Friday, September 16, 2016



Marie's Words is a box full of 550 pictorial vocabulary words that are the work of a student prepping for their SAT.  They are pretty fun to work into a daily routine & something we use to use each day alongside our Memory Box & Book Basket. However, we fell away from using them over the last year or so & while prepping for the new year someone requested we bring them back in because he really missed them. I had to agree with him.

The way you use the cards is completely up to you. Some years we'd each close our eyes & just pluck a card at random out of the box & slip it on a ring. The ring full of cards would go into the memory box & we'd review the cards each day until we each knew the word, it's meaning, & so on. Other times we might just have fun pulling cards out of the box & guessing what it meant if you weren't sure, al la Balderdash. Either way, it's generally a few minutes of fun with lasting results.

The front of the cards are pretty fun in regards to the picture. I'm pretty sure my boys know exactly what this word means but when I spotted it in the box I stuck it in our stash for the first week because I thought the photo was just so funny. One of my children actually has a phone just like this, he may not have a mobile phone, but he does have a retro phone. Ha!

See the hole at the top of the card? I didn't punch that, each card comes pre-punched just like that. Makes it super easy to get a stack of them on a ring. I opted not to use the ring this time for a few reasons, the biggest one being that at the time I couldn't find any spare rings in the house. What is up with that? Mr S thought I was super funny two days later when I was in K-Mart & spotted some heavy duty index cards on a ring with a glittery pink cover for $1.

I told him I could have cared less about the ugly pink glittery cover, I so don't like glittery anything, but that the ring & the cards for a dollar was an absolute steal. So much so I bought 2 packs, but by then I'd all ready slipped these cards into a baseball card sleeve.

The other big reason I opted to put them in a sleeve is that we have tons of these crazy sleeves. My siblings & I collected baseball & football cards growing up. I often sent mine off to the clubs to get them signed & the players were generally very kind to sign them & return them to me.. anyway, when Mom was cleaning up in the attic a while back she sent my boys the card sleeves. Funnily enough my kids don't collect sports cards. They did have Pokemon & Club Penguin cards in them for a while, but found it to painful to remove them each time they wanted to play.

I figured as we finish each stack of cards we can hang the the sleeve full on the wall to review & quiz each other on. Remember, my kids go nutty for trivia games & love quizzing each other on all sorts of odd things. In fact, I'm pretty sure if I just told them that quizzes & tests are just trivia games they'd love them.

The back of the cards are more business like with the pronunciation guide, the definition, part of speech, & then the various synonyms & antonyms that can be used. The cards are also numbered, to help aid in alphabetizing the cards. I probably should not let my eldest take note of that or he's likely to not let us use them until he's put them all in numerical order & then request that we use them in order.

After all, this is the same kid who made his little brother wait for 20 minutes while he put all the crayons in the box in colour & size order. It was amusing to watch, to be quite honest. Not to mention the patience of each child all those years ago..

When we hang up the cards we'll keep the picture side forward to quiz ourselves on, but be able to flip to the back to verify if we're right. Now to find the wall space for a few hundred cards to hang on the wall where we'll see them each day..

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Updating The Book Basket


We'd polished off nearly all the books in our book basket last term & so I've spent a good deal of time in our term break deciding on what to put in the basket. Both boys are moving in their own directions at this stage, but we still meet together daily to delve into whatever the book basket may hold for us. We're not rigid about it, we don't maintain a schedule, & barely have a plan, but it's a well loved part of our day.

I like to stock the basket with a variety of different things that I know will interest everyone & will touch on topics that we might not otherwise cover. It's where I toss books that aren't part of either child's school list, but are books I really want to share with them.

My hope for the new year had been to weave in Australian history via our book basket, I've been working, for some time, on an outline of books & ideas for a big Aussie history study, but with the kids going in opposite directions of late it seemed most prudent to work it into our book basket. I'm still not entirely sure how things will unfolds as I have a large stash of books I want to read with the guys in the coming year, but we'll take it one day at a time & see how things unfold.

