Thursday, August 27, 2015

Adventures in the South Pacific {Part 1}

Talofa!  Remember me?  I'm Sanz.  I used to blog here. 

Mowgli, Bud, and Edwin recently returned from an exhilarating, exhausting, exciting excursion (how do you like that alliteration?) to the South Pacific.  We discussed and debated this trip for many months (who would go?  Just Edwin?  All of us?  Just Edwin and the big boys?)  before we ultimately purchased the tickets back in February. 

The months leading up to takeoff were mostly exciting but sometimes stressful: passports, gifts, packing, tales of an outbreak of West Nile the week before they were to leave (sorry family members who are learning that for the first time here!  I didn't want to alarm anyone, though it did cause me to panic a teeny tiny bit.)

There are hundreds and hundreds of photos and videos to sort through, so here goes...  

Friday, July 24th, 2015
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
They departed at 4:00 p.m.

We said our final goodbyes and they were off. 

Their first stop was LAX where they met up with Edwin's sister and two of her children.  Then they were off to Nadi, Fiji.  Afer 8 hours in Fiji, they were on another plane to Apia, Western Samoa.  After 31 hours of travel, they arrived jet-lagged, exhausted, and thrilled to be in Samoa.     

They were greeted and welcomed with so much love and excitement by eager cousins, many whom they were meeting for the first time.  Edwin's family is so spread out and so it was very exciting to have them all together.  (A first in 5 years.)  His brother from Australia, sister from New Zealand, sister from Seattle, sister from Hawaii all met at their family home where their brother's family lives. 

This is the first photo I saw while they were away and it made my heart swell with complete joy.   THIS is why this trip was so important to us.  We wanted them to connect with their roots, their family, their heritage. 

Notice the jar of Nutella on the table down below?  Funny story.  After they returned home we were in the store one afternoon.  Bud saw a jar of Nutella on the shelf and his eyes got wide and he said, "We have Nutella here?  That's what we eat in Samoa."  He promptly picked up the biggest jar and plopped it in the cart.  It's now a regular part of his diet.  :)  

One of their first adventures was to Papase'ea Sliding Rocks

So much beauty. 

Here they are taking a bus into Apia (the capitol) for snacks and lunch at McDonalds.  It costs $15 Samoan Tala for a combo meal.  To give some perspective, the minimum wage is $2.30.

  On their way to the ocean, our kids' first visit. 

Mowgi. I can imagine this moment so well.  The sounds of the waves, the light, the splash as you raise and lower your head and the feeling of weightlessness.  So happy for him.  And them. 

More to come. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Homeschool Report Card 2014-15

You guys!  This is nuts.

What started out as Mowgli skipping kindergarten has turned into finishing up homeschooling third grade!

At the end of each year, I love to compile all of the measurable stuff and jot it down.  Here goes.

The Mind
"Your mind is your greatest power.  Use it well."

Books We Read {family read alouds}
  • Baptism by Chad Daybell
  • Greek Stories by Edward Dolch
  • Tales from the Odyssey by Mary Pope Osborne
  • Tales from the Odyssey Part Two by Mary Pope Osborne
  • Oliver Twist (Abridged)
  • The Usborne Book of Greek Myths 
  • A Christmas Carol (first year reading the unabridged) by Charles Dickens
  • Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
  • Ramona's World by Beverely Cleary {audio}
  • The 21 Balloons by

Field Trips
  • Hogle Zoo
  • Living Planet Aquarium
  • Fossil Butte 
  • Timpanogos Storytelling Festival
  • Natural History Museum
  • Discovery Space Center (twice)
  • Fire Station
  • CallAir Museum 
  • Tracy Aviary 
  • BYU Museum of Art 
  • Miss Nelson is Missing {Scera Theater}
  • A Christmas Carol {Hale Center Theater}
  • Christmas Around the World {Brigham Young University}
  • Linea Dancing Jugglers {Brigham Young University}
  • Pinkalicious {Scera Theater}
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream {Brigham Young University}
  • Maasai Warrior {George Mueller Academy}

  • Completed Teaching Textbooks levels 3 and 4 (he was able to complete two years of math in one year because the first 50ish chapters are usually review and since he went straight from one to another, he skipped those.)
  • Mastered multiplication math facts through 12 x 7.
  • Learned concepts such as: perimeter, area, multiplication, congruent/similar shapes, symmetry, division, mixed fractions, improper fractions, Roman Numerals, time zones. 
  • Used, flashcards, and Timez Attack for practice.
  • Earned the Mathematics Belt Loop in Cub Scouting.
  • Completed e-school math course assignments. 
  • Completed 10 Steps to Addition Mastery from Learning Wrap Ups.
  • Used, flashcards, Timez Attack, Math Seeds, and Whack a Fact for practice.
  • Concepts covered: time to the hour and half hour, money, addition math facts, Roman Numerals, place value.
  • Completed e-school math course assignments. 

