Hi! Thank you for stopping by today! My name is Bronwyn. I am a follower of Jesus, wife of a Marine, and mother of 2 autistic boys. We have been a homeschooling family for going on 7 years now and loving it! I also love to read, cook, bake, and walk.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fourteen

This silly guy turned 14 on Tuesday!  I am still not sure that I am okay with that.  I can't believe how quickly time has passed.  I remember a 3lb. 15 inch long baby boy lying in an incubator letting everyone know that he intended to fight for his life.   And then there was a 3 year old who knew just about every line of every Blue's Clues episode and recited them all day long.  And I will never forget the adorable little 5 year old who was the smallest kid in Kindergarten and also the best reader. I smile when I think of a 7 year old I knew that when he started homeschool would walk with me everyday and talk of all the pebbles he would throw in the river along the way.  I treasure the thoughts of a boy who even at 9 loved to bake with me and still cuddled up for stories.  Even 11 seems like yesterday with a child who could ride his bike up and down the street seemingly forever.  
How did time go so fast?  It is so bittersweet.  I miss my little boy but am proud of the young man he has become.  He is smart and interesting and a lot of fun to be around.  He is energetic and enthusiastic.  He is also kindhearted and loveable.  He has overcome a lot of obstacles in his 14 years and has shown us what it means to be strong.  He loves football, music, and a certain floppy eared dog.  He loves a good story and a happy ending.  He likes to bounce on the trampoline or walk on his treadmill.  He loves to work with numbers.  He likes to go to concerts with his Dad and beat his mom at Monopoly.  He is a super person!
We celebrated his birthday over the last two weeks.  It was low key which is the way he likes it.  Last week my parents came down to visit and he spent some time with them.  He got to go eat a special birthday meal with them at a restaurant that Elvis once ate at.  He likes Elvis so it was kind of thrilling for him.  On his actual birthday we ordered out pizza and then he had ice cream sandwiches instead of cake.  He doesn't like cake!  He got some video games, cds, and a NFL quilt and sham as presents.  I think he enjoyed it all.
So now he is 14 and there is no sign of him slowing down on this whole growing up thing.  What's a mom to do but look into the eyes of a young man and know in her heart he will always be her baby boy and, of course, wish him a big happy birthday!
Happy Birthday Tyler! 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Our Backyard "Bard"


 Well, I wanted more nature study here and God answered in a wonderful way!
It is dark in the picture because it was taken at sunset and we didn't want to scare him with a flash.
Thursday night I was loading the dishwasher when I glanced out my kitchen window.  We have a woods behind our house that is maybe 20 or 30 feet away.  I like to look out and watch the birds and the squirrels but it just so happens that on this particular time someone was looking back at me.  Sitting atop the fence about 8 feet from my window was a beautiful and very large owl.  I was so excited.  I tried to get to my camera and call Tim to see but in all the commotion he flew off.  Tim was able to catch a glimpse of him and thought he was the great horned owl.
Tonight we were waiting anxiously to see if he would come back.  He did!!!!  He didn't come back to our fence but he perched out on the telephone wire for a long time.  We watched him wait for prey and then swoop down when he thought he saw something.  I tried to take a picture with my camera which didn't work out very well.  Tim got the idea to try the camcorder and we were much more successful with that.
We now know that he is not a great horned owl but a barred owl after getting a much better look at him.  He is about 2 feet tall and has a wing span that looks to be around 3 feet.  He is amazing!  That is probably a huge understatement.  We are so thrilled that he has chosen our backyard as his hunting grounds.
We really wanted to give him a name.  Tim thought maybe Owliver and then Tyler noted that since he is a "barred" owl we should name him after the "bard" he has been studying.  So... we are now calling him Shakespeare.  Corny I know but we kind of like it.  We are hoping to continue to see him at sundown as we have the last couple of nights.
So here he is:


