Monday, June 1, 2015

The Florida Aquarium is Turning the Big 20

If you don't know already, our family LOVES The Florida Aquarium!
We recently purchased our annual pass and let me tell you, the boys absolutely love going there!
This Spring, we decided that it was time to let the boys start to plan our homeschool field trips.
Little Bro's first field trip plan was, of course, to one of his all time favorite spots in our region: The Florida Aquarium! It was a great curricular tie-in to the boys' study choices for Spring:
  • Flora and Fauna of Madagascar 
  • Water Conservation
Little Bro made out a list, packed some snacks for our car trip there, and then, planned out exactly what he wanted us to learn while there.
We all were instructed to bring notebooks and pens or pencils.
He decided that at every area, that we should select our favorite animal in the exhibit and write down its name, including its scientific name in Latin. He then instructed us to collect facts about the animals.
He checked out the various program offerings and decided that our family should go to the Secret Sealife Superhero Show. Both boys were very excited that their dad was selected to be a part of the show!
Dear Hubby was chosen for the role of Team Sea Turtle Superhero Captain.
We did extensions related to Madagascar and then, after our second trip, the boys focused on water conservation and clean up efforts following oil spills.
Big Bro helped to plan the second trip back to The Florida Aquarium. Even though he has studied some of these topics before, he still enjoyed getting to revisit some of his favorite areas and to see some of his favorite animals. We dubbed our second field trip Water Lab Day. We checked out that area there and then, the boys did various science experiments related to water conservation at home.
Such a great way to make natural connections to their learning!
So nice for them to take an active role in planning their areas of interest for their studies too.
If you have not been to The Florida Aquarium in a while, you really need to revisit this gem of an aquarium! If you have not been there ever before, you are missing out!
Here are some fun photos from two of our most recent visits to The Florida Aquarium:






Thursday, April 30, 2015

It's Been a While

Yes, it has been a while (a long while) since I wrote my last blog post!

We have had a busy and challenging few months...

We are in the process of a very unexpected update to our home, thanks to a report that aired in early March.
Big thanks to AC for airing his investigation. We are so thankful to him for his hard work and for sharing it with the world!

His investigative report led to some changes here, as until we have a new product added to our home, we have had to either cancel, reschedule, or make alternate arrangements for our enrichment activities. Thankfully, everyone has been understanding of these changes.

We have had to spend time pouring over the huge stack of medical records and bills, and have had to try to locate receipts from a while back. Then, we have had to compare that data with the timeline of purchasing and installing said product.
We have had the product tested and have anguished over all that we went through medically and emotionally.
It was hard enough living through the medical journey that we were on when we just thought that it was the luck of the draw, but it has been that much more frustrating / devastating to know that all of our health issues did not need to occur, that the trajectory of medical issues would not have existed if the product that we purchased would have actually been safe as it was supposed to be...for a family like ours, a family with pets and kids with asthma.

On a happier note, we have had some quality time with both sets of grandparents. We have met up with several friends and family members who have come our way to have some fun in the sun...twenty-four people in all. It has been great to get to spend time hanging out with cousins, old neighbors, and friends from our old stomping grounds. We feel blessed for these happy friends and family times and are very thankful that they overlapped the time of having to revisit medical records, bills, and receipts.

As the visitors have started to make their way back North, seeing that Spring breaks have ended and Snow Birds are migrating home, I have been keeping busy with doing various educational consulting projects and spending time doing things with the boys.

Try to keep myself as busy as is humanly possible, as when I don't, I go to a place of reflecting upon the medical issues that our whole family has endured over the last several years...and that they read like a checklist of the items on the can cause list (Thankfully, no pulmonary edema here, but we had much of the list checked here.).
Decided to read as many comments from others about their take on this product line (comments from employees, from customers, from research facilities, and from the media) to see if somewhere, there was more information.
While I did uncover quite a bit of information, instead of providing answers, many times, it just led to more questions:
Do these people have this product in their own homes?
For real, they have it in their homes or is it just for a photo shoot? 
Do they care that there is a family like ours who has been gravely affected by this product?
What would these people do if it was their family that was ill from such a product?
Why would they defend products that have been shown to have failed safety tests?
Why would employees with children try to get the word out that this product is safe when testing from accredited facilities are showing that this is not the case, that this product line is a health hazard?
Why would these people (especially those with children) feel that it would be okay to donate said product to families with pre-existing medical conditions?

