Author: Kendra
• 12:00 AM

After wrapping up Ancients I knew we'd move into Middle Ages. I was originally planing a 6 week stay here so we'd have time for fun, a few projects, & lots of great literature, but our plans changed after wrapping up Ancients. Morgan was disappointed with the ending of our previous spine & I didn't blame him, but his comments that the breezed over Jesus & his disciples made me aware that if we spent only 6 weeks on Middle Ages we'd end up doing the same thing. So I changed plans.

I had debated at the start of the year using Quest For the Middle Ages {QFMA} because I love the way it integrates the new church with other middle age history. I also love the slower pace it sets compared to what we were paving before. It means we can take our time moving through MOH Vol. 2 & still enjoy all the great literature we had hoped to read in the beginning.

Of course, once Jayden caught wind he wanted to know if he could break from his studies to do knight & castle school too. So the plan is for both boys to spend the next 36 weeks on middle ages & then they'll each return to wrap up the other things they were studying before we delve into Australian history. Mind you, things could change & we could hit Aussie history prior to wrapping up their world history studies, but we'll see. In the mean time I'm really looking forward to our current study of choice!

It did, however, mean that we had a lot of guides between our two science choices, language arts, & QFMA. I was debating about binding them all up, pulling a terms worth of weeks into one notebook, or a variety of other ways I've kept a running notebook for myself when I had the thought that removing the spines on all my little notebooks & just feed a spiral binding through all 4 of them. The result is crazy thick, but it worked & instead of having to locate all 4 I can just grab the one & flip to what we need each day. It's quite nice to be honest! In fact the only thing missing is the reading schedule each child is using, but I can write that in my planner or on the bottom of a given LA schedule if I need/want. I had enough room in the front to slip in the book list I made up to go with our studies.

QFMA has a lot of lovely literature & fun non-fiction books scheduled in that we're looking forward to, but we had a few of our own books picked out we wanted to be sure to include too. I wanted them all on one list so that I didn't forget what I had going on. You can check out our book list here if you're interested.
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Author: Kendra
• 12:00 AM

Science has been a bit of a mess this year for a variety of reasons. I have looked at a lot of science books & curriculum & read a whole lot of opinions on them, & now that we're halfway through our school year I've finally made a firm choice on our science. Hey, better late then never, right?

In the end, as it's so late in our year, we've decided to tackle more then one theme for science this year. Not a huge deal, especially if you were to look at a traditional science book which can cover many topics of science in any given year.

We'd all ready planned to cover physics this year, & chemistry next year, but as we're covering more then one at a time now I opted to add biology to this year & earth science to next years plans. Of course starting mid year means this will all last longer a bit longer which is nice as it'll reduce my need to search again anytime soon, right?

Morgan did Biology last year all though we did end up stopping just short of finishing thanks to moving house & all that it entailed. Jayden, however, was busy with zoology last year & didn't cover biology. So it works well in both cases.

For our Biology study we'll be using Winter Promise Human Body & Forensic Science. This uses the books: The Way We Work, Detective Science, Human Body For Every Kid, The Body Book, & The History Of Medicine. We'll also use the Winter Promise One Of A Kind Human Body Book, Boy's Body Book, & the Forensic Challenge Board Game. The later doesn't seem to be made anymore, but we found a copy of it on ebay & it came highly recommended for our science them so I opted to make the purchase. All of these items aside from Boy's Body Book are scheduled out over 2 days for 36 weeks with the WP HB & FS theme. Thus far all of these resources have been free from any OE or YE references.

It's broken down into 6 different topics plus a 2 week introductory topic. Most of the topics last 4-6 weeks or 8-12 days, with The History Of Medicine topic being 10 weeks & the introductory topic lasting for 2 weeks or 4 days. I really love that the WP science is set up to only be 2 days a week or can even be done in 1 day a week if you wanted. It makes it very doable in our home.

Physics was a bit trickier. Physics seems to be either a bit below my kids or a whole lot of above my kids. So I really debated what to do opting at first for Noeo Science, which is lovely but too much for Jayde & we did have to look a few words up for Morgan in our first book.

