Sunday, May 20, 2018

Catching Up My Neglected Blog

Okay so I've already posted most of this post, but it didn't work. That took the steam out of my sails, and then I didn't post for even longer. But now I'm trying it again.

Last time, I entitled this Post "Best Week of My Life." Mostly to offset my previous post entitled "Worst week of my life." but also because I truly had one amazing week that was so awesome in so many ways.  But since that was a over a month ago, there's no point in pretending just a week has past.

Usually I have about ten photos to share. This time, I have over a hundred just waiting to be shared. Not sure if I've ever done a post that big or how to organize all that fun stuff, but I might as well start.

Let's start with all the science we've been doing and then maybe I'll talk about that "Best week of my life" because it had moments in it that were like the perfect science field trip. I couldn't have planned timing better, but it was truly just serendipity striking again.

WOW it's been a long time.....okay, well, I'll see what I can do:

One week we discussed plate tectonics, mountains, plains, and plateaus.

These fault blocks that Dustin made years ago have been used more than I thought they would. They are awesome.

We also even made a "Pangea" puzzle of continents.

The next week was our VOLCANO week! The kids were pretty excited about that. We even had a volcano kit. We made the volcano, but when it came to actual eruption, it was pretty lame, so we just shoved a lot of baking soda and vinegar in a bottle that squirted out and called it good.

That week we also talked about earthquakes, seismic waves, and magma. Here's us testing different kinds of "lava" and their flow rates:


And when I was say "dirtiest" I mean DIRTiest. Literally.

We studied mechanical and chemical weathering, soil, erosion, abrasion,  slopes, water, wind, and glaciers....WHEW! and when you study these things, you're bound to bring in the dirt---and sand---and gravel---and glacier goop. At least, you're bound to if you're me :)

Note the tray with toonies in it. Before it was flooded, that was our hoodoo experiment.  We built a mound, put toonies on it, and showered down the "rain." It honestly created hoodoos. Remember that for later.

There was seriously dirt everywhere. Also, the glacier experiment that I had gotten from a Steve Spangler book didn't work. We got the gloop recipe wrong somehow, and it was REALLY runny goop.

The next week we learned about Ice, water, water vapour, water cycle, and running water.  As part of this we did the "diaper powder magic trick" (or at least that's what I call it.) Where you cut open a diaper and pour out the polymers inside, put them in a cup and then, in front of your audience, pour water in the cup and dump it on someone's head, who is surprised to find NO water coming down on them because it's all been absorbed into the powder. But I completely turned the cup upside-down, and the powder ended up coming out on Taylor's head. Oops.

Here he is with some non-diaper water gel balls.

That was in part to learn about the different absorbency of different soils.

We even made a "stream tray" for learning about water run off, but it didn't work as planned and was more of just a mess.

We talked briefly about water purification, but what I really want to do is take them on a field trip to the city water treatment facilities! So stay tuned.

The next week we learned about Oceans. Namely salinity and the ocean floor.

I had long ago ordered from Steve Spangler this buoyancy floater thing that went up and down because of pressure, and it was a hit.

And this week (WHEW almost caught up with science) we studied Ocean currents.

It was a shorter class than usual but it was pretty awesome because some of my trickier experiments WORKED. I did this one where I got really hot water in a cake pan, put a "glacier"--ie frozen water bottle--in the cake pan, and then dropped some "glacier run-off"---ie blue food colouring---onto the glacier. By the time it dripped off the water bottle into the cake pan, it was most definitely staying on the BOTTOM of the pan-which was the point: that cold water is at the bottom of the ocean.

Other cold/warm water experiments and saturated/not so saturated water experiments worked as well, however I forgot to get any photos, so I must say we played with these toys to reinforce the concepts:

I love those toys.

And that's it for science club.

Now, let me tell you about my "best week of my life" that was science field trip filled.

We went to Utah. The main reason we went is because our friend from Africa, Lionel, who runs our entrepreneur college in Africa, came!! He did a whole church history tour with Gregory (my husband's business partner) and then we joined for General Conference.

