiencing and doing.  We take every opportunity we can.  Like the other day we ate on a Train that was converted into a diner.  While we were there we looked up the year of the train, where it's original routes were.  We talked about the different types of engines, who shoveled the coal, the cost of the 1st tickets, who traveled by train back then, who invented the train, train robberies, wild west transportation, the economy in the West, trading, the Indians......here comes lunch!  Our conversations grow and grow and I love when the kids bring up a place we have gone to or plan to see into our discussions.  It's by doing this that they retain what they are learning.....because it is important to them and has meaning.  Why?  Because it's learning with you, their Family! :)

Once we stop and get settled for at least a night the next day we grab a collecting box, Ziploc bag, binoculars, gloves, magnifying glasses and our notepad.  And we explore the area and find new things we have never seen before.  Kaden is such a black and white thinker, so it warms my soul when he picks up a rock or stick and tells me what it resembles or he drops off into imagination land for a minute and pretends he's a Pirate.  These moments come on strong, but fade too quickly and I feel Blessed to be able to be there when they happen.

Other ways we learn on the road is educational movies and shows, board/card games and the computer.  Kaden and Mahala both use sites like Khan Academy and several other programs that makes learning possible no matter where you are or what you want to learn about.  How do you school on the road or at home?  I would love to hear all about it! :)


Help Teaching Pro Subscription ~ REVIEW

Like I have said a million times before I am a fly by the seat of my pants kind of Homeschooling Momma and my Kiddos have become accustom to waking up to something new each day.  One of the pitfalls to that is maybe not always having a full days worth of material on hand or enough pieces to pull together a memorable unit study.  This especially happens when it comes to working with Kaden.  He is always exploring new ideas and investigating Historical people.....this keeps me on the look out all the time for what I can stash away or add onto something I have planned in the near future.  Right before we left on our RV trip I was Blessed to be able to have another round at Reviewing the Help Teaching Pro Subscription from HelpTeaching.com


Finding Peace Amongst the Stucco

Being on this trip has opened my eyes to a lot!  Honestly, this should be a prerequisite in life....get an RV, some road maps, limited funds and see the country.  I think it's because we have soooo many distractions in the "real world".  We allow non-important things to take our focus away from what really matters the most.  For me that's trying to be better then I'm even capable of being..... expectations through the roof!  That's seeing my child with Autism as a round peg that I'm trying to squeeze into a neurotypical square hole.  That's me basing my Marriage on Ideals I've made up in my mind through dreams, shows, self-help books and once again the almighty expectations that I've glued my life together on.  
Living day to day in a 4,000 sq ft house in Suburbia where everything is manicured and everyone smiles makes a person look at themselves with criticism on their tongues, no matter how ridiculous it may be.  It's real, the need to be better...perfect...other then who you woke up as is strong.
Now, strip away the house, the Whole Foods, internet, nosy neighbors, to do lists, running water, reality tv and add an RV, some spotty cell phone reception, a generator, sunscreen, maps, Family and time.  This will give you a wake up call.   That first morning that we were on the road I woke up and thought....is this legal....can we just drive around and live out of this thing....are we qualified?????  Here we are week 5 and I'm more in-touch with who I am then ever before...sounds crazy I know.  But, I've lived a life of pleasing others and living up to unobtainable expectations.  Only recently through my Husband's addiction have I regain self worth and took my life back that I so freely gave away as a child. 

So, what does this look like?  For me it has given me Freedom to spend my day on my terms, for my benefit....not just the benefit of others.  I have reconnected with Nature....being Native American feels real to me now.  Used to it was just something I knew I was.  But, to walk where possibly your ancestors have walked and to be surrounded by untouched nature in the Smoky Mountains that once surrounded them brought it to life for me.  Being there aloud dots to be connected and peace filled me.  I live in an area where the support sticks are bigger then the actual trees.  I'm surrounded by stucco, roads, people and things to do next a mile long.  But, for me to truly Thrive and not just Live I need Nature, Peace and Solitude. 

Being on the road we would wake up each morning and look forward to where we were going, discovering places on the road and off the beaten path have been therapeutic and healing for my heart.  I'm sad that it will end soon.  I could spend the rest of my life doing this.  Hunting, Collecting and Creating Moments to share with my Family.  No more will I worry about what I don't have or what it may look like to others when Kaden is having a meltdown.  I will not get caught up in the act of rushing through my to do lists or sign up to be apart of every Bible study, book club or play date.  As long as the Lord has me in Suburbia I will be creating my own little piece of Nature and Solitude right there in the middle of all the crazy....


