Thursday, March 15, 2012

Teaching Language Arts

One of the things that made me question homeschooling is the very vivid memory I have of my Mom trying to teach my sister how to read. Prior to my parents starting to homeschool we were in public school and my sister was in Special Ed. The teachers had told my Mom she was doing great. She was in 3rd grade when we were taken out of school and she couldn't read at all. I remember lots of screaming and crying from those days when my Mom worked intensively with her trying to help her learn how to read. I did not want to go through that!
Fast forward many years later and my parents are on the tail end of homeschooling with only 3 left at home. I remember a conversation with my Mom a couple of years ago when she foresaw this end of homeschooling and she said, "I don't know what I'm going to do when I don't have anymore kids to teach to read! I may have to go volunteer at the local school." My thoughts were," What?! You want to keep going through all that again when you don't have to?!" I couldn't understand it.
I think in part I do now. I can't tell you there has never been crying or yelling on one or both of our parts as occasion warranted due to his disabilities but, as Daniel gains speed and ability to read, the feeling of accomplishment is awesome! Not just for him but for me to. I taught him that and no one else did. I taught him a life skill that will effect all other areas of his life, and he will benefit from for the rest of his life. That is such an awesome feeling! I can't wait to start Reagan, but I must be patient as she is just not ready yet.
A skill that goes along with reading is spelling. I've been interested to learn that speech also plays a significant part in spelling. Which makes sense when you think about it. When you can't remember how to spell a word right off the bat, you sound it out in your head and spell accordingly. Hopefully spell check knows what you are trying to spell and corrects any imperfections from there. :-) Daniel and I have been working on different blends of letters and sounds lately and he is at a spot where he is working on the "r" combinations. Cr, dr, br etc. These were some of his words today-
Crab    - he spelled cab
Dress   - this one he got right
Drop    -he spelled dop
Drum   - he spelled dum

This is because he doesn't say his "r" sounds properly. He doesn't hear it when he says it, so why would you put an "r" in there in his mind? I just find it fascinating to see how our minds work, especially his in particular. So here's my scientific discovery for the month.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Paul's travels

In January Paul went to Reno Nevada with the military and redid his MOS for the Military. What is an MOS? Basically it's his job description. He changed it at their behest when we first got up here and he changed it again at their request. Basically he does communications with radios and computers but now at a leadership level. It was a tough course and he hated being gone the 5 and a half weeks. Hated Reno too, but he finished and it will help to hopefully ensure his promotion this fall. He leaves again for another school in May for 6 weeks. We love it when he's here and miss him when he's gone but are grateful he works so hard for us.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lemon Meringue Pudding

Ever really want some pie but you don't want to go to the trouble of making pie crust. Or you really don't like pie crust? Here's my solution just make the filling!

Absolutely delish!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Iditarod -40th Anniversary

The first year we moved up here we went to the Iditarod and it was less than pleasant. Paul was working security for the event and I had the two kids who were 2 and 3 at the time and they were just miserable in the cold. Because of that we didn't go last year but this year I decided to try again and it was a pleasant experience for the three of us. (Paul had to work.)
A few details about the Iditarod. This was the 40th Anniversary. The ceremonial start is in Anchorage. One dog sled leaves out of town every 2 minutes. They announce them and tell you a little bit about the mushers (sled drivers) and perhaps their team (dogs) as well. It's a carnival atmosphere and it really marks the end of a week and a half long winter festival called Fur Rondy. The teams drive through the city and drive to a place called Willow.There they will officially start the race on Sunday morning. I don't know how that one works as we have yet to go out there.

One of the interesting things of note- The dogs are wearing shoes. In this case they are hot pink and yellow. Some of the other teams had just a navy or black. Each team is different.

With the ceremonial start the sleds are a bit like floats in a parade. One team all had Dr. Suess hats, some would have a politician riding in it that was running for office. Some had little kids in them.

Really, I had to add some local color. Here is a woman all dressed up in traditional Alaskan clothing.

Then there was this guy. I couldn't resist taking his picture. This is a crocheted beard and mustache! It was awesome! I wondered if it was a joke for Fur Rondy where one of the contests is for the best beard and mustache or if it was to keep him warm.
Then there was this guy's hat. Now that's a hat. I think it was a fox. I didn't get a picture from the front but it still has the ears.... The one below looks really warm. I want one! Too bad I don't have the several thousand dollars it would cost.

