Author: Kendra
• 12:00 AM
We're slowly getting back into the rhythm of our days here, all though we're still not up to full speed with our work yet. Our mornings are still off a bit shaky as Mr S has thrown out his back & needs to be taken to the office instead of his normal biking. I keep teasing him that by the time we've found a good pattern with it he'll be right as rain & back to biking in.. you know, until the spring rains hit. Not that we've been for lack of rain here lately.

Lots of wind & rain this week as cold fronts have tried to resurface & make themselves known. It's made for some interesting weather that's for sure. Nothing quite like walking outside & getting whipped off your feet from the stiff sea breeze.

The boys have taken great pleasure in keeping the wood fire going this week. I'm not sure we've all shared the same pleasure with the mess that it makes, but the warmth has been welcome in these brisker winter months.

At long last we wrapped up The Wind In The Willows which caused shouts of jubilation from the youngest amongst us. The excessive descriptions & long winded vocabulary really turned him off. I think the chapter I mentioned last week in which seemed completely unfitting compared to the rest of the book was just more then he could cope with & he asked if we could skip the last few remaining chapters. He was dragged back into the finish, after all a great galloping fight in order to regain control of Toad Hall was right up his ally, but it wasn't quite enough to win him back. We did have a few good chuckles reading about the inspiration for toad; Mr Grahame own son!

We dug back into our Bible study this week, we're so close to being done with the entirety of 2nd Timothy. It's been such a lovely study & the lessons this week have been so incredibly fitting for things going on in our neck of the woods. I promise that is not scribble all over my Bible, but marks that have specific meanings. We should wrap this study up next week, & then the great debate comes to which one we'll tackle next.

We continued with our current Devotional, despite the length of time it's taking us we're really enjoying it. We may pull out our other AIO devotional & read through that one again when we wrap this one up. We've crossed the halfway mark in Live Like A Jesus Freak. We're really enjoying the thoughts & messages in this book, it makes me wonder about the others in the series & if they might be worth acquiring or not..

Taking Mr S to work means we have to pick him up to.. the nights the kids came with me we continue listening to 101 Dalmatians. There are a few scenes we'd forgotten about that had us chuckling again & then the beloved scenes we still remember. I'm curious if the sequel still follows the same story line or if it's entirely different all together.

It was forward march with spelling this week. We were suppose to hit Lesson 80 this week, but one of the boys really struggle with a phonetic combination this week & I put the breaks on to create a few "homemade" Sequential Spelling lessons with words based on that combination & another combination he'd equally been struggling with. We'll tackle that next week & then move forward as planned. Usually they do well if a phonetic sound is introduced despite being spelled 2 ways, but this week there was just a bit of confusion & I really don't want to that to be an issue every time they go to spell certain words.

Both boys moved forward in math. The one in the background was actually reading in the picture above, he'd finished his math all ready. We may need to pause in math for one student as well & take the time to review previously learned lessons just to really help him build confidence & feel grounded. He's doubting himself a little bit too much in some areas & it's causing more dread then normal for math. A small pause to review previous lessons should help build confidence & have him ready to roll in a week's time or so.

On the few days it was raining we skipped out for walks at a local walk path. We had the shock of our lives one afternoon when on our way back to the car there was a truck coming up the walk path with two children in front of it screaming at people to get out of the way. I ended up annoying the driver when I stopped in the middle of the path to figure out what on earth was going on & why his children were screaming. I'd had earphones in & thought something was wrong.. Once we sorted out what was going on I refused to move off the track onto the rocky edge which was eroding away due to excessive rain waters. Alas, who knew walking tracks were for trucks! For the record, they aren't, so if you live locally don't get any ideas. A call to the police sorted that question out & they are now patrolling the area to prevent further incidents.

