20016 Week In Review: Week 4

We wrapped up our fourth week of school here this week & admittedly it was so much calmer then Week 3. We like calm weeks, it makes for a lot more ease in getting things accomplished.

The boys also found a routine, set by themselves, that has them finishing their work nice & early in the day. This contributes to our smooth days because they are keen to stick to the path they've forged in order to meet their own personal goals & end our term/year where they want to be.

Needless to say we enjoyed a full week of solid work & everyone walked away feeling very accomplished.
History & Geography:

Lots of reading again this week in SOTW as we traveled through Asia & learned about the various leadership issues those countries were going through while Europe dealt with it's own problems & the beginning colonies of America were underway.

We learned more about European Explorers in our European History book, & covered a bit of each in our Encyclopedia. We continued on with our Myles Standish book & are about halfway or so through it. Again, it ties in so beautifully with our European History book that it's a fantastic read.

The books by Cheryl Hanes in this series have a timeline that run along the bottom of the books. They are really really lovely to look at & read through, & it's even more interesting to see the timeline that runs across the bottom of Myles story as we've learned so much about many of the items covered on the timeline at this point.

Our current Read Aloud for this area is still Master Cornhill. The crowds are still torn on liking or not liking this book with one one firmly on each side. I'm still curious to see where this book is going, but am equally torn on the kids opinions on the story.

We watched a couple more episodes of Colonial House. I have to say that while the theory behind the show is very interesting it's lacking compared to other "House" shows. I suppose that's bound to happen when a group of people are gathered together & it's not just one family working. Admittedly there were some unusual topics that came up in this weeks episodes that would not have been discussed in the 1600's.

We're still marking the places we read about in our history travels. I can't believe how much our map is filling in at this stage. We hung the second map up to help us later in the year as we hit more places in the US.

We added more timeline figures to our stash this week. These are only a couple of the ones we coloured in this week. Or rather, the kids. They take turns colouring them & then just copy it all onto sticker paper, cut them out, divvy it up & slap them in their timeline books.

We were a wee bit slack this week with our timeline review all though we did add more items to it & a new Bible verse to our Memory Box.


We're still moving through Chemistry with Bookshark Science 6. No experiments per-say this week all though was a crystal growing one in the book the boys were going to set about doing on the weekend. I'll share photos if they get it set up. It needs to be put together & left in a place where it won't be moved which is their only hesitation because things get moved like crazy around here!

Some of the content this week was a review, & less enticing then when we learned it the first time around, about the Periodic Table of Elements. We read a great book about all the elements last year that was really fun, so covering more of it this year is really just review at this point. I'm actually anxious to move out of the Chemistry section of this study merely because it feels like we've been here forever, but Morgan's enjoying it.

Language Arts:

I'm still not overly enthusiastic with our poetry book this year, but we're sticking with it. I know there will be some more familiar poets ahead as well as some lovely selections coming up. That's not to say the selections & poets thus far aren't familiar or lovely, but rather that the selections thus far just aren't our cup of tea.

We covered Week 2 in Grammar Ace. More review, this time with verbs. Most of this book will be review for the boys based on what we studied last year & I'm still not entirely certain that we won't add in something a wee bit more formal. I do have it on hand to be capable of doing that with & it would tie in really lovely with Grammar Ace. You can tell what I've been thinking about can't you? Anyway, this week we watched the Grammaropolis video on verbs: Lights Camera Verb.

We advanced forward with spelling again this week. It's amazing how smoothly spelling lessons can go when children can see the words they are spelling in order to notice the patterns & combinations we are working with.

Both boys worked through another week of their writing curriculum, which we're still very much enjoying. Some lessons are certainly more challenging then others, but they are all taught at a good pace in order for the child to really grasp what's going on.


We're still steadily working through these 2 books. Still very much enjoying the meaning & information in Do Hard Things. How fun was it to discuss this book with friends this week? I love that my boys are really starting to look at things in a different manner, which is the best proof of how much they are taking away from this book.

We continued our study of John this week hitting Chapter 2. I previously mentioned that we thought it was a little bit weak, & that remained so this week.. That's not nessecarily a bad thing. As an example what we did over the course of 3 days this week was the equivalent of what we would have done in one day with our 2 Timothy study.  We'll see if it progresses any as we continue our travels. We have all three books to study the entire book of John.


