Sunday, March 31, 2013

Aussie History -- {Abel Tasman - Captain Cook}

This year, considering both boys are using non-history based cores, I really wanted to take the time to focus heavily on Australian History. I didn’t want to use a textbook for this purpose, but rather find something more set up to the Sonlight & Winter Promise that we’ve been using. Basically a mix of non-fiction & fictional books of great quality. 

My original plan had been to map it all out into a schedule this summer, but it didn’t happen for a variety of reasons & I’m really okay with that. Instead, I try to plan out one time period or event to work with as we go. I didn’t do this when we first started our year, & had I we would have wrapped up Abel Tasman much sooner.. I think. 

I did a lot of researching, mostly at the library & local book shop. I did even more question asking, mostly on Australian home ed message boards. The bottom line was everyone had great ideas for books, but no one really had anything all ready laid out. Rats!

However, I also get why. It’s pretty easy to just grab up books & read them. Add the events to your timeline, if you want, & then move on to something else. Truthfully though, I wanted to move in a more chronological order, because we’ve done the later before!

While I don’t have our entire year mapped out I thought I’d share, as we go along, what we’re using/doing, & how we’re scheduling it out. I’ll start with what we’ve all ready accomplished & what we’re planning to do over the next couple of weeks. Hopefully it will help keep us on track, & maybe someone else will enjoy the book lists & plans.

I broke our schedule down in the same fashion that our other cores are broken down into, it's just what I'm use to looking at & makes it pretty easy. I labeled them slightly differently though. Each one is labeled as Week One, or Week Two, etc. Then the days are across the top. Instead of starting with days 1-5 each week I kept the days going. If you don't school a 5 day school week ignore the weeks & just pay attention to the days. If you can't accomplish it all in one week ignore the weeks & just pay attention to the days. It makes it easier if you just concentrate on which day in your schedule you're on instead of which week you had hoped to be on. Make sense? Good! With all our other school that we've had going on, it took us a lot more then 2 weeks to get through what I thought would take us only a week or two. How long it takes isn't really important.

Week One:

Most of the books I'm using are ones we own, but we are planning to make great use of our local library too. History Of Australia is actually called Ashton Scholastic History Of Australia, I picked mine up used online & then found a few copies in a small back alley used book store in my town. If you live in the NW of Tasmania & are after the book I'm happy to let you know where that little book shop is. However, if you live in Tasmania the library has a couple of copies too, & by a couple I literally mean 2. Abe Books currently has a few for sale if you don't have it & want to go that route. I really love this book & think it ties in beautifully with our studies. This book is used through the entire duration of this study.

Our Sunburnt Country can be purchased through Homeschooling Downunder if you don't own a copy & can't find it used. I found our copy locally in another store that sells used books. However, it's worth buying brand new if you can't find it. I really love the way this book is written right to the children which makes it enjoyable for them. This book will be used for the entire duration of this study.

My Father's Islands happens to be a much easier find as it's still in print. The only book shop in my town had it on the shelves until I purchased it. Having said that the man who runs the store is willing to obtain any book for you & will quote you prices before he orders. You can also obtain it through Book Depository & they offer free shipping to Australia & most places around the world. If you use the link I've provided we end up earning 10% from the sale. The Tassie library has 4 copies of this book on their shelves. This is a really lovely book that our boys fully enjoyed, but be aware that there are unclothed people from actual drawings that were with Tasman's journals in it. While the women's chests happen to be bare my children didn't notice that they were women. The men are unclothed completely in one of the drawings. I didn't make special mention of it & as I read this aloud it nearly went completely unnoticed by my children. It makes a lovely speaking point of why the white explorers & settlers felt the need to "educate" the native people of so many lands though.

I'm sorry, we don't have any lovely timeline pieces. I do believe you can purchase Australian Timeline pieces, but we haven't. Instead the children either color a picture which we scan into the computer & reduce the size, greatly, & then print out for their timeline, or you can simply write down the person & place on your timeline. We love the Winter Promise notebook timeline & both my boys have their own set to use. Winter Promise does ship overseas, all though I'm not completely sure of the prices they charge.

We used this colouring picture for Abel Tasman. My children love to colour in pictures related to what we are doing while I read aloud to them. Sometimes I have them do other things, like the time I assigned Jayden the task of building something with his Playmobile that represented what we'd read in the story for the day. Morgan loves to draw & sometimes I encourage him to draw something from the story that really strikes him. Whatever works, we go with it.

The lovely Notebooking Pages we are using are available at Homeschooling Downunder, & in fact can be purchased in a set with Our Sunburnt Country. They are also available through CurrClick. If you use the CurrClick link we make a 10% profit on the purchase. These pages are very simple, but very well done. They match up beautifully with Our Sunburnt Country which makes using them each week pretty simple. When we are done with a Notebooking page we file it in our Timeline Notebook under the right time frame.

Nothing special for this week. I didn't make special notes of each explorer mentioned in Chapter 2 of OSBC, instead I tucked a note in so that I would remember, if we wanted, to add those people to our timeline. We did not, at this time, add them all. There are, however, notebooking pages for each one if you want to extend your studies & explore each person. Just be aware that if you're using these schedules you'll cover Captain Cook a bit more in depth over the next couple of weeks.

Aboard Endeavour is a book we're borrowing from the library. It's a non-fiction book written as though it were a diary kept upon the Endeavour by Isaac Smith. Easily read & full of beautiful photos. It's a quick read & we're borrowing it because we'll only need it for a week. The Tasmanian library system has 4 copies, at this time, with the call number of: J 910.92 STA. You have to search for it in the system as: Cook's Voyage. The full title is: Aboard Endeavour Cook's Voyage 1768-1771. Author: Bruce Stannard. ISB: 1-86388-131-x. Published by Ashton Scholastic.

The Goat Who Sailed The World is lovely Jackie French book. I say lovely because we've yet to read a single story this amazing author has scripted without being fully captivated. Unfortunately many of her Australian history books seem to be out of print, but this particular book is available for Kindle within a set of 5 Animal books. I was so excited to find it that way so I wouldn't have to wait for the library to fetch me a copy & because this 5 Animal set has 2 other books we had planned to read for this study as well! Having said that, the Tasmanian Library does have 5 copies of the book on hand.

This is the colouring sheet of James Cook we'll be using. If you hover the mouse over the picture it'll bring up the option to colour online or print out. We print out & colour while I read. 

We're still waiting on another book to come in from our library that has to do with the Endeavour, so it's not actually scheduled incase it doesn't come in time. I do hope it does as it's written by the lovely Wendy MacDonald & honestly her books are a true delight to read too!

Ha, I can see that I forgot to delete/change the timeline pieces, colouring sheets, & notebooking pages on this schedule. You'll have to just tick them off if you've all ready accomplished them! That's it, that's as far as I've fully planned out at this stage. I do have plans all ready going for Botany Bay as well as our books selected, but I don't know if we'll get to that before term break. I'll share those when we get to them. I figure if I share them as we go it'll help keep us on track! 

I just feel the need to add, again, that we'll be sharing as we go along, meaning that I won't post an entire years worth of Australian history plans here anytime soon, but rather a few weeks at a time as we plan them out & do them. Feel free to click on the schedules, they won't be blurry then & you can print them out that way too. I left lots of blank spaces so you can add in anything you want, because I tend to do that a lot, don't you?

I haven't included picture books, thus far, mostly because I've read the ones our library has for most of what we'll be studying. Having said that if you want to include them in your studies, go for it! There are some really lovely ones available in the Tasmanian library system. My boys are older now & ready for slightly meatier reads. 