Language Arts

  • Completed three state reading exams and did great!  
  • Completed 32 weeks of lessons and assignments from Fix It! Grammar and learned: nouns, verbs, adjectives, conjunctions, your/you're, their/there/they're, too/to/two, adverbs, prepositions, articles, pronouns, who/which clauses, prepositional phrases.
  • Completed The Rhythm of Handwriting cursive course from The Logic of English. 
  • Read numerous books including The Book of Mormon and biographies on George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.   
  • Participated in the Scripps Jr. Spelling Bee (5th place, learned 250 words).
  • Wrote frequently in journal. 
  • Participated (still participating) in our church reading program. 
  • Earned the Reading and Writing Cub Scout Belt Loops.  
  • Completed assignments for e-school language arts course. 

  • Completed three state reading exams and also did a great job!
  • Completed level four of Reading for all Learners and began level five.
  • Completed All About Spelling level one.
  • Participated in the Scripps Jr. Spelling Bee (learned 60 words).
  • Corresponded with a pen pal.
  • Wrote frequently in journal. 
  • Participated (still participating) in our church reading program.
  • Attended a twice weekly class at our library's literacy center for 8 weeks. 
  • Completed assignments for e-school language arts course. 

  • Completed units that included experiments, videos, and lots of reading on:
    • water cycle
    • germs
    • rocks
    • fossils
    • habitats 
  • Mowgli and his dad built three pinewood derby cars and studied what makes a winning car. (We learned it should be close to 5 ounces, weight in the back, with a sleek, thin design.)  The car Mowgli raced came in second.  
  • Completed multiple experiments on electricity. 
  • Completed assignments for their e-school science courses. 
  • Completed an animal study. 
  • Used the LEGO Robotics WeDo set to create original designs.  

The Arts
  • Both boys took a weekly sculpting class
  • Both boys took weekly piano lessons  {Year 4 for Mowgli, Year 2 for Bud} 
  • Mowgli took a weekly sewing class
  • Bud took a weekly cooking class
  • Both boys took 6 weeks of magic lessons
  • Both boys attended an edible arrangements workshop
  • Mowgli earned the Photography Cub Scout belt loop 
  • Last year Mowgli completed an at home cooking "course" by learning 10 recipes and photographing them.  This year he compiled all of his recipes and photos into a recipe book using  (This book gets a lot of use!)   


  • Using I Wish I Knew That: Geography by James Doyle, concepts covered: continents, international dateline, equator, oceans, north, south poles, highest point above sea level (Mt. Everest) and tallest mountain. (Mauna Kea)
  • Participated in a monthly geography package exchange.  Packages that have been received so far have come from New Zealand, Montana, California, Canada, Arizona, and Iowa.
  • Completed a FIAR of How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World   
  • Mowgli earned the Maps & Compass Cub Scout belt loop. 

  • Completed Story of the World Volume One {Chapters 20-42 Greece through the Last Roman Emperor) as well as listened to the complete audio book.  
  • Completed the corresponding activity book.
  • Read Greek Stories by Edward Dolch, Tales from the Odyssey by Mary Pope Osborne, and Tales from the Odyssey Part Two by Mary Pope Osborne
  • Studied Greek and Roman Gods in depth, including viewing six videos about Greek Gods. 
  • Mowgli earned the Family History Cub Scout belt loop.  

The Body
 "The mountains are calling and I must go."