Morgan is still working away steadily with Open2Study & his Game Design class. We're still waiting for word back on one of the quiz questions which, according to the lecture, didn't add up accurately. He's not alone in his theory & while he hasn't gotten an answer yet he did run it by Mr S & who agreed that the answer in the quiz didn't fit the theory being recognised. Either way, he has one module to finish up next week & then if he passes the course he can obtain a certificate for his efforts.

We hit the pool with a group of friends on Friday, a great way to wrap up our work week. Admittedly one wasn't suppose to take photos at the pool & I had no idea until I'd all ready snapped a picture of the empty pool {minus my child's head}. In fact, it wasn't until I jumped in just before we left when my child said, "Why can't we take photos at the pool anymore?" Ooops. Admittedly, while I do obey rules {permitting I know them} the idea that I can't take a picture of my child at the pool does rather infuriate me in ways I won't bore you with.

Another week of Cricket in the bag. This season of Cricket can't end soon enough for us. It's been an absolute disgrace & disaster, but more about that later. Our boy did a smashing job bowling his overs & slugged out a few 6's & 4's, & overall proved that despite how unruly your team is you can still set the example..

My artistic boy was busy, busy, busy this week with lots of projects. He's been rather smitten with the My Little Pony show of late thanks to the little pony depicted to have Irlen. It's rare enough for anyone to understand exactly what's going on with you, but it's rarer still to find anything that incorporates a character with this issue into their show/book/etc. This week we found a video all about how to draw these crazy ponies. It inspired him to have a hand at it as he's working on a rather special one for someone's upcoming birthday.

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To Teach or To Clean..

Years & years ago when I was homeschooled at one of our end of year ceremonies each family handed {Dad’s & kids} handed Mom’s roses & thanked them or told them a reason they were grateful for their Mom/wife.

One particular husband got up & made a compelling speech that he use to get annoyed that the house wasn’t perfectly clean when he came home from work, but then he realised that his children were perfectly educated & if he could only have one of those options he’d take the educated children any day.

At the time it made quite a buzz amongst the group because those words hit the hearts of many Mamma’s who realised quite a few things that evening, the biggest being that they weren’t alone in their quest to try & do it all but fall short. It’s a pretty big myth that any person can do it all, much less on their own. Yet many of us still hold ourselves to such insane lofty goals.

All those years ago I was a teenager & while I was very aware of the buzz that was created by this mini speech {& most likely don’t remember it word for word correctly} I’ve never forgotten how much it meant to so many Mammas who were giving their all to their own special families, my own mother included.

Yet, when we first started homeschooling I still saw to it that my home was clean before we began lessons, & let’s face it when you have young children in the home a clean house is sorta like looking for Bigfoot, it eludes you constantly. Our days were fraught with an imbalance of cleanliness over education, but more importantly undue stress heaped upon my own shoulders.

My husband has never once complained about the condition of our home. No matter how dirty it was he’s never said anything. So the guilt & stress that I was feeling was 100% made up guilt on my own behalf. And why?

I get it, I get that many of us, including myself, thrive in a beautifully tidy home. Everyone loves seeing a sparkling kitchen, a clean floor, & an empty laundry hamper. But here’s the thing, my kids aren’t going to remember how clean the kitchen was, or how empty the laundry hamper is. They might remember the drudgery of it all, & that, my friends was a thought that hit me square in the face one day.

Did I really want my children’s biggest memory of childhood to be the fact that Mom was a raving lunatic unless the house was clean, the laundry folded, & the dishes done? No, no I did not. It scared me. It scared me that my children might never come home to visit me for fear they’d muss something up & I’d make them fix it. I feared that if I’m ever blessed with grandchildren my children wouldn’t bring them to visit for fear I’d flip out about the toys on the floor. 

But you know, I also realised that I wasn’t teaching my children while I was busy fussing over the tidiness of my home. Which made me remember the words spoken all those years ago, & made me realise that I too would prefer my children to be educated than that my home was immaculate.

