Friday, November 30, 2012

Let Me Boost Your Confidence

I am a homeschooling mother. I worry, I cry, I fuss, & I freak out. I’m pretty sure anyone who’s ever homeschooled their children can relate to that. We put a lot on our shoulders, we figure if we mess up we’ve ruined our children.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that all Mamma’s worry about that very thing. They worry that any hiccup or poor choice on their own behalf can scar their child for life. It happens. We make mistakes, we move on. Our children generally come out unscathed & as happy as they were before it ever happened.

Every two years the state sends someone around to our home to evaluate, with a home visit, how we’re doing & what we’re using to teach our children. It’s always an unsettling experience. Not because the people they send around are unpleasant, quite the opposite really. They generally are quick to put you at ease pointing out that they, too, once homeschooled their own children & they totally get that hands on experience in the real world is ten times more important then the textbook you thought would be a great idea.

Yet, it’s always unsettling wondering if you’ve forgotten something. Did you cover everything you should have. Did you keep enough records of what happened. Will they notice that we’re not nearly as far along in the math book as we’d like to be this year? Will they notice that after 2 solid years of spelling my child still spells you uoy? Will they care that that my 9 year old puts some kind of weapon in every picture he draws, or that there’s a king huntsman spider upon the speak her drew in art? Will they doubt my ability to do what I’ve been doing for the past 6 years? What if they tell me that I totally stink at my job? Will I be brave enough to smile or will I break down in tears & scream things like, “I know, I know, but you could have been kinder in how you told me!” 

None of that has ever happened though. Every time we open the door & let an evaluator in they are always pleasant & cheerful. They ask lots of questions, & one year I thought it was because I must not have shown enough work, but the women confessed after 80 minutes of chatting that she just enjoyed hearing my accent & so she kept asking me questions. 

This year wasn’t much different, but we had a new pile of nerves. The evaluator was new, to us. Our old faithful one had retired. It’s not that we were any less nervous inviting her into our home, but I’d stopped panicking & picking up shoes & socks before I let her in. The morning the new lady came I ran around in a hurried frenzy asking who spilled potato puff crumbs on the floor, I didn’t bother to ask why they ate potato puffs for breakfast. 

I demanded to know why children were still in their pjs when there was plenty of clean normal clothes to wear. I ran around telling my children to stop spazzing out while they gawked at me with a look of utter confusion on them until I tripped over a computer cord. At which point I probably would have asked who had the gull to put it in my way {never mind that I requested it} when Jayden announced, “She’s here!” 

We all put normal smiles on our faces & invited her in. We shared all the work we’ve accomplished over the past two years. We shared some minor struggles we’ve had in regards to teaching certain subjects to certain students. We shared an unreal amount of resources.

We laughed together over pictures of God eating atop the temple in the boys Bible books, or the handful of french fries he’s handing out after the miracle of bread & fish. Then she oohed over books she saw & asked about titles that really caught her eye. When she told us she loved our book selections, which are often like old friends to us it really boosted my confidence.

I don’t say this to boast, but to encourage. I confessed to her that it’d been a crazy wild year for us. That we’d started school in January like we always do, that we had a minor set back in the delivery of our Core curriculum. That we settled into a routine only to change math curriculums for some, spelling for others. We experienced the loss of my father, & learned to cope in ways we never thought possible. We received, at long last, a diagnosis for our child who’d hobbled along with reading for so long & had to learn new ways of helping him cope as we embaressed this new found information.

It’s all things you tend to take in your stride, but it’s not until someone puts the question to you, “How are you doing though?” That you have to stop & think. I don’t know about most of you, but I don’t take the time to stop & think about how I’m doing. I just am. That is not to say I walk through life blindfolded or immune, but you learn to cope with whatever comes in your path. 

I really had to stop & think about the question. “I’m okay.” was my response. I am okay. You learn to live the best you can in the situation you are currently thrown in. It’s not always easy, but you make do. Eventually things return to a form of normal that you can be at ease with, at least for a while. 

When our evaluator looked at me & said, ”I'd like to quit my job & come learn with all of you. These beautiful & yummy books are just calling out to be read & I can only imagine what a delightful time you have!" It made every tear we shed, every hurdle we climbed, & every bad day we had worth it. 

For there is nothing quite so as uplifting as hearing a stranger telling you, "You've got it right. You're not messing your kids up. You are doing an amazing job. Your kids have learned so much & it pours forth from them." I needed those words today, this week, this month, this year.

So I wanted to pass those words on to anyone reading this, because it’s true. You do have it right. You are not messing your kids up. You do an amazing job. Your kids have learned so much, & it does pour forth from them, all you have to do is stop & listen to them. Be amazed. Be empowered. Breathe.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

2013 Planner

Three weeks to go & we're taking six weeks off to regroup, recoupe, & get ready for a new school year. I'm making mental lists of all the things I need & want to do during that time. One of which is getting my planner for next school year all set up. All though, I jumped ahead a little on that one.

I had snagged a few of those nifty little Subway art posters, for free around the internet, this year, & realised that I could use them as my tab dividers for the planner. With a bit of help from google I found a few more to have 12 that I was pleased with. I really wanted to print them right on my tab dividers, but it just wasn't gonna happen. Thanks to the nifty tag they wouldn't fit in my printer. So I did the next best thing.

