Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Day At The Beach

Last week the boys and I decided it was time to check another item off our Summer Bucket List, so we ran around in a flurry of excitement and packed up to spend the day at the beach. We took our quilt, snacks, books, boogie boards, & our hover craft. It's seriously fun, and if you ever have the opportunity to use one you should!

Despite the picture, the water was relatively calm and still. Which was nice, but we prefer to ride the waves. We go out as far as the kids can swim and then jump on the boards when a wave comes our way and ride it back to shore. This day we spent more time learning the "proper way to effectively splash people" & throwing Mermaid Hair at each other {seaweed}.

I flipped my board flower side up because a stinking saw fly was after me. I was trying to distract it long enough to squash it. Mission accomplished, & I knocked out a few of her fellow companions. Yeah, we had a quick science lesson on the beach that A, saw flies that cut us are female, and B, saw flies hurt because they don't have a needle nose like a mossie, instead they have a serrated beak. And frankly, knowing that makes it hurt even more!

The seagulls came to visit us as soon as we pulled out the watermelon. I refused to share on principle that they didn't eat the saw flies that kept trying to eat me! The Seagulls were unimpressed and screamed at me, so I screamed back and they flew away. My children found it funny, most likely because we were the only persons on this particular strip of beach.

Around the time Mr S was suppose to meet us at the beach the boys decided to build a sandcastle to knock off yet another bucket list item. They wanted a massive moat though and got really carried away digging the whole end dug so deep they hit water which caused a lot of laughter amongst them.

Morgan used the sand from the hole they dug to make this large lego head man. He was about to add facial features to it when I jumped up screaming, "Save our stuff!!" We'd waited about two minutes too long to move closer to shore and the incoming tide hit our quilt which had books upon it at the time. There was a quick mad scramble as we moved managing to keep everything but the quilt dry.

It was a beautiful day, and we quite enjoyed ourselves even if we didn't get much wave riding in. We're looking forward to spending an entire weekend, soonish, at the beach on our next camping event of the summer.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Lego Books

My children own a lot of lego. No, make that a ton of lego. Seriously. They quickly outgrew the little plastic lego box that they received with a small set, and moved up to a basket. That was quickly outgrown and replaced with a plastic piggy toybox, which was also outgrown & replaced with half a clam sandbox/swimming pool which is currently full to the max.

The problem is, all that lego often came with a booklet of instructions on how to assemble the kits. There's much pouring over the booklets and assembling that happens when lego sets are first purchased. Then the books were put in a rubbermaid box and often pulled out to get ideas for how to build the item again, or build a duplicate, or, or, or.. Needless to say lego may be well built but the booklets aren't. I can't tell you how many times a child has come to me asking if I've seen the other half of their booklet. Or just page 10. Or the cover. Or.. Or.. Or.. And, if they aren't asking me, I'm asking them.. "Why is there a lego booklet cover on your bed?" "Why on earth are there lego booklets all over under the beds?" "There's a lego booklet jammed in the vacuum and I'm going to scream!"  You're getting the point here, right?

Over our summer break I've been finishing unpacking a few last boxes, as well as organizing and decorating our humble abode. I started with the boys rooms and when I got to Morgan's, I decided to yank out the box of Lego booklets. I just couldn't take it anymore! I told him to put the box in my bedroom and when I had a spare lifetime I'd find all the booklets on the computer. He kinda chuckled and said, "But you'll do it sooner then that right?" Uh, yeah, sure.. I put the task off for a couple of weeks as I busied myself with other things. I mean look at that booklet, they all looked like that! Except for the half million that had the number ripped off and I had to sort through the scraps to match them up.. I'm not joking here, people!

After scaring our gardner half to death when I jumped up from the table and screamed, "I FOUND it guys!!" at the very moment he was about to knock on my door I managed to locate every single stinking number on every stinking booklet that was in the box! It didn't take as horribly long as I expected it to, but it was no easy task either. Some of the lego structures they have came with multiple books, so I made sure to mark that on my paper. I also, for what ever reason, felt the need to mark the Bionicle figures and Lego Hero figures as such on my paper.

Then the real fun began.. I went to Lego.com and typed in the booklet numbers and waited to see what it would find. For the most part it had very little trouble finding what I wanted. The biggest task was all the clicking it took to get there.

First you type in the booklet number. Then you click on the item it pops up if it's what you want. Then you select the size booklet you want to save and then you wait for the pdf version of it to download. Honestly, most downloaded pretty quickly, & the ones that didn't were weirdly small booklets! Save it to your computer, I created a special file on our desktop for it, and then throw the booklet away. No, really throw the book away!

