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Thursday, January 31, 2008


Over the years I have developed a neat little simple and cheap system to keep track of who did what in what year.  I'll share it with you here.  First let me preface this with a few thoughts

 My way is not THE only way. It is here for an example. Use it if you like, modify it to work for your family, don't do it if you don't like it!  It's what I do and what I find simplest for my family.

I am NOT required by NV state law to keep this, nor am I required to keep any kind of records, portfolios or other thing.

All that being system happened naturally..I was getting frustrated not being able to remember when we went on certain trips, what Brian had done with his grandparents in FL, etc. so I grabbed a binder, put a folder in it and some loose leaf paper.

After reading Cafi Cohen's And What About College I quickly decided to break the paper up by "subject". This is good training for writing a transcript, and it just looks nicer in the finished product. My "subjects" are: Bible, PE, English, Science, History, Math, Other.  Depending on the child and the interest, some years we have Civics, Volunteer, Japanese, Computers, whatever is a major thrust that year gets its own tab.

The folder is used for all the stuff we collect on field trips. Each field trip I try to grab a pamphlet (or 3, depending on how many kids are with me!)  If there is no pamphlet then at home I print out something from their website, or buy a postcard. I also save tickets, event handouts, certificates of completion, any little odd or end that I can!  Sometimes noteworthy things they've written, or pictures of get the idea! And it all goes into the folder for the end of the year when I "assemble" it.

At the end of the year (We learn year around, so usually end of summer I start the next binder) I assemble the binder. I type up all the things under each category. I'll give you some examples from various kids binders 

Hike at Red Rock
Roller Skating

Veggie Tales
Bible Study
Youth Group

English:(This is usually a list of books they've read)
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
RedWall Series
Edgar Allen Poe Study:The Raven & Other Poems, The Pit & The Pendulum, the movie, The Pit and the Pendulum

Jr Master Gardener
Lied Discovery Museum
Camden Aquarium
Yucca Mountain Science Center
Duke Gardens
National Weather Service


Story of the World
World Trade Center (Ground Zero)
USS North Carolina
The Statue of Liberty
Ellis Island
White House
Washington Monument

Jr Achievement
Math U See
Mind benders

Fire Station
Breakfast with Senators
Disney World
Sea World
Philadelphia Zoo
Corn maize

Computers:(Dont ask me what any of this is..techy son is on his own for this all!)
Beta tested’s avatar section (spotting and reporting bugs)  (html, css)  (html, css, xhtml, php, javascript, xml) (html)
Learned more about GIMP (image Editor)
Learned more about Adobe Photoshop Elements 2 (image editor)
Learned about Mozilla Thunderbird (Email client)
Learned about Audacity (sound editor)
Learned about Inkscape (SVG editor)
Installed Freespire on an old Windows 98 computer (installing an OS/Computers)
Hooked up old hard drive to a working computer for extra space (computer hardware)
Installed Ubuntu 7.04 and learned internals of it
Transferred all files from hard drive, reinstalled Windows Xp and transferred back
Learned about X11 Server
Website building, ftp

Then I paste the pamphlets or tickets or whatever to a piece of paper and insert it into clear page protectors. I buy them in bulk at Sam's Club

Jr. Ranger Certificate and Badge

Each child has a binder for each year. As they get older they are responsible for writing their own things in it. I just compile it and make it pretty at the end of the year! Sometimes if we do a  specific co-op..volunteer or cooking etc I devote a separate binder to it..with pics and descriptions. Here's some of our binders from over the years!

These make a really nice way to present what you've "really been doing" over the year to relatives and such. Plus they make a great keepsake for the children!

Hopefully this simple way of record keeping has sparked some hope in you! It doesn't have to be complicated and it doesn't have to be expensive! And you will soon see that much of your "learning" can be "categorized" into subjects with a little creativity!

At the end of the year it is very nice to look back and see how much learning has really happened, even without a structured curriculum!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Ok, this is my first time...hope I do it right! I've been tagged by ilovemy3angelbabies to list 7 random things about myself and then tag 7 other people.

1. I have the world's fattest cat! She used to be so skinny we thought she was ill. UNTIL we got her fixed. Then she BLEW UP.

2. I'm probably like a lot of you, rather get something for the house than for myself. I needed a new washer, and for Mother's Day my husband got me the matching dryer!

3. My dream car: a 4x4 truck, stick shift, king cab, nice lift kit. Ford preferable, but Dodge doable. Oh, and probably diesel. Don't ask..who knows! And my husband thinks I'm nuts!

4. I'd love to count how many times I actually kiss the baby every day. In one head bend I can drop an easy 5 little ones on him. I need a little clicker!

5. I have a severe throw up phobia. Even writing that drives me nuts.

6. I love Food network, HGTV and TLC

7. Geesh this is hard! What if it's not interesting?! SO much pressure! Ummm....ok..I grew up with Dobermans! Ferocious looking but never hurt a fly!

I don't know if people like being tagged or not...hope noone takes offense! I'll tag: MOMflippedisWOW , homeschoolinginKSA , tn3jcarter , growingdaily , juniperkids , caroline4kids , and hugs4Him .

Snow Day

After a weekend of lots of snow at the higher elevations, we took off for sledding fun! It's always amazing to me, living in the desert, that within 45 minutes we have a ski "resort" and snow play area!

We got up there and it was 18 degrees. Now, when I lived in NJ that wouldnt have phased me....after 8 years here, 18 is UNHEARD of!!!! Even my teen was WHINING!!  It was brutal! But, there was snow!

Can you tell who was unhappy and cold? Oh, yeah, and whose boots didn't fit so they kept slipping off? 

He ended up being "sent" to the car with Brian for warmth and a much needed nap!

Well, at least this one's having fun! Elias is in the red.

Well, all in all, it was a cold but fun time! Just glad we don't have to live with all the slush and scraping windshields, and COLD anymore!! Viva Las Vegas!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Tables are turned!

I can truly tell you that following a child's lead (and of course my belief is that those interests are God-placed) can take you places you never would have dreamed of. never been to school, never traditionally schooled child...has always led me to things that are certainly not on any scope and sequence..and yet, at 14, he still sometimes surprises me!

Brian assigned ME a challenge! He asked me to read a book he had just read. What!!