I printed out the art, glued them to the tabbed dividers & then laminated each one. The best part is, the tabbed dividers were pre-hole punched & the nifty subway art covered it up so when I punch them again with my binder it won't look double hole punched.

I'm working on the inside of it & want to finish it off soon so I can get it all printed & bound. One of the many things on my summer list is to plan out a few things we have on tabs for next year. Weeks off, book lists, etc.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Star

What can I say? When the boys saw the kiwi start at our local Woolies they wanted their photo taken with it. The sign upon it encourages them to, so we did. Mr S wanted a piece of the action, because he's like that you know. We did not, however, share our photos on Facebook. We figure you can shop at whatever store you want if your lucky enough to have other options!

Don't ask about the letters the boys are holding, just don't I beg you. If you say anything about that absurd letter Y Morgan will crack every joke in the book he knows. It was suppose to be the letter M, but that's what happens when you're 4 & your Daddy plays one of those ridiculous claw machines that eat your money. You end up with a Y, that you still love & adore when you are 11. That you still annoy your mother mercilessly with because you can make a million and one different jokes about Y. At least the J makes sense, right? You know it does!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Our little family has made it a tradition to celebrate Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving has always been one of my most favourite holidays. The trick to celebrating holidays when you don't live in the country of your birth/nationality is to embrace new traditions. For my family this means that we don't go visiting pumpkin patches. We no longer annually run the Turkey Trot, a 5k put on, annually, by the local YMCA's in the US.

We get a dramatically smaller turkey which only takes a few hours to cook instead of a whole day. We don't get up early to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade, & we don't even have to think about the whole Black Friday/Thanksgiving Day sale debates. Of course, we also don't wrap up the holiday with a glass of eggnog & warm slippers. It's usually more like ice cold lemonade & a view of the blanket of stars in the clear warm sky.

There are a few traditions that we do keep, even though they mean going a little farther then we'd normally have to go. Turkey alone is one of those things. Every store in town is not selling turkey, & those that do charge an astronomical price. $60 is not abnormal for, what I'd generally call, slim pickings. You have to remember that in the US I was serving more people, & we often sent leftovers home with people. In fact, one year I distinctively remember cooking 2 large turkeys. For Morgan's first Thanksgiving {he was just shy of 12 months} the turkey was bigger then he was!

This year Mr S selected the turkey & I have to say I quite loved that. There was no debating sizes & prices for me. There was a quick shout out the door as he took off for work, "Don't forget the turkey or it won't quite feel like Thanksgiving." Followed by a harried call at his lunch break to say, "I don't know if I got the right one. I thought I had a 50, but I ended up with a 62." {That was in reference to weight, not price, & no it wasn't pounds. We had a 14 pound turkey.}

Other annual traditions are generally based around the food I prepare for the family we invite over. Dishes that I always remember seeing on the table at Thanksgiving. Fruit Salad {top left photo} has always been on the holiday table & use to be brought by my great-grandmother. In fact, the stories we pass down are always how she lamented not only the price of grapes but the fact that in the US at that time they always had seeds in them. So when my boys helped slice the grapes for the salad I told them how lucky they were because Buddy had to pip them.

The thing about the fruit salad is, there isn't much fruit in it. Just bananas, pineapple {tinned}, & grapes. You have to remember that in the N. Hemisphere there's not always a whole lot of pickings in regards to fruit late in the season. It's mixed with whipped cream & marshmallows. I can't have it because of the dairy in it, & when I considered not making it I was told that was just wrong. Which is why we made a last minute dash to the local IGA for bananas & grapes because while I'd remembered the whipping cream for the salad, I'd rather forgotten all the rest of the ingredients. See, the upside to Thanksgiving in Australia is that you don't have to worry about your local corner shop being closed.

Corn Pudding was another one always brought over by my great-grandmother, & over the years despite the many funny looks I get for mentioning the dish I've yet to feed it to someone who thought it was icky. All though this year I had to try & make it egg free & I think I failed on that attempt because it was a bit dry. What a shame that I'll have to make it again! Sorry, no photo because it came out of the oven & went straight on the table.

Cranberry Sauce {top right}. In America I use to go to the shop & buy a couple of bags of fresh cranberries. I'd make a regular sauce & an orange sauce. Or sometimes a new & random recipe I'd find in a magazine. Regardless it wasn't never hard to come by cranberries. I've never seen a bag of fresh cranberries since being here, all though OceanSpray does ship tiny little bitty jars of whole berry cranberry sauce here. Loaded with sugar & rather pricey. However, I discovered at my local health food shop that they sell dried, unsweetened, cranberries. As an experiment one year I purchased some & boiled them in water. Let them sit & low & behold they jelled right up. I was in awe. Every year since I've made cranberry sauce, but I generally give it a good whizz with the stick blender because my guys prefer the smoother consistency. Sometimes I even make maple cranberry ice cream & throw the sauce in it. It's really delicious, I didn't make some this year much to the annoyance of a little boy I know who loves cranberry sauce & maple syrup. I haven't told him I reserved some dry cranberries to make this later. Shh..

Cherry Pie {bottom right}. It was always the tradition growing up, once I was old enough, for me to make the pies for Thanksgiving. Mom said it was because I make the best pie crust, my husband agrees with her. Either way I always made apple, pumpkin, & cherry. Sometimes there were others, sometimes there weren't. One year I made extras & we sent them to friends. One year I decided I was making way too much pie & I should cut back. Especially since I'd found this recipe for a chocolate peanut butter pie & since Mr S doesn't like peanut butter I knew I'd have to make one without peanut butter. We were now on the verge of having 6 pies for Thanksgiving, not to mention the cookies the kids decorated. I sent an SOS out via email that year & said how I thought of not making the cherry & pumpkin pie. I got a reply back from Dad who vetoed the whole idea because he needed his cherry pie, & it would be untraditional not to have pumpkin. Mr S agreed with him whole heartedly. We had 6 pies that year.

The thing is, in the US you can buy pre canned Cherry Pie filling pretty inexpensively. You just make your pie crust, open the tin, dump it in the shell, bake. That's it. Easy peasy. You can't do that here. You have to actually make the filling, which is much tastier all though highly time consuming too. Not to mention Tassie cherries aren't quite ripe yet, even the earlier varieties which are rumoured to be ready in a couple of weeks! However, there were cherries in the shop this week from the mainland so I told the boys to keep guard while I snagged a bag & dumped the entire box of cherries into my bag before making a quick exit from the produce section. Then we came home & made cherry pie filling, along with a cherry pie. There were no complaints, even though I did not make a pumpkin pie this year.

As for the bottom left picture. That's pretty much how I cook Thanksgiving Dinner here. Barefooted, because it was too hot to be bothered putting on shoes.. with my pants rolled up, & demanding to know who closed the side door because know the pie wasn't cooling quickly enough. Or while darting across the kitchen to balance cooking a turkey & chicken.

The rest of our meal is pretty simple though because I tend to just make a variety of salads along with mashed potatoes. I actually considered canceling Thanksgiving one year, because you know.. we could just eat turkey sandwiches or something. My idea was vetoed, which is how we learned to make our own Aussie/American traditions, & I'm glad we did.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Birthday Cards

Birthdays are kinda a big deal around here. As sad as it is for our children to get older, in the emotional sense, it's a big deal too. There are certain traditions the boys have come to love & expect. They also do their best to try & carry some of them out for my birthday.

Oddly enough, I never buy them a birthday card. I just don't. They've never complained about it or asked about, all though one year Jayden requested a card, a very specific card. He wanted one with a singing & dancing hamster on it. We bought it for him after searching through 5 stores to find it. He was delighted.

When Mr S takes the boys birthday shopping it's always a funny ordeal to me while I sit & wait. There's also lots of whispering & giggling & many half told stories because they realise if they tell me what's so funny they'll blow the secret they are trying to keep.

The night before my birthday Jayden was so excited he simply couldn't sleep. We found him on the couch the next morning. Or rather, I should say I found the remains of his blankets on the couch. He was up at first light, literally, & pounding on my bedroom door to know if I was awake, "Not that I'm waking you up, but since you area awake can we give you presents?"

He was very intent I open his card first, which he'd especially picked out all by himself. I know homemade cards are sweet, & we really do love them around here so don't hesitate to give them to us, but I absolutely love it when my boys pick out cards. They use to give such funny cards because they always based it on the picture. I'll have to share some of them one day. Jayden, despite being able to read, wanted to pick out a really girlie card for me. He didn't bother to read, he just snagged the girliest looking card that was pink & had a teddybear on it.

That's his up there on the right. Notice the writing on the front? "For my Beautiful Wife." I laughed so hard before pulling myself together & saying, "Such a cute card, i really love that bear holding all the flowers!" He'd apparently wanted to give me flowers too, but thought he could only buy them at the veggie shed & didn't want to tell me to go there because he thought I'd know what he was up to. When I opened up the card he'd painstakingly written a message to me too which read: "Mom hop uoy in a gooe uor brftae {heart} Jaydin" {Which means: "Mom, hope you enjoy your birthday, love Jayden} I looked up & said, "Oh, did you know you put an I in your name?" He leans over & says, "What?! Daddy! Did you try to change my name in the card when I wasn't looking?"

Then Morgan gave me the card on the left. He actually read the card before purchasing, & it was equally funny. Can you read it? "Your birthday card cost Terry & Sue an arm & a leg" His sense of humor is just like Mr S'. Morgan decided to make it a bit more girlie by adding some Hermoni lego stickers to it, because he deemed me just as smart as she is. Talk about feeling special!

Yep, homemade or store bought my guys pick out some very cute & funny cards! Then again they've always picked out pretty funny gifts too. They once gave Dad a set of boxer garden lights. Morgan was attracted to all the nifty stripes & polka dots. They also gave him a play hot-wheels set once because, "I'm sure he'll love the cars!" they couldn't wait for him to open it so they could use it. One year, while decorating coffee mugs for all the adults for Christmas I turned my back to stir something on the stove & when I turned back Morgan had drawn a whole "cops & robbers scene" on my sister-in-law's mug. But, "Mom! I used pink, I know Jacqueline will love it because I picked pink! See?" There were guns & bullets too. I'm sure she cherished that cup forever. Ha! Pretty sure they purchased my brother a model car once. With the ages 2-5 year olds on it. Made of wood. "Because he loves cars too, & this will be so easy for him to do because it says so on the box!"  I'm looking forward to Christmas shopping with them next month, it's always so much fun!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Family Traditions

In my family when a baby is born Mom has always done a counted cross-stitch picture to welcome the new one. This was true for each of my children, along with beautiful crocheted blankets, my favorite is a blue & white one that I, admittedly, used anytime it was laying around & a baby didn't need it. Mom has made many cross-stitch pictures over the years.

In fact, she has some gorgeous Civil War ones hanging on her walls at home. I still remember when she was working on them. She had to count the number of threads in the material she was working on because it was linen & not the pre-holed {is that a word} adia cloth you generally use. I can't remember if my boys noticed those pictures while we were in the US, I meant to point them out to them because we'd discussed how Gram had the generals from the war on the wall, but I digress..

I've also made a few over the years, all though I tend to be much slower at it then Mom is. So much so that I've been working on the same one for a couple of years now. Sad, but true. Which means the one I had planned to do after it as a gift has been sitting there waiting for years too. I really should remedy that situation.

When I spotted the Pledge of Allegiance cross-stitch pattern I thought it would be really fun hanging in our schoolroom, but I was lazy & asked Mom to make it for us. She did. When we moved I was certain I'd packed it in my bags, but you know for 6 years I looked for that thing. It's true, I became discouraged each time I thought I knew where I'd stashed it only to find it missing. There's a hoodie that has a story all most identical to this.

While in the US Mr S & I were looking through all our stuff in storage & what did I stumble on? Yep, our Pledge Of Allegiance cross-stitch that Mom had made. I squealed so loud my cousin said, "You have to take that back with you!" Ha, of course I was taking it back with me. I haven't gotten it framed yet, & as you can tell by the nifty little crease across the kids chins I haven't even ironed it yet. Nope, instead I pulled it out of my case & slapped it on the art line.

I also stumbled upon both of the boys baby samplers. To which there were also squeals of, "Aww, remember when these were hanging on the boys walls.." I thought I'd brought both of those back, but upon unpacking I only found Jayden's:

The glass on his had been broken & when I rescued the picture I must have put it with the other one. Morgan's is a Noah's Ark picture & must be safely tucked in with the other framed pictures. Can you guess what themes their nurseries were when they were born? Ha, not that they had glorious nurseries, as long as Jayden's been around they've always shared a bedroom. In fact, when I mentioned having them sleep in their own bedrooms for a change, Morgan was absolutely mortified.

Someday, if I actually remember I might snap a photo of one or two that are laying around that I made, but seriously, they can't compare to Elliot up there. The photo doesn't show it, but his colours really are very vivid & beautiful. I love Boyd's bears, don't you? I use to buy Mom one each year for her birthday & Mother's Day until the store I purchased them at closed down. Our family traditions are pretty well woven into each other, I love that.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cray Guys

Over the past couple of months we've been helping a family member pack & prepare to move. Two weekends ago, or was it more now?, we helped this family member actually move into their new living accommodations.  The thing is, moving isn't easy & it's usually not without it's own stresses.

We spent many weekends helping pack in order to make moving day go more quickly. There were moments of complete insanity, but that's pretty normal for this family. Moving day arrived bright & early with a few extra family members along to help. There was still some minor packing to do & plenty of unpacking too. None of which is too cumbersome, just tiring & often very boring.

It's moving the big stuff that gets to me. Whenever the guys move the bigger pieces of furniture I cringe. It's not because I'm worried about dents & dings, but because those big old fridges, loaded dressers, & whatnot always look like they are about tumble over on them. I've learned it's best not to watch.

I was dutifully sticking to my, "do not watch" when I heard things tumbling in the fridge. I ran out to remind them the fridge had glass shelves in it, to which they didn't care because the doors of the fridge were currently flying open while they had it on the lift going into the truck. It was one of those laugh of cry moments, in which we all chose to roll with laughter at the absurdity of 5 adults scrambling to slam doors.

Mr S was guiding the fridge while his eldest brother was pushing the fridge after they got it up onto the truck. Another moment I hate because I'm thinking getting squashed by a fridge would be pretty painful! However, when Mr S yelled out, "Hey Mate, stop I've still gotta get out!" I turned around. His brother, in normal older brother practice, rolled with laughter & finished shoving the fridge in the truck.

Next thing we know Mr S's head pops up over the top of the fridge & says, "Very funny. I'm stuck." More laughter. Mr S doesn't move. I say, "Are you really stuck?" "Yes!" "Can't you climb over that table & around the book case?" "Um, maybe." A few minutes later we see a leg come up & over, followed by half his body only to see it all slip back out of sight.

It took him a good ten minutes to maneuver around the items, a brother to help pull him, & a whole lot of laughter on my behalf. There was also a lot of picture taking, all though they aren't very good because I was laughing so hard. In fact, I was laughing hard enough that the next door neighbor came out to see what was going on, & when she vanished so did half the workers who were went to join her for cream & scones. I'm not kidding!

Mr S eventually escaped, without harm & even enjoyed a plateful of scones & cream. The later of which was rumoured to be completely delicious, I can't attest to that as they were loaded with dairy. Nothing like a light hearted moment in the middle of a long & tiring day.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Another Week In Review

The closer we get to the end of the year, 3 weeks to go now, the faster my children seem to run. In fact we've been so busy this week this is actually last week's stuff that happened!

We got very carried away reading The Winged Watchman last week which is a really sweet book about World War II. My boys really loved it & despise when I'd put it away for the day. The only downside to the book was that I don't speak Dutch so I'm pretty sure I was pronouncing the names pretty poorly. Not that my children minded, but I have to confess it really made me wonder...

