Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hanging A Growth Chart

In two of the houses we'ved lived in since being in Tasmania we've had tall ceilings. I'm talking massive. The kind that require a lot of help to reach. Now, I suppose normal people don't make a habit of reaching their ceiling, but then we aren't normal.  In the last home we lived in I spent one morning eat my bowl of oatmeal staring down a huntsman spider. It wasn't easy, the beast kept trying to move out of view & then took to staring me down. However, I refused to lose sight of it so afterwards Mr S could climb up on the table with my super cool extend a pole & get the beast down & out of the house.

The difference between that house & this house was that the light fixtures were on long chains at normal height. Not this home. You must use a ladder or other means of help to change the bulbs. Mr S walked in from work one day & found me standing on the school table, with the vacuum beside me so I could clean the filter in the Daikin. Which didn't phase him, most likely because the day before he'd found me on the table trying to replace bulbs.

This weekend I told him I had an idea. He asked if it was a good one or a bad one, I told him to shut-up. All in jest my friends, all in jest. My children told me off for saying shut-up. It was not in jest. One suggested I wash my mouth out with soap, the other pointed out that it wouldn't effect me because I drink vinegar every day. I digress.. The point is that we had this massive 160 inch growth chart that needed hanging up so Jayden could start labeling it. Only, I'm not 160 inches tall & neither is Mr S. I knew that our ladder would never reach that, & besides our ladder is in poor health. What I really needed was Dad's never ending ladder which is a story all it's own, & I obviously don't have. Instead I thought, "lets put the school table in the lounge & a bar chair on top o fit & see if that will work." It did not. Mr S still couldn't reach the ceiling, & friends he's not short, in order to help me hang this thing up.

He had a better idea, in which I tripped on a lego while helping him carry out. Yes, we own more then one table. In fact, we own enough tables that Mr S thinks I have a table collection to rival the former pram/stroller collection we use to have. I have neither, but that's probably arguable. The point is, we stacked the smaller table from our dining room onto the big school table & shoved a bar stool on top of that. Then Mr S climbed up on the whole ramshackle thing while shouting, "Don't you dare let go will you?!" & I of course said, "No, of course not, I will not let go unless of course something really important happens!" "What could possibly be important then saving your husband from impending doom?" "Wow, impending doom? Have you been reading a book?" "Don't be ridiculous I don't have time to read books, I've been reading the Reader's Digest." "Oh, do we have the new one all ready?" "Are you holding the table!" "Of course I'm holding the table, now quit complaining & be sure the chart is even. I'd have to have to climb up there myself & fix it." "I'd like to see you try!" "Would you?" "No, on second thought I wouldn't. Just tell me if it's even." "Okay." "NO! Don't let go of the table!" "You told me to check & see if it was even though!" "Can't you just decide from where you are?"

Of course it's absolutely no fun to see such a structure in the lounge room unless everyone can have a turn climbing on it, right? This, coming from the boy who use to scream when I laid him on a changing table to dress him. No, scream might be too light a word. Serious fear of heights. Of course he's not squarely on the chair, but he's not screaming either.

Then Jayden attempted it, & decided to inform me the ceiling fan, which is beyond high, was a little dusty on the side I obviously can't see from the ground. In fact his exact words were, "Now stay calm Mom, but I have some bad news you're not going to like. The fan is dusty, I mean like really dusty. I think you might want to come up & have a look!" "Why would I want to look if it's dusty?" "So you know I'm not joking around." "Mate, you shouldn't have told Mommy that the fan was dusty!" "But Daddy it is!" "There are just some things it's wiser not to tell her about." Me, I was too busy looking for my extenda pole with dusting attachment, turns out they took it to the tip shop.. might explain why there are some things one should never tell their mother.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

2013 Week In Review {Week 3}

I can't believe we're nearly through with week 4 & I'm only getting week 3 up. Such is the way of life when things are crazy. Something about swim lessons, meetings, swim practice, school, cleaning house, crazy weather, broken computers, & everything in between that have kept us busy.

Still, we love looking back over all the things we've accomplished, especially when we feel frazzled & wonder if we really did accomplish anything.

