Saturday, July 28, 2012

Third Time at the Track!

 Things went well for our third try at the track. With the new engine, we expected that there may be some adjustments to be made to make the car do what we want, but it really wasn't too bad at all. The first run, Austyn stalled at the start. This was because the idle was too low. Making idle higher fixed the problem. The car went in the 12's (12-12.9 seconds in a 1/8 mile)! This is much better. The rest of the adjustment to get it as close to 12.9 and slower can be made by adding weight! We can do this with lead-shot. There are locations on the dragster to add it including an empty nitrous bottle on the back. It's not there just for show and to confuse fans. LOL!!

 Zoe seems to like getting out. She likes to dress up, do her hair and wear jewelry. This will all change when she races. Her hair will look matted from the heat and her helmet, but I can really see her racing. She is the free-spirit type of kid. No fear! She can't wait to race now!

Sometimes we put her in the car to tow the car back to our pit spot. Here she is, having a great time!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mechanics 101!

Here are the boys changing the engine in the junior dragster! Yup... even though Daddy has NEVER changed one of these before, they did it! What better way to get to know the car than to take it all apart! What great experience for Austyn. He eventually lost interest since it's not a fast process, but even what he did do, was great!! There was a good deal of watching, helping and learning from what Daddy told him while it was getting changed. 

BTW... there is the little sandwich container under the motor with the oil in it. See how little oil this thing takes!!!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Zoe's Creation at Lego Club

I run a Homeschool Lego Club in our area and while there Zoe made these. I thought it was great! What a great way to practice words using a different medium. Forget pencils or crayons!! She used Lego to make her name and Austyn's name!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Austyn is the type of child who loves science and math but doesn't want to read. He loves to have books read to him, but he doesn't want to pick one up himself. He is 8 years old and during our time of stress over the past year we started to get a bit frantic. I know it's silly! Why can't kids develop on their own?! Don't I know that children learn to read in other more literate countries at a much later age. After all... my blog IS called "Our Pace"!!! But, every once and a while, parents have melt-downs. Do you know the kind?... Where stress takes over and the mind doesn't work logically anymore?... Societal pressure creeps in and worries linger... One thought we had was, what if we need to put him in school?! How will they treat him, due to his reading?! This was during a time that the kids were making us lose hair and we all had the stress of living with relatives and not in our own home. It happens! Parents sometimes just can't keep it together! I'm sad to admit it but THAT was us. 

What I'm getting at, is that I think we didn't need to worry so much. He now is reading hockey cards and websites on hockey cards! It just took a strong interest to take over and away he went!!

Anyway... I'll get to this curriculum... I promise! LOL!! I posted a worried post on a local homeschool support group about his reading and one of the ladies there posted back stating that she tutors kids on reading. She said that she would see Austyn, for a short time, for free, to assess him, and give me a plan to go home with and use. So, after much thought, and a bit of calming down, I decided to take her up on her offer, even though I wasn't so sure about it all. We went and she was so kind! She showed us this program and how it works and can't fail! Austyn enjoyed it so much and I decided that I was going to get it no matter what happened. I had heard of it before and what is funny is, it's likely the only program we never actually looked at or used before. Here it is! 

It's called Ball-Stick-Bird. It's an older publication, but it looks like so much fun! I've showed it to a few parents already. After a few chuckles between some of us parents, due to the old names used (more specifically, DICK), and some pictures that look like condoms, we could look at it more seriously. It's such a different approach than any of us are use to. I've been reading through the teacher guide and am finding the method so interesting. It seems fun, and fast flowing, and forgiving for those kids who are perfectionists, like Austyn. It also has fun characters and the story is a space theme. Austyn will love this! I think... LOL!

The website doesn't have direct payment because they are keeping the price of the books down. I had the books shipped to a drop-off parcel location in the United States and we took a drive to go and pick it up. This prevented the extra cost that is placed on us when it comes over the border, through the mail.

I can't wait to try this program. I hope he enjoys it. It seems right for him, so far, even if it means we take many steps backwards to start it. I am hopeful!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

K'nex Education Kits

 I ordered these kits from Canadian Home Education Resources. I know that it seemed cheaper to order it from the K'nex site, but I've learned through experience that it really won't be once they ship it over the border. One of the problems with homeschooling in Canada is that many of the curriculum and materials we need to purchase come form the United States and the shipping costs to Canada can be deceiving. We are always knocked with some strange charge that isn't known until it shows up on our VISA statement. So, even though these looked like they were more, I'm sure that they were less due to those extra costs for cross-border shipments.

We don't have far to go to cross the border so I could go across and pick it up at a parcel drop-off center, but I just didn't feel like I wanted to do that. It always feels nice to shop Canadian whenever I can, especially when it just makes more sense. 