2013 Week In Review {Week 8}

This week is rather skimpy with photos because while the boys were schooling this week I was busy dealing with a pile of other things. In fact one day was so insane that I no sooner had a child set up with lessons then another needed help, & when that task was done the washer screamed. Someone knocked at the door, once I got rid of that person another person showed up. And you know, it's so much easier to ignore people at the door if your children wouldn't pry open the privacy blinds & smash their noses on the windows & say, "Nope, it's no one we know Mom!"

Yes, i took a photo of Elmer's Glue in the local grocery, it's not as normal to find as you might think. We haven't made our annual Christmas ornaments in a few years due to the difficulty in finding the right kind of white glue, so when I found Elmer's in the local grocery I got all excited much to the boys confusion & then, I'm pretty sure, embarrassment  "It's just glue Mom, do we need more glue?"  Ahh yes, well anyway, I knew what I was all excited about!

We wrapped up John this past week & started in with Phillipians. The boys split the Psalms of the day to read aloud to us & we listen to Phillipians via Audible. I finally updated our Memory Box, I'd meant to do it a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't.

Both boys moved on with math, I had hoped to have Jayden skip a couple of lessons, but he had a blank moment & forgot about carrying. So I had him to do the review lesson on it just to refresh him before we progress. Morgan is still working with simple division, but he aced his 9 facts this week. He still needs a bit of practice with the 3's but I really think it's time for him to move on.

We're a bit behind where I'd hoped to be in the writing book I got for Morgan. He really enjoys using the book & I'm really happy with it too, but we've allowed ourselves to get overly bogged down with other things. We're evenly balanced there, as Jayden is as behind in his writing book as Morgan!

We're moving along with The Return Of The Word Spy, but we had a lovely short week so nothing major with it this week. It's as wonderful as the first one, at least for now, so the boys laughed & learned this week with it.

I laid out a new schedule for the boys & they did so well with it that not only did they stick with it, but they finished their school nice & early. I treated them to the newest Ninjago movie that they've been after for a while. Of course, after a few errands they begged to go right home & watch a few episodes.

We also snagged a couple of videos, rental, that match up with what the boys are studying in various things. Jayden is covering bears this past week & Morgan was studying Saudia Arabia. I remembered, a bit late, that The Black Stallion took place, at least in part, in S. Arabia so I thought it might be fun for Morgan to watch.

We switched things up a little bit with Morgan's school. We were using SL Core F as our main focus with bits of Winter Promise Children Around The World, but we changed it a bit. Instead, WP CAW Core is now our main focus, & I matched up all the lovely literature from Core F. Now we get the best bits from each curriculum & the workload, while still allowing Morgan to be independent, is not weighing us all down so heavily. I'll have to explain it all more in depth later. Yes, that's my child who needs his glasses on attempting to get away without wearing them. Yes, the case is right next to him, & no, the glasses are probably not in it.

Jayden started "computer" school as he calls it. We actually own many Download-N-Go units that we've accumulated for free or close to free over the years. We've been reading a book entitled Take A Tree Walk, which he hasn't enjoyed that much. I pulled out the Tremendous Trees DNG for him & set him up with an assigned amount to do each day. He was so excited by this!! Notice the look on his face? That's his, "Seriously Mom, a photo?" I gave him the same rules as Morgan when I set him up with this. He was so good about not allowing himself to be distracted & couldn't wait to share what he'd learned & then asked for permission to watch a video that he saw when he was doing his work.

I have to say that I really love that it allows him to work independently & feel so grown up. It also keeps him occupied, in a good way, while I'm working with Morgan when I need to. It also let's Jayden feel really special because Morgan uses the computer for research & Jayden really felt left out of that loop. Morgan's suppose to use it for typing, but our desktop is currently not working so that's on hold temporarily. Anyway, the point is, that it's an added bonus to Jayden's Animal World core this year, & it fits in so nicely.

Swim lessons are progressing, all though Jayden is really struggling with the diving in portion. He's suppose to be practicing that this week, but our local pool is still closed. We need to seek out a place for him to practice, because it's a tad chilly here to practice diving in the ocean right now. He was really disappointed with his efforts on Thursday, especially after being so determined he was going to do it. He gets up there & looks into the water & just can't bring himself to make the jump. Morgan spent most of his lesson working on the breast stroke, he's not keen on it. Both of them were really worn out after lessons, they don't normally play that hard & that long at the park prior. Needless to say they slept really well that evening!

Aside from all this we finally wrapped up My Father's Islands, which was our book about Abel Tasman. I'm not sure we can ever speak of coconuts again without laughing to some degree, & the boys are eager beavers to go check out the Tasman Bust in Salamanca next time we're down that way. We decided to start our Easter Holidays a day early & took all of Thursday off to have a lovely day at the park with friends. It was a well needed day off!! Next week is another short week for us too as the boys have Monday & Friday off again.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fudge Ripple

When we moved into our current home it was the first experience my boys had, since being toddlers, that we'd had real people for neighbors. Before that it was sheep or cows or alpachas or any number of wildlife you can imagine. But not real people. Having real people for neighbors was a huge deal to my boys.

Morgan hoped that they'd have children & they'd be really nice so maybe he could be friends with the children. As it turned out our neighbor's on both sides do have children, a teenager on one side & younger children on the other. Unfortunately, the children didn't hit it off as wonderfully as Morgan had hoped, & while he had some fun playing with them at first the whole thing quickly tired out.

During that time, however, our children learned some charming, & not so charming, new words. For instance, one day Morgan came in & said that the children had to go as they were off to visit their step siblings. With all seriousness & innocence Morgan looked up & said, "But I think he got it wrong. Don't you think he meant adopted?" And so we had to explain what step siblings & parents mean which led to many other tough questions.

One day while playing choice words were coming from our neighbors back yard & so I asked my own children to come in the house. Upon their arrival & my attempt at turning something, anything really, on to drowned out the language Jayden says to me, "Did you know that sometimes L says bad words?" "Really?" was my response acting as though I had no idea. "Yes, she does, but she said she never uses the worst word. What's the worst word that she could say?" I tried to play it cool.

I looked up confused, "What do you mean the worst word?"
"You know, a bad word!" at this point his curiosity was at full tilt.
"Are there bad words?"
"Yes, of course. Like," and here he lowers his voice, "shut-up. You said it's a bad words & we shouldn't say it."
"Fair enough."
"Daddy doesn't like it when we say dad-gum all the time."
"Well, I'm sure there are many other words you could say instead."
"Like beauty mate or fair dinkum or gobsmacked?"
"Yes, exactly."
"But those aren't bad words. I'd really like to know what a bad word is."
"If you knew what a bad word was though you might feel tempted to say it."
"I wouldn't. Hell is a bad word & I don't say that."
"Hell is not a bad word, it's just misused sometimes & then it sounds horribly rude."
"So it is a bad word."
"Well, it might be best not to say it."
"I knew it!"
"It's not a bad word Jayden."
"Then what is a bad word?"
"I don't think I'll share anything like that with you."
"Okay, I know a bad word."
"Do you?"
"Tell it to me then."
"That is in impolite word I'd prefer you not to say."
"I know, but it's not the worst bad word. L said it started with an f."
"Did she?" at this point it's obvious he's not going to let go & my mind is whirling fast & going no where between the neighbor's nonsense & the exceedingly loud music I'm trying to drown them out with.
"If you tell me what that word is I will promise never to say it."
"No, I don't think that would be right. Sometimes we promise we won't do something, but when we are really upset we do it anyway. I think that might happen if you knew the word."
"Please Mom, I promise not to tell anyone, ever. Except maybe Morgan, but I wouldn't say it rudely."
I pause for a minute, mostly thinking, but sometimes if I pretend tot hink long enough they busy themselves with other things. He's not fooled.
"Please Mom?"