This was another crazy full week for us, especially Morgan who's knew school load has been phenomenally heavy for the first two weeks back. His course has him spending the first six weeks in China, but his first 2 weeks have all the research & history learning happening. I didn't pay close enough attention to that when I was reviewing things or we would have spread it out a little more. It certainly hasn't been boring though & we've learned a great deal. We're looking forward to a slower pace ahead though!

How do you do your math? This is pretty normal around here, at least on video lesson day. It was review to boot so he just decided to kick back & have himself a little rest. Both boys are still only in the review portions of their books. Depending on how quickly we move out of that we may take the end of unit tests until we get to where we need to stop. Morgan was horrified he couldn't move past his unit unless he knew his 1 & 2 division facts by heart. Once he calmed down I quizzed him & he had them down pat. It only made the math class that much more giggly. We'll see if the giggles stick around once we move out of the reviews.

Jayden's enjoying his new writing curriculum. No, seriously he is. Morgan hasn't had as much of a chance to dig into it with his heavy load of other things, which was slightly disappointing  but with the easing of that happening soon he'll be able to break into it. He's really excited about that, he has great desires to learn to write & write well. As for Jayden, it may be the first writing anything we've ever used with him where he hasn't complained. It still takes a little prodding to get those oral narrations out of him, but I think before the end of Term 1 he'll be doing terrific.

Jayden made Shepherd's pie, Morgan was ecstatic, on Tuesday night for dinner. It was to go with his FIAR book from the week before, thus the little stars in the mashed potatoes. We ended up watching a "chick flick" with it because Mr S had been quoting a line from it & wanted to know if I owned the film.

Tuesday night after a rough swim practice in the wildest waves ever, & they had to practice floating!, Morgan came home & had a quick geography lesson. He loves it & was delighted with it. The idea was to find key spots on the map by using their latitude & longitude numbers. His only disappointment was that there wasn't more to practice with. I have to say, I saved this project for Mr S because our fancy pants new globe doesn't have the numbers on every section like the globe I grew up with! Of course once Mr S explained it I felt like a dork, but hey it happens, right?

Morgan's science this year is all based on the body. We use a variety of books as they are schedule in Sonlight Science F. So far we're really enjoying it. This was suppose to be a Cell Mobile from the same Scholastic book I mentioned last week. We decided to turn it into a notebooking page. It was a tad more advanced then the cell information he's learned thus far, but he had fun working on it!

Thursday we participated in our Home Ed group's swap. We all brought items we no longer wanted & set them up for others to pillage through. It was done in a much more orderly fashion then normal pillaging & I was delighted to come home with a new pyrex bowl, one of mine was recently busted, & a new glass casserole pan with lid. I also snagged a toaster for our new trailer tent & some cutlery to go out there too. Win-Win. The boys picked up a few things too & then after an afternoon of play & chattering we headed out to pick up my computer & hit swim lessons. We were running early so I ran into the local IGA to pick up milk, which they informed me we needed. My niece wanted to know if the boys could FaceTime with her on my phone, but it didn't work. So Morgan kept taking random photos to send to her until we arrived at swim lessons. Of course he'd take a picture of the candy display in the store, pity it's so blurry it really was an amazing display!

Morgan & I wrapped up two books on China. What a life Hudson Taylor lived! Lu Lun was an interesting read too. It's about a young boy who is terrified of water & his father feels shame when Li Lun refuses to join the men to go fishing. His father banishes him to climb to the top of the mountain with 3 grains of rice & return with double that. The biggest problem with this book was all the Chinese names & no pronunciation guide!

We finally started our Australian History studies too. We're not using a curriculum this is all something I've put together myself for the kids. We started with My Father's Islands which was available at our local bookshop. We picked it up when they were moving from their "back corner type shop" to smack in the middle of town discount sale. It's a really good book thus far all about the adventures of Able Tasman and told by his daughter. What's written in there happens to be taken from their actual journals! While I was reading one day the boys coloured pictures of Abel Tasman for their timeline notebooks.

Jayden enjoyed a bit of fun with The Duchess Bakes A Cake, always a fun favourite in our home. Morgan & I have been running around all week singing, "Lovely light luscious delectable cake" much to Jayden's consternation. Poor kid. Each time we read this book I want to make 3 cakes, one with each form of rising agent. However, man oh man have we had a heat streak! 39 it topped out at one day. Summer's last hurrah in Tassie is always hot.