Brian's reading style and mine...are...umm...POLAR OPPOSITES!!! He's into sci-fi and fantasy, LOVES Harry Potter...I've never cracked a HP book open! I'd rather whilst away my time on Christian Fiction, or parenting books, or even non-fiction on topics I'm interested in....

I started silently praying and contemplating my choices. Geesh, if I say no what kind of mom am I? But if I say yes I have to read the book! What to do, what to do?!?!?!

Ok, it can't be that bad, it came from the "religious" section at Borders..not like it's sci-fi....that's in its, I'll get to see what it is he's reading.....another plus...maybe give us something meaty to talk about...

Let me run down for you some background info, including how he found this book.

He loves to read. He has never been made to read any certain book, never done a book report. EVER. I see no clear reason to make a child do a book report. If you want to know if they've truly read it, talk to them about it!  If you want to know if they can write a report, well, that's a different topic altogether! Why mix it in with reading when most people want their kids to love reading!  I do have a standing rule that everyone in the house reads an hour a day, and I don't care what it is, as long as its reading. I have one who was pulled from ps who hated reading and for his hour, he'd read Nintendo Power magazine and Game Cheat magazines...I don't care! If you're reading and enjoying it, that's what matters.

Brian loves music...recently a member of a band he likes, Hawthorne Heights, died, and on their website they asked people to learn about an organization that the person supported, called To Write Love on Her Arms.

Since then he's become attached to the organization, wearing their t-shirts, explaining their mission, surfing their website etc.
 The founder of the organization Jamie Tworkowski has a myspace page, Jamie,and recommends some various books there. One of them is Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.

blue like jazz cover

So, that's the story of how HE found the book. Following his interests, and various bunny trails.

And, yes, I accepted his challenge and read it! I am super impressed  not only by the book (check back later for my review) but that MY SON found it, and read it, and could discuss it with me. MY BABY!  It is so profound and so deep and so....incredible, all about God and finding meaning in life and relationships with Jesus and LOVE.

In a million years I could never have found this book, and then made him read it. And, if I had, he probably wouldn't have gotten out of it what he did on his own.


I was feeling so blessed, reading so many of your blogs who had sick kids over Christmas...well, it couldn't stay away forever, but we were healthy for Christmas!

The beginning of the week had Brian with a head cold. It wasn't too bad except he got a crazy rash on his neck and above his eyes. So he spent a day passed out from Benadryl. Then it was mostly an irritating runny nose. He's much recovered now.

Friday night baby was very restless about 3 am. He also had a slightly runny nose so I figured he couldn't breath well...that is, until he threw up.

Now, if you know me, you know I am severely phobic about throw up. Not, "I don't like it" but, "My heart races, my palms get sweaty, I get physically ill thinking about it" etc etc

My poor's throwing up, and crying..hate to see the poor little guys who don't understand what's happening just crying. I'm crying because baby's crying, then I'm crying because I'm exhausted and can't sleep in between episodes because I'm totally panicked. What a night!

Luckily for all parties, I remembered that since baby has a G-tube (tube that goes straight to his stomach for feedings) I can open it up and allow it to drain, and then he won't have to physically throw up anymore! You could still tell when pains were hitting him, but it went much easier.

Little lovely woke up around 9 and seemed much recovered stomach wise, but he had a slight fever that left him not really wanting to do much. We just hung in bed for most of the day, playing with toys and trying to keep germs away from everyone else. Hopefully it works!

Everyone did ok overnight, and back to eating regularly today!

Well, off to play in the rarely seen rain!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I'm Mama

It's so funny, from child to child, and from age to age, what they call me!

Brian used to call me "mommy", for awhile I was "Kissy mommy" (HAHHA can you guess who got so much lovin?!?!) Now I'm "m-ooooo-mmmm" (teenage suffering voice)

To Elias...I'm "Mama". It's so funny! I didn't start this, don't know where he got it in a world of "mom" and "mommy"s, but I am Mama. I like it!

Wonder what I'll be to Sebastian....

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

3 In a Row

My poor little toothless Elias! For one support group's yearbook pictures he was missing his 1st top tooth. For the next support group's yearbook pictures, a month later, he had lost his 2nd top tooth. Conveniently, this was also right before Christmas, so he got a lot of stares and people singing "All I want for Christmas is my 2 front teeth"!

Today, he lost the 3rd in a row...and the other 2 aren't even pushing through yet! He could pass...well..a LOT through that gap. He's so cute though and so excited!!!

In other news..Brian is battling a head cold, and Sebastian is still being Lovely!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Well, we were supposed to have a Snow Play Day today at a local mountain, but are waiting till next week for the next storm to dump MORE snow! So, we went bowling instead with Daddy this morning.

Some facts to know:
1) My husband's father used to be a Pro-Bowler
2) My husband used to bowl often and is very good
3) Neither #1 nor #2 positively affected my scores
4) Elias is a "pro" level  on wii bowling
5)  #4 didn't positively affect his scores either!

We had a grand time though! After a particularly awful run, Elias decided we needed to do "group hugs". Meanwhile baby has been practicing "yeah!!!"  ie clapping his little fat hands together, so that was cute too, turning around and seeing him clap!

Here's Elias with his ball.

Here's Little Lovely and Daddy

Here's our first Scoreboard

Notice how GREAT Daddy did. And how Elias , a 6 yr old, beat me?!?!

Here's our 2nd scoreboard:

Daddy/Chris did a lot of goofing off during this game. Elias did ok...I...well...I went downhill.

Chris was left asking some....funny?!?!  questions like:

How does he (Elias) get a gutter ball WITH BUMPERS?  (Happened more than once!!)

Are you going to let your son beat you?

Why don't you throw it straight?  (well, I'm TRYING TO!!!)

Now, hours later  (you have to know my husband is a total goofball) anytime I raise my voice to the kids, or huff and puff, he says, "Don't worry son, it's just because you beat her at bowling today". 

God sure knew what he was doing putting me and my husband together. While it hasn't always been easy, it sure has its fun points! He totally balances me out. It'd be AWFUL to be married to be married to someone like me..I can imagine we'd make each other worse! Instead, Chris usually smashes my Type A personality into a more genteel state with his humor!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

My magazine subscriptions

You can tell an awful lot about a person by their magazine subscriptions. Here're mine:

Scrapbook Trends This is by far the best scrapbook magazine. So much of it is my style! It also comes with a hefty cover price, buying it as a subscription is still pricey but not nearly as bad.