I was really glad that I marked down which booklets were for bionicles because for whatever reason Lego.com couldn't/wouldn't bring up those books! So, I used Brickfactory which still had direct links to those booklets. So simple! Now when we obtain new lego we'll put it together and then immediately download the instruction booklet and reycle the one that came with the kit. Not only are all the instruction books on the computer, they are also on our ipad, and burned to disc. So hopefully we've got it covered. Either way, I'm just really glad there are no more creepy messes of booklets hiding under the kids beds!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Times Alive, A Review

Our latest review is up over at The Curriculum Choice. It's another rave, from us, about the Times Alive! Programme. Many of you will all ready know that we truly love{d} the programme and have benefited from it greatly.

If you're looking for a fun way to help your child/student learn their tougher multiplication facts you might want to check out this fun programme which is currently on special for 50% off the normal price until the end of the month!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

2012 School Planner..

I decided the new school year called for a new planner. I know we shared a terrific one last year and we fully enjoyed using it the past year and a half, but I like to change things up every now and again.

So, I decided to create a really simple planner for the new school year this summer. I made a really simple cover as well & then used our binding machine to bind the whole thing together. I went with spiral binding because I'm really low on the click binders and don't have the right size for such a large book anyway.

It really was a simple thing to put together, except that I ran out of ink and had to dash out for more. Then, when I got the whole thing bound up I realized I'd forgotten to print on the backside of a few pages. I still need to remove the binding and reprint those pages, but our printed decided it hated the new ink cartridge and I'm waiting for the replacement one to show up in the mail courtesy of Epson.

The actual cover is just a tree and the year on it. Nothing fancy at all. I'm thinking of using our planner as our journal this year to see how that goes after reading a really interesting article here about planning. We'll see how we like it compared to our normal journal.

The fanciest part of this planner is the table of contents which I made just for fun. All though, I think in the end, I have a few page numbers off, but since I didn't number the pages inside I don't think it really matters. I even cheated this year and snagged a freebie calendar. There's many to be had, but I liked this one.

I included our annual checklist of things the boys will aim to accomplish. Honestly, some of it I know for a fact we will most likely not get to {like ancients in regards to history because we're focusing mainly on US history this year}, but that's okay I put it on the list anyway. Each boy has one page, front and back, that we tick off as we go along. We create our lists from this book.

I included another set of read aloud lists too. We generally have 3 tentative lists each year. One is for audio books, one is for Aussie read alouds, & the final list is just general read alouds or ones that are included with our curriculum for the year. I often have a list of books I want to read to the kids. I divide it up between audio and read aloud based on what I own and what I can obtain easily. Our Aussie list is often left blank and is filled in as we read over the year. We may pick books that are classics here, something fun we find at the library, or books that are truly Australian but fit into the time period we are currently learning about.

I also have a monthly calendar in there, again I cheated and used someone elses. I really wanted to use the ones put out by Anything But Perfect because I really loved the color and cuteness, but it wasn't to be. She wasn't done with the years worth and I really needed to get mine bound up, plus I really wanted portrait view not landscape, so I went with these instead.

I don't know about your house, but in our house the #1 time killer on a school day around here is lunch time. Seriously, what's up with that? If I plan leftovers you can bet someone ate them without my knowledge. If I plan sandwiches you can be sure we're out of bread. If I plan nothing children revolt. I just can't win! So, I was delighted to have this little planner to jot down a months worth of lunches. Weird, maybe but I'm hoping to stock the freezer monthly with lunches incase we're mysteriously out of bread or leftovers. It was a freebie from here.

This school year we'll be using Sonlight Core E, and I decide to go with a planner page the reflects the Sonlight Schedule pages in the cores. I know that might seem a little silly because I'll have that plan to follow, but we have a vast amount of other topics to cover in a week. On top of that if we're using our planner as our journal then it's equally important that everything is jotted down in one place.

Each planning page has a front and a back. I've put one page in per week per student to keep track of each child's individual accomplishments. I probably didn't need to go to that extent because in general my boys do the same level/subjects for everything but math and language arts, but I really felt their own personal records was important. We'll see how it all goes for us this year.

You've probably all ready noticed, but I'm a planner. So I included a page for any notes I have for each child for next year's school. If I come across a book or bit of curriculum I think will better suit a child I now have the space to make a note of it so as we get closer to the time for ordering new school stuff I can actually remember what I needed. On the backside of this page is a book wish list, which is basically a lined page with Book Wish List written across the top. Again, just a spot to jot down books as we stumble across them.