Instead, we waited until Tuesday of Week 4 to make his cake to go with the book. It was raining & reasonably cool so having the oven on wasn't an issue. We chose to only make one & we pulled a recipe from a US Cookbook called The Unitest States Cookbook. It has recipes from each state, while the book didn't take place in the US they had an "old election cake" for Maine I think it was. It uses yeast & lots of berries in the cake as well as spices just like in our story. I did have a small piece despite the wheat & eggs in the cake. No one raved about it, but no one complained when offered some for snack the following day either! It made me think of raisin bread to be honest. I found a recipe for a yeasted chocolate cake which I'm determined to try out when the weather cools to see if it has a bread like feel/taste to it as well or not.

Jayden also plucked away with his Winter Promise Animal Worlds Core. It's really a fun core, but we've moved very slowly so far. Between the crazy weather & helping Morgan balance his workload we've not progressed as far through it as we should have, but all in due time! He loved learning about porcupines this week. Did you know there's more then one kind? True story. We watched some short videos on YouTube to see a N. American porcupine & a S. American porcupine. We didn't look for the African one yet, but we need to!

And that, my friends, is what our planner looks like on a semi-light week of studies! Blue is Jayden, Green is Morgan, Red is all of us. Black are notes for me. Seriously busy around here. We had a light Friday because we were just that worn out & needed down time. Our first three days are always the fullest. At this point we've yet to have book learning on Thursdays due to our group's outings, & it can be harder to bring ourselves back to it on Friday except to wrap up various outstanding projects. Funny thing is, I think that picture might be from week 4, not week 3. It's pretty typical of our week though.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Geography Wall

Morgan's curriculum this year is a geography focus & we're adding a bit of extra purposeful geography into it. One of those things is this fun geography wall. The idea being that as our focus is on each country we label the map. We'd like to think that by the end of the year we'll each be able to find our way around the countries pretty easily, which won't be difficult for Mr S because his world geography is amazing.

It'll be a bit more difficult for Morgan & I, but considering we both learn well on repetition the idea is that we label the map many times over the course of the weeks we spend focusing on each country. Each map is laminated except the extra long ones. I also laminated all the cities, rivers, mountains, & oceans we'll be sticking on there.

The maps aren't ones we printed out ourselves, all though I did laminate the smaller ones myself. The maps were purchased from Winter Promise as well as all the cities, mountains, rivers, etc that we'll use to label the maps with & I picked them up while in the US.

The maps are beautiful to look at, but have their flaws. The map of China, for instance, has Mexico also written on it... right where India is. South America wasn't included so I used another map from WP instead. The bigger maps that are up are also because those maps weren't included. I would have preferred to have the entire continent broken down vs only bits & pieces, but again the maps were made to help children focus on the countries studied in the various curriculums.

I'm not too panicked about it though as I know it will all work out. If he can manage to label even half of what is on the wall he'll be doing fantastic!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Kitchen Gadgets

For Christmas Mr S gave me this lovely electric kitchen gadget. It's not just a pressure cooker but also a steamer, sauter, crockpot, & can keep your food warm when it's done to boot. It took a little fiddling to figure out the pressure cooker setting as the book has you cooking just about everything on a low pressure setting from huge chunks of meat to white rice. In fact, after careful reading I noticed the only thing they had you cooking on a higher setting was brown rice?!

We learned pretty quickly that the book was "off" in regards to the pressure settings matching the times listed in the booklet, & once I made those adjustments it worked beautifully. Corned Beef in an hour. Boneless Roast chicken {yes, weird, but it was on special} in less then an hour. Sauerkraut in an hour with pork roast! It can manage rice in 7 minutes, white rice that is. The guys don't like brown rice & I can't eat rice so their rice takes 7-9 minutes depending on how big of batch I make.

The machine is amazing & was so wonderful to have full on meals this summer without overheating our kitchen. Despite the warm weather we had stew, mostly because the meat was in the freezer & needed using up, & it took less then half the normal time to make. I love that if we get caught up in a lesson & it gets late it doesn't mess up dinner plans because this machine cooks everything so quickly.

We even steamed some veggies in it, & while the guys thought they were great the veggies were a tad overcooked for me. I had them in too long, which is an easy peasy fix. The crockpot function is pretty simple too & we often throw something in there on Thursdays which is our day out & then when we get home dinner is just about ready & we only have to fuss with vegetables & waiting on Mr S to bike home.