Memory Makers Long time subscriber

Every Day  by Rachel Ray . I'm a big Rachel Ray fan.Love the idea of a quick meal and LOVE her flare for cheese and flavor. My kids, sadly, don't appreciate anything she makes and groan when I say "it's a Rachel Ray recipe!"

Martha Stewart Living. Sadly, this magazine was not what I thought it was. I think I was thinking of maybe another one she publishes, like "simple" or something...this was was all fancy smantzy, with ads for Ralph Lauren clothing etc...way too high end for me! Secretly, I'm a Martha Stewart semi-wannabe, but with less fuss and less money spent!

The Old Schoolhouse  Finally!  I've read it before, but finally subscribed! Got my first issue the other day! YEAH!

What do your magazines tell others about you?!?!  Do you have expensive tastes? Do you want to be environmentally friendly? What are your subscriptions?!  Or dream subscriptions?!?!

Macro and Micro Goals

I talk about this all the time, so I think it's worthy of its own entry!

Some homeschoolers can get caught up in the day to day scheduling and lesson plans and "being behind" and "did they learn anything" and "maybe this isn't right for me" etc etc.

Whether you're just starting out, or been homeschooling for awhile, a good thing to do is examine WHY you're homeschooling. Ok, maybe not so much the reasons like: freedom, tailoring education, traveling, following interests, hugging your kids whenever you like...but the BIG reasons...the GOALS. What do you want to achieve at the END?

In my home, the MACRO (or BIG) Goals are simple!
1. A love of God
2. A love of learning
3. Knowledge of how/where to find info
4. A career that they love.

We can dissect these....

1.Love of God To be honest, NOTHING else matters, not whether they finish their assignment on Tuesday, not whether they wanted to learn japanese, not even if they're "advanced". NOTHING matters in the end if they go to hell. Now...that's not for us to decide, but the Bible is pretty clear that it's for us to share, show, model and train. When you've had a rough week, or are having a rough week...STOP and work on a love of God...sing, play, recite some Bible verses, talk about God's unending love for us. Anything we can do to help them accept Christ, as a permanent part of their lives!

2. Love of Learning You can force feed them information, you can follow a textbook scope and sequence, but when it's all said and done, if they don't LOVE learning, they will become stagnant, staying in the same old same old, not expanding their horizons, not being inquisitive, because they don't care and you can't make them! It's inborn, it's something they HAVE, but sometimes it can get squashed by our very best efforts. It's not that hard to foster a love of learning...make it fun! Make it about them! Something I always say, is "It's THEIR education, not ours!" harsh words, but it's true. Just because that curriculum works great for you, it also needs to work great for THEM!

3. Know how/where to find info If they can't find information, they'll have to look to someone else for it. I want to raise children who can succeed in a career..if their boss asks them to do X, Y or Z I want them to be able to figure out how to do it. If the boss knows they aren't the one for the job, they won't be in the POSITION to be asked! And, chances are, they won't be THE BOSS. On a personal level, interests are great, but you have to do something with them. If you have this overwhelming interest in...let's say...Calligraphy...the pens aren't going to fall into your lap. A handwriting manual will not simply appear on your doorstep. Where would you go to get these? Back to a career, if your boss says, "Jim, I need to send you to Japan next month to handle an important client, hone up on your Japanese" will "Jim" (ie your grown child) KNOW how to find resources to learn Japanese?!?!

4. A career that they love I don't want my my kids to get a JOB. JOBS are a dime a up your local paper and I'm sure you will find pages of JOBS. You could flit around, be receptionist here, burger flipper there, waitress for awhile, maybe even a nanny....and if those are your GOALS, great!! But if they aren't.....then not so great. I want my kids to have a love of a (or many) fields that they could look for fullfilling careers. If you LOVE politics you could make that your career....working in a local politician's office, or help run a campaign office, run for senate, mayor or town council, be a lobbyist, run a political organization, etc. Maybe you love restoring things. You could become a restoration expert, sit on your city's Historical Preservation Society Board, own an antique store, be an interior designer for historical buildings, etc etc. The love of a field could allow for a move to Florida, or North Dakota, or wherever, and still be able to find something to do with your passion. And, if it's a passion, it won't be just a j-oooo-bbbb. It will be fun, it will be rewarding.

So, on to Micro Goals. These are smaller goals. They can be whatever you like...daily, weekly, monthly, even yearly. You can include anything you like...chores, personal hygiene, education etc.

The thing to remember with Micro goals is not to let them overwhelm you. A goal for every 15 minutes might not get met...then that leads to frustration. A goal is more of an overview so you might say:
3 months from now: Finish 2 classic books as a family, do Bible studies together at least 1x a week, clean out garage, do a fun family outing, have children trained in one new chore

or you might say by the end of this year: have better manners, be proficient at the alphabet (saying, writing and recognizing), establish a bed-time routine that is easily followed etc etc etc

Now, reality happens...maybe you get really sick and need months of wonder, would they be better off in school? I can tell you, through the years we've had a few years of craziness! They would NOT be better off in school....keep in mind your MACRO goals!! When all else fails and your micro goals aren't met, are you still striving towards your macro goals?

Hopefully this will help you not only prioritize, but de-stress! Be blessed!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

NV Caucus

Ugh so this year Nevada is doing a caucus instead of a primary. What you may ask, is a caucus? Well, today is the day and most of us still don't get it either!

Essentially, instead of being able to go down and vote at any time, everyone goes at the same time (it's assigned) you register, then go in and attend a meeting type thing, trying to sway people over to your candidate. Then either you cast a ballot or get counted for proportionate purposes. But, it's not binding! And, you can be "undecided"

Well, most of us homeschool moms, while we would love to be involved, just aren't willing to sit there for an hour to 2 "discussing" candidate positions WITH OUR KIDS IN TOW!!!

This whole thing seems like it's not very...representative...the rules are crazy, some people don't count , if your precinct needs, lets say 20 votes for John Edwards for 1 delegate, and 2 people are there, they essentially don't matter! Versus an accumulation over the day where every vote is a true vote....

