Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Left Handed or Right Handed?

Stuart is out of town on a business trip for tonight and tomorrow night.  It was neat that he was able to use his tablet he uses for work to have a video conference with the kids before they went to bed.  They were so excited to be able to tell him good night.  Stuart has been reading Narnia to Nicholas at night and he said it would have been neat if he had the book there and could continue reading it to Nicholas over Skype each night.

With Stuart gone, I've had a little bit more quiet time to myself.  I decided to work on an issue we've had with Rachel.  We've been struggling with trying to figure out if she is left handed or right handed.  It's hard for me to teach her how to hold a pencil and how to write when I can't figure out which hand she should be using.

We don't have any lefties on either side of our family that we know of so the fact that this is even a question we are dealing with still boggles my mind.

In preschool Nicholas appeared to be ambidextrous.  He picked up his pencil with which ever hand was closer. As he learned to write, he seemed to write fine with either hand and would sometimes switch
hands in the middle of writing. The handwriting was about the same from each hand - one wasn't neater than the other. In Kindergarten, we really needed to work on handwriting so we had him stick with his right hand going forward since there seemed to be no preference either way. There hasn't been any issues since.

Rachel is 4. She likes to write with her left hand but does most other things with her right side. She use her right hand when she cuts with scissors. When she takes a step to walk, she starts with her right foot. She kicks a ball with her right foot. I've heard or read that which ever hand you write with tells you what your dominant side is and you will do every thing else with preference and strength on that side.  But this is all mixed up with her.

I try to get her to write a word with each hand so I can see how she does with controlling the pencil and compare if one side is neater than the other. But she says she likes to write with the left hand better and will purposefully mess up her right hand writing (love those preschoolers!).

It is possible that she has figured out a good grip position with her left hand and it just feels more comfortable. She seems to struggle with how to grip the pencil with her right hand - but she gets stubborn when I try to teach her how to hold it in her right hand and doesn't want to cooperate.

I want to work with her on handwriting but I'm stuck until I figure out which hand she should be using. I hate to train her to hold her pencil and write as a left hander if she is really right side dominant or vice versa. 


I have a great group of other homeschool moms so I sent an email to the group explaining the situation.  Here are some of the responses I received....

___________________________________________________________________________________

I am by no means an expert but these are some things our speech therapist and occupational therapists told us.

Roll up a piece of paper, hold it out to her and tell her to put it up to her eye to look through. Whichever eye she puts it to is likely her dominant hand. 

Another thing to look at is her gross motor skills. Whichever hand is dominant doing gross motor skills is the one to go with.

Diane
_______________________________________________________________________________

My son is a lefty. He swings the bat with both and plays lacrosse with both.

I really think she will naturally just pick up her pencil or crayon and write with what feels most comfortable.

I would, as Kathe Lee always says, go with the student. Even though she is young she will write with what is comfortable.
My son has beautiful handwriting even though he is left handed.

I know you will figure it out!

Debbie
_______________________________________________________________________________ 

I am the adult version of your daughter. I was actually considered ambidextrous in grade school but one I my teachers made me choose since my handwriting was very different with each hand. I chose to write with my left hand.

Besides using silverware or writing, I do everything else right-handed. Played tennis and softball right-handed and can only cut with knives or scissors right-handed. I would say let her use a pencil with whichever hand she chooses and don't influence her. My life is not hindered in any way whatsoever. Okay, I will admit that the credit card machines at WalMart and everywhere else were not made with lefties in mind.

Your daughter is most likely exhibiting signs of high intelligence and overall awesomeness!! HA!

Lori
_______________________________________________________________________________ 

I second what Diane said.  We were told the same thing in combination with tell her you want to whisper something in her ear and see which ear she gives you.  Then tell her you want to whisper something through the door and have her go up to it with someone on the other side to whisper and see which ear she puts to the door,roll the ball and see which foot she chooses to use (not starting off kicking, but a ball rolled to her).  In addition to handing her the rolled up paper (or a paper towel tube), if she is truly right side dominant then she should take it with her right hand and put it up to her right eye.  If she takes it with her left hand but goes to her right eye or vice versa she is mixed dominance if you see mixed dominance with the other "tests".  All this will show her dominate side or mixed dominance.  If she is right sided for everything then she is right handed.  If she is mixed, then there is more going on.  This would be one of our girls.  :)

If she is mixed dominance, then there is a good chance she cannot march or crawl correctly either.  This is critical to brain organization and sometimes kids who use left side dominant for some things and right side for others, cannot march or crawl correctly. 

