Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Warm Weather

Even the dog is enjoying the warmer weather. It might have something to do with the fact that he gets to have more leisurely walks after we've worn him out with a bit of a fast paced walk or run. There really is nothing like that first beautifully warm day after a long spell of icy cold days. We've indulged in picnic lunches quite a few times over the past couple of weeks. It's just so hard to stay indoors when it's this beautiful outside.

Our nights are still quite chilly around here, but knowing that a warmer day is just ahead doesn't make them quite so bad. We're looking forward to taking the books & quilt outside for schooling, or maybe that's me as the boys are all ready spending plenty of time doing their studies on the trampoline or atop the cubby house..

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Flagging Books

As we inch closer to our big Australian History study I'm constantly snapping photos of books in the library. Picture books, chapter books, non-fiction, adult, it doesn't really mater. If I think it will lend itself well to what we have happening I snap a photo. I find it's the quickest & easiest way not to forget she title & author of a book that I want to put on my list.

I'm pretty sure I have an entire file of pictures that happens to be nothing more then library books. On the flip side it's come in really handy when I can clearly see the cover of a book, but for the life of me can't remember the name of it!

Monday, August 25, 2014

2014 Week In Review: Week 22

It seems I can't keep up with our weekly reviews, which isn't the end of the world, but we sure do love looking through them at the end of the year & seeing how we progressed. So, despite this being more then a week out of date we'll back up to week 21 of our school year. All though, between you & me, I think we messed up our count somewhere & we may be a week or more ahead of the 21 mark.. not that it truly matters.

Both boys are still working fairly independently on things & that means I don't have as many photos of the day to day items because while they are busy doing their school, I'm generally busy doing other things as well. I did manage to snag a few though:

Not sure why it looks like he's counting on his fingers, he wasn't, all though he was deep in thought. So much so he never heard me suggest he put on his glasses until I finally put them on him myself. He covered exponents, powers, & basic decimal work that week. Most of it was review for him & he's not felt the need to dwell much on each lesson. The first three pages of his book, for any lesson, cover new material, the next 3 are review. That means the first page of every lesson is mandatory, after that it's up to them if they skip to the review pages or not, at least 1 review page is mandatory each week. If we see slippage in skills then we're firm about how many extra review pages must be completed in a week too.

Yes, he's doing school in a onsie, & no I didn't ask him to take it off. Chances are he would have, very happily. However, changes are also pretty high there would have been nothing on underneath it. Yikes!! Jayde hit a small roadblock with math because he wasn't doing his fact practice & quickly realised he needed to get back to the facts each day if he didn't want to spend all day at the table. Problem solved.

This naughty little fellow joined us for various language arts lessons too. Have I mentioned how much I despise Squeakers joining us for language lessons? He prefers to add his opinion on all subjects not to mention take a chunk out of the pages. We had to hold off on the writing assignment because we started our LA sooner then history, & the LA writing assignment was based on a history lesson they hadn't covered yet. Other then that a lot of information they are learning is still in the review category, all though not all of it. We're still enjoying using the WP LA courses at this stage.

History was light this week, but that's okay. We're reading portions of all of the above books. The top book is actually a flimsy paperback Bible that I covered in some heavy card stock. Sometimes we read directly from the Bible & sometimes we gather around while we listen to an audio version via You can select any Bible version of your choosing & listen for free over there. Some versions have more then one narrator so you can choose the one you prefer the most. We listened to several different narrators for the fun of it & one of them had us in absolute stitches as he read out the genealogy of Christ.

Swim lessons were as normal. Excuse the wild hair, they had it all whacked off on that weekend. We had a few practices as well as they are trying to perfect a variety of things. We'd like to take the summer off from lessons, & they'd like to wrap up the level they are on & obtain their certificates. We'll see how it goes.

Both boys are still working daily in assigned book selections. Jayden has decided he's really enjoying mysteries so we laid a few prior selections aside so he could indulge in another mystery from the series he was reading previously. Morgan is currently on a Henry kick & found it quite funny to find an old friend, Ramona, in the book. He declared, over chores one day, that Henry can be quite naughty at times even if he is kinda funny. Clearly not naughty enough that he's bothered by the book, he really couldn't handle the new Hardy Boys books because he found the name calling & other nonsense in them too irritating to handle.