Totally crazy! Well, it's been a good learning lesson...

And, since politics are oft discussed in our son was surfing and found this..I thought it was hilarious and decided to share it with's a HILLBILLY!!!!! HAHAHAHH

Friday, January 18, 2008


We had a good day here...woke up early to watch the neighbor's kids while they went to a Parent-Teacher conference. They got to learn how their Kindergartner did on the No Child Left Behind tests ughhhhhhh.

Then we left and went to Homeschool Skating. This is always a blast. My teen goes out and skates with his friends, and Elias (6) takes a few turns around the rink, but mostly skates all over the carpeted table area with his friends, gaining confidence and speed! Baby got passed from person to's an all around nice time! Because it's city-wide we get to see people from across town that we generally only see at skating!

After skating Brian and a few other teens went to hang out at one of their houses. Later they went and saw Cloverfield (opening day, son has been WAITING!! for this movie..he's so unlike me. I close my eyes at scary commercials!!)

Meanwhile Elias had 3 little friends over (and I had their mommy over!) We had a nice lunch and lots of play time. In between occasional fights its always so nice to see children PLAYING! Using their imagination, coming up with strategies and it!!!

Hours later, friends left, baby took a very late and very needed nap while Elias and I snuggled on the couch. The off to get Brian.

After a discourse on the pros and cons of this movie (sounds a LOT like Blair Witch project...which I've never seen, nor ever will) he floors me with this little diddy, "I wish I could read my books faster so I can get through them, I have so many on my "to read" list"

Ok, maybe he is my son after all!!

I truly love my children! I love watching them play, love watching their wheels turn as they figure things out, and love the things they come up with! Never doubt, or doubt little, they learn!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What we do....

Thought I'd give a brief look into our current interests and happenings...

Brian (14) likes anything computer-related. If one of my friends is having computer problems, until he fixes it, that's all I hear about...when can I go over, when can I go over, when can I go over....And when he does go over, he fixes it!

He likes learning about website building, but he says he hates graphics work. Now, I hear him say that, but I also see him creating some cool things...and learning all sorts of programs with dunno! He also likes the hardware aspect, building, re-building, tearing apart, adding..etc. He's also MEGA into operating systems, running Windows (which he hates) Linux which he LOVES and something else which I forget because I've never heard of it before! Now he's starting to get into programming....who knows where this will go...but it's so amazing to be on this ride! He truly is an amazing child!

In between all that, he reads a LOT. Classics, science fiction, religious non-fiction, computer books, religious fiction, The Bible.

That's pretty much Brian these,books, oh, iPod and cell phone!

Now, Elias is a totally different story. He's SO energetic. He loves to move! He's very smart, but corralled in a totally different way.

Elias currently loves:

* gymnastics class


* Me! And his baby brother, and even his big brother...and the idea of a family..he holds it very dear!
* Playing Go Fish
* Watching Signing Time
* Playing with friends
* DANCING. Since he's been little he has loved dancing! Like, movement dancing, not formal, but more like hip hop. When High School Musical came out, he was in "heaven". Then Jump In came he incorporates jumping into his dances! It's so cute! But, it's been YEARS of this. The other day I asked him if I found him a dance class, would he like it. Today he reminded me..and I hopped to it! Got some great recommendations for some breakdance and hip hop classes. I think they will be right up his alley! Watch for him in a few years!

Sebastian. He's so happy. He loves moving around, and he loves music. His favorite thing, any time he gets crying, or needs to calm down, is to watch Baby Einstein movies. They captivate him. Santa brought him some new good ones! He also of course loves to be held, and a new fave is BATHTIME! Splashing is fabulous!

Now I'll get into us adults! My husband and I have some pretty cool and diverse interests.

My husband....he used to be a runner. Now he's ...drumroll Ironman. For those of you who don't know what that means, it means he's certifiably crazy, cuockoo, loco, stubborn, and resilient. It also means he swam over 2 miles, then biked like 112, AND THEN ran a full marathon (26? miles) all in under 11 hours. CRAZY!!

This is only a "hobby". He's really a limo driver, 1/2 owner of a local triathlon store, and real-estate investor wannabe. The Hobby does seem to take up a lot of time though! He's very good about including us though....he'll run around the park we're at, or he'll run home from an event, we travel as a family to all of his's manageable! interests can come and go too! Long term interests, of course, Kids, God, education....I also love to scrapbook, read! READ!!! I love to read! A lot of christian fiction, some non-fictions. I love advocating for homeschooling rights. Never dreamed I'd be where I am today, that's for sure! I love helping new homeschooling families. I love to travel! I LOVE to see sights, to learn all about places, I love History...I love research! Google is my best friend

Well, maybe that gives you a small insight into us. We truly follow the interests of the moment, and sometimes that moment lasts 5 minutes, sometimes 5 years. (Small hint, make sure the length of time correlates to money spent! Meaning, don't go buy flying lessons for the next year because your child pointed to an airplane in the sky!! Make sure it's a longish term interest before heavily investing!)

Hope this has been fun to read...some day I'll detail some of the weird and wacky interests we've followed through the years....I wonder what the future holds for us!!

Brian and HTML

My oldest's main interest is computers. It has been for about the past 3 years..and the things he knows are astounding!

Years ago I taught myself html in order to make a website. I write straight html, no editing programs, no Dreamweaver. I do pretty good....I THOUGHT!!!!

Here's a snapshot of a website I built for our statewide group, Nevada Homeschool Network.

The background did get to be a little "much" over the years, but it worked and served it's purpose!

Brian made his first website when he was about 8, just a very simple one on AOL with their said "I Love God" That's it! Too cute.  I later pointed him towards yahoo/geocities where I built some other websites, and a really good website which teaches you how to write codes  Lyssa Explains It All.

Soon, the kid was taking off! About a year ago I handed off all my "updates" to him, he has more time! The trade-off for that was I had to hear him moan and groan about the old html  (versus xml I guess?) and how I built the website with frames and frames are stupid and can take some computers too long to load etc etc.

He started "validating my codes"  dunno really what that means, but it made him happy!