"Okay, I'll tell you the worst word in the world, but you must never say it when you are angry! I don't think you should tell it to Morgan, I think you should tell Morgan to come here & I will say it to both of you & then we will never speak of this word again, okay?"
He runs of delighted & comes back. Morgan looks horrified, Jayden is gleeful. "Quick Morgan Mom's going to say the worst word in the world as long as we promise to never ever say it, at least not while we are angry!"
"Are you ready then?"
It's at this moment I realise my word must begin with an f because if it doesn't he'll realise I'm bluffing from the get-go & there's no way out of this big horrible mess I seem to be stuck in. So I say the first word that pops into my mind: "Fudge Ripple."
They stand there with big huge eyes their little mouths twitching because they can't decide if it's funny or not.
Jayden puts his hands on his hips & says, "What? That doesn't sound bad at all, it just sounds weird! Is it another language or something?"
I thank my lucky stars that my children have never had the free range of an American Freezer section in which they might have seen the words written in big bold type across many gallons of ice cream.
"Oh no it's not another language, it's a real word all right. Now remember you promised not to say it!"

Everything's been going well. Our neighbors choice words tend to happen now after our children are in bed. The children don't seem to communicate since I asked the little one next door to stop flinging chicken dung at my children. Life was going swimmingly in fact, & then one day Jayden comes out of the kitchen & says,

"You know Mom, I've been thinking about the rudest word in the world lately.."
"Um, yeah.."
"Well, if it's so rude how come every time I think of it I feel like laughing? If it's rude shouldn't it even sound bad?"
"Oh, I don't know about that."
"I do. I think if a word is really bad I would know because it wouldn't make me laugh."
Morgan walks in & says, "What are you guys talking about?"
And I, without a thought in the world, because I am now distracted by the Postie, to see if he has my package say, "Fudge Ripple."
Two gasps behind me, followed by some giggles. And then it happens..
Jayden races off & screams, "DADDY MOMMY SAID FUDGE RIPPLE!"
Daddy looks up & stares at us, "Are we having ice cream?"

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Chocolate Popcorn

Popcorn has been a snack in my children's lives for as long as they can remember. In fact, we tease Jayden all the time about his first foods being watermelon, popcorn, & hot dogs. He eventually branched out to include raw carrots & lettuce, but only the later if he could snitch it while I was trying to make salads. In the US obtaining popcorn wasn't too difficult. Not only was it readily available the biggest choice once has to make is which size box, bag, or flavor did you want.

When we moved to Australia things were a little more complex. Jayden has never been able to eat the microwave popcorn without adverse side effects, the kind you don't talk about in private much less public, & the only bag of popcorn I could find was called: popping corn & very small. We use to impress the lady in the bulk health food store in town when we'd go in and ask for an ample amount each month. Eventually we gave up with that method & just started buying a bulk sack that was several kilos.

Then our popcorn maker broke. Stopped mid-session & refused to do anything more for us. We purchased a few different ones & returned them before finally settling on one who's price & ability seemed reasonably equally matched. Popcorn snobs much?!

The other day while the boys were making popcorn they asked if I wanted some & I said I'd love some. This is a huge offer from them because it means popping a separate batch without butter on it, because in case you didn't know two preteen boys can eat a whole lotta popcorn in one sitting. In fact, they can eat a whole lotta everything in one sitting. Normally I just drizzle a little coconut or olive oil on it sprinkle with salt & carry on. The boys are generally appalled. I don't take any notice because there's no one trying to snitch my bowl of popcorn!

However, the other night I decided to try to make chocolate popcorn. Many years ago while working in a Gas Station in the US the local boyscouts were selling popcorn & of course hit me up. They sold an amazing chocolate popcorn. I remember discussing with Dad once about how they'd made it & we both were certain that they'd made carmel corn & then coated it in chocolate. I wasn't up for that much effort at home, read I was feeling lazy.

Instead I melted a half tablespoon of coconut oil, threw in a few of squares of dairy free chocolate {currently in the house is 72% Cocoa Dark Ghana by Whittaker's} & melted it all up. I drizzled it over a bowl of popcorn, dusted it with cocoa powder & sprinkled on some salt. It was yum. Jayden was horrified, Morgan was jealous. Mr S could have cared less as he has no desire to ever consume popcorn in any form. True story, & Jayden once told him he was crazy for it to which Morgan's reply was, "Don't be daft Jayden, he's just not American enough for it." Is it weird to anyone else that my son used daft & American in the same sentence?

Morgan has been eager to try some ever since & so after school yesterday I told him if he'd pop up some corn I'd make it into chocolate popcorn. I have no idea how much popcorn they pop, I just know it generally fills that big bowl. If I had to guess I'd say that, after being popped, it's probably 16-20 cups of popcorn. Maybe more. I still only melted a tablespoon of coconut oil & added 4-5 squares of the chocolate mentioned above. Morgan hates dark chocolate so I added two scoops of our stevia extract powder. Then I mixed the cocoa powder with a bit of coconut sugar {1 tablespoon of each} & sprinkled that on top & then we salted it as normal. They both deemed it delicious & proceeded to lick the bowl clean. Literally. Then they sucked the unpopped kernels clean. Literally.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rain Rain..

Last week after school the boys & I hit the grocery store for some much needed stocking up. We've had so much rain here over the course of a few days that sand bags were out all over town. The two grocery stores in town are both down inside a hill & from the marks on the floor & the sogginess of the sandbags they'd clearly gotten their fair share of flooding.

Our own back yard was beginning to look like a swimming pool for a while which had the boys excited. After all Jayden's always wanted a swimming pool, didn't I know that? Morgan was more concerned that our local library would end up flooded again. Last year we had so much rain in such a short span of time that the library was flooded badly enough that not only did everything on the floor get ruined so did anything on most of the bottom shelves. The only saving grace for all their picture books is they sit in huge wooden boxes with wheels! They seemed to have faired okay in the rain this past week though.

In all our previous homes we've been on top of hills, because around here you either live on top of a hill or at the bottom of a hill, & we've not been as deeply effected by all the excess rain waters. In fact, when Mr S rang us one day to inform us that he was helping bail out a shop below where he was working & that he might be late getting home because the main road he needed to cross to get to the ferry was under water & closed we were a little baffled considering we didn't see puddles anywhere. Living at the bottom of a hill now we are much more aware of it.

On the flip side we desperately needed it. Our yard is green again & the trees are no longer dropping. Welcome to the rainy season!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Geography, Upsized

I read a quote recently that went something like this, "A plan is just a plan until you put it into action." I'm paraphrasing here, for the record. The point being that I had a grand plan with our geography wall, but the maps were causing me great angst & thus my plans weren't action. Then I remembered reading, a year or more ago, about a website where you could download maps as small as one page or as large as 64 pages! If I had a big enough laminator I'd so make a map with 64 pages, wouldn't you? I digress.. The point is we decided to put a plan into action, & so we printed out a map of china that took 12 pieces of paper. The trick was assembling it.

It took us a few minutes to figure it out because we were trying to work from the top edge by the smaller map or China. As in, we thought that was the top & we couldn't figure out why it looked so weird! This is what happens when I forget that no matter how dusty the entertainment center looks dusting it, much less with scented dusting spray, will, without doubt, set off a migraine. Allergies, we love 'em.  Once we had the map pieced together like this we started taping it down. Which was a bit complex because we had to trim some papers & not others in order for it be all lined up. In the end I really wished we'd used double sided tape.

