Saturday, June 18, 2016

Why (and How) We School Year Long!

1. Because we can! The great thing about homeschooling is that we can choose a schedule that works best for us!

2. There will always be those doldrum days throughout the year when no one is motivated or inspired - especially the month of January. So it makes sense to just keep going when we're excited and there are still fun things in front of us!

3. With child-led-learning, the whole wide world is school. So we follow wherever our curiosity takes us...

4. ...And our curiosity has so many places to take us in summer!

Summer is the perfect time to grow gardens. We plant a seed, we watch it grow! It is perfect for botany and biology; to study life cycles of plants. And for entomology; there are so many amazing bugs in our yard everyday! We can study their life cycles as well. We can study spiders' webs, bee hives and wasp nests...

Summer is a grand time to explore the auspicious forest fires and floods and their effects on different habitats...

To observe a family of robins until the babies leave the nest...

What happens in the compost pile???

Exploring rivers and currents... What happens when you skip a rock across the water?

Collecting rock samples...

Storms. Thunderstorms, tornadoes, rainbows. Observing weather & cloud formations...

Picking delicious wild & traditional foods...
A summer full of beautiful things is a summer full of learning.

painting a picture of the garden
pipe cleaner bee
"pollinating" the flowers
Happy learning!

Friday, June 10, 2016


It was last spring that we were studying clouds. We had just put up a fort/tower/swing set in our backyard and had climbed up on top. From there we could see the whole wide world. It brought me back to springs in my childhood, long forgotten, as we stood up there in the midst of the bright blue sky and billowing clouds. We were daydreaming and looking forward to all the things that spring would bring.

I am always looking for ways to introduce new subjects to the kids, so when I saw one particularly beautiful and mysterious cloud, I said, "Wow. I wonder what kind of cloud that is." Immediately Fynn came to see what it was and Rowan followed close behind. "What is it?" they asked. They were now curious about clouds. So we went in and researched clouds on the internet together. It turns out that cloud was a cumulonimbus.

We found a cloud identification game online that Fynn liked to play for a while, and I made us a cloud chart to hang on the wall, or to take with us in the car. Now we could identify any cloud in the sky. Fynn memorized them pretty well and made his own chart using a blue table cloth and pillow stuffing. We made cloud experiments with water, stuffing, bubbles, shaving cream and so on.

As the kids' interests turned to other things, I went on in my pondering of clouds. We had learned that clouds are formed  by water evaporating, and that it takes particles for the molecules to cling to, but there seems to be so much we don't know. For instance I can make a "cloud in a jar" but I'm really only creating steam or mist. I can't re- create those billowy white beings. I suspect the charges of ions must have something to do with their swirling billowing patterns. Water and wind seem to also have these patterns. And in a rigid, less flowing way, so do continents and land formations! Also, there seem to be so many more kinds of clouds in reality than we learn about in books. I'm still looking for answers to these questions, while the clouds themselves continue to inspire me, reminding me of the past and making promises of future adventures.

I will leave you with this verse from Joni Mitchell:

Flows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
Feathered canyons everywhere
I looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's clouds' illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

Happy learning!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Rowan,The Color-Change Boy

Some of Rowan's favorite toys have been the Cars characters that change colors in hot & cold water. Color-Change Cars. So Rowan earned his nickname, Color-Change Boy because he changes clothes ten times a day.  He just wants to dress up as all his favorite characters! As Fynn says, Rowan is going to be everybody.

"Agent Lucy Wilde" saying, "Lipstick taser!"
Dory, the blue tang fish

"Mr. Ray"
"Olaf" the snowman
"Elsa" singing "Let it go!"
"I am Li Sh'an, and I'm looking for my son."
"Master Tigress"
"Joy" with a bag of core memories

"Bing Bong" the imaginary elephant
The Man In The Yellow Hat


"Dr. Nefario"
The amazing Mr. Magorium with his magic paper airplane
Donkey Kong with Ditty Kong on his back
"Gru" making homemade jelly                    
One day Rowan came out saying, "Guess who I am!" like he does every day. I couldn't figure out who he was, so finally he said, "I'm... Rowan!"

