Saturday, April 19, 2014

Thinking like a Paleontologist

I found this cool Fossil Find'R at Walmart a while back. Since we are beginning a study on Dinosaurs I picked up one just to see what Selena would think. The kit came with this plaster egg shaped ball, and a small plastic chisel/brush tool. Inside is hidden a Dinosaur Fossil. They have it marked for ages 4+ I think I would offer this to an older child though, it is a lot of work, slow, and tedious. We are having fun with it though. I did appreciate the fact that the first bone siting was very close to the surface, so the child knows there is definitely something inside.

After I gave my instructions to Selena on how careful she would have to be to find the fossil, and to not just try to smash it open, she went right to work on trying to find her fossil hidden inside. We started this process on Saturday afternoon. Selena carefully worked, taking many breaks from the tedious task, only to return and work some more. Yes, Papa and I did get involved and helped a bit, but Selena has done most of the work on her own. We have resisted digging in and speeding up the process.

So far this is the point we are at. Selena has made a few observations and hypothesis as to what type of Dinosaur this might be. From the shape of the head she thinks it is a meat eater, and the shape of the bones she feels it is a Tyrannosaurus (T-Rex). I love how this simple kit is making her think like a Paleontologist, as well as showing her how tedious they have to work in order to discover all they do about the animals from years ago that use to walk on our earth. Stay tuned we will reveal what we find, and conclude on Selena's hypothesis when we get this little critter out.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Busy Busy Busy

Where to really begin with this post, the past few weeks seem like a blur, a frenzy of so much going on. Softball got started with a lot of excitement from Selena. The weather was not as cooperative, any many practices were cancelled. Here is a picture though of Selena playing 3rd base in one of our practice games against one of the other teams.

Unfortunately coach pitch ended up being harder then Selena imagined. Normally we would have asked her to stick it out and do her best, but the frustration was compounding on itself over her inability to hit the ball. It became such an obsession for her that she was loosing sleep, so the decision was made to stop playing. She was involved in the decision and really feels pretty good about it. Sure we know she is sad, but we reminded her that she is not a loser, nobody loses so long as they try, and give it their all, which believe me she did that!

The day after this decision Selena finally spoke up and started talking about how mean the girls were being towards her. We had been watching this from the first practice and we were fully aware what some of the girls were doing. Selena wasn't the only one being picked on. At the above game the girls even went as far as to tell Selena it was her turn to get up and strike out again. Selena seemed like she ignored the girls, and proudly held her head high as she went up to try to hit that ball.

By batting practice following this game, the bullying was escalating to more physical assaults. Teasing and tormenting the girls with the bats, until Selena got hit over the head with a bat, and the coaches daughter got hit in the face. Hearing as Selena put all this stuff in words made me realize I could no longer sit back and wait. I contacted both the coach and the President of the softball organization.

Selena and I had a very long discussion about this matter, and what a good day for that discussion but on April 1st. We used this day to show what is fun normal joking, and what is not. We then talked about standing up against bullying.

I hear many parents complain about bullying in the schools, how mean other kids are, but I feel there is one way to stop this is to Speak Up, We Did!

We joined our homeschool group for a field trip at the local radio station. The kids all had so much fun and learned a lot. They were aired live on radio which was heard by some of our neighbors, as they represented the homeschoolers of our County. They even recorded them and played that the following morning, which Selena was so excited to hear. Below are just a few random shots from the field trip, enjoy!

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Butterflies Part One

With Spring here Selena decided she wanted to study Butterflies. We made some Butterflies last week using coffee filters and pipe cleaners. This morning we read a few books, then started discussing the life cycle of the butterfly.

Selena read Butterflies by Karen Shapiro which does a very nice job of explaining the life cycle of a butterfly. I read a book titled Life Cycles The Butterfly by Diana Noonan to Selena. This book broke the life cycle down into very specific steps which were short enough for any level and great illustrations.

Selena described the life cycle of the butterfly to me, as I drew it on the white board, then we used one of our butterflies from last week, and construction paper to make the above photo of the life cycle of a butterfly. This was not new information for Selena but she did learn that the Caterpillar sheds it skin up to 4 times before it is ready to form it's chrysalis.

Stay tuned as we learn more about butterflies throughout the week.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Sharks Part 2 Why are Rays and Sharks Family

As we continue to study sharks, we took a look at the Manta Ray. Selena learned that Rays are in the same family as Sharks, but why? She quickly understood why when she discovered that Rays skeleton is also made of cartilage. We watched a video made in Mexico where scientists study the Manta Rays. Did you know that the Spanish actually named the Manta Ray, which is translated as blanket?

We learned that there are 480 different species of Rays in our Oceans. They swim around 250 miles looking for food and eat plankton and small fish. Some Rays are bottom feeders, while the Manta Ray eats as it swims. The Rays gills are on it's bottom side compared to most fish who's gills are on the side of their bodies.