This machine has taken the place of our normal rice cooker & crockpots. We donated one crockpot to the op-shop while the other, along with the rice cooker, are in the camping gear now. Does that sound weird? Yeah, it seemed weird to me at first too considering we never used electricity when we went camping, but then again when you grow up in NY state you don't have full state wide fire bans either.

So in Tassie if you want to eat when you go camping you have to work with electricity or balance using an electric barbecue with other campers. I just take a rice cooker & a slow cooker. Nerdy? Maybe, but my gang didn't seem to complain about the poached eggs & toast I made in the rice cooker or the baked potatoes we made in the crockpot. Then again, the wildlife didn't complain about it either all though they did get a tad nosey & attempt to pry the lid off. Rascals!

As for the pressure cooker {which is actually called the Fast Slow Cooker} it's really fun to use now that we've worked out the pressure settings on it. I saw a recipe the other day for making cheesecake in the thing, which I thought was very interesting, but I don't think I'll be making it anytime soon. Just don't tell Morgan. I think that boy lives for Cheesecake. I think instead we'll work on pot roast, the store makes a beautiful pre-marinated one that I'd love to replicate...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Birthday Parties

I don't know about you, but I absolutely love a good excuse to celebrate my kids. Something to make them feel special about who they are, & birthdays are just one such occasion for doing exactly that. We've always had some long standing birthday traditions that have formed either from our own childhoods or out of pure desperation. Over the years some of those change & some don't.

One thing we like to do is have a small party, where the kids generally invite family & an occasional friend's family over. We tend to keep things pretty low key too. All though Mr S might be laughing if he remembers the extent we went to when Jayden turned 3. Each night when the boys went to bed we'd pull out huge boxes wrapped in white paper & turn them into trains from the Thomas stories. We took them to my parent's house & had a big out door celebration where the kids worked through a Thomas story. For years afterwards we'd find Jayden sitting on the couch every morning looking at his Thomas Picture Album, but I digress..

Morgan loves games. If you told him you'd spend 1 hour doing anything with him that he wanted he'd ask you how many games could be played in that hour. He's the first person to remind us to pack games when we spend the night with family, go camping, or on long drives. So I knew the perfect party for him would be something involving lots of little games to play, much like his carnival party.

We went with a Minute To Win It party theme this year. He was pretty excited, but kept reasonably in the dark about it too. He had a few people, as in an Uncle & Mr S asking him what games we were playing so they could practice, & he had to keep telling them I refused to tell him what the games were. It's true, I did. I knew Morgan would practice too!

In the end we picked 12 games, but only played 11. We opted out of the last game because we couldn't find the supplies, which are most likely at the bottom of a box of toys somewhere. There were no complaints as we were too busy rolling with laughter at the craziness we got up to as it was. Here's what we went with in the end:

1. A Bit Dicey -- The object was to hold a craft stick/popsicle stick/icy pole stick in your mouth & balance six dice on it for at least 3 seconds. We used rather large dice & rather normal sticks. We had a few people who managed this, many who totally bombed it, & then some of us didn't quite complete it because the falling dice weren't retrieved in time.

2. Defying Gravity -- The original game called for 1 person to keep 3 balloons off the floor. We played 2 people at a time with 4 balloons, & in the end decided we should have done 5. Either way it was a lot of fun & hilarity.

3. Don't Blow The Kings -- again we altered rules. We took 1 deck of cards & scattered them face down on the table except the 4 kings which were face up. Then when it was your turn you had 60 seconds to blow the cards away, the idea being not to knock the kings off the table.

4. Elephant March -- We ended up playing this indoors as we don't have a sidewalk or flat area in our yard that we thought would work. Our kitchen isn't long but wide & we made do out there. I only had trouser socks on hand instead of panty hose, I don't recommend using them because they are considerably shorter meaning people have to get much closer to the ground. We still enjoyed ourselves & made each other laugh like crazy.

5. Hanky Panky -- I bought a box of tissues for each person {thankfully they were less then a dollar this week} & each person had 60 seconds to get as many tissues out of the box as possible. Oh my goodness, do you have any idea how FUN it is to do that?! I didn't buy half sized boxes, just normal ones. I think half sized would have been better, but some of us still accomplished our goals.

