Welcome to our world of 4 boys, Autism, Homeschooling and life in general.

Hi I'm Angie, busy Homeschooling Mum of 4 young boys aged between 4 and 11 yrs.

Bailey (11) is a huge car enthusiast, particularly classic cars, VW 'Herbie' beetles and VW Combi vans. Bailey lives with Autism (ASD) and Epilepsy but does very well coping with everyday life these days since we made the change to homeschooling back in 2010.

Dane (8) enjoys playing guitar, building Lego masterpieces and all things superhero! Dane also lives with a form of Autism (Aspergers) and a Language developmental delay (Apraxia of speech).

Ehren (5) is our gentle 'giant' and is a keen student in our Homeschool classroom. He enjoys both physical and mental pursuits and has a clear interest in currency!

Fraser (aged 4) is our little pocket rocket. He's a confident, head-strong little boy who never stops talking, singing or dancing!

Follow us on our journey as we learn about the world around us in our own unique way!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Our Homeschool Group

Thought it's been a while since I've done a blog on our homeschooling so here I am ;)

I've had so many friends ask us lately what I actually do at home with my boys. Seems people either think I get my boys to sit a desk from 9am til 3pm with a few short breaks or the other extreme I just let them run wild through the house and do as they please. Well yes some days they do more as they please but it's on those days that I just steer them into a learning direction that they don't even realise.

This year we found a local homeschooling group which has already been established for quite a few years. They consist of a very organised group of Homeschooling Mums that together formed a committee (much like the P&C committees within the state school system). They each have their roles and organise excursions, plays in various parks and what they call Lucky Monday classes. These classes are held within a local community centre and are set to a timetable for different age levels. My boys have had the joy of partaking in Spanish, Art, Drama, Science and this term Martial Arts lessons. The classes are mostly run by professionals in their field and we pay a small charge for each class that they take part in.

The thing I love the most about Lucky Mondays is that it's a great opportunity for the boys to join with peers to learn in an environment away from home. It's like a classroom setting similar to what they'd be receiving at a standard school, yet the Mums get to be there for support or assistance should they need it. It's a relatively short day, compared to standard school. My boys usually do 2-3 lessons on those Mondays so it's never longer than a 3 hour day of learning, which is about the extent of my boys concentration right now. They are small classes, usually around 5-10 kids per class so it's generally more hands-on and I know with Bailey he feels much more comfortable learning in a smaller setting.

The Homeschool group also organise various sporting activities for the kids. My boys have participated this year in weekly Sports and physical skill lessons run by the Life Be In It association. They've also done some swimming lessons with their homeschooling friends. This will be starting up again in the warmer months. Most of these activities have a cost involved but I've found it much cheaper than if I just sent them on their own, as we receive a group booking discount. I'm sure in the next couple of years I'll also look to putting them into other sports that are organised such as Rock climbing, golf and tennis.

My boys see their friends each week at Monday classes, Tuesdays sports and then at a park, excursion or a friend's home at least once a week. The other times of the week we spend reading, doing art and craft, watching educational documentaries, brainstorming and learning together on new topics, practising handwriting, mathematics worksheets, educational computer games and a host of other activities. They certainly get plenty of chances to socialise with their friends and also an array of learning experiences each and every week.

We've been so very lucky to find this group of Homeschoolers and I've loved seeing my boys make great friendships with some of the other kids. I've also been blessed to meet some amazing friends, mothers who want the same things for their kids, women with a wealth of knowledge in so many areas of life. Homeschooling has been a huge change in lifestyle for us. It's been the best decision I've ever made for my children and one I don't foresee ever regretting.

Thanks for reading

(Life Be In It classes)

(Dane and I at an environmental learning centre)

My personal weight loss challenge

Many of you have commented on the weight I've lost over the last several months. I've been asked time and time again how I've done it and what diet I'm following. I thought this blog might be the easy way to answer your questions all at once ;)
Firstly let me tell you that I haven't reached my goal yet, so if I've inspired you to lose some weight too then I'm happy for you to come along for the last bit of my ride with me. Most importantly I want to make something very clear. What I'm doing is NOT a diet. It doesn't involve attending a gym, it doesn't involve a financial outlay or appointments with weight loss consultants and it definitely does NOT involve drinking a shake instead of good, wholesome food! It's just about changing your bad habits and creating new good habits when it comes to the food you eat and the kind of life you lead. Anyone can do this and the results speak for themselves.

There's a few simple things that I have found that work for me. They may not work for everyone but I'm betting they'll work for most.