What a surprise!

I just love watching Rowan be all the things he can be.

Happy Learning!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Why video games are good for you. 
We've entered into a scary time- video games. We know, they're bad for you. They rot th' brain. They're addictive. Not something we intentionally introduced to our kids, but, they found them anyway. I thank uncle nick- it all happened when he bought grandma and grandpa that Wii-
As homeschoolers we've learned to trust our son with his education- when he leads th' way his progress and learning is evident. He's taught us that you can learn anything from anything. Video games, it turns out, are no different. For one, it's brought our family together more. Before Donkey Kong we'd go over to grandma and grandpa's house and fynn would just kinda bounce around th' place, discontent, disruptive. He didn't really know what to do with himself. Now we all laugh and cheer and encourage and comfort him together. We're all sharing moments together, with him, and that's priceless. Also, he's learning how to self regulate. This is huge, his fits are like seizures, (in fact, i'm not sure they are not seizures) they come upon him at th' slightest provocation and can render our entire household useless for an indefinite amount of time. When th' storm passes he's really sorry, he just can't help it he says, it's like th' fuss just takes me over he says. It's really hard to watch him go through these episodes, hurting himself and others in th' process, and being unable to stop. An online video game freezing up can trigger one of these fits. So can just having a hard time with th' game. But lately we've begun to notice something unusual. When he's starting to get frustrated, instead of doing nothing and letting it escalate till he explodes, he'll stop th' game and do something else, like go on th' swing for a while, or watch a video of th' game on youtube. This gives us so much hope. He's learning, on his own, how to stop a meltdown before it happens. We've tried everythinG in th' book and some things not in th' book to get him to this point, and nothing has even hinted at working. Who knew it'd come from a video game?
So now he's trying to learn how to make his own video game. He's got it all planned out, drawn out, figured out. He's learning how to program- he says by th' time he's thirteen he'll have it made. We think that's pretty cool. He's setting long term goals for himself, and working hard towards them. He's learning. It's making him happy, and that is our ultimate goal for him, to be happy. When your child suffers so much, and you see his face light up at something, that's what you hang onto. That's what gives you hope. A smile. Find what it is your kids love to do, and do it with them. Trust them. You'll be amazed at what you find.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

California trip 2016

We've made a habit of going to the ocean at least once a year. It all started with Fynn's love of whales, which we don't get to see very often here in Colorado. Last year we had a miraculous encounter with whales, which i wrote about in an older post (here).

 For the second year in a row Grandma and Grandpa came with us, Turning it into an extended family vacation. As usual Rowan got himself all ready to go, and as we were packing up th' day of departure Fynn caught th' first garter snake of th' season, it was a good day.

Here are th' kids blasting off in their rocket. 

Last year two really big things happened, and we wanted to do them again. One is that th' kids discovered they could ride with Grandma and Grandpa, and the other is that their favorite thing in th' whole world besides the ocean is a hotel with a swimming pool. This year they rode with Grandma and Grandpa almost the enitre trip, and so me and Beth got to actually spend a lot of time together. We both feel like this, at least for us, was really th' reason for this year's trip. If you are not a special needs parent it's hard to understand what it's like to be around th' person you love th' most and yet never have any time to actually be with them. We can't even have a conversation unless both kids are asleep, which is sometimes never. People tell us to go on dates, get a babysitter, and that's a great idea, but we only have one babysitter, and it's two people. (You know who you are and we love you for that) We spent more time together on this trip than we have in th' last eight years. I tell you it was wonderful. It was like meeting and falling in love all over again. 

So anyway, th' first night we stayed in this nice hotel with a pool and hot tub, and in th' morning had breakfast and swam till we had to leave. Nothing calms our kids more than swimming. While i was holding Rowan in th' pool he said to me, Oh Papa, this is th' best day of my life! He'd been alive for 1,230 days at this point, so that's saying something. 