A few things to note, before I share the titles of the books currently in the basket, we don't read every book in our book basket on the same day. Generally we pick a few, which goes with the rough plan I generally have sketched out somewhere. Sometimes we may start out reading a book & I may fish out the audio copy to aid us along. We may have days in a row where we never get to our book basket. I really don't sweat or stress about it. The general rule of thumb in our home is that while the boys are waking up & guzzling smoothies under quilts I select books from the basket to read to them.

However, there are days when one child has slept in & the other has not. That child may be keen to get a head start on his work, & so off he goes. In which case we may tackle our book basket later in the day after our walk while I ice my knees.

Here's our current titles:

Our Australian History Pt 1: I purchased this book years upon years ago & we've read through portions of it before. However, we'll start from the beginning again & move forward. My objective is to be sure the kids have a good over view of Australian history digging in at various points. There is no Pt 2, unfortunately, so at times we'll have to delve into our other Aussie spine which isn't pictured.

A Treasure of Poetry For Young People: This is the lovely new poetry book that goes along with Morgan's Core 100. I really love that each & every year they've scheduled in a poetry book of some kind. Admittedly, some years are way better then others, but regardless there's always one there for us. I'm really looking forward to this book which is just beautiful.

Marie's Words: You can't actually see the cards that are selected very well in the photo so I'll share more about them later. However, I picked these up years ago & over the years we've used them. The boys pointed out we hadn't done much with them in the previous terms & requested to see them more often. It's often a bit of a deal in our home to learn new words & find a way to work them into our conversations. Mr S may have inspired the boys when he told them that he waited all school year once to work a fancy vocabulary word into his written paper & when he successfully managed it he was given a huge thumbs up by his professor.

George Gershwin: We own a few of the "Get To know.." series for artists & musicians, & I opted to pull one of each off the shelf & stick them in our basket. I'm not interested in a super indepth study of a composer or artist, but a brief introduction via the book & perhaps listening to a few pieces of the accompanying music.

Andy Warhol: I actually think this book is missing from the above photo as it's a library book. However at our last Art Club meet-up our lovely friend introduced the kids to Andy Warhol with a brief overview of pop art & mentioning a few of this artist's paintings & how much one in particular sold for. Then we tried our hands at a bit of pop art. The work is just a bit too big to fit into our art portfolio for the year, but when I spotted the book at the library I did a quick google search & found a few ideas for slightly smaller projects. The boys thought it might be fun to read up about Mr Warhol & then show off their newer lines of work to the lovely lady who organises the Art Club.

It Couldn't Just Happen: This is the only one of our book basket books we started early in the year & never quite got to. There was always something else more pressing that found us pushing this one to the bottom of the pile. One of the boys, in particular, is working on his own apologetics & I'm open to providing information to aide him along.

The Fallacy Detective: This is a reappearance, as it was scheduled in Jayden's Timberdoodle Kit. Since reading this previously the kids have a great time picking out the fallacies in advertisement & deciding what the catch or lure is & if it's a worthwhile gain or not. It'll be interesting to see if they pick up anything new with it being a little bit older & wiser this time around.

52 Weeks of French: A second language is mandatory in the USA for graduation purposes. With the idea that we could be stateside before both children graduate I'm all about being sure we've hit all the marks. Besides, as I pointed out to the kids, if they don't start picking up the pace with their French they'll never be able to understand me! hehe This book only presents a few words each week to learn. Most of them are very basic from greetings to objects.

What To Do When You're Scared Or Worried: While this isn't a new book either we pushed through this the first time without fully doing all the journal entries & examples given. As our boy works to target new fears & eradicate them it's always nice to have this book handy. Again, by reading it aloud to everyone it puts less pressure on him & helps him to see we all have quirky fears that seem a little bit silly to everyone else.. especially when I told him that hearing an alarm clock's screeching beep freaks me out. True story that. I'll have to share why someday.

Waltzing Matilda Meets Lazy Jack: We nearly finished this one up prior to the end of our 3rd term, but not quite. We've had some great laughs while reading this fun little poetry book, & it won't last us much longer in regards to poems left to be read.