Speaking of eroding we read about eroding river banks in Raging Rivers this week as well as a great many other interesting things including how the source of the Nile was the source of an ongoing fight until Stanley solved the question that had been plaguing people for years. On our science days we read from Chemical Chaos which elicited a lot of gleeful, "Oh you didn't forget hoorah!" from certain young men. We read about Marvellous Murderous Metals..

We wrapped up our week by digging into our next book, Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. Jayden's been less then delighted about the idea after being completely frustrated with our last one, but thus far he's found the lighter read enjoyable. It truly is lighter compared to our last few & shouldn't take us long to get through. We'll see next week we need to add in a bit more science & some history.. not to mention writing.
Links to this post
Author: Kendra
• 12:00 AM
One of our newer board games this year is called Bounce Off. I purchased it for one of the boys birthdays & it's been a huge hit ever since it's arrival. The guys have all had a few rounds of it, but it wasn't until last weekend I was actually able to sit down & indulge in a game with them. I have to say the game is pretty addictive.

While waiting my turn & trying to decide if someone was cheating or not I was looking at the game box & rules when I spotted the funny sticker on the front of the box. I started out chuckling when the guys wanted to know what was up. I suspect, really, they thought I'd caught them out on standing too close or something silly like that. Nope, just a really funny sticker.

The objective of the game is to replicate a pattern onto the game board. The pattern is predetermined when a player draws a card from the stack. From there players take turns around the table attempting to bounce a ball onto the simplistic game board & achieve the pattern goal. Pretty simple, really.

Except, of course, the objective of getting a hollow ping pong ball bounced off our wooden kitchen table to go exactly where we want it to every single time is not all that possible. Counter that with the fact that you can play on teams & your teammate not always realise what on earth you're doing. It gets pretty intense too. At one point both teams were 1 ball-in-the-right-position away from winning, & neither team was having much luck..


Check out the video of the winner.
Links to this post
Author: Kendra
• 12:00 AM

While in town mailing off packages this week we popped into a few of our favourite Op-Shops to have a look around. We don't visit the op-shops often because we always find something fun to bring home & I prefer to keep stuff out of the house as opposed to in. Our three newest books are a great point in case.

If you're a FIAR Curriculum fan you'll recognise the bottom book. Mr Gumpy's Motor Car was always a favourite here, & when I saw it on the .50 table I'm pretty sure I squealed aloud before snatching it up. Funnily enough a child said, "But we all ready own that one!" Yes, actually we do, but we brought it home anyway. The book use to be out of print, all though I believe you can score it for between $15 & $31 over at Book Depository {linked above} these days. Or you could just watch someone read it over on YouTube.

The Once & Future King was sitting on the shelf inside, for $2, which excited me as well. It's been on my list of books to read for a couple of years now. I think we have the audio version of it, or else that's equally on our list. Either way I was really excited to find it. You know that The Sword In The Stone was based on book 1 right? Yeah, I know I'll read the book & hate the movie, but that's cool.

I also spotted Tom's Midnight Garden for a $1. We've seen the movie previously which really made us quite curious about the book as it left a great deal out, not to mention we were watching a scratched up DVD from our local library that did not play very well in our DVD player. Forget the movie, we'll just read the book!

Now all I need is a few spare days in which I have no responsibilities so I can read.. I guess I'll have to settle for a few stollen minutes each day instead.
Links to this post
Author: Kendra
• 12:00 AM
I've been a bit slack in sharing some of the reviews we've written, & I'd really meant to share the one done on the WP LA we've been using. We've enjoyed it so much, & shared a bit here & there about the enjoyment the kids have had in using the programme.

It was out first official LA curriculum that we've ever used. We've read books about parts of speech like The Word Spy & really enjoyed every minute of our time with the books. In fact, my boys recently reminisced that they hoped the Word Spy was off on another adventure collecting more information to write a third book.

As for the WP LA, I've really enjoyed using it with the kids & watching them learn as they move along solving mysteries. Level 4 is not the only series in which there is a mystery to solve, Level 6 has a space themed mystery too, where as Levels 3 & 5 visit with Scout The Dog who is also a very loveable character to get to know.

