Wednesday, July 30, 2014

2014 Homeschool Journal

The boys weren't the only ones to get a new planner, I made myself one as well. Yes, I did just make one at the start of the year, & yes I was using it, but... 

With the starting of a whole new 36 week theme there were just some needs to fresh a few things up & this was one of those things. When I use a Winter Promise theme I tend to use them exactly as written perhaps adding in an extra book here or there. Thus I didn't really need a detailed planner to schedule things out, that work is all ready done for me. If I want to add in a book I can easily just do that in the empty space in my guide. In fact I've done just that for Our Island Story that we added in. Easy peasy.

Instead, I wanted something to keep track of the other things we do. From crafts & activities to our beach walks. Just a general journal type record. I shared a free one a few years back & another one that I sell as well. Thing is, I really loved the stripes & dots in my new planner & wasn't quite ready to see them go yet. So, I opted to fix up a journal with the same theme as the new planner

The journal was pretty quick to put together as I took pages from the planner for it & then made a few others that I would need. It's undated which means I'll just print it out again & again as needed. However, I did make 12 months worth {4 weeks per month} with different quotes & verses across the bottoms of the page. I really loved seeing some of my favourite verses & quotes in my planner so it was something I wanted to include in the planner as well.

I made a 2 page calendar page, I didn't make calendar pages for the planner, remember? I just printed out some free ones that worked, but I really missed the big squares to figure out what we had going on each month. These are intentionally undated so that I won't need to redo them each year. The stickers are not something I made but found online for free. I keep them in my sticker pouch, which I'll have to share at another time. I'm actually thinking, though, that I may at some point make up some stickers as I would have enjoyed a few different ones.

Sadly, I couldn't find a single picture of the family together, but then again someone has to hold he camera, right?! The pictures I used for my boys are so fitting of each of them. Again, these pages didn't really change, all though I did edit the student page. I felt that it would be more fun to see how their interests change verse more traditional school"y" stuff.

I kept my beloved Australian Nature calendar, & it's no joke that this is a great month for checking out low tides. If you've never explored a beach in the winter when the first tide is out you're really missing out. Maybe it's just our beach, but we find more treasures when the first tide is out then the second. I did slip a notes page next to this so I could sketch out rough plans if I wanted.. Not a huge change.

I kept my prayer page, but slipped it in at the start of each week instead of just the start of each month. I like it better this way & can easily add to it as prayer requests come in or are answered.  I include verses as well in some of the other slots, but this page is exactly the same as the one in the 2014 Planner, I've just added it in my journal more often.

Each week then has another 5 pages. This is where I record down things that we do. I broke squares down by subjects so based on what we did might depend on where I jot it down. If the kids did research on the computer I'll jot it down, programming?  That too. Things like Bible Study where we do the same study all week just get written down as 2 Tim Bible Study M-F or something. Pretty simple.

Each of the pages for the week has different subjects written on it. I figure there are going to be weeks where less is filled in then others, such as our first week back where we concentrated on our history theme & maths. There was still a bit to write on other areas, but not everything was filled in. No biggie.

We tend to read or listen to a lot of books so I created a square for each type of book. Sometimes we listen to a specific number of chapters so when that's the case I may write something like: Our Island Story Chpt 1-4. But in situations where are just listening away it might look more like: 60 minutes Maude March. Whatever works.

The final page of subjects is pretty much electives with our outings, sports, art, & music. I know that art & music are not considered electives in some homes & while we do encourage it there are some necessities in life that must come first. Either way, it's just a place for us to record art projects, music lessons, etc.

The final page of our week is like a wrap-up page. I can use it to jot down accomplishments, problems, or supplies we may need. I've used it for all of the above before. I tend to like a lot of space in my notebooks for jotting things down, so it was a no brainer to include one for each week!

I simply repurposed my tab dividers from last year as well as the spine. It was just the quickest solution for me, & really it made sense too. This planner, for me, starts with August simply because I assembled it & started using it well, last week. So it runs August 2014 through July 2015. However, because it's undated I can easily make it work in whatever way I want. 

I don't have photos of it, but I kept the book list pages too, there's one of those at the start of each month to jot down books each of us are reading as well as our school books. I wanted it to be a monthly list based on it being a journal & seeing what each person was up to in any given month.

I also included some extra note pages at the back of the book, I told you I love having a lot of space to jot things down in! There is also a 2014 & 2015 Year At A Glance page as well as a curriculum page for each year. I also repurposed my planning page for helping me sort out when our school years will start & stop. I'm really happy with how it all turned out!! 

I don't have this one uploaded yet either. I discovered a small snafu while printing it that I need to work out & I thought I might delete the subject headings so people could write in their own. When I get it all cleaned up I'll get it uploaded. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lego Planner

After much debating on which planners the kids would use & not being satisfied with any of them I ended up making them some Lego themed planners this weekend. Who knows, perhaps, somewhere out there such a thing exists, but not in my neck of the woods.

