Sunday, December 3, 2017

Tuesday was a Perfect Day

Usually this time of year I'm counting down the days until we can have a Christmas break from school. But this year is different. I'm finally got on the school wagon, and I'm excited to keep chugging along! No Christmas break for us except for Christmas Day itself.

We've moved into our house. Well, we've moved our stuff into our garage, and some of our stuff is kind of where we want it or maybe where we know where it is. Hey, I was at least able to decorate for Christmas!

I feel like I am now on top of things. Well, as much as I ever have been. And, as my post title says, Tuesday was practically perfect.

We did EVERYTHING on our charts that I had wanted to do:

This includes spelling, reading, typing, writing, math (for those who were supposed to do it that day) and BARTON!!! You heard that right, I'm teaching Barton again.

I've always had Hyrum and Daniel read "Stand Alone" books to me, but I as for actual Barton lessons for them, I've left it up to tutors for the past year. Amalie was their first tutor in Sidney BC, then Joshua tried for a couple of weeks, and then Analaea (and sometimes Eliza) tutored them in Vanuatu.

They went through the whole book 4. (The hardest book in the Barton series.) But Analaea was burnt out by the end, and I seriously have no idea about the adherence to the system. So I'm reviewing the whole book and slowing down when we get to the Schwa lesson. On Tuesday we got through three lessons each!

Also, another thing that made Tuesday perfect, is that after they went to Westwind classes, we went SWIMMING!!

We went to the hotel here. I've got it set up so we can go everyday if we want to and have our whole family go (I paid for November and only went ONCE!) But now we'll go a lot because I've arranged an actual swim instructor to come Monday, Tues, and Wen. I need the accountability of an external person. I want Maxwell to have some aerobic activity and for my babies to learn to swim enough that they won't die when we go back to Vanuatu.

So yes, Tuesday was perfect. But that was the only perfect day in the past fortnight.

Last week Dustin was still gone. Enough said. Things are changing with his school there, and it looks like he will have shorter (one week to ten day) trips more frequent. That's the only way they think they can be effective.

I'm not very effective when he's gone, especially when I have a silly goal of getting all of my scrapbooking done by the end of's sales. But hey, I've gotten more scrapbooking done, and ALMOST caught up with my three oldest.

We did accomplish SOME things. We went to the Cardston's festival of lights:

It was weird but nice not to be on the committee or a volunteer.

Maxwell continued on his Write into Winter. He won quite a few things which made his day:

We also had the FIRST science club in this house!!! We focused mostly on constellations. I thought we had some pretty magical moments. We went into my dark storage area and brought out Maxwell's constellation globe. They passed it around while I read greek myths about the constellations.

They also made their own constellations and we talked about how constellations are completely dependent on your viewing perspective. The kids had a good question: How far away from earth would you need to be before the constellations don't look familiar? I have no idea. Good science fair question.

Also, they did go to all their scheduled school things, including Robotics where Maxwell made an epic robot he's very proud of:

This week was way more effective at school work, but it still was hijacked by things.

Monday we slept in so we missed the morning routine.
Tuesday was perfect.
Wednesday was Dustin's birthday and Blurb's deadline.
Thursday Naomi's family came over for a visit during school hours
Friday I needed to take Dustin's cracked phone into Lethbridge and went shopping for moving into our house.

This is homeschool. Things happen.

Thankfully, the optometrist's appointments were after school hours.

The boys all went in for their yearly checkup....that I never usually do... I had been worried about Abraham's one eye, but he's fine and William is the one who might need glasses in a year.

Also, on Dustin's birthday, I had the boys write to him for their writing assignments. Dustin thought they were so cute, and they really were:

Dustin got an aquarium for his birthday. A big aquarium. A really big aquarium. Even though we've just moved in and there a million honey does, Dustin has been spending his time with his new aquarium like a cute little boy on Christmas.

Now that I'm on track, William will get on track. He's usually the one to get put on the back burner, but not anymore. This week he's mastered his Magic "C"s in handwriting without tears.

For science this week we studied our solar system. Did I tell you we do science twice a week? (Well we're SUPPOSED to, and this week we did.) Well, I figured that since I was in Vanuatu for half this semester and who knows about next semester, we need to do double duty to get through the content.

The first lesson we talked mostly about planets' rotation around the sun and how gravity and the laws of physics (mostly inertia and centripetal force) effect all that. We also talked more about the sun.

As part of this we talked about how a spinning planet works like a gyroscope and gives it stability.

Friday's lesson (which I moved an hour later because I was late getting back from Lethbridge...I love the moms who are so easy going with me!) We talked a little more about the entire solar system, but then focused on the inner rocky planets. We'll need to talk more about Mars because we didn't get to some things.

And by the way, those books that were "lost" in the mail ended up being at Babb after all! So now I am definitely ready for teaching!

And that's it! yep. I know that I can do this! But don't ask about social studies. Oh bother, I need to figure that out now that I'm figuring out everything else! I've thought "oh bother, we travel as a family, they learn geography through osmosis." Not true I know. I made the next video in my geography songs series:

We'll get there.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Got No Rhythm

Well, we're in Cardston, but I still haven't found my groove. The boys are doing Robotics on Mondays: (which is now their favourite day of the week)

And Tuesdays they're doing Westwind where they've been doing things like field trips to local history sites.