Plenty of exercise outside this week with the weather warming up. All those rocks are not generally on our beach during the summer, but in the winter they roll in, pile up, & cause quite a masterpiece. They were so crazy down there during this week that we opted not to forgo walking on the beach & walk on the track that runs along the coast. The dog loves either one because on the beach he can run to his hearts content, & on the track he has to run to keep pace with the boys on their bikes. Yes, my boys heads look red, believe it or not both boys have quite red hair in their baby photos as well. All though most of the time they have a more blondish look to them.

We spent a lot of time outside, & continue to do as the weather warms up. It's hard to pass up the chance to be in the sun after a long grey winter..

Friday, August 15, 2014

Nana's 80th

Nana turned 80 this past week, something that didn't escape anyone's mind as the days ticked closer. We conspired earlier this year to get together at our place as the bush camping we use to do with the family isn't something Nana is confident with anymore.

With all the space we have we opted to host anyone who could make it into town to celebrate. We had people staggering in at various times, which is pretty normal when we have family get togethers.

To keep Nana occupied while others were arriving we gave her a funny birthday badge that lights up & flashes when you push the button. We told her she had to wear it all weekend, but you know I think she forgot to wear it on her actual birthday!

There's a pretty funny story in our family about Nana's Knickers. You see Nana always has a to take lots of knickers with her whenever she goes anywhere. We've been woken up at family camping events before to the announcement that she's missing a pair, or two.. We've had knicker emergencies before where we've gotten the daily count of how many she has left clean in her bag, but the story that takes the cake was when she was in hospital last year with a broken hip. Half delusional on pain medication she kept asking people to bring her more knickers! The requests were getting pretty insane & it was a two-person effort. I'd collect the next load of knickers & hand them off to a brother-in-law who'd then take them to Nana. When I got the 6th call for more knickers I decided I was going to put an end to the entire problem. I went to her house & took out the entire knicker drawer & sent it with my bil to Nana. I figured there could be no mistake that she'd have any left at home this way. It worked, except she was bewildered as to why he had the whole drawer with him.

We teased her & told her for her birthday she was getting 80 pairs of knickers. Which was only made more funny when she rolled up to the front door on Friday & told me that her neighbour asked if she was moving out. You see Nana had a suitcase, a travel bag, her handbag, & her rolling walker with her. When she told her neighbour she was not moving out just going away for the weekend & wanted plenty of clean knickers, Nana's neighbour informed her that she, the neighbour, has smaller undies & doesn't need to take so many bags with her. I laughed so hard I'm pretty sure I pulled a muscle.

And so I teased Nana about her knicker situation more. I told her that we were planning to play a game this weekend entitled, "Pin the Knickers on Nana.." To which, of course, she highly doubted & kept saying, "Oh suuuuure, Kendra..." 

While we waited for the final bits of company to straggle in on Saturday so we could take Nana on the wackiest bike ride of her life, I mean what else would you do when you turn 80?! I went to the kitchen white board & drew a pair of old fashioned knickers on the board & entitled it with the game name. She roared with laughter about it unaware of our secret plan for the evening ahead.

So off we all went on our lovely bike ride, which was really fun but very crazy. To all we ran off the walking & bike path forgive us, we don't get out often! Nana had loads of fun & was treated to a hot chocolate afterwards while the rest of us hustled back to the house to prepare for the great escapade of the evening..

80 pairs of knickers strung throughout the home as a lovely birthday garland. We ran out of rope & had to dig out more to string them up with. then we ran out of pegs & had to get more of them out too. The laughter that ensued as we decorated the house was quite something, but not nearly as funny as turning around & realising that everyone present was hanging up underpants & the floor was still covered with the things! Some opted to don a few pairs in an attempt to help get them hung up quickly.

Needless to say there was a bit of silence when Nana was heard coming in the kitchen calling out she'd just been to have a hot cocoa & a bit of cake, as we all waited to see her reaction when she noticed our hideous decorations. She walked in the lounge room took one look around & said, "So, I see you bought 80 pairs of knickers then!" She walked out, made herself a cup of tea, grabbed some cheese & sat back down like nothing had happened at all.