6. Face The Cookie -- Those who played all balanced a cookie on their face & worked it down to their mouth. It was really fun to watch. Each person had 2-3 chances to accomplish the task in. I sat this one out because the cookies I bought weren't allergy friendly.

7. Mega Bubble -- it was really windy out so we played down our insanely long hallway. I bought rather inexpensive bubbles & you would not believe how crazy getting them blown was! We gave points based on which bubble went how far.

8. Stack Attack -- This is the typical cup stacking game. We played with less cups because it's what we had on hand. This was a pretty fun one too, & the boys played this for ages after the party. I think we had 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 in regards to how our cups towered.

9. Snack Attack -- Not sure this is an official Minute To Win It Game, but we enjoyed it. We paired up into teams of 2 again & one member wore a shower cap & spare t-shirt {both of which we provided} then their shower cap was covered in shaving cream & their teammate stood behind a line tossing cheese doodles at them. The idea was for the person with the shaving cream to catch the doodles in the shaving cream. We awarded points based on how many doodles were on your head.

10. Suck It Up -- The idea being to transfer candies from one area to the other at the end of the straw. This was actually quite easy for all of us & in the end we should have either had more candies or had to walk from point A to point B as the rules said. All the same it was a lot of fun & no one complained when they got to eat their candies in the end.

11. Blow It -- Not sure if that's the actual name, but we lined up 15 cups on the edge of the table & you had to blow them off with the air you blew inside a balloon. So blow the balloon up first let it blow the air onto the cups. You can blow up the balloon as often as you need to within your 60 seconds. There were a lot of theories behind what would work best & a few did while some just caused us much laughter.

12 Temper Tantrum -- We did not play this game. You need 2 pedometers & we could only find one. You attach the pedometers to your socks, lay on your back & kick your feet as much as possible in 60 seconds. The person with the most steps wins.

Our point system was stated before we started playing: 5 points for every game you try, if one can't try the game for health reasons they get 5 points anyway. This was important because we had a couple of games that 3 of us couldn't play. On top of your 5 points per game you also got: 10 points if you came in first, 8 if you came in second, 6 if you came in 3rd, 4 if you came in 4th, & 2 if you came in 5th. Everyone else gained 1 extra point on top of their 5. If we played in teams both members got those points {not divided. So in Snack Attack if Mr S & I teamed up & won we each got 15 points.} If more then one team came in 1st place, that was okay too, each person got 15 points & so on.

For Don't Blow The Kings we had a special point rule. For each King you knocked off the table you lost 2 points. So if you knocked 1 king off, but still won first place instead of 10 points you got 8. For all games that were finished before 60 seconds were up we kept track of how long it took each person to help us award points.

The points were honestly just for fun. Our first place winner received a box of chocolate truffles. Everyone else was given a small Toblerone. If my computer had been working I might have made fun little certificates  We had considered a wooden spoon for the last place winner, only because we had a guest suspect if they came they'd be last & would they at least get a wooden spoon for it? Plus, our family is so nerdy that gag gifts like that tend to get passed around at many events. Like the weird rocking banana that gets handed out at one of the family camps we go to each year.

We had finger foods out the whole time so that if anyone was hungry they could just help themselves. We kept an esky/cooler full of ice & drinks: Juice boxes, water bottles, & a variety of fizzy drinks. Again, so people could help themselves. We wrapped up our fun evening with a massive chocolate mint cake, I was told it was very yummy, & ice cream.

Seriously simple party to throw together. We had the majority of what we needed around the house. I did go get more balloons, our cricket ball was missing & I wasn't sure a tennis ball would work for Elephant March so I grabbed the heaviest ball that was still reasonably safe. We purchased the chocolates we gave away, tissues, bubbles, deck of cards, & plastic cubs as well. We used the traditional party cloth & party banners for decorations & simply enjoyed ourselves.