Odious Oceans: I love having a few science topic books on hand that match up with what each child is learning. Horrible Geography & Horrible Science is great for that, & I find that the information is presented in such a fun way the kids remember it much easier then the information in the textbooks. Morgan is tackling Marine Biology this year so I pulled this book off the shelf. We have several others that should eventually make their way into the basket, but for now we'll start with this one.

Why Pray? Actually that's my Kindle Keyboard, which is loaded with a grand amount of books that I rarely read because I prefer reading real books instead of ebooks. However, I couldn't get my hands on this title without picking it up as an ebook. I'm a little bummed by that, but considering I had $4.50 in my Amazon account it meant that I only paid a few cents for the book. This is the first Bible book in Core 100. I'm not familiar with the title so we'll see if it stays or goes.

Dingo, The Dog Who Conquered A Continent: We love Jackie French's books & this is one from her animal series we haven't read yet. It will tie in really well with the early portions of Australian history so into the basket it went. Here's hoping we can actually read it without hearing Jayden's age old Dingo story in which he convinced his American grandparents that he made friends with a dingo using a jar of dill pickles. As unbelievable as the story sounds, this kid has made friends with some pretty crazy animals including tassie devils so he certainly had them going for a while.

Lots of great reads. Generally we might have a Christmas themed story tossed in our basket towards the end of the year, but as we'll be off in December I've opted not to do that. We may or may not pull something out to read over the month of December despite being on summer holidays, last year there was much dissension about which book should be read so I may shock them all & purchase a new one. In the mean time, I'm looking froward to digging into what we have in the basket!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Mystery Of History Prep


I mentioned in an earlier post our youngest will be using MOH Volume 1 in the coming term for history. This isn't a new to us curriculum, but it is new to us to use it on it's own.

It's also a little bit more prep-work then I've had to fuss with in a long while too, but hopefully all that will pay off.

Truthfully, I picked this curriculum for our boy because he's really not interested in literature heavy curriculum. This has made some of the prep work both easier & harder for me. I'm a book person, & as I'm looking things over books come to mind that I know would be fantastic with a given lesson. That's the easy part. The hard part is reigning that in & reminding myself that we picked a non-lit heavy curriculum for a reason.

In the end I split the difference & pulled resources from our shelves & put them in a basket. The idea with the contents of the basket was not to over whelm him with choices, but provide a few voluntary choices he can have access to if he desires. He's prone to hear about something & want more information about it, & this will provide him with a place he can go to seek that information if he wants. However, there are some items in the basket that will be a mandatory part of his routine. We'll see if that lasts for the entire time we're using MOH or not, but for now it's our game plan.

The items on the left hand side of the basket represent the mandatory portion, & they each serve a purpose:

What's In The Bible: My boys are a bit on the older side for these videos, but we own a few & may acquire the ones we don't. While we're accustomed to seeing Veggie Tales & puppets for the younger crew there really is some great stuff in these that I think he'll enjoy hearing in the realm of his history lessons to help make those connections firm.

Drive Thru History Holy Land: These are not new DVDs, but it's been a while since we watched them, & let's face it, my kids love these videos. They love how down to earth & funny the host is & they really appreciated seeing things we only read about. We'll be watching these unscheduled, more in a, "Hey, let's pull out.."

The Ark The Reed & The Fire Cloud: Actually, we intend to use most of the books written by Jenny L Cote as they will match up so beautifully with volume 1 of MOH. I was really debating which books I wanted to read aloud with our boy, & that was hard a choice until I remembered this series. We only own a couple of the stories, but our library has a few more,  the local bookshop seems to have the rest if we wish to acquire them in that fashion.

Student Discover Bible: This isn't really a Bible per-say & it won't remain in our "mandatory" pile forever. We'll be using it while we await on our copy of Journey Through The Bible to arrive. Basically both books allow an inside view at artifacts from ancient times that tie into the Biblical stories we are familiar with.