We cut the whole thing out, which wasn't easy because land formations just aren't smooth simple patterns to cut out. What's up with that?! I also had to retape a few places, but no biggie. I kinda highlighted the edge in orange because the idea is to hook other countries onto it eventually. The places it looks like I didn't outline are because of the clear tape that the marker didn't stain, so are the smudged looking spots. Thus why I think double sided tape would have been better. The blue & green labels are from Winter Promise as are the little pictures.

We penciled in the Yangtze river & then Morgan coloured over it with blue. From there we used the various maps & atlases we had on hand to label the map with cities & provinces that we read about in the past few weeks while studying China.

He blu-tacked all the labels down, we ended up printing out orange labels for China to match the colour we highlighted the map. He stuck the icons down closest to the cities they happened in, except the junk which is covering up the lack of a blue line thanks to tape again. The green label at the top will be between two countries if/when we add Mongolia. The two green labels on the side need to be out in the ocean, but since the map isn't affixed to the wall yet we put them on the edge of the country. We're pretty excited to turn a wall into a huge giant map. More seriously, I'd love to laminate them & have a giant map puzzle of the world!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

2013 Week In Review {Week 7}

This term is on the downward slope & time seems to be slipping away from us now. Not that we're complaining, we're looking forward to our term break which is still 4 weeks away. And oh so much, it seems, that we have to accomplish between now & then too.

This was another crazy week for us because while one child was on the mend from his cold the other one was running rather flat with his. It's the first time our family has ever managed to be taken down, all four, with colds at one time. Normally things manage to stagger themselves out a bit too far, & as odd as it sounds to say I'm kinda glad everyone was down together. It made things considerably easier, as long as I ignored the constant growing mess in the house. That's not an easy feat for me, but I managed.

And so another week has passed us by which was, despite the craziness of it, full to the brim for us once again.

We officially finished book #1 in The Word Spy series. There was much rejoicing which was quickly followed by terror until the boys confirmed we had book #2 on the shelf to start reading. We started this book a bit later then intended last year & despite not being done with it as I'd hoped we left it over the summer holidays & simply picked right back up where we left off. My boys learned a lot of valuable grammar from this book & loved every single minute of it. We didn't do any notebooking with it & despite having the little Activity Book that goes with this series we didn't use that either. It didn't stop the boys from putting what they learned into action, quite often in fact. I teased them about an end of book test that I was going to make up & I really did consider it. Something fun & simple where they'd have to use what they learned, but truthfully The Word Spy did that for us with end of chapter codes to break which used what you learned in each chapter.

I helped Morgan organize & clean his room Sunday afternoon & managed to pull my sciatic nerve again. It hasn't happened in a while, but it was complete agony! While I was awaiting a call back from my therapist to see if she could fit me in on Monday morning we sat down & finished off Homesick as well. I was eager to read this book, despite it being a reader in Core F, because I've always loved the books Jean Fritz has written. Growing up one of the books I read many times over was The Cabin Faced West & even own a few copies of it now! However, we fell in love with this book for so many other reasons. It's still been well talked about in our home, & the boys can't stop giggling & referring to people's mother's as turtles when they feel cross.

I don't know about in your home, but there is one subject that no matter what time of the day we do we always seem to get interrupted. For us, it seems to be math. Tuesday the boys had their math lectures & as soon as Morgan turned his on things went crazy here. By the time it was Jayden's turns things had only slowed down minimally! Yes, Morgan was totally bored, but it was so not his lecture & his cold was picking up speed that afternoon. Poor boy doesn't do well with upper respiratory anything.

Jayden didn't have much school because his cold didn't break until Wednesday, at which point it seemed silly to start him on things aside from his math. Instead he begged Morgan to borrow the Hot Wires kit & set about entertaining us with all sorts of things. He always manages to forget one part of his circuit & Morgan checks the schematics & manages to fix it for him. They make a good pair with it.

Morgan reviewed parellel & perpendicular in math this week & the majority of his work was answering yes & no questions based on diagrams in the book. We made a quick notebook page just for fun because we could & because he was trying to decide if a parellel set of roads could ever become perpendicular. I think he was considering how the highway, at least here, connects both sides of the road thanks to nifty little round-abouts in the middle of them. We also took advantage of the MUS website & the boys used the online fact review section to practice various facts.

We're nearly done with most of these books. As a family we're listening to the bottom one, but sometimes I scan back through the copy we have when I'm looking for something significant I wanted to mention to the boys. We should wrap up My Father's Island's next week so we can move forward with our Australian History study. The book is really very good & the boys are truly enjoying it. It's well written as though Tasman were telling his story to his daughter or as though she were speaking about stories her father told her. Young Fu is our current Read Aloud with Morgan for China. We're equally enjoying that, despite it's long chapters, as it's well written too. Having said that I will be glad to wrap it up next week too. We started The Power Of A Praying Kid, which we read aloud & discuss.

Thursday was swim lessons again for the boys. Our Home Ed group canceled their outing for the week, which didn't effect us too much as we hadn't intended to go, all though we desperately could have used the outing! Jayden still isn't keen on the diving in, but he was willing to have a go at it this week without Mr H jumping with him which is a huge improvement for him. They worked on the breast stroke this week & Mr H told Jayde that he's improved so much since his first lesson that he's really impressed with him. Morgan's favourite part is still doing bombs into the pool, mostly because he thinks it's funny that Mr H tells them to do it when the sign strictly says not to!

Morgan & I printed out & assembled a massive map of China which we worked on labeling this week. My goal had been to use our geography wall for him to do this with & become familiar with the locations of various cities, rivers, mountains, etc. However the maps were a bit small so we decided to try going at it a different way. My biggest goal is for him to know the location of key countries around the world so we'll see how this works. I suspect we'll need to change our art wall into the geography wall & vice versa in order to have enough room for our map by the end of the year! Morgan adored this project, & he complained at one point that I was helping him too much.

Friday we took Nutmeg to the vet where she managed to charm the whole office, especially Dr R who saw her. Afterwards we didn't feel like wrapping up the last part of our science lesson as we had some major cabin fever going on. Instead we gathered up all our library books & decided to head into town. We stopped off for lunch at a local cafe & on our way past a few other shops found a window display of jade. Morgan had studied the importance of Jade in China so he really loved the display, he was especially smitten with one that had a Chinese coin in it's mouth.

After lunch out we hit the local book shop to check their Aussie History selection where we picked up another book for when we hit Bushrangers. Jayden left the other half of his sandwich behind & didn't notice until after we'd gotten all the way back to the car. I told him if the book shop suddenly put up a sign saying "No food or drink" I'd blame him.

We did do science this week, but just worksheets so I didn't take photos. Morgan's still working on a digestion poster. Jayden didn't do any of his "on his own" studies this week aside from math, so it'll be back to all the normals next week.. we hope!

Friday, March 22, 2013


We heard back from the DHHS last week & have a stack of papers to fill in, reports to obtain, & other things. Normally I think we'd be overwhelmed with the amount of information they want, but honestly when you've been through the INS process in two countries, traveled overseas, & had to obtain citizenship in another country for your children it all becomes a bit of a, "been there done that.." kinda thing. I'm not going to say it'll be enjoyable to do all the things required in this packet or that they'll be a cinch, but we don't feel stressed about it.

