Author: Kendra
• 9:11 AM

Last week I was standing in the kitchen trying to do dinner prep before dashing to the veggie shed for, well vegetables. Mr S sent a message through on my phone, & being sticky fingered I barely glanced at it, but when another message came through right away I figured I'd better wash up & find out what was going on.  From where he works in town he can look out over the river that separates our portion of town from where he works. While he can't exactly see our home, or us his office, he can see up behind us & what he saw had him concerned.

He asked me if a storm was rolling in & I said not that I noticed it was all quite peaceful, in fact, upon reflection I realised it was eerily quiet. I went back to preparing dinner & when he insisted that he could see something awful coming our way I went outside to have a peek. Awful was right. The sky behind us was pretty dark, but more concerning was that the air smelled heavily of smoke. Not that, "Everyone's realised the damp evening chill is rolling in & are starting fires.." kinda smell, but the "is our neighbourhood on fire" kinda smell.

I chucked the prepared meatloaves into the oven & dashed to check with the Fire & Police for a warning, but found nothing. I figured the farmer behind us must have been doing some burn-off & perhaps it was larger then expected. Mind you, I wasn't exactly sure where he was doing it because his fields are currently full of small poppy plants. However, within a matter of minutes our neighborhood was so encased with smoke, we had to close up the windows & doors. Pedestrians out walking were quickly running for cover, & we could no longer see our neighbor's homes.

I had one child in a full tilt panic that we were trapped in a bush fire. I assured him that if we were in a bushfire we'd have been warned, the fire department would be out right now telling us to get out while we could. He wasn't very reassured & was pretty relieved when I said we needed to go get vegetables for dinner. Talk about slow progress.

Just getting from the house to the car was hard enough because we were literally choking on smoke, the whole eyes streaming, throats dried out kinda choking. We could no longer see the other side of the river, much less the river, or the huge boats we knew were in port. Being so close to time for Mr S to knock off work, we decided to go over & collect him so he wouldn't have to bike home in the mess.

As we entered the highway it honestly looked like the smoke was hurtling up at us, which did little to reassure the child freaking out about a bush fire. I opted to distract him & told him to use my phone to ask Daddy if he could find out what was going on, & to check in on Nana. I was worried that if the smoke hit her portion of the neighborhood she'd have a full blown asthma attack. The best we could find out was that the forestry department was doing a burn-off a good hour + up the road from us.

We still have no idea if that's what was going on, or where, but within a half hour of encompassing us we were all clear, aside from the lingering stench of smoke in our clothes. Thankfully, Nana's area never got it & she had no idea anything had been amiss until the following day when someone was telling how horrifying it had been to sit there & watch it roll in at you.

On the flip side, it was a great reminder of the danger & horrors of the upcoming bush fire season, & doing what we can within our own area to help prevent them. Our frightened child is taking it upon himself to double check all trees in relation to power lines in our area. I've suggested if he finds any he feels are of concern he immediately email or ring the electric company. Apparently he feels one of our own trees is in violation, so I guess I know what we'll be doing this weekend.
Links to this post
Author: Kendra
• 1:23 PM
I seem to have lost some weeks in review here because according to my notes we're actually on Week 30. Ha, who knows, week 30, week 28.. I suppose in the long run it doesn't really matter, right?

We started back to school last week & as we'd had 2 weeks off, dealt with a time change, & weren't entirely ready to jump back into the thick of it we planned for a nice slow reintroduction to school. Boy am I glad we aimed for that, because last week was something indeed.

Monday the guys started off strong, but by halfway through Tuesday it was evident they forgot they were suppose to be back to school. We went with half days for the remainder of the week to give them that time to finish easing back into things, & that seemed to help even everything out.

Morgan embarked on a new math lesson last week, which was more Metric Conversion work. Let's just say while we use metric measurements here, some of the measurements had us chuckling. Yes, he was doing math in his pj's & favourite footy jumper. He did well with the lesson aside from a few minor mistakes, which are most likely because he didn't have his glasses on. A lens popped out of the main pair & his spare pair was missing. Seriously, forget GPS in cars, & put them in my kid's glasses!

Jayde also jumped into another lesson, place value for him up to 100,000. Ahh, this was a lesson that tripped up Morgan prior to tinted lenses. Jayden took it much more in stride, all though I did print out our place value game for him as a way to self correct his work if he desired. He had a mini-meltdown which is his method for dealing with being overwhelmed, but then pulled himself together & gleefully finished the lesson. Yes, there was serious laughter & squeals of "baby work.." coming from him. I, on the other hand finally had to ask him to go somewhere else or zip his lips because I found myself writing every word he was saying instead of the letter I was suppose to be composing!