Gotta love the title on these blank note pages. Seriously, every time I see "& other important things" I laugh. I need blank space to keep track of things. Ideas I stumble upon, those last minute ideas you get that you must write somewhere where it won't get lost, & stuff like that. Yeah, some of these pages are all ready being filled up with things like that..

I stumbled up this Reading Response Journal some time ago and wanted to pop it in my notebook instead of making it a notebook for the kids. I thought the prompts would make great discussion points as we read our books Sonlight books this year, they'd also give me great ideas for questions to ask my kids about the books they are reading, & they just make general great starting points for narration ideas. It's a free download from here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Computer Malfunction

Last week, after checking various things on the internet I felt something on the base of my computer and upon flipping it over found the the rubber on the bottom of my Macbook was warped and melted.

I sent Mr S some nifty pictures via my mobile phone & his reply was rather expected: "What happened??!!" Of course I had absolutely no idea, & still don't! The next question was, "Are you okay?" Because, of course the term melted implies that one has been burnt.

I was not burnt however which is the oddest part about the entire situation. I then rang Apple Australia to find out what my next move was and, after spending five minutes convincing the woman I was no way harmed, it was just the computer and I needed it fixed pronto because my recipes, school plans, writings, and a billion other things are all inside of it! After another five minutes she told me I could take it to a place reasonably local & then attempted to give me instructions by saying silly things like, "It's by the lighthouse."

To which I really wanted to say, "No, it's not by a lighthouse, it's by the ANZAC clock, across from the vets office, & directly next door to the Footy shop." Instead, I told her not to fuss I knew exactly where it was and that I'd take it over that day. And I did. They assured me it would be a really quick turn around and the logest part would be awaiting Apple sending them the rubber base.

I was also, once again, asked if I was okay. Then, once we sorted out the case # one very charming and helpful little boy scribbled out on my paper {he saw me writing more and didn't want me to get mixed up.. he saw the error of his way when the color clearly left my face and I wailed, "Oh no that was the most important thing on my paper! He also hid in the corner of the shop near the cases for fear they'd guess he was the child who scribbled it out!}  I was once again informed that this was a quick turn around, and further more it was very common in the white Macbooks.

However, once they flipped mine over there were shocked at how bad it was. Apparently while it's normal for the rubber to come away it's not normal to bubble up as much as it did. Unfortunately their, "quick turn around time" has gone as long as six days and counting. Here's hoping that when I finally have a computer again it doesn't have a huge bubble on the bottom of it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Too Good Not to Share

I spotted a 111 page free download, over on Teachers Pay Teachers, of the 50 Nifty United States! How cool is that? There's notebooking pages, graphics, resources, and more. Did I mention it was free?

You absolutely must race over to Pink & Green Mamma and check out the Life-Sized Body Maps her kids made. It is so amazingly awesome! Seriously. My Jayden will adore making one of these. Biology is on the table for science next year, and even if it wasn't we'd probably make one of these anyway.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Day Out

Last year our local home education group had a trip lined up to go to the science museum before the museum moved across town. We were psyched and ready to go try our hand at learning about the world of spies! My kids were running on high for a week leading up to this outing, and then the morning came and Jayden was sick! I'm not talking a few sniffles, I'm talking a "two ton headache" in his words.

He cried when he tried to sit up that morning. Walking from his room to the table was completely out. It took us ten minutes to get him in an upright position and calm him down so we could give him some medicine. When I had to break the news to them that we weren't going to the museum, there were more tears.

So we decided we'd go later in the year before the exhibit was taken down. In November a cousin came into town and I told the three boys I'd take them to the museum. We set the date, but the day before we were suppose to go our card broke down going 110 on the highway. It was an interesting experience only trumped by my poor bil who got stuck coming back to a house that was in dire need of groceries and had to attempt to feed three starving boys who were dead set on having chocolate cream pie. Needless to say, there was much disappointment over not going to the museum because I didn't think the kids were up for the hour walk across town!

The Monday after we officially finished school we were going to go again, but as you've probably guessed something else came up and we couldn't make it! We were beyond frustrated at this point and never made it until the schools were officially out as well. Not a huge deal, we had the science museum to ourselves.. yeah, the spy exhibit had been taken down after hours the night before! We'd missed it by 1 day. I think I was more upset then the kids were. Unfortunately, I think our museum was the very last one to get the exhibit so we can't even hit another museum to check it out either!!

The museum was in the process of setting up whatever was coming next, which I believe is a "lay-over" exhibit, small bits and pieces from many they've had over the years as they prepare for something new to come. It was pretty empty, but the guy in charge encouraged the boys to come in anyway and go to town with whatever they wanted. He told them to go ahead and put the igloo together, and they didn't waste a moment taking him up on that offer.