There's a long back story to our choice to adopt, a six year back story actually. We'll share it eventually. For now though, we've got a stack of papers to fill out, children to pray for, & the everyday things that add up to life. In the mean time, we welcome prayers as we travel this road.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Crazy Saturdays

This past Saturday, despite everyone being slightly off colour, we not only took Nana to town to get a new phone, but the boys also needed new shoes. Our boys have, for the most part, only ever worn crocs. Unlike most children they own 1 pair of shoes. Occasionally they have some form of boot for those muddier winter days, but generally they own one pair of crocs. I know, weird, but then again Mr S & I generally only have 1 pair too.

Jayden had outgrown his crocs, but considering he gets a year out of every pair it's not such a huge deal. We've tried, relentlessly, to get him other footwear  but he just hates it. He has wide feet & I think he's just uncomfortable in most shoes. However, his biggest complaint is he hates wearing socks because they make him sweat. So while Mr S & Nana braved the insanity of the Telstra shop on a Saturday morning the boys & I trekked off to the shoe store.

Jayden picked out his new crocks very quickly, but then we had to wait an additional 20 minutes while the lady tried to track him down a pair of croc boots in his size. I really prefer him to wear boots on rainer days, but he's such a heavy sweater & has such a hatred for socks that he ruins most boots. My desire in croc boots were that I could easily wash them, I just throw stinky or overly dirty crocs in the washer. Sadly the only pair she had were one size too small & the shop a few towns over only had his size in girl colours.

Next we trekked off to the sports store to get Morgan proper sneakers for a change. He had a very narrow foot, yes total opposites. We've been walking on longer hikes with the boys a few times a week & we'd like to go on long hikes on the weekends, thus another reason to get him something a bit better then crocs. The only problem is Morgan not only has a very narrow foot, but a longer foot. The children's sized shoes were too small for him, but the men's sizes were too wide.

I urged him to go with Nike's because they tend to work well for narrow footed people & I finally convinced him to pick a pair of "neutral" coloured shoes from the women's line. He really really wanted a beautifully coloured pair from the men's line, but they not only didn't have his size would have had to special order his width as well. He finally made a selection, but oh my goodness I'm pretty sure I can swap shoes with this child pretty easily now! I've been "stealing" his crocs from time to time to make a quick dash out the door, but goodness me!

Like his tye dye shirt? He made that at camp last weekend! He's very very proud of it, & yes he really is as tall as his Nana... without shoes on. An uncle from the mainland found this so funny he kept making Morgan stand next to Nana. He's still not very tall for his age, but that's okay I'm not sure I could handle him being the same height as me yet!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Terracotta Warrior

Morgan's nearly finished warrior! I actually snapped this photo before it was fully dry, it's now dry & awaiting him to paint it if he wants. It's a little hard to see some of the detail, but all the "dots" on the front of this fellow are suppose to be the little bits of hardware that hold the armour together. He has an open mouth that is suppose to be shouting commands, hand drawn eyes, nose holes, a hair not, & fingers. Morgan included a weapon in his even though he's aware that the weapons had been stollen from the actual warriors. He's really pleased with the work he's done which made the project that much more enjoyable for him.

Ironically the night before he did this project & researched the warriors we'd watched an episode of MythBusters. The team had actually tested the theory behind steel & paper armour! That really struck a cord with Morgan when he started reading about the Terracotta warriors because he recognised the armour from the show he'd seen which caused him to wonder, "Was this armour paper or steel?" Isn't it fun when they make these connections?

We also read a little book about Terracotta Warriors we got out of the library. We thought it was  Jr selection, but it turned out to be a picture book. Which means, while it was still a lovely book with amazing photos, & a fun story it was a little weak in regards to information we were looking for. What it did do, however, was really wet his appetitive to learn more, which is a wonderful thing!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chicken Soup

By Saturday of last week we all had a touch of this miserable cold that was going around, & there's nothing anyone loves more when they aren't feeling well, at least in this house, then homemade Chicken Soup. Mr S had promised his Mum he'd help her obtain a new mobile phone & so while we were out I stopped at the grocery store to get a few of the missing ingredients for the soup.

Thanks to that awesome pressure cooker Mr S bought me we were able to make beautiful soup despite our late time getting home. However, the kitchen was a mess. We're trying to teach the boys when & how to take medication when they are sick. This is pretty simple at the moment when it revolves around colds & they are just taking a variety of herbal things. However, while they seem to have the whole, "Go take your teaspoon of inky" {it's their nickname for the medicine, I think Morgan dubbed it that when he was littler} they don't have the whole, "now please wipe up the counter" part down yet.

Anyway, Mr S told me to get out of the kitchen he'd clean it up. I told him no it was my kitchen & I didn't want him to put away all the soup ingredients. Secretly, I was kinda terrified I'd never find them again. This is the same man, who, upon finding out company was popping into our apartment in the US proceeded to put dirty dishes in the oven AND washing machine instead of just loading the dishwasher.  Our first year of marriage if anything was missing I just had to look in the fridge. His theory was that I'd eventually have to go in the fridge to get food & I would find it, even if it was the missing towels I'd been looking for...

He agreed not to put away the soup items I'd bought if I'd just get out of the kitchen, so I left. I attempted a 10 minute cat nap, but it turns out the minute you throw a hood over your face to pretend it's dark your kids will instantly need help pulling lego apart, turning the bathroom sink off, or reading the instructions to said new lego. Mostly because they haven't caught on yet that they don't have to read the fine print in German. I digress..

When Mr S was finally done & I walked in the kitchen to make soup I found this nifty note pointing to the ingredients he'd not put away. After I finished laughing I was tempted to leave a sign that said, "But where's the soup?" The soup was fantastic, incase you're wondering.

We don't really do anything fancy for soup. We throw a whole chicken in a pot, normally I make it in the stove top, but it was after 4 when I got started yesterday so this time I threw it in my Breville Pressure Cooker. I covered the chicken with water, chopped up that entire half "head" of celery, an onion, 4 cloves of garlic, & two carrots. Threw those in the pot. I added a few shakes {literally} of dried basil, a heavy dose of black pepper, liberal amount of salt, & then a few spoonfuls of poultry seasoning {or chicken stock powder whatever I have on hand}. I set the pressure cooked for 75 minutes with high pressure & spent the next 75 minutes peeling & cooking some apples my sil's family gave us.

When the chicken is cooked, or in this case the pressure cooker beeps to indicate it's done, we pulled the chicken out & strained the broth. The chopped chicken & broth went back into the pan. I also threw the carrots & garlic back in. The garlic is so soft & mushy there's no point not, Jayden informed me those were my last carrots & we love carrots in our soup so they went back in the pot. Sometimes we take the chicken out & then blend up all those veggies instead of straining it, but this time we really wanted broth!

I added whatever veggies I could find from the fridge or freezer, this time it turned out to be frozen green beans & some frozen peas. Normally we'd add a few more, but that was all we had, & it worked. I also add a bit more water seasoned with more stock/poultry seasoning.  There were no complaints so it's all good!

Monday, March 18, 2013


Meet Nutmeg. She is not a new guinea pig, she was Cookie's cage-mate, friend, companion, etc. Nutmeg has never been as friendly as Cookie was & this always caused great angst with the boys. Upon our loss of Cookie we didn't like having Nutmeg outside in the hutch alone & to add to the problems Nutmeg was suffering from mange. We'd all ready treated her with the vet's old standby, & while she was no longer deteriorating she was still scratching bits of herself raw.

Morgan & I brought her in & got her set up in the new cage we picked up for her so we could keep a closer eye on her, but that didn't mean we could get her to stop scratching. So upon a quick google search I saw that someone had great success with putting a little shirt on their guinea pig. Their little piggie could scratch, but couldn't get to their skin & they also noticed that the firm hold of the shirt seemed to bring some relief from scratching. Only, we don't own a guinea pig shirt. I'm not really into the whole dressing up of animals, all though I could really use a thunder vest for our dog but I digress..

