Sunday, October 23, 2016

Hearts, Codes, Africa, and not being "Enough"

Sometimes I think of this painting:

I changed the title. To me this is "Not Being Enough."

I know it's creepy of me, but I majored in Art History-okay?!

Anyway, I often think about how I'm not enough. I don't do enough reading with my kids, and I have realized how desperately lacking I am when it comes to teaching writing. I don't teach about the gospel and the spirit enough. I don't just have fun with my kids enough. I never clean my house or cook. And now even math is behind because of Africa and getting ready to move.

And yet somehow I find time to read "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" and somehow I have time for Facebook, and somehow I have time for dumb Youtube videos.

I'm just not enough.

Of course, I'm in good company. I think most moms, and especially homeschool moms, feel like they're not enough too.

I went to the elementary school this week. I was putting posters up about my seminar I did. (More on that later,) and I peeked in at this fascinating world that I am not a part of. And you know what? It looked fun, and colourful and like beautiful things were happening.

I doubted myself, and that demon sitting on me told me I was failing and depriving my kids of this place that was so much better than me. But it's too late, because I've failed them so completely.

My seminar was on Dyslexia. Why should I teach about dyslexia and offer "solutions" when I hadn't proved that "solutions" I've used actually work?

Okay pity party over.

I need this blog. Here I post things I did-to reaffirm that I'm actually doing something. So here we go.....

Before I went to Africa, we learned about the Morse Code and the telegraph. We even made a contraption with a telegraph-like switch to practice the Morse Code. The kids loved this, but it was really tricky, and we didn't get much past signalling our names.

I also gave them walkie talkies which I thought they could beep with to do Morse Code as well, but I was too impatient to figure out how to beep, so they just loved playing with them sans Morse Code. This ended up to be awesome, because while I was gone, half of them stayed at one aunties while the rest stayed at another aunties, and they could talk back and forth.

Okay, now for AFRICA!

Wow, talk about an amazing life changing experience. To see what Gregory and Evelyn Van Duyse have created and worked for, and how lives have been changed, and are changing: It's very inspiring and just good. It helped my faith in many different things and ways.

So, long story short: Gregory had always wanted to go to Africa to help starving children. When his (then) youngest child was 4, he figured it was time. They told the mission president of Benin Africa they were coming and they helped the church.

Then Gregory noticed that the main problem was the educated unemployed. Gregory is an Entrepreneur. Why couldn't others be educated to be successful entrepreneurs as well. So he set up a college. Where students are taught english (Benin is French speaking) and then made to read business/self-help books like 7 habits of highly effective people, think and grow rich, anatomy of Peace, the Slight edge etc. and have students come up with their own mission statements and their own businesses they are passionate about.

They must actually get these businesses running, and then Gregory (and now Dustin) go and do a sort of "Dragons Den/Shark Tank" with the student's business and give them investments accordingly.

Dustin became Gregory's business partner shortly after Gregory came back from his initial year in Benin, and now they both go a few times a year.

This was my first time going.

And I kept on feeling like I had stepped out of my life and into a National Geographic Magazine.

This is my homeschool blog, so I won't go on a forever about it, but I was fortunate enough to go with this amazing woman:

Evelyn is amazing. Compassionate,  spiritual, and powerful. It was wonderful to learn and grow from being at her side. Interestingly, she's a homeschool mom who feels like she is "not enough" too. Silly us.

Gregory is awesome too, and I'll never forget his lecture to the students on how women need to be educated and be able to support themselves. This is a very male dominated society, and he told these women and men how women need to be strong, and that's attractive, and they are worth it. It was so powerful.

I was so grateful to have met some students, but mostly to get to know and admire this man:

Lionel. The powerhouse of Benin. I'm so grateful the college is in his very capable hands. He's also the 1st councillor of the Stake presidency, and his recruiting of missionaries was like thunder to these people. I actually saw people's lives being changed because of this man. Not exaggerating

But Africa was a bit of a hiccup in my homeschool. My boys loved staying at aunties and friends, so they weren't effected, but I felt behind when I came home, and then I had to prepare for a seminar I gave a few days later:

I wanted to share everything I learned this summer (and earlier) with the community. I felt at ease because dyslexia is something I'm so educated on and passionate about. I regret a couple things, but I think it went well, and some public school teachers even came!