Then I remembered Winter Promise had a physics unit too. I figured if it was too simple for Morgan we could beef it up with the books from Noeo. So we snagged Jiggle Jostle Jolt to use. This theme uses Awesome Experiments in Electricity & Magnetism, Heat & Energy. It also uses a nifty little experiment kit which I found on ebay. I've opted to add in Christian Kids Explore Physics, & any of the Noeo physics books that will tie in well. The Physics book we may use as our spine vs the scheduled one, simply because I want to. The book comes with a cd with a list of extra books you could use, if desired to beef up, or round out, the study. Both CKEP & JJJ have quizzes & little worksheets inside which we'll use, but most likely in an oral fashion. I'll have the kids continue to use their science notebooks to record a few things from each day's learning.

Jiggle Jostle Jolt is also broken down into 6 topics. 3 are 5 weeks or 10 days, & the other three are 6, 7, & 8 weeks. You can easily work out the days, right? This WP science programme is also a 2 day programme with plans for 1 day if you'd prefer. Of course you could easily spread it all out over 5 days too if you wanted. CKEP is also meant to be used over 2 days in a week as well which makes it a perfect spine to tie into our studies.

The plan, for now, is to work on one topic from one science theme & then switch to the other for a topic. Varying back & forth as we work through the year. We'll see how it goes. I'm not one to normally worry about boredom for focusing on just one topic all year long, in fact I worry more about not remembering previous things because of switching around too much!

All in all we're pretty excited to have a game plan & be ready to move forward & get learning! My guys really love science so I hate all the meandering I've done in making a choice for them this year. We'll also continue with a scientist biography each month this year be it via a longer book or a small reading. We'll just pick one that goes with whatever theme/topic we are learning about for that time frame.
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Author: Kendra
• 12:00 AM

We hit a milestone around here this year, which might sound odd to those of you living outside of my neck of the woods especially when you learn it was the purchasing of a dryer. Yep. A dryer. When we lived in the USA it was a no brainer that we owned a dryer. Between ice fests & snow in the winter & tornadoes in the spring one wished to spend more time wearing their clothing then thawing it or hunting the neighborhood for it.

When we moved to Australia, however, we needed a washer & with washers & dryers costing a fortune at that time we opted for the washer. After all there's plenty of sun & wind power around here to dry your clothes 10-11 months out of the year. Each winter we reach that point where getting a load of laundry done in a day or even two days comes to a grinding halt & it can take days or even a week to get it done.  Yep, there was that time that I said we could go to church in our pjs of we could stay home..

The time was fast upon us where I was spending so much time balancing the rotation of laundry between outside drying spots & inside drying spots that I was going kinda crazy. You know, waking up in the morning & muttering "laundry.." as you stumble from your bed to make sure your husband has clean dry clothes to wear to work. Yeah, we were at that point when I turned around & said, "I concede, let's buy a dryer."

Mr S looked up from his morning reading & said, "Oh, so you finally want one of those things then?"

You know the best time to buy a dryer around here actually turns out to be the winter because everything is on sale. Between tax time & trying to lure people from the comfort of their warm homes there's always an abundance of sales. We did our research & headed off to the shop, which is far more limited then what our research turned up, so Mr S did his research. He called his sister & asked what kinda dryer she had. Then he looked at the shelf, pointed to the only one in that make & model & said he'd take it.

The salesman responded with, "Great choice, except I don't have any of those in stock at the moment!" Yeah, perhaps not, but at least it didn't take too long for it to arrive & be delivered. If you've ever attempted to shop for something that's out of stock in our neck of the woods you know that waiting a month isn't considered "too long" so 3 days is kinda like express!

Mr S was hesitant about mounting the crazy thing, but the load of laundry in the washer differed with him. Yes, mounted to the wall. We have a luxuriously sized laundry room, especially compared to our last one, but it's long as we have a full bathroom in there, a huge long countertop with cupboards, & a nice sink to boot. The only space for the dryer was mounted on the wall & honestly that's not uncommon, much to the shock of my US friends.