Meanwhile I found homeschoolblogger! He's been very instrumental in showing me where I can change what and how to do things...his breadth of knowledge has so far surpassed mine that I am a baby in comparison!!

We also realized we needed a simpler, more updated look for NHN's website, so he was instrumental in the building of that also. He knows how to do graphics stuff which I don't. I can change colors, or fonts, but start messing with even borders, much less images and I'm out!

Here's the snapshot of the new NHN website, built "the right way" according to him! You can see more of it at NHN .

The boy is a true treasure..teenage angst and all. Watching his brain work has thrilled me from day one...and now knowing how far he has surpassed me..really makes me appreciate how much he really does know!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


If we're all being honest, I would imagine every marriage has its trials and tribulations..mine is no different.

I recently heard someone say something to the effect of being tired of hearing TV and Radio personalities talk about their troubled PASTS, and noone claiming any troubles NOW.

We all have our troubles, our demons to cast aside. It may sound trite, but a verse that got me through a lot of "junk" was
Romans 8:28 (King James Version)
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

If you believe the bible to be truth and infallible, take heart at this passage, because it doesn't say all thing pleasant, or all things that make you feel good, or even all things free...nope, it says all things.

I want to take a moment to share a wonderful resource for your marriage, if you ever find yourself in my position. It's called    Rejoice Ministries.    They stand for the restoration of marriages, throughout times when one would even biblically get a "get out of jail free card". Their daily devotionals, sent by Charlyne Cares kept me sane and my resolve strong.

If you are in any kind of "dark" place..I ran across this verse today and it physically struck me:
Joel 2:25 (King James Version)   And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten

I'm in that time now. "Locusts" have eaten at my marriage, my health, my husband's spirit, but we are in a restoration period now, and I am grateful.  Nope, it's not perfect. We're not perfect. But we're getting better!

I again say, I am grateful. God is in control, now, then and forever.

Hope this helps someone!

Monday, January 14, 2008

An Expensive, no I mean Electronics, no really, I mean expensive, kinda day!

For weeks Brian, my computer geek, has been moaning about his monitor. Apparently there's something wrong with it, but nothing that would affect what you or I do with a computer! But, it affects him.

Last night we went to Borders and one of his books of choice was on Python...never heard of it...LOVE following his lead...because where he goes only he knows! Apparently it's for programming...which is what he wants to get into.

In the Sunday ads he found a great monitor at Best Buy, and since then has been heavily researching it and also contemplating using his stash of money. I made it very clear that since I considered the current monitor more than usable that I wouldn't be purchasing a new one. Need vs Want, tough lesson to learn!

So, today he decided he needed to wait to delve into his Python book until his new monitor, so off we went to purchase it. What a happy camper!

But the day didn't end there.

I've been contemplating buying him a cell phone. Please understand, I've been adverse to this idea, in theory, for years. But this year has really brought about some more independence and quite frankly, I want that connection to him! Buying him a cell phone is NOT for him to gab, NOT for him to be cool, It's about ME!!!  Call me paranoid, whatever, but I've lost a kid before in a public place, and it's TERRIFYING! I need that assurance that while he's off "hanging with his friends" that he's not really been kidnapped and 1/2 way to Alaska, or that when we separate in the mall that I can then again connect with him.

Our current cell plan is EXCELLENT, and sadly, not offered anymore, so to add a line, we'd have to change plans...not happening!  I had mentioned to my parents months ago that I was thinking about this. At the time they were looking at changing their provider and were going to get back to me with the new plan's add-a-line deal. BUT they went with a basic plan, like 350 minutes a month, I would hate to have my son foul them up!

Tonight, out of the blue, my sister "remembers" to mention that she's been paying for an extra line on her plan for more than a year (broke up with her boyfriend and just didnt cancel the line) and if we bought the phone Brian could use that line. Well, hello!!!!!!!  $10/month is what she's paying for that line..unlimited Verizon to Verizon calls, unlimited texting on her plan (need to make sure that carries over to his phone) and she barely uses any of her 1500 minutes.

So, now, guess where we headed off to. Yup, Verizon store.

Here's a pic of him with new phone:

We came home and I was feeling sick to my stomach!  So much money spent in one day! I'm used to being pretty frugal, this was a LOT! Heck. the kid got a better phone than MINE!

Sorry for the blurry pic, but it showcases the KEYBOARD!!!

Well, I have to say, Brian saves and saves and saves his money. For him to put out $ means it was very important to him.  He put in half of his savings towards the phone and bought the entire monitor himself  ($209!!!)

All's well that ends well, and today ended pretty well for him!

Now I better see lots of Python-y stuff happening soon!  (Would I know it if it hit me?!?!?!)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Child #5 The REAL Baby!

Fast forward another 5 yrs and now we have Sebastian. Another little man to steal my heart. This one was a hairy monster though...still is! Hair on his back, on his arms, TONS of hair on his head, only one of my kids to be born with hair, and COMBABLE hair! Hair everywhere! But he was a keeper.

He, too, was born full term, over 7 lbs and did great for the first few months of life. Was chubby, beautiful, smiling, LAUGHING, so cute!

At about 6 months he got a nasty little upper respiratory thing..landed him in the ER and on a nebulizer for awhile. His nasty cough seemed to take forever to go away, and he was very lethargic and sickly for a long time.

At first we thought it was just him being sick, taking awhile to get over it. But as time went on he never seemed to be that happy, smiling laughing baby. We could occasionally coax a smile out of him, but even that started to fail. He wasn't gaining weight and wasn't DOING much of anything.

Eventually I brought up our concerns to the pediatrician, that he wasn't meeting some developmental milestones  (I had waited and waited...but at 8 mo he wasn't sitting  up, whereas at 4 months he was strong enough to do so with help) That started our liason with Nevada Early Intervention Services.

However, he still wasn't acting HAPPY. He was always a smallish baby, but now REALLY small and not thriving.

Eventually I took him back to the pediatrician and told her I think he needs to be admitted. He was and stayed in the hospital for 3 weeks. This was just at the end of August.

It's been a rough road, one we're still on, looking for answers. Being that this is the 2nd child, presenting with many of the same problems, they started looking at metabolic disorders and mitochondrial defects IMMEDIATELY.

