…And a Happy New Year!

Even though we’ve had a sweet Christmas, and family here to help us ring in the new year, the house feels comfortably quiet and peacefully still.

I am unapologetically late with the blog this week as a symptom of burnout. Anyone relate? Renewing energy is primordial, especially for those actively caring for special needs children. So, here I am, …battery is charging.

Bella typically has very little interest in the world outside of her routine, with the exception of our adventures to the cinema a few times per month. However, I sense this is slowly shifting.

Bella made the cutest posters to welcome her cousin’s visit for the New Year holiday (..see below).

Unfortunately, her cousin wasn’t completely enthusiastic about connecting, and Bella has been disappointed. Still, they did share some good moments. They had a makeup party, made crafts together, and we all went to a movie together downtown. Bella was grateful for the interaction, and it was wonderful for me to witness.

Here is a picture of Bella with her cousin and friend, Coline.

And the lovely butterfly makeup kit they used for their makeup party!

We took down the Christmas tree and declarations yesterday. All that remains are the memories made, and the sweet feeling of promise in the new year ahead.

Bella has found joy in doing some small mosaic, art projects the last few days after finishing some glitter fairies with her cousin. Here is one of the sticker mosaics she has completed.

Now then, I hereby give you all permission to unashamedly charge your energetic, soul batteries, and to celebrate every moment! Even when you are asked to go it alone, or you are disappointed with outcomes you held fixed expectations about. I observe that kids (..on the spectrum or not) can teach us how to roll with the punches.

By all means, have a wonder filled 2019!


Watch with Glittering Eyes

Roald Dahl wrote, “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” Around our house, we believe in magic, and things are definitely getting sparkly around here!

Bella will soon be celebrating her 11th birthday! She has picked out a pretty snazzy outfit to celebrate her big day in. Check it out!

The dress and magic wand are from Zara Kids France, the gilet (cardigan) is from H & M France, and the lil boots are from Vertbaudet France. The dress and wand have arrived, and we will receive the boots and cardigan any moment. I have praised Zara before, and I’ll do it again…I love their kids clothing! Having said this, I am trying to get away from “Fast Fashion.” I am aware that those who make the clothing (in many cases) aren’t paid a fair wage. With this in mind, I create capsule wardrobes for Bella, and for myself, and we always recycle; giving Bella’s clothing to friend or family as she grows out of them. 

Here is the dress and wand that arrived (..I appreciate Zara’s attention to detail regarding the packaging). I look forward to gift wrapping these and the other outfit items, and presenting them to Bella the morning of her birthday! She’s going to be so excited!

Alongside prepping for Bella’s birthday celebration, we’ve been busy with school as usual. Bella started a new unit called, Christmas Around the World. She’s “traveled” to America, Canada, Mexico and Germany so far, and will continue her travels to Sweden, Spain, Italy and England. Here are pictures of Bella enjoying this new focus.

❤ ❤ ❤ 

Wishing you all a sparkly December! We’ll be back with more magic next week! 

Bella’s First Time-Lapse Art Video

We’ve had a great week so far! And you? We’ve stayed very content with projects which we will share below. Bella is doing great with her homeschool studies. Our yoga has dwindled, but we will roll out the mats again this week. Bella continues to do the Macarena every chance she gets! :^)

Bella and I have done something extra special for you today. I recorded Bella drawing the bat you see in the featured image above, and created a time-lapse video! Woot! (Thank you Papa Christian for the suggestion). Here is the time-lapse video, set to the epic music of Bella’s step dad, Phil, featuring the voice of her mama (moi). Enjoy!

1st Time-Lapse Art Video – October, 2018 from Hippo on Vimeo.

Phil came home from the market with marshmallows a few days ago, and had a plan to help Bella with a little game / project of connecting marshmallows with spaghetti. Bella loved this! She was able to build quite a structure. When pieces broke, it was an easy fix with additional spaghetti sticks. Fun! 🙂 Here are a few pictures from this cool project.

Another highlight for Bella this week has been the traditional makings of homemade spiders, bats and other creepy things for Halloween. We’ll show you the final results next week, but for now, here is a quick snippet of Bella painting, and some pictures of our progress.

See you next week with more from the Hippobellamus camp! 🙂

Happy October!

The witch costume arrived this week! Woot! 🎃 As you can see, Bella was very excited to try it on. Looks extra Halloween-ish with our groovy, light therapy in the background doesn’t it? The costume fits perfectly, and will work a treat with a black turtleneck underneath.

Bella’s little Halloween toys should arrive this week as well, and will be a nice addition to her already enormous collection of Calico Critters, or Sylvanian Friends as they are called here in Europe.

All else with school and life is steady on with its usual bumps in road. I keep on keeping on, and repeat my favorite mantra, I’ve got this.

Happy October everyone!

Building Blocks

This week we built fall themed, silly story and sentence blocks to keep our homeschool, writing practice a bit more creative and fun. We built five separate boxes; 1 box each for adjectives, subjects, settings, nouns and verbs. Once the boxes are made, you roll each one, write down the words each box shows on the top after it lands, and then build a sentence, or story from the words. It is nonsensical and silly most of the time which provides a bit of thinking “outside the box” as to what would actually make sense.

Here is a video and a picture of Bella preparing the boxes.


