The Last Time

My oldest son is going to turn eleven in two and a half weeks. It’s hard to comprehend. I swear, he was a baby fifteen minutes ago.

 

His journey has not been an easy one. From pre-term labor scares to a brain injury at birth, from motor skills delays to an eventual diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy, from ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder, to Asperger’s, from epilepsy which has followed him around like a dark cloud from the day of his birth to memory struggles relating to the seizures, from years where he wasn’t growing and I had to beg doctors to pay attention to the eventual diagnosis of Growth Hormone Disorder, this boy has had to be a fighter since he came out of the womb.

 

We named him Keagan in the womb. It’s Irish, like my Grandma, and it means “little and fierce.” He’s had to live up to his name every single day of his life.  He’s seen more doctors and specialists in his short life than most elderly folks have in a life time. Currently, he averages 14 appointments a month.

 

And now, here he is, almost eleven. He’s smart, sweet, funny, and a fighter.  That child could out-read most adults, and began reading before he turned two. He’s obsessed with science and frequently educates the adults around him about a wide variety of scientific topics. But sometimes, he shuts down. Prone to selective mutism, sometimes language is just too much for his overstimulated brain, so he turns it off to protect himself. Sometimes, when there is too much sensory input for his brain to process, he melts down. He can get violent, especially with me. I don’t say this to insult my son. He’s the light of my life. I say this to give an honest picture of what our day to day lives look like in my home. I understand that my son isn’t mean or bad. When the meltdown passes, he is apologetic and back to his sweet self.

 

Though there are clear differences from my son and other boys his age, he’s also very much an almost-eleven-year-old boy. He loves Star Wars, Mine Craft, and Lego.  He’s also getting too cool for his mama, which brings me to the story I set out to tell with this blog post.

 

This morning, he climbed into my lap, wrapped his arms around me in a a tight hug, and held me in silence for several minutes. I held him back, running my fingers through his hair like I did when he was a baby. I breathed in his scent. I squeezed back. I gave him every bit of my attention for those minutes.

 

Eventually, his brother popped out of his bedroom and called him away to go play and he scampered off happily. I never got an explanation for why he wanted to climb into my lap, but I am glad that he did.

 

The thing is, these cuddling sessions are less and less frequent. One day, probably not too far into the future, my little fighter will climb into my lap for the last time. I won’t know it is the last time, nor will he, but it will be the end of an era. He’s a hugger, an I know I will always get affection from my son, however his days of climbing into Mama’s lap are numbered.

 

I can’t help but think back to the day after his birth. He’d just started seizing and the doctors had discovered a brain bleed. They had to transfer him to another hospital fifty miles away and I was not allowed into the ambulance. Before they swept him away from me, I got a moment to be with him. Panic stricken, I worried it could be the last time I held him. Thank God, it wasn’t. But that moment came back to me this morning. He lived for many more years on his mama’s lap.

 

I am so grateful for my son’s life. And I am not going to take his cuddles for granted. I am going to hold on tight when he crawls into my lap. I will savor the moment when he climbs into my lap because that last time is eminent. How blessed I am to get to have this era come to an end naturally instead of through tragedy.

 

Hold on to your kids. So many “lasts” sneak up on you and you miss them. Try to be present for the ones that count.

14 LOVE-ly Writing Prompts for Valentine’s Day

  1. On Valentine’s Day, you wake up and find a large box of chocolates with a note signed by “Your Secret Admirer.” Who might have sent it? How do you solve the mystery?

  2. What does love mean to you?

  3. Write an acrostic poem for the word “Love,” “Valentine,” or “Candy.” In an acrostic poem, the first letter of every line spells out a word. IE: If you were writing about dogs, your first line would begin with the letter D, the second line O and so on.

  4. Think about a time when you felt very loved. Write about it. Explain why you felt loved.

  5. Do you know a couple in love? Who are they? Tell how you know that they love one another.

  6. You’re at a Valentine’s Day party when suddenly, Cupid arrives! He’s got his arrow of love pointed right at you! What do you do?