One said they would love me to give this seminar to all the teachers when I move back to Cardston.

We'll see. I hope I can make a positive difference.

When I was working on my presentation, my boys were having a riot with their things from Scholastic. Because of the crazy changes in funding, I felt like I had to spend it on frivolities from Scholastic because it's so easy to pay for through the school, instead of things I feel like actually go with my homeschool (like my yearly printing of this blog into a book.)

But my boys loved it and they got cool things like "pinball science" minecraft papercraft, and rock collections.

Well, when I actually did school this week we learned about the invention of the camera and we played with UV paper. UV paper is just too cool, but mine is old, and didn't work as good as it could have.

We also learned all about Queen Victoria, the Sovereign of the Industrial Revolution. I had them watch "Young Victoria"---mostly because it's one of my favourite movies EVER!

It was quite shocking-something they don't mention in the movie-how she did not like her babies! Her journals were full of how she found them awkward and didn't really care for them! It sounded like she got over that, and really-she didn't have much reference to work with because her own upbringing was so wretched.

We did our last science class in Cardston. It was epic. It was a last minute Halloween Party. We studied the heart, and took our pulse, studied our veins, and saw if we could move liquid as effectively/fast as a heart could (we couldn't) and then we DISSECTED TWO HEARTS!!!

One boy said "My mom would throw up if she were doing this." I personally was not squeamish at all, and was so excited by it, but I can imagine that some might not feel that way, after all, just look:

That's a cow artery.

We got a deer heart, but some of the top had been cut off (come on butcher! Don't you know this is SCIENCE?-jk)

But it was the cow heart that stole my class's heart--hehehehe, yah---

Look how HUGE it was!:

I think this is my favourite homeschool photo of myself. I debating about putting it as my Facebook profile photo hahaha.

But I found out I told my kids a fib. I said a whale's arteries were big enough to swim in. They went home and researched it, and proved me wrong....oops.

And now for English and Math...I have no photos, but we are sluggishly moving along. I am more determined to have more and more writing in my children's lives. I have some stories they wrote on my computer's backup drive---I am without a personal computer right now since mine was given to someone in Africa.

I figure they should be writing while I teach William. Right?

Anyway, Daniel has been officially introduced to multiplication. Check out his first multiplication worksheet:

See 9x6 and 7x3? He doesn't do this quickly, of course, but he UNDERSTANDS it, and that is the most important thing, and it amazes me that, if they have a good foundation, how quickly they can succeed.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Put put Boats and Bones

Did I mention that my husband's gone? He is. Oh he definitely is. He's in Africa. He's been there for a week and a half. I will meet him there next week, but then I will fly back without him and he will go to China before he gets back home.

That's ALL THE WAY AROUND THE WORLD people. In one trip he will circumnavigate the globe. Watch out Jules Verne.

And in the meantime we are messier and not as healthy without him.

One of the main reasons we got messy this week was because of making PUT PUT BOATS! We made them last time we did modern history, and this time we made them faster and better because we knew what we were doing.

Maxwell was in heaven. I'm very blessed that my oldest is so enthusiastic for everything. It's like having a little cheerleader to get me doing things.

We made them as our intro to the industrial revolution....which was made possible by steam engines! However, we did very little history this week. I didn't get to the Morse Code like I wanted.

For science we studied bones. That's when my favourite moment of science EVER happened. I brought out my little skeleton man and said "Bones protect our organs. Look at his head. What is the most important thing to be protected?" And quiet Hunter Blackmore shouts out:


Bwahahahahah! I just laughed and laughed. That was awesome.

We talked about the structure of bones, bone's joints, their strength, and what happens if you break them. We made a spine as one of our activities, and I let them take it home. It was a balloon head with a string as the spinal cord and thread spools as vertebrae and buttons as disks.

We also looked at xrays....I think my mom bought this kit for me...