Hopefully, some people will do some soul searching and will help to make a change for the better.
Hopefully, some people will learn from the mistake of putting profit ahead of children.
Hopefully, there are more compassionate people who will do what it takes to make things better.
Hopefully, they will do the right thing, not the easy thing...

Obviously, there are loads of very dedicated, hard working families who might be without a paycheck if they were to up and quit.
But why not try to make some positive changes from within?
Why just continue to wear blinders and not see that there indeed is a true problem with this product line?
Why not spend some time reflecting upon the families who have had medical issues that are related to exposure to this product line?
Did any of them spend vacations at medical clinics and hospitals having blood tests, MRIs, CT scans, nebulizer treatments, and other medical treatments that tie in from the exposure to this product line?
Why isn't there someone or some people to be the voice of reason to say, hey, why don't we help those who were affected and make it right for them?
Why don't employees and stockholders who don't want the company to go completely bankrupt figure out how they can possibly work out a viable solution to help families who have had horrible medical issues related to this product line? And then, offer to replace the product without it having to be a long, drawn out process?
Why not try to see if there is a way to turn things around to make things better? Why not be a part of the solution? Fix the problem means in this case that people work to change out the product, replace it with something that is safe, and to help with the medical expenses and hardships families have endured for purchasing this product that was supposed to be so safe but was not.

Everyone loves it when companies admit to their faults and change their ways and make things better when there are errors or omissions.
If those in leadership positions aren't willing to do this, then why don't employees and shareholders demand that there be some changes?

Our family was able to do extensive research, to find all kinds of things...from scholarly journal posts to social media. Our research is quite impressive when you look at the breadth and depth...

We are hoping that there will be people out there (employees, shareholders, various organizations and  people within the industry) who will want to do right and will want to make things better for families like ours.








Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Multicultural Children's Book Day: Double Dare Review and a Giveaway!


About a month ago, had heard about January 27th as being dedicated as Multicultural Children's Book Day. Looked into what was being done for this special day and found out that some awesome bloggers organized and had planned to highlight various children's books and children's authors for the day.

Contacted the organizers to see what was going to take place, and then, we were invited to participate.
We received a great book written by a very talented writer, Kelie Charles, called Double Dare.
Double Dare is the first in a series based on wonderfully inspiring multi-cultural teen girls who are part of an entire product line by Double Dutch Dolls.
Kelie really has a knack for writing stories that young children will be able to relate to.
What is great is that many children will identify with the book and its characters. In addition, children from various backgrounds will get to learn more about the world and its people through this great fictional tale of teen twins. 
There are three titles currently available in this series: 
Book 1: Double Dare
Book 2: Double Trouble
Book 3: Double Time
Hopefully, this delightful book series will continue to expand, as the characters and story lines will certainly appeal to many children.
In addition to the books, Double Dutch Dolls sells beautiful dolls, t-shirts, doll brushes, and metal school lockers.
Double Dare (Book 1) features twins, Zaria and Kaila Bradley. The two girls are collectively known as Double Dutch Dolls. One of the sisters is known primarily for her tastes in fashion and beauty while the other is known primarily for her academic talent and athletic prowess. Zaria and Kaila decide to do a classic switch-a-roo and the two decide to trade places. The story line is set in middle school. The girls have a rival named Trinity. Trinity tends to mock the girls and is a bit of a bully with her words.
Many children deal with the issue of bullying not only by actions, but by words. Thankfully, the story goes beyond that and things work out for the twins.
A few things: the book is listed as for ages 8 and up. While the actual reading level is not specifically given,  the recommendation seems to be spot-on. This chapter book does not contain pictures as some other books intended for ages 8 and up do. But the illustrations on the cover and back jacket, as well as the images of the various characters on the website, will surely be well received by this book's audience.