Monday was nearly the only day we accomplished history, but that's okay. We'd really only intended to wrap up a read aloud & do maths. We had a lot of fun oogling all over the KingFisher Encyclopedia. What a delight that book is, we read the lesson about Justinian in MOH 2, & read a handful of chapters in Hostage Lands as well as a few poems from our poetry book. Somewhere in there we decided we didn't really want the next couple of jobs we read about in Archer's & Alchemists either.

While I was reading one day Jayde pulled out his beloved Pip Squeaks & worked on colouring a sheet he's helping me review for Homeschool In The Woods. Knights, markers, & HSITW is pretty much a winning combo around here for that boy; swap markers for coloured pencils & you have a win for the oldest.

While Jayden coloured & I read Morgan looked up the Saint Sophia Cathedral on google to see if the quoted statement in our book by Justinian was prideful hot air or at least somewhat based on truth. It really is a beautiful building, but Morgan is still unimpressed with the conceited statement. He's a tough critic.

Thursday we went to the park to meet up with friends & when we came home this lovely book was waiting for us! I'd purchased it as a bit of a fun book to go along with our biology lessons & I was keen to dig in even though this term is suppose to be all about Chemistry. So after tea that evening we read through the first chapter, & Mr I-Hate-Biology was embaressed to admit he was curious what was going to happen next.. you know, once he got over the disappointment that President Lincoln wasn't really in the book it was just a Prairie Dog bearing his name.

We also hit the local bike trail each week with the bikes. We ride just over 6ks round trip, which really wears kids & the dog out! Yes, the dog rides with us, all though he's made to ride beside us not on the bike. I did challenge the kids to make him a little cart to ride in, but seriously I think our dog would revolt.

That pretty much sums up our week. No swimming thus far this term, not sure if that will happen at all or not. Piano is still happening, but no photos of the boy practicing or doing theory work. Mostly because I had to listen to the non-piano player lament that he's sick & tired of hearing the same song over & over again.. A lesson in patience, one I failed to teach when I snapped, "I really don't care, now go find something better to do then complain!" Whoops..
Links to this post
Author: Kendra
• 8:25 PM
 We made a trip inland a couple of weekends ago to check on some property that needed cleaning up. It was one of those last minute choices where the weather was just perfect & we needed to get out of the house. Yeah, & we really needed to check on the property. We loaded the kids up & headed off driving past a few of the former houses we've lived in which gave Mr S a lot of insanely silly stories to tell the kids who didn't really remember much in regards to living in those homes. The kids were a bit devastated after seeing the property we'd gone to check out as they had fond memories of what it use to look like & the fun they had on it.  So I decided we needed a distraction & suggested we run to the small grocery & pick up supplies for a spur of the moment picnic lunch.

The town we were in has an annual Mural Fest which we haven't attended in a few years now, but we generally make the trek out to see the murals each year. We missed out last year when one of the mural artists the kids had befriended wasn't represented, so they were really keen to check out the work this year.  This particular painting kept us busy for a while because it had things hidden within you were suppose to find; I'm still doubtful the blobs the guys considered fish were fish, but...

Another semi-interactive painting which I've taken a rotten photo of. The paintings are all meant to be based on the poem I posted above, & this one tracked Australia over the years. Jayde loved seeing the Anzac Soliders represented & Morgan was keen because of the Tassie Tiger, but I gave it a thumbs down because the facial features of the Aborigine peoples were wrong.

This one was fun, all though Mr S gave it a big thumbs down because he felt leaving so much empty made it look like the artists hadn't been capable of completing their work within the time frame. Oh aren't we the picky lot? The top left animal that is not fully painted is a Tasmanian Tiger, the animals painting him are spotted quolls, an Alpaca is being splattered with blue paint {they aren't native, but there are many around} by the Tassie devils. The little bird is a fairy blue wren. The flowers are waratah, gum trees in the background unpainted, & of course the beautiful blue mountains. All up there's a lot crammed into one photo regardless of it's intentional {or unintentional} finish.

This painting, believe it or not, was painted by a lady from the USA. I had to say she had me with this painting until I got up close & saw she totally flubbed up the features of the little Aboriginal girl. I really can't stand it when people use the wrong features when drawing the uniqueness of the Aborigine people, it's a pet peeve, what can I say. Seriously though, had she nailed those features I would have been all over this drawing because it is truly beautiful despite the flaw.