Please excuse my video editing.  I put together the clips as best as I could and I had to get rid of all our background house noise like our dog eating so that is why I have replaced it with music.  I still think he is incredible to watch.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Shakespeare

Tyler loves Shakespeare!  I want to jump up and down and say that over and over again!  I did NOT like learning about Shakespeare when I was in school.  It was hard to read the Old English and we had to memorize huge boring sections of his plays.  I wanted to teach Tyler Shakespeare without having him dread it like I did.  I thought maybe if I worked really hard at it he might not hate it.  I had no clue just how much he would take to it. :)

We have been enjoying a lot of resources in our study of the bard.  I knew we needed to do a lapbook because he has been retaining so much more every time we use one to organize what he has learned.  I chose the project pack and lapbook from Hands of a Child.
I am really loving how this particular lapbook is suited to his age level.  I also like the creative writing assignments it contains.  One was to write a sonnet which was rather cute because he wrote it for our Lucy.

A really terrific book we have been using to learn more about the life of Shakespeare is Shakespeare for Kids.  This book does a great job of covering his life and also has a bunch of terrific activities.

I have chosen not to read the individual plays in the written language right now as I knew that create a lot of frustration for Tyler at this point.  We have been reading some adapted versions in story form though and I feel he is getting a lot out of them.  We are using the Shakespeare Can Be Fun! series, Tales From Shakespeare, and The Children's Shakespeare.
Hamlet is by far his favorite so far.  He calls it the play in which everyone dies at the end and he really loves to pretend to play King Hamlet's ghost.  We are also reading The Shakespeare Stealer Series which is a fiction series but has a lot of history integrated into it.  These books are great and both Tyler and I would recommend them.

As we read through the plays I have been having him notebook on the different characters and some of the plots.  He has been coloring some pages in The Dover Scenes From Shakespeare coloring book  to go with the notebooking too.

As added fun and some exposure to the original language of the plays Shakespeare wrote we have been enjoying a beautiful pop up version of the globe theater.  This I believe has been Tyler's favorite part.  This book is so beautiful to look at.
The book pops open to show the inside of the globe theater.

There are several punch out characters for each play.
There are two scripts with scenes from the plays to act out.
You slip the characters through holes on the sides of the stage and then read your lines.

I knew that I also wanted him to do some memorization work but I didn't want to have it be as boring as I had felt it was when I was in school.  I made him a booklet and I am letting him pick two quotes for each play in the book.  The book is actually just a couple of file folders I put together but he likes it a lot.  I am thinking of making a certificate for him when he finishes it.  I was going to put on it something like he had completed his apprenticeship and now he is a player in Shakespeare's theater company.
Here are the pictures of our memorization booklet.
Here is the download for our book if you would like it too.
Shakespeare Quote Memorization Book

video
It has been fun to watch Tyler recite his quotes.  He has an awful English accent but he does a great job at his memorization.  Hope you enjoy this one from Hamlet!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Summer School