What to do while waiting for the next team? Why play in the snow of course.

 One thing you should know is that those dogs LOVE to run. They can't wait to get out there and run. You can just see the anticipation in their bodies and the joy. Below are two who just can't wait to get out and get hooked up.

Don't forget to say hi to the Polar Bear.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Horseback Riding Lessons

We are nearing the end of the school year and our budget for school was about to be closed. (Daniel is enrolled in a Charter School that oversees Homeschooling students. Our budget is what the schools would get for kids enrolled in a public school and we choose how we want to use it.) We had some extra money that we didn't have allocated as we didn't continue with violin lessons and if we didn't allocate it now we would loose it. So I looked through our options and Horseback riding lessons was number one on my list.
Horseback riding is supposed to be really good for kids who have ADHD as it calms them down. It's good for Autistic kids as they have to learn how to communicate in a totally new way and communication is a problem for them. Kids with low muscle tone- It's a full body work out. And lets face it. Riding a horse- It's just plain cool!
The program we chose for him he spends the first 20 minutes learning how to care for a horse and the last 20 minutes they ride. Our first lesson though was at least an hour so it was well worth the money. Here Daniel is carrying his saddle. That was quite the work out and if I had been the one telling him to do it he definitely would have said he can't.
His instructor is a young man who is probably about 18 and Daniel followed him everywhere like a stray puppy.

Here he was teaching him to do a riding trick called around the world where they turn in a 360 degree circle on the saddle. 
He loved it and can't wait to go back next week.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Ice Fishing

It was a bright sunny day but cold out on the water. There was an ice fishing day for kids at one of the local lakes a couple weeks ago. Having never gone ice fishing we thought we'd try something new. If you aren't familiar with ice fishing. They take an auger and drill a hole in the ice, we used shrimp for bait and dropped our lines in. There are people who really get into this and will erect a tent and have heaters and a picnic and will stay out all day. That was not us. It was really cold so the kids didn't last long at all. They had a heated tent set up with snacks off the ice so it wasn't long until we ended up there. Then Reagan spied her favorite thing of all at a park- A swing.

This made her day! She got to swing in the winter in spite of our 3 feet of snow, someone had packed it all down around the swings and made her a very happy girl. Will we go ice fishing again? Maybe. But it was just good to get outside.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Daniel at Cooking Class

Another activity we did on our non-cleaning Saturday was take Daniel to Cooking School. Reagan isn't old enough or she would have participated too, but they have a cool play area that she was happy with. One of the local cooking supply stores (Allen and Petersen) has cooking classes for kids on Saturdays. Admission is 2 items of canned food for the local food bank. 
Personally I thought cooking school was a great idea. My kids love to cook and I didn't have to deal with the mess! For this week they made cake balls.

They were pretty yummy! And we had one happy boy!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Winter Festival

One Saturday last month we had a very full day. I had planned on cleaning the house but a friend of mine had vehemently said when she learned of my plans, "Cleaning on Saturday is a sin!" So I was bad and listened to her and the kids and I went and played all day. Our house wasn't clean but we sure had fun! This is one of the activities that we went and did. It was a Winter Festival at one of the local schools. It's a cool school, patterned after the Waldorf schools so tools and furniture was all wooden and  natural fibers. There were beautiful murals on the chalkboards about books they were reading in the class. Someone is a real artist.

 One of the highlights of both of their day was to get their faces painted. In case you can't tell, Daniel's is a car and Reagan's is a huge pink butterfly. She was quite upset when she found out that she couldn't wear it to church the next day...
This was Daniel's favorite thing. They are fishing with wooden poles and string with loops on them. The fish are wooden and have hook on them. It was pretty difficult for him but he helped it along by bending over and putting the fish on his line. If only it was that easy in real life!
The next two videos are of the kids learning some traditional Russian dances. They really enjoyed it and had a lot of fun.
This video is of Reagan having to team ski. It didn't last very long as they had to all cooperate but it was still fun.
One of the coolest things they had there that I don't have pictures of and we didn't get one was that they were making their own jump ropes out of tons of yarn. They were very heavy duty. They hooked the yarn up to these wooden machines turned the crank and twisted them up. The wait list was really long so we didn't get one (and we were running out of money by that time) but they were really sturdy and heavy duty.