Great Ancient Egypt Projects: This book is really optional, all though it landed in the mandatory pile. It's full of extra details about Egypt & projects he can choose from if he wants. He has his moments of wanting to be really crafty & then moments where he'd prefer not to. Also, MOH has it's own stash of activities to pick & choose from. However, we own the remainder of the books in this series save for the Ancient China one which I'm hoping to purchase this year. Each book has a project or two that I know will really appeal to him so we'll see how that goes.

Kings & Carpenters: This is one of those fantastic Ancient Jobs to love or loathe books. I showed him the Ancient Egypt one, but he said he remembered it really well & would rather not read it, but he wouldn't mind hearing this particular one as he doesn't remember it. That may be because Morgan read most of it on his own. These books are really fantastic for giving you an idea of the many things happening at various times in history & how the pecking order of the day would have unfolded.

Lamps, Scrolls, & Goatskin Bottles: We had this book for Morgan when he did ancients, but somehow or another he never got to it. I pulled it off the shelf while discussing things with Jayde & into the basket it's gone. While the book is loaded with a variety of craft projects, I've thrown it into the "mandatory" side more for the aspect that it shows of live in these times & places.

A Child's Geography Of The World Holy Land: I picked up this book a year or two ago in one of their Dent type sales. I was really excited about it, but by the time it arrived things were well into a routine & it was hard to slip this one in. However, with Jayde using MOH which is only scheduled for 3 days per week I found the perfect opportunity to weave it into his MOH without weighing him down further. We'll do this at the pace of 1/2 chapter per week.

Encyclopedia Of The Ancient World: When my kids are learning history I really prefer that they hear about the same events from multiple sources. History is biased & the bias is always based on who's side of the story you are listening to. If you doubt me, purchase a book about the Revolutionary War from both the USA & Britain, you may be surprised at the differing perspective of events. MOH is a single source & I really don't want to add tons into my boys day to weigh him down, so instead I pulled out the same encyclopedia that was used when the eldest did ancients. Truthfully my boys love reading encyclopedia. They love looking at artifacts they've read about, gaining a new perspective, checking the maps, & so on. If our boy reads 3 pages a day M-W he can finish this entire book in the same time it will take him to finish MOH V1, which, honestly, is a much more balanced approached then we've used previously.

How People Live: This may be one of those oop books that I often recommend if people can get their hands on it. It's a beautiful book & my boys love it. It's been about 4-5 years now since we've used it on a regular basis & with the use of A Child's Geography I thought it might be fun to have a gander at the various peoples from the countries we read about.

Ancient Egypt Sticker Book: I bought this in one of Book Depository's fantastic 24 books in 24 hour type sales. I'm pretty sure we paid something like $3 for it including shipping which was just amazing. Morgan was beyond Ancient Egypt at the time, but I had intentions of giving it to Jayden because he loves sticker books... only, I hid it so well I couldn't find it & had to go buy him a new sticker book of the Lego variety instead. Never mind that. I finally found the book, & thought he might really enjoy putting the stickers in their places while listening to his lesson from MOH as he'll be using the audio version.

MOH Challenge Cards: Is it just my kids, or are yours nutty about trivia games too? If one of my kids is having a downer day the other is prone to pull out the trivia cards from any one of the various trivia games in the hall cupboards & a challenge is born. We purchased the challenge cards when Morgan used MOH 1 & had them on the kitchen table to use after dinner each night. Jayden has the option of doing them during school hours of putting them on the table & doing them with Dad each night. Knowing this kid, he'll do both at some point.

We also have our MOH notebook. As we owned MOH in audio fashion we went ahead & snagged the download of printable & appendixes. I'm not gonna lie, this was the most annoying download I have ever purchased. Ever. Seriously. It was so incredibly finicky about where it was located on my computer to print & what program I open it with that I was about to throw in the towel & just purchase the big ol' MOH book, but eventually with some help from Mr S we got it sorted out.

I printed out everything we needed & separated it with file folder pockets. The end result is nice, but I don't think I'll bother with the download for Vol 2. Instead I'll just acquire the actual book & move forward from there.