  7. Who are three people you love? Explain why you love them.

  8. Write about a book you love. Give at least three reasons you love it.

  9. If you were to create your own conversation hearts candies to give your friends, what would they say?

  10. Do you like Valentine’s Day? Give at least three reasons why or why not.

  11. The week before Valentine’s Day, you find an old stack of love letters at the park. There are fourteen in all. Do you read them? If so, what do they say? Do you try to track down the owner of the letters? Who wrote them?

  12. On Valentine’s Day, you go to the zoo with your family. When you get there, something unusual happens. Explain what happened and how you respond.

  13. When you wake up on Valentine’s Day, everything is pink and red. The walls of your bedroom. Your breakfast. Your dad. Everything! What do you do? Does the world ever go back to normal?

  14. One Valentine’s card changes everything. What does it say?

 

Nellie Nova Giveaway!

Just Add Coffee- The Homeschool Coupon Mom is hosting a giveaway of either Nellie Nova book on her blog! Check it out and you might win your own copy of Nellie Nova! While you’re at it, check out the site! It’s fun and informative!  There’s also a review of both Nellie Nova books, so you can learn more about the series and just how much kids love Nellie!

Who doesn’t love a giveaway? I know I do! Click the image below to see the details! Find out more about Alison and her great blog on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

7 Tips to Encourage Kids to Write in the New Year

The New Year is a great time to look at what we’re doing as parents, teachers, or homeschoolers. I am all about goal setting in my homeschool. One of my main areas of focus in 2018 is writing.

I frequently hear from parents who have a hard time getting their kids to write.  Actually, if I am being honest, I have one child who I have to beg to write.  Even though he loves books and has a mother who is an author, he still isn’t a huge fan of writing. A lot of this stems from motor skills delays. I will get into that later in the article, but motor skills delays cause frustration when writing for a lot of kids.

Parents worry so much about writing, but there are so many ways to encourage your kids to write. Here’s a few that I hope help you!

  1. Use Writing Prompts. I’ve linked to some that I created on this site, but you can find more all over the web. Sometimes, the hardest part about writing is just getting started.
  2. Use voice typing software. Google Docs has free, built-in voice typing software as long as you use it with Chrome. All three of my kids enjoy writing this way. Their vocabularies are bigger when speaking than when writing and their hands don’t tire when voice typing. This is especially true for my eldest, who has a variety of motor skills delays. His brain and his hands don’t work on the same level. If he’s asked to hand write something, it’s like pulling teeth to get a few sentences out of him. With voice typing, he can write a five paragraph essay.
  3. Expose them to lots of great books. Good readers make good writers!
  4. Buy them cute notebooks and fun pencils or pens. For some kids, a unicorn notebook or a rocket pencil can make all the difference.
  5. Cut pictures out of magazines and ask your kids to create a story about the picture. It would be easy to fill a notebook with several pages like this to make this an easy to repeat activity. I did this activity with my Creative Writing students at co-op and they loved it. Just make sure to choose pictures that lead to story telling. A head shot of a man in a business suit is harder to tell a story about than a photo of a dog wearing a tutu.
  6. Play storytelling games like Story Cubes or Create a Story.  Telling stories aloud gets kids in the right mindset to write.
  7. Allow them to write about their interests.  If you have a child who is obsessed with dinosaurs or ballet, it’s okay if a lot of their writing includes this interest. It might be boring for you to read 23 dinosaur stories in week, but a lot of authors have made careers out of such things.

How do you encourage your kids or students to write? Let me know in the comments!

Advent Activities for Slacker Moms

If you’re like me, you have great intentions when it comes to the holidays. You want a Pinterest-Perfect winter wonderland, but what you end up with is…less than perfect. I want to make the holidays magical for my kids- without making myself insane. So often, when I am looking at blogs for advent activities, I find lists of activities that are just not realistic for my family. I put together this list of super easy advent activities to keep myself sane. Hopefully some of you will enjoy them too!