One of the first tests run showed that sure enough, Sebastian was highly acidodic. Further analyzing, results came back weeks later, showed his methylmalonic levels were high. This pointed towards what we were suspecting, a metabolic disorder.

Here he is at his worst..because his body was in such a sad state he had a horrible reaction to a drug..and it almost killed him

During his stay, we did a lot of addressing the immediate problems...he has an oral sensitivity and won't let ANYTHING in his mouth, he had low and floppy muscle tone. He had LOTS of therapy..every day 2 different therapists, sometimes each 2 x a day. He needed a central line, g-tube placement and blood and plasma transfusions.

Here's little lovely on the upswing..about 2 weeks into our hospital stay:

After combatting most of the major immediate health issues with Sebastian, we were released with ongoing therapy and an appointment with a Genetics specialist at UCLA.

To date, Sebastian has a gtube which is his only source of nutrition.He had been breastfed but recently even backed away from my nipple in his mouth...his oral sensitivity is crazy!  However, at the hospital one of the nurses got him to suck on a pacifier and he is hardly ever without it...totally crazy! It's about the only thing that goes in his mouth!

He receives speech therapy, occupational therapy (fine motor skills) and physical therapy all once a week. Luckily, they come to the home..otherwise life would be miserable carting everyone around! This is the least disruptive. Then, we also follow up with Nevada Early Intervention services, so they have a feeding team, PT, and nutritionist that all come out also.

These appointments, along with follow-up dr appointments pretty much guarentee we are busy 3-5 times a week with little fellow! Throw in Elias' speech, gymnastics, Awanas and brian's activities...achh!!!! I live by my appointment book!

As far as his health today...he gets 3 feeds a day + an all night drip (on his feeding pump), he's learning to crawl..can really scoot around on his butt very well!  He's happy, laughing and so much fun! He's on a supplement called Carnitine, and since he's not eating yet we don't have to worry about his diet.

So..both of them are happy and on the paths to health!  We try to limit viruses/germs around them, as they can trigger their bodies into shutting down, and we balance this with actually going out! We're that family that always asks "Has anyone recently been sick in your house?"

While we may never get a definitive diagnosis, we know that it is virus induced and that they get acidodic and their bodies can't metabolize certain things correctly. In their case it looks like protein, so we limit that also.

It's all part of life. If we weren't "heavy" into therapy, we'd be "heavy" into cop-op, or gardening, or lighthouses of something!  This is just the season to be busy with Sebastian! We'll move on and be busy with something more fun soon :)

Child #4 (The Baby...well, not anymore!)

With a 7 yr age gap, Elias was born! This boy stole my heart! He was so special! By this time I was fully researched "up" and he was not vaccinated, solely breastfed and slept in our bed.

He was full term, 7.4 at birth, thrived for the first 9 months, was crawling, doing baby things, and then we all got a tummy bug. He never seemed to recover. A month or so later he got another bout of something nasty and I ended up bringing him to the ER. There, routine tests showed he had extremely low red blood cells...we were immediately transferred to a local Children's Hospital.

This started our long journey of blood transfusions, platelet transfusions, test and more tests. He was an anomaly. Noone could figure out what was wrong with him.

Meanwhile he never really recovered from the tummy bug, constantly throwing up, not wanting to eat solids, but only nurse, started backsliding with development, and being all around sickly looking.

Finally in June of 2002 he was admitted to the hospital. We kept finding out pieces to the puzzle, but never any definitive WHYs.

They immediately found out (through an endoscopic probe) that he had no villi in his small intestines. These are the things that catch your nutrients..without them you end up Elias was. He ended up on TPN, and then a feeding tube.

He had the G-tube for about 1 1/2 - 2 years, as he re-learned to put food in his mouth (without it making him throw up) and eat enough to sustain.

During this time Elias had some pretty invasive things done:

* A bone marrow test done
* A spinal tap
* a central line inserted
* multiple blood and platelet transfusion
* a Port-a-cath inserted
* a Gtube inserted
* upper/lower GI
* 3x biopsies of small intestines, esophagus and bowels
* colonoscopy

Later he had the Port removed (surgery) and the gtube taken out (not surgery)

Most of Elias' illness we were focusing on hemotological issues. Why isn't his body making cells. Eventually we delved into stomach issues too, but noone could ever say which came first. What caused what. We knew lots of pieces, we knew B12 deficiency, we knew Villous Atrophy, we knew so much, but no WHYS. The best we could figure was a virus-induced attack of the villi which led to malnutrition, which led to body being unable to make what it needed.

Who knows? We worked to fix each individual problem and it worked!

Elias was left developmentally delayed from all his "down time" being sick. He slowly but surely caught up in most areas, except speech. Because he went so long, during critical developmental periods, without using certain mouth muscles, he has some ongoing speech issues.

Elias today is 6 1/2. He is 150% boy, Very active, very happy. He has speech in the school 4x a week. He is a loving and very healthy boy!

Even though we went through a rough year and a semi rough following year catching him up, now he GLOWS with health!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Child #3

Forrest, the next stepson, currently 13. Poor boy, had trial after trial and self-identity wrapped up with his failure at school.

Forrest, when I first moved here, was 5 and ohhhh so active and ooohh so "crazy". He'd be running and run SMACK into a pole. Like, full force. Just not see it. I can't tell you how many pairs of glasses he broke in one was sickening.

He's a wonderful child, but was so overshadowed by being hyper and being unable to keep up in school.

About a year into my marriage, Forrest was finally diagnosed with ADHD and went on medicine. We saw a nice improvement of activity lessening, but sadly, it didn't improve his schoolwork.

We had many sad years, many tough years with Forrest. He was very jealous of my son being homeschooled, and he was struggling with no real friends and low self esteem. He had little ability to think outside of himself, and worse, would lie over any little thing.

Some of these issues are ongoing today, but after a recent dr's visit Forrest has been taken off his medication and is working on being more in control of his own behaviors.

He, too, is now living with his mom in Kansas and after a year of being homeschooled, is now enjoying middle school in a new area.

Thanks to my parents who would constantly encourage me, "when someone acts unlovable, you still need to love on them". The phone calls they had to endure, the tears shed over this child, the feelings of being unable to help him..the wondering, will he ever be successful in life?