Anyway, we hadn't discovered a shirt at the pet shops for our piggie either & I did the next best thing. I pulled out a sock, cut it to the right size & slipped it on her. She was so angry with me that not only did she scream at me while I put it on her she proceeded to turn her back to me every time I went near her! I kept assuring her it was for her own good, but she didn't care. In fact, she would sulk away. In the morning we found her "sockless", contriteness that she is, she'd managed to get out of it!

Not one to give up I pulled out a new sock, of the tighter variety, & cut that one to shape & put it on her. Success! We left her like that for 4 days & then decided to take it off & bathe her & remediate her again. Oh the difference was amazing! Her skin had been scabby & dry, in some places scratched so badly you could see her little claw mark. It was just awful. When we pulled the sock off all the cuts had been healed & all the old scabs had peeled off leaving fresh pinky/brown skin behind. It was amazing!

She's still not over it yet, by any means, but she's certainly on the road to recovery here. We bathed her again & then dried her up & reapplied more mange spray. After that we put Betadine on her skin, especially in the areas where she still had minor abrasions that needed healing. Yes, the Betadine is brown, but our piggie has brown hair & skin so it's not at all noticeable on her. We then tried to wrap her with a bandage which was an interesting thing to attempt.

Nutmeg would lay there peaceful as you please while we warmed her, but the minute I tried to wrap her shoulder she'd step on the bandage & look at me. Pipsqueak! So I had Mr S lift her so I could get her all wrapped up. She wasn't keen on it & let us know, but I thought it might be more breathable then the sock. Well, it might have been, but she managed to contort herself well enough to start chewing through the shoulder portion where she tends to scratch the most. We slipped the sock back on her, much to her great annoyance.

We normally give our piggies a little box to have as their "nest" or place to be left alone. We couldn't find a new one to go in the new cage & just cleaned up the old one to put in there, but Nutmeg was really upset with it. She'd chew heavily on it & scream & cry. We wondered if the smell of Cookie still being on it was just too much for her so we removed it & she settled right back down again. In the end we've put, don't laugh, an old flour sack in there for her to curl up in. She seems to enjoy that for now & went straight to it to sulk after realising she had a sock on again.

We were speaking with the vet about Nutmeg & she was heavily impressed that the guinea pig was just over 5. This really boosted Morgan's confidence, but when the lady at the counter said, "Wow that's a great age for a guinea pig!" I told her that we'd just lost one that had been a week away from being 7. The women was floored. She said, "You obviously know how to care for your guinea pigs!" I corrected her & said, "Oh, it's not me, it's our 12 year old." It really helped him to hear it from someone who didn't know anything about him that he'd done an amazing job. Here's hoping that we can finish healing Nutmeg up & she'll have a few more years on her as well.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

2013 Week In Review {Week 6}

It's been a bit of a bumpy road for us this first term so far. Between adjusting to two completely different cores going, partial weeks due to holidays, & more craziness then anyone really wants to think about. Which is why when we started this week the thought was, "Hooray a normal week!"

Famous last words. My mother always told me to never tell God never because you'd end up facing it eventually. Considering she's a former homeschooling Mamma she probably should have warned me against thinking any week was going to be normal in our schooling.

Monday started out reasonably normal, if you count being woken up before 6 am by the neighbors dog, people running around informing me a bit late that we're out of milk, & the typical last minute scramble of the boys opening up the front gate so Mr S can make a clean get away on his bike. It just went downhill from there though.

I let the boys have extra free time in the morning while I attended to a late morning workout there was so much laughter coming from them it was hard to reign them in for actual studies. A workout means I need to ice my knee so instead of starting our day out as we normally would, around the school table with our Memory Box & Bible study, we all clambered to the living room so I could put my knee up to ice it.

And after a chapter of Morgan's current Read Aloud this is how I found Jayden. Naps & Jayden haven't happened since he was 3, because if he napped he didn't sleep at night. Even now he rarely takes a nap unless he's really sick. So to find him passed out on the couch after a short chapter I was a little shocked. He was flat out with a severe headache & dizziness. 2 of us had these symptoms earlier in the month, but try as I might I could not convince Jayden to take anything for it. He stayed like this for a day or two before informing us he felt fine unless he thumped his forehead pretty hard. Don't ask, we don't know..

In the mean time Morgan & I carried on with school. He was working on practicing his 3 ÷ facts, which he knows really well if I give them to him in order. Ha!  He was a little frustrated not to be as quick with those as he is with all the rest, so I reminded him that a little extra practice will go a long way. This did little to impress him when I brought up the MUS fact practice website, but after doing two rounds he'd knocked considerable time off his record. We'll advance to the next lesson & continue to do specific practice for those facts.

Monday or Tuesday I had to run to the shop for lunch supplies & it happens to be next door to the pet shop we prefer. Jayden still felt poor so we left him in the car while we dashed in to see if we could find a small cage for Nutmeg. Yes, she's wearing a sock in the above picture. We're nursing her back from a ramped case of mange. The sock keeps her from ripping her skin open & in 3 days of wearing it with proper skin treatment {aloe ha!} her skin is in so much better condition all ready. We knew Jayden wasn't feeling good when he didn't get out of the car & give us his 15 minute speech on how responsible he'd be if he owned a bunny.

Morgan was working on wrapping up his China unit & one of his assignments was to read about the Terracotta Warriors. Then I assigned him the task of creating his own warrior with some clay we had in our craft stash. The clay was a little dry so we chopped it up, threw it in the food processor, & added some water until was good to go. We actually added a pinch too much water so we dried it out a little with our hair dryer & then he sculpted, & formed away. Yes, while sitting on the counter, yes with the cupboard under the sink wide open, but considering I was remediating the guinea pig I let him at it & simply encouraged him as he went. The tin cans were only helping to hold up the sculpture as the body was quite heavy. He used some wooden skewers to help hold some of it together too & I had him built it on my lesser used wooden cutting board covered with baking paper. He absolutely loved this project!!

The boys & I have been reading through John as part of our group time in the mornings. I usually split the Psalm of the day up between them to read & I read from John. This particular day we listened to John instead. I remembered I'd purchased, ages ago, the NKJV on audio from Audible & it's really well done. As in, sound effects, music, different voices for different people, etc. The only thing we aren't super keen on is the man who reads for Jesus is very mellow dramatic. Morgan said, "You'd think the Son Of God would be a little more chipper wouldn't you?" Ha, I get what he meant. Don't ask me what he's doing there. Cutting Blu-Tak I think. His hands always have to be busy.

Jayden was feeling better by Wednesday & noticed that our Thomas months were pointing to the wrong one, so he decided to fix it. You know, I once suggested we put those little months away & he came unhinged about it. He's deemed himself "too big for Thomas", but putting things away or up aren't steps he's ready to take yet. Which is very okay with us, it just makes us giggle. Truthfully he does still love to play with his Thomas trains & he did enjoy watching the films until big brother lamented one day, "Oh please not Thomas again, I'm so tired of baby shows. Are you a man or a baby?"

Morgan wrapped up his Brain Hat, which he was most delighted with until I told him he could not wake up Mr S from his nap to show him. Mr S came home from work early on Tuesday I think it was. He called at lunch time & informed us it was cold. We said, "Yes, isn't it awesome!" his reply was, "No! It feels like it's about 14!" I thought that was odd because I wasn't cold I was comfortable & I'm normally so cold I shiver all the time. He turned around to ask his workmate for something & the man stated that Mr S looked worse then he had 15 minutes prior. He was then told he should probably go home & get well.