By the way, even though I'm going to the coast for awhile, I decided to make a CARDSTON science club blog to make it easier for my friends to report to Westwind what their kids learned with me. Behold:

It's super easy.....I just copy and paste what I did here onto that blog. Now they don't have to sift through all my ramblings. But YOU still have to read it all John Creed!

This week I took the boys on dates to do crafts at a store where you make china and ceramic things.  I have my dad for Christmas, and I wanted to go to this store before we leave for the coast.

Isn't Abraham so ccccuuuuttttteee!

In other news, Maxwell got a Marriage certificate of our ancestors in the mail!  I'm so happy for him. In the family history world, Marriage certificates are like gold. There's so much information on them! He is on his way to having quite a few names for the temple.

He opened it up and said "Look! I can read 'December' in their cursive! It's not even hard once you start learning!" Hooray for us!

And yes, we have continued with cursive, and Maxwell's picking it up easily and with eagerness.

Maxwell practiced note taking this week because of conference and Auntie Bear's youth discussion night. Thank you Auntie Bear! (Even though I know she never reads this.)

Now, I plan on reporting on english and math, BUT I don't like so many photos of sheets of paper. You can't even see them properly when I print this blog into my yearbooks. So we'll see what happens. This week I still photographed sheets of paper, like this one of Maxwell's:

This is Barton at it's finest. Maxwell learned the nuances of when to spell "tion" vs "sion." He didn't have to memorise every single word that ended with the sound "shun." He memorized a few rules (whach are easier for him to memorize than letters) and he KNEW the first time he was asked which it was. Notice "inflate" becomes "inflation" but "submit" becomes "submission" HE DID IT!

Now, would he be able to do this when composing his OWN thoughts in the midst of lots of words....well sometimes, and that's pretty good for a kid with his dyslexic brain.

Speaking of his dyslexic brain, take a look at this!:

Maxwell ALL BY HIMSELF came up with this concept. He put this on his wall. He designed it and did it all in photoshop himself, but he did need my help with research. I was happy about that because I am still a little leary of my boys just poking around the internet, and I KNOW (haha) I can guide them safely  through, so we were watching this youtube video of famous dyslexics, and it jumps to a photo of Jennifer Aniston NAKED! We have pretty good filters, but not for everything apparently!

Thankfully I had taught all my boys using this awesome book:

And it was an excellent time to example what you do, and a good time to talk about everything again. Honestly....the internet....SHEESH!!!

But we also found inspiring stuff. Jack Horner is one of Maxwell's favourite people now. Just check out his ted talk:

HE THINKS LIKE A DYSLEXIC! His interconnected thinking, his thinking outside the box, his understanding of complex systems. I LOVE IT! Here are dyslexic strengths on display.


I had recently read a book about Tesla, and I diagnosed him as a dyslexic based on his strengths (the book didn't mention any weaknesses he may have had) and then I find him in every dyslexic scientist list out there. OH YAH! Dyslexia is a super power baby! (but it's just really hard on their english teacher!)

Speaking of hard english, here's Hyrum's example:

Is this all ADHD? Was he bored or was it too hard? Well, this is honest. This doesn't usually happen, but I must say, I'm excited for the Seeing Stars Program. Soon he'll get better instruction.

Daniel started on  contractions. I have a feeling this might take awhile. We just touched on it this week, next week will only be half a week and then we will need to review when I get back.

As for Math:

Maxwell's is super EASY! He's just now reviewing area. I really like it, because on a hard day, I know Maxwell will be easy. BUT I'm not too worried about it's easiness.  I've looked ahead, and he will learn things as complex as TANGENTS this year! And he is always getting drafting practice in each day:

Hyrum is doing great with math. Check out how he figured out every possible way to give change of $0.25:

Daniel is getting prepped to enter the world of multiplication! We played a memory game where he had to get all the multiples of 3 in order, while I had to get all the multiples of 2 in order. He won. (He usually does.)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Officially, it's official. It's Dyslexia officially.

As a homeschool mom who has NEVER sent her kids to public school, when your kids can't read properly (along a traditional time schedule) and you say "they have dyslexia." You get smirky looks that say "SURE they are....OR you are just evidence of why homeschool is a bad institution....I'm thinking the later...."