Hope all this makes since.  If she is mixed dominance and she cannot march or crawl correctly, then she should march for 2 minutes each morning and each night.  I want to say it was for 3 months minimum.  I learned all this at a seminar by Little Giants Big Steps (I think that was the company).  This is way more than you asked for, but I figured I would type it all up at once rather than saying email if she is mixed dominance and I'll tell you more!  ;)

Tamara
_______________________________________________________________________________ 


Husband and I are both right handed. Our son picked his left hand extremely early. (Prior to nine months). 

He was diagnosed with dystonia (Variable/Mixed muscle tone in hands) in the fall and now the neurologist and therapists are saying he is truly right handed but switched hands due to muscle control issues on right side of body. He tends to use right size for gross motor skills, where he wants more strength, and left hand for fine motor skills. 

Mixed dominance (for whatever reason) can cause cause problems later on, as we are now learning.

If you are interested, I can loan you Diane craft's book when we get back. Look at her website, as it is loaded with info.
Suzie
_________________________________________________________________________________

I can just say that as a lefty, I eat, brush my teeth, crochet and write left handed. Everything else I do - sports and using scissors I do right handed. Just a perspective from a lefty. :)

Janae 
_______________________________________________________________________________

I'm so grateful to have such a wonderful support system of other moms that I can turn to.  They can't answer all my questions but it is nice having some feedback and suggestions for other things we might try to help us figure out what's going on.

Now, since Stuart is gone, I'm going downstairs and taking control of the TV remote...just because I can. 

Dang, I don't think I know how to work the remote control.  How do you turn this thing on??

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Hydrangea Experiment



As we were looking at the the bouquet that Rachel received from Grandmother and Grandfather C., Rachel pointed to the light pink roses and said that they were just like the flowers we have in our front yard. I pointed to the dark pink roses and explained that they were still roses even though they were a different color. Then I also told her the names of the Baby's Breath and Hydrangea.

I remembered hearing that the blooms of a hydrangea plant are different colors based on the acidity of the soil that it grows in. I think acidic soil produces blue flowers and alkaline soil produces pink flowers.


Nicholas was fascinated with this concept. He wondered what would happen to the bloom color is a plant grew with half of the roots in acidic soil and half of the roots in alkaline soil. His theory was that the flowers on one side would be pink and the other side would be blue. Great hypothesis! We discussed how the flowers might all be the same color on the plant but not entirely pink and not entirely blue...maybe more of a lavender blend of the pink and blue. We talked some about the challenges of running an experiment like this.

But most importantly, we told Nicholas how cool it is that he thought of an experiment like this and developed his own hypothesis.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Our Little Dancer


I had to wake Rachel up extra early this morning to get ready for her dress rehearsal for her big dance recital later today.  I was a little worried that she would be whiny and fussy since she doesn't like to be woken up from sleep, especially 2 hours before she usually wakes up.  But she did fine.

She is such a sweet sleeper, cuddling her pink blanket.  I had to snap this pic before I woke the sleeping beauty.


We had a tight schedule since I had to get her hair curled and in full costume to be at the auditorium for 8:30.  She was kind of bouncy as I was trying to put curlers in her hair.  We were in her room so she kept trying to reach for a toy or dance around.  It was getting a bit stressful for me trying to curl a moving target.

I suddenly remembered my mom curling my hair when I was little (I now can appreciate what a challenge it is!)  I remembered that she would let me watch TV while she worked on my hair so I scuttled Rachel downstairs and we tried that. Genius!!!  Her head stayed still and looked straight ahead the whole time.  

She felt pretty special with curlers in her hair!  What sass!


She ate breakfast and got her costume on and then we styled her hair.  Whew!  Everything was going fine.  Now just to get to the auditorium.  I'm not familiar with that area of town so I was a little worried about finding it.  But GPS gave me a clear shot there.

We were almost to the auditorium for the dress rehearsal and we were right on time.  I was feeling pretty good.  Then Rachel said from the back seat, "Oh no, this is bad.  This is really bad."  I wish I had gotten a picture of what I saw but I'll just have to say that her pink tights were completely torn up along the front of one leg.  It was very obvious but I figured I could at least turn them around so that the tear was on the back side of her leg instead of the front.  Not ideal but what else could I do?  Who knew I needed to have an extra pair of tights with me!

Fortunately her dance teacher is awesome and prepared for anything so she whipped out an extra pair of tights for Rachel.  I got her changed and on stage just in time for their tap dance rehearsal.  


Since it is just the rehearsal and not the real show, they let moms get right up to the stage to take pictures and videos.


Here is her tap dance performance.  Their teacher is off to the side doing the dance with them to help keep them in step so you'll see them all looking over at her throughout the performance.

(If you are reading this post on email, you will need to click on the title of the post to go to the actual blog post to see the video of her tap dance.)