It was the first time that my boys went to conference, and it was amazing to be there for such a historic event. A new prophet, two new apostles, the first non-caucasian apostle, huge change in priesthood organization, temples in Russia and India (and Richmond Virginia- my mission!) and no more visiting and home teaching!!!

It was also Easter, I made about twenty easter baskets! But everyone was so delighted, so it was worth it.

It was also April fools, so Maxwell and I made cake pops that were really Brussel sprouts. Bwahahha.

And during the priesthood session, I took my nieces out for a shopping trip at which point I realized I am really old, because everything that was in style when I was about 13 and then went out of style is BACK in style!

Not going to get one of those gymnastic style shirts that button at the crotch again. Nope. Not gunna do it.

One of the reasons this week was such a special week, is that it was a temple saturated week. Maxwell was able to do baptisms at the Payson temple as Grandma and Grandpa were working there.

Dustin and I went with Lionel and others to the Salt Lake temple which is a live session.

Then there was an open house of the Jordan River Temple! I was not expecting that. This was incredibly special to me. I was born a few blocks away from that temple the year it opened. I have grown up seeing a picture of my family next to it when it was under construction. It was the first temple my family went to, and now my family went to it.

We had a special moment in the celestial room, promising that we would all be white in a celestial room again.

And we also went to the visitor centre of the St George temple.

It was also such an perfect week for me because it was a good week with my parents and siblings, and after such a horrid week in our memories, we sure needed that. I was even able to go to an art exhibit where my mom's art won second place.

But what about the science experiments? Well, I'm glad you asked. It started at "This is the Place" state park. Of course this is an excellent place for history. We learned about pioneer life, native life, and even did crafts:

But since the gold rush effected the mormons, we did our own gold rush as well. They had a stream to pan gold, but also a huge pit where they sprinkled semi precious stones in for the kids to find. I bought a rock identification poster from them, and thought how perfect it was that we had just learned about rocks (if you look at the previous post, you'll see that we had---this was over a month ago, remember.)

I know: not an amazing science experience, but wait! There's more!

When we went down to St. George, our sister-in-law told us about a gypsum mine that was open to the public. This is the gypsum that the pioneers used to make the temple shining white.

There was a sign educating us about the site. We learned about how there was a salty lake that evaporated and created this sedimentary rock that was really low on the Mohs scale. That was not metamorphic in part because of it's translucent yet soft nature.

The hill sparkled in the sun.

To BE THERE. To see the veins of sedimentary rock imbedded in the hillside. To scratch the rock with our fingernails, and talk about the Mohs scale, was better than any classroom. Even my classroom where we did lots of hands on.

Also in St. George, we visited a plethora of landforms turned red by rusting minerals.

That's my favourite photo of the trip.

This is another of my favourite:

There's a narrow called the "slot" and Gregory was SO PROUD that he went through it! It was pretty cute, honestly, how determined he was to get over fears of claustrophobia and get to the other side.

It was really fun to sit with my kids and hypothesize about how these landforms were created based on our science club knowledge. In fact, the most recent lesson we had was the erosion lesson, which was PERFECT!

But hypothesizing was not enough for me, that's why I felt so blessed at our next stop: Bryce Canyon! Where a geologist was happy to give us detailed explanations for all the landforms we were seeing.

See her photo? She could have used those fault blocks Dustin made me eh?

Of course, being in Bryce, she explained all about hoodoos!!! Remember now our hoodoo experiment? Oh yeah! She basically explained what happened in our experiment and how it applied to real life! SERENDIPITY!

I had to correct my class when I got home though, because I thought wind played a huge role as well, and apparently it's not that big of a factor. (Maybe in Alberta though, because, honestly, Alberta's winds are insane.)

And if all that rocks and erosion hands on experiences weren't enough, on the way home we went to the Lava Hot Springs in Idaho! Remember our lesson on volcanoes and magma? My kids did too! Water heated by magma to drive home a point? Yes please.

This is one of my best all time friends and it was so fun that she met us there. Life is good.