Here's Fynn and Rowan in our hotel th' first night- They love hotels so much that Rowan actually wants to live in one, and talks about it almost everyday. 

So anyways we drove on through th' desert towards ocean, stopping by some salt lakes, and spending our first night in Reno at a casino. 

It was a grey drive most of th' way, till we got over th' pass in california and dropped down into Sacramento, where we got out and picked blackberry leaves for tea, and even found some good butternuts from last fall. 

And finally, we made it to San Francisco. Both kids love th' Golden Gate bridge, so we made sure our route crossed that. Last year Fynn got really into hills, and he spent a lot of time on Google Earth looking up hills, well he found out that one of th' steepest streets in th' world is in San Francisco, Lombard street, so we got to drive down that, and it's featured in Inside Out, which was both kids favorite movie at th' time. They were so excited we thought they were gonna pop. Beth got a video of us driving down that, which you can watch on our Youtube channel here

After Lombard street we went down to th' Wharf to let go of our jetlag by running around a crowded outdoor area and watch th' kids bump into complete strangers, and just generally act inappropriate. They chased pigeons, tried to take over th' magic shows, played other peoples drums and ran ran ran up and down th' wharf. It was quite fun actually. 

Social graces are not our kids strongpoint. I hear that's a common trait of people with autism. What ever Fynn should not do, he's probably going to do that. He'll go right up to th' street magician and start rummaging through his bag of tricks, or th' drummers and start banging away, or impulsively pull over a drum. We try to stop him but he's just so fast, sometimes he gets away from us. And Rowan is quickly following in his footsteps. Keeps th' sketchy people away though, in this respect our kids are kinda like guard dogs. We, as a family, are a walking tornado, and most folks keep their distance. 

Oh yeah, do you remember th' movie Big, with Tom Hanks, where an eight year old  makes a wish on th' Zoltar machine and wakes up in th' body of a thirty year old? 

That evening we checked into our hotels, got a room right next door to Grandma and Grandpa, which meant th' kids could run back and forth, which they loved. Did i mention that we love hotels? Free breakfast, two beds right next to each other to jump back and forth on, only one room to clean, simple living. A short walk to th' ocean. Wildflowers. 

Fynn and Rowan picking mustard flowers

 We spent most of th' days on th' beach, Flying kites, drawing pictures in th' sand, listening to th' waves, looking for whales, being calm. 

Rowan just rolling in th' sand, because he can

"It's Fynn Den"


Rowan flew his first kite all by himself. 

We went to a couple of different beaches, at one of them there was a trail going up a steep cliff. Last year me and Fynn climbed it, and loved it. This year he started each of three days by climbing this cliff. It took us about 45 minutes to go up and come back down. On th' way up and at th' top we found a couple of spirals made of rocks- Fynn ran in and out of them and had a blast. We found wild strawberries and fields of fennel. On th' way back down we saw a creek lined with poison hemlock, perhaps th' most deadly plant on earth. Fynn stopped each person we saw and pointed it out to them and told them not to eat it. 

picking fennel

Rowan playing in th' bubbles

Once again it was a great trip. We had some food issues, and some incidents, but i'll spare you th' bad parts for now- it was worth every bit of it.

Good-bye Ocean
 On th' way home we stayed in Vegas, and got to see some canyonlands, where Fynn says he was born and lived until we found him and brought him home to live with us, so he was very excited to go there (again). We found this hotel in Green River, Utah, with an Indian family running it, very friendly, served us breakfast and everything, and i thought, wouldn't it be amazing if Fynn liked indian food. (You must understand, he eats almost nothing but bean burritos and fresh fruit) and somehow, when we got home, me and Beth decided we were going to make some indian dishes, and Fynn actually like a lot of it. I can't tell you how good that is. Thanks Fynn for loving whales enough to carry us around th' country, and thanks Grandma and Grandpa for coming with us. And thanks to you for taking th' time to peek into our lives- 

"and this is where i keep my oatmeal and my burritos"

See Ya'll next time.