We've met the young man who painted this photo & while his choice of art isn't generally our style, he really really won me over with the perfection of the features on the Aborigine man. Seriously, they are spot on! Ahh, if only I loved this style of art more.. Still & all, hats off Damien!

Lots happening here & we all had a different reaction with this one. I pointed out Abel Tasman. Jayden pointed out Mt Roland which he climbed when he was 5; all 8 hours of it. Never be the last man in line when mountain climbing with a troop of 10. You're fair game for bull ants. Morgan was more caught up in Mr Foster {fellow with the ax} which resorted to a ridiculous conversation about the time we rented a house from him. Mr S was busy debating which cricketer was most likely represented here. Between you & me, I think he was just in denial about who it was..

This painting happened to be painted by the artist the boys befriended a few years ago, & they were utterly upset to realise he'd been at mural fest & we hadn't gone. Alas.. The painting itself was quite interesting & the farther back you stood the more you saw. We all got a little dizzy trying to decide exactly how many murals were in the picture too!

This mural evoked a lot of chatter too. Was it a self portrait of the artist painting their mural? Why the French flags on the ships? Was this representing the time frame where England had all ready gained control of this particular port & the French came to see what was up? So many questions! I did love that Tasman was shaped in the clouds, but then I became distracted again by the flags on the boat. Which had us discussing books we read last year on Australian History.

This was a cute one, all though I thought the empty spot in the middle was crazy. I did get the idea behind it, but.. Like the names? Those are all real places around here. Oh the silly things we've said while driving through, & if you think those names are funny you haven't heard the half of them yet!

This one had us staring for a while, but then we got distracted by a tourist who'd parked himself in the most insane place ever. We couldn't figure out how he was going to get out & completely forgot the painting in our amazement at the fellows ability to manoeuvre his way out of the mess.
Links to this post
Author: Kendra
• 12:00 AM

I realised that since going gluten free I hadn't really been making the guys homemade bread anymore, which means I'm often running to the shop for a loaf of bread & a couple litres of milk. Someone lamented they really missed the homemade bread & I figured if they were going to eat copious amounts of the stuff it really would be wiser to be making it ourselves again anyway. The problem is, just coming in contact with wheat flour can make me really itchy!

We can pick up bread mixes, but I don't find them very inexpensive for the good quality ones & the cheaper ones tend to have oddities in them that you don't really need. Which gave me pause to consider making our own up. A few weeks ago I picked up a huge empty jar at a local cheap type store & gathered the guys up to help with my experiment. I needed somebody to stir the mix because my eyes were going crazy just getting the ingredients out of the pantry!

I opted to use a recipe in our bread book, all though I did mix & match a little. The guys really love white bread, but I had the idea that if I mixed it Wholemeal/wheat flour I'd give it a little more goodness. We ended up putting all the dry ingredients into the jar for a total of something like 12 batches of bread. It could easily have fit another 6 batches in I suspect. I did mix in some of the wholemeal flour, but when i do it again I'll probably reduce that amount a bit. {There haven't been outright complaints, but someone did ask if I was even going to make white bread again.}

When we need a loaf of bread we just throw 425 mls of HOT water into the bread mixer, add 660g of the bread mix, & 2.5 tsp of yeast. I generally run it on the fast mode on my bread maker, because no one mentions they are out of bread until they are down to the last piece.

Quick & simple, not to mention considerably cheaper then the store mixes. All though when the premade mix is out I may try this recipe or maybe even this one. It might mean getting a new bread pan though..
Links to this post
Author: Kendra
• 10:13 AM

The boys discovered a cheap app the allows one to print our various sized Minecraft characters & man were they busy discovering which sizes made for the best fun. I'm still finding bits of paper from the ordeal! They even took a ton of it to a craft day our Home Ed group had last month, & needless to say many joined suit in building these crazy characters.

The boys ended up digging a box out of the garage & deciding to make an entire Minecraft house out of the crazy thing. Beds, dressers, the works. It kept them busy for ages, & we even found them holed up in the garage working on it one evening. Did I mention that our garage doesn't have a light in it?! Nope, so they ran an extension cord from the side of the house to the garage & took the clip on lamps from their bed to light up the garage. Absolute determination, right?

About the only thing that put the whole crazy crafting mode on hold was last months Lego Club meeting, & I suggested they pack up all the Minecraft fun & put up & out of sight. I don't think they've laid it to rest completely because I noticed it was out amongst the lego supplies this past week.