After the tap dance rehearsal, Rachel was able to come out into the audience and watch some of the other girls perform.  She kicked back and relaxed without a care in the world.


Here is the ballet dance.  I would have liked to have edited out a little practice run at the beginning of this clip but I'm too impatient to wait for Stuart to re-install the software I need to do it so you'll have to watch the whole thing until I can fix it later.

(Again, if you are reading this in email, you'll have to go to the actual blog to see the video.)



Great dancing Rachel!


We made it home and as we were getting out of the car, a florist van drove up.  The lady said she had a delivery for Rachel.  Rachel wasn't quite sure what to think but a little smile started to creep across her face when she realized the flowers were sent from Grandmother and Grandfather C. The lady knelt down and showed Rachel all the pretty pink flowers and the little pink bird in the bouquet.


She even let Rachel be the big girl and sign for the delivery.  Rachel loved that!


Beautiful flowers for a beautiful dancer.


Rachel, you are such a delight in our lives.  We are so proud of you and can't wait to see your big performance on stage this afternoon!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Watch Out for Scorpions and Falling Rocks!

"Watch out for scorpions and falling rocks!"

That was our motto for this Mother's Day.

With my new rock hammer in hand and hiking boots on our feet, we made a trip to Lake Worth to do a little fossil hunting.

Note: you can click on any of the pictures to get a bigger picture so you can see more detail.

This is the beginning part of the trail.  It's really flat and just a little rocky.  You can see the lake but it actually isn't as close as it appears.  It is in the distance and at a much lower elevation.


I was anxious to get down closer to the lake where there are more rocks but Rachel wanted to stop and chase every butterfly she saw.  


Here we are at a slightly lower elevation but still a distance from the shoreline.


There are some nice trails to hike on.  I've read somewhere that there are about 6 miles worth of trails in this area.  


A cool caterpillar was spotted!  Eventually we'll get to the rocks.


Some of the trails have steep rocky slopes so you have to be careful.  And you have to watch out for mountain bikers.  There were several of them speeding past us while we were there.


We made it over to the rocky hillside that Stuart had briefly explored the last time we were here.  We call it our white cliffs of Dover.  All of the white area is rocky and very steep.  But it is rich with fossils.


Nicholas found this amazing piece. Doesn't it look like teeth and a jaw?


He found a mold of a fossil on a rock.


This hillside is incredibly steep.  I've tried to capture just how steep in this picture.


Our little explorer, Nicholas, forged right up the hillside much faster than the rest of us.  He was directly ahead of me.  One time he slipped and several rocks came falling down the hill.  One of them was about a foot wide.  I saw it coming and couldn't get out of the way without slipping so I just turned my back to it and let it hit the back of my calf instead of the front of my shin.  

Ouch!

A little while later, Stuart found a little tiny scorpion.  We had  never seen a live scorpion in the wild like that.

From then on, we shouted reminders to the kids to watch for falling rocks and scorpions!  Isn't that what you would say on Mother's Day?


We eventually had to give up on the hillside and explored the trail at the base a little further.  We found a path to the lake so we checked it out.



We found several fossils just sitting in the water along the shore.  Here is a piece of ammonite.


Stuart found a cool oyster shell and a fossilized sea urchin.


After a couple of hours, we were tired and very hot.  Although we brought water and tried to stop for breaks, it was a little challenging climbing back up the path we had taken to get into the area.  I thought we'd never make it back to the car!


We cleaned up our favorite pieces.  Here is the cool fossil that Nicholas found.  I posted this picture of it on the Dallas Paleontological Society's Facebook page to get some suggestions about what it might be.

.
Here is how the "conversation" went.  Nicholas was super excited when he first got confirmation that it was a jaw and was referred to a professor at SMU.  But that was short lived.  Read on.  I love how so many people tried to help us figure it out and then they start their own debate among themselves about the particular genus of the fossil.  I have learned so much from the people in this group!
Me: My son found this fossil in Fort Worth this weekend.  The piece is about 4 inches long and looks kind of like a row of teeth.  Any ideas about what it could be? 
Christopher: Wow! 
Robert: Dead reptile jaw.  Ask Lou Jacobs at SMU.  He is the expert.  
Shawn: An ammonite.  The genus is Mortoniceras; a very common ammonite in the lower Cretaceous in Texas.  What you are seeing are the ventral tubercles of the outer shell.  
Nathan: After close inspection, I agree with Shawn’s diagnosis.  There are no processes that indicate reptile or even jaw.  Still cool impression.  
Robert: Ooops!  
Jordan: Part of an ammonite forward chamber – what we call the suture or dendrite pattern.  http://paleo.cortland.edu/tutorial/Ceph%26Gast/Ceph%26Gast%20Images/sutures.GIF  Looks like egnoceras.  
Me: Wow, thank you so much to all of your for sharing your wisdom and helping us learn.  Ammonites are amazing and I’ve never seen one oriented like this so it is a cool find.  However, my little boy liked Robert’s answer best and wants to keep believing he found a dead reptile jaw. 
Jordan: Ha ha.  Well good find!!  Egnoceras aren’t that common.  Go find more!!!  
Shawn: I have to reiterate Mortoniceras here.  There’s NO way you can confuse it with Engonoceras.  Sorry Jordan.
Here is a picture of what we now know are parts of two ammonite.  I'm tempted to crack the rock open with my cool rock hammer in hopes that I can see more of the ammonite but I don't want to destroy the fossil.  What a quandry.