Yet I made it, and so did he! Day by day, through trial and adversity and bad moods, we're both still here!

Looking forward to maturity and strength and self-control..and praying hard :) As we all pull together for this child of God, we know he'll make it, in his own way!

Child #2

This is my biological child from a previous marriage..Brian, also currently 14.

The 3 oldest boys are literally each 6 mo apart from each other...when they were little it was like having triplets. Seriously. Thank GOD I came into this when they were 5, I can't imagine 3 2 yr olds!!!

So, Brian...Brian is unique because he is so intelligent. He has been homeschooled since birth, but if he were in school he'd be labeled gifted.

Luckily, we unschool, so, again....nothing is out of the norm here...anything goes! Any interest, ability's not got to conform to some entity's scope and sequence, or's all about them!

Brian was my child that got me researching. At first, poor kid...I did everything "wrong"...ok not wrong, but different with him! He wasn't breastfed, he slept in a crib, what else did I do to him...oh, yes, I vaccinated him. Which led him to get pertussis at 2 mo and almost die. Hence, the research! At that point they were giving the DTP now it's the DTaP (Acellular version...the live version...gasp, gave too many people pertussis!

This bright and lovely child of mine has had me off on so many incredible learning experiences, I couldn't even imagine the journey!

Raised bed gardens

Where would we be without the YEARS of these interests, not to mention the momentary interests that interspersed our lives continually?

He is my gift, my blessing, my first!

The Oldest

So..Christopher, my stepson, currently 14, was born with Cerebral Palsy. He was premature and is lucky to be alive today! All 4 limbs are affected and he is also mildly mentally retarded.

When I married his dad, he was going to Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapy 1x a week each and also had it in school. He had already had an eye surgery and a few leg surgeries (these are common for kids with CP)

He was able to manuever around in a walker, wore leg braces and had a wheelchair for longer trips. When he was younger it really wasn't that hard....we could pick him up, move him around, help him in the car...the wheelchair wasn't too huge, although we did need a lot of storage space between wheelchair, walker and stroller for the baby!

For a couple of years my friends remember me as "crazy"...pushing around a wheelchair and a stroller, with 2 other littles hanging on! Grocery shopping was fun, let me tell you!

Thankfully, they get older...the 2 littles got bigger and would take turns pushing the wheelchair or stroller.

With Christopher I got a crash course in IEPs and rights of students, and real up close and personal with various advocates and compliance officers for the school district.

When I first came into his life, he was in a self-contained classroom and was by FAR the MOST able. So, we eventually fought to get him out of there. Of course, out of there, means INTO somewhere else..and they weren't really equipped for him in regular ed either.

After a run in with a pair of scissors (who gives a spastic kid scissors?!?!) we started fighting for an aid. He needed to be in the most appropriate educational setting (as he wasn't homeschooled).

By the time he finished in elementary school, he had a part time aid, they had made an extra handicapped spot with a slanted curb for him to unload and get into school, and the IEP was fairly satisfactory. But then he had to move on to middle school!

In middle school, he was only there for a few months prior to a scheduled "routine" surgery.

That "routine" surgery left his legs mangled and with no feeling (well, except excruciating pain for the first few months...the ghost pain they talk about with amputees...NOT FUN!)

At that point, Christopher's grandmom moved here with his mom to be his full time aid. It wasn't so easy to lift him anymore, or maneuver him,even toileting was a problem. He couldn't bare weight, or even help get himself up and down, his legs wouldn't work at all.

3 yrs later,and Christopher now lives in Kansas with his mom and grandmom, sharing duties of his care....which is 24 hrs! He does go to school, but needs a lot of attention and care, therapies, and someone to sleep with every night due to nightmares. Hats off to mom and grandmom for really being there, through it all!

I learned a whole lot with many things.. I can't even catalog them all!

1) They need to have a mom with a kid in a wheelchair design WHERE the elevators are
2) public places need MORE and BETTER automatic doors
3) People should treat ALL my kids nicely (Can't tell you how many times JUST Christopher would get a balloon, or extra candy...hello! There were 2 more little kids looking on with jealousy!)
4) If you don't stand up for your kid, noone else is going to
5) Educate yourself on everything, IEPs, laws, medical advice
6) Be upfront about your kid friendly terms we try to explain why his legs don't work, etc.

Well, this is a brief writeup of child #1, on to the next one!

Intro to our Individualities!

Upcoming will be brief intros of our boys and their "special needs", although I don't think of them that way...we just do what we need to for each child. We might have to follow one's interest in Rocks, and for another we might be practicing new exercises from Physical Therapy....another might need instructions one at a's just our life! Minus the "critical" moments, it's all doable!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

So funny! Homeschool Humor

If you're like me, you get every forward known to mankind, and often  more than once! I delete so much JUNK, but every once in awhile there's something worthwhile to read. SOMEHOW I missed this one! Found it on A Hippie With a MiniVan's blog and had such a good time reading it , I had to post it here!

The Bitter Homeschooler’s Wish List

By Deborah Markus, from Secular Homeschooling Magazine, Issue #1, Fall 2007

1 Please stop asking us if it’s legal. If it is — and it is — it’s insulting to imply that we’re criminals. And if we were criminals, would we admit it?

2 Learn what the words “socialize” and “socialization” mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you’re talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we’ve got a decent grasp of both concepts.

3 Quit interrupting my kid at her dance lesson, scout meeting, choir practice, baseball game, art class, field trip, park day, music class, 4H club, or soccer lesson to ask her if as a homeschooler she ever gets to socialize.

4 Don’t assume that every homeschooler you meet is homeschooling for the same reasons and in the same way as that one homeschooler you know.

5 If that homeschooler you know is actually someone you saw on TV, either on the news or on a “reality” show, the above goes double.

6 Please stop telling us horror stories about the homeschoolers you know, know of, or think you might know who ruined their lives by homeschooling. You’re probably the same little bluebird of happiness whose hobby is running up to pregnant women and inducing premature labor by telling them every ghastly birth story you’ve ever heard. We all hate you, so please go away.

7 We don’t look horrified and start quizzing your kids when we hear they’re in public school. Please stop drilling our children like potential oil fields to see if we’re doing what you consider an adequate job of homeschooling.