The only problem was Mr S didn't really want to disconnect the washer hoses because every time we do they leak & take new seals & a whole lotta messing with to get them to work without leaking again. That left me climbing behind the washer & heaving the dryer up to him while he manoeuvred the crazy thing onto it's bracket. We got the whole thing done & I turned around & noticed that the spacers weren't installed on the back of the dryer. Which meant taking the whole thing down & starting over again. At least we knew what we were getting into the second time, right?

And, now that it's all securely installed upon the wall no one's mentioned being out of clothes & I've stopped hounding the weather man for a decent report, after all I may have been the only person on the NW coast squealing with joy over impending coastal wind warning because I figured I could dry a whole lotta laundry in that crazy weather. Yeah, it's nice, to have a dryer again.
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Author: Kendra
• 12:00 AM

For many months Jayden had been pestering for a bird & when I say pestering I'm talking this kid came in with marks on his hands where he'd managed to snag wild sparrows & blackbirds, but they pecked him & got away. Thank goodness he didn't try & snag a kookaburra or a currawong! Mind you, the later probably wouldn't have cared so long as he offered it a bit of dog food.

Gram surprised Jayde by sending Mr S & I off to scour the town for a bird as his Christmas gift. And scour we did. Our pet shop in town doesn't stock many animals aside from fish. They prefer to refer you to the RSAPC or the local Dogs Home, I'm all in favour of that after having spent a few years volunteering for a humane society. The upside is that while they may not have birds or pets on hand they can refer you to places you can obtain them. They referred us to a local couple who are incredibly passionate about the birds they raise.

When we first met them they were in the process of cleaning up from having just fed a flock of baby birds & when the lady opened the cage where our future bird was the entire contents of the cage came & settled on her shirt & each time she attempted to chase them away they just regrouped on her head or arms. It was really quite amusing to us. She took us & showed us all her other birds that are part of the family as well.

We collected our bird on Christmas Eve & what a character we ended up with. The bird is most content when it's out of it's cage, preferably in the same room as people. Jayde had hoped for a talker, & while this bird whistles it's also taken to screaming at us when it's unhappy or hears us having a grand laugh in the other room. Jayde decided he'd misnamed the bird & instead of Dobby {hoping it would copy him} he decided to rename it Squeakers.

Squeakers is an insane little bird that is most often busy annoying me. Oh it's true. The bird joins us for our morning readings & will sit as pretty as you please while we watch it, but the minute I start reading he will head right to our wicker basket & start to nibble on it. I'll stop reading & glare at him & of course it looks up as pretty as you please.. until I start reading again. The other day, convinced I'd give him a piece of my mind I didn't stop reading, but clapped my hands. The bird leaned forward & attempted an extra chunk out of my basket.

I very loudly stated that if the bird continued with that nonsense it would have to go back in it's cage. Squeakers opted to fly to the top of the bookcase, hang upside down & attempt to nibble the pages of the books on the top shelf. This bird has a serious addiction to: paper, wicker baskets, & lego. It's not abnormal for someone to scream, "Your bird is eating my book/math/grocery list!"

Now it's not all bad, we do have our fun with this crazy creature. He's most content to have a twisted up piece of paper to play with while Jayden quietly works away on his math or copywork. All though it can be quiet the distraction because the bird has also learned that if he picks up the paper with his foot & drops it on the floor someone is likely to fetch it for him. Stubborn thing!

Squeakers also has a serious hatred for bedtime. What's up with that?! The bird will be as quiet as ever while we listen to a book or watch a movie, but the minute I say, "Bedtime." what a screaming commotion he makes. He greets us upon our arrivals in & out of the house in the same fashion. Apparently he's tuned his ears to know which car noise is us & as we try to unlock the house we hear him carrying on from the depths of the kitchen. I just wish he'd choose to use words instead of screams.

"Hurry up!" would sound so much better then the caterwauls of screeches he's learned. Or "Take me with you!" or even, "Bedtime stinks!" I'm seriously considering leaving a preschool cd playing near the crazy thing to see if it would help, but with my luck Squeakers would then greet us with one of the Wiggles infamous songs.