My only word of warning is not to make a quick purchase without checking through the samples & considering looking over the Placement Test. Having not had previous experience this was a non-issue for me, but I've heard from others who've made the switch & ended up ahead of where their child was academically. Also, be aware that if you purchase Level 6 there is only very moderate instruction as the level was written under the premise that your student would have been learning all the information for the past 3 levels & is now ready to put it all to use.

For links to the placement tests & a few more details check out our review over on The Curriculum Choice.
Links to this post
Author: Kendra
• 12:00 AM
We're about to embark upon a new time period in history, & we're pretty excited. It's been a long journey & I'm glad we traveled it from the comfort of the sofa & not on foot! My feet ache thinking about it actually.. As we head off into the Renaissance & beyond it was time to select new books for our pleasure.

I always struggle with this, because the truth is there are just too many great books! Deciding exactly which ones we'll use & which ones we'll have to leave laying by the wayside can take a lot more effort then it really should, in fact I'm pretty sure it took me about 3 months to make official plans on how I was going to handle this time period. I wasn't kidding when I said it could take a long time!

Eventually we settled on our beloved Winter Promise. We've really enjoyed every theme we've used from the lovely company, & I'm kinda desperately hoping they'll come out with the final Quest Theme before we finish this one, hey I can dream!! Either way, we opted to go with the Quest For Royals & Revolutions. We had it on the shelf as I'd picked it up earlier in the year in anticipation of using it, which does make one wonder why it took me 3 months to finalise plans, doesn't it?

The thing is, I also have Bookshark 7 on my shelf, Sonlight W, & Sonlight H. That's really too many choices to be honest & it made narrowing things down a lot harder! The upside is that many of the titles used in Sonlight & Bookshark are the same so that helped me narrow things down just a wee bit more.

In the end I decided we would use all the beautiful non-fiction selections from QFR&R. That was one problem solved. However, we're nearly done with the Story Of The World Series, so I figured we'd go ahead & finish those via the BkSk schedule. As for our literature, I took note of all books suggested by each curriculum & weeded out the ones I knew we wouldn't use. From there I compiled everything else into one massive list in chronological order, with a quick quip about what the book covers, which gives us one big list of books to work through!

If you're curious about the list, or keen for a peek, you can find it here. Our Middle Ages list is over here.
Links to this post
Author: Kendra
• 12:00 AM

I'm not generally a pre-reader of books for my kids. I know my children pretty well & find that they will quickly put a book down they find inappropriate. I once had a child complain about one of those newer Hardy Boys books because he found the name calling & bullying excessive. The thing is, I like to read the same books as my kids, especially our history books! I like to be able to talk about the characters with them & know exactly what my child means when he laments about an action, rejoices in a victory, & poses confusion over why a character did what they did. It also helps me to be ready for those bunny trails we are notorious for, to find pictures of the people we read about, & have a better understanding of exactly what my kids are learning.

Which means, I've been doing some major pre-reading around here over the past couple of weeks to get ahead of the game with Morgan's Term 3 books, & a few of Jayden's I'd fall behind on. They were all so lovely, & the ones I haven't finished yet are calling me as I sit here typing this instead of reading..

The Ravenmaster's Secret is set in the 1500's & tells the story of a young boy who lives at the Tower Of London. He's not a prisoner, unlike many others, instead he helps his father care for the ravens & even looks after a prisoner or two. The young hero in this book is struck by the injustice being done to a prisoner in his care & is desperate to help, but at what cost will the help come? The book has a lot of different things happening it at one time & shows the plights of not only those working or kept prisoner in The Tower Of London, but also those the cruel treatment & jobs children were subjected to at that time in history. I really love the way the history between Scotland & Britain was brought to life in this book as we've been reading about it in our copy of Our Island Story & will be reading In Freedom's Cause to go along with this book. After reading this book I was overjoyed to discover Secrets Of The Tower Of London on Netflix too!