Today was our last day of school for this school year...sort of.   We actually homeschool year round but we are taking a small break for about two weeks because my parents are coming to visit for a week and then we need about a week after that to get everyone back on track.  Christians schedule is pretty much the same every day  whatever time of the year it is as working with him is a constant.  Tyler's schedule will be slightly different during the summer as there are a couple of areas I want to cover with more intensity and other subjects that I know he is doing great on and can take a small break from.   Tyler has been studying Shakespeare for the last couple of weeks and absolutely loves it. Who knew?!  That really deserves a post of it's own though because we have done a lot and hope to do much more after our break.  Along with studying Shakespeare I also wanted to do Creation Geology from Media Angels with him.  I have had the curriculum for this for quite some time and it is one of those things that always gets put off and so I am determined to cover it this summer.  It is also nice because it covers the flood and fossils which coincides with the history we will be doing in the fall.  The other thing I will be working on with Tyler this summer is his writing.  I have been teaching him some outlining skills and that has allowed him to start constructing better paragraphs but he could definitely use more practice.  He can narrate well what he has learned but has a hard time organizing it into a more organized format when he writes it out.  The final thing I want to focus on with both of my boys this summer is something I feel we have been neglecting.  I have been longing to do nature studies for forever but unfortunately that is another area that often gets pushed aside.  I have been reading the Handbook of Nature Study blog for awhile now and so I finally decided that we would try out one of her Outdoor Hour Challenge ebooks.  I downloaded the summer one today and it looks great and adaptable to fit both kids.  I like the fact that it doesn't look so time consuming that we are likely not to do it.  I already have The Handbook of Nature Study by A. Comstock in the house so that helps too.  
So that is the plan here for summer school.  Tim is still recovering from foot surgery but we are also hoping and praying that he will be able to get around a little better soon and we can spend some time at the beach.  Christian especially enjoys the beach!  I would also like to do more geocaching this summer. All that will have to wait though until Tim is able to do more walking.  Family outings here go much more smoothly with two parents.  :)
I hope everyone whether taking a summer break or homeschooling straight through has a wonderful summer!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend


Hope everyone had a lovely Memorial Day!  We had a relaxed weekend at home.  Tim had foot surgery a couple of weeks ago and is still healing so we are unable to do anything too strenuous.  We had loads of sunshine, a beautiful breeze, temps in the 80's and it so it was really very nice here.  Tim was able to grill steaks and hot dogs much to his pleasure and everyone else too.  The boys played on the trampoline and the swings.  Lucy soaked in all the attention of everyone being home.  I cherished the time to watch the birds and squirrels play by the feeders that Tim gave to me for Mothers Day, to stare at the blossoms on the tree out my front window, to bake tons of chocolate chip cookies, and most of all to enjoy the family God has so graciously allowed me to be part of.  Though flawed as it is I am still so grateful to remember that I live in this country that I love.  I am without words to express my appreciation for the sacrifices that have been made so that I can enjoy the freedoms I do!
Pictures from our Memorial Day (in no particular order) :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Jesus Rap

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Casting Crowns Concert

Tim and Tyler went to see Caleb Chapman, Tenth Avenue North, and Casting Crowns a little over a week ago.  I meant to get the pictures up here earlier but with Christian and his ear I am a little whole lot behind.
Before I show you the pictures I wanted to share a little about how I feel about Casting Crowns.  I don't think I have ever shared this story here before but if I have I'm sorry for repeating!
In 2008 Tim was deployed to Afghanistan for 9 months.  He was due to return home in November and towards the end of September we began to plan his homecoming.  We ordered our banner and planned to have his favorite foods and such but I knew how hard it had been for him to be away for us that long and I also wanted to do something special for him.  Because of our family situation big parties and vacations are just not an option.  Tyler and I had found out that Casting Crowns, Tim's favorite band, was coming out with a Christmas CD and so I ordered that for him and it got me to thinking.  I looked up their tour dates and sure enough just a couple weeks after he was to return home they were playing a couple of hours from here.  I deliberated back and forth on weather we could all attend the concert but in the end decided it would be way too much for Christian.  I was able to reserve two seats in the third row and I figured Tyler and Tim could go together and have a good father and son time.  I sat there thinking a little more after I got the tickets and wondered if just maybe I could make it a little more special.  I knew that sometimes musicians esp. christian artists are willing to give a shout out at concerts for special occasions.  So... I worked up a little nerve and went over to Casting Crowns website and found the email address for Mark Hall, the lead singer.  I wrote and told him my story of how great my hubby is and what a big fan he is and how he was coming back from Afghanistan etc.  I didn't really think I would get a response but I was hopeful that maybe I would.  Well, about two weeks later I did actually get a response.  I got an email from Susan Dose the band's assistant and she said that Mark had read my email.  I was taken a bit back there she hadn't read my email but Mark had read my email.  She said that the band didn't do shout outs during their concerts but they could give him two meet and greet passes.  I was sooooo excited!  I knew it would mean a lot to Tim to meet Mark Hall, someone whom he has so much respect for.  Incidentally this concert also featured a lot of other artists who Tim and Tyler got to meet too.  There was Natalie Grant, Avalon, Michael English, PureNRG, and Denver and the Mile High Orchestra.  They had a wonderful time and were so impressed with how nice everyone was.  On a funny note both Tim and Tyler were both to shy to ask to get their pictures taken with anyone.  They did however get me a shirt at the concert and had everyone sign it.   I still wish they had gotten pictures. :(
So that's my great Casting Crowns story.  I love that they gave my hubby such a special time!  They are the real deal and hold a special place in our hearts.
Now when they come to our area we of course have to get tickets so Tim and Tyler went to see them again this last week.  No passes this time-just the concert but they still had a wonderful time.
The concert opened with Caleb, Stephen Curtis Chapman's son.  This is a picture of Will and Caleb Chapman.  Tyler was greatly impressed with these two.
The second performance was Tenth Avenue North.
And last but surely not least was Casting Crowns.
World Vision was there too.  Tim didn't get a picture of them though. :)  We did sign up to sponsor a adorable little girl in Tanzania.  I am already so in love with this little face.