Now don’t get me wrong, we don’t wallow in filth. We all have chores we attend to each day, generally in the evening after school & hobbies have been attended to. We have spaces that aren’t picked up daily so that creativity can flow.. 

There’s often a desk covered with art supplies, half drawn pictures, markers, & half built games. Our rumpus room is often covered with lego projects, random lego pieces, half built puzzles, musical instruments, & countless paper projects. The main rooms of the home are tidied each day, but these other spaces where creativity flows are left alone until the projects are completed & then we clean things up before beginning another one. We work together to deal with dishes, bathrooms, & vacuuming. Everyone is responsible for their own laundry & bedrooms.

I no longer feel that I have to choose between educating my children or cleaning my home, but if I falter I only have to remind myself that I’d prefer well educated children to a clean home.

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Easing Back Into A Routine

Did you ever notice how many people are spent, to the max, after the first day or even week of starting back to school? I do, & I admit, I’ve been there before. I use to make the crazy mistake of starting back to school all chipper & gung-ho for the new material & the great year ahead, only to find 5 minutes into our day we were so far behind schedule it was unlikely we’d finish half of what we’d hoped to accomplish in the day.

It’s hard to put in words, but I feel really bad when I read comments about how gutted people are after their first day back, or week, or month. It’s a true struggle & for some it takes even longer to get back into the swing of things.

Something I learned many years ago was that starting back at a very slow pace eliminates that craziness. It goes against the grain, to some degree, to not jump into everything & march boldly forward, but here’s the deal Friends: Your kids aren’t ready.

They’ve spent weeks, or months in some cases, playing hard. Sleeping in, spending hours reading the books of their own choosing, writing crazy funny stories, creating games, making movies, swimming, biking, watching videos, & having fun long late nights where they stay up well past normal telling stories & reliving everything they’ve done.

Getting them to bed a little early the weekend before you start back to business & prepping them with countless reminders isn’t going to really change the fact that snapping out of vacation mode is hard work. I mean, let’s face it, how many times have you gone on vacation & realised you suddenly need a vacation from your vacation! 

Instead of starting back with all our studies in one go we break it down so that it can take 3-4 weeks before we are back at things full-force. Now, I’m not going to lie it’s a struggle for this Type-A planner gal who wants to tick boxes & march steadily forward seeing certain things accomplished each week, but here’s the secret most people aren’t aware of: starting back slowly means you’ll make more progress far more quickly then jumping in face first.

I know that sounds crazy & completely backwards, but it’s not. Think about it, you can gradually move your child back to a normal waking hour because you’re only adding in a few subjects at a time. You can accomplish two goals at one time & still be marching forward at a pace that works for your family.

In our home, the first week of school is all about getting back into routine. I have one child who wakes up at the same hour regardless, He can stay up until midnight on NYE & his wake-up time generally only changes by 5-30 minutes. The only time that kid sleeps in longer is if he’s sick & even then it’s not more then an extra hour. Our other child’s sleep time has always varied & as he’s going through a growth spurt, hormonal changes, & anxiety issues there are days his body needs extra sleep. Add long summer nights to the list & it gets kinda crazy with his sleep patterns.

In our first week back to business we work on getting anyone who’s been sleeping in up at a nominal time. In our home that’s between 830 & 840 when Mr S is about to head out the door to work. We tend to start school after we’ve waved him off & he’s out of sight. I accept that it’s a high chance my child will be pretty groggy on this day, & that’s totally cool because he only has to sit there & listen to me read a book & then attend to his math lesson. Depending on how much we read it can take an hour of time, maybe more maybe less.

By our second week we’re adding back in all our Language Arts components: Writing, Spelling, Assigned reading, & Grammar. Nothing flashy there, depending on how long the writing assignments are & how much time they devout to reading their new books it can add another 60-90 minutes to our day. 
In our third week we tend to add back history or science. History can take longer because we tend to spend a bit of time reading from various sources, but still we keep it to no more then an hour. Science is far quicker in our home so it tends to take 20-30 minutes on non-experiment days.

This particular year we added history in the first week alongside our math & it worked for us, & at the end of each of our first weeks back to school my youngest would ask what we were adding in next week & how much longer it would make his days. He was quite shocked to realise that his days didn’t get any longer despite adding more studies into them.