8 Stop assuming all homeschoolers are religious.

9 Stop assuming that if we’re religious, we must be homeschooling for religious reasons.

10 We didn’t go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the specifics of our family. Stop taking the bare fact of our being homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational decisions.

11 Please stop questioning my competency and demanding to see my credentials. I didn’t have to complete a course in catering to successfully cook dinner for my family; I don’t need a degree in teaching to educate my children. If spending at least twelve years in the kind of chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out educational facility we call public school left me with so little information in my memory banks that I can’t teach the basics of an elementary education to my nearest and dearest, maybe there’s a reason I’m so reluctant to send my child to school.

12 If my kid’s only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can possibly teach him what he’d learn in school, please understand that you’re calling me an idiot. Don’t act shocked if I decide to respond in kind.

13 Stop assuming that because the word “home” is right there in “homeschool,” we never leave the house. We’re the ones who go to the amusement parks, museums, and zoos in the middle of the week and in the off-season and laugh at you because you have to go on weekends and holidays when it’s crowded and icky.

14 Stop assuming that because the word “school” is right there in homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day, just like your kid does. Even if we’re into the “school” side of education — and many of us prefer a more organic approach — we can burn through a lot of material a lot more efficiently, because we don’t have to gear our lessons to the lowest common denominator.

15 Stop asking, “But what about the Prom?” Even if the idea that my kid might not be able to indulge in a night of over-hyped, over-priced revelry was enough to break my heart, plenty of kids who do go to school don’t get to go to the Prom. For all you know, I’m one of them. I might still be bitter about it. So go be shallow somewhere else.

16 Don’t ask my kid if she wouldn’t rather go to school unless you don’t mind if I ask your kid if he wouldn’t rather stay home and get some sleep now and then.

17 Stop saying, “Oh, I could never homeschool!” Even if you think it’s some kind of compliment, it sounds more like you’re horrified. One of these days, I won’t bother disagreeing with you any more.

18 If you can remember anything from chemistry or calculus class, you’re allowed to ask how we’ll teach these subjects to our kids. If you can’t, thank you for the reassurance that we couldn’t possibly do a worse job than your teachers did, and might even do a better one.

19 Stop asking about how hard it must be to be my child’s teacher as well as her parent. I don’t see much difference between bossing my kid around academically and bossing him around the way I do about everything else.

20 Stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet, boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because he’s homeschooled. It’s not fair that all the kids who go to school can be as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of anything but childhood.

21 Quit assuming that my kid must be some kind of prodigy because she’s homeschooled.

22 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of prodigy because I homeschool my kids.

23 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of saint because I homeschool my kids.

24 Stop talking about all the great childhood memories my kids won’t get because they don’t go to school, unless you want me to start asking about all the not-so-great childhood memories you have because you went to school.

25 Here’s a thought: If you can’t say something nice about homeschooling, shut up!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Who's world am I in?!?!?

This morning, I'm changing the baby's poopy diaper and Elias pipes up, "I wish I still wore diapers." I'm like huh?!?

He goes on to tell me he wishes he could poop in a diaper!!! He's 6 1/2!! I remind him how nasty poop smells, and how squishy it would be to sit in it. His little boy logic informs me...I'm dying laughing as I type this...that, "I get bored in the bathroom, I can't bring a book in 'cause of that time I almost dropped it in..."

So, he wants to poop himself because he's bored on the pot?!?! Only a 6 yr old could have logic like that! One day he'll be embarrassed about this, but not today! So weird, it's funny!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

History through Living

Lest my recent post , A Small Vere, make you believe my children don't know history, let me remind you that we live an educational lifestyle. This lifestyle is fraught with field trips and traveling, educational tv, magazines, etc etc. We don't sit back and wait for things to find us..we go out! We play! We watch! We read! We travel a lot, especially back East where I am from...which is full of great learning opportunities. And, most importantly, we learn!

A lot of our history is Early American & Civil War. Here are some examples of cool history related things we've done, which you can also do!!

Philadelphia (Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross house, Ben Franklin, WW2 Ducks, Independence Hall, etc etc)
Roanoke, Manteo
every imaginable museum and historic site in towns we travel through and loved near...Pearl S. Buck house
Mercer Museum
Some totally cool things like graveyards...where famous people are buried or weird stories abound..Old Burying Grounds, Beaufort NC
Fort Macon
Thomas Edison house/lab
Living Historical Farm
Tall Ships
Re-enactment of Washington crossing the Delaware
Liberty's Kids; pbs show
History Channel
Ellis Island
Appleseeds, Cobblestone magazines
Historical Books...

This is all Early American History learned in a hands on totally fun way!

Now, this doesn't include the wacky things we've done learning about Ancient and Middle Ages....from mummifying a chicken (that doesn't work well..too fatty) to mummifying a fish (works VERY well! but smells worse at the end) or having Medieval Feasts, going to the Renaissance Faire, etc. etc

These are all life things we do...that we learn from! We use community resources, ranger led talks, movies, magazines, whatever captures our interests.
I love our life

Playing with Numbers

As much of the learning as possible in our house is done hands on and FUN! Sometimes I forget how much fun our "every day things" are, until I hear about them later from a neighbor or friend.  When I was growing up...and I have all these for my kids too...our "toys" were tangrams, geoboards, base ten blocks and Cuisenaire rods and weights. I love that my kids love these things too!

My neighbor just called me and told me her daughter asked for a "money box" like Elias' for Christmas!!! HAHAHA!!  This is an old old simple play cashbox, not even a cash register, just the drawer part, with fake bills and coins in it.

I play "McDonald's" with the kids. The game gets more advanced as they get older.  At first it's number recognition, we play with just one bill, so everything would be $5, or $20 etc. Then it's coin recognition, everything is a quarter, or a dime. Then everything is simple, $5.25  so exact change is given back. That's where we are now. Eventually we'll get to more complicated change giving.  For now it's cool that the kids enjoy playing and know what fronts and backs of coins look like and how much they're worth.

We all take turn being the order taker and the's fun, especially when you order 25 cheeseburgers, 10 fries and 10 drinks, and your "total" is $1 !  Well, we'll worry about reality vs imagination some other time!!

For number recognition we also play Go Fish  (all the time) , War and Bingo.