Not to mention generally a typical planner isn't a grand fit for our family for a variety of reasons that I won't bore you with. It took me about 10 minutes to design the whole thing up, & then I had the kids tell me what they wanted on the covers. That took longer then expected, but wasn't a huge surprise either. Morgan ended up going with the design here to the left. We added Benny into the image of the Lego Movie characters at the bottom & then added an additional Benny to the top where the years are divided. Really not too difficult, all though it's more time consuming if you're battling a migraine at the same time. Just warning you!

Jayden's cover was even easier, but then he's crazy about Benny. I found a super large image of Benny on the Lego Wickepedia & snatched it to use on his planner. The interior of the planners is currently identical. After a term of use we may find we need to change them a bit, but for now this works.  There's a "belongs to" type page where the kids can record their names, a few favourite items based on the questions supplied, & a place to note down what they'd like to do for the year. I was curious what they'd write, but one was too tired to care about anything other then going to bed & the other was holding out, still, for a trip to Lego Land. Ha!

After those pages comes a single page for planning their Term Goals. I sit down with the kids & ask them what their goals are in regards to each subject for the upcoming term. It can help if they have a yearly goal. For instance, both kids wanted to finish 2 math books this year. In each child's case they were nearly done with 1 book prior to starting this year & then of course the one they would start this year.

The term goals help them break down those giant steps into more manageable things. I had one child pick big goals this term & one who went a little more mediocre. I think both picked goals that will work for them, all though we'll see. Both have selected goals for spelling, math, & reading. I reminded them both that they wanted to tackle cursive, in full, this year. One added that, with a plan of action, to his goals list while the other decided he was totally over that idea. I broke the news to him that he's still going to learn it, even if he chooses not to do it now.

After that each week has one of these grid planning pages. The black & white lego man is intentional so they can colour him & design their own mini-fig. Something they do all the time anyway, they've even invented games about it.. Anyway, instead of days of the week we put Day One-Five across the top of the planner. While I have no qualms with days of the week our Winter Promise stuff is labeled as such so I went with it. I also didn't want a certain child to freak out if we did Monday stuff on say Tuesday.. This works, all though said child was a little freaked out by how I'd designed it anyway. You lose some, you lose some more.. or so the saying in our family goes.

Subjects are written down the left hand side. I goofed up LA, but didn't realise until it was printed out & wasn't about to throw the pages away! I included subjects we do as a family more for my child who needs to see his daily scheduled to avoid the "I thought we were done" thing from happening.

At the top they date the page, & can write down the term we are in & what week of the term it is. That helps them see where they are with their goals & if they need to speed up, aim higher, or discuss a plan of action because they aren't going to make it.

There's also this page for each week. I took a few ideas I'd seen from student planners & crammed them onto one page. While my children don't have spelling words, per say, each week they do still use the All About Spelling curriculum & sometimes one word can hold them back from advancing to a new step. I opted to put the spelling word box in so that they can jot down a word they are struggling with. Each time they open their planner then cay spell the word to themselves. It'll also make a great reference point for words they may stumble frequently with.

There's a Notes section. Do you have a child who always say, "I need to remember.." & ten minutes later he's put the leftovers in the washer, the clean dishes in the fridge, & the everything else in the dishwasher?! Oh my goodness, I'm sure this season will pass, but in the mean time he can use the notes section to become a bit more level headed!! 

Both of my kids are doodlers & I wanted a place dedicated for doodling rather then having it all over the book! Of course a larger version of the blank minifig to doodle, colour, or otherwise decorate. Those fellows are, as normal, a huge hit. The top box is just a for fun type box. Each week there's something different there. I wrote silly things like, "If I could invent something it would be..." or "If I could slip into a world in a book I'd go to.." & so forth. I think the one there is something about the best thing they did that week.

The boys love the planners, & my planner was super keen to sit down & fill in all his goal sheets, plan his week out & start using it straight up. All in all not bad for a short amount of time. I need to fix a few things in them & then I'll see if I can get them uploaded to share. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

2014 Week In Review: Week 19

It was back to school here last week for our house. We'd actually debated starting the week prior, but decided we really needed that extra week off.

Which left us officially starting Term 3 last week. We took a casual, reasonably, slow start to get back into the swing of things. We don't always start back slowly, which can often backfire on me so I was pretty intent to go slowly!

We pretty much just concentrated on our lovely theme & some math work which was enough to get people back into the swing of things. I had intended to work in science, but it didn't happen & really that's okay.

We kicked off our week with reading Luke Chapter 1 as our studies this week were about the birth of John the Baptist as he prepared the way, the birth of Jesus, & the life of some of his ministries. We also read Luke 2 & used the notebooks to record a verse that spoke to us. The notebooks are cute little Eric Carle ones we found at a local cheap shop.