Or at least, that's what insecure little me reads into those looks. And there are little inquiries that go with those looks that seem to suggest that I might be right to suppose this. That's one of the reasons I went through the trouble to become a bonafide certified real tutor of dyslexia. And I knew becoming a dyslexic consultant would be good for my pride as well, but I really was going for knowledge on that one.

But to go to the PUBLIC SCHOOL system and have them evaluate my kids....THAT would be something. But my pride didn't care that much, to be honest. In this instance honestly and truly I wanted to secure the future of my children. I wanted to make sure that everything was documented well enough that they would get extra reading time on the SATs and ACTs and get accommodations in college.

By the time the psychologist had fit my kids into his busy schedule (years people, we waited years) I didn't need anyone to confirm to ME that they had dyslexia. There wasn't a shred of doubt in me. I just knew I could not risk college counselors or ACT administrators to give me that smirk. They needed to be on my side. They needed to KNOW.

And now they do. Our school psychologist did NOT give me that smirk. He sat with us, and from the get-go explained how everything they tested pointed straight to dyslexia and the good bad and ugly about it. He was incredibly competent and nice and it was so relieving to have someone who understood and someone to talk to that I started bawling a few times throughout the conversation.

And yes, he documented it all for everyone to see.

Well, it's getting late, (and I've been up WAY too late lately because Dustin's in Africa) so...lets get down to business...

Last week (as in not this last week but the week before) I had hoped for a simple week, it ended up to be a busy week. A friend of mine had a baby, so we babysat for a couple of days, and we went to the zoo ALL day one of the school days.

When Dustin had asked if I wanted to go, I thought about all the math and writing we should be doing and then I snapped out of it. The ZOO! of COURSE! That's why I homeschool!!! to do cool things like this at the drop of a hat.

So go to the zoo we did! When we went through the dinosaur part, William was convinced that if he went too close to the dinosaurs, they would gobble him up, but he did relax towards the end.

I think our whole family loved the penguin exhibit the best.

But the baby gorilla was amazing as well. He looked incredibly human.

But William was NOT impressed with the Komodo Dragons. They did NOT look like Dragons at all. Oh well.

We also made our own little Zoo at ant zoo.

We still got quite a bit in that week. We learned about Napoleon. I wish I had gotten Usborne's book about War and Peace. Next time around. We made Napoleon Hats:

We also studied Jane Austen. I read to them a young reader's version of Pride and Prejudice, and I told them that this was the most Romantic. Book. Ever. Made. This actually caught their attention, and they insisted on being read the REAL book, and I told them I would get the audio book, and we also watched the Kiera Knightly version of the movie.

Hyrum burst out "I can't wait until the violence!!" Hu? I thought, and then I realized that it hadn't been too long ago that we had learned about Marie Antoinette, "You want her head cut off?" "Yep." "No honey, that was the other girl we learned about earlier." "oh, shucks."

Maybe I should have gotten the zombie version!

BTW.....I splurged and watched the 6 hour BBC version at my leisure....hehehe

As far as science goes, we did it in the evening because the zoo changed our schedule. We learned about cells. We made a cell model out of an actual model. We made cells out of pizza with the toppings being organelle parts, and then for dessert we made candy cells with oreo nuclei, frosting cytoplasm,  nerds as vesicles etc. Needless to say, the candy cells were the hit of the day.

This week we studied the cell some more. Specifically that it has a semipermeable membrane. We made naked eggs (the scandal.)

And we put corn starch into water with iodine, but this didn't work like it has for me in the past. I guess my plastic was too high quality. The iodine was supposed to be able to go through the plastic and into the cornstarch, changing it to dark blue, but it didn't.

Oh well,

In history we studied Florence Nightingale. I thought "oh why am I spending time on her when she's not even very important." WRONG

SO INSPIRING. and a WOMAN! I do not regret our spending time on her one bit. We got bandades and masks as our activity.

And Daniel got so into the spirit of things, he decided to fall on some steps so he could get a tour of the hospital and get stiches....

But we did spend enough time on Ms Nightingale that I didn't quite get to the into to the Industrial Revolution that I would have liked. We did read an amazing story about Robert Fulton by Discovery books from the 1970s. I LOVE those books! I don't care if they're out of date!