  • Swimming lessons
  • Weekly karate class
  • Mowgli participated in city basketball
  • Bud participated in city flag football
  • Competed in the Freedom Run
  • Mowgli earned the skiing, basketball, kickball, roller skating, bowling, & cycling Cub Scout belt loops.
  • Competed in a Winter Carnival in which both boys earned medals.  (Mowgli Silver: Slalom, Bud Bronze: Fun Run)
  • Participated in Field Day 
  • Participated in a weekly basketball club with other homeschooling families.
  • Hikes: Y Mountain, Cecret Lake, Stewart Falls
  • And all that other stuff humans do: walks, bike rides, snow skiing, swimming, jumping on the trampoline, jump roping, skate park. 

The Soul
 "Kindness begins with me."

  • We joined a group that performs at an assisted living and rehabilitation center each month.  The boys sing with all the children and perform piano solos. 
  • Delivered Meals on Wheels every other week.  
Memory Work

Mowgli says: "I really liked studying ancient Greece, reading lots of books, and playing with our friends.  I liked my parrot project and reading about them."   

Bud says: "I liked Rome, magic lessons, going to A Christmas Carol, and reading A Christmas Carol, The Magician's Elephant, and The 21 Balloons.  I like the assisted living place and Meals on Wheels."   

I never want to make homeschooling seem like it's all rainbow and butterflies over here.  It's not.  I have experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows on this journey. 

Now, if you'll excuse me.  I'm going to go veg.

Just kidding.

I think.

Previous homeschooling report cards HERE and HERE.  

Monday, April 6, 2015

Holy Week and Our Easter Tree

I've written before about how we began celebrating Easter in a new (to us) way two years ago.  We began doing some Christ-centered activities and learned a bit more about Christ's last week and it has evolved into something really beautiful and meaningful.

This was our third year celebrating Holy Week along with Easter Sunday and I feel like it was our best yet.  We're getting in the groove of what this time means for our family in regards to how we will celebrate this special time.

Throughout Holy Week I shared (on Facebook) a photo of our Easter Tree and some scriptures, videos, songs, or quotations each day and it was so fun to see that people were interested and excited in how we were celebrating and wanted to know more.

So, here's more.  :)   (A whole lot more!)   

I knew I wanted to focus on each event in Christ's life during Holy Week and that using pictures would be a great way to help the kids understand and recall the information.  Saturday morning before Palm Sunday, I sat down at the computer to figure out how we were going to do this and the idea clicked, photo tags.

I put together an image (or several) for each day during Holy Week.  (I cut them out and pasted them to card stock, wrote the corresponding day of the week on the back, then laminated.)  Each day after we learned about the events of that day, we added the tag to our Easter Tree.  As you read through this post, you'll see how we used the tags and if you are interested, you can download them here.  (Image credit HERE.)  

Page One HERE

Page Two HERE

3-4 Weeks Before Easter Sunday
Plant a Resurrection Garden (Easter Garden)

We love planting a Resurrection Garden each year.  (More about this over HERE.)  We do this by putting soil in a dish, making three crosses with sticks we find in the yard, and planting grass seed.  It sprouts within one week and it so darn much fun to watch.   For the tomb, we use an inexpensive clay pot that can be found at any store in the gardening section.   (This is 2014's garden.)

 Here are photos from our 2015 planting. 

Two Weeks Before Easter Sunday
Study the Names of Christ

Using The Living Christ we sat around the table one evening and read through the document, highlighting each name of Christ.  Afterward, we wrote the names on the tags and hung them on our branches we cut from a tree in our yard.  This became our Easter Tree.   

Palm Sunday
What Happened: "Jesus walked from Bethany to Jerusalem. He rode into the city on a donkey, as a verse in the Old Testament said He would. People recognized Him as their King, shouting, “Hosanna,” and laying down palm leaves in front of the donkey to keep dust from getting on the Savior. Jesus visited the temple and then returned to Bethany."

Video: The Triumphal Entry

Scripture References: Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1–11; Mark 11:1–11

Activity: Make palm fronds from green construction paper, then reenact The Triumphal Entry.
Add today's photo tag to the Easter Tree:

We like to have a special dinner on Palm Sunday (special is anytime we pull out candles.)  :)

2015 Palm Sunday

2014 Palm Sunday.

Mad Monday
What Happened: "Jesus saw people buying and selling things in the temple. Because He wanted the temple to be a “house of prayer,” He made them leave. Then He healed people who were lame or blind. The jealous priests were angry with Him."