We’ve been enjoying some fall roses and other happy, yellow flowers from the garden. We know their days are numbered, and are cherishing their beauty.

Rose Close Up
Rose Close Up

Happy Yellow Flowers in the Garden
Happy Yellow Flowers in the Garden

We are simultaneously in a review time and a step forward time regarding math. This week Bella has been reviewing counting by 1’s, 2’s, 5’s, 10’s and 20’s, and is also continuing forward with her daily multiplication work sheets. She is doing very well with this, and is steady on with her daily reading, reading comprehension, and time ordering (..putting pictures in order based on the story she reads). This is in addition to the silly stories and sentences activity we’ve added for fall, which is primarily for learning sentence structure and practicing handwriting.

Here is Bella working on her math and language arts sheets.

2, 4, 6, 8, ..who do we appreciate.

Yay! I’m finished! 🙂

If this blog makes life on the spectrum and facilitating homeschool look easy peasy, please know it isn’t. It is a choice to focus on the good, without giving too much reality to difficult situations that arise. They roll in and they roll out as the clouds that roll by. I see Bella’s effort, her heart and baby steps of progress. Somehow, that is enough to keep me rolling forward, and ready to face each day, whatever comes.

It isn’t all about silly stories and fun, but it is about building blocks and keeping things interesting. It is also about staying open, curious and allowing creative answers to emerge from present moment awareness.


Room on the Broom

We have jumped the gun on our Halloween fun! How about you? 😉 Who can resist when there are so many wonderful books, arts and crafts and school themed units with the focus of fall/Halloween? Bella is so excited that she has already ordered her Halloween costume and some Halloween toys!

A few days ago, Bella and I discovered Room on the Broom, the book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. We are both in love with the book! We love it so much that we bought it, and watched the movie on our ritual, Monday movie night. We highly recommend it! We also purchased a Room on the Broom speech therapy packet from one of our favorite stores/homeschool resources Teachers Pay Teachers. Even if you aren’t homeschooling your kids, Teachers Pay Teachers has a lot to offer in the way of supplemental materials.

As art is a big love for Bella and therefore a big focus for us within our homeschool curriculum, I offered Bella a simple print out of the Room on the Broom characters on Monday. I am blown away by her version! Check it out!

The Original:


Bella’s Version:


I love how Bella’s version emphasizes bright color, shading, the color for the background, and most of all, the lovely expressions on the faces. Kids on the spectrum (sorry to generalize) read expressions first, and hear words second, third or sometimes not at all. So, it makes sense that Bella puts attention on the facial expressions and movement of her characters.

The pictures below are all from our Monday art, watercoloring fun! Just look at the expression in the eyes of the little bat (..see the close up–2nd picture below).



Even with our bumps in the road this past week, Bella has done well to complete her school work. Her handwriting is much improved from last year, and we are steady on with practicing. The other lovely thing to note is Bella’s continued improvement with the coloring she does on her school papers. Last year she would basically scribble out of the lines and not complete that part of her work. I’m very happy for Bella that for now she is finding joy in doing clean and complete work.


What Hippobellamus blog post would be complete without the mention of Hotel Transylvania? 😉 Bella continues to love the movies and the characters, but, ..most of all, ..she loves the Macarena dance from Hotel Transylvania 3! She loves it so much that she learned it, and requests that we dance often! Check out her dance moves below!

And…last, but not least, a look at Bella’s capsule wardrobe for fall and the transition into winter. She’s got some nice things to add to this, which are on her Christmas list! All clothes are from one of my favorite clothing stores for children, Zara Kids France.

Bella's Fall_Winter Capsule Wardrobe 6 - purchased

Here’s to a beautiful fall, and to celebrating Halloween from now until November 1st! There’s certainly room on our broom for this!

Best wishes ❤

Note: I am not affiliated with the resources I’ve mentioned in this blog, nor do I receive money for making mention of them.

Paper Roses

Hello again…we have been busy as usual. There is a definite buzz in the air with back to school everything, everywhere! Grateful to be homeschooling Bella which puts us in a different rhythm. Even still, Bella has been a bit more triggered this week. I observe that she is super sensitive to the change of seasons. All of her sensitivities are heightened right now. Observing this, we have made yoga a top priority. We now start our school day with Rodney Yee’s a.m. yoga and we’ve tried his beginner yoga class as well. Gaia is an amazing resource for us (…thank you aunt Donna for this beautiful gift to us). We have lots and lots of yoga teachers to choose from.

Yoga seems to take the edge off Bella’s anxiety. We’ll keep on with it and see how things evolve. Here is a picture of Bella and I doing yoga yesterday in our pj’s!

Hippobellamus blog picture - Bella and Mommy do yoga!
Bella and Mommy do a.m. yoga!

We decided to change things up a bit this week with our Monday watercolor painting. We painted white paper towels with watercolor paint and took on the challenge of making paper roses. We found this lovely idea here if you want to try it with your kids.

I’ve posted a little slide show below so that you can see each phase of this paper towel, rose making adventure! It took two days to complete these cute paper roses, but they really turned out great! Bella decided to put the roses on the desk in her bedroom. Nice bits of playful color to cheer things up during the fall and winter months.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All else is reading, math, writing practice, types of sentences (a unit we just finished today), sight words, spelling, speech therapy, and French lessons. Our plates runneth over. Still, we’re taking time to smell the roses.