We made a quick poster from poster board we had in excess to keep track of points. Several people had funny names on there courtesy of the boys & I. It made sense to them due to silly happenings within the family. We all just gathered around the point chart after each game to quickly jot down points. We had all the games {minus snack attack which I could not find} brought up on the Minute To Win It website so we could watch the BluePrints there to know the rules. Mr S found a Minute To Win It timer on YouTube & downloaded that so we could use it for our official timer. Quick. Simple. Easy. Lots of fun. Morgan dubbed it his best birthday party ever!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

2013 Week In Review {Week 2}

Another whirlwind week behind us for our new school year. I'm glad the rush of the start of our year is over & we can now settle into a more placid routine, or so we hope. I pulled a make-shift schedule together via icalendar, oh how I love using that lovely programme, for the boys to see who gets to work with me when. Or even more importantly what he who is not working with me should be doing. It still needs a little tweaking, for instance Morgan was content not to go first any day so he could get his work done that he doesn't need my assistance with. If you're unfamiliar with icalendar, it's the calendar that comes with your Mac products. You can colour code your schedule {that's my favourite part}, make them repeat for any odd assortment of days/weeks/months, set of alerts/alarms for the more important things. I can also synch it with my other idevices/mac products so no matter where we are or what we're doing we'll be notified when it's time to get on the road for another appointment, return library items, etc.

This was another short week for us as the boys had a day chok-full of swimming on Thursday & Mr S & I had a meeting in the city on Friday. Basically three days of school for our guys, but we made each one count. Jayden wrapped up Week 1 with his Animal Worlds. One of the things he needed to do was make sure his nature bag was stocked & ready for use this year. He was pretty excited by that.

Jayden's using one of the God's Design For Life science books as a spine with his core this year, & one of this weeks extra activities was to play animal charades & not to just use mammals as our animals. He thought up all kinds of animals that we wrote on paper, folded up & dropped in a bowl. We were suppose to play the game that evening, but it was postponed until Wednesday evening instead.

He was really keen to read aloud from his poetry book, especially after realising Morgan was reading aloud from his own. However, he learned pretty quickly that poetry is a little different to read based on where punctuation falls, but he didn't do too badly!

His FIAR book this week was Paul Revere, his choice, & he was really keen to draw the windows & doors mentioned in the manual. He was even more excited when we were watching a programme with a colonial home in it & he spotted the very same windows & doors. In fact, his response was, "MOM!! Look, quick, look at the window!!"

He really enjoyed listening to the poem that makes up this book, all though he was disappointed there wasn't much danger & action in the book. Which, mind you, I think there is action, but just not in the way he envisioned after our many "edge of your seats" Revolutionary War books we read in 2011. These notebooking pages were freebies from Homeschool Share which you can find listed under their FIAR Resources: Volume III: Paul Revere, except the fog booklet which is in their weather labook. It came with two other books we didn't use.

He also wrapped up his first week of writing with WWE. I made a mistake the week before because we started the week on a Tuesday instead of Monday, so rather then moving forward with any of our lessons we just wrapped up the outstanding ones from last week so we can start fresh next week. There was math this week too, finishing up the first unit/lesson in his book, & then he took his math test while on Friday while we were in the city. He aced it & complained that it wasn't much of a test.

Morgan started using Draw Your World! which comes from the Winter Promise geography core. We like to mix & match things. It was all pretty basic for him this week covering continents, oceans, latitude & longitude. He loves maps so this is a pretty fun thing at this stage for him. By the end of the year he should be able to easily identify many cities, mountain ranges, rivers, & other major landmarks within various countries around the world.

He uses the maps hanging on the walls at times to verify what he's doing. We need to pick up a globe this week because our maps aren't marked for latitude & longitude which he was really disappointed to realise. The map on the left is a huge favourite in our home.

He wrapped up unit/lesson one in his math this week too. Again, just basic/review stuff at this stage, so he also felt his test was rather weak. We'll see how they are feeling by the end of the year, all though Morgan is quite strong with maths so he often finds things quite simple once he understands the concepts.

Rather then progress into Week 2 of our SL Core, knowing we had a short week this week, we only did Morgan's SL science which we hadn't attended to last week. This is something he & I do together with me reading & him stopping me to ask questions if there's anything he doesn't understand. After reading short sections in each book he uses the worksheets above to define words, label things we've read about, or answer basic questions that I would have normally had him narrate to me anyway. I really love SL science.

I left Morgan with "homework" while I was at my meeting. Nothing major. He had his math test & then I left him some cell papers to colour for a mobile we'll be making as well as a brain which we'll turn into a brain hat. It's all "extra" for fun stuff, & he was pretty keen to turn the mobile into a notebooking page. My response was, "Absolutely!" The above pages came from a book I purchased during one of Scholastic's $1 sales entitled Scholastic  Easy Make & Learn Projects: Human Body.