We already sponsor a girl in India through Compassion and so we decided to go with Africa.  She is three and just too cute.  Don't you think?  The problem for me is that we started sponsoring our Compassion child when she was already 10 and so I am not sure what we are to write to a three year old or if we should mostly send pictures and drawings from the kids.  I would love suggestions if anybody has sponsored a younger child.  I am sure we are going to love getting to know her!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

What to do in the heat

I spoke too soon!  I have been raving about what a beautiful spring we are having.  Usually we go from winter to super hot summer but lately we have been enjoying the most spectacular spring days with temperatures in the low to mid 70's.  Well, it had to end sometime I suppose.  Today it chose to bake us in the hot Carolina sun.  I believe the actual temp was 87!  There are only so many things you actually feel like doing when it is hot and humid outside.  Tyler has been really good all week as his schedule was a mess because of the time spent at the hospital with Christian.  So it was a nice day for him to get out and play on the water slide.
It was a hard decision to make because Christian loves the water too and he can't get wet right now because his stitches in his ear are supposed to stay dry.  I felt really bad for him as watched out the window as the water slide was set up.  I stayed inside with him and we watched lots of Veggie Tales together.  We watched King George and the Ducky twice because that is his favorite.  We also ordered from Papa Johns tonight which is a big treat here because we almost never do fast food.  I know he would have rather been outside but I think we had fun together anyhow.
Tyler really needed to wear off some of his boundless energy.  We have done a lot of sitting and waiting this week.  Sitting and waiting are tough on him.  He played on the slide for a couple of hours.
He really needed that!  He fell asleep as soon as he hit the bed.  I can't wait until Christian's ear heals and he can get some water slide time too!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thank you for your prayers!

Thank you so much for praying for Christian. We just got home from the hospital.  Christian did well and everyone there was wonderful to him.  He is super out of it still from the anesthesia.  He walked in the house laid down on the couch and went back to sleep. The surgeon who repaired his ear is also a ear, nose and throat specialist.  He did a great job on his ear and also did a complete exam on his ears, nose, and throat while he was asleep.  That was nice because it  is impossible for doctors to do much when he is awake.  He is concerned about one of his eardrums so he is going to put him under again in a couple of months and check that again.  It looks might he might have some scarring although we don't know from what. He isn't one to poke anything in his ears. His ear looks really good where they did the stitches today.  He doesn't seem interested in it either which is great.  The put in stitches that will dissolve so they won't have to take them back out.  I am real happy about that.  They also put him on antibiotics to speed up the healing and Tylenol with codeine for any pain he might have.  I don't think he is much pain but it is nice if he needs it.  I am so tired from 9 hours at the hospital today after 3 hours there last night.  I really hope this makes sense. 
I just wanted to let everyone know how much we appreciated your prayers today.  It went a lot better than I thought I would and I know that was definitely a God thing! 

