Author: Kendra
• 10:30 AM
Our first full week back to studies since term break! I was a bit worried with two group events this week that we might struggle with our schedule, but things worked out really well & the kids kept the pace that they set for themselves. It turned into a really lovely week of learning & fun & was nice to find ourselves slipping right back into our normal routine too.

We still have a couple of things to slip back into, such as writing, but that won't happen until our new books for the subject arrive. In the mean time we've kept nice & busy with everything else on our plates.

We've been back in our poetry book each day again. We missed it last term, which was completely unintentional that we dropped it. Ever have one of those things where you realise you keep missing it, but never remember to actually do it?! Yeah, that was poetry for us most of last term for some odd reason. No, I wasn't yo-yoing while I read, but the kids were.

We're still listening to the NT each day via Bible Gateway's app, but we also picked back up our study of 2 Timothy. We're still using the Discover 4 Yourself kids study books, but we break the chapters down a bit more so we can gleam more from what we are doing instead of worrying about getting done with each chapter/daily segment. It worked well for us this week. The kids are opting to mark on a copy of 2 Timothy which I printed from Bible Gateway for them, it's up to them to transfer it directly into their Bible or not. They liked that I could double space the print out for them.

The boys are still doing the WP language arts mysteries & enjoying them. We're not doing the writing portions as we're using something else in that area instead. This week they covered more information about colons & various verbs. They also laughed a lot because I kept saying Collin instead of colon. We're still using Sequential Spelling book 1 & they're making quick progress with it. They finished through day 13 this week & were getting all words correct, which resulted in no more complaints if someone turned up to the table without glasses on.

We jumped in feet first with our chemistry this week reading selections from all of the books above. Christian Kids Explore has rather short chapters, & while that's nice I just wasn't sure it was as deep as it could be. Mind you they do suggest using the Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia with each chapter as well, we're waiting for our copy to arrive in the mail.  The Usborne & Horrible Science books each line up with our CKE books which has been a lot of fun. I'll share the line-up later. Our scientist this term is Louis Pasture, & we're enjoying reading his story. Some of our French lessons are all ready paying off! The Story of Science is all about the history of science, & while it doesn't pertain, at this point, directly to our lessons we're enjoying reading through it at a slow pace all the same.

Both boys moved forward in their math books. Jayden attempted to put off his math until the last minute one day last week. It's really not his favourite subject all though he's more then capable & quite good at it so I'm not sure what the deal with it is other then it means he has to sit & think things through. Anyway, when he realised how late it was he opted to bring his math book along on our daily bike ride & take the time at the halfway point to work on his lesson. It was a beautiful day, all though we got slightly distracted watching another, rather spazzy dog, hide behind the trash bin when his owned told him it was time to go home. It was quite funny to watch! As for the math lesson, he was doing the final lesson on place value with up to Hundred Trillion. I printed out our place value sheets for him so he could self correct as needed. He's still using the multiplication flash cards daily & had himself down to 1:35 last week for the 100+ problems we do a day. To say he was delighted would be an understatement.

Morgan moved into another lesson as well, multiplying with decimal points. Mr Demme teaches this very differently then I learned it, but that's not to say it's a bad way. Simply different. He did well with the lesson, all though I thought he'd breeze through it a little more quickly then he did. Next weeks lesson is the same but up to hundredths so hopefully he'll be fine there as well.

Jayden used pocket money to buy a large set of these fellows who tended to act out most of our history lessons this week. We read in our Kingfisher History Encyclopedia about Monks in the Middle Ages. We read about the same topic in Story Of The World & A Child's History Of The World. Interestingly enough while the bottom line information was the same each presented it differently or went a little more in depth as we moved along. We read about every day life in the Medieval World & wrapped up another chapter in Archer's & Alchemists. We learn about religious jobs in that book next week. We also finished up Hostage Lands at long last! We seriously dragged that book out far longer then intended, but it was well worth it as the book was really lovely.

I did skip over one small section in which one of the main characters was enraged with a Roman officer & fantasised about killing him. It was the detail that I skipped over, not the ill thought the boy had. All up it was a great read & we're curious to see how much of what was spoken of in that book about Britannia will hold true as we continue our journey through Our Island Story.

We had a few bike rides this week, not as daily as normal as we had bike calamities too. My gears got pretty well smashed up over the weekend & as it was due to rain on Wednesday I took the bike into the shop late Tuesday. I tried to snag a bike rack while I was there, but despite the efforts of the fellows working who managed to capture the attention of everyone getting petrol they were unable to install it. So we wait until this coming week to get one that will fit differently & shouldn't give us grief. We did have the luxury of riding to our local homeschool meet up as it was just down the road from us this week.

The boys finished listening to A Single Shard this week. We'd intended to finish it last week, but life happened so it was on scheduled for this week. Someone wasn't as keen on the book because he was utterly convinced it was boring. I think he struggled with the fact that the first half of the book tends to be a bit more emotional then the action that is intertwined in the emotion in the second half. This same child squirms or makes up his own ending to movies that become emotional at the end too. I do admit this wasn't really his type of book, but I thought the story itself held a lot of value he could gain if he was willing to stick it out. I'm not entirely sure he got the main drift of the story, but he was proud of himself for sticking it out & finishing it before his deadline. I applauded him for that.

Lego Club was Friday, all though our family was the only one present. The boys were disappointed friends weren't there to join us, but I pointed out that people can't help being sick or whatever may have come up to have kept them from the fun. Then I told them to get cracking building something Ocean Themed. I built the silly sailboat above which I was thinking of naming the SS Bubbles, but I dunno SS Teddy Bear might be better suited. I was afraid the kids normal sized minifigs would be too large, so I raided the minifig box for the mini bears instead. The octopus goes to one of the kids Toy Story lego sets. We then indulged in the snacks the boys had made & they finished up the audio book above before closing off our week.

No swimming again this week. We've yet to hear back from their coach who was looking to arrange something, & as we don't want to exactly harass the fellow we've left it alone & are debating what we might do from here. However, I'm pretty sure if we don't get at least Jayden back in the water soon he might revolt on us as we hear about 20 times a day, "I need to swim.."
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Author: Kendra
• 9:11 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They reached it in the end & opted to leave the letters in the bag to see if Mr S could get the word quicker then they did. He did, but he too wondered if there were extra letters in the bag at first, & to think the boys had the cheek to snicker about such a comment!
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