You can imagine my horror when Jayde announced that he was thinking of saving his pocket money to purchase a second bird. "What?! Why would you do that?" "I think Squeakers would like a friend, & maybe some children." Ahh yes, & I think I might appreciate a wonderful pack of double thick earmuffs!
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Author: Kendra
• 12:00 AM

Last Tuesday I pulled out an art project I had flagged a while ago for the kids. It was simplistic, but without instructions. I'm often hesitant to attempt things that don't have instructions so it took me a while staring at the picture of the project to really see the shapes & realise how simplistic it was to due.

I then brought up the photo for the kids & pulled out all our scrapbook paper for them to pick from. The original photo had children catching snowflakes which was one reason I selected to attempt it this week. With it being winter it seemed fitting.

Jayde, however, made it totally his own & went with catching rain drops, truly more fitting for a Tassie Costal Winter. He actually drew his on the background paper & then cut pieces to fit what he'd drawn. He wanted hair & didn't realise the string in the original picture was hair, he thought it was whiskers. Oh he cracks us up! His background page was when we've had for years, the water droplets on the person, the person's clothes, & so forth are rain drop stickers I had on hand as well. Yep, I have a lot of that kinda weird stuff.

Morgan went with snowflakes & a more scenic background. He hand cut everything for his, aside from the teeth. I just chopped up some white paper & plopped it on the table for everyone to share as there was dissension that one person was using more white paper & not going to leave any for others. He went with orange/red hair, & if you know Morgan you know he'd totally match that horrid shirt with a funky scarf like that!

I went for snowflakes too. Morgan & I shared the snowflake stickers I had on hand & each chose a differing background. Jayde is annoyed I didn't go with green for the nostril holes & Morgan feels I should have gone for yellow with a pinch of drizzle. Life with boys.

They were pretty simple to do once you had your pieces cut out & decided what you wanted it to look like. We layerd some of it backwards. For instance, once Morgan had his laid down, he glued the tongue into the mouth, the mouth into the head, & the teeth into the mouth. Then he was able to remove just the head without messing up the layout of the littler bits. He was quite relieved by that because it took him a while to get the teeth the way he wanted. It really was a quick & fun project!
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Author: Kendra
• 11:13 AM
And just like that, it seems, we managed to wrap up another time frame in history. It's funny really, because as we raced along the past few weeks I was pretty sure we'd end up needing more time then I'd scheduled. There's something about seeing that break ahead though that caused the kids to buckle down & get the work done. 

Last week marked the close of our time with Ancient Rome, all though I'm sure as we begin Middle Ages with the opening of the New Church we'll still find we're in Rome. Hopefully that won't be a huge shock to the kids! I'm actually quite relieved to be through these time periods in history & delighted to spend the next long while dawdling in the middle ages!

We moved to the midway point in Exodus last week with our Bible listening. It was quite funny because even though the kids know the stories this particular audio version really captivates them & when I went to turn it off before the final plagues came to Egypt the boys were highly upset. Needless to say we switched it back on to finish that portion of the story.

Still moving along in our poetry book. It's broken down into many sections & we've moved into the transportation section now. There's been a few funny ones in there to say the least. We're still enjoying the book though & moving at a lovely slow pace to have it last the entire school year.

Jayde moved forward in math again this past week, not a big surprise there. He was following me around with his math book though in hopes that I'd correct on the spot. No such luck & he finally camped out at the kitchen island while I was working on spelling with Morgan. He could use a minor brush-up on his multiplication facts as I noticed he was faltering a bit with his 6 facts this past week.

Morgan advanced another lesson as well. If he tackles the final lesson in his book next week he'll get to start his new math book in our new term. Exciting times! He did really well with his last lesson, but was slightly panicked that math was now taking him longer. My explanation that he was working on complex problems did little to appease him, so I spoke with a friend who uses the same curriculum to teach other students & she confirmed what I was thinking. When I told that to Morgan suddenly it was all okay, & interestingly enough he finished his math quicker that day too. 