The King's Fifth is a story about power & greed. It's a slower read with a thicker plot line; it too is set in the 1500's, but a bit later down the line. This brings to life some characters we've met before in other readings, but told in a different light. I haven't finished this book, & thus I'm curious to see if it will end like I suspect. I'm pretty sure my boy will ask to watch Road To El Dorado again as the gold stories tend to bring that request out. I will say if you go for an audio copy of this book the Spanish is beautiful in it, where as the main character's voice is often dreary, dull, & monotone; hopefully it won't mean my boy will feel it a chore to slog through this one.

Ghost Hawk is one I'm equally still listening to. It's narrated by the brilliant Jim Dale {we're huge fans here} & tells the story of a young native American who goes out on his right of passage to become a man & returns to find the people of his village dead. As the story moves on he meets the "Pale Faces" & even befriends one despite the heated troubles that are currently brewing between the two nations of people. There is so much more to this story then what I can sum up in such a small space of time, so perhaps when I finish it off I'll share a bit more indepth about it.

Nory Ryan's Song is the first book in a small series about a young Irish girl left to care for her family while her father is out to sea, her mother is dead, & her older sister marries & moves to America. It is after Nory's sister moves away that the potato blight of 1885 arrives & her village is left to starve to death at the mercy of the British peoples trying to take over their land. It's a quick, but emotional read & due to it being part of a series leaves you hanging just a little bit. I dare not say how or it will spoil the end of this book. We may watch this interesting video from PBS about the Potato Blight/Famine/Hunger. Don't miss the author's note at the end of the book, it's very very worth reading!

Operation Yes! this is a book that's meant to be used later in Term 4 but I have a little boy very keen for Mamma to check it out. I don't normally feel the need to check out books before handing them to my children, but with family members in the military some situations can hit close to home & cause my children great worry. This one has hit the back shelf as I work my way through the other books.

The Breadwinner was an incredibly moving & beautiful book. I read through it in an evening or there abouts & found it incredibly hard to put down. The book is deeply emotional, but so beautifully written that it keeps you going to the end. This book tells the plight of a family living in Afghanistan. The story follows a family who meets disaster when the only man in the home is arrested & they are left to fend for themselves in a city where woman aren't well treated. The author did an amazing job weaving all sides of what's happening into this story. There is hard stuff in this book, but it's the kind of hard stuff I think our children need to be aware of. As a warning there's a pretty rough scene in the book where a man's hands are chopped off. It doesn't go into great detail, but you'll know you're about to encounter it when the main character enters a soccer stadium.

Calico Captive is set during the French & Indian war & follows a family through an Indian War raid, but spends most of it's time dwelling on their time spent at Fort Duquesne. A good portion of the book, hidden amongst the main story, is also the maturing of the main character as she realises life isn't all about lovely dresses & dance parties. The story is based on a real family. My boy is all ready happily enjoying this book. I had to race to keep ahead of him on this one.

Indian Captive this book is also about the French & Indian War, but is shown, instead, from the view point of a captive adopted by the Seneca Indians. There is a lot more sadness in this tale as we follow Molly's plight. Her family, too, is caught in an Indian raid, something her father was so sure would never happen. They are hurried along trails & before long she is taken away from her family with one other person. Much later in the book you'll learn the gruesome fate of her family. It was interesting to see some of the same places mentioned in this book as were mentioned in the one above, but the outcome for the characters was greatly different. After finishing this one I looked the main character up & found a few photos of her & a bit more information, all of which made for an interesting read.