While reading about World War II last week Jayden was dutifully building away. Can you tell we were  reading about air raids at the time? Jayden built this little scene with a plane, a few ground troops, & well, I think the bus was suppose to be a tank, but I can't remember!

We had a solar eclipse last week which, thankfully, we'd told the boys was coming. Jayden asked us every day if the next one was the right day. I'm so glad he did! I told them I'd wake them up if they weren't up so they could watch it start to finish. So there we stood in the front yard with x-rays glued to our faces in our pjs while the rest of the neighborhood gawked at us as they attempted to get ready for school & work. We missed the last 20 minutes of it due to extreme cloud cover, during which we time we discussed x-rays & how to read them.

Jayden reviewed lines this week in his math. He was delighted to pull out his notebooking page to be sure he had the names right. I have him do some of his math in the book & then we type answers in to the computer from there. We had a sensitive mouse track pad & it was choosing answers for him if he hovered too long over a specific area while reading the math equation. Ahh, we have to love technology right?

Morgan worked on probability, square roots, & an assortment of other things this week. Yes, that's Bananagrams out for math my friends. Because you use all sorts of things for math too right? The really funny part was that I dropped 6 letter tiles in there. I thought I'd dropped 2 Ts, 2 Ss, & 1 A in the bag. I was curious to see how his graphs would work based on those letters. Well, turns out I actually dropped in 3 Ts & only one of each letter. I was sitting there thinking, "This is a little lopsided considering what I put in the bag!" We had a great laugh when it was over.

We made our way through this stack of books this week. Well, we didn't finish the bottom two last week, but then again we weren't suppose to. If you're learning about WW II & looking for a historical book that's reasonably gentle for the younger crowd, The Winged Watchman is so worth it! My boys enjoyed Thimble Summer which we read some of & listened to some of. It was a sweet little book & they really loved Garnet's enthusiasm for life. We had such a long chat about what WE would do if we'd gotten locked in the library. It sounded like bliss to us, the whole thing, to ourselves!

Lots & lots of notebooking pages were done this week. The boys really loved the propaganda buttons. Interestingly enough a lot of US propaganda was up this week & some of last, on Facebook that they picked up for what it was thanks to this little lesson.

The other side of the papers above. That little pocket is so very full of old WWII propaganda posters. See Rosie there on the front? I'm so getting a t-shirt with her on the front that says, "I teach math" It just made me laugh. Come on, admit you want one!

More notebooking pages. L to R: Ration booklet & token holder. There's another picture of the inside you'll see later, I think. It inspired the boys to want to do a WWII day, which I'm working on planning for next year in the winter where a blackout will make more effect on them. The Holocaust booklet, speaking of many concentration camps, as well as famous Jews from that time. Navajo Code Breaker page which is two sided & discusses how the Navajo language came to be used in the war.

Inside of the ration booklet. Lots of cutting they did with it, but it made them very aware of how rationing worked in regards to what could be bought when, where, & how.

A variety of Army papers that the US Soldiers would have had. I snapped photos before they were filled out with any kind of personal information. That little red booklet is thick. It's the handbook officers were given, & my boys enjoyed looking through it & trying a few things out.

Medals & ribbons given out during WWII for a variety of things. Jayden was in love with this page. He could not wait to look at books with WWII soldiers in it to see what kind of medals they had. Which reminded me that Nana had a medal from her Uncle being in WWII, & when they asked if they could see it she was delighted.. until we all remembered it was in storage & not in her home. Alas..

This was suppose to be the personal Rucksack of John F Ebel. Inside is a story about him, his medals of service, photos of his mates, souvenirs, & other little goodies. Jayden was highly disappointed that he could wear the rucksack when it was put together. I'm thinking he'd really love one for Christmas, along with a WWII helmet.

This page was a trifolded page & it caused lots of excitement too as they could see the break down of all the various forms of warfare & weapons used. I'm pretty sure that page will be getting a bit of reference as we finish reading a few WWII books I found on the shelves & in the library.

Last but not least was the K-rations page. The boys were impressed the soldiers got a spoon with every meal. Seriously, that cracked me up to no end. It's all an adventure to the innocent isn't it? A cool new spoon with every meal, eating of of packets & tins. They were a little unimpressed that cigarettes were included in the rations, which equally made me laugh. I know, I know, but a lot of their reactions were just so very sweet & innocent.

Somewhere in that week we also had a trip to the park, a dinner at the beach, & lots of outdoor play. We're loving the warmer weather ahead. The boys are now anxiously planning a summer victory garden, which seems like a perfect way to prepare to wrap up this unit!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Remote Control

A few weeks ago, after we got done with our local Home Ed group, I told the boys I needed to run into the grocery store. The boys aimlessly wandered the isles with me when Jayden came running up & said, "Mom check this out!" Turns out, that giant remote control is actually a birthday card. He was so impressed with it he wanted to buy it & take it home for Daddy. Then he remembered Daddy all ready had his birthday this year & decided a picture would suffice.

Don't ask me what's up with the look on his face. That's the look I generally get when I say things like, "Did you pick your clothes up off the floor?" or "Did you actually put the dog food away or did you just leave it on the floor by the door?" That look is a dead give-away that he'd like me to think he's shocked by the question because he'd never ever do what I'm asking. Ahh, but I can see right through it. He no longer believes I have eyes in the back of my head. He peeked, you see, but he's still in awe that I know what he's thinking, just wait until he realises it's because he laughs so much.

You probably can't see it very well, but do you love his sweater?! There's a story behind that sweater, you knew that right? There's a story behind everything in this household! When Morgan was born my mother-in-law sent us a hand knitted sweater with matching mittens. While Morgan never wore the mittens {Sorry Nana, he just refused to keep them on!} he loved his little sweater & so did I. He was such a small little thing that he could wear that sweater way beyond what he should have been able to, & when he outgrew it he told Nana on the phone that his "green sweater you made not fit anymore!" He was most put out.

Luckily for Morgan Nana was coming to the US for a visit & she brought him a new one, in the same color, but several sizes bigger. Morgan was so pleased & wore that until he was 4 or 5. Upon receiving his new sweater he gave the old one to Jayden who was all of 3 months old. Well, let's just say that Jayden grew at a fantastically quicker rate then Morgan did & soon after his sweater did not fit him. He was 2 & rather put out that Morgan had a sweater made by Nana but he did not. After all he had a blanket made by Gram just like Morgan, so why shouldn't he have a sweater made by Nana?

Daddy lodged the complaint for him & Nana happened to have a pattern for a nifty Thomas Train sweater! Just in time for Jayden's birthday, I think, it arrived. Jayden was born in the US summertime & boy was it hot outside, but I could not get that little boy to take his new beloved Thomas sweater off for all the world. I was seriously terrified he was going to get heat stroke so I made him stay inside with the air down low.

The sweater still fit him when we moved here & Nana was delighted to see him wearing it & loving it so much. I, was not, however, delighted at the fights I went through to wash the crazy thing. I got really good at washing it at night & telling him I had no idea how it got wet while he was sleeping. He got really sneaky & started wearing it to bed. Needless to say at his crazy growth rate he outgrew the sweater & he was most displeased when I told him I was going to put the sweater away. In fact he demanded to go to Nana's right away so he could ask her how to make a new one.

Jayden received a bigger sized Thomas sweater that was a bit too big for him & thus he can still wear it, all though it's starting to get a bit too short on him. While he no longer wears the new sweater to bed, it's still his first choice when I ask him to get a jacket or he's cold. When I was cleaning out closets a few weeks ago I asked him if he'd like me to put his Thomas sweater up with his older smaller Thomas sweater. "No thanks, I might be too old to watch Thomas, but I'm not too big for this sweater." Nana has decided to look into making yet another bigger Thomas sweater. I'm absolutely certain it will not go astray.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I don't know exactly when it happened that I suddenly became the mother of an eleven year old child, but here I am & so is he. He's still short for his age, but we never seem to notice that, we just look at him & think, "When on earth did he get so grown up!" He's still incredibly thin & his pants still don't stay up properly on him despite his deep affection & love for jeans these days, but we never really think about it like that. We just look at him & think, "Someday, they'll make pants with indestructible knees in them."

He's never worn a pair of pants that he's outgrown before the knees gave way. That might be because he grows so slowly he wore the same pants for three winters in a row, but I don't think so. I gave up buying him new pj pants & now just pick up anything that looks decent at the op-shop & sew them down to his size. It's much cheaper & no one stresses when the pants get holes in them, unless they are the second hand Darth Vader pants that a certain 11 year old boy adores.

He's still not into the latest fads & marches to the beat of his own drum, we love that so much about him. Sure he loves Mario, but his favourite character is not whom you'd expect. It's Toad, the little mushroom. Which is the only reason he really super especially wanted that shirt, & that's why I super especially bought it for him.

He never leaves home without his pocket knife, & if he does he stresses the whole time we're out until he can get home & be sure it's right where he left it. There was a lot of tears when it went missing for many months, & then one day he was on "find the book duty" when he found the knife. There was much cheering & screaming, he know keeps it securely clipped to his pants. I'm pretty sure if he could only grab one thing before leaving the house, he'd take that knife over his trading cards every day of the week & twice on Sundays. After all, "It's just like Poppy's."

He never wears his watch tight on his wrist & so it slips & slides & falls off. I lament that he'll ruin another watch & he complains that it's not his fault the watch won't stay on. I point out that one generally wears their watch tighter then he's chosen & he laments that it feels weird being so tight. Maybe that's because he's so stick figure thin nothing has ever been tight on him in his entire life.

He says he looks weird with short hair & better with longer. I tell him he's silly & has it totally backwards. He once wanted a "tail" like a jedi knight. I hid the StarWars videos & told him that people might mistake him for a girl. He never asked again. I'm glad, because there are such bigger things in life to fight about then hair. He still hates getting haircuts though.

He still asks so many questions that I have to tell him regularly I'm off duty & can't possibly answer another question for the rest of the entire day. He's learned to accept this time in our day, except when I announce it at 7am. After all, shouldn't every mother be able to explain all about black holes first thing in the morning? He'd make a fantastic research analyst  except he'd probably get so busy with the research he'd forget to report back.

He's wickedly loyal, & his brother loves him so much for this. You see, no one in the whole wide world can say anything about his little brother or they'll get an earful about it. Apparently while we were in the US, he told someone off for referring to his brother as a tattletale  he told another cousin off this weekend for calling his brother smelly-- even if it was a joke. I'm always slightly taken aback by the fierceness in which he tells others to leave his brother alone. If only the same rules applied to himself in regards to his little brother.