CHSH Download Club ~ REVIEW


2010 by Lynda Ackert, a Christian wife, mother and veteran educator of 20+ years. She began her career as a public school teacher and taught both in the states and overseas for the Department of  Defense before becoming a mother at the age of 33. It was at that time she began homeschooling. As part of her passion for teaching, she discovered her love for creating educational materials for teachers and homeschoolers and has chosen to give back to the educational community through her efforts to create and maintain this community. - See more at: http://www.christianhomeschoolhub.com/pt/About-CHSH/wiki.htm#sthash.ksmBJlDX.dpuf
2010 by Lynda Ackert, a Christian wife, mother and veteran educator of 20+ years. She began her career as a public school teacher and taught both in the states and overseas for the Department of  Defense before becoming a mother at the age of 33. It was at that time she began homeschooling. As part of her passion for teaching, she discovered her love for creating educational materials for teachers and homeschoolers and has chosen to give back to the educational community through her efforts to create and maintain this community. - See more at: http://www.christianhomeschoolhub.com/pt/About-CHSH/wiki.htm#sthash.ksmBJlDX.dpuf
So, this Summer we were preparing for our cross country trip and school kind of took a back burner.  We planned to school through the trip and keep up on our journals.  Looking at all the books we were planning to take was a tad overwhelming and I was worried about keeping up with it all.  Along came a golden opportunity....we were given an Annual Subscription to the CHSH Download Club to REVIEW from CHSH-Teach.com
Lynda Ackert created CHSH after more then 20 years of educating Kids in the States and Overseas.  Once she became a Mom she decided to Homeschool and found a Passion for creating Educational Materials for Teachers and Homeschoolers.  And I know I am Thankful she took a leap of Faith and started this Amazing Community that offers over 50,000 Educational Downloads for grades K-12.


Apologia Educational Ministries ~ REVIEW


We have been huge Apologia Educational Ministries fans for a long time now.  We love Science in this house and almost everything that comes with it...minus the messy clean up duty that generally follows every Science experiment we've ever tried.  But, it's ok, I enjoy learning and having fun right along side my Kiddos.  When Kaden was just 4 years old I ordered the complete Exploring Creation Series.  And he's been done with all of them for some time now.  When I heard that they were coming out with an Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition I was excited.  I was excited to see how they could possibly make it any better then what it already was.  The past several weeks I have had the opportunity to use and Review the Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition from Apologia Educational Ministries with Kaden.  The Author Jeanie Fulbright has worked with NASA Engineers to expanded the curriculum by including new Amazing full-color visually stimulating illustrations along with updates info that's transpired in the last 12 years.

It was late the night before we were supposed to leave on our cross country RV trip and Kaden noticed I had placed the New Astronomy Set in his Work box.  He was like what is this...I want to read it now.  I wanted to see if he noticed that it was the same thing he had done a few years back, just revised.  A few minutes in he looked up and and looked at the cover and then read some more.  When we were finished loading up the RV I sat down beside him and asked him about what he read and he chatted on and on about the first few chapters.  And like I predicted he did remember a lot of it and recognized it was similar to what he had learned before.  I told him about the Review and showed him everything that we received.....
Before we used the Jr. Notebooking Journal, so this time he was excited to be able to use the regular Notebooking Journal.  As he flipped through it he pointed out the differences between his finished Jr. Notebooking Journal and the new regular one.  He said it was better because it didn't have coloring pages.  He's not thrilled with coloring. :(  

So, let's see....how did we use this product?  We are on the road, so I had to be a little creative.  Normally I would start from the beginning and go straight through.  There is a wonderful schedule provided that we normally would go by.  But, for this time in our lives we need even more flexibility, so we skipped around depending on what was available and where we were.  Let me just say that most days Kaden listened to the Audio CD with no complaints and it was a lifesaver on days we were driving or busy.  Then we would pick out possible activities and he worked in his notebook a few days a week.

One of the things I liked the most is the color pages in the Notebooking Journals.  Wow, it really makes a difference....having full color on the pages is friendly and cheerful.  Before it was harder to get Kaden to complete the pages, but this one was no problem at all.  He was always willing to complete his work....that made me a happy camper, literally!!  The major thing that I like about using this curriculum is the way the information is presented.  They leave room for your child to be inspired and to go off on their own to create or explore their world for themselves.  Kaden used his legos to build many creations after reading about space rovers.  Listening to him talk about what he's learned while walking through Disney's Epcot last week assured me that this curriculum has all he needs to thrive and excel in Science.  

A Bonus I recently found out that just recently they released Astronomy 2nd Edition Science Kit.  This Kit gives you 62 amazing activities*****21 of them are exclusive to this Kit.  Your Kiddo will be able to take what they learned in the book and workbook to the next level....check it out, I'm ordering mine asap!

Would we use this again?  For sure, this will be our main Science this year until he finishes.  We have projects lined up for when we get home and his calendar for the year is marked and ready to go when we get back.  If you like a Godly World View curriculum this is your ticket to success!  If you like an independent program that allows some hands on this is for you....especially if you like a slightly relaxed schedule that doesn't require a ton of planning and organizing on your part.

Be sure to pop over and see what Apologia Educational Ministries has going on through Social Media!!

Crew Disclaimer

Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition Review


Disney with Autism Post Coming Soon

Disney World was more then we could all handle.....it will be a LOOOOOONG time before we go back.  But, we do have a plan to go to Disney Land in the New Year.  We found many differences between the two parks as fare as having a child with Autism in your party.  I have lot's to say, some good and some not so good.  I just want to share my opinion, our experience.  We went to both Land and World this year and both experiences were highly different.  This will probably take a few posts, but, I just wanted to pop in while we are recuperating and let you know what I'm working on.  Kaden is alive and semi well, minus a nasty cold.....but, we barely escaped our Disney Vacation in one piece.  More to come on this subject as soon as I can. :)