Saturday, June 30, 2012

Old Pics of Mt. St. Helens

After we visited Mt. St. Helens I asked my mom to show the boys some photos she has in an album. They are great shots.

My dad tells two stories from that time.
The first story ~ We lived in the country & the neighbors had goats. Ash covered everything, so my dad took the hose and washed it off the roof & plants near the house. The goats got out & ate all our rose bushes since they were the only things not covered in ash.
The second story ~ Ash covered the ground similar to snow. At my dad's job they closed off some of the entrances into the buildings so you could only enter through a select few. For months after the eruption you had to go through a cleaning process before you could go in to work.

Mt. St. Helens prior to May 18, 1980
May 18, 1980
The eruption of Mt. St. Helens
Particles from the ash made it around the world in 2 weeks.
Above the clouds

Another pic from my mom when they visited in 1992.

A view of Mt. St. Helens that I took when I worked in downtown Portland.
I got a chuckle out of this photo. It was taken on my very first digital camera at a size of 640x480 pixels.


A photo I took at the Johnston Ridge Observatory showing the changes over the years.
The top photo was taken in 1979
Middle photo: 1985
Bottom photo: 2000

Besides the obvious difference in the shape of the mountain, I'm fascinated by the change in vegetation. In 1979 it was a thriving forest. 5 years after the eruption there isn't any green on the mountains. 15 years after that plants & trees appear to be making a come back.

What an amazing natural event to happen in our lifetime.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Mt. St. Helens

The kids & I went with some friends for a day trip to Mt. St. Helens. We couldn't have asked for better weather. The sky was blue, the sun was out & the temperature was just right. I was alive in 1980 when the mountain erupted, but I don't remember it at all.

View from the Forest Learning Center.
I was fascinated to see this landscape. I don't understand completely what is going on here. Looking down in the valley was like looking into a miniature land. There were trees & lakes, but they were small. I would love to walk on the road/trail in the photo to get a closer look. The ranger at Johnston Ridge Observatory explained that there are many little ponds or lakes that have been formed since the landslide & eruption. I just think that's amazing. It takes an incredibly large event to form whole new water features. The Toutle River (near the top of this photo) has taken on a new shape, as well, since the eruption. I also think it's interesting that the banks of most rivers are screaming with greenery. The mud, debris & ash didn't do this river any favors. I wonder what this exact location will look like in another 30 years.

View from a pull-off along the way.
I am just amazed that this used to be a green, thriving forest Thirty-two years later & it appears the recovery is just beginning.

Johnston Ridge Observatory
It is definitely worth the drive to go all the way to this viewpoint.  You get too see right into the crater.
Steam still comes out around the dome.
To the left: Mt. St. Helens. To the right: the lookout at Johnston Ridge Observatory. If I remember correctly, the observatory is 5 miles from the crater of the volcano.
In the middle of this picture is Spirit Lake. I was fascinated to find out that the lake has moved due to the debris & run off during the eruption.
Inside the Observatory there is a good sized model showing much of the landscape around Mt. St. Helens. There are different colored lights showing the debris flow & other effects from the eruption.
We got a breathtaking view of Mt. St. Helens when these curtains raised.
Before the eruption there were many earthquakes, avalanches & a large landslide. Nearly every tree nearby was snapped off at the base.
Elk live near Mt. St. Helens
Erosion Channel.
Awesome & crazy & amazing to think about.
The exposed rock - not covered by much vegetation.
I was surprised to see the vegetation reminded me more of something I would see in Eastern Oregon as opposed to the lush, green forests of Western Oregon & Washington.
There was a little green, though.
Not many flowers were in bloom (even though it was June), but I did find this one.
There are hummock mounds & a few waterfalls running down the mountainsides. These hummocks are large deposits of rock from Mt. St. Helens that were displaced during the eruption.
The trail at Johnston Ridge Observatory was easy to walk on.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer is off to a Great Start

We've been enjoying summer break for 2 weeks now & are already off to a great start full of fun activities. We've gone camping with the scouts, spent Father's Day with my family, gone to the zoo with my sister & her kids, played at the park, gone to a couple movies, took a day trip to Mt. St. Helens & spent a week at VBS. We went to a fabulous, extra special birthday party for my friend's son who turned 3. It was also a party celebrating the end of his cancer treatment. The weather was perfect that day & the kids had a great time.

I might as well make use of the charts hanging empty in the school room.
I turned this one into our summer fun list. The kids & I wrote activities we would like to do over the summer on little pieces of colored paper. A few of the things we wrote were eat an elephant ear, have a water fight, go to farmer's market & create melted crayon art. As we've done an activity, we cross it off with a big, red X.

Although I want summer to be mostly for playing, I also want the kids to keep up with a few "school" subjects. I made each of my kids a chart similar to this. The idea is that each time they do an activity they place a sticker on the correct row for this week. If they fill in the entire row for the week, they will get a couple dollars. $1 will go into their spending account & $1 will go into their saving account. I was worried I might be giving them too much money this summer for this. But, I haven't given anybody even a penny yet. Apparently, they aren't too motivated to do "school" over the summer. In their defense, we've been quite busy. When we've been home they just want to play. I can't blame them. Next week is a slow week, I'm expecting better results.