I'm warning you, though, that the app would have been far better if it had included some kind of little House Elf that would come in & sweep up the mess so no one would end up getting paper cuts, or my vacuum wouldn't jam, or you know so it didn't look like it snowed all over the entire house. I'd suggest purchasing with caution.
Links to this post
Author: Kendra
• 10:16 AM

With Sequential Spelling you tend to work with the same list of words for 4-5 days just changing their variations as you go along which can make it easy to play with those words for a week if you need a little help reinforcing something.

So when one of the boys kept forgetting to double up the constants in a word I pulled out our copy of Bananagrams & selected a few letters to throw back in the back. The rest I put in a jar for safe keeping. To help the boys see where the game was going I started with some pretty simplistic words I knew they'd recognise rather quickly. Once they'd quickly unscrambled those words I took the much longer word I was after & threw it in the bag.

One was pretty sure he knew what the word was right from the get go, or at least within a very short amount of time, but convincing his brother of that was another story. The letters were arranged, rearranged, & arranged yet again. There were a lot of letters to work with & they found a few smaller words & wondered if I'd chucked in extra letters to confuse them. It only took a few letters in the correct places, though, for both of them to be fully aware of which word they were spelling. Then it was just a matter of being sure everything was in the right place.

They reached it in the end & opted to leave the letters in the bag to see if Mr S could get the word quicker then they did. He did, but he too wondered if there were extra letters in the bag at first, & to think the boys had the cheek to snicker about such a comment!
Links to this post
Author: Kendra
• 2:04 PM
It wasn't my intention to fall off the edge of the blogging planet, but it kinda happened there didn't it! Mr S deemed it completely "abnormal" & "unlike you, get about your business!" To which I put on my best whiney voice & mimicked the children who normally plague me for the use of the computer os they can get on with programming classes the minute I sit down to do anything with it.

Not to mention the battery on my laptop has reached critical mass & now conks out at about 30%, nothing like being up to your eyeballs in a project & having the computer crash. The kids learned the hard way to keep it plugged in or they were bound to lose their work. Mr S surprised me with a package yesterday, in which I thought would be a lovely brilliant new battery for the Macbook. Instead, it turned out to be a lovely new Macbook! Which means I now need to get all caught up on our weekly reviews as we're all ready about to head into our second week of Term/Spring Break!

I'm actually putting our last 2 weeks of Term 3 into one post to avoid doing a whole bunch of Weekly Wrap Up posts! If you're reading this post, please don't think we did all this work on just one week!

I slipped Jayden back into Sequential Spelling a couple of weeks ago as his ability to memorise rules was fantastic, but his application was poor. I wanted to give him the chance to apply the rules he'd learned in AAS by providing groups of words that worked with the rules. Despite the fact that he's capable of spelling these words we started with Book 1 Day 1. Morgan opted to sit in on the spelling sessions too which was fine by me. Both boys average the same score each day, all though Morgan had a really low score one day because he opted not to put his glasses on. It was a great learning experience for him to be reminded of why he's wearing them & to see first hand just how much they are really helping him. As soon as he put them back on he had no issues with the remainder of the spelling for the day.

Both boys are using a Winter Promise Language Arts still for the year, & while it does include a writing section we've been focusing more on the grammar aspect to really cement the information we learned in the previous years while reading The Word Spy & The Return Of The Word Spy. The boys have really enjoyed the lessons thus far, & love the whole mystery aspect to it.

We wrapped up City a couple of weeks back which was exciting to see another one of the books in the finished pile all ready. The other books we read small sections from each day. A Child's History Of The World is not part of WP Middle Ages, but something we choose to read as we enjoy the book. The boys are eager to pick up pace with the middle ages project book as they can't wait to tackle a great many things within!

Mystery Of History Vol. 2 is part of WP MA which we've been enjoying listening to as part of our studies. WP jumps around in the book grouping things together as you study them instead of just listening to them in chronological order. Panic not, you'll get to all the lessons eventually. We're also listening to Story Of The World Vol. 2 as well, but choosing to do so in a chronological order, that as well as Our Island Story are giving us a huge perspective on what was happening in each corner of the world all at the same time!

I had Jayde come to a pause in his math book because he was getting a lot of his concepts all mixed up & I wanted to be sure he understood the concepts & how they are each performed. He also felt that with the addition of new word problems he needed a little remedial help there. So for the last 2 weeks of term break he worked on review sheets I whipped up for him. The first week had an assortment of all kinds of problems on it to be sure we had everything covered concept wise. Then I just printed out a sheet from the MUS website for the concept he most needed to practice. As for the Lego Car. He found it more interesting to put a wheel on each time he did a problem, once all the wheels were on he began taking them off. Over & over.