  1. Christmas Coloring Pages from Crayola – It doesn’t get much easier than this! Just hit print! Great for a day when you don’t have time to prepare anything.
  2.  Christmas Music Dance Party – Check out this Youtube playlist or use your own favorites.
  3. Write letters to Santa.
  4. Draw a gingerbread house with Art for Kids Hub– these fun, short videos are easy to follow and kids have a blast.
  5. Get/ put up your Christmas tree. You’re going to do it anyway, it may as well count as an activity.
  6. Christmas movie night. Netflix has a ton of family holiday movies.
  7. Make cocoa. Quick, easy, and the kids will be happy.
  8. Go look at Christmas lights. Good for when you forgot to do something all day and suddenly, it’s almost bedtime. Put jammies on and go drive around looking at lights. Easy peasy.
  9. Go shopping for those less fortunate. Grab one of the tags hanging on an angel tree near you and take the kids shopping to help make the holidays brighter for kids in need.
  10. Bake cookies. Use the pre-made cookie dough if you need to.
  11. String popcorn.
  12. Play Holiday Charades
  13. Read your favorite Christmas storybook.
  14. Go to a local holiday parade/tree lighting/ town festival.
  15. Have another movie night. The kids won’t be sad if you have them watch Rudolf twice.
  16. Print out this Christmas word scramble. 
  17. Write your own Christmas stories. If your kids are too young to write, have them tell you a story. You can write it down for them and they can illustrate it.
  18. Go to a holiday party. You are probably doing this anyway.
  19. Take the kids Christmas shopping. I like to set mine loose in a thrift shop or dollar store with $5 and see what they find.
  20. Make lunchtime more fun with this printable holiday place-mat from Three Little Monkeys. 
  21. Make family game night festive by playing Christmas music and eating candy canes.
  22. Get some wrapping done while your kids enjoy holiday games online.
  23. Make peppermint bark. It’s super easy. Really. You basically just melt chocolate chips and sprinkle it with crushed candy canes.
  24. Open one present Christmas Eve. Pajamas are a great choice so the kiddos can put them on and look cute in the 200 photos you’ll take Christmas morning.

For Educators, Homeschool Groups, or Book Clubs

If you are interested in using the Nellie Nova series in your  classroom, homeschool group, or book club, please contact me at stephie.peterson@live.com. I am happy to provide a discount for orders of 20 or more books. I  also can provide a special educator’s guide to accompany Nellie Nova Takes Flight free of charge with a bulk order. The guide contains more information about the science and history concepts in the book as well as art, science, writing, and history activities for kids.

I love visiting schools and homeschool groups. If your school or group is within two hours of Raleigh, North Carolina, I would love to come do a reading for your students. I can also do Skype presentations for those outside of my driving range.

I love hearing from educators. I’d love to hear more about how your schools or groups are using Nellie Nova.

 

 

 

Black Friday/ Cyber Monday Book Deal

If you’ve been thinking about buying some Nellie Nova books for kids in your life, now is a great time! Use code GIFTBOOK17 on amazon.com to take $5 off any book order over $20. Can be used with any combination of books.

 

Happy shopping, book lovers!

 

Thanksgiving Writing Prompts for Kids

Get your kids writing this Thanksgiving with these writing prompts!

 

  • On Thanksgiving morning, you wake up and find that you are not in your bed. You are in a pen, on a farm, and you have a lot of feathers. You’re a turkey and the farmer is hungry! What do you do?
  • Your mom tells you that all pies have been banned by the government this Thanksgiving. What do you do?
  • You hate turkey. You hate pie. Most of all, you hate cranberries. How do you convince your parents to make something else for Thanksgiving dinner?
  • What are you thankful for this year that you either did not have or did not appreciate last year?
  • It’s Thanksgiving Day. Your parents decided to order a delivered meal this year. The doorbell rings. You open it and find three dozen live turkeys waiting for you. What happens next?
  • Your crazy Uncle Bob shows up at Thanksgiving with a time machine. He sends you back to the first Thanksgiving. What do you see?
  • Your Grandma serves a Thanksgiving dinner of cereal, dog treats, and candy canes. What do you do?
  • A strange guest shows up at your Thanksgiving dinner. Who is it and how does your family react?