My notebook happens to have a clear pocket on the front so I wrote up a basic schedule of how we'll use MOH & slipped it in the front of the book. Basically M-W he does an oral pre-test with me, this will allow him to see he doesn't know everything in the lesson {all though he likely will for the first few, but we shall see}, & then he'll move on to do the lesson on his own, read the encyclopedia, & then narrate to me about his lesson. He has the option of using his challenge card with Mom or Dad, & then on Wednesdays he has his weekly quiz. Pretty simplistic, but by writing it out it allows him to know how long his days may or may not take.

Other then all of the above, I have flagged 3-4 books that I may assign as audio books for him to listen to. Again, this was a hard thing because there are a fair amount to be had, but I tried to keep the idea in mind that we only needed a few to add a bit of pizzaz or flair to his lessons, not drowned him. He does have access to a vast amount of audio books both in Audible & Learning Ally so he'll have plenty of books at his disposal.

It looks like a great year in the basket & on paper, but we'll see how it all pans out.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Gearing Up For A New Term


As we coast into our term break & the kids take brain breaks from their academic work I'm busy prepping for a new term. I like to have everything set & ready to go making the kids jobs of actually doing the work a lot less stressful. However our new term also means new grades, new curriculum, & with that comes a whole new expectation of record keeping.

Normally we don't move into new grades and consider ourselves in a new year until we begin in January, but nothing is ever normal & one of the many beauties of homeschooling is that we have this ability to change things up if we need to, & we need to as there is a high possibility we will end up back in the states in a year to eighteen months. That brings it's own slue of differences when it comes to the education of our children.

There are always differences in educational experiences in each country, but as we live in the Southern Hemisphere & would be moving to the Northern it would also mean a change in school years. We took a bit of time to ponder the various methods we could use to move ourselves slowly onto that rotation to be prepared when things transpire, but the most logical move was that since kids were done with curriculum to move them forward & get a new year & new grade underway.

This would allow for a more calm & even paced 9th grade year for our eldest who, all ready having 2 years of Australian high school under his belt, would only just now be reaching American high school. As home educators we'd have various new rules & regulations to adhere to in order to be sure he hits all the needed requirements to legally graduate.

Yes, things will be slightly different, but the bottom line is that we simply need to take what we're doing & see how it fits in with the state requirements. We sat down with Morgan & went over the things he has little choice on, reminding him they are just hoops he has to jump through & that he's capable, & then we presented him with the good stuff. Theses are the things he gets to pick & choose from to round out his education. It was a little nerve wracking at first & we plagued a few US friends with queries for help as we navigated this slightly new, to us, road.

In the end our boy has carved out a 4-Year Plan which is open to changes if need be. For now though, he's got his 9th grade year locked in & all his books have at long last arrived, much to his delight. In fact we had great fun trying to find the table underneath the huge pile of books that arrived here last week!! It took us three days to get everything sorted & put up for the year ahead of us.

For 9th grade he'll be using:

This hits several of the mandatory credits he needs while allowing him to continue forward with his plans. Honestly, this schedule doesn't look that different then what he did last year. He's simply moved forward with history, math, & science. Marine Biology is not a required science, but this was his choice & we ran with it. He may also have piano & programming going on as well, but we'll see how things proceed from here.

Things for Jayden were absolutely no different then normal as he wouldn't be in high school if he was in educating in the US.  While we still left choices open to him he wasn't keen to give much input. He's on the "burnt out" side of education at the moment, which we suspect is likely from tagging along with his older brother for so long. He's also going through the teenage hormone slump which really doesn't help.

We did switch things up for him this year as a literature based education isn't really his foray & it's become more & more evident with each passing year. While I may love books, I also want to give my children the room to grow & learn in the manner that suits them best With that in mind I had a few options I was considering & offered him a chance to pick anyone of them. While he didn't really care I did end up selecting the one he gave the most pause to look over: Timberdoodle.

Timberdoodle sells curriculum kits for all grades with many options when you go to order from secular options to customising whichever one you pick. One of the biggest reasons I opted to go with TD is that it had a few components in the kit that I'd all ready been considering for our boy, but it also mixed in some pretty fun things that I hope will bring some excitement back into his days. 