Serendipity doesn't always happen, so sometimes you've just got to make real life experiences happen, and that's what we did in social studies.

If you remember, we were learning about the different types of government. We had talked about monarchy and dictatorship. We then we learned about anarchy and revolutions.

We played UNO to reinforce this. We kept changing the rules (revolutions) and one round we just got rid of rules altogether (anarchy.) Needless to say everyone shed tears. I didn't mean it to be so dramatic, but hey, maybe they'll remember it!

Then we needed to learn about democracy. I realized that my schedule of what I wanted to teach about government was not up to snuff. My kids need to know about the organization of the Canadian government, and although we do a bit of it in the founding of USA and Canada year, I decided that I needed to flesh out my geography year to really delve into current politics.

Thus I bought this book:

And as I was pre-reading it to get ready to teach my kids (hey, I'm from the States. This is all new to me) I found myself having to get out a paper and chart what they were talking about to get a handle on what was actually being taught. (The charts they provide weren't clear enough for me.)

And I realized this was important stuff, and I needed my kids to know it, but it wasn't by reading this dry book.

Then I went to trusty Youtube to see if there was already a clear entertaining explanation. Nope. For the States? Absolutely. For the LEVELS of Canadian government? Yes, but nothing expiation the branches.

So, I felt compelled to do it myself. Behold:

Now ask my kids about how Canadian government is run. I think they get it.

That wasn't enough for me though. I wanted to talk to the real deal on all levels of government. I'm not friends with our MP so I skipped the federal level and asked our MLA to do a lecture for our homeschoolers. He agreed!

Good old Grant Hunter! I sure love him, and I'm sad our riding was split and we won't always have him. I'm also sad I didn't advertise his meeting more and that I had it at a REALLY bad time for the rest of the world. It was so embarrassing how few people were able to make it.

Grant did an amazing job and I learned so much.

Then we were able to go up to the Alberta Legislature and see Grant in action! Best field trip ever!

It was so fascinating to see our government. It felt a little bit like kids articulately fighting while the speaker of the house was playing mom.

It is quite a long trip up to Edmonton, and there were 14 in our van, but it was an awesome trip of listening to Story of the World and good discussion. We gave ourselves a lot time to find our way, but still it was a whirlwind of a day (although a couple of kids fell asleep during the session!)

It was so weird to me how people were introduced as visitors and left within a few minutes. We were the only group who made it through the Q and A.

We had an incredible tour through the legislature building and we also toured the federal building there. They had this AMAZING 4D movie there. They had "snow" float down on us, wind blow us, and, well, it's hard to describe, but if you ever have a chance to go to Edmonton, watch it.

They also had an interpretive centre where we dressed up as Lieutenant governors!

Government in Action. Love it!

As part of this trip, an incredible lady, Anne, hosted us. FOURTEEN people showed up at her door, and she was so gracious. I didn't know her, Naomi did. I didn't realize until the last minute that she homeschools and that she decided to homeschool because the public school system was failing at teaching her dyslexic kids.

I had a good chat after hearing that. I talked to her about all the resources out there. About Orson-Gillingham, about lots of things. I also gave them the entrance test for Barton.

On our way home Naomi asked "Do you ever get sick of doing that?" and as I pictured Anne's face with eyes filled with tears at the pure emotion of knowing her children were counting on her, not knowing what to do, and now hearing of hope and a way forward, and I said to Naomi, "Absolutely not! I just want to do it MORE!"

I was asked to do another dyslexic awareness night recently:

Well, that poster has my old dates, but you get the idea.

There was a rumour that some administrators didn't want me to use the Jr. High because I was "Just a Homeschool Mom." Yeah, umm seriously? Excluding educational psychologists, I am willing to bet I know more about dyslexia than anyone else in Southern Alberta combined. And all because I AM A HOMESCHOOL MOM! HEAR ME ROAR!

No one is more motivated than a mother fighting for her children. Who cares if I HAVE taken classes from London University, Lindamood Bell, am the ONLY certified Barton tutor in Alberta and that I'm a certified dyslexic consultant and screener (WHICH I AM.) But above all I AM A MOTHER TEACHING HER CHILDREN.