We've owned Parables From Nature for years & read it previously when the boys were considerably younger. Whenever it's pulled out I always hear, "Ooo, that book!" Yet they don't always remember the stories. I found the book on Audible as well this past week & opted to use some of my extra credits to obtain a copy. It's well done & we've enjoyed listening to a couple of the stories this week. This book is currently on special, if you're interested, for $3.95 over at Audible. I have no idea how long the sale will last. 

Despite stating we are gearing up for Middle Ages, we did have a little Ancient Work to finish. 2 weeks to be exact as we wrapped up MOH 1, read about Jesus' life & death, & so forth. Which means We read from each of the above books. My guys have really really loved their time with that crazy Encyclopaedia. While one isn't scheduled with our Middle Ages theme I'm seriously considering looking for one.  We've enjoyed listening to MOH & STOW, which has been a lovely break for me to be able to listen to all these narrators read to me as well. 

Mr S & I were discussing British History recently under the pretext that it has a great bearing on Australian history as well as a reasonable one on the starts of American History. Which led to a discussion of how much of British History he might have learned in school. I had a book on my wish list, which is what started the whole chat, that I was debating purchasing for use next year when we study about kings & queens alongside Renaissance more in depth. While I'm not sure we ended up with a clear cut answer I did stumble upon An/Our Island Story over on Audible this past week & found that the Kindle version of it was .99 which made for a lovely addition to our school days. We enjoyed listening to a chapter of it each day.  If you're wondering, this particular book is on special over at Audible right now, too, for $3.95 which is party how I found it.

Fret not, our entire studies were not done via Audio books! This was our read aloud for the week, & will be for the following week as well. It has a bit of a rough start with lots of sea lingo & a bit of a brutal Uncle, but if you hang in there past the first 12-20 pages you'll be fine! There's also a crude word, all be it one that has been changed to be used crudely these days, in there too. I can't honestly remember the page number, but it's between pgs 21-41. I only remember which day I had to edit on the fly, not which page number it was on!  The story is suppose to be an unusual telling of King Arthur, but is also about Britain seeking horses to help them defeat the invading Saxons.

The boys had a few hands on assignments that I had them pick & choose from, all though I made 1 assignment mandatory for both of them. The rest were open for them to opt in or out of as they desired. One they both wanted to do was an edible nativity. They had grand plans for it & were debating using the cookie cutter set we purchased a couple years back with this very intention in mind, all though we never did get around to it. However, I had a child lolling around being very bad tempered & I challenged him to go build a nativity from lego. This was the end result! I had a picture of it farther back so you can see the star atop it, but the lighting was bad s you'll just have to trust me on that one. I love the face on Jesus there, do you?

This was our crazy table midweek last week. The boys are both working on their taxation poster while I was reading from the encyclopaedia. Or, rather, I was suppose to be reading from it, but instead I was oohing over all the ancient artefact pictures inside & was reminded that I was suppose to be reading aloud. Ha! The posters they worked on were suppose to be their interpretation of what a poster might have looked like when Caesar Augustus sent out his decree to tax the people. I don't seem to have photos of their finished projects, but they both came out really well. They opted to type on the computer with an older looking font & then leave space in the middle to draw a depiction of what would happen if you didn't follow the order. 

Morgan is on his second last lesson in his math book. Truthfully he could have skipped it, but he really wanted to tackle that one & I wasn't about to stop him. He's very excited to be on the final lesson next week as he's hoping to get through the next one by the end of the year as well. Yes, he's wearing mismatched socks & yes he always wears that jumper. He's had a little boy in our local home ed group ask him if it's the only jumper he owns. Seriously cracked me up.

Jayde opted for review in his math book, which was a great idea for him as he started math in the middle of the week. He was pretty annoyed when I went to take his photo because he was somehow convinced I was spying to see if he was doing the math right. When I turned around again I found him hiding under the afghan that was on the back or the chair.  

It was back to swim for us too, we'd missed off during Term break due to Jayde's footy injury. The kids had lessons on Monday, which we were apparently late for. Do not ask me how on earth every clock we own turned out to be 5 minutes slow!! We also hit the pool for practice 3x this week. It's been so delightful to have the pool nearly to ourselves again. The kids also took on the Ocean Challenge the pool offers, but don't be fooled. It's just a blow up item to run through & slide off the end. Jayde cracked us up when he went flying down it & forget he didn't have his goggles on. Whoops!!

We had a couple of beach walks this week as well. Morgan found this rock & was pretty intent we should have a photo of it. Honestly, I don't know why because once we took the photo he's not once mentioned the rock again. He's probably over the whole, "You find it you carry it!" thing. Which was instituted after Mr S got stuck walking home once with a pocket full of rocks, a huge wooden wedge {now nicknamed cakey} & whale rib.

