Sunday, March 23, 2014

Out of Their Mouths...

Lucy - "I just love the names of nitrogen bases.  They're so fun to say."

Iris - "There has been a major heartbreak here today!"

Iris to Aunt Sherry- "The important thing is that I spend hours with you, right?"

Me- "Lucy, do you have any intention of going into medicine or science at all?  I'm trying to decide if you're going to continue Spanish or if you should take Latin."
Lucy- "No, I don't think so."
Clyde- "I intend to get training to be an awesome warrior, in case there's a war!"
The rest of us- "What?!"

Monday, March 17, 2014

Meeting the Duggars

The kids and I found out the Duggar's of 19 Kids and Counting were coming to town (Thanks Aunt Rita!!)  They decided they DEFINITELY wanted to go!  We love watching their show, and my kids talk about their kids sometimes like they know's cute.  I wasn't sure if they were THAT into the idea, but I was wrong, they were.

As our school day, today, ticked on Lucy made several comments.  "I can't believe we're going to meet the Duggar's!"  "I really want to meet them, but I'm going to be scared to talk to them."  "Does it feel real to you, Mom?  It doesn't feel to me like we're really going to meet them!"

When we got to the book store, I immediately saw a few people we knew.  We were directed to first, get in line to get a postcard so you can write to the Duggar's and they will write you back.  We were also to get a post-it note that goes on your book once you buy it.  Then you wait for someone to walk you to the end of the actual line to see them.  We got there about 10 minutes before it was supposed to actually start and I heard there were already hundreds of people in line.

I got in line behind a lady with two little girls.  She immediately turned to me and said, "Let's make a pact... if either of us needs to take our kids to the bathroom, we'll save each other's spot!"  I enthusiastically agreed.

We also ran into some dear friends with four daughters, we adopted one of them for this adventure; Iris's friend, Katie.

Over the next TWO AND A HALF hours!!!.... we got to know the wonderful family in front of us pretty well, and a few of the others in line also.  I feel like we left having made friends.

When we finally made it to the Duggar's we were surprised and delighted that quite a few of them were at the table, along with some of their friends, the Bates!

Here we are with the older girls, left to right: Jill, Jessa, Jinger and Jana
Lucy was pretty bashful, but gave her name when asked, she really wanted to say more, but was just feeling shy.  Clyde covered his bashfulness with silly faces and voices.  Iris was feeling pretty comfortable, I think.

Here's a not very good shot of Clyde and Iris talking with Jedediah and JoyAnna, I couldn't get at a good angle, but it was neat :)

Here we are with Jim Bob & Michelle, along with Jordan coloring in the corner. :)  And don't you just love Clyde's face here?!

Our new book....

And our new autographs!

New experience...I've never been to a book signing before!

Friday, March 7, 2014

LearningRX, and How We Love Them!!

These 3 minions have always been pretty easy to homeschool.  I'm very blessed to have 3 cooperative and bright children. 

However, Clyde has always struggled with reading.  He's always been game whenever I throw something new his way, and has tried his best.  But by the summer after his 3rd grade year, he and I had been through 3 reading curriculum.  We had also spent the last semester doing basically nothing but taking turns reading aloud to each other.  But he still strongly disliked reading, and avoided it whenever he could.  If we gave him a book, he just looked at the pictures.  When he read, it was painful, and slow, and frustrating, though the books were quite basic.  We knew we needed help.  I attempted to line up a couple tutors.  They both fell through.  When the second one called and backed out on me, I completely lost in on the phone! 

At the homeschool curriculum fair that summer, I picked up brochures from several learning help and/or tutoring booths.  I went home that night and devoured them deep into the night. 

The LearningRX literature made sense to me.  I knew from experience that it wasn't a lack of time or practice, or even a difference in reading methods that was the problem.  There was something in Clyde's brain that was just not clicking and allowing him to learn to read. 

Their program was not a tutoring program, but it was supposed to help the students develop better cognitive skills, training their brains to learn.  I just thought...Yes!  This is what he needs...those very basic connections that will finally let his brain process all this reading stuff.