Each child has a pocket. In each pocket are the school work charts, as well as papers for the reading programs they are taking part in.

~ Mt. St. Helens ~
The kids & I went with a friend of mine & her family to Mt. St. Helens. The drive was long, but I'm sure glad we went. My boys love volcanoes, so this was super cool to them.

~ Oregon Zoo ~
We spent a day at the zoo, which is always a hit with my kids.

During the summer, the zoo has a birds of prey show.

The zoo now has 4 geocaches. Yay! We found three of them this time.

~ Chicks ~
We've bought chicks before. But, this is our first experience watching the whole process starting with a mama hen setting on a clutch of eggs. For me, this has been my favorite thing so far this summer.

Aren't they cute!
To read more about them click here to visit my gardening blog.

I hope everyone else is having a great start to summer, as well!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

End of the Year Review

Year one of our homeschooling journey is officially over. If I were to grade how it went I'd give it a B+/A-. Capt. N was a fabulous student - I'd give him an A for effort, behavior, etc. The B+/A- is really for me as a parent/teacher. It took me awhile to get all the kinks worked out & I probably stressed more than I should. It was difficult having my three kids attend three different schools, living so far from the public school & preschool & trying to be a fabulous teacher to the one I had at home. But, we did it! And, without too many meltdowns from the kids or tears from me. I will never know for sure how the year would have went for Capt. N as a 3rd grader at the public school. But, I am happy with the knowledge he has gained as a 3rd grade homeschool student. And, he enjoyed learning - which is a big deal to me. I almost think that's as important as what he's actually learning. I want my kids to want to keep learning more & more. If it's always difficult how would they get that thirst for knowledge?

In Oregon, one of the requirements for homeschooling is that your child(ren) have to be tested during the same grades as the public school students. Capt. N was in third grade this year, a testing year. (Technically, by law, I didn't have to have him tested this year since we've only been homeschooling for 9 months. You don't have to test your kids until you've been homeschooling for 18 months. But, I had him take the test anyway.) I am pleased with his results. A couple weeks after he took the test we received papers showing all the test results & how he scored on individual items. The paper said 41% - 59% was considered average. In Language Arts/Reading he scored in the average range, but on the low side. Of course, I hoped he would do slightly better, but I expected this score. I certainly can't complain about him being average. His issues with reading were the main reason we were homeschooling this year. In the math portion of the test he scored above average. I'm proud of him for that. I contemplated leaving this paragraph out, afraid of offending some. I realize it's a personal subject. But it is part of our homeschooling journey, so I chose to add it.

I will be homeschooling my boys who will be in 1st & 4th grade next year. My daughter will continue to go to preschool. It would save me a lot of driving if I didn't have her go to school. But, she really enjoys preschool. And honestly, she's quite a handful. I think it's good for her to have a teacher besides me & have to treat others kindly. I dreaded telling Mr. T that he was going to be homeschooled. I didn't think he would be happy so, I've been waiting until the school year was over. We were in the parking lot after I picked him up on his last day of school & he said to me that he would like to go to public school one more year & then try homeschooling the next year. I wasn't expecting to tell him 5 minutes after he completed kindergarten, but since he brought it up I told him. I am truly thankful for how he took the news. He was such a good sport. He didn't argue or complain. He just said ok & started asking about the things we would be doing.

I just don't know & it stresses me out. A little over a year ago I made the big decision to try my hand at homeschooling. I was hoping I could help Capt. N in a way the public school just can't do. I fretted and weighed the pros & cons. Finally, I decided I didn't think one year away from public school would do him any harm - even if I did a horrible job teaching. I thought I just had to try it for him. What really sealed the deal was once I realized that if I homeschooled him the one year didn't mean I had to take on homeschooling all my kids all the way through their senior year in high school. I could try it & see how it goes. Well, it went great. Which is good, but confuses me even more. I wish I was one of those people that felt strongly for or against public school. It would make deciding much easier. But, I see pros & cons to both homeschooling & public school. I'm having a difficult time figuring out which pros are most important. If I do decide to send them back to public school I would like to do it the year after next. That would give Capt. N two years at the elementary school before heading off to middle school. It would also be the year Princess K would start kindergarten.

Since I'm laying it all on the table, I will also say that I'm having a hard time being "different." I hate that when it's mentioned that you homeschool people automatically judge you & your kids. I'm not a risk taker. I don't like being the center of attention. I don't like arguing. I don't like drama. I am a fairly quiet, almost nerdy stay at home mom who has a phobia of calling people on the phone. It is way out of my comfort zone to be judged on this one way I'm choosing to raise my kids. I am uncomfortable around my friends that I know disapprove. The ridiculous thing is that I know most people don't know a thing about homeschooling, but have a negative opinion about it anyway. So, why do I let it bother me?

Can I also say how naive I was before I had school-age children. I really thought you just put them on the bus everyday, their teachers taught them & we, as parents, helped them with homework. That's it. I didn't realize how much more there was to giving your kids a good education. It's down-right stressful. I only have one chance to raise my kids & I want to do it right.

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