And Wednesdays they're doing art and they did cute art pieces for Remembrance day:

And Thursday and Friday we're SUPPOSED to do science, but I've only done two classes so far.

The first class was an introductory to astronomy. We talked a bit about how to study stars, including how to find the North Star. We also spent quite a bit of time talking about telescopes and how they work. This of course brought up light and lenses and all that Jazz.

The other class we had, we learned about the expansion of the universe and red shift. We talked about why the milky-way looks hazy, why stars twinkle, and what makes a star bright.

We also talked about the movement of the stars in the sky, and used an umbrella globe to illustrated this:

but that's all the classes we've done because, well, MOSTLY because I couldn't get my science book! I was SO annoyed. I ordered all the books I needed to do science. I got two of them, but one got lost in the mail. I went ahead anyway, but then after two lessons I felt stuck. I ordered ANOTHER one of the same book. THAT ONE got delayed in the mail too! (still not here)

Finally our house closed and we moved all our stuff in the garage. The highlight of the move for me was to open a school box and find THIS:

Science is up and in full force now folks (ummmm except I'm gone to Calgary this Friday picking Dustin up from the airport......)

Yes, we bought a house, and it is all ours now.

And that will truly help me get into my rhythm. So we have all these classes, but being out on "the land" means it takes an hour out of my day in travel and inconvenience.

But I really should be in more of a rhythm than I'm in. We've had the expected interruptions like Halloween:

And the unexpected interruptions like having to go to Calgary to buy a van.

Also, I've been out of sorts with Dustin gone and spent way too much time trying to catch up on my scrapbooking and ignoring the world.

This week we didn't even do that much of Heather Burton's Write into Winter.

I'm very grateful Heather's done this. Maxwell needs encouragement to write. He's written about the change from fall to winter. He's described something to me in writing that Daniel and I had to draw. He's made a list of everything in the room (and I had to too, and he of course had more on his list.) He wrote all about the word "jockey" that he found in a book. AND he made a board game. All because of Heather's inspiration.

When Hyrum found out that making a board game was a SCHOOL assignment, he of course came on board as well. This is his cup of tea! It was as intricate and imaginative as any of the many, MANY games he's made in his life.

I guess I feel like there's too much to teach to each and every child at their own level. I'm hoping it will be easier when I'm in town. I'm always hoping that it will be easier sometime somehow it seems, and then I still don't get done everything I want to. Blah. Homeschool's hard.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Back "Home?" with wind and Westwind

We said goodbye to Vanuatu. Matilda and I cried a for a few days whenever we talked about it. We will miss the people the most, and the tropical beach paradise second.

When we got home, it was so windy, I thought we might not land, and then I wasn't sure if our van would make it! Welcome home! The next few days were like that. Wind enough for a cyclone.

But you know what? I love it here! Everyone keeps asking me WHY I would come back right before winter, but I don't care. I love being here when Westwind is in full force, even if that means the WIND is too.

On Monday they went to Robotics with the Blackmores. The boys were in HEAVEN. That is their favourite class EVER. On Tuesday they went to Westwind and did "Canada 150" and gymnastics and umm some other class. On Wednesday they went to art. On Friday we had the Westwind Halloween party, which was really a "dress up as a storybook character" party.

I made Hyrum's Creeper costume, and See that Stormtrooper Walker? That's Maxwell inside, and he made that costume 100% by himself, and I think he's just about the coolest, most amazing kid EVER! Don't you think?

I think I'll leave the other kids costumes until next week.

Also, I've arranged science to be twice a week (to make up for lost time) and we are going to have swimming lessons at the hotel.

As my kids were at gymnastics, I went and did errands in town. EVERYWHERE I went I saw acquaintances, friends, and good friends whom I hugged and talked with and laughed with. I thought to myself "Cardston does not disappoint. THIS is why this is home."

However I'm not IN town yet. I'm at Naomi's house which is in the muddy windy county and a vacation rental while she is in Edmonton. We helped pay for her to visit me in Vanuatu, and now she's letting us stay here. I say it's a win win for ME!

It was incredibly nice to come in at 2 am to a clean comfy home that we KNEW and that we felt comfortable in! THANK YOU NAOMI! (but she never reads my blog lol!)

 BUT we WILL be living in town soon! We have an accepted offer on a house!!! It's way more than I wanted to pay, but I'm excited. My mother-in-law is thinking she might even be well enough to help me decorate!!! If you don't know, to have my mother-in-law decorate is akin to having HGTV's very best come in and decorate. She's a miracle.

We did do some basic school. I was a bit lazy and scattered. I only did William once this week. He FINALLY has REAL handwriting without tears supplies!!! I was super excited.

But alas, the internet has been HORRIBLE! Perhaps even worse than Vanuatu! Maybe it was the wind. Maybe it's because they moved that router. I don't know, but I'm going CRAZY! I was so looking forward to having real internet which would equal real school. Maxwell is dependent on it for his school, so he's just at a stand still.