She knows how to take it all in stride! Mind you, we did find her in absolute stitches when a few of the guys came out in the most colourful pairs. Turns out knickers make great hair, super hero pants, fake hair, & so forth. There was a game going on to see who could manage to work the most into a costume, but the stakes went higher each time someone accomplished it.. 

In fact the only reasonably sane thing I think we did to celebrate Nana turning 80 was pulling out Ticket To Ride.. never mind how late it was, or that we had to stop a few times to don fresh knicker costumes, attack each other with tins of silly string, or let off party poppers.. It's pretty normal for a family gathering around these parts.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Accidents Happen..

The kids have been on a real footy kick lately, not that it's any real surprise considering it 'tis the season, but man they've gone through a lot of footballs this year! They've lost or kicked so many over fences this year, most of which have been returned to them in one fashion or another. They were pretty blessed one a neighbour felt bad that their ball went flat in his yard after they carefully waited 3 days for him to return home just to get permission to retrieve it. He surprised them the following day with a brand new footy. 

Said footy was taken on a walk with us last week. They kicked it back & forth for a while before telling me I could have a go. I of course kicked it right into the blackberry patch. Sweet of me, dontcha think? Morgan braved crawling up in a pottaroo path under the brambles to retrieve it & asked me to hold an offending branch back out of the way. I was made to promise beyond all promises ever made that I would not let go of the branch. I assured him I would not let go of the branch even if a shark jumped up out of the ocean & tried to rip my leg off. Not even if the crazy seal came over & tried to eat my hair. And especially not if the crazy gulls tried to drop a clam on my head. I would hold that stick until he came back out.

So imagine his anger when he popped back out that little path & the stick I was suppose to be holding popped him just above the eye. Yeah, I'm not sure who screamed loudest because we were both screaming pretty loud. I did not, however, let go of the stick! The branch I was holding broke off the bush at the very same moment the poor kid climbed out of the thicket. I didn't even take the above photo, that's how great I was holding the stick!!

Yeah, he's still sporting a lovely scrape above his eye to which, when people ask what on earth happened, he has to say, "Mom didn't hold the stick very well." You can just imagine the ugly looks I get over that one.. I told him we should make up some absurd story of how the ball actually went onto the footy field & as he dived to mark it he got plowed over by the pros, but as he pointed out, "No one's really gonna believe that rubbish!" 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

2014 Week In Review: Week 21

It was a crazy week here preparing for Nana's 80th which we were hosting, but school happened all the same!

The boys knew they had Friday off, a semi-light day on Monday & the other three days of the week to meet pre-set goals. It works well & at the end of the week everything was done, dusted, & ready to party. Or at least the people were!

The kids are working a lot on their own, so not as many pictures, I find that my kids work a lot better when I'm not in the room, so I tend to stay busy with other things when I know they are doing their solo work.  I still managed to capture a few day-to-day type moments.

We're still working on our Bible study in 2 Timothy with the Discover 4 Yourself Series. We tend to work together at the table on this & while we may, sometimes, work through all of 1 day's suggested work, other days we might not. It depends on the day & how much we have going on. There can be a lot of stuff to gleam from one day so we just go with the flow.

Poor Jayden missed out on packages this week. Okay, so in all honestly nearly all the packages we get are books & they are nearly all school books so he considers all the books mine. Imagine his extreme irritation when he saw this problem in his math book this week! Not to mention the same day a package arrived with another book in it.. for his brother.

Morgan embarked with his new math book as well this week, all though I don't seem to have a photo of that. He was pretty comfortable with the lesson & felt good enough bout it that at the end of the week he scheduled himself to move forward in the math book.

I walked in & found Jayden reading his book. He's been really nervous about branching off on his own for assigned books. Don't ask me why, this is the same kid who takes WW2 books to bed, or books about Ancient Rome to bed, all books he's pulled off our shelves or taken out of the library. He'll read them to himself & then tell us all the weird facts he's learned, or when I mention what we could learn next in history he revolts because, "I all ready read about that, can't we learn about something I haven't learned yet." Don't ask me why he's so funny about the assigned books which are truly below him to help build his confidence in this area. Either way, he finished his assigned book last week & delighted us all with an incredibly difficult code on the board which held the answer to the mystery he'd been reading.