While he wasn't jumping up & down with excitement when his parcel of books arrived, he was quick to get to the door & happy to sign for his parcel. He was equally dissapointed when I said we couldn't open it up until we finished cleaning the kitchen. He has confessed he's a little nervous about an item or two, but he's also really excited about one or two.

Here are the final selections we made to customise his 7th Grade kit:
I marked a few items with an *, these items were not included in the Timberdoodle Kit, but things I added on. Road Runner Physics is available from Timberdoodle so I added that on to his kit for fun, we'll see what happens there.

All of the Grammar/Language Arts items were not included. Timberdoodle had a few choices in that area & I've never used those items so was interested in checking them out. I just didn't feel the writing was what we needed for our boy & was really not sure what to choose for him as I really don't see Writing With Skill being a good fit for this child. After much researching I opted to purchase Writer's In Residence by Debra Bell. The book is available through Apologia's Website or CBD. 

As for spelling & IEW we'll simply pick up where we left off. Both of my children still need spelling in my opinion. Having undiagnosed VPD for as long as they did this is an area they need constant review. They've made huge leaps & bounds, & in all fairness may never be great shakes at spelling, but for now we'll continue forward with it.

Extreme Dot-To-Dot is a really cool book, but I'm telling you it's also a nightmare for people with VPD. I was given a few samples on the back of my receipts & wow on white paper that actually hurt. I may copy them onto Jayde's awesome grey paper & see how he goes with them. However, we all ready owned ACG Holy Land & we're happy to pull it out & make use of it.

The kit also came with The Fallacy Detective & The Thinking Detective. We owned the former, & I was delighted to know that I could remove it by using the customise option. However, we didn't own the second one so we went ahead & snagged that one. Both will land in our morning book basket which is currently being restocked for the new term. I'll share about that in another post though.

All up we're really excited about the choices for both kids. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

2016 Week In Review: Weeks 23-30


I've fallen behind with our Weeks in Review this term as things have just been so crazy. Rather then break down the past 8 weeks individually I thought I'd give a recap of what we've been up to over the past 8 weeks for school:

We wrapped up our poetry book, devotional, & several more read alouds. We enjoyed the poetry book, but I won't say we loved it like we have others. I think our favourite is still the book we used in 2015. The boys & I read I Am David a couple of weeks ago. While it was a book I'd set aside for Morgan to read with his history I knew Jayden would really enjoy the book as well so opted to pull it out & do together. The book has a long standing history with the men in the family & I didn't want either of the boys to miss out.

We also read Operation Yes! together which is a fun listen. It too was part of Morgan's list of books to attend to, but again I knew my younger would also appreciate it. I really love the story in Operation Yes! as it shows how military families {especially children} juggle the emotions of their parents being deployed or the constant moving around that adds up to a bit of instability for them.

We've moved through Acts, Romans, I & II Corinthians, Ephesians, & Colossians in our Bible readings. We haven't read each of these books in full as our schedule has us just gleaming a few chapters here & there. I had a chuckle one day when I turned on the audio version of Ephesians & after a few verses one of the boys pointed out that was the same chapter we'd read the previous day.

We've yet to settle on a new devotional. Most of what we have on the shelf is geared for years gone by, & come November we'll start our annual Jesse Tree devotionals. We may pull a simple devotional off the shelf & run with that for a while, or we may just continue forward with Bible readings for the month of September.

Morgan wrapped up all of Bookshark History 7 & was completely smitten with every aspect of it. He ended up working on the core independently balancing his own scheduled for readers & read alouds as he took over doing all of it himself. He's been raving about how much he's loved it for weeks now.

Both boys have worked on their science, all though Morgan stuck with his schedule where as Jayden tended to limp along. Morgan wrapped up Physical Science for now & will move into his new science book in Term 4. I know some will wonder how on earth he finished the book early, so I want to clarify that he did not complete every lesson. There are reason we are moving him into the new curriculum before that has happened & we'll share about that in another post.