By Thursday, Jayden was back to full health {despite still wearing the same shirt from the day before} & Morgan was down with Mr S's cold. His misery was only magnified when I said that I was going to send Mr H a message & cancel swim lessons. There was wailing when I said, "And I'm sorry fellows, but no park day. We're not exposing others to our germs!" Jayden was devastated he wouldn't be able to see his friend! I attempted to cheer him up by pointing out we'd learn about deer instead. He's been desperate to do this lesson so he was pretty keen to get to it. Then I put both kids in the car while Mr S continued to nap & drove them out to a house we use to live at. There's a large paddock out there full of deer & we drove past it enough times I was worried the owners would come out & ask if we were lost. That's happened to me before. Instead, I took them to the library & dashed in to get their books of hold & grabbed them a couple of movies.

We came home & I made them 2-minute noodles, because when they are sick they think these are an awesome treat. Later that evening we watched Bambi, much to Jayden's delight & Morgan's horror. He can't stand Jayden's choice in animal films because, "Most of them are just depressing. The animals all die in the end, why on earth do you like these movies so much?" to which Jayden says, "Don't be so rude!" Morgan really does have a point though, I'm not sure how he'll cope when he realises there's an animal movie for Jayden nearly every week this year.

And that's it, that's our crazy insane sick week. I will say that despite all of the craziness Morgan nearly finished all his China requirements before falling sick. He has one more small thing to do & some crafts for his Asian dinner he'll have at the end of his Asia study. We also finished off another book, The House Of 60 Fathers, & started Homesick. Morgan's as in love with Homesick as I am. I've always loved Jean Fritz stories, but his love with this book is very different. He understands her dilemma in feeling like he belongs in two places at once & I think he fully grasps the emotions the author is trying to convey in the story. Jayden, who perked up long enough to hear the chapter about Baby Mariam was most insulted when the baby died. His reply was, "Your China books aren't very good. People die a lot, they are always hungry, & there seems to be a lot of war. Poor Baby Mariam, that's just wrong!" Thankfully I was able to call a lunch break.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

In Which We Lose a Guinea Pig

When Morgan was six he started pestering us for a pet, something that wasn't fish. We never had good luck with fish for him. By the time he was nearly 7 he was regularly checking on the price of guinea pigs & deciding how long it would take him to save up for one. Mr S agreed that a guinea pig would make a lovely present for his 7th birthday. So we went to the only "pet store" we trusted where the fellow in charge treats every animal as though it's his own personal pet. Not to mention the man is so full of information on each animal it's astounding. The point being, we picked out one little guinea pig for Morgan. We wanted two, as they are social creatures, but they only had one.

The entire gift was a huge hit with him & he was so proud of his new pet which he named Mary. We told him that he'd be getting another to keep little Mary company. Morgan hoped it would be a boy so he could name it Joseph. True story. The "pet shop" we used didn't produce animals on demand so our ability to obtain another for him was limited & we had to settle with a trip to the Animal Tuckerbox. We took our little piggie, Mary, with us & she went absolutely crazy when she heard the other little piggies in the cages carrying on. Morgan selected the one he wanted & the shop keeper went to collect it & was promptly bit. He refused to sell the biting pig to us knowing it would be a child's pet. Morgan selected again & came away with a piggie he named YiYi after reading a book about a little girl in China or Japan.

YiYi was always very wiry & not very cuddly while Mary was always bossy & semi personal with us. Imagine our shock in March, a month later, when we woke up & I spotted two little blobs in the cage. I seriously thought someone had tried to give the guinea pigs "cookies" as an Easter Gift & went to extract said "cookies" from the cage as I was trying to dash out the door to church. Only, said cookies squealed & ran around & I squealed, "Everyone come quick & see what's happened!"

YiYi had been pregnant when we obtained her! Sadly she had one girl & one boy so we had to seperate the whole family once the babies were old enough. Thus Cookie was born & named. Her brother, Oreo, was a big cry baby & a Mamma's boy. He was only content & didn't scream when I held him where as Cookie was most happy when the boys had her out for a proper play.

Morgan would stick her in Jayden's shopping trolly, atop a pillow of course, & push her round the house pointing out all sorts of things to her. He tried to take her for a walk around the yard, but I seriously discouraged that so he would bring the yard to her. Flowers, tree branches to nibble, handfuls of fresh grass, the list goes on. She quickly learned that when he called her name it meant he came with a gift or a pat for her & so she'd come running & squeal & jump around until he'd pay attention to her. Don't even get us started on what would happen when a camera came out, oh my that cheeky little piggie would pose for photos, see the one above where he brought out a camera & said, "Cookie shall we take your photo?" She stretched out & looked at him.

A few years later we had some neighborhood dogs attack our guinea pigs & it was Cookie who alerted us, at 3 am, to the problem. Sadly her Mum & "aunt" {Mary} didn't survive the attack, but Cookie did. We obtained her a friend who turned out to be a boy & she absolutely hated him. We then obtained a female friend for her which she loved to pieces once Nutmeg learned to get out of her way when Morgan's voice called out their names.

Cookie made peace with all the changes in her life often confiding in our family dog. We found it all very strange but often found her squeaking to him & he'd listen intently & then whimper back to her. When her mum & "aunt" died in the attack we found our dog lying on the spot we'd buried them. He'd go back & forth to Cookie who'd squeak or just lay by the side of the cage with him to the burial place. It was quite interesting, & sad, to watch.

And so life carried on as it often does with pets. Boy & piggies did their thing for several years. Once, when moving the outdoor hutch Cookie waltzed out of her cage. There was mass panic until we simply called out, "Cookie, come on now treats!" and she came running up squealing in delight. She'd let us know when she felt her breakfast should be served, or if she deserved an extra feeding, or when she was most put out at being left alone for a weekend without a single person saying hello to her.

Morgan informed me last month that Cookie was looking very thin, so I told him to bring her in. While he was doing that I was calculating her age, 1 month & 3 weeks shy of 7! Cookie was, indeed thin, & looked to be getting mites again. She often suffered with them. We bathed & treated her with medicine the vet gave us to keep on hand, gave her plenty of treats to make up for it, & then proceeded to be sure she had an extra feeding a day. But old age has a way of catching up on you completely unexpected.

While she relished her extra feedings she didn't perk back up. She continued to decline & Morgan became increasingly worried about her. We reminded him of how old his little friend was, but it did little to help. He was devastated when he noticed that Cookie was limping one day & that Nutmeg was simply nudging her along. We checked her over & there were no obvious signs of problems other then old age. She was most put out we had no treats.

When we came home this weekend Nutmeg was screaming & carrying on as soon as she heard us at the back door. Suspecting the worst we sent Morgan to the showers while we checked on the situation. Nutmeg only calmed down once we scooped up Cookie, & you know, that sweet little piggie was barely breathing, but held on long enough for her devastated little owner to say good-bye to her. He spent a long time telling her good-bye & patting her & attempting to believe that we weren't being nice when we said, "You've done an amazing job with that little pet. She's very old, especially in guinea pig age, & it's not your fault."

When he was done he flopped down on the couch & cried himself into an exhausted sleep & when he woke up she was gone. His other little piggie, Nutmeg was very excited to see him this morning all though disappointed her friend wasn't there. When Buster, the dog, came home from his weekend away he ran out to the piggie cage, as is his tradition, but stopped & then proceeded to simply throw himself down on the ground & lay there. He stayed there for over an hour & didn't bother to budge when we called him.