We also hit our usual walking trail a few times this week. It's very autumn like over there right now with the many fallen pine needles & a few dropped leaves. All though the later is more from lack of water then anything else!

Excuse the blur here.. Wednesday evening we finally got to Jayden's lovely charades science game. See Jayden in the background rolling with laughter? yeah, this was pretty funny. I think this is where Mr S was being a fly & he kept "landing" on us. We were laughing so hard no one could make any guesses! We had a few injuries in our game too. Morgan, pulling out ostrich, threw his head in the "sand" & missed his pile of "sand" & hit the floor pretty hard. Mr S reopened a knee would & was bleeding all over the carpet after pretending to be some form of a worm. Jayden nearly hyperventilated panting like a dog in his representation of a dogfish. Morgan also managed to bruise his knees up when he decided to be a flying fish & took the whole "flying" part quite literally. And now you know how we entertain ourselves whilst camping!

Thursday we hung out with our Home Ed group at a pool a few towns over. We were there for all most 4 hours before we had to pack up & head to swim lessons much closer to home. Mr H's class was pretty slow this week as he just got a good feel for where each student was & what their abilities were. Jayden needs earplugs before his next lesson because he despises getting water in his ears. I'm not sure who freaked out more Jayde or Mr H when Jayde tried to climb up him while Mr H was trying to instruct him on the back float. Jayden's response was, "I wasn't worried about going under the water! I was worried about the water getting in my ears!!" He struggles with blocked ears, & has from a very young age due to the odd sticky ear wax he has, so anything going into his ears really freaks him out. His blocked ears can last for weeks making it difficult for him to hear.

And that was pretty much our week. Quite a full 4 days there! Mr S & I stopped at a cafe halfway between the city & home. It use to be a tradition for our family to stop here going to the city & coming back when the children were much younger as they needed to use the toilets. Now we only stop on occasion so it was a treat to stop & have the weather nice enough to sit out on the balcony. We were debating the reasons that farmer's field was so beautifully green when the last of the landscape in Tassie is so brown from lack of water this summer. In fact, I was sitting right there sending free txt messages to my mother about our meeting. Imagine that!, as my silly boys would say.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Our family really loves to camp, all though truth be told I prefer camping in the cooler months of the year vs the hotter months of the year. Mr S doesn't mind either time so he's game pretty much all year round to be honest.

It's become an annual tradition to go camping in a local State Park with family every summer. We have ourselves a grand time & simply enjoy the luxury of no interruptions to the day other then enjoying one anothers company. The weather this year was actually reasonably cool, & beautifully crisp at night. All though, it was so crisp the first night that I had to be unburried from my sleeping back at 430 am when my phone went off with a txt message & a child was screaming they needed to use the toilet. Good times, friends, good times!

The boys absolutely love the vast amount of space to play in, as our yard is a bit on the small side these days. Or perhaps it's not the size of our yard but the fact that they've explored it heavily enough there's little left to explore & a rather large lack of trees to climb or places to call secret hideouts. Either way, they had themselves a grand time exploring a huge gully near our campsite & came back looking like two little boys we hardly recognised considering they came back as gray & filthy as could be. I like to think of it as a sign they had a grand time!

Thanks to Morgan's keen awareness he managed to pull a cousin & his little brother back off the path while a copperhead crossed their paths. It caused such a stir that they felt the deep need to inform the Rangers straight away. They weren't very happy when we told them the Rangers were out until the following morning.

We went on nightly wombat walks. Some wombats were more complaciant then others & weren't bothered by the occasional patting & scratching, where as others let you know right away they'd prefer you didn't mess with them. The boys were shocked to discover wombats weren't as soft & cuddly as they'd expected, let's just say wombats enjoy the good mud wallow now & again.

There were heaps & heaps of baby wallabies this year. It was so fun to watch them attempt to keep up with the bigger ones. We had one little one that was doing it's best to keep up with the mob & failing miserably  so much so it had no idea it was about to hop on our feet & when we started laughing the poor thing looked somewhere between terrified & insulted.

Jayden spotted quite a few Mummy wallabies with joeys in their pouches, always a treat to see. In fact, one of the Rangers in the office was rearing one which was so much fun to see. She had let it out of it's make-shift pouch so she could clean the pouch up & he had himself a grand time jumping around the Ranger's station. While my children aren't capable of getting automatic doors to slide open half the time, the bouncing of the joey managed it!