Excuse the colour of the photo, this boy prefers to read in odd lighting because his eyes don't handle the white light as well. He's been plucking along in his book & doing great, all though by the end of the week his eyes were incredibly worn out. After his discovery at the footy last week, however, I did notice he was rarely seen without glasses during the week. I did catch him playing a video game without them & put them upon his face, I got a thanks for it so no worries there. He'll actually get motion sickness from video games or a migraine if he doesn't wear the glasses.

We spent a couple of days reading introductions & a bit of information from a stack of new books. All of them are lovely & the kids are so excited to see that Medieval Jobs book. When I opened it up to read there were a few whoops followed by, "This is the book isn't it! You got the next one in the series!!" Forbidden Gates is our current read aloud {I so need to update the side bar on my blog..} & has the potential to be quiet interesting. I'm curious to see where it will go.

I'm always torn on MOH, I do love that they show Biblical history intermingled with traditional history, but sometimes I feel as though the lessons within lack meat. All though from the looks of Vol. 3 the lessons will eventually get deeper. Still, though, we've only just started Vol II so it'll be interesting to see how the lessons go as we continue forward.

Mr S left a message on the board for the kids after we'd had a rough evening. Truthfully people were just tired & worn out, but he left them a little reminder, which the kids dutifully opted to change the meaning/message of. Seriously cracked me up when I found it! Mind you, these are the same kids who lodged firm complaints that Daddy wasn't doing school properly when he tried to teach them during a week I was sick. I'm guessing things haven't changed much since that time all those years ago.

During spelling one day somebody thought it would be interesting to see how AAS would work if you could only write with your feet. Never mind he's using his hand to control his foot, doesn't have his glasses on, & proceeded to knock half the magnets off the board. Yeah, it didn't last long, all though he did manage to spell the word he was writing correctly! He moved up another step last week all though we found one of his review words started tripping him up again. He was really frustrated with that.

Jayden, on the other hand is still working on a considerable amount of review to be able to move into the next book. We're both a little frustrated with it & I'm seriously considering putting him back into Sequential Spelling. He tends to learn better on rote memorisation, thus he can tell me all the wonderful spelling rules like crazy, but spell the words by applying the rule?! And that is why this incredibly smart little boy hates word problems in math.

Mr S discovered the kids had changed the meaning of his message so he proceeded to leave a new message on the board the following day. They debated changing fish to sock, but decided that since Mr S has to pass the fish shop on the way home it was probably wiser not to. Ha!

We wrapped up our week Thursday afternoon with a bit of science. Despite the boys desires to jump face first into earth science, I just wasn't prepared & pulled out our original plan of biology. They were cool with it once I pointed out that after wrapping up the science portion of our day we were done. In fact the youngest amongst us was heard to day, "What? We're done. All ready? I haven't even had time to complain that this is taking too long yet!" At least he's honest, right?

Both boys did handwriting practice which they scheduled out for themselves. As Jayde is still taking a firm stand against cursive he's doing printing. Whatever works, to be honest. They both learned how to work the new dryer as we worked on life skills of doing your own laundry this week. And it was all hands on decks to get rooms situated for the incoming guests so all was ready when Nana arrived Friday evening.

We also listened to more of our Little House In The Big Woods cd which is usually on in the car. Still having issues getting the radio to work which we need to sort out. We skipped our other audio books this week, all though we had intended to listen to Silver Branch Friday afternoon before company arrived. We got side tracked decorating for a party & trying our hands at yet another version of non-dairy yogurt. It flopped, incase you were wondering. All though while I'm typing this I have yet another version sitting in the kitchen incubating..

Not too shabby considering we were gone all day Sunday to a footy match, were out Monday for swim lessons, & had Friday off as Mr S was home to get things ready for the party.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

That Boy..

If it's British, historical, or involves war this kid is all over it. He drew this funny picture of a Minifig recently that totally cracked me up when I found it. I can't decide if it's a British officer from the Revolutionary War era, or a British officer who might have a bit of Bushranger in him with those smoking guns. Either way, I love it!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Earth Science

I've mentioned a few times now, that I was trying to piece together a bit of our own science, & this past week we were delighted to see some of our earth science books rolling in the door. The intention was to use them next year, but the kids are pretty eager to jump in so who knows what will happen.

I ended up ordering a few spines to choose from, all though thus far I'm really really pleased with the whole Painless Earth Science. I'm not sure if it's on level for Jayde or if he'll struggle with it, so I need to look at it again with that thought in mind. Lessons are pretty simple with little review questions sprinkled throughout to be sure your understanding the information. The book advertises an app that goes with it as well where you can quiz yourself on the information learned. Not sure if we'll snag that or not.

The other spines I snagged were Earth Science For Every Kid. It's a typical Van Cleave book in that it's loaded with experiments that are suppose to help you draw a conclusion about the topic at hand. Truthfully though aside from that it doesn't have heaps of information in it. I knew that when I purchased it so it's more of an experiment spine as my kids are totally hands on in that area.

I also purchased The Earth Science Book by Dinah Zike. There are references to evolution within the book, which I also knew prior to purchasing it. I still went through with my purchase so I could have a good look to see if it's editable for our purposes or not. I'm not entirely decided yet on that factor.

I know what is classified as earth sciences, & I also knew what I wanted to cover in each area, which helped me narrow down some choices for books too. For astronomy we ended up getting the newly released Leap Into Space. We really love the books in this series & I was really excited to one based on astronomy. In general it's a tough topic for our location as most books don't hit on the southern hemisphere. 

For weather I went with The Kids Book Of Weather Forecasting, which was one Jayde was going to use in Sea & Sky anyway. Again, this is a series of books we really love & I was happy with the choice. The book is written by a meteorologist, & has a lot of information in there about how they do their forecasting & things you can try as well.  I may or may not search out a book on clouds as well, we'll see if what we have will cover what I'm after.

With Geology we chose Geology Rocks. This isn't in the same series, but we've enjoyed other books from the Kalidiscope Kids books before & have enjoyed each of them. These books are full of information & lots of hands on ideas, all though not written from a Christian perspective. Again, I knew that going into the purchase.

All up I'm pleased with my choices & need to decide how to map it all out & if I want to add any other books in. For instance I'm seriously debating the Basher Earth Science books. We own a couple of these now for other science topics & have checked a couple out of the library. They are really simple, well illustrated, & fun. 

We've also got The Ocean Science Book, which we've previously used. We could use it again to round out that side of our studies if we needed/wanted, or we might look at something a little more too. Mind you we're not short of ocean science books in this house by any means.

And just to round things out a little we also went with It Couldn't Just Happen. We wanted something to really help us look at evolution without bashing the idea behind it. No, we don't agree with evolution, but I'm a firm believer in not bashing someone else's beliefs, especially in an effort to make my own known. Ironically I'd completely forgotten about It Couldn't Just Happen & stumbled upon it in my searches for something else. I added it to my order & when I mentioned it to Mr S he got really excited as he remembers when he read the book & gave it to me. Funny thing was I all ready owned a copy of it. Great minds & all that, right?

So now all I need to do is decide how to plan it all out for an upcoming year of fun! The kids are holding out hope that I'll snap with it & we can add that into our mix of sciences. Hey, you never know..

Saturday, August 9, 2014

2014 Week Wrap Up: Week 20

Another week gone by, & with it went another month of the year. This year is flying by, & I've all ready started noticing Christmas countdowns & have heard a few remarks about it within the walls of our own home as well.

It was business as usual, mostly, around our place this week. We weathered some crazy wild weather this week which resulted in a few times where we just sat quietly waiting for it to abait enough to not have to scream across the house to each other.

First we had wild driving rains & once those let up to small drizzles we had endless amounts of wind that whistled & rattled us like crazy. Living close to the ocean we're use to some pretty stiff breezes, & often get warnings of gail force winds all though most of those don't come to be a reality. We all survived it, despite some long wild nights. Unfortunately our guinea pig hutch did not survive the craziness of it all, & thus our guinea pig is missing..