Ignore the mess.. Morgan was catching up on his reading with Bronze Bow, & from the looks of the paper in his lap possibly MOH Vol. 1 too. I think he still has a few chapter of Bronze Bow to go which he'll finish up before we start our new term. It really is a good book, he's just been easily distracted to read & listen to other things of late.

We wrapped up Caesar Augusts' World this week as well as The Mystery Of The Roman Ransom. We were all delighted to bring Augustus' world to an end, the book was delightful but some of our readings were incredibly lengthy. I was also a little disappointed in the way the life of Jesus was represented & considered less likely to be true, where as Buddha's life was mentioned & his story told yet nothing was said to make you wonder about the validity of it. I kept my thoughts to myself, but Morgan ended up lamenting the same thing while telling Mr S about the book. He was also heavily disappointed in the rushed telling of the new church, which led to our choice to take a long stay in the Middle Ages {school year} as we take our time working through MOH 2.

Morgan conquered 2 more steps on AAS. This has been such a long time coming for the kid. He really struggled with a few of the things & kept constantly second guessing himself. He was so relieved to get everything consistently right & get those stickers on his chart. Spelling doesn't come naturally to him & is not an easy task to teach him or for him to grasp. He gets that letters make words & he understands there are specific ways for it to happen, that's a give-in. While he can memorise the rules it often comes down to rote memorisation for him to make this an easier subject. I hate that he constantly second guesses himself, but when your eyes play tricks on you I can understand the lack of security in thinking you've got it right. One step at a time, we'll get there.

We opted to tackle a fun art project on Tuesday as our home ed group met up in the beginning of the week instead of closer to the end. There was a specially organised outing which we skipped out on, but met up with friends at the park later. I had some resistance from the man in blue over this project, but once he got started he was keen to keep going & not so sure he wanted to go to the park. In fact the only reason he opted to go in the end was when I reminded him we wouldn't see friends for the next 5 weeks or so. 

We started some science as well. Science has been a real battle this year as I've sought curriculum that fits not only our goals but teaches science & not faith lessons. That's better saved for another post. In the mean time as we waited for the remainder of our physic books to come we started in on human body. We'll do both of these each year, which I'll also explain in another post.

Jayde wrapped up some notebooking pages he had on hand. Yes, he often sits like this to write which might explain his poor penmanship, but man if you saw it a year ago you'd agree with me that he's had vast improvement. Not in posture, but in handwriting.. you know, just to clarify. We also wrapped up the lovely Finding Marco Polo much to his delight. He was sitting in rapt attention as we came to the end of the book, as I close it for the final time he gave a contended sigh. I noticed someone tried to sneak it onto our own bookcase, but it's honestly a library book.

We also hit the beach so the dog could run off steam. When we walk around our neighbourhood he has to be on a leash, but at this particular beach he is permitted to run as long as we are keeping an eye on him. We've been wanting to train him to run alongside the bicycles so the kids took their bikes & let him run alongside while I was able to listen to my audio book. I was in awe of the size of the waves when I snapped that photo. While it doesn't look it the waves were easily 4 or more feet high that day. We also spotted a seal a couple of times & had a grand time watching the tugboats sit in the mouth of the harbour waiting on a larger boat to come in.

All in all not a bad week for us. We do have a few minor things we may, or may not, attempt to wrap up before we begin our new term. It's odd to be starting a new, long, study in the new term knowing we won't wrap it up completely before the end of our school year, but I'm learning to roll with the punches. We also delighted in listening to more of our audio book, highly recommended by a friend who knows our tastes well, The Misadventures Of Maude March. The boys also had swim lessons, all though I didn't snap any photos. It was all I could do not to fall off the bench laughing, which the other life guards did end up doing.