We missed our old friend the Grey Roo who usually came out to see what watermelon he could steal at our annual final night barbecue, but the boys made up for it by collecting feathers they found instead. They had hoped to take them into the Rangers to verify what birds they were certain they came from, but we left before he made his morning rounds.  We also missed our annual climb of Archer's Knob, so we're planning a mid year return visit just for that. Perhaps the boys can catch one of the Rangers then to verify their feathers.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Planning Five In A Row

Despite considering FIAR an extra for Jayden at this point, I still wanted to be sure the intended lessons were planned out. My biggest struggle has always been being unprepared & unplanned, so making sure what we wanted to do for the year was planned out was a great way to set ourselves up to succeed.

It took me 2 days for each volume we'll be using this year, Volumes 3 & 1. I simply highlighted the things in the manual I wanted to discuss with him & made notations about notebooking pages, Fold-N-Learns {now free for followers of the FIAR blog}, & other bits we have that we want to use.

For the most part, if you flipped through my manuals, you'll notice I've not highlighted much of anything in the science sections. That's mostly because the volumes Jayden has picked tend to focus on science lessons with animals at the core, because he's using Winter Promise Animal Worlds I know he'll cover those lessons there & we'll just mention the correlation.

It was pretty quick & simple & the longest part was waiting for Mr S to put all my stuff on his computer as it was while planning these lessons that my own computer met it's fate. Now when we open our manual each day to check out what we're doing I can easily see at a glance what the plan is. I love that! Then I just make a quick notation in my planner & we're off & running. Easy Peasy!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Australia Day 2013

I'm a bit late, but we really did enjoy a nice Australia Day. Jayden delighted to discover a Steve Irwin show the night before, we miss his shows & enthusiasm for what he did. This particular show was about an island involved in WWII & was, in typical form, excellently done. Irwin was incredibly passionate about what he was telling, showing, & seeing. It was equally nice to see some of the things we'd learned & read about for school last year in a more upclose & personal way.

Australia day was spent playing games with family, cooking out, & plenty of cricket from Jayden. We skipped the annual pavlova & made pavlova cookies, which is to say that instead of one giant one we made little ones. I thought I had a picture somewhere, but it eludes me at the moment. Truth be told, they were suppose to be simple meringue cookies because Jayden prefers those over pavlova & we often have a sugary pavlova & something non-sugary on hand.

However, I got caught up watching a movie with Nana & Mr S the night before & thought I'd cooked the biscuits long enough only to discover they were more pavlova-like then meringue like. There were no complaints though as the platter was empty by bedtime.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Setting Up Sonlight

There's a lot of information within a Sonlight Instructor Guide {IG} & sometimes the hardest part about it is remembering what you wanted to mention or ask on a certain day. I absolutely loved the new IG's as I mentioned last year, but you can sometimes lose your way in the wealth of information.

So I took up a few ideas that others were shooting around & decided to highlight each new day of the week with a colored pencil. Each subject is also highlighted with a coloured pencil & from there I can highlight information in the colour of the subject when I find something I really want to remember not to forget. Was that confusing?

I also highlight other bits, mostly for my own reference, with one of those fantastic yellow twist-up crayons by Crayola. They are really great for things like that because they don't bleed through the pages, or smudge.

On top of the highlighting I also use some moveable post-it tabs to keep me on track for the current day within the science & main core pages. This allows me to easily open up to where I need to be within my week. I don't bother with a tab like that for the weekly schedule because that's at the start of each numbered divider.

I might underline something on there if I'm worried we'll forget it, but for the most part we just date each thing when we accomplish it. This year each child/person in the home has a specified ink colour. So since Morgan is our student using Core F I make all date marks in green should I choose to reuse the core with Jayden instead of updating when he's ready for it.

The picture above shows my working binder where I put one terms worth of plans into the notebook from both the main core & the science core that we are using. When we're done I move them to the big binder & put the next terms worth of papers in. Then each weekend I just sit down with my working binder & read over next weeks plans highlighting, in the described fashion above, & then I'm set for the week.  Keeps me on my toes, but honestly is very simple, & lets me know what Morgan will be doing for the week.