All in all, not a bad start back to our term. We'll have quite a bit more happening next week with the adding in of Language Arts, but the kids have filled out their planners & set their goals! We're ready for it! 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Learning Area

In lue of our new term starting at the same time we were starting a new theme/unit of study it seemed like the opportune time to tidy up our library/learning area. There were new books that needed to be put in the baskets, & books we'd finished that we needed to put away. Not to mention the book shelves were in complete disarray & needed some major help. One thing led to another & I was moving bookcases before it was over.  We're actually in need of building a few more, & we're looking at putting sides on those ones.

I was delighted to find another white board at the same incredibly low price I picked up the first one. Unfortunately it meant rearranging the stuff on the walls which is generally a collage of stuff. It all started as a way to deplete bare white walls in our rentals, but after renting for 11 years I'm finding I don't actually have things to hang upon the walls! Sad, but true. Thus our walls in the learning area remain littered with all sorts of lovely educational stuff as well as certificates of accomplishment.

The stop shelves still hold all our day-to-day items from boxes of books for each child to school supplies. I picked up a cookbook holder for $2 at a local cheap-shop & have used it for a variety of things. For now it works perfectly to hold out my incredibly thickly bound manual. Yes, that manual has our history, two science guides, & a language arts guide in it. I was a little worried about it at first, but I have really enjoyed the way it turned out. It was a bit difficult getting it bound like that, but the results were totally worth it.

I dug out lots of our castle, knights, & other middle ages books to spread out around the room. The kids will often ask what I think they should read or what would make a great book. I beat them to the punch on this one & woke up to find they'd added to the stack of books spread out. The wooden box is a chest my father-in-law made & it's incredibly heavy. We've moved it a billion & one times over the past couple of years & it was on it's way to the tip when I rescued it. It currently houses most of Jayde's playmobil which he loves using while listening to read alouds. See the castle on top? Yep, we had an amazing scene set up in here the other day. It also works as another seat if needed, all though the computer desk is suppose to be there eventually.

The other side of our room didn't change too much, just got a big freshening up. We did remove the big purple chair because we needed more seating in our lounge room. That crazy red chair is actually a camp chair the kids picked up at an opshop a while back & they love curling up in it with a quilt. I found the Civil War quilt spread out on it the day after I took this photo. The book baskets by the fire place have been refreshed, & yes there is a post box atop our fire place. One of the book baskets now houses a few science kits we'll be using this year. We moved a couple into plastic boxes before putting them in there, but it all worked. 

We generally sit on this side of the room to do our reading together & then people move to the table  on the other side of the room to do maths, notebooking pages & whatever else is on task for the day. It's lovely & cosy in this room, but equally sunny thanks to that brilliant window in the front. The only downer is that it can get quite warm in there in the summer as that brilliant window doesn't actually open up. Most likely because there's a huge rose bush out front of it, that despite the icy rain falling one day this winter I went outside & trimmed anyway. Do you have any idea how horrifying rose bushes sound when they scape against a window?!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Gearing Up For Middle Ages

After wrapping up Ancients I knew we'd move into Middle Ages. I was originally planing a 6 week stay here so we'd have time for fun, a few projects, & lots of great literature, but our plans changed after wrapping up Ancients. Morgan was disappointed with the ending of our previous spine & I didn't blame him, but his comments that the breezed over Jesus & his disciples made me aware that if we spent only 6 weeks on Middle Ages we'd end up doing the same thing. So I changed plans.

I had debated at the start of the year using Quest For the Middle Ages {QFMA} because I love the way it integrates the new church with other middle age history. I also love the slower pace it sets compared to what we were paving before. It means we can take our time moving through MOH Vol. 2 & still enjoy all the great literature we had hoped to read in the beginning.

Of course, once Jayden caught wind he wanted to know if he could break from his studies to do knight & castle school too. So the plan is for both boys to spend the next 36 weeks on middle ages & then they'll each return to wrap up the other things they were studying before we delve into Australian history. Mind you, things could change & we could hit Aussie history prior to wrapping up their world history studies, but we'll see. In the mean time I'm really looking forward to our current study of choice!

It did, however, mean that we had a lot of guides between our two science choices, language arts, & QFMA. I was debating about binding them all up, pulling a terms worth of weeks into one notebook, or a variety of other ways I've kept a running notebook for myself when I had the thought that removing the spines on all my little notebooks & just feed a spiral binding through all 4 of them. The result is crazy thick, but it worked & instead of having to locate all 4 I can just grab the one & flip to what we need each day. It's quite nice to be honest! In fact the only thing missing is the reading schedule each child is using, but I can write that in my planner or on the bottom of a given LA schedule if I need/want. I had enough room in the front to slip in the book list I made up to go with our studies.