But recently I did a screening for a niece who needed it desperately. I stayed up until 3am because she needed it the next day.

And I loved it.

I am also figuring out how to teach Foundation in Sounds.

My niece and WILLIAM didn't pass the Barton entry test, and so now I'm learning all about a different program dedicated to dyslexics.

But with all this going on in my mind, and Dustin always encouraging me to get more schooling, I started to think about the programs of early intervention that Barton suggests for public schools, how Alberta doesn't have a Decoding Dyslexia chapter, and how alternate schools really should cater to dyslexics, but don't, and I decided that although I don't have time right now to go full bore, I DO have time to prepare for when I can dedicate more of my life over to the dyslexic community.

I decided I needed to be able to screen dyslexia with "authority." My screening doesn't have the clout to effect change in schools or have legal status. I also want public schools to take me seriously so I can help them implement programs that would help dyslexics. I also want to know how I could run an alternate school dedicated to dyslexics. Something akin to School of Hope or School of Wisdom, but something like "Distant Learner Alternate School for Dyslexics."

I figured my first step would be to talk to Conrad, our local educational psychologist. He's so awesome. I seriously love the guy. He basically said though, that I would have to become a psychologist which is an 8 year degree even though I have a bachelors. He said I would be expected to know the whole picture. How anxiety, ADHD, autism, psychological issues, and the whole shebang is influencing the child AND how that relates to whether or not they have dyslexia.

But he said I could become a teacher and different doors would open up to me. That would only take 18 months (full time.)

So teacher's certificate here I come?

I still want to talk to school of Hope and Wisdom and find out how they got to be what they are.


Back to social studies...

We also had Bill Peavoy come to talk to us about Municipal government. He is an incredible teacher holy cow! The kids were engaged, and the lesson was retained. So glad he was willing to share with us.

There is still SO MUCH I want to teach my kids, so we will be continuing throughout the summer. I also have two months worth of science I want to do, so spilling over into the summer for that one as well.

Moving onto Math:

Maxwell: well, we are plugging right along with Video Text. I thought for a bit that we were going a super speed, but we slowed right down again. Mostly because of trips, but I think he's still on track to be able to take the ACT in two years. Taking the ACT at 15 isn't too bad!

I have been learning new things from Maxwell's math! For instance, he was doing the problem
|13-2n|<11. So you have to find both 13-2n<11 and 13-2n<-11 and when I was finding the answer (because Maxwell had gotten it wrong, so I needed to "show him how to do it right") I divided -2n by -2 and -2 by -2 and then I realized that my inequality was pointed the WRONG WAY! Say what? and then Maxwell tells me that I need to switch the < to > when I divide by a negative. HU? Sure enough, after researching myself awhile, he's right, and I learned something new.

Hyrum: if you've actually read my blog, you will see that in previous posts, I was really stressed out. My relationship with Hyrum was not at it's best. I was at my wit's end and then I was talking to Jandy Barry. "Yes, my husband is quitting one of his jobs, so I will have to subsidize our income a bit. I think perhaps I will do some online teaching or tutoring."


"Hey, how about some in person tutoring? How about you tutor Hyrum?"

Voila! Both of us are happy and Hyrum comes home saying "I like Jandy, she doesn't give me anxiety."

I finally feel like my head is above water! I LOVE IT!!! and Jandy has already been teaching her kids with Rightstart, and she watched the Barton training videos, so now she does barton two days a week as well. Godsend.

Daniel: He's moving right along. He's doing long multiplication

And this is when he was starting division

But now he is doing division where he has to relate a division problem to a fraction to a division house problem. Not sure if that made sense, but it does to me haha.

William: Well, I realized how behind we were, so we have really stepped up our game and now he is cruising! He can count by evens, odds, and can tell you any two numbers that equal 10 when added up.

He also knows his ten and hundreds place values and has even counted by dozens!

Isn't he a cutie?