Bad weather or not, maths carried on as normal around here. Someone was working on finding the area of triangles & other such fun things until he was so distracted by all the commotion that he was heard to wail, "Seriously will this never end!!"

I looked up to see him staring out the window during a moment of no rain. A city bus broke down across the street from us & while I was debating running out to see if I could call for help or offer anything to those stranded on it the sky turned black & opened back up. We're talking wind & rain that pushes & pulls at the same time. I figured everyone was safest where they were.

Someone was delighted to wrap up his math book this week! The final lesson in the book is a wild ride, but he tackled it. Mind you part of it is mind over matter when Mr Demme announces that many high school students struggle with what he just taught them..

Morgan pulled out his cursive book & put it on his scheduled to work with this term. He's got a goal in place for it & we'll see how he goes. He was very dutiful with it last week & his schedule with it is reasonably simple so honestly I don't see it being an issue for him. He was most unimpressed with the capital G's though.

Jayde decided he'd should work on his own handwriting as well. Or perhaps it was more that he didn't feel his printing was ready to turn into cursive yet. Either way he scheduled it out for himself too & dutifully worked on it all week. He can write amazingly well in the book, but outside of the book it's crazy!

Our lovely new Bible study books arrived late the week prior so we were able to dig into them on Monday. We're studying 2 Timothy with the Discover 4 Yourself series. They do use an NASB version Bible with the studies & while you can adapt with whatever version you have there are times when they are looking for specific words in the NASB. I enjoy using the NASB in terms of how it reads, but the kids don't have that version Bible. While the text is always in the back of the book it can be cumbersome to flip back & forth. So this time I went over to BibleGateway & printed out the book of 2 Timothy for them. I removed footnotes & enlarged the font, especially for our SSS boy. Then I made sure each verse was separated from the one prior. This helps when looking for specific things or adding your own notes. It's worked perfectly for us thus far.

Swim lessons were accomplished despite our crazy weather. It wasn't too bad when we left the house, clad in rain gear, but within minutes of being on the road it was pretty ugly. It cleared up before we got there, or I might have turned back. The boys had a sub teacher this particular week & worked on a variety of things. Morgan's got his dives down so after their lesson was over the guards were slow in swapping out the Swim School sign so he went back up for a few regular dives.

No practices this week. Not only was the weather insane the pool lost power more times then we can count. The water the boys generally swim in had only just warmed up to slightly warmer then room temperature. With icy temps rolling in from the storm I'm not sure if it will warm up again anytime soon!

Both boys worked on spelling this week. Morgan completed a step after having one word trip him up most of the week, & then promptly spelled it wrong the following Monday morning. Ahh spelling how we loathe thee. Jayde spent most his week reviewing because while he can remember all the rules he fails to apply them to his work. He's determined to graduate out of his book before the end of the term, & I'm hopeful for him too!

We finished up week 36 in Quest for Ancients, which was the life, ministries, & death of Jesus as well as other things happening at that time. We didn't end up delving into projects for that particular week with all the craziness going on. We did, however, seem to find ourselves eating popcorn & listening to Our Island Story almost daily. We wrapped up Mystery of History Volume 1 which was a delight as Volume 2 & 3 have all ready arrived on our front door step. Very exciting to be truly launching into middle ages next week!

I finally convinced Jayde to go read his assigned book to himself. He's been really reluctant to do this for some reason. I honestly have no idea why he's not a struggling reader by any means, all though he often reads below his level when he reads to people, but on or above his level when he reads to himself. I had him reading aloud to me for a long while now because I found that, at times, when he read to himself the assigned books he was skipping over things instead of sounding them out.

I don't seem to have a photo of Morgan but he started a new book this week too, assigned reading, & was really nervous about reading it on his own too. His nerves usually come from stumbling a lot if he's having a bad eye day, but I insisted he give it a go & when he finally surfaced again he was so delighted with his book he couldn't wait to tell us all about it. We're working with trying to get his eyes use to reading longer chapters now. I had him reading Henry & Ribsy, which has lengthier chapters, but we were blessed with a copy with larger font. It seems a perfect fit for him right now.