Eating small, regular meals - Some people think eating only a couple of meals a day is better than snacking all day long. I find however if I go too long without eating I get so hungry I'm willing to eat anything and everything in sight. The idea of taking my time to whip up a nice healthy meal completely goes out the window when I'm totally and utterly starving. Have a piece of fruit, a muesli bar, a handful of nuts in between meals. It will keep your tummy that little bit full and give you enough time and energy to organise a healthy lunch or dinner as opposed to the first drive thru or packet of chips you come across.

Plan ahead - If you're leaving home for the day and you know you're going to get peckish whilst you're out plan ahead of time and pack some healthy snacks into a lunchbox or handbag. Sure it might be easy to drive thru Maccas or stop at the servo for a chocolate bar but the reality is if you had an apple or muesli bar tucked into your bag you're far less likely to make those unhealthy last minute choices. I find this trick also works really well in saving money. If I stop at the servo to get myself and the kids all a drink and snack I can easily spend over $20 for something that is only really keeping us happy for an hour or two.

Eat fresh food in abundance - We spend at least $50 a week at our local greengrocer. I find that snacking on fresh fruit often gives me the sweet hit I'm looking for with the added advantage of keeping me feeling fit and healthy. I allow the kids to grab fruit straight from the fruit bowl as they like which means it can cost me a fortune but at least I know they're filling up on good healthy snacks. I also make my own juices which I sometimes use in place of afternoon tea to fill me enough til dinner time. My favourite  apple juice is made from green apples, a sliver or ginger and 1 stick of rhubarb.  My carrot juice is made from carrots, a little ginger with a few green apples to slightly sweeten.

Keep active - Friends keep asking me if I'm going to a Gym to lose the weight. I have done the Gym thing in the past but for me it never seemed to give any real noticeable long lasting results. I find that keeping an active lifestyle, running after 4 boys all day is enough to keep me feeling fit. I don't spend much time at home, even on the weekends. We are often out at a park, doing plenty of walking and in the warmer months enjoy going for a swim. I also enjoy going out dancing with friends on occasion. We have never felt the need to get Foxtel and rarely sit home watching movies or playing the PS or Wii.

Drink less alcohol - Here's where things get tough for some people. I've found since having my boys my need for a drink has lessened over the years and I just can't be bothered trying to deal with a hangover when there is 4 boys relying on me. Drinking alcohol regularly can seriously increase your calorie intake for the week without really noticing it. Switching to a glass of wine or low joule beer just a few times a week you'll soon notice the benefits not just on your body but also your wallet!

Changing the mindset - What I believe is the biggest factor in me losing almost 20kgs in the last 9 months is my motivation to leave the old behind and forge ahead feeling fit and healthy. It wasn't just about the numbers on the scale. It was about the gain in energy, clearer skin and about my long term health. I had a Hysterectomy and repairs last year (required due to a traumatic delivery of my first son) and more recently surgery for Hernias I incurred during my last pregnancy. If there's one thing I've learnt about surgery is that you wouldn't wish the post surgery pain and recovery time on your worst enemy. There's no way I'm going back to hospital for something that I can prevent. For this reason I don't smoke, rarely drink and I'm determined to keep myself in optimal health, long term. By losing another 4 kgs I'll officially be in the Healthy weight range. This is something I've been aiming for since back at Christmas last year.

Ideally I'd like to lose another 7 kgs which will put me back at the weight I was 9 years ago when I married my husband, right before we started a family. I'd love to hear from some of you who are going to join me on my weight loss journey. Stay tuned for more updates ;)

Photo 1: Me at Size 18 in red dress.
Photo 2: Me at Size 14 one year later.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Kids Kitchen

I'm not sure how these things come into my mind sometimes but I had what I thought was a wonderful idea that I just had to share with you all :)

So here I was, in the kitchen (aren't I always) in the middle of making up some organic vanilla custard for Fraser when Dane expresses interest in trying some. Considering the Heinz packets of custard powder is intended for babies 6 months and over, here I am thinking he's not going to like it at all. Here's where my awesome idea comes in.....

How about if I add some Milo and make it chocolate custard? How about if I grate some dark chocolate and sprinkle the shavings on top and serve it like a proper dessert?

Well once I'd created my masterpiece all of the boys wanted some of course! After tasting some myself I must say if I didn't know it was made from baby custard I'd think it was some super yummy dessert snack! So now I've found a simple, yummy and fairly healthy treat for all the family. How much did it cost me to make this yummy snack? About a third of a packet of Heinz Organic vanilla custard, about 200mls milk and a few spoonfuls of milo all adds up to just over $1 for 4 generous servings. Not bad I say! Much cheaper than those Yogo snack things (not that I buy them usually).