The director then pulled a bench up for me to sit on, perhaps I looked tired. So I sat there, to please him, and let the boys work methodically in putting the igloo back together with the help of a few pesky penguins. The boys actually discussed the situation together and decided the best thing to do was to put the blocks of "ice" in piles according to their numbers to make assembly easier.

Mamma penguin joined me, but I admit her chick stole the show. We actually had one of these chinstrap penguins wash up on the beach by our old house before. It was the one day I didn't have the camera with me too. There was much shock over the entire situation, but by the time I dragged the boys back down the tide had pulled it out.

Seriously adorable though, right? The boys managed to reassemble the igloo and only had to back up slightly when they had a few "ice blocks" that weren't sitting on it right thus causing the last few pieces not to go back together right.

After we checked out all the maps, because honestly there was very little else to do, we tried on costumes. Morgan wouldn't put the belly of that dinosaur costume on, but Jayden had the whole ensemble on much to the delight of the half dozen people putting up the new exhibits. After that we moved around the hall to Jungle Gyms. Did you know that they are now in the same building? Along with a new rock climbing wall & a laser tag game. Jungle Gyms was horribly hot and stuffy and by the time their lunch arrived they were ready to go home. Here's hoping the next exhibit is really good and we actually make it on time!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

More Summer Reading

The boys aren't the only ones with a summer reading basket, I am too. A few weeks ago a package arrived, from friends, with this small stack of books which were quickly added too the other stack of books I'd planned to read this summer. My progress has been very slow, unfortunately, as I've been very busy trying to get plans for the 2012 school year laid out.

1. The Ministry Of Motherhood -- During my personal Conference I had the pleasure of listening to Sally Clarkson speak and I fully enjoyed everything she shared! I'd love to have obtained all her books, but I felt for now this was a great place to start. I've all ready started this one and can't wait to have plenty more time to devour this book.

2. A Modern Girl's Guide To Bible Study -- On one of the message boards I frequent this book was really spoken heavily about last year, & it was a delightful Christmas present to receive! I really can't wait to fall face first into the book.

3. Lessons At Blackberry Inn -- This is the sequel to Pocketful of Pinecones which I read a few years ago, & this sequel has been on my list for quite some time. I can't wait to read it, all though I'm debating rereading the Pinecone book first. So many choices!!!

4. The Big What Now Book Of Learning Styles -- Oh my goodness have you ever had the pleasure of listening to Carol Barnier speak? I'm telling you I could listen all day if I weren't so busy laughing! She is amazing, down to earth, and honest. Another "guest speaker" at my personal conferences and boy did she light a fire for fun in our homeschool! She just has so many ideas! Unfortunately all her ideas are spread amongst all her books, but I chose this particular one because I wanted some suggestions for a few areas in our own little home school. I've also begun this one and can't wait for more time to dig in!

Other Books On My List

1. The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide To Romance -- After hearing that I couldn't obtain this book locally a friend sent me a copy. It took a long time to arrive, and then we found ourselves in the middle of unpacking a house and all that. So this is at the top of my list get read before we begin our new school year. Interestingly enough, I heard Heidi St John speak about this book/topic during my home conference too!

2. Heaven At Home -- I've actually owned this book for a long time and read it before, but it's been so long I feel the need to read it again. I really enjoy Ginger Plowman's down to earth style & her love for God. If you've never read Don't Make Me Count To Three it's also another awesome read by the same author!

3. Psych Mysteries -- This is probably dribble, but one of the few shows I enjoyed watching in the states with Mr S was Psych. It was a nonsense type show, and very funny most of the time while being reasonably clean. Not something you get most of the time. Anyway, you can't watch it on television here and every year we seem to order one more season worth of DVDs. Yet another friend sent our family a fun package and inside she packed 3 different Psych mystery books. I've got one tucked in the car so I can read it when we stop at parks or I'm waiting in the car for anyone. So far so good!

4. Beautiful In God's Eyes -- Have you read anything by Elizabeth George? My cousin introduced me to "an amazing friend" one day via these books, and I own many and have equally devoured them. Unfortunately, when we moved here I think I only brought one with me. My parents have sent me a few since we moved here and I spotted this particular one in a used book shop. Despite having all ready read it I snatched it up knowing I could really use to read it again. I seriously love anything by this woman thus far!

5. The Power Of A Praying Parent/Wife -- Both of these are in my basket again. I owned both of these in the states and stumbled upon them used here and snatched them up. I used to go through them regularly each month and pray for all the "guys" in my life. I know you think you love your husband and your kids, but there's something about praying for them that just makes that bond so much stronger, don't you think? I was so excited to find these books and am prayerful that I can get back to a regular rotation of them during the summer to carry through the rest of the year.