Needless to say she was one very special little guinea pig & she's going to be very missed around this home by the people & the other pets. Jayden asked if there was a heaven for pets & if maybe she was there with her mom & "aunt" now, but Morgan said he didn't think there was because so many animals die so often that heaven might be overrun if all of them went there. Sometimes, watching him grow up, is very very hard. Good-bye sweet little piggie, wherever you are we hope someone knows kiwis are your favourite.

Monday, March 11, 2013

2013 Week In Review {Week 5}

We had a mini guest this week for school, he was a tad naughty & kept stealing my writing utensils. You know Humphrey Hamster right? He's the star of many of his very own stories & we've had many laughs over them. The only draw back to Humphrey stories is that we find ourselves speaking in threes about everything. Instead of saying, I'm hungry, for instance we'd say, I'm hungry, hungry, hungry! Humphrey really shows a lot of emphasis about his feelings. The day he joined our little learning table I found myself saying, Sit sit sit down boys! Eventually we had to ask Humphrey to go wait elsewhere, much to his dismay, in order to get our work accomplished...

Week 5 all ready, only another 6 to go before our first term break! Goodness, the time sure does seem to be flying away from us as we run through this school year. Term one is our longest term this year, but then again, as Mr S pointed out, it also holds the most amount of public holidays as well. One of which we started this week & runs into the beginning of Week 6.

Math this week was slow & steady as Morgan practice his 3 family division facts. He's much quicker with them as multiplication facts, but I suggested we slow down this week to give him an extra week to really focus on them as division facts. Jayden didn't really need to slow down this week as he worked with estimation, a rather important skill if you use Australian money, but he really knows this material. Anyway, try convincing one child he should keep up a heavier math pace when someone else is doing less. Oh my they do try revolt sometimes, don't they? And yes, our table is often this busy until I say, "30 second tidy up fellows!"

We've been using both of these books since the start of term 1, but I just haven't remembered to share them. The top book is scheduled through Morgan's current Sonlight core. We read the introduction in week one, & since then have been praying for a variety of people in Asia. We do this during our morning Bible time. We discuss the plight of the people & read some of the basic statistics & the prayer requests before praying for a particular city for the day. The bottom book is our current Bible study. The book is meant to be written in, but rather then buy each child one I've chose to make up little notebooking pages with the questions on them. As they each spread out in areas of study this year they'll have individual books, but when we are together this process works well for us & helps our budget go a little farther.

A new month, a new hymn! We use this cd for musical purposes as we don't, at this time, have a piano. We do have an electric keyboard, but it's not currently hooked up & this works for us. I have typed up the songs so each person has their own little book/paper to use because it just helps keep things simple. This month's hymn is Christ The Lord Is Risen Today. I think their favourite parts are all the al-le-lu-ias.

Jayden wrapped up The Finest Horse In Town with a few notebooking pages he hadn't finished last week. You can't see his flag waving in the wind which he glued to the bottom of the Overlapping page. We were all caught up in that activity for a while, but only felt a few attempts were really worthy.

Morgan & I spent the week reading chapters from these books. He's really loving The House Of Sixty Fathers, we're a bit behind with it, but that's all right. I'm enjoying Young Fu more, to be honest which is set a bit farther back in time, I think. Mission to Cathay was so-so, we've decided to drop the book to be honest. Morgan wasn't really into it & we'd all ready about Hudson Taylors journey into China & the struggles he faced entering & maintaining a position there. We may, or may not, come back to the book later.

We're still reading My Father's Islands for Australian History. We're moving a bit slower through my plans then I'd intended, but that's okay it'll all work out. I set Jayden up with the assignment to use his playmobil to make something from the chapters we read on Thursday while Morgan was working on a writing assignment. He pulled out his pirate boat & made the boat look as it was described when they saw the coast of Tasmania & bits of New Zealand, notice the barrels of mead? You can't see the fellow sitting up towards the crow's nest looking for land, this was important in our chapter because they were pulling long shifts keeping an eye out for land. It kept him busy so Morgan could concentrate on his writing assignment.

Both boys are moving along with their writing. Jayden is still doing a rotation of: oral narration, copywork, dictation, dication/narration/outline each week. He's getting better with his narrations & learning that in this instance less is not more. Morgan was nervous about learning to do outlines, but in Writing With Skill it's taught in such an easy & gentle manner he turned down a job offer to get back to outlining. We had a few interruptions this week with people coming in to do odd jobs. One such person was here to fix a bit of the drywall around the windows so curtain rods could be hung up & when he fixed the one in our room he was distraught that there was no middle clip for the rod. Morgan said, "Well while it's missing you could just get a bit of string to attach it to the middle bracket, it would work until the clip is found." I chuckled because Morgan could rule the world if he had a large enough supply of tape, sticks, & string. Would you know though, the man took him up on the idea & then offered him a job, Morgan was tickled pink, but declined for need of attending to that pesky outline.
There was also much free time with art this week. He's making some kind of lego ninja warrior blocking something secretive.

No meet in the park with our Home Ed group this week, but we did have swim lessons. Morgan is in the yellow cap there behind Mr H. Jayden is farther down in the deep end with the blue cap on, a miracle of it's own. Morgan was working on a combination of kicking {straight legs} & arm movements. Jayden finally made his first official "jump" into the deep end. Mr H jumped in, twice, with him & Jayden was relieved to learn that water really didn't go up his nose when he jumps in. He's still worried about water in his ears but doesn't like it when I put his ear plugs in. We purchased silicone ones, I find them quite nice to be honest, but the chemist was intent I get the child sized ones & I think they are a bit too small & thus require them to be in the ear a bit more then the adult sized would.

Friday evening we headed out with our home ed group for the Annual School Trip. We go off into the bush & camp for the weekend, all be it this was our first time to join them. We were the only family in a tent, if you could our trailer tent. The boys were delighted to be let off of camp set-up duties to go play a game of Fresh with their friends. They spent many hours playing such games & swimming in the ice cold creek. Morgan participated in tye dying & created his own t-shirt. Jayden backed out & asked us to do his shirt for him so I obliged. They both were game enough for the fashion show that evening though where you showed off your tye dyed item{s}. Morgan was also a willing participant in the Mini Bush Dance some of the girls put on, all though he had second thoughts when he was lifted off his feet & went flying through the air when he misjudged which direction to go into. I'm not sure who was more horrified the other adults watching or the poor little girl who whipped him off his feet. Mr S & I, however were simply laughing because if you know Morgan you know it's kinda normal for him. We also enjoyed a hike on our final day there, all though we set off earlier then part of our group in an attempt to beat the heat. We had a lovely walk & ran into a family from our group on the way back.

Thus, me being me noticed another group coming & suggested we hide behind the nearest man fern & just stand there cheesily smiling for when they passed by. I told my boy several times they were not to cal out boo so the younger children didn't get frightened & not wish to carry on with their walk. Would you know that it was not our group coming but a group of random strangers with lots of children & adults?! Yeah, the kids were non-plussed by a group of people standing behind ferns acting like weird-os, but the adults were a bit more freaked. One father asked us where on earth we'd come from & if we had taken the wrong trail. Another one said, "Oh look, random people hiding in the bush!" Yeah, once they passed us we took off running up the trail to put quite a bit of distance between us & them. Mr S spent the rest of the hike back rolling with laughter, while I spent the rest of the hike praying our friends wouldn't disclose they were homeschoolers so that the rumor running around the trail wouldn't turn into something like, "Random homeschoolers lurking in the bush trying to scare people.." Ahh yes, good times, good times.