Nellie Nova’s Summer on the Run Now Available!

I have spent the past year and a half working hard to get this project finished. It’s been so fun writing my newest book. I recently had a release party here in Raleigh and it was a blast! Snacks, crafts, and a reading made for a really fun day. I hope all of Nellie’s fan’s check out book number two!

Nellie Nova’s Summer on the Run is a great read for kids in 3rd-6th grades!

About the book:

A year has passed since Nellie Nova built her time machine, the Purple Flyer. She and her brother, Niles, have been busy traveling throughout history to meet amazing women. Everyone in the Nova family, including their “Auntie” Amelia Earhart is very happy that the pesky government agents who tried to steal their time machine last year have finally backed off. One day, after traveling in time to meet the Native American trail guide Sacagawea, Nellie and Niles return home to find out that Agent Riley and his team of operatives are back in town and they’ve come for the Novas! Ruthless as ever, the agents chase Nellie and Niles through town, park their car in front of the Novas’ home, and even show up to Nellie’s dance recital. The Novas have had enough, so they pack their bags and head to Washington state to hide out in the mountains for the summer.
Worst of all, Nellie’s parents forbid her and Niles from using their time machine until things settle down.
Will they ever get away from the agents? And will Nellie ever be able to use her time machine to meet her newest heroine and namesake, reporter Nellie Bly?

 

If you’ve been itching to buy the second installment of Nellie’s story, check it out on Amazon today!  The Nellie Nova series is a great way to gently encourage a love of science and history in young kids.

 

 

 

 

16 Ways I’m not a Stereotypical Homeschooler

A lot of people have preconceived notions about what a homeschooling family looks like. Some of the ideas people have about homeschoolers are based on stereotypes they’ve heard. Sometimes, someone remembers a homeschooling family they once met and assumes that’s just how it’s done. Sometimes people are just making assumptions based on their own lives. Whatever your assumptions about homeschooling are, put them aside. Like any other group of people, no two homeschoolers are exactly alike.

Here are sixteen ways I break homeschool stereotypes. I’ve heard all of these from people in the past. Some of these assumptions are great qualities – just not ones I possess. Some of them are awful stereotypes and just need to end.

  1. I wear pants. The last time I wore a denim jumper, I was five years old.
  2. I don’t bake my own bread from grains I harvested myself.  I buy it at Aldi.
  3. We don’t live in an RV. (But that would be really cool!)
  4. My kids don’t speak Latin and I don’t have plans to change that.
  5. I’m not super organized.
  6. We’re not unschoolers, though I know and admire many unschoolers.
  7. I don’t homeschool my kids to keep them away from the world. I homeschool them so they can spend more time in it.
  8. My kids do not behave perfectly. In fact, when people imply that they do, I laugh.
  9. I don’t think everyone should homeschool or that schools are evil. We’re just doing what works for our family.
  10. We don’t homeschool because of super conservative religious beliefs.
  11. My kids socialize with other kids. A lot. I promise. Please quit asking about this. Homeschoolers have a million ways to get out in the world and interact with people. My kids go to baseball, dance, classes with other homeschoolers, co-ops, the park, the library, museums, the store, church, friends’ houses, doctor appointments and about a thousand other places. Seriously. We’re almost never home, so let’s put an end to this one.
  12. I do not have saint-like patience and I get frustrated just like other parents.
  13. I don’t sew all of our clothes nor am I great at crafting in general.
  14. I’m not a perfect parent.
  15. I am not a dead-beat parent who is too lazy to get her kids to school on time.
  16. My kids are not illiterate.

In the end, I am really not that different from any other mom. I want the best for my kids and I am trying my hardest to help guide them in this world. I think that most moms I know can agree that’s what we’re all aiming for.

 

Homeschoolers, what assumptions have others made about you because you educate your kids at home? If you don’t homeschool, maybe you learned something about families like mine. Let me know what you think!