And now for English:

Maxwell: HALLELUJAH! I am on a track of success!!!!! I feel so silly that I didn't try this program earlier since it's what Barton suggests. (QUIETLY suggests. What's up with that, why doesn't she shout it out to us?) Introducing Institute for Excellence in Writing:

I've felt so lost for so long. I used to think that if I ever saw Maxwell reading a chapter book he picked up that was not an assignment, THAT would be the day. I would cry with happiness and my life would be complete, but as soon as that DID happen, instead of rejoicing in the moment, I immediately started worrying about his writing :P

But I wasn't sure what to do, and was so happy Heather did "Write into Winter" but that was certainly not enough, and I would have him do a hundred words a day, and it was a mess. Then I bought the Jenny Phillips program because it seems everyone Loves it. Well, I didn't. At least not at this stage in the game.

Finally I asked a dyslexic homeschool Facebook group what to do specifically for grammar and nothing else, and they said to try Fix It! Grammar by IEW, so I bought it.

I was so impressed with this program that I bought the whole writing program. I was not disappointed. I will highly recommend it to anyone.

Hyrum and Daniel:  They are officially done with level 4 of Barton a couple of months ago and we went on a date to celebrate:

Honestly, they were done earlier, but I felt like I needed to go through the whole book and review it so I could make sure there were't any gaps and the fidelity to the program was intact.

I've started having them dictate their writing to me and they copy it in their own handwriting. I figure that with the Barton writing that they do, the spelling I try to have them do and dictation, it's enough. That is if I'm on top of it. I'm not always on top of it.

William:  Like I said, he needs Foundation in Sounds. I knew he would. He couldn't hear the difference between "eh" and "ih" forever. I have started it with my niece, and plan to start it with William this up coming week. My severe-profound dyslexic boy. It's a good thing I already know what I'm doing a bit.

Also, he's DONE with Handwriting Without Tears!!! Well, he's not officially done with the whole book, but he knows all his letters:

Do you see the "will" in the one photo? He was pretty excited to find his name. And do you see his letters-turned-art? Yep, following in Hyrum's footsteps I suppose.

And now Abraham: Yes I have something to say about our youngest pupil. He is LEFT HANDED!!!

That will make life a little more interesting! He listens to all of William's school and is getting ready for school himself.

OKAY!!! science, social studies, math and English reported on! Whew! This has been a long post, but there's more folks!!!

Weekly classes....I'm not sure if I've ever spelled it all out, but on Monday they go to robotics, on Tuesday they go to Westwind, on Wednesday they go to art, on Thursday I do science, and on Friday sometimes I let them go to China club!!!! CRAZY

Well, now that the end of the school year is coming, robotics is over, Westwind is over, Art is over, China is over, but my science is NOT over. I think I'll have more time for social studies, don't you think?

I don't have any photos of robotics. 

Westwind:  Gymnastics was the first thing to end. They had a little presentation of what they had learned. Super cute:

I was super impressed that both Hyrum and Daniel were able to climb right up to the top of the gymnasium on a big rope. I've never been able to do that.

As part of the gardening class, Maxwell got SO EXCITED about plants and brought some home and he also made his class pumpkin pie out of real pumpkin.

They also had a "maker's fair" to wrap up their class where they did creative building. Maxwell LOVED that class. He had been working on a rock tumbler that he made from a motor he got from a remote control car and bits and pieces of things. He also had used the 3D printer to make a car that would get propelled by a balloon, but both of these creations had problems or were just not done, so he refused to bring them to the fair. 

Daniel quickly made a sculpture zoo

And Hyrum quickly made one of his many board games

And at the fair they had stations where they encouraged you to make things including air powered rockets.

They also displayed a lot of the art that they did in their art classes

I LOVE THEIR ART CLASS!!! More than that, I love Janet Men their teacher. She's also the one who teaches them China class.

She went on her mission to Hong Kong.

Here's some more of their art:

Hyrum's art is always crazy. I love how unique his self portrait is. Once he was asked to paint birds because it was starting to be spring and he painted dying birds.