I scheduled a test with them so they could develop a plan for his training.

Some of his cognitive skills tested crazy high!  And some were average.  But his short term memory, executive processing skills and a few others were low.

So this was the plan:  For six months, Clyde would train 1 hour, 3 days a week at the center, one-on-one with a trainer.  And I would train him at home for at least 3 hours a week. 

I was really afraid of what the cost would be, but ultimately we felt like it kind of didn't matter.  This was something that could be the difference in whether he could go to college or not, or even read manuals to train himself skills or not.  Ultimately, if this program increased his cognitive skills the way it said it would, we could be spending more money on tutors over the course of years and still not get the results we could get here.  We ended up taking out a small loan, just to make sure we had the money to do the full 6 months.  Then we buckled down and trained away.

His trainer was AWESOME!  They had a lot of fun together!!  And did a LOT of work together!!  He and I trained on weekends, on vacations, during family out-of-town was crazy!

Here they are wearing mustaches, Clyde brought them both one to wear during their training, because they both missed the mustache party :)   (Clyde's is hard to see in this pic, due to it's a white Einstein mustache.)

On a particular day when Clyde was clamming up and not being very open, Miss Ashleigh added a letter to his home training.  He was supposed to write about what he liked about training, what he didn't like, and what he hoped it would help him improve.

After two and half months, he read his first chapter book VOLUNTARILY!!  The Great Sasquatch Escape.  I am going to send the author of that book, Suzanne Selfors a HUGE THANK-YOU note!!!

Once students have managed to say the names of the presidents in order forwards AND backwards, each in under 40 seconds, he/she is inducted into the Presidents Club and his/her picture is put on the wall.

After three months, he was reading the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series!!  We were so amazed!!  These are 300-400 page books!  His book hungry sister was reading them too and they would discuss them ad nauseam.  His nose was suddenly in a book at all times!

Students get points for hard work, home training, improvements, and beating levels of training.  When you get a certain number of points you get 3 Brainy Bucks.  And you can buy prizes with your Brainy Bucks.  The more Brainy Bucks you save, the bigger the prize.  Clyde ended up buying magnetic putty, marbles, and a Whack-a-mole card game.

Also, there are reading bingo cards.  When you get bingo (fill up a row) after reading enough to mark out 5 boxes, you get fun coupons.  When you read enough to mark out all the boxes on your card, you get to spin the prize wheel!

In February, for Presidents Day, the local and national LearningRX were having a competition where you said the presidents in order within 40 seconds while having distractions.  This is Clyde's entry! 

He won 1st place with a prize of $20  for the local competition!!!

So here we are at the end.  At home has now moved on to a series of books that are each 500-600 pages!  His graduation from the program was today, but two days ago, he took a final test to see how much his cognitive skills had improved.

Drum roll please.....

The yellow bars represent the level he was at before training.  Blue represents after.  The pale red line you see across the chart is where he should be at his age (10).  Each line above that goes up 5 years.  At the top of each bar is a small number indicating the age equivalency he is at.  For example, his biggest leap was in Auditory Processing.  Before he started, he had the auditory processing of a 15 year old.  It has now jumped to that of a 30 year old, which is actually where it maxes can't get any higher.  His age equivalency in each cognitive skill now ranges from slightly above his actual age, all the way to maxing out, with the exception of spelling, which I know will improve due to him now actually being a reader!

We are SO HAPPY with these results!  Honestly, though I love to see the progress spelled out like this for me, I didn't need it.  I already knew that he had made amazing progress, and that his brain was suddenly allowing him to read.

And his IQ actually went up 13 points!  That's crazy!

Here's Clyde reading about some of his day-to-day improvements, while his trainer, Miss Ashleigh, and the director, Miss Michelle, listen.

Here's Miss Ashleigh reading her letter to him (it had funny parts).  Stephen read a letter to him from us, also.