Please Pray for Christian

This is going to be very brief as I am exhausted.  Christian fell tonight in the bathroom and cut his ear pretty bad.  We spent three hours in the ER.  It has stopped bleeding now but because it is cut straight through the cartlidge they want to put in stitches in the morning.  Because of his autism they are going to have to put him under to put in the stitches.  We have to be back at the hospital at 6:30 am and he is all wound up still from the experience.  If you read this yet tonight or tomorrow morning could you please pray for us.  I know he will be fine but it is still going to be very hard on him. Thank you!

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Wedding!

We had a very special wedding in our family last week!   It was a wedding that symbolized forgiveness and lasting love.  It symbolizes the kind of love that looks beyond past hurts.  It is the kind of love that binds two people together even when things get really tough.
The special couple  that got married last week have known each other since they were children which in this case is a very long time.  The bride is 79 years old and the groom is 83.  This wedding represents a second chance for them as they were married once before.  In 1949 this twosome ran off to elope. She was Lutheran and he was Catholic and they could not be married in church.  So they drove to another state to be wed and he sang to her along the way.
This young couple raised up a family of seven children.  They worked hard and sacrificed to give their family the best.  However as happens to so many couples along the way they  made mistakes and there was a lot of hurt.  Long after their children had grown and they had many grandchildren this couple was left with each other.  Sometimes in the midst of past hurts people feel as though there can be no healing and no future.  In 1993, the once young and hopeful bride felt she had come to that place and they were divorced.
God works in mysterious ways however and sometimes he works through great pain to bring us to a place where we realize that our love for someone is stronger than our hurt and our anger.  About three and a half years ago our groom was in serious condition.  He had a clogged artery which was causing him to have strokes.  His doctor had tried several operations but was unable to complete them because the patient wasn't strong enough.  Our groom is the type of man who has been young and strong and struggles greatly with being old and weak.  His once young bride looked upon him with love and knew he needed someone to help him and care for him.  God graciously granted this couple a second chance when he finally allowed the surgery to succeed.  He has been given another opportunity to love a women who through her forgiveness has come back to unselfishly devote herself to his care.
I learned of this wedding to be only shortly before it happened and I was unable to attend because I must be here with my boys and they live faraway.  I am no less blessed by it however as these are two people I love very much.  I am grateful for this renewal of their devotion to one another.  I know it is something they almost didn't have.  I am thrilled they have each other to love until they pass from this earth.  I thank God for their story and for his wonderful gift to me- my grandparents!
 These are the pictures from last week as they were rewed in their home.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

All Glory, Laud, and Honor- Our First Hymn Study

We have started hymn studies in our homeschool.  My boys both have a big appreciation for music.  Last year Tyler's Bible curriculum had a hymn component included but this year we were really missing that.  I had read this post over at Jimmie's Collage and thought that something similar would work really well for us.
Since we had just celebrated Easter I thought we would start with the book Passion Hymns for a Kid's Heart.  All the books in the Hymns for Kid's books are great and include the CDs with them too.
 We have been using these great notebooking pages from Jimmie of Jimmie's Collage to explore the vocabulary and verses that go along with our hymn.  I made our own notebooking pages also to explore the biography of the hymn author and for Tyler to write the lyrics out for copywork.  We are using the books Then Sings My Soul and Then Sings My Soul Book 2 for the stories of the hymn writers.  These are fascinating books and the stories of the hymn writers are truly inspiring.  We are storing all of our hymn sheets in a three ring binder.
The first hymn in the book is All Glory, Laud, and Honor.  It is a beautiful hymn about Palm Sunday. It was written by Theodulph, bishop of Orleans.  He wrote this text around 820 while he was imprisoned at Angers, France, for conspiring against King Louis the Pious. Based on Matthew 21:1-11 (and similar passages in Mark 11, Luke 19, and John 12), the text was originally written for a Palm Sunday procession.  We love this hymn and look forward to studying another hymn next week.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mini Lime Cheesecakes

I originally made these for St. Patrick's Day because they are so cute and green.  We called them little Leprechaun Pies. :)  They are wonderful anytime however and would be great for a spring or summer treat.  They are super easy to make!