Their coach was working on leg power with them this week & explaining the importance of keeping their hips & legs in one fluid motion. Only instead of being in the water with them like he usually is he was on the side of the pool demonstrating & I'm pretty sure if mermaids {or men} existed & were attempting to walk on land what he was demonstrating was exactly what it would have looked like. Im' pretty sure my boys were the only two not laughing, which impressed their coach to no end. When he spoke with me after lessons he actually said he found it amazing that he can demonstrate the most absurd things but they never bat an eye about trying it out. I didn't have the heart to tell them he should witness a family dinner in our house, it would answer every question he has.

Both boys worked on diving again this week, which they were delighted with. Morgan seems to have finally got it down pat & managed several with no splash at all. Jayden, on the other hand, managed to clear his coach, 2 guards, & a couple of innocent bystanders away from the edge of the pool with his dive. Fun times, fun times!

Last, but not least, the kids also listened to Stick Dog. The book was actually an assigned book for Jayde. I'll have to explain assigned audio books in another post, but the point is it was on Jayde's list. Only Jayde listened to such a lovely book he was lacking inspiration to try anything else, compounded with a rough day for him, & miserable weather he was spent one evening. I ended up downloading it & playing it through the tv to distract him from his bad mood & the book was such a hit that he begged to take it to bed with him. I was just dozing off when he came bounding in to our room shouting, "He got a burger!! Oh, and we finished the book." 
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Author: Kendra
• 12:00 AM

In my efforts to streamline things around here I had the wild idea for Mr S to download the grocery store app that is in connection with our store. Why? Mr S works within a block of the grocery shop & he's always happy to stop & collect things, but if I don't include a picture of the item I'll get a frazzled phone call asking which one he's meant to collect.

My phone is currently loaded with pictures of the current safe food products I regularly purchase, when it dawned on me that if I just had him get the same app he can look at the list which will provide him with a picture, tell him which isle it's down & even show him where down the isle the product is located. A man's dream come true, right?!

Once I got him all squared away & logged into the app I loaded up the shopping list Wednesday evening last week. On a whim I quickly added ham to the list as the kids & I had an outing on Thursday & I figured I'd pack lunch boxes the night before.

Mr S took a bit longer then normal to get home which usually means I'm waiting for a phone call to say his bike broke, or I'm listening intently to be sure there are no sirens running. Yeah, I'm like that. Only I was so busy on Wednesday between supper, laundry, & prepping for lunch boxes that I didn't actually realise he was running late until he came crawling in the door.

I asked him what was wrong, wondering if he'd gotten hurt when he says, "It was the ham! That thing was heavy!"
"Heavy? I thought you'd just get 300 gs like we always get!"
"You didn't say to get 300g! I got a whole leg."
"Like a leg-leg? As in you brought the whole pig leg home?! Why would you do that?"

As he opens his backpack we can smell the ham because it's been double smoked. I hate ham. I can't stand the stuff in any form. The guys love it, so they have it for sandwiches now and again, but in 14+ years of marriage I've never once served a leg of ham, but I realise he's not kidding around when he hauls out an entire leg of ham & plops it on the counter.

"I hope you like it that thing cost me $33!"
"What?! You bought $33 work of ham? Why would you do that!!"
"You put it on the grocery list, it clearly said double smoked leg of ham."
"Yes, but didn't it say to get it from the deli?"
"I don't think so. It just said leg of ham & I thought, Weird she's never made ham before she must have found some new fancy recipe she wants to try out."
"With ham?"
"How am I suppose to know these things? I don't try out new fancy recipes."
"With ham?"
"Either way, I don't try out fancy recipes."
"Yes, we've made that clear."
"I think we should return it."
"What?! I just hauled that thing home & I am not biking back with it!"
"But I don't even know if I need to cook it! How on earth am I going to slice it?"
"With a knife."
"Don't be so rude!"
"I'm being practical."
"It has a bone in it."
"It is a leg."
"It's ham!"
"Yes, you said to get ham, I got ham."
"You know, I nearly called you before I bought it. I thought you'd never really mean to get a leg of ham, but it was on the list! So I bought it."
"You should have called."
"Yes, I can see that now."

There's still a leg of ham sitting in my fridge. Unopened. Unsliced. And every time we open the fridge we can't stop laughing.
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