QFMA has a lot of lovely literature & fun non-fiction books scheduled in that we're looking forward to, but we had a few of our own books picked out we wanted to be sure to include too. I wanted them all on one list so that I didn't forget what I had going on. You can check out our book list here if you're interested.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Science Choices At Last

Science has been a bit of a mess this year for a variety of reasons. I have looked at a lot of science books & curriculum & read a whole lot of opinions on them, & now that we're halfway through our school year I've finally made a firm choice on our science. Hey, better late then never, right?

In the end, as it's so late in our year, we've decided to tackle more then one theme for science this year. Not a huge deal, especially if you were to look at a traditional science book which can cover many topics of science in any given year.

We'd all ready planned to cover physics this year, & chemistry next year, but as we're covering more then one at a time now I opted to add biology to this year & earth science to next years plans. Of course starting mid year means this will all last longer a bit longer which is nice as it'll reduce my need to search again anytime soon, right?

Morgan did Biology last year all though we did end up stopping just short of finishing thanks to moving house & all that it entailed. Jayden, however, was busy with zoology last year & didn't cover biology. So it works well in both cases.

For our Biology study we'll be using Winter Promise Human Body & Forensic Science. This uses the books: The Way We Work, Detective Science, Human Body For Every Kid, The Body Book, & The History Of Medicine. We'll also use the Winter Promise One Of A Kind Human Body Book, Boy's Body Book, & the Forensic Challenge Board Game. The later doesn't seem to be made anymore, but we found a copy of it on ebay & it came highly recommended for our science them so I opted to make the purchase. All of these items aside from Boy's Body Book are scheduled out over 2 days for 36 weeks with the WP HB & FS theme. Thus far all of these resources have been free from any OE or YE references.

It's broken down into 6 different topics plus a 2 week introductory topic. Most of the topics last 4-6 weeks or 8-12 days, with The History Of Medicine topic being 10 weeks & the introductory topic lasting for 2 weeks or 4 days. I really love that the WP science is set up to only be 2 days a week or can even be done in 1 day a week if you wanted. It makes it very doable in our home.

Physics was a bit trickier. Physics seems to be either a bit below my kids or a whole lot of above my kids. So I really debated what to do opting at first for Noeo Science, which is lovely but too much for Jayde & we did have to look a few words up for Morgan in our first book.

Then I remembered Winter Promise had a physics unit too. I figured if it was too simple for Morgan we could beef it up with the books from Noeo. So we snagged Jiggle Jostle Jolt to use. This theme uses Awesome Experiments in Electricity & Magnetism, Heat & Energy. It also uses a nifty little experiment kit which I found on ebay. I've opted to add in Christian Kids Explore Physics, & any of the Noeo physics books that will tie in well. The Physics book we may use as our spine vs the scheduled one, simply because I want to. The book comes with a cd with a list of extra books you could use, if desired to beef up, or round out, the study. Both CKEP & JJJ have quizzes & little worksheets inside which we'll use, but most likely in an oral fashion. I'll have the kids continue to use their science notebooks to record a few things from each day's learning.

Jiggle Jostle Jolt is also broken down into 6 topics. 3 are 5 weeks or 10 days, & the other three are 6, 7, & 8 weeks. You can easily work out the days, right? This WP science programme is also a 2 day programme with plans for 1 day if you'd prefer. Of course you could easily spread it all out over 5 days too if you wanted. CKEP is also meant to be used over 2 days in a week as well which makes it a perfect spine to tie into our studies.

The plan, for now, is to work on one topic from one science theme & then switch to the other for a topic. Varying back & forth as we work through the year. We'll see how it goes. I'm not one to normally worry about boredom for focusing on just one topic all year long, in fact I worry more about not remembering previous things because of switching around too much!

All in all we're pretty excited to have a game plan & be ready to move forward & get learning! My guys really love science so I hate all the meandering I've done in making a choice for them this year. We'll also continue with a scientist biography each month this year be it via a longer book or a small reading. We'll just pick one that goes with whatever theme/topic we are learning about for that time frame.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Dryer

We hit a milestone around here this year, which might sound odd to those of you living outside of my neck of the woods especially when you learn it was the purchasing of a dryer. Yep. A dryer. When we lived in the USA it was a no brainer that we owned a dryer. Between ice fests & snow in the winter & tornadoes in the spring one wished to spend more time wearing their clothing then thawing it or hunting the neighborhood for it.

When we moved to Australia, however, we needed a washer & with washers & dryers costing a fortune at that time we opted for the washer. After all there's plenty of sun & wind power around here to dry your clothes 10-11 months out of the year. Each winter we reach that point where getting a load of laundry done in a day or even two days comes to a grinding halt & it can take days or even a week to get it done.  Yep, there was that time that I said we could go to church in our pjs of we could stay home..