The Manta Ray grows to be 25 feet and 4000 pounds. We measured our living room and Selena quickly decided a Manta Ray would not fit in our house. Now we can go back and finish up our study of the Shark. Selena is having so much fun and truly was surprised to discover the relationship between the Ray and the Shark, especially after learning that the Great White Shark eats Rays.
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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sharks Part 1

We started our unit study on Sharks this week. While much of the information about sharks has been a review for Selena, she is still excited and learning a lot more then she already knew. So far she has learned that Sharks do not have bones instead their skeleton is made of cartilage, like what we have in our ears and the tip of our nose. We played a bit with a wooden stick and a hard piece of flexible rubber to see the difference in how a bone and how cartilage would make a sharks body move through the water.

One interesting fact that Selena learned was that a shark has the ability to feel electricity movement in the water helping them in finding food. We looked at several different types of sharks including rays, Selena was surprised to learn that a ray is in the shark family.

Today we discussed food chains and how important they are for the environment. I set up several different food chains from our water source, how we get milk and meat, to Ocean life. After our discussion I asked Selena to draw her own food chain which is pictured above as she explained it to me.

Tonight we will go to the gym and expand on our lessons with swimming. I wonder if Selena will give the kids in the play area a lesson on sharks, while I am working out with my personal trainer?

We are also excited since our new math curriculum arrived today to get started working with it. Look for a post on that to come.
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

George Washington part 2

We are finishing up our Unit Study on George Washington. I had hoped to squeeze in a little more work, but am thrilled with what we have accomplished. We have learned so much and I am thrilled to hear Selena exclaim with excitement when she discovers interesting facts about George Washington.

Two books we read that I felt were excellent for this unit study, and very appropriate for the younger child were:

George Washington Our First President by Garnet Jackson and President George Washington by David A. Adler. Both books start with his childhood, and look into his education, military life, marriage, and Presidency. We enjoyed a day devoted to relaxed cuddling on the couch reading these two books and many more. I believe these two books by far were Selena's favorites as well.

Selena thought it was very interesting that George Washington enjoyed math and studied on his own to become known as a great surveyor, many farmers called upon him to survey their properties so they knew how much seed to buy for the next year.

I think one of the most interesting facts that Selena is still talking about is the fact that not only was George Washington our first President, but he was also the General in the Revolution War, and lead us to our freedom from England. As she stated, "He truly is the reason we are the country we are!"

We have one more day finishing up some little work, then we will take a short break from history and move on to some science. I am waiting for all of our new curriculum to roll in, and look forward to blogging more from our homeschool.

Some have been following our journey with Selena. We have bounced all over with different opinions on what is going on, from bipolar, to ADHD. We visited with her pediatrician yesterday who was so surprised over the difference in Selena. We discussed everything that Selena has carried on her shoulders, the worries and fears, the confusion of the past 7 years, and have come to a conclusion that mostly she is just like any other foster child. Now with the adoption behind us and she has had a good month to settle into her forever family we are seeing huge changes. We still deal with some anxieties along with some OCD, but over all she is the sweet girl we had a few years ago before the turmoil entered her little life.  
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Friday, February 21, 2014

Life After Adoption

While things haven't changed much after the adoption, there has been some thought provoking changes that have occurred. It took a bit for Selena to settle in to the thought that there were indeed more changes then just the change of her last name. I believe it was a good week before she actually announced that she was not our granddaughter anymore but our daughter. She still calls us Mama and Papa and on occasion Grandma and Grandpa, but on rare times she does run in and call us Mom and Dad. It doesn't matter to us, since this truly has been a norm for us, for her to call us by these names anyway. Selena was pretty excited though as the mail rolled in with things that had her last name on it, we still wait for the new birth certificate, then we can go get her new Social Security Card, but all the medical, insurances, and other forms of documentation now show her real name.

I believe I myself have had the hardest time with the newness of this. I realized this yesterday when we took Selena in for her eye exam, as I filled out the paperwork, I realized WOW I can now write her name out the same as ours. I have to stop myself many times when we are out and realize I am still referring to myself as Grandma, but then stating that she is our daughter, I bet people are a wee bit confused. I also loved when I was pricing to have her birthstone added to my Mom's ring, that I had to explain to the clerk, the exact reason I wanted this stone added, "No, I am not looking for a Grandmother's ring! Yes, she is mine!" As I stood there patting her on top of the head.

Life itself has not changed, we are still the same family we do the same things, share the same likes and dislikes just as before, but deep inside all of us there is just a sense of completeness, a sense of joy, and a sense of security.

Selena wanted a huge adoption party, she ran around and invited everyone within the community, friends and strangers alike. We did have a church potluck, to celebrate the adoptions that have taken place in our church family, complete with a beautifully decorated cake. It was fun to celebrate our wonderful day with another beautiful family who adopted a child from China. Two families made complete, two children who's dreams have been made a reality.

Our friends gave us a special night date, and kept Selena for us. It was fun to go out with my husband and talk about everything but home life. Selena had so much fun staying with them for the evening. She enjoyed helping in the kitchen and enjoyed having Kelly show her how to set a formal table, now keep in mind there are only the three of us, but she was setting the table for 7 that evening.

Papa and I enjoyed a wonderful dinner at The Terrace Falls in Olympia Washington. Then enjoyed a great visit with our friends after.

While in many ways adoption has not changed a lot about the dynamics of our little family, it has changed all of us, it has touched all of us in a very special way.
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