I ordered Intro to Simple Machines: Levers and Pulleys, Intro to Simple Machines: Wheels & Axels and Inclined Planes, Intro to Simple Machines: Gears, and I also got Introduction to Structures: Bridges.

 As soon as Austyn saw them he went right to work. He made a manual hand-mixer first. Here he is holding it up, first thing the next morning. I don't even think he is fully awake yet! He wanted a picture right away so he can get right back to work, taking it apart and building something else!

 He decided that he wanted to build the car window. As he builds I read the Teachers material that is on the CD that is provided in the kit. He is learning about different types of gears and how they work. He is learning about gear differential and so much more. This is proving to be a perfect purchase for us!

 Here is the car window finished. It doesn't have as much mobility as we would have liked to see, but this just sets him up to alter it and better the design on his own.

Back to the company that we purchased these kits from... They don't have their site set-up to pay online (probably due to the cost and that it may reflect on the products), but they call to get payment or you can call in and give your VISA. I eventually called back, because we are out of the house so much and I'm hard to get a hold of. The customer service person I talked to on the phone was so friendly and polite, even though I've been a hard one to chase down. They had everything we ordered ready to go and shipped it right away. It got here in good time, considering it was coming across the country. When I opened the box I noticed that they reuse boxes! I was SO IMPRESSED! I've never seen this done before and to see a company do this was such a good feeling. They used a Scholastic box and rebuilt the box inside out to use it again. This makes me feel so good about purchasing from them! I will be a repeat customer!

If you decide to purchase these sets, check out the K'NEX website for lesson plans and other resources that are available.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Book Sharing Monday - A Series of Unfortunate Events

This was a great "used book" purchase. I recently discovered that we are missing three books from this series. I'll be keeping my eyes open for these. With this series, I purchased the first book (The Bad Beginning) and read it to see if it was something we'd like. All of us LOVED it, especially Austyn! So, I got as many as I could from our local small-town book store. As you can see from this picture, we are currently reading book 2 (The Reptile Room).

These books are about three children who have the worst possible thing happen to them; their parents die when their house burns down.They lose their parents and everything they own. This is how their series of unfortunate events starts. After that a family friend needs to place them with a relative, but since they were not close to any relatives they are placed with one distant relative after another.

Throughout the books the author uses his quirky personality to narrate how he has decided to write the books, apologizing for leaving the reader hanging, because he had to make it to a dinner party or for just writing a book with such sad occurrences (I don't think that was a word he used, but it seemed like an appropriate word).  These entertaining books are full of suspense and are full of big words that the author throws in to describe situations, people, or things, and then the he adds what the word means in each particular situation. This builds vocabulary in a very interesting way! I'm so happy that we found these books!

I also wouldn't mind watching the movie, since we've read the first book. I know that rarely movies are as good as the book, but it's always interesting to see how the movie differs from what we read.

The author's website is so much fun! Lemony Snicket is a mysterious author, whom we can't see! What a fun way to introduce himself to the world: faceless! There are games, activities, word searches and much more on the website. He has other books available as well. We may need to check those books out too!

Warning: if you have a child who is sensitive, the fear-driven suspense in these books may be too much to handle. My kids are fine with a book that might be a bit scary and may have corruption, greed, abuse, or even the possibility of murder. Your kids may not be okay with these things. You decide.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar - Getting Ready

 I've seen it so many times, and it still fascinates me! This little guy looked so big and fat and then when he gets ready to change into a chrysalis he looks so small again.

This is when we move our caterpillars from a jar to our homemade butterfly house. We made this at a Homeschool Co-Op we attended a few years ago. 

I tried to find this craft on the internet, but can't seem to find it. Basically you need a soft netting, string, a large plastic strawberry container, scissors, and a glue gun. Cut the top away from the bottom of the plastic container and cut the middle of the bottom of the container out, leaving a frame. Wrap the mesh around the top piece and glue it to the inside, leaving enough mesh above to tie together and be sure that there is overlap on the side where the mesh can overlap itself to close the entrance. Glue the bottom framed piece below it about 8 inches and tie the mesh below with a string to keep it closed. When done hang it up with string and you have a safe butterfly house for your chrysalis to be placed. 

One year I didn't put the chrysalis in this and the butterfly came out when we were not home. We found it later with it's wings all stuck to the bottom of the glass jar. If you have no choice and you only have a jar I recommend using the largest jar you can find and lining the bottom of the jar with something soft (material or something) to prevent any problem or bring the butterfly with you everywhere you go so that you can be sure you are there when it comes out. We have done this as well!

We only keep our butterflies for a day or two and then we let them go.


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