The Double Dutch Dolls website also ties in a Kids Club section.
 The Kids Club contains a comic strop, information pertaining to the dolls, a coloring book, puzzles, and an overview of Double Dare.
What I could picture is that children who start to read this book series would want to participate in doing these Kids Club Activities, as well as extensions, such as an online book club.
Many schools are now participating in Skype Classroom, and many homeschools are participating in Skype as well. Could see an entire club dedicated to Skyping about Double Dutch Dolls!

If your school or homeschool does decide to set up a book club dedicated to reading and experiencing Double Dutch Dolls, suggest that you contact Double Dutch Dolls directly to see if they would please send you the great Powerpoint that gives an excellent overview of their entire company, products, and mission.
If you wish to seek grant money to get a book club up and running, the Powerpoint would be excellent to share with potential donors. The Powerpoint would also be a great way to start the club to share with children who wish to be club participants, as well as with fellow parents and teachers.
One of the Extension Activities that you may wish to try is the one we did here at Sunrise Learning Lab. Following reading the book, Double Dare, our students had the chance to read the Comic that appears online in the Kids Club section. They were then asked to each create a comic strip that relates to their experiences with their families. Every child got the chance to create a comic strip that is about them! Fun but also interesting to see what they included in their comic strips!
To do this extension activity, it would be best to have the book, Double Dare, first. You and your group of children could read the book independently or as a read-aloud. Then, your group could head on over to the Kids Club page to read the online comic strip featuring the Double Dutch Dolls.
Following reading the online comic strip, you could then give each child in your group some paper and some markers or colored pencils. Explain to the child that their comic must have a bit of a storyline. Many but not all comics are funny, so they should think of something that they have personally experienced that would make for a great comic strip. Some children may need help with drawing various boxes for each section of their comic strip. You could also choose to have your group of children create a comic strip on the various tech items in your room, such as a laptop or and iPad. But using traditional paper and art materials works great and does not require any technology...there are many ways to accomplish creating a personal comic strip. When the children have completed their comic strips, they could share with their group and then, perhaps if your school or homeschool sets up a Double Dutch Dolls Club or if your group participates in Skype or Skype Classroom, you could then have the children share their comics with each other.

When I was a child, I was given a beautiful doll every year for Christmas from my beloved aunt and uncle.
They sent me the most amazing dolls!
One of the Double Dutch Dolls would have been something that I would have loved to have gotten as a Christmas doll. Can only imagine the thrill of the child who is blessed with receiving one of these gorgeous dolls and an accompanying book as a gift!

Would you like to win a copy of Double Dare?
Because we believe in paying it forward, we would like to send a winner our copy of Double Dare so that your family will get to treasure it too!  If you would like to win, please visit the Double Dutch Dolls website and then, come back and share in the comments section what you liked the most about the website: one of the dolls, the Kids Club activities, etc...

Will do a drawing on Friday and will mail this lovely book, Double Dare, out to the winner!
You may enter from now, Tuesday, January 27, 2015 until Friday, January 30, 2015. You must be entered by 12 noon Eastern time on Friday, January 30, 2015, in order to be entered.
Will post the winner's name on Friday,  hopefully by 1 pm Eastern. 
*No purchase is necessary to participate.
*I am not receiving any compensation for doing this giveaway, other than the fact that this great book was sent to us and we were blessed with the chance to read it.
*Thanks to Kelie for writing such a neat book that many children will love to read!

This review is linked up with various blog posts about Multicultural Children's Book Day.

Hope that you will check out the other great posts about other great multicultural children's books!

Big Yay!!! for multiculturalism and diversity!!! 
This post will be added to my Pinterest Board, Diversity.

Hope that you will pop over to check my board as well as the various blog posts about Multicultural Children's Book Day.

We are happy to announce our gifted pilot program starting Fall of 2014!

We are happy to announce our gifted pilot program starting Fall of 2014!
***This program is for residents of Florida only...

More Gifted Program Details!

More Gifted Program Details!
Sunrise Learning Lab™ and its Gifted Pilot Program belong to Colleen Murray Bowers. © 2014 Colleen Murray Bowers.

  © Sunrise Learning Lab™ Updated-Copyrighted-Owned-Trademarked by ©Colleen Murray Bowers Sunrise Learning Lab™ Note: Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates orignally assisted with original blog template but has NO RIGHTS WHATSOEVER to this blog.

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