Mini Lime Cheesecakes
Ingrediants:
2 packages of 6 Mini Graham Crackers Ready Crusts
2 beaten egg whites
1- eight ounce package of cream cheese softened
14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
green food coloring
1- six ounce can Minute Maid frozen limeade concentrate

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Brush the crusts with the beaten egg white and place on a cookie sheet.  Bake crusts for 5 minutes.
3. Beat the cream cheese until soft in a medium bowl.
4. Add the condensed milk and beat until light and fluffy.
5. Add the limeade and beat until smooth. Stir in the food color until you have a nice shade of green.
6. Evenly fill the pie shells.
7. Place the pies on the cookie sheet into the freezer for about 1 hour.  Serve chilled. 

These are one of my husbands faves.  Hope you enjoy them!  
 
  

Unexpected Lessons Learned in our Study of Russia

We have been studying Russia here and have been really enjoying it.  It has been a long study as there is much to learn.  Russia has always intrigued me.  They have such amazing architecture, beautiful art, and powerful music.  My favorite thing about Russia,however, has always been the literature written there.  I love to read Tolstoy and the older authors but I am equally taken with new writers like Boris Akunin.  I appreciate the complexity of the characters in Russian stories.  They are often formed through the combination of great hardships and strong spirits that yearn not only to survive but to find beauty in life.  When we started our study I was really anxious to share this with Tyler.
He had a great time listening to Peter and the Wolf and making matryoshka dolls to go with the story.
 We have used several  really great resource books along with our study. The first is Russia (Enchantment of the World. Second Series).
 The second is Eyewitness Books Russia.
We also used the Usborne book First Thousand Words in Russian.
Incidentally Christian was really taken with this last book.
This got me to thinking maybe he doesn't talk because we are trying to teach him English and he wants Russian. Winky
Tyler has been doing lots of notebooking and map work to go along with our study as well.  We found some great printables at homeschoolshare.
By far our favorite part of this whole unit has been our read aloud of  Angel on the Square.

It is a historical fiction story that takes place in the years between 1913 to 1918.  This is the time of the reign of the last czar of Russia.  Katya, the girl in the story, is the daughter of the lady in waiting to the empress and therefore lives with the czar and his family which allows the reader to see not only the rule of the czar but his tender interactions with his family.
Tyler likes to label characters in his mind as the good guy or the bad guy.  There is not a lot of room for in betweens in Tyler's autistic world.  As we read through this story he was confused as to how to categorize the characters as many of them had complex relationships and made varying decisions.  He at first decided the Czar must be a good man because he loved his family and treated them well and was applauded when he rode through the streets.  Later when he found out some of the injustices he allowed he decided he must be the bad guy.  Only to change his mind again when he was exiled to Siberia and he felt sorry for him.  It was great to see Tyler attempt to reason this through.  There was another character Misha, who is a college student and a revolutionary.  Tyler was at first disgusted that he would be so opposed to following the rules.  He then liked him when he found out he wanted to help the poor.  Katya in the story is confused like Tyler and doesn't know how to feel about the people around her either.  This helped Tyler to see that he wasn't alone in his feelings.  He was able to understand in the end that it was okay just to take it all in and understand they were all humans that made good and bad decisions.  Understanding the people in the story didn't require us to label them.
I really like the unexpected lesson this story and our study of Russia and all it's interesting figures has brought about.  It shows me that he is starting to develop more complex thinking.  It shows me that there is room for learning beyond the accumulation of facts.  Yea for progress!!!
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