It’s really that simple.

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2016 Week In Review: Week 3

We wrapped up our third week of school this past week & with that the end of the month of January. It was a bit shocking to peep at the calendar this weekend & realise the end of the month had rolled in.

It's been a crazy January for us between bush fires & ragingly wild storms, but we've weathered it. We were encased in smoke again Monday, Tuesday some cooler air blew in & pushed the smoke away,  Wednesday we had thunder & a meagre amount of rain, & on Thursday the skies opened & with it came lightening. One bolt of it hit so close to our home I honestly thought it hit our backyard.. talk about a lovely fright!  It took out our power, but not entirely which resulted in a 25 minute wait with the electric company in which the end result was to see if someone was available to check our area & see if the fault they were after was closer to our home.  We ended up without power for about 5 hours, which wasn't too bad considering Nana, who only lives 3 blocks away, was without power for 12.5 hours!!

We started a new read aloud this week entitled Master Cornhill, this is one of the very few books for the year that I didn't pre-read so I'm quite curious to see where this story will take us. It takes place during 1665 after a summer of The Plague ravaged London.

We're still reading through Myles Standish & have only just reached Captain Myles himself. The first chapter or two of the book gave some background information on why people opted to leave England during the Reformation. It made for some lovely tie-in chapters to our European History book.

We've finished chapter 7 in European History this week after reading about the many persecutions & beliefs various people had. We're not quite through with some of that chaoticness yet, but it'll be a breath of fresh air to read through some of the Explorers for a while... & I'm not generally a fan of the Exploration years!

We're on track with Story Of The World & traveled through Holland, Africa, the New World, England, & Japan this week as we read various stories around the world. We followed each one up with a few pages from our Encyclopedia. I know that Kingfisher doesn't always get rave reviews, but we rather enjoy it. Both my kids have always really enjoyed looking things up & this just feeds that love. It's also interesting to see pictures of what we're reading about in other books so it ties in beautifully.

We took Tuesday off for Australia Day as Mr S was home & it was a public holiday. It was a quieter Australia Day for us, all though we did have a small BBQ & there were a few sword fights with the crazy air-sticks in the photo above. Mister-Someone was going to make muffins to celebrate the day, but he had a lovely long sleep-in, so we made a quick batch of mint-choc ice cream instead.

Back to work on Wednesday for us & the boys were having a mad dash to find various locations I called out from our history book. The map Jayden is looking at is labeled & one we've had for years upon years. He was calling out the letters for the markable map to be properly labeled. Our Markable Map is filling in really quickly this year. We've decided to pull our second one out & hang it above that for making locations in the USA to help us along some.

Yes, he's eating pizza while watching his math lecture, & here you thought homeschoolers only did school in their pjs! Ha! He lamented that he was, "starving & not going to be able to concentrate too well!" I told him there was left over pizza in the oven & he was welcome to eat it while he watched his lecture. He's so close to the end of his math book there's much excitement growing over it!

I seem to have no photo of Morgan working on his math. He opted to stay put this week as he was confusing some of the definitions with his math. We discovered, however, that it had more to do with misreading the information. He wrapped it up last week & will progress forward. He has 3 lessons left in his book, so there's great excitement there too.

Bible this week was more from each of these books as well as finishing off Daniel & moving into Hosea. We're still really enjoying Do Hard Things which has continued to spark many deep conversations around the house on a variety of topics from the book. It's been interesting to hear a child let out a half complaint before the other reminds him that he just needs to, "Do hard things.."

We read a few more poems from our Classic Poetry book. We covered William Wordsworth this week, & admittedly he wasn't a favourite for any of us which caused a mild discussion about it being, perhaps, the reason he struggled to make a living & provide for his family as a poet. We don't dislike our poetry book this year, but it's most certainly not of the same flavour as the book we used last year which we all loved.

We were a bit later then intended getting started with our Grammar Ace, but we got going with it this week. The first week was nouns so really it was a simple review for my gang as will many of the lessons be, but that's okay. We'll be breaking it up over the course of the weeks ahead watching the corresponding videos from Schoolhouse Rocks & playing some of the games. Short & simple.