He's become quite the sportsman lately too, which is not to say that he enjoys watching sport, but that he enjoys being active in it. I think it's the competition he likes, but mostly against his own family not other children. He's never been extremely competitive against other children, he doesn't like to hurt other's feelings.

He's very compassionate in that nature. But don't let it fool you, he's generally cheering for the bad guy in most stories. Or is it that the courage of the bad guy to be, well so naughty, when he wouldn't dare alluring to him? I haven't decided yet.. I did find myself laughing hysterically when I found out that the worst punishment in the lego castle they were playing with was being in detention with Voldemort & Count Olaf though.

Which reminds me that he's such a bookworm. Despite his inability to read quickly, or read every word, or apparently see properly, it's never held him back from becoming fully immersed in books. I'm really excited to see where his new found ability, with the help of his green glasses, takes him over the next year.  For now though, I'm going to enjoy the last 3 months of having an 11 year old in the house, because then I'll have a 12 year old which will most likely take me another year to own up to.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Art Cabinet

While helping a family member move recently they decided to part with the two cupboards in the bottom of the picture. There was a little rejoicing over this fact as these really heavy cupboards have been moved a few times over, but then I said I'd take them home.

We had a smaller cabinet holding all our art supplies & when I opened it up recently to get computer ink out of it, the contents of the cupboard nearly attacked me. I was debating what I was going to do & planning to give it a good cleanup come summer break. Bringing home the cabinets simply meant I got to it quite a bit quicker.

It also meant I did some minor rearranging, which is nothing majorly new in our home. Mr S use to lament that the only reason he knew he was in the right house was because of the strand of Christmas lights I had hung around the front door. That was, until the day he came home & found that the room we use to call ours now had two sleeping children in it. Over the years he's just learned to expect things to be moved, especially in the kitchen after he's finally figured out where they actually belong. Poor fellow.

As for the cabinets they now sit in our lovely sunny school area & have helped us tidy up more then the art supplies. The cabinets are big enough I can actually put some of our lapbooking & notebooking tools in there that have always been too long for cabinets. It's also wide enough that I can put the two shelves on top. I would have put them under, which would make more sense, but seriously those two doored cabinets are heavy! I was worried they might break the lighter shelves.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Living With Boys

I am the mother of boys. It's a perfect greeting card slogan. Inside would read something like, "You deserve a merit badge.." or something more catch that basically means the same things. When you're the mother of boys you come to simply know & expect things will happen. You know that if your little boy finds a stick on the beach it's an instant toy. It can be a gun, a crutch, a metal detector, a sword, a light saber or any one of a hundred things. Mother's of boys do not expect that if a stick is laying on the ground within a 100 mile radius that their son will leave it alone, because he won't.

There are other things we take for granted. Like the fact that after every bath & shower, which is more like a typhoon or hurricane, they will inevitably leave their clothes strewn, not just all over the bathroom, but also the hallway, their bedroom, & sometimes, just to freak you out, light figures 8' in the air.

Bodily habits, sounds, & functions not only elicit giggles from, but often cheers & cries for more. A bad hair day generally refers to the moment they need a haircut, not wildly out of control objects upon their head. Mud, dirt, heat, & bugs rarely stop them from reenacting a hundred different wars in the back yard, each one before lunch time. Gross, to them, is holding hands, kissing, & most forms of effection.

You learn to speak languages you never new existed, & converse fluently much to the horrified expressions of most people you know. You become use to saying things like, "Put the dolphin down & get the school work done!" Couches become mountains to scale, patterns on the grocery store floor becomes lava one must avoid, & every vegetable in the veggie shed becomes some living creature that squeals & screams when it's made aware it will be eaten for supper.

One expects to find oddities in pant pockets, beds, & in book bags. Wrestling appears to be a sign of affection, as does Nerf fights, sword fights, & every form of racing known to man. I've even become accustomed to the countless supply of "stuff" that, despite my misgivings, they always put to weird & wonderful uses.

I did now, however, expect to wake up & find my 9 year old laying in my bed with a bike helmet on. Rough night? Apparently not. Bad dreams? Nope. Thunder? I didn't hear any. Why the helmet? I saw it laying on the floor. So, you just thought you'd randomly pick up Daddy's helmet & sleep in it? Yeah. Even though you know he bikes home, up two huge hills, & sweats like crazy?! Yeah.

Just wait until I tell his kids about this one!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Shorter Hair

I had this wild idea that I'd hack off my hair for my birthday. Every now & again the whim hits me to not just trim my hair but really take it all off. This was just one of those absurd whims that I had. Only, my Friday was looking really full, so I ended up doing it at about 10pm on Thursday. I told you it was a whim! My hair was flipped on both sides, but hey life happens, wind abounds when you live on the coast, & all the other excuses you can think of that will fit.

It's odd not to grab something to pull my hair back, so I picked up a hat to keep the wind from totally killing my hair, most of the time. I use to have a nifty hat similar to what I purchased, but I once let the boys use it for their snowman when we lived in the US. The two uni students living next door who were normally very placid & calm people had a good-bye party when the fellow was offered an amazing job elsewhere. Somehow, after a few drinks, & many more sleepless hours the friends found destroying the snowman & wearing the hat home fun. It seems annoying, but seriously it didn't bug me too much.