The time was fast upon us where I was spending so much time balancing the rotation of laundry between outside drying spots & inside drying spots that I was going kinda crazy. You know, waking up in the morning & muttering "laundry.." as you stumble from your bed to make sure your husband has clean dry clothes to wear to work. Yeah, we were at that point when I turned around & said, "I concede, let's buy a dryer."

Mr S looked up from his morning reading & said, "Oh, so you finally want one of those things then?"

You know the best time to buy a dryer around here actually turns out to be the winter because everything is on sale. Between tax time & trying to lure people from the comfort of their warm homes there's always an abundance of sales. We did our research & headed off to the shop, which is far more limited then what our research turned up, so Mr S did his research. He called his sister & asked what kinda dryer she had. Then he looked at the shelf, pointed to the only one in that make & model & said he'd take it.

The salesman responded with, "Great choice, except I don't have any of those in stock at the moment!" Yeah, perhaps not, but at least it didn't take too long for it to arrive & be delivered. If you've ever attempted to shop for something that's out of stock in our neck of the woods you know that waiting a month isn't considered "too long" so 3 days is kinda like express!

Mr S was hesitant about mounting the crazy thing, but the load of laundry in the washer differed with him. Yes, mounted to the wall. We have a luxuriously sized laundry room, especially compared to our last one, but it's long as we have a full bathroom in there, a huge long countertop with cupboards, & a nice sink to boot. The only space for the dryer was mounted on the wall & honestly that's not uncommon, much to the shock of my US friends.

The only problem was Mr S didn't really want to disconnect the washer hoses because every time we do they leak & take new seals & a whole lotta messing with to get them to work without leaking again. That left me climbing behind the washer & heaving the dryer up to him while he manoeuvred the crazy thing onto it's bracket. We got the whole thing done & I turned around & noticed that the spacers weren't installed on the back of the dryer. Which meant taking the whole thing down & starting over again. At least we knew what we were getting into the second time, right?

And, now that it's all securely installed upon the wall no one's mentioned being out of clothes & I've stopped hounding the weather man for a decent report, after all I may have been the only person on the NW coast squealing with joy over impending coastal wind warning because I figured I could dry a whole lotta laundry in that crazy weather. Yeah, it's nice, to have a dryer again.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Dobby AKA: Squeakers

For many months Jayden had been pestering for a bird & when I say pestering I'm talking this kid came in with marks on his hands where he'd managed to snag wild sparrows & blackbirds, but they pecked him & got away. Thank goodness he didn't try & snag a kookaburra or a currawong! Mind you, the later probably wouldn't have cared so long as he offered it a bit of dog food.

Gram surprised Jayde by sending Mr S & I off to scour the town for a bird as his Christmas gift. And scour we did. Our pet shop in town doesn't stock many animals aside from fish. They prefer to refer you to the RSAPC or the local Dogs Home, I'm all in favour of that after having spent a few years volunteering for a humane society. The upside is that while they may not have birds or pets on hand they can refer you to places you can obtain them. They referred us to a local couple who are incredibly passionate about the birds they raise.

When we first met them they were in the process of cleaning up from having just fed a flock of baby birds & when the lady opened the cage where our future bird was the entire contents of the cage came & settled on her shirt & each time she attempted to chase them away they just regrouped on her head or arms. It was really quite amusing to us. She took us & showed us all her other birds that are part of the family as well.

We collected our bird on Christmas Eve & what a character we ended up with. The bird is most content when it's out of it's cage, preferably in the same room as people. Jayde had hoped for a talker, & while this bird whistles it's also taken to screaming at us when it's unhappy or hears us having a grand laugh in the other room. Jayde decided he'd misnamed the bird & instead of Dobby {hoping it would copy him} he decided to rename it Squeakers.

Squeakers is an insane little bird that is most often busy annoying me. Oh it's true. The bird joins us for our morning readings & will sit as pretty as you please while we watch it, but the minute I start reading he will head right to our wicker basket & start to nibble on it. I'll stop reading & glare at him & of course it looks up as pretty as you please.. until I start reading again. The other day, convinced I'd give him a piece of my mind I didn't stop reading, but clapped my hands. The bird leaned forward & attempted an extra chunk out of my basket.

I very loudly stated that if the bird continued with that nonsense it would have to go back in it's cage. Squeakers opted to fly to the top of the bookcase, hang upside down & attempt to nibble the pages of the books on the top shelf. This bird has a serious addiction to: paper, wicker baskets, & lego. It's not abnormal for someone to scream, "Your bird is eating my book/math/grocery list!"

Now it's not all bad, we do have our fun with this crazy creature. He's most content to have a twisted up piece of paper to play with while Jayden quietly works away on his math or copywork. All though it can be quiet the distraction because the bird has also learned that if he picks up the paper with his foot & drops it on the floor someone is likely to fetch it for him. Stubborn thing!