Lots & lots of reading. Jayden wrapped up 2 more readers that he was given, all though claiming he didn't like them. He's a hard cookie at times, but finally stated that while there was nothing wrong with the story he found the books a bit below him. Ahh, the trouble of helping one's brain heal while keeping reading skills fresh. I disgusted him with yet another simplistic book to finish off the term with & need to look for more grade appropriate books for him for Term 4.

Morgan's enjoyed carving his own path with his stash of assigned readers this year & has wrapped up another book from his stack, Mr Lemonchello's Library which felt a long time coming. As his academic work grew in length & depth he found he had less time to dig in deep with some of these readers, & his pace slowed. While he enjoyed this book, I'm guessing he didn't enjoy it as much as his last two which he opted to read at all times of the day, where as he's had his nose in other books outside of school lately.

Morgan's hockey season wrapped up at the start of August with a show-down between his team & the other team that was at the top of the ladder. Keep in mind they only had 3 full teams this year due to low turnouts so the third team was divided amongst Red & Green so they could join in the fray as well. Excuse the blurry photo it's kinda hard to catch this kid in action as he's generally in the thick of things. He's the one in the red hunched up against the young man dressed in black. They were in a fantastic lock/tackle for the ball.

He's been completely smitten by hockey & spent the weeks of the olympics carefully scheduling his school around hockey games. He was desperate to watch the Kookaburra's game that was airing at midnight, & I stayed up to watch it with him. We were sooo tired & it was such a heart wrenching loss to witness, but hey what a memory we'll have for it, right? Unfortunately both the HockeyRoos & the Kookaburra's were knocked out of the Olympic finals for medals, & we had to really chase down times to catch any of the other hockey matches.

We met up with friends to participate in another fun art project. This time we heard about Pop Art & Andy Warhol. The kids were pretty shocked to learn how much the 7 Elvis painting sold for, & when Jayden finished his own project & realised he hadn't signed the front of it decided he'd be lucky to get a measly penny for his art work. Ahh, that boy! We're waiting on the library to bring in a book on Warhol & then we'll try our hands, at home, on another couple of projects based on his style of art.

Both boys finished off their writing books, their previous spelling books, & are ever so nearly done with math books. Slowly but surely they are working their way towards the finish line. Next term we were set to do a few different things, but have decided to go ahead & slide into some of the new curriculum rather then wait until next year. I'll have to share about those choices in another post.

Jayden pulled out his mega cool robot & was working with that for a bit too. He still needs to focus on programming it to do a few things, but he couldn't stop laughing each time he asked if it could dance & it would attempt this funny little jig. His bird isn't too fussed about it either & has been caught perched on the bot's hand a few times. Cracks me up each time I see it.

Despite our scare with Nana earlier in the term she's doing fantastically well & we surprised her with dinner, flowers, chocolates, & a chocolate pie for her 82nd birthday. It's very very difficult to make a GREAT cake that fits all the allergen criteria in our home. We've nearly mastered a beautiful buckwheat cake, but as it can be fickle I went for the pie method instead which is safe for all of us. Our theory was that on your 82nd birthday you've likely all ready celebrated with 81 cakes. Funniest part was she'd all ready had 2 cakes that day from friends & groups she meets with regularly.

It's been a crazy crazy term for us, much more crazy then the other 2 this year, but it wasn't a bad term. Morgan kept himself on track the entire way & finished ahead of schedule which was really impressive to watch. He holds himself to some pretty high standards & goals, had a few setbacks, but in the end stuck it out. Jayden's term was slightly more lax then I'd normally care to see but he did faithfully attend to his reading, math, & language arts daily, with a fare dose of science thrown in there.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Simple Cherry Ice Cream


We missed out on cherry season last summer. It was a very narrow window due to unusually weather. We had a crazy wild spring, followed by a hot dry summer & it was just kinda sad that we didn't get to enjoy as many cherries as we'd normally enjoy over the summer months.