This boy continued progress with his writing this week, he took his dedication to a whole new level when he pulled it out to do during the major storm that blew through Thursday. I was sitting on the floor using one hand to hold a flashlight for him, the other arm comforting little brother, & a foot on the dog who was in absolute distress. Most of the time he listens to an audio recording of his lesson & then pulls up a corresponding computer file to do the work.

This one ended up doing 2 lessons of writing in one day to make up for his missing lesson from the chaos of Thursday. He's coming along so well with his summaries, narrations, & dictation. It's amazing what a pair of spiffy specs can do to help you see & comprehend better. Admittedly, his narrations will still be slack if he's worried about needing to write it himself, but over all he's made huge progress & I was impressed with his own dedication to make up a missing lesson the following day.

It was back to business with science this week too. We're still in the throws of Chemistry for a few more weeks before we move on to the next scheduled topic. I'm grateful for the Bookshark Science programme because it means science gets done in our home. We really love the What's Science All About book & have owned it well before Science 6. We read a bit from it each day & find corresponding questions, crosswords, or diagrams on our worksheets that match up with our reading. Chemically active is usually scheduled on the 4th day & can sometimes have an experiment in it. We ended up doing this rather late on Thursday thanks to that crazy storm that wreaked havoc on us.

Friday we had a lovely afternoon out with friends that ended up getting cut short thanks to the storm rolling back in. Our child dealing with anxiety doesn't cope well with thunder & when you add lightening to the mix it's all he can do to hold himself together, much less in an environment that isn't home. The rain was so bad on the way home we had to pull over for 10 minutes to wait it out before making a mad dash to collect Mr S early from work because there was no way I was going out in it a second time.

Jaydie has been dying to make some lovely mini choc banana muffins from his new cookbook. What is it about mini muffins that adds so much appeal to them? My kids have always gone nuts over mini-muffins! He'd intended all week to mix these things up & things just never happened. He was so cross about the power outage on Thursday because he'd intended to make them then in order to take them to share with friends! He finally got to mix them up on Saturday afternoon & was delighted with his results. I couldn't eat them due to egg & other ingredients, but the guys all gave him 2 thumbs up & wondered when he was going to make more.


We did cover spelling this week, but we move through it fairly quickly so no photos. We're really eager to wrap up the book we are currently using & move into the next one, which is great inspiration to keep us on track.

By the time the power popped back on after it's long outage we had a very late lunch & art projects we were in the middle of. So while we ate our lunch & finished off our projects we watched Episode one of Colonial House which is very fitting considering the history lessons we had this week. We'd intended to watch more on Friday evening, but well the storm was back..

Both boys are still working through their assigned book. Jayden's progress is on target, all though he had one day that was a bit of a struggle for him. Morgan is plowing through his book reading 4-5 chapters day which is just blowing us away. This is the same kid who could barely handle a page of reading without having a headache bad enough to blind him a year ago. So grateful for our spiffy specs.

Morgan continued with his Concepts In Game Design course, & is still doing well with it. He doesn't dislike the course, & he's taken a lot of the information & applied it to some Scratch projects he's working on as well as some game board projects, but overall he wishes there'd been a bit of actual programming involved. Mr S joined him for a couple of the lessons just to have a peep & walked away with a few comments that cracked us up..

Lots of art projects unfolding around here from game boards to colouring to paper folding. It took us a good half hour to clean up the floor in the library this week due to all the bits & bobs of paper, rolling marker caps, & a vast array of other "tools" which needed to be put away. Never let it be said that homeschooling is mess free, I assure you it is not.

We're looking forward to a week with no interruptions in it, hopefully, next week!

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Planners Week 5

Last week I never really had the design in my planner grow on me. It wasn't bad, by any means, but I just really missed the whole decorating aspect & didn't feel I really got that with the label type stickers last week. Mind you, this weeks layout is lovely & colourful & bright so comparing them is pretty hard. Equally I had a bit of extra time thanks to some crazy rough weather to play this week.