I loved Daniel's Mother's Day card he made at art:

Also, the boys have been doing quite a bit of art on their own because they love it so much. Maxwell developed a technique of using erasable pens for the sketching and real pen for the final product. Check it out:

I just love the moms that are part of all these extra things I do. One day, I went to take my boys to art, but I needed something from my friend Kym and so I ran over to her van and then laughed because I hadn't put on any shoes, and then she got out of her van like THIS:

Bwahahahah oh how I love her!!!

And of course my kids love all the kids involved:

Best buds forever.

Okay, so then there's been things that we moms just put on. Naomi did one of her community dances. Amazing woman that she is:

I thought is was so cute how Daniel danced every dance. He was not shy to ask all the girls in his life. Good memories (wish I had good photos...not sure what happened here.)

Also, I was quite the mom this St. Patty's day (if I do say so myself.) I had them make their traps like usual:

But this time I painted footprints on the traps where the leprechaun had been:

They love that holiday:

Don't I have a cute leprechaun?

And it was also Daniel's birthday. Maxwell made him the piƱata that was a Pokemon card

Daniel invited TONS of people. Who can say homeschoolers are not social!?! My kids have more friends than I ever did! We played this awesome game where they had to find all the Pokemon on their list. They were hidden all over the house. It was seriously the best party game for young kids I've ever done. I've gotta remember that one. Easy peasy

He got roller blades as his present and he puts them on every chance he gets. Good old P.E.

And of course, mom's need a recharge. I went to Time Out For Women and it was glorious. Didn't know how much I needed that.

I got to meet one of my all time heroes, Tim Ballard, the founder of Underground Railroad, who rescues children around the world who have been sold into slavery, namely the sex trade.

I loved one thing he said:

"Covenant Makers are Miracle Chasers" I think I need to put that up in my house somewhere.

Okay, so this is usually the time of year that I go through all that my kids have done and compare it to Alberta's checklist, but since Johns coming this week, I'll just do that in person I guess.

I felt bad that I didn't have my kids do more public speaking, but Maxwell DID do his first church talk! It was even on education (he chose the subject!) and he talked about learning things from books vs learning in life and talked about our trip where we experienced earth science face to face. Then he talked about scriptures and living the scriptures.

We also sang in church as a family doesn't sing just so you know (except me) but the choir person thought our family would be the perfect family to sing "I hope they call me on a mission." and I guess we are. I tried to dress them like missionaries, but when I asked to take their photo, this is what I got:

So One of the reasons why it's taken this long to get this post up is because I went on ANOTHER trip. This time we went to Utah again. We went to the dinosaur museum (actually I hadn't arrived for this yet since I stayed behind for a day to give my dyslexia awareness night.) And we went to the Curiosity museum.

My boys love that museum, and it is very educational. They brought rocks to trade, and Hyrum and Daniel combined points to get what they thought was a trilobite fossil, but it was a well disguised plastic fossil. They were quite put out when they realized it, but it wasn't the museum's fault. It's a TRADING station.

They have so much there, we spent all day exploring and learning.

Isn't that last photo precious? Honestly there's a part of me that wants Abraham to become a vet just so he can hang that on his wall.

Then we went to Arizona where we saw family:

And I saw some good friends that I made at the dyslexic seminar.

And then we went to California where we went to Legoland

Do you like our orange shirts? We decided to do that to keep track of each other, and it worked like a charm! Every one called us the "orange people."

We continued with the orange when we went to Sea World, which truly is an educational experience:

And we saw our cousin, Davia, on her mission at the Mormon Battalion Visitor's Centre. This is the second time we've been to San Diego, and both times we visited family serving in that mission!

But the main reason we went was for my niece, Brittany's, wedding, which was so beautiful and wonderful:

And on the way home we went to St. George again and went to a place that had ancient hieroglyphs etched into the walls by early Native Americans.

Holy I done? I think that's it! I guess I won't go into some of the drama at the alternate school about how to have assessments, but there is drama, trust me. This post it too long as it is.

Au revoir! 

By the way, I just found my blog post I thought was deleted!!! It was in my science club blog!!! Yep. I feel dumb.

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