I have to say, with hair this short it only takes a matter of minutes to wash & dry it compared to normal. In the cooler months if I don't dry my hair I can go to bed with it still wet. Then again that's because it's normally piled up on top of my head. It's most certainly interesting having shorter hair!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Five In A Row Scrapbook

England Page from Peter Rabbit
Last week I was rearranging a few things in our school area to make room for a set of cupboards we were given. The cupboards are now housing all sorts of our goodies, but in moving things around I was distracted by the kids lapbooks & old Five In A Row scrapbook.

While the boys made their own lapbooks for  some of the books we rowed, when they were much littler they just enjoyed coloring things that went along with our studies. I felt bad throwing those items away because they often put a lot of time & effort into them & were of course so very proud of those things. Instead we cut them out & glued them into a 3-ring binder styled scrapbook.

It was so sweet to go back through & find all those lovely little things. It was fun to see all the fun we had, especially since Jayden will be using FIAR one last time next year. Anyway, I snapped a bunch of photos & thought I'd share a bunch of them here.

Bible Stories from Peter Rabbit: People who obeyed God, People who didn't.
Trying our hands at Water Colors; I printed Peter colouring sheets directly onto water colour paper.

Peter Rabbit puppets we put on craft sticks; oh the many tellings of Peter we had with these things!
Science with Peter; we watched a bean grow & measured it over the course of 17 days
Language Arts with Peter; Morgan wrote about a Zebra & I typed it for him. He illustrated it
Art from Storm In The Night. I had a packet of paper shapes & the boys made their own quilt.
Math with Mike Mulligan
Geography with Madeline, oh how the boys loved this book, they still speak of it!
Language Arts With Madeline
Math with Madeline
Bible With Madeline
Fun with Mr Gumpy's Motorcar
Art with Mr Gumpy
Math with Mr Gumpy; clouds came from a Mailbox Magazine
More Storm In The Knife fun: art & math
Storm In The Night Math & Science; Raindrops from Mailbox Magazine
More science & math with Storm In The Night
So much fun we had. We have an even bigger scrapbook in the US that we had a lot of fun looking through, but I'll have to share those photos another day.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Week In Review

This picture is a grand representation of our week. It was a busy wild week, & the boys accomplished a great deal. I looked up at one point during the week & saw what the table looked like & after a good chuckle I went ahead & snapped a photo.

The boys are dutifully working on some WW II notebooking pages in the photo. I was reading aloud to them while they were working, all though sometimes we listen to an audio book selection while they work on those. It just depends on the day.

This week we were listening to a bit of Gone-Away Lake. Sometimes I read, sometimes we just listened. The boys have really enjoyed the story.

We're nearly done with our Grapevine Bible. Last year we did the New Testament, & this year we moved to Old Testament. The OT is more of an overview, so while it's been nice & the boys have enjoyed it I'm a little disappointed that some of the people/stories don't go a bit more in depth. The boys have enjoyed the study & it gives us the opportunity to go back & go a bit deeper.

Both boys plodded away at math.  Jayden isn't as far along with his book as I'd normally have him, but that's okay. Slow & steady is good. He was a little annoyed with the excess review he was having this week so we moved ahead until we found something he wasn't certain with. Really, it was review too & I think he just had brain fog when given the lesson, but that's okay too. Morgan tackled a variety of things this week from triple digit multiplication to division with mixed number answers.

Jayden's spelling has French Dictation in it which he really enjoys. French Dictation has some of the words in the passage written & as you read it out the child fills in the missing words & punctuation. This week he wasn't feeling the love, but he had a bit of a rough week in those regards so we worked our way through it anyway. Morgan only had two spelling lessons this week as we had a slight mix-up with it last week. No biggie, it all works out.

The bounty of their notebooking efforts this week. They worked on a variety of WWII soldier uniforms, they really loved this one. Especially Jayden. They also worked on some papers that soldiers would have been given when they enlisted during that time. The small paper is about POW camps. The basket is full of a variety of things that were done on the homefront in an effort to help the war.

One of the things we covered in The Word Spy this week was Pig Latin. From the very first word I read aloud Morgan was smitten. Everywhere we went this week we found things written in Pig Latin from him. When I asked him to get his spelling things ready while I went over a few things with Jayden I turned around to find the message in the photo on our white board. If you're not able to read Pig Latin it says, "Let's do spellwell Mom, Okay." I should probably inform him that his spelling curriculum is actually called Sequential Spelling, huh? There's still a note in sidewalk chalk outside our front door written in Pig Latin!

We did the drawing from last week's art lesson. Turns out, our school room clock is off by oh, I dunno, about fifteen minutes. So last Friday when Mr S informed us he'd be having lunch in 13 minutes we thought he was loopy. Until we walked out of the school area & I caught sight of the lounge room clock. There was a flurry of shoes, sweaters, & keys as we made a dash out the door. So this week we sat down to do the drawing section of our lesson. We were about three quarters of the way through when we realised that not only was the clock still behind {yes we'd attempted to adjust it, clearly we need a battery replacement} we were suppose to all ready be at the bank to collect Nana! It was another mad dash out the door.

When we got back home some of us finished up our drawings. Jayden's {only one of his spears is showing on the far right} added a nifty, Super huge Best Ever Huntsman Spider, to his drawing. Morgan didn't quite finish his as he was having pencil issues, as in it wouldn't stop breaking on him, poor fellow. Mind is on the bottom completed. My hammer was a bit more round then the original  I liked Morgan's hammer much better. All in all it was a fun lesson. Maybe next week we'll actually finish an art lesson without drama!