And another picture of him and Miss Ashleigh!  Of course he's making a silly smile ;)

Very happy to have made all the improvements, but a little sad not to be seeing these wonderful people three times a week anymore!

Good Times @ Grandad's

Our weekend at Grandad and Grandmom's house got delayed due to sickness, but we tried to make up for it in fun!

The first evening Grandmom rented Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 for the kids to watch.
Here's Clydie looking all big brotherly, and Rissy looking all little-sisterish :)

Lucy, chowing down with Sherry & David...

When Clyde is at Grandad's he gets to embrace his love of dogs!  He's rather fascinated with Sarah Beth.  And I love this picture, because Clydie has such a handsome profile ;)

And Sarah Beth sometimes resembles a polar bear.

Clyde getting in some cat time, too...

While Clyde's out getting his animal fix, the girls are inside with Grandmom blissfully cooking multiple batches of cupcakes!

While the cupcakes were baking, Grandmom introduced the boys to a new game called Lasers.  It's a lot like Clyde's board game at home called Khet.  It's a strategy game involving lasers and mirrors.  Clyde started playing it, and then his Daddy became so interested, that he bought it and started playing it too.

After a few minutes we all heard Clyde (who is never one to brag) say, "Daddy, since you like numbers and puzzles so much, I really thought you'd be good at this, but...."


We all started cracking up.  Clyde seemed genuinely embarrassed to find out he had just doled out an insult, but look at his face around the time he said it....  snarky ;)

Then we ate cupcakes to do a kind of late birthday celebration for Clyde and Iris...

As always...good times and Grandad and Grandmom's!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Stephen and my friend's husband, aka Mr Matt, were both going to pytennessee.  Pytennesssee is a python conference.  Not 'python' as in the snake, But 'python' as in the programming language.

Here are the little girls playing comfortably together the evening we got to the hotel rooms.

The first day the dads went they took the three oldest kids from our two families with them and dropped them off at the youth coder seminar.  Here's a picture of Lucy's new raspberry pi they gave her...

and here she is programming on it at the seminar....

While she, Pierce, and Meg were doing that, Amy and myself took the littles to the zoo!

The pony got more than its fair share of attention :)

Here's a group picture with the elephants.  Following this picture, as we walked away, Teva asked if we could please go see the REAL elephants????

Well, I know I've deprived you all from actually seeing the meerkats, but here's a picture of Lilly, Clyde, and Land WATCHING the meerkats....

Lilly, Clyde, and Iris watching the flamingos...these were the most VIBRANT flamingos I have ever seen!  And their enclosure was the cleanest captive bird exhibit I have ever seen!!

The kangaroo/wallaby walkabout was pretty neat, as there were no barriers between you and the animals.  You could only touch them if they came onto the sidewalk with you...this one at Iris's feet decided to tease the kids by being just BARELY untouchable.

 After the zoo, we took the littles to Moe's.  The boys held a public dance session.

The next morning, after moms and kids packed everything, we had just a little while to entertain ourselves until the dads were done with their morning sessions.  So we took the kids to Centennial Park.

Here they are holding up the Parthenon.

And then just a cute group shot.

After moms were satisfied with pictures, we set the children free....

After examining the to-scale Parthenon, we picnicked and just generally hung out until time to pick up the dads.

Following all this frivolity, we picked up the dads, witnessed a rather traumatic, but thankfully not fatal, car crash and then received a flat tire, followed by a flat spare.

BUT it really was a REALLY great trip with REALLY great people!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Valentine's Service Project & Party

Instead of just passing out lots of little Valentine's this year, our homeschool group decided to do a service project and gift exchange.  Some of the kids cooked potato soup while the others made valentines.

The early birds chopping and peeling...

The group grows.... they were so awesome, I can't believe how big all these kids have gotten!

Lucy and McKellan washing dishes afterwards...

Little girls making valentines...

Big kids start to join in the valentine making effort after soup starts cooking...

One of Clydie's valentines...

Then we had the gift exchange...
Wish I had pictures of the sweet recipients!!