Morgan held himself back an extra lesson in math, which I respected. I felt, honestly, that he could have progressed & been fine, but he was concerned with the fact that he kept mixing up two greek words & felt it was best to stay put. He did fine on his review work & I suggested that if he was still concerned he should consider making a poster to keep the words straight. He could then stick it in his notebook & pull it out when needed to review.

Both kids got deeply involved in some paper crafting which meant our house was covered with glue, scissors, bits of paper, & every other imaginable bit of mess that goes hand in hand with this craft. On the flip side they were incredibly creative & had so much fun with it I let the idea run it's course before asking that the entirety be cleaned up. I'll share what they made in another post.

We didn't make as much progress as planned in science this term. Bottom line is my kids are just not that keen on biology, Mr S confessed that he's right there with them. Ha! The biggest problem was that one amongst us waited until halfway through the term to explain he was struggling with the information in our original spine! At which point I dug out the Apologia Book Morgan previously used & the audio that we have to go with it & we swapped spines. We did make a lot of progress with the Boys Body Book despite our desire to read it in slow bits & pieces.

They both labeled cells in their notebooks {WP Notebooking Pages}, & also drew one. They were suppose to make an edible one, but we never got to that. I may challenge them during term break to come up with a lego version instead.

After listening to the information in Chapter 1 of the Apologia book Morgan hopped on the computer & created a timeline for the scientists we head about. Jayde went with empty boxes, think comic book style, so he could hand draw each person we read about. The microscopes he drew were classical! I must snap a photo lest the paper he did get lost!

Spring weather has finally arrived with chilly evenings, but generally warm days. We spent many hours enjoying the warmth & sun, & one weekend after our picnic lunch the kids pulled out kites to fly. The weather was absolutely perfect & they had a blast until the kites got tangled & we had to make a dash to collect the one that broke off it's string!

Both boys assigned themselves the duty of working on cursive during Term 3 & while Jayden still feels he's only a beginner, Morgan is really delighted that he can now read cursive as easily as print. I'm impressed with his progress too & bit my tongue to point it that not only did the practice help, but so did the wearing of his glasses. Either way we're finding notes all over the place in cursive & we've had a few papers from each wind up being turned in written in cursive as well. I especially love when Jayde only knows how to write a few of the letters in a word in cursive & has several printed letters with a couple of cursive ones. Cracks me up each time!

Both boys delighted themselves in reaching their reading goals for the term, all though this young man had a few chapters left over in the book he was reading {for the umpteenth time} that needed to be wrapped up one rainy day before Term Break officially started. I noticed it was incredibly quiet, a rarity around here, & looked around to find him curled up in a chair with his book. He deemed it a terrible ending, which I spluttered about to his horror. I mean, he's read the book before, it's not like the ending changes!!

Same child was spotted outside doing his math the final day of term. Don't ask why he's sitting in the laundry basket, I have no idea. The boys saved from the recycling pile because they had grand intentions for them. I'm kinda scared to know what those intentions are to be honest.

Morgan had finished his work by Thursday for the term & was a little unsure of what to do with himself when he realised his brother wasn't free to play. I suggested he get out the robotic legos & create something that was not in the books/cards. He started out with one invention that was completely different by the time he'd tested it several times over. Kept him busy while I looked over our plans for next term.

There was also piano lessons thrown in there somewhere. Morgan is the one doing piano right now & he takes them through the Hoffman Academy which is an online school. The lessons are all prerecorded & Mr Hoffman is pretty funny which keeps things lively. You have theory work to do as well, & there's a few games thrown in for fun. The first lesson they learn to play a song, & the lessons there after they learn about notes & so forth. He's pretty eager to get into the meatier lessons!

No swim lessons for our final 2 weeks as we walked away from those lessons. The boys were a little disappointed not to have their normal sessions, but were relieved due to their frustrations with the new teacher. While I won't go into great detail about the situation, we respected the boys opinions to walk away from lessons where a teacher resorts to verbal bullying & belittling in an attempt to encourage children. They did enjoy a few practice sessions & are looking forward to, hopefully, swimming with their normal instructor in the ocean in the coming term.

We also had a few excursions with our group, mostly playing in the park; all though we had an art day & a swim session as well as a lovely evening bbq as well. All of which we enjoyed. We're now in the midst of enjoying a very well deserved break for another week before we resume to our normal routine. I'll have to share in another post our plans for the upcoming term.
Links to this post