I was asked several questions about items used in this layout, so I'll do my best to give a quick rundown on that for those interested:

  • The colourful tape is actually sticker border; the washi I purchased last November has still not arrived so I found something else to use in it's place.
  • Border Stamps: I'm not sure who made them, I picked them up last year for $2 at a local craft shop. There's no insert & no brand written on the acetate.
  • All the small icons & words came from various Sweet Stamp Shop sets: Plan To Eat, Plan Every Day, Plan School, Plan Fitness, Plan Home
  • The Gumballs & Gumball Machine are from Lawn Fawn's Sweet Smiles set. Dashes between the gumballs are from the Lawn Fawn Happy trails Set
  • Hexagons are from Miss Kimm's Weekend set.
Phew, I think that's all I used aside from my coloured pencils! 

Our School Planner is less colourful & more business like. No idea who made the car/truck stickers, it's another packet I found. Years ago, when our second child was 3, he was always going to be a tow truck driver. Trucks in general fascinated him & I can't tell you how many times I'd pull over, much to the annoyance of other drivers, to the sound of a siren that often turned out to be our own child. Somehow, he managed to miss sticking a few of these silly stickers to his bed, his face, his clothes, the car windows, & anything else that seemed a good idea at the time.

Yes, our Friday is pretty empty. We use it to catch up on things we didn't accomplish, meet up with friends, &/or go somewhere on our own. We'll also be using some Friday mornings for art & other fun projects. This coming week, however, our Friday looks pretty empty..

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Current Events

Our history curriculum urges the use of reading & watching Current Event news reports with your children. We're all for it, to a degree, & use to participate much more openly in this early last year & the year prior. Then the world went a little crazy, & a whole lot scary. Add that to the anxiety issues our youngest is dealing with & it left us wondering about what sources to use.

While I won't say we've replaced that yet, we've spent the last couple of weeks reading articles from the Summer Special our Australian Reader's Digest subscription gave us. The articles inside, much like the Fred article, are all written years ago, but each one had something important to share.

I selected each one based on that. Years ago we were all sitting in the lounge room discussing various modern amenities, don't ask me why it's pretty normal around here, when Nana mentioned she remembered when the ball point pen was invited. It kinda halted us in our tracks to think about such a majorly used item being a hot ticket item. When the article about the history behind the ball point pen turned up I knew I had to share it with the kids.. & so goes each article from above.

I have a few more flagged from this particular issue as well as a previous one from last year. While it's not actually current event articles, it's a bit of a relief from the scariness of our world. Terror Attacks, Bush Fires, Mud-Flinging Politicians,  & the list goes on. It's nice to reflect back on events that changed our world, moments of kindness that helped shape another's life.

As for actual current events, I read through our local newspaper, other newspapers in our country, & The Washington Post to share things with the gang. We choose to be a little picky about what we share with our youngest. It's not our attempt to hide what's going on, but rather to choose how much of it to share with him.

What to do you choose to use for Current Events & why? I'd be curious to know & see if it's one of the items on my list that I peek in on from time to time.

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Planners Week 4

This weeks planner has an Australian theme. Admittedly I'm not as found of the overall layout because I didn't have right texture of sticker paper to print out & the ink was heavily absorbed causing them to look dull. I printed the various Aussie themed sections from a Free Project Life Australia Day I'd grabbed a while back. I think the red icon on the bottom left is a random image I found online & thought it was fitting for the holiday. It's caused me the most grief going on there evenly. Oh well, the main theme is conveyed & there's plenty of room to write down all that I record each week so i'm good with that.

However, I couldn't handle the lack of decorative stamping! The white stickers, such as the one on the far right here are really fun, but they don't add the same decorative feel. So I pulled out a sheep from a Lawn Fawn stamp set & plopped him in there. I gave him an Aussie flag sticker to hold to keep the theme alive. 

My school planner was a little more cut & dry, & I liked it a bit more. I don't do decorating in this planner because I don't have a lot of room to spare so it's a pretty clean layout with some Aussie stickers we've had around for ages. I'm pretty sure the kids picked up one of those 250 page sets way back when they head a half dozen pen-pals & wanted to include a little something special for each one. The bookmark is one I made with some scrapbooking paper I had & spare ribbons. I still have the school schedule one, but I moved it to a back area for the time being as I needed something very visible to see my place when the planner was closed.

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