Video: Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Scripture References: Matthew 21:12–17; Mark 11:15–19

Activity: Visit the temple and walk the grounds.  Discuss the importance of treating sacred things, sacred. 

Add today's photo tag to the Easter Tree:

Teaching Tuesday
What Happened: "Jesus taught people in the temple and on a nearby hill called the Mount of Olives.
The priests plotted to kill Jesus. One of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, agreed to turn Jesus over to the priests in exchange for 30 silver coins."
Video: Choose one of Christ's parables HERE.  

Scripture References: Matthew 25:31–46; 26:14–16.

Activities: Assign each family member a parable to study and then teach to the family. Or assign a parable to illustrate. 

Add today's tag to the Easter Tree: 

Wordless Wednesday
What Happened: "The scriptures do not say what Jesus did on this day. He may have spent the day with His disciples." 

Scripture References: Matthew 25:1–13

Activity: Dye eggs

Add today's tag to the Easter Tree: 

Passover Thursday
What Happened:  "Jesus’ disciples got ready for the Passover meal. During the meal, Jesus told the disciples that one of them would betray Him. Then, to help them remember Him, He gave them the sacrament for the first time. Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to suffer for our sins and to pray to God. People came with swords and arrested Him. The disciples ran away in fear."

The Last Supper
Jesus Warns Peter and Offers the Intercessory Prayer
The Savior Suffers in Gethsemane

Scripture References: Matthew 26:17–29, 36–56

  • Make Unleavened Bread (This recipe is almost exactly like the one I use.) 
  • Taste vinegar (Matthew 27:34)
  • Cut out 30 pieces of silver using aluminum foil

Add today's tags to the Easter Tree:

Good Friday
What Happened:  "Jesus was taken to the high priest, Caiaphas. Jesus' disciple Peter denied that he knew Him. Jesus was questioned by the governor, Pilate, and by the king, Herod. He was condemned to die on the cross. Jesus was crucified. A rich man named Joseph laid Jesus in his tomb. Jesus' mother, Mary, and Mary Magdalene visited the tomb."

Jesus is Tried by Caiaphas, Peter Denies Knowing Him
Jesus is Condemned Before Pilate
Jesus is Scourged and Crucified
Jesus is Laid in a Tomb

Scripture References: Matthew 26:57–72; 27:1–2, 27–37; Luke 23:44–46, 50–56

Activity:  Have a period of time you go without using lights as a reminder of the 3 hours of darkness that occurred as Jesus hung on the cross (12:00-3:00 p.m.)  Or, read scriptures as a family by candlelight. 

Add today's photo tags to the Easter Tree: 

Silent Saturday
What Happened: "Jesus body lay in the tomb. A large stone was put in front of the door. The wicked priests asked Pilate to have guards stand outside the tomb to make sure no one went inside."

Scripture References: Matthew 27:57–66

Activity: Make Rice Krispie Treat Tombs (More over HERE.) 

Saturday is also the day we do Easter baskets and our neighborhood Easter egg hunt.

Add today's photo tag to the Easter Tree:

Easter Sunday
What Happened: "Jesus was resurrected! He had risen from the tomb. An angel descended from heaven and rolled away the stone. Jesus told His disciples to teach and baptize others and promised to always be with them."

Video: Jesus is Resurrected

Scripture References: Matthew 28

Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah
He is Risen

1.  Go for an Easter Walk scavenger hunt:  
Here are a few ideas of things to look for:

  • Something sharp: His pain
  • Something thorny: His crown of thorns
  • Something alive: He is risen
  • Something made of wood: Cross
  • Something dead: His death
  • Something dark: The 3 hours of darkness
  • Something hard and round: The stone that closed the tomb
  • Something fragrant: the spices used to prepare his body
2.  Resurrection Eggs: Buy or make your own

Add today's photo tag to the Easter Tree:

And, of course, celebrate with your loved ones!

On Easter Sunday, we reviewed what occurred each day of Christ's last week.  Who betrayed Jesus?  For how much?  What happened on Palm Sunday?  How many times did Peter deny Christ?  How many hours of darkness occurred while Jesus hung on the cross?  Why was Christ upset with the moneychangers at the temple?  Who was the first person to witness the resurrected Christ?  What does Christ's resurrection mean for us?

At the end of Holy Week, our Easter Tree was full and such a beautiful reminder.

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