I did do math with Daniel and Hyrum, and this is the cutest thing EVER! I asked Hyrum to SHADE a third of this rectangle. He SHAVED a third of this rectangle by turning it into a sheep! Oh I love it!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Full House

There are two families here. SIXTEEN PEOPLE. Not to mention that there are closer to 25 TWENTY FIVE people here during the day and the odd friend here and there that spends the night. But now there are TWO housekeepers. This is a construction zone, AND to go into town seems to take ALL DAY LONG.

Somehow, it's not the relaxing tropical vacation it was when we were renting next door, and I'm not too sad to be going back to the cold windy prairie of Alberta soon. But of course I will miss Vanuatu, but we will come back.

We will be able to finish the construction with fresh eyes and in the meantime, it will be JUST my little family, and hopefully we will quickly move into a house in the town of Cardston, and be two seconds from the grocery store and a dollar store.

But we will be leaving many great things. Like climbing pohpoh trees

And making tropical gardens:

And ziplining:

And going to places like Chocolate factories:


And going to colour festivals held by white sandy beaches:

I'm not sharing this on Facebook, but just so you know, the day of the color festival, was the day Dustin sold his business. It was quite the momentous occasion of his life: Like-next to marriage, kids, and baptism, this was the next big thing-type of big.

I'm very proud of him, and I had to shout it out SOMEWHERE that we've reached the goals we've been shooting for!

But reaching humongous goals is kind of crazy, isn't it? There's all this stress and hype leading up to it, and then when you're there, it's like "Okay, well, have we arrived? What's changed?"

It will be good to go back to Cardston and be in the same city as his business partner (sold the child but kept the marriage I guess you can say.)

As for school, I feel so accomplished if I actually get to everything on my kids' progress charts, and that only covers reading writing and arithmetic.  I SWEAR I'M NOT LAZING AROUND! It's just really is a mad house here.

Hyrum LOVES his chart and is constantly looking at it and has BREEZED his way to his first prize while his brothers aren't even close. He is reading a ton and writing a ton.  I'm not sure if people out there will apreciate this video, but my ten year old with severe dyslexia, ADHD, language processing disorder, and a few other conditions, has gotten over the hump in reading. He can read smoothly.

It's a true breakthrough. (although, noticed how he keeps saying "the" for "he?" a new glitch. I know he'll be okay now. It's been YEARS of consistent tutoring, baby steps that take hundreds of hours, and his mother's (my) tears to get to this point.

Thankfully, because of homeschool, he has no idea that he's behind and is confident and has a high self-esteem.

Maxwell's basics have been going a bit slow because of slow internet. That is one thing I won't miss about this place.

But on the days it works, this math program has proven to be dry but good. They have focused on the "Mathematical Language" which, in my mind, is one of the most important things that can be learned in math.

William is making progress. Have I mentioned yet that although he doesn't have all of issues Hyrum has, William certainly has ADHD and is probably my most severe Dyslexic boy yet? Yep. Those DNA codes are strong with us. I have to admit that I haven't told Dustin that I want to put him in public kindergarten yet. (Dustin never reads my blog LOL!)

Maybe they have some secret sauce to help William. But he's learning with me anyway:


That was William typing his name. He's sitting at my side right now because he got a bonk on his head and refuses to go to bed.

I've also been teaching other people besides my kids. I've been going to the tutoring sessions our church holds after school here. In the past, the LDS church has held english lessons for locals, but now they are trying out tutoring in a hope to get kids ready for a GED equivalency.

It's a pilot program, and I've discovered that I'm a true homeschooler. I was way annoyed at a few things that happened while volunteering, but everyone was super nice, and we all made peace quickly, but hey, if I can't even deal with this, I would have never made it as a public school mom. Or at least I wouldn't make it NOW.

Eventually, I found my nitch of playing math games from Rightstart with the kids.

We also have been volunteering in the relief efforts for the Ambae Vanuatu Volcano refugees. It's almost calmed down now, but their volcano dropped acid ash on all their crops and ruined all their water as well. They all had to leave. So we helped them with some supplies:

Volcanic activity really went well with our Geography year. (ummm....not that I'm cashing in at other's expense.) Along with the earthquakes that we've been feeling from the volcanic activity! And the other things we've done to study Geography so far is to study map terms like longitude, latitude, legends etc. We talked about how no map is perfect, especially a flat map of the world.

I had them make their own worlds on mandarins and had them try to make a flat map of the world with it to illustrate this point.

I also taught land formations such as archipelago, delta, and isthmus. 

We've done this studying our island of Efate:

Then I had them make their own worlds where they had bays and channels etc.

We also are made 3-d relief maps that have these landforms, and we're going to paint them----sometime between now and wednesday when we fly away?

We've also memorized a few of my geography songs:

And science you ask? No science. I've been meaning to do some Southern Hemisphere Constellation stargazing, but I can hardly find the North star, and I've seen it my whole life, so how can I find NEW ones? I haven't been on the ball. We'll wait for Canada. But we haven't forgotten Canada, and to prove it, we had Canadian thanksgiving: