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:

Sunday, September 10, 2017

First Week Down, and Slowly Gaining Speed at a Cranky Pace

Homeschool's hard. I think it just gets harder. I have a BIG family, and the demands of homeschool just get more and more as they get older and older.

I thought I would be able to have Maxwell be an independent learner this year, but now that I've started to delve in, that's just a joke. His math is going to be video taught. It's a program called "Video Text."

It's like Khan academy but they were doing it when "Khan" was in diapers. It's short videos explaining a concept with worksheets and quizzes to go with the video. It's what Rightstart math suggests, but I haven't been able to get very much advice from my social media peeps about whether it's good or not. No one seems to use it. Ummm..... well, here's to trusting my gut and Rightstart!

Thankfully, they sell an internet bundle so I can actually access it out here in Vanuatu.

HOWEVER they say that this is just a supplement to an actual human instructor, helping the student through the program....uhh...I want an A.I. teacher please.

Also, I want to make sure Maxwell can type. So I've really neglected to teach typing because I've neglected writing because I've thought that dyslexic boys (or rather dyslexic mummas) need a break until they can actually read fluently. I'm finding that I shouldn't have done that.

Introducing Typewriting Without Tears (by Handwriting Without Tears. Which btw has added an overall name of Learning Without Tears.) Maxwell is in Grade One level that we skipped a bit. He should be in grade Grade 7 and be a graduated typer by now. You know, I didn't learn to type until Grade 8. Well....oh bother. Whatever. He'll zoom through the grades I'm sure.

But now ALL my kids (and I mean ALL) are doing typing.

Did I ever mention that Homeschool is just one big experiment, and you never know how you're hurting or helping REALLY?

And I'm going to figure out a good Grammar program, and Maxwell really needs P.E. You would think being in a tropical paradise with the ocean in your front yard would be enough P.E. but perhaps we've been more focused on construction than anything lately, and maybe a certain boy loves reading and only reading.

SO Maxwell and I are now going to go on hikes and adventures. Including exploring ruins:

And writing. I'm doing writing seriously this year. I love THIS POST that shares how to treat spelling. Basically, if it's creative writing, let it go. If it's during a grammar/spelling lesson, correct it.

I really needed this philosophy in a dyslexic crazy spelling family. I feel like I've taught spelling. And I mean TAUGHT SPELLING not just memorization but spelling rules and methods.  And yet.....oh boy.

You know how happiness is the difference between expectations and reality? In a dyslexic family, it's REALLY hard to have realistic expectations. When you've taught something a MILLION TIMES it's hard not to just EXPECT that what you've taught will have some sort of manifestation in REALITY. And then where's the happiness in teaching? I'm starting this year out grouchy.

Oh boy. you guys! I feel quite worthless sometimes. I have a secret. Here in Vanuatu I have....wait for it....a HOUSEKEEPER!  That's right! Someone who's here 8am-4pm five days a week cleaning and cooking, and yet I'm still a grouchy unproductive homeschool mum.

How can things be easier? Yet I feel like I'm failing so often.

If you ask on Facebook, (and I've seen the polls, so this is real) what moms like me would want the most in life, they would all say a housekeeper. But if they actually got one, I bet some would be like me and feel like they were more worthless than ever because they don't even have the excuse of being a housekeeper on their list.

Oh blah. I'm not THAT down in the dumps. But this thing called life: it's not for the faint at heart.

And anyways, there are SIXTEEN (16) people living in this house (which is basically a tiny house UNDER CONSTRUCTION....with construction workers everywhere...with a tinier cottage UNDER CONSTRUCTION...with construction workers everywhere.) And FOUR of them are little minions who want nothing more than to run around naked playing with Penises and POOP everywhere.

So hey, I have a right to be grouchy sometimes...Right?

And going back to writing, sometimes they just make me smile. I just love them. At this point I'm letting them write whatever they want, and they've gotten to writing me letters to tell me things. Check these cuties out:

"Hey mom can you tell the toenail fairy how I almost forgot to let you know that all my toenail fell off last night. I know that the toenail fairy could not get you one thing last night, so I want you to tell the toenail fairy that I want a Box with a code lock."

"William found a girl iguana and I know where Daniel’s iguana is, and and I got the iguana and I was wondering if they would mate and we waited and waited and waited….but they didn’t. Then they ran away. "

And I DO see improvement. So that's something. When I think of Hyrum's reading at the beginning of last year and his reading now, I know something's going right.

Daniel, whom I've always thought would be my ONE CHILD to read at regular pace, has his struggles, and is not a typical reader after all, but one interesting discovery was that it's just as easy to read upside-down as right side up:

Daniel and Hyrum's math has been going good. Rightstart has sworn me to secrecy about how I'm able to do math in Vanuatu without manuels being mailed to me, but let's just say Rightstart math has the BEST customer service EVER and math is up and running for Hyrum on down.

But I've found it hard to take my littles away from their tropical paradise because of the "good better best" conundrum. For instance: all week the only thing Daniel's wanted to do is garden with our gardeners (yes, I have gardeners....but since I've never gardened, they don't make me feel worthless haha.)

Of course I want him to learn how to garden!!! So I have a hard time taking him away from it, but it's not like he is constantly doing school anyway.

Especially since I have FOUR boys I've teaching this year! Yep, William is in kindergarden. Of course, I did teach him preschool, as you can see from his ability to write his name:

Oh the cuteness thereof. Soon he will see the difference between "m" and "w" my truly dyslexic boy!

He's been starting Handwriting Without Tears, which has been a lot trickier than Rightstart to figure out. There's all the supplies that I didn't bring to Vanuatu. I've had to improvise and I've also had to personally make worksheets.

But it's worth it because there's no better program on the planet, I'm convinced.

All this new school stuff has been tricky. We had a special time of getting father's blessings to help us, which was incredible. William drew a picture of us at the occasion: most of us are sitting on the bed:

And I instigated a rewards system where they got to choose their own goals. They spent HOURS choosing, and they won't get them at least until we get back to Canada any way, but whatever. Here's Hyrum's because he's been the most adamant about this whole thing:

As for geography, well, we didn't do any true activities. BUT check out the movies that I made that we are learning!