Here is a cool shell....maybe oyster?


I'm not sure what this is.  The lines in it jumped out as me as possible ammonite markings but there isn't much there to really go by so I'm not sure.


I really like this shell below.  I think Nicholas found this one.  It is a pretty spiral shell that has been smooshed on one side by pressure or weight of some kind.


Nicholas found his bad boy below too.  It is a complete fossilized clam (?) with both parts of the shell intact.


Ammonite mold that Nicholas found.
.

Another ammonite impression.


Stuart found this little fossilized sea urchin.  I love these!


A piece of an ammonite??


An oyster of some kind.  Click on the picture to enlarge it because there are some neat little 


All in all, we had a great time and found some pretty cool fossils.


Friday, May 10, 2013

My Early Mother's Day Gift

I thought I had done a pretty good job of hinting to Stuart about what I wanted for Mother's Day.  But when he mentioned something about flowers and chocolate covered strawberries I knew I hadn't tried hard enough.

He was thoughtful and all but this year I was looking for something a little less traditional for a Mother's Day gift.  I told him I liked his ideas but I like things that last a long long time.  He paused for a moment and then his face lit up when he thought of Color Me Mine where the kids have custom decorated pottery for me in the past.

Oh, how I love gifts from the kids from Color Me Mine.  But no, not this year.  I told him that I liked things that lasted a long, long, long, long, long time.  Nicholas caught on first and shouted "fossils!"

Yep, I'm all about fossils this year so I want a rock hammer for Mother's Day.  What???  That's not what you were planning to give your mom for Mother's Day???

Stuart took today off to just have some fun with the family and go to a homeschool book fair with me.  But first, we decided to stop by Nature's Gallery in Carrollton so I could pick out my own rock hammer gift.   Yay!  I love this place.

Nature's Gallery is a great place for anyone who loves rocks, gems, and fossils.  There are lots of them on display and for sale.  You will also find a selection of books and supplies for the collector.  Of course, I found my awesome Estwing rock hammer there.  I'm so excited!

While we were there we bought a big geode for the kids.  We love that they will let you take the geode home to crack open or they will use their press and crack it for you right there in the shop.

We opted to let them use the press on ours.  How cool!


Next we headed to Arlington for the bookfair but since we were all getting hungry we stopped at Simply Burgers for lunch.  It is neat revisiting places we used to hang out at back when we lived in another town.  We ate a Simply Burgers probably once a week when we lived there and this lunch tasted just like I remembered it.  Yummy!

We finally made it to the homeschool book fair.  This bookfair comes once a year and includes about 250 vendor booths selling all kinds of homeschool curriculum and supplies plus they have a full line up of speakers covering all kinds of topics related to homeschooling, organization, marriage and family.  Wow!  But somehow we let the day slip by and we only had about 1 1/2 hours to spend there.  That was really probably enough since we did have both kids with us.

I had a great time looking at books and finding out more about companies I had never heard of.  We found a  neat program for teaching etiquette that I intended to buy but somehow we never made it back to the booth. We spent a lot of time at the J.M. Cremps booth...an adventure store for boys.  We got a beginners whittling kid, some paracord, a book that we will be using in Konos that I can't find at our library, and two sling shots.  Yep, most of that had nothing to do with homeschool.  Maybe the whittling could be wood shop?

I got excited at the booth that was all about science.  They had buckets of owl pellets to explore and lots of cool things to dissect, even some fetal pigs!

The fair was just about to close when we stumbled upon Midwest Bioservice Company that was selling new and refurbished microscopes.  A whole table of different microscopes!  We oohed and aahed over them but the announcement came over the speaker that the show was closed.  We started to leave but then magically got pulled back to the microscopes and swooped one up for ourselves before they kicked us out.  It is an awesome microscope by Swift (the "Nikon" of microscopes or so we are told).

I'm almost as excited about the microscope as I am about my Mother's Day rock hammer.....nah, the rock hammer really rocks!