Angel In The Square takes place over several years, those preceding WWI in Russia. The story follows a young girl who moves to the Czar's home & becomes a playmate with the young girls. You see both sides of the situation in this story, & a few in between as well, as you watch the peasants revolt, the royals pretend, & those leading both sides take their places. The story was, again, a quick read & I really did enjoy the story all though I found the ending unsatisfying. The story spends much time following the Romaov family, but in the end leaves them off with no real closure on what happened to them, simply a presumed. Again, though, this book is part of a series & perhaps the next book covers that, all though I'm not so sure. Either way I had fun looking at these beautiful pictures of Russia pre-WWI & these photos of the Romanov Family.
Links to this post
Author: Kendra
• 12:00 AM
I've kinda lost track of what week we're on as I didn't keep up with it as well in the later half of Term 2, but I think we're on Week 21 not that it really matters in any great scheme of things.

This was a slow week for us as we ease ourselves back into schedules & routines. We've enjoyed some very laid back time & while we were still doing our work, we're ready to get back into our normal routine & a slower week is a great way to get there.

I find that if you just jump in head first you're likely to being calling out for help pretty quickly, where as if you slowly enter he water a little bit at a time you'll find that the journey is enjoyable & not a struggle.

Before I'm asked, it's not a new planner, just different colours then the one I made for 2014. No, it's not up for download yet as there's only 6 months worth of it ready & I'm looking at adding another 12 months & then offering it up as an 18 month type planner. We'll see what happens.

We're continuing our journey through the 90 Devotions in Matthew; we had a great laugh at how many days it's actually taken us as we're using it for our school morning devotional. We've opted to add a missionary type story to our Read Aloud Basket & we wrapped up our book about Mary Slessor this week. Sometimes we read the stories from Christian Heroes Then & Now & we think, "Hmm.." & sometimes we are greatly moved by one's love for Christ & the actions they took to show that love & not just waste hot air talking about it. Mary is one who's actions spoke far louder then her words. We really enjoyed her story & were inspired to look up a bit more about here. We found some real pictures of her, her adopted children, & even a few of the Chiefs & Ma's she lived with. If you're curious you can find them here, but be forewarned some of the ladies are bare chested.

Live Like A Jesus Freak is the book I've labeled "theology" in our basked, merely for lack of a better name. We are really enjoying the book, the stories presented, & the personal suggestions & challenges. My eldest was particularly moved by a statement in the book & openly shared some of his thoughts about it after a recent outing which left him with a sour experience. It was one of those moments where I realised just how much he's growing, not just physically, but equally in his own faith.

While we didn't dive into our normal science this week we began our rotation with the books from our Read Aloud Basket. We've been reading Raging Rivers each day, but only read The Story of Science on Thursday & friday. Raging Rivers is a lovely Horrible Geography book making it loaded not only with tons of facts, but it's written in an engaging way. We're loving it. The Story Of Science could also be considered the history of it, we're not far into it yet so I can't give too deep of an opinion. We started reading this one a year or two ago when we borrowed it form the library, but this time we purchased our own copy so we can read it at whatever pace we'd like.

We're still reading through The Wind In The Willows. We are nearly finished with this one & are tempted to finish it over the weekend, we'll see. This has been a slower read with much more vibrant vocabulary, all most too much so. I'm also semi-convinced that Mr Graham lost track of what he was doing about halfway through the book as he one minute he's telling us the story of Toad's escape & then derails himself for a rather lengthy chapter in describing how poor dear Ratty is dismayed by all the animals heading south. It doesn't add up with the following chapter in which we hear more escapades of Toad's escape as Toad is not far from Toad Hall & yet it does not seem to be winter, spring, or autumn in the story leaving one to wonder exactly how long toad lay asleep in the hollow of the tree while dressed like the washer woman. Morgan's enjoying the book thoroughly, but the the above mentioned chapter & thick vocabulary that was contained with in has led Jayden to feel he can't wait for this book to land back upon the shelf.

We've been listening to 101 Dalmatians again in the car. I read this book to the boys many years ago & they absolutely loved it. For ages Jayde use to ask if we could adopt another black & white dog so we could get our Mrs, or he was happy to settle for calling her Perdita, it didn't matter just so long as we could have puppies too. This time we've been enjoying an audio version & are enjoying just as much as ever.