Squeakers also has a serious hatred for bedtime. What's up with that?! The bird will be as quiet as ever while we listen to a book or watch a movie, but the minute I say, "Bedtime." what a screaming commotion he makes. He greets us upon our arrivals in & out of the house in the same fashion. Apparently he's tuned his ears to know which car noise is us & as we try to unlock the house we hear him carrying on from the depths of the kitchen. I just wish he'd choose to use words instead of screams.

"Hurry up!" would sound so much better then the caterwauls of screeches he's learned. Or "Take me with you!" or even, "Bedtime stinks!" I'm seriously considering leaving a preschool cd playing near the crazy thing to see if it would help, but with my luck Squeakers would then greet us with one of the Wiggles infamous songs.

You can imagine my horror when Jayde announced that he was thinking of saving his pocket money to purchase a second bird. "What?! Why would you do that?" "I think Squeakers would like a friend, & maybe some children." Ahh yes, & I think I might appreciate a wonderful pack of double thick earmuffs!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Art Project Tuesday: Snow Falling

Last Tuesday I pulled out an art project I had flagged a while ago for the kids. It was simplistic, but without instructions. I'm often hesitant to attempt things that don't have instructions so it took me a while staring at the picture of the project to really see the shapes & realise how simplistic it was to due.

I then brought up the photo for the kids & pulled out all our scrapbook paper for them to pick from. The original photo had children catching snowflakes which was one reason I selected to attempt it this week. With it being winter it seemed fitting.

Jayde, however, made it totally his own & went with catching rain drops, truly more fitting for a Tassie Costal Winter. He actually drew his on the background paper & then cut pieces to fit what he'd drawn. He wanted hair & didn't realise the string in the original picture was hair, he thought it was whiskers. Oh he cracks us up! His background page was when we've had for years, the water droplets on the person, the person's clothes, & so forth are rain drop stickers I had on hand as well. Yep, I have a lot of that kinda weird stuff.

Morgan went with snowflakes & a more scenic background. He hand cut everything for his, aside from the teeth. I just chopped up some white paper & plopped it on the table for everyone to share as there was dissension that one person was using more white paper & not going to leave any for others. He went with orange/red hair, & if you know Morgan you know he'd totally match that horrid shirt with a funky scarf like that!

I went for snowflakes too. Morgan & I shared the snowflake stickers I had on hand & each chose a differing background. Jayde is annoyed I didn't go with green for the nostril holes & Morgan feels I should have gone for yellow with a pinch of drizzle. Life with boys.

They were pretty simple to do once you had your pieces cut out & decided what you wanted it to look like. We layerd some of it backwards. For instance, once Morgan had his laid down, he glued the tongue into the mouth, the mouth into the head, & the teeth into the mouth. Then he was able to remove just the head without messing up the layout of the littler bits. He was quite relieved by that because it took him a while to get the teeth the way he wanted. It really was a quick & fun project!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

2014 Weekly Wrap Up: Week 17

And just like that, it seems, we managed to wrap up another time frame in history. It's funny really, because as we raced along the past few weeks I was pretty sure we'd end up needing more time then I'd scheduled. There's something about seeing that break ahead though that caused the kids to buckle down & get the work done. 

Last week marked the close of our time with Ancient Rome, all though I'm sure as we begin Middle Ages with the opening of the New Church we'll still find we're in Rome. Hopefully that won't be a huge shock to the kids! I'm actually quite relieved to be through these time periods in history & delighted to spend the next long while dawdling in the middle ages!

We moved to the midway point in Exodus last week with our Bible listening. It was quite funny because even though the kids know the stories this particular audio version really captivates them & when I went to turn it off before the final plagues came to Egypt the boys were highly upset. Needless to say we switched it back on to finish that portion of the story.

Still moving along in our poetry book. It's broken down into many sections & we've moved into the transportation section now. There's been a few funny ones in there to say the least. We're still enjoying the book though & moving at a lovely slow pace to have it last the entire school year.

Jayde moved forward in math again this past week, not a big surprise there. He was following me around with his math book though in hopes that I'd correct on the spot. No such luck & he finally camped out at the kitchen island while I was working on spelling with Morgan. He could use a minor brush-up on his multiplication facts as I noticed he was faltering a bit with his 6 facts this past week.

Morgan advanced another lesson as well. If he tackles the final lesson in his book next week he'll get to start his new math book in our new term. Exciting times! He did really well with his last lesson, but was slightly panicked that math was now taking him longer. My explanation that he was working on complex problems did little to appease him, so I spoke with a friend who uses the same curriculum to teach other students & she confirmed what I was thinking. When I told that to Morgan suddenly it was all okay, & interestingly enough he finished his math quicker that day too. 

Ignore the mess.. Morgan was catching up on his reading with Bronze Bow, & from the looks of the paper in his lap possibly MOH Vol. 1 too. I think he still has a few chapter of Bronze Bow to go which he'll finish up before we start our new term. It really is a good book, he's just been easily distracted to read & listen to other things of late.