It was good to talk to my boys about how some of the most important inventors weren't the ones who originated the idea, but the ones who actually made those ideas useful for the public.

We started our own steam powered boat, but we did not finish it...tomorrow I'm sure we will.

We also made time for a library party for Curious George!! The man in the yellow hat even came!

And we had a graduation party for.......DUSTIN!!!! He graduated from his Master's Program in Management and Leadership!!!! I am so so so proud of him! YOU ROCK HUBBY!!!

(this picture is from his bachelors, but I like photos to go along with my comments.)

We ALSO did reading writing and math....of course....but for the sake of Westwind School, I've decided to be more faithful on my documentation on this even though it's rather boring.

Math first (because I like math best....and so do my kids)

Daniel has been keeping a log chart about the temperature each day. He gets excited about this part of school:

He's also gotten quite good at Roman Numerals:

He can also put things in Venn diagrams

Hyrum has been doing well, although it's funny when they ask him to explain his work. This is what happens:

You need a Master's in "Hyrum" to understand what's going on here, but thankfully, I do.

He's also doing perimeters where he is converting large amounts of inches into feet and inches.

Maxwell is learning more about geometry. Rightstart is very strict on their definitions, and so Maxwell has been practicing those:

Now Reading and writing: Well, we do the usual Barton stuff. Maxwell was working on "ture" suffixes. And he can now spell words as tough as acupuncturist:

And for Daniel, this week and last he's been working on "tch." He now knows when to use it. We first use tiles in our spelling:

And then on real paper:

Noticed he knew that "punch" does NOT have a "tch."

Hyrum...we're just reviewing for him. Including sight words:

Notice the eraser pushed SO hard that it went through the paper and the word made into people and just how HARD it is to CONCENTRATE! This is his good work....yep.

And Maxwell is very excited about his cursive. He's begun signing his name everywhere.

Also, Maxwell has made it a goal to write many stories and have me print them in a real hard cover book for him at the end of the school year.

Here's the beginning of his first story:

Maxwell was looking at a flower with petals as bright as a cherry. Then all of the sudden, he looked up and noticed that his family was no longer there. There were bushes, and trees, and the hiking path, but his parents were no where to be found.

Maxwell quickly ran up the mountain path looking for his parents. Maxwell’s heart was pounding fast, and he was panting very hard. He didn’t realize that he was running off the path. He kept on running until he realized that he was lost.

Then he took out his pocket knife. His pocket knife was a bright red, almost the same colour as the flower that had distracted him. It had a compass on the side and flint hanging off the other side, and a cord to go around his neck. It had four blades. One blade was so sharp it could cut a thin sheet of steel like it was cardboard. Two of the blades were saws, and another blade was actually a pair of scissors. It also had a flashlight.

Time passed. Maxwell tried backtracking the way he had come, but it was no use. At times he would shake with fear that he wouldn’t find his family. 

He wondered the mountain until night, and then he saw the north star. It gave him hope that he would find his family. He could remember being in his own warm safe room at home looking at the same north star. At that moment, he calmed down.

He looked at the star with his blue eyes, his chocolate brown hair looking much darker in the moonlight. He had on a warm jacket and a good pair of jeans. They were brand new jeans because as a twelve year old, he was growing so fast.

All of the sudden, he had an idea.He started gathering saplings for a mattress. He thought “I can’t have a place to sleep without a fire.” So then he started collecting firewood as well. 

He was trying to pull out a stick from a rocky hill.It was stuck fast. He was about to take out his pocket knife, when the moonlight touched something green that looked like a rock, but wasn’t one at the same time. 

He left the stick and started toward the green object up the rocky hill. When he got to the top, he realized there were three other objects. The one that he had seen first was not only green, but dark blue as well. They were gigantic eggs! One was dark grey with black markings all over it. Another was red and yellow like the sun on fire. The last one was light blue and light purple. 

Maxwell’s nose was red in the cold and he shivered. He thought “These eggs must be cold.” He took off his jacket and put the eggs inside like a bag. He walked over the nest and saw a light in a house.