With our colder winter mornings we had a fire going in the library & the kids wanted to do spelling in front of the fire. We were halfway through a week of spelling that we'd started the previous week & we finished it off this week. With Sequential Spelling all the words build off each other over the course of 4 days so we only had 2 days of spelling this week. Considering now one felt compelled to chuck their books in the fire after their test was over I think we did all right!

We're still using our lovely Winter Promise Language Arts, we're in our final book with the current level & the boys are still enjoying just as much as they did in Book 1. The information is presented in a very sensible manner so I have the boys use a highlighter to mark things in the book that can be used later as reference to review for the final tests that are at the end of each book. I think it's a great way to begin learning to take notes in books. They also use the highlighters to mark parts of speech in the sentences; this is far easier for my Vision Boy then underlining things with a pencil.

The rain let up during the middle of the week & I hustled everyone out the door & down to the beach for a walk. The scenery was gorgeous, but it was a bit of a hazardous walk on the way up the path. The sun was just so painful for two us with it shining in our eyes! We need to pick a different time of day to take our walk!

After any length of time off math I like to start back with simple flashcards which help with fact recall. After that & some boring skip counting, yes we still practice skip counting but with the harder families like 9's, we took to the white board for some math facts. I just wanted a basic review on things that normally trip each of them up a bit to gear them up for lessons back in their text books this week.

Morgan spent a lot of time working on making games again this week. This is a huge passion for him & generally each game has well thought out lists of rules & so forth. There's rarely every room for question with his games. He once made a lego game that had such a long list of rules he made it into a scroll, however when he pulled it out to ask the neighbor's kids to help him test it there was not a single fight amongst them because each time something came into question I heard someone say, "Let's just check the rules!" Jayde wasn't keen to have a play, so a Pokemon {don't ask me which one that is} was pulled into action instead.

The boys are taking Tennis lessons again this term & had those one evening this week. I'm looking forward to the warmer weather & lighter evenings for these lessons! I'm pretty sure if it doesn't roll in soon I'll turn to a block of ice on the cement seat I have. I was so cold this week I sent Mr S an SOS asking him to bring me hot cocoa, he told me he was in a meeting. Rats! The boys are really enjoying themselves & eager to get into things a bit deeper. My boys are the guilty ones who keep hitting the balls over the 10'+ fence. My apologies, in advance, to anyone who's been hit at the park or Bowl's Club in the past few weeks...

Jayde began his new book, The Matchlock Gun, which won't last him long. He was a little put out at first when I forewarned him there'd be Dutch names & words within. He's still at that phase of being intimidated by words that aren't English in his reading. We went over all the names in advanced & then found out on the way home from tennis that one of the characters in the book has been dually named Tennis {his name is actually Taunnis} which caused a great deal of chuckling.

Morgan started a new book too. We've swayed from his current reading programme to read a historical fiction novel that fits in with the time frame he's learning about. Spy For The Night Riders which I was delighted to find in PDF format so it could be printed on his specialty paper. Unfortunately, the font is huge, which isn't a disadvantage for him, but we've been slowly working on reducing font size to help his eyes out a bit On the flip side he's enjoying the book which is always good!

Wednesday we had dual Dr's appointments which kept our lovely new office on it's toes. We're all good, all though our boy came home with Sports & Viral Induced Asthma. Not a huge surprise to us at all which is why we took him in. In fact we're more grateful for the diagnosis & supplies to help him as he needs it. Sports were becoming increasingly hard for him as he continues to progress in ability & he was often complaining of a pinching in his chest or was heard with a cough that sounded more like a seal barking. We're prayerful that it won't progress beyond this & we'll be able to help him learn to manage it properly.

All in all not a bad official start to our term.
Links to this post