We wrapped up Caesar Augusts' World this week as well as The Mystery Of The Roman Ransom. We were all delighted to bring Augustus' world to an end, the book was delightful but some of our readings were incredibly lengthy. I was also a little disappointed in the way the life of Jesus was represented & considered less likely to be true, where as Buddha's life was mentioned & his story told yet nothing was said to make you wonder about the validity of it. I kept my thoughts to myself, but Morgan ended up lamenting the same thing while telling Mr S about the book. He was also heavily disappointed in the rushed telling of the new church, which led to our choice to take a long stay in the Middle Ages {school year} as we take our time working through MOH 2.

Morgan conquered 2 more steps on AAS. This has been such a long time coming for the kid. He really struggled with a few of the things & kept constantly second guessing himself. He was so relieved to get everything consistently right & get those stickers on his chart. Spelling doesn't come naturally to him & is not an easy task to teach him or for him to grasp. He gets that letters make words & he understands there are specific ways for it to happen, that's a give-in. While he can memorise the rules it often comes down to rote memorisation for him to make this an easier subject. I hate that he constantly second guesses himself, but when your eyes play tricks on you I can understand the lack of security in thinking you've got it right. One step at a time, we'll get there.

We opted to tackle a fun art project on Tuesday as our home ed group met up in the beginning of the week instead of closer to the end. There was a specially organised outing which we skipped out on, but met up with friends at the park later. I had some resistance from the man in blue over this project, but once he got started he was keen to keep going & not so sure he wanted to go to the park. In fact the only reason he opted to go in the end was when I reminded him we wouldn't see friends for the next 5 weeks or so. 

We started some science as well. Science has been a real battle this year as I've sought curriculum that fits not only our goals but teaches science & not faith lessons. That's better saved for another post. In the mean time as we waited for the remainder of our physic books to come we started in on human body. We'll do both of these each year, which I'll also explain in another post.

Jayde wrapped up some notebooking pages he had on hand. Yes, he often sits like this to write which might explain his poor penmanship, but man if you saw it a year ago you'd agree with me that he's had vast improvement. Not in posture, but in handwriting.. you know, just to clarify. We also wrapped up the lovely Finding Marco Polo much to his delight. He was sitting in rapt attention as we came to the end of the book, as I close it for the final time he gave a contended sigh. I noticed someone tried to sneak it onto our own bookcase, but it's honestly a library book.

We also hit the beach so the dog could run off steam. When we walk around our neighbourhood he has to be on a leash, but at this particular beach he is permitted to run as long as we are keeping an eye on him. We've been wanting to train him to run alongside the bicycles so the kids took their bikes & let him run alongside while I was able to listen to my audio book. I was in awe of the size of the waves when I snapped that photo. While it doesn't look it the waves were easily 4 or more feet high that day. We also spotted a seal a couple of times & had a grand time watching the tugboats sit in the mouth of the harbour waiting on a larger boat to come in.

All in all not a bad week for us. We do have a few minor things we may, or may not, attempt to wrap up before we begin our new term. It's odd to be starting a new, long, study in the new term knowing we won't wrap it up completely before the end of our school year, but I'm learning to roll with the punches. We also delighted in listening to more of our audio book, highly recommended by a friend who knows our tastes well, The Misadventures Of Maude March. The boys also had swim lessons, all though I didn't snap any photos. It was all I could do not to fall off the bench laughing, which the other life guards did end up doing.

Their coach was working on leg power with them this week & explaining the importance of keeping their hips & legs in one fluid motion. Only instead of being in the water with them like he usually is he was on the side of the pool demonstrating & I'm pretty sure if mermaids {or men} existed & were attempting to walk on land what he was demonstrating was exactly what it would have looked like. Im' pretty sure my boys were the only two not laughing, which impressed their coach to no end. When he spoke with me after lessons he actually said he found it amazing that he can demonstrate the most absurd things but they never bat an eye about trying it out. I didn't have the heart to tell them he should witness a family dinner in our house, it would answer every question he has.

Both boys worked on diving again this week, which they were delighted with. Morgan seems to have finally got it down pat & managed several with no splash at all. Jayden, on the other hand, managed to clear his coach, 2 guards, & a couple of innocent bystanders away from the edge of the pool with his dive. Fun times, fun times!

Last, but not least, the kids also listened to Stick Dog. The book was actually an assigned book for Jayde. I'll have to explain assigned audio books in another post, but the point is it was on Jayde's list. Only Jayde listened to such a lovely book he was lacking inspiration to try anything else, compounded with a rough day for him, & miserable weather he was spent one evening. I ended up downloading it & playing it through the tv to distract him from his bad mood & the book was such a hit that he begged to take it to bed with him. I was just dozing off when he came bounding in to our room shouting, "He got a burger!! Oh, and we finished the book."