Cherry fever hit our house, after the short summer supply, a month or so ago & our local shop had some frozen ones on special so I picked them up. The boys wanted to make banana splits complete with "cherries on top" & all that hoopla. I wasn't opposed, but in all fairness, banana splits are crazy here because we have to make every aspect, except the banana, from scratch.

One afternoon the youngest was wishing we had ice cream & while we didn't I told him I had an idea. We chucked our bag of cherries in the blender with some chilled coconut cream we had in the fridge & he was chuffed with the ice cream treat.

We've made it a few times since then, thanks to half price cherry sales, & it's a huge hit each time. The batch above was a little less thick as we dunked in a little too much coconut cream when mixing it up. Here's our pretty basic recipe:

Cherry "Ice Cream"

500g cherries
coconut cream

We throw the cherries in, then the cream, I'd start with about 1/4 cup & work up as needed. You don't want to burn out your blender. We have one of those nifty fancy pants blenders so it's pretty tough & has a tamper tool making it super easy to whirl all sorts of creations together with little effort.  We haven't tried freezing it after making it up because it doesn't last that long.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

What's On The BookShelf: July & August


 In July I crash listened to all of 7 of the Harry Potter books via Audible. Yep, all 7. After a few rough weeks of craziness & some rough patches I was looking for a book to read to invest myself in & when I was sorting through my stack I opted for the HP Series.

It was nice to absorb myself in books where good always wins, the right choices are always made no matter how hard they are, & where friends stick with one another to the very end. Yes, I've read the book a few dozen times {to put it lightly}, but sometimes rereading a good book is like visiting with old friends.

Book 5 is always the hardest, the turning point. Professor Umbridge is so decidedly evil for all the typical reasons: self glorification, hatred, bigotry.  I've always hated & loved that book. Not to mention the loss of Sirus always deeply annoyed & saddened me.  All though each time I reread the loss of Dumbledore & then Fred it's caused me to state my complete distaste for Rowling. Ahh, I'm a nerd what can I say. I think my family caught on to just how nerdy I am when they announced they were going to bed & I shouted, "What?! Now?! The Battle of Hogwarts has just begun I cannot go to bed now!"

As always listening to Jim Dale read any book is pure delight, & these books were fun to listen to again, despite being sad & heart wrenching in places.  I did not, however, rush out to buy The Cursed Child after finishing the origional series, & am not entirely sure I'm interested in reading it. My #1 beef with Shakespeare has always been that I hate reading out play scripts. They leave much to be desired because of the lack of description, & knowing that's exactly how The Cursed Child will be formatted makes me groan, not to mention the amount of spoilers I've all ready read about the story.

In August I dug this book off the shelf & began rereading portions of it, skimming through others, & delving into portions I felt I really needed to refresh myself on.

My youngest found the entire idea that I was reading this book absurd because I am all ready homeschooling 2 teenagers so why bother? Ahh, if only..

I actually pulled this book off the shelf to refresh myself on various ways to accomplish things in grades 9-12 in the USA. Yes, we live in Australia, but having children who are citizens in both countries we'd like to be sure we've covered all the ground work.

There are also rumors afoot that we could land back in the states before our children have completed their high school years & so it's equally important, if not more so, to be sure we're covering the ground we need to cover now so that the kids don't need to backtrack down the line.

Over all the book gives some great tips & ideas, but there are some aspects of it that are so-so. For instance, the author states that she doesn't advice what she's about to suggest that you do. Which makes one shake their head & ask exactly why she's suggesting it then. While I'm not intent to hold my child back if he wishes to aim for dual credit I think there is a lot to be said for rushing children through some things instead of enjoying where they are at. Not to mention the mass of immature children who are not ready for various aspects of life that have been thrown at them.

I've also been plaguing many friends on US soil for help & tips & running various information by them to make sure we're on the right track. It's funny to be 10 years into homeschooling & suddenly feel like a fish out of water. Having said that after much research, asking, praying, & help we finally feel like we have direction & our eldest has even formulate a 4 year plan with the idea that some things are mandatory & others are ones he can pick & choose from.  Exciting times for sure!