6. The Ashton Scholastic History Of Scholastic -- I stumbled upon a copy of this at the library when the boys and I were hanging out there waiting on our car which was in the shop late last year. The book is laid out into 24 different sections, and it struck me that I could probably write an Australian History programme, with help from Mr S,  for the boys based on each of those 24 chapters, thus it would last us all most an entire school year. I'm actually really excited about this idea!

7. Exploring Nature With Your Kids -- This is a book from The Mailbox company. I love books from that little company! I wanted to map out various nature ideas for the year ahead using this book and matching them up with a few of the science topics we'll be studying this year.

8. Super Science With Your Kids -- Another Mailbox company book. I'm thinking of turning each of these little ideas into "kits" to use with the boys throughout the year. If nothing else I'll merely flag experiments to do over the school year with the kids. Our science curriculum was greatly lacking this year and I'm intent to beef it up for this year.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Christmas Eve {2011} In Pictures

Christmas Eve can be one of the roughest days with the excitement of the boys at an all time high, so it's been traditional when we celebrate Christmas at our house to keep the boys really busy on Christmas Eve. Finish off last minute gifts for people.. special dinner and a movie, open an early Christmas present & then to spend the evening as soon as the sun starts setting admiring Christmas lights. We usually get home well after bedtime and the kids gleefully climb into bed with the knowledge that if they sleep too long I'll pry them out of the bed when my eyes flutter open.. except most of the time I rarely sleep on Christmas Eve because I can't wait to see the kids open their stuff in the morning!

We use to live on the same road as this house, and we'd gleefully watch from November onward as the family would set up one or two items until low and behold they were all up! One day on our walk the fellow switched it all on in the middle of the day for us. If the kids lost track of how many days until Christmas they'd ask to walk past the house. We could even see this place from our second story. Therefore it was no surprise that it was top most on our houses to go check out!

One of the new items was this picture prop! None of us hesitated to jump behind it and have our photo taken, all though it was down low for children and my knee nearly went out when it was my turn.

Nana sat on the Christmas Throne instead. Each year the current year is on a laminated sheet above this chair so when you look back over your pictures you'll know which year your photo was taken in. This couple really go all out!

This is the entrance to the front of their house!! Basically from November through December they can't use it. The boys adore seeing the Christmas tree they set up each year, and somewhere in a storage unit in the US, we actually own one of those funny little snowmen!

This jolly Santa Clause talks to you. Not in the normal way, but the fellow who lives here will hide back somewhere and speak through a pipe that makes it look like Santa is talking. It's always so much fun to see newcomers jump back in shock that Santa not only spoke to them but could answer their questions!

These fellow sing and dance in unison, and as you can see the new marketing scheme by the Coke-A-Cola company paid off! Comet and Prance had their own cans incase they felt a little run down after a night of singing carols to the neighborhood! There's even a beautiful Nativity set up each year, in fact the stable stays up year round. In fact it's the first part of the display the boys and I check out each year, and I love their adoration at seeing the inclusion of wisemen this year. However, Mr S was in charge of the camera and he took great liberties while we were busy caught up looking at that part of the display to take photos of the rest of it, and it appears we missed out on the nativity section!

Next it was off to town to check out the various business displays. Most weren't that great at night to be honest, but one lone restaurant  had a beautiful Christmas Village lit up and on display. The boys ooed and ahhed over every little piece and the longer we stayed the more we saw.

Their nativity was absolutely beautiful. All though the freaky deer in the background was a tad weird!

We stopped by several more spots on the way home closer to our own neighborhood and one that we can see from the lounge room window of our new home. Then the boys trundled off to bed so I could fill stockings up, all though the boys filled mine {snowman} before trundling off to bed. I was delighted to see the pomegranate in there! Mind you I told them for about a month I had hoped to find one in my stocking for Christmas..

Then I moved furniture so that we could get around the gifts in the morning, and moved the big ones from behind the curtain to under the tree. Bet you'll never guess what's in those large packages under the tree! The snowman bag has Jayden's homemade Bubble Kit in it, the golden wrapped one has Super Farmer in it, the box with the green bow is a cornflake box we emptied out to wrap up a video game in. Mr S seriously thought we'd tricked him with a whole box of cornflakes chuckled and said, "Nice one guys!" and laid it aside. We had to insist he open the box of cornflakes for a prize inside! As for that other giant oddly wrapped package. It has a miniature coffee cup in it. That's right, it holds less then 1/4 cup of liquids. Morgan really wanted to trick Mr S and he pulled that one off!