And that pretty much wraps up our week. There was a lot of doodling of Lego Men in their planners & doodle boxes. We also listened to Little House In The Big Woods on a trip into the city for a footy match that the kids loved watching. We also tried listening to The Silver Branch during a couple of trips into town to get Mr S from work, but in all the bad weather we couldn't get the radio to work properly. That probably sounds odd, but we can feed our audio books from the iPhones through the car radio to listen to them on the system in the car. Oh well, we'll listen to it next week instead.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Oh Those Crazy Eyes..

We had our final Tassie footy match for the season this past weekend. Always a big event in this house between getting there, staying warm, & cheering the right team on. There's often a traitor in our midst who gets ribbed a bit about his choice of team, but it's all in good fun. 

As we were driving home after this particular game Morgan piped up with, "I think that's the best footy game I've ever seen & I'm not saying that I'm switching teams either!" 

There were a few chuckles from the rest of us when someone said, "So you finally understand who the better team is?"

"No, it's not that. See I wore my glasses today, & it's so weird but I could actually see everything. I could see the football, I could see the guys no matter how fast they ran. It was like I could just see really well. It was so cool." 

There's a moment of silence before I finally say, "Do you think you should consider wearing them more often then, you know, just so maybe you could see more often then?"

"I've been trying not to because I'm worried my eyes will get weak."

"Uh, what?"

"Well, if you wear glasses when you don't need them then they won't help your eyes but make them worse, I don't want to make my eyes worse." 

"Good point, but you need the glasses. If you can't see things normally wear the glasses. It won't weaken your eyes but make them stronger."

"What? I thought the opposite would happen! I can't believe that!" 

"I'm pretty sure if the opposite was going to happen Dr F would have warned us. Instead what she said was, "Wear your glasses." So I'm pretty sure you're safe." 

Yeah, we learn something new & crazy about this boy & his eyes all the time. I'm learning to take it in stride & not actually scream out the response that's welling up deep inside. I'll also confess that I'm actually really really happy he discovered the beauty of sight for something he enjoys, all though I'm never sitting next to him at a footy match again. Between his crazy dance moves & cheering for the wrong team I told him I was going to have to leave through a difference exit.. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Even More Australian History

As we've worked on mapping out the upcoming school years one thing we're firm is having one really good year where we dig deep into Australian history. We've enjoyed lots of the books we've read, & the kids have learned a lot, but like any history I always like for them to spend a year or so digging in good & deep once they are a bit older.

We had actually planned to do a year of World History {2014}, a year of Australian History {2015}, & then a year of US History {2016}. I'm not the only one who plans this far in advanced, am I?

Things took a bit of a twist for us when we decided to spend a year digging in deep with Middle Ages, but that's the beauty of learning at home, right? We can stop & dawdle on some things, push through others, & travel at a normal pace for the rest. I'll also admit some mild relief because I wasn't entirely sure if my plans would be done by the start of the new year anyway.

It did leave me in a small quandary of what I was going to do considering the fact that we can't pick up Australian history after Middle Ages. Well, we could, but it would be weird because there's a lot of unaccounted time in there! Instead, we'll do Middle Ages, then Renaissance, followed by a portion of US history, Weird? Not really. US history begins at the time when the Declaration of Independence is written & signed. Thus there's no turning back from the Revolutionary war. Either all those who fight could die as traitors to the British Nation, or they will all become Americans.

Either way, that's the time frame in which Australian history really gets started. You see, it's during that crazy mess over in America that the British realise they can no longer drop their unwanted prisoners in the New Colony. In fact, they'd been asked to stop for quite some time, but it wasn't until the colonists revolted that some serious action had to be taken.

We could end up studying US & Australian history side by side, after all Australia was exploring inlands while the US was now embroiled in their own Civil War. Americans came to Australia during the gold rush & vice versa. They meet again in WWI & WWII. Truthfully though, I think it'll be far more interesting to study each country on it's own. Noting where they meet & why, but allowing each side to tell their story in their own turn.

So while we study other things I'll keep working on our plans & rounding up books. Some we'll read again as they fall into line with our studies, some we'll read for the first time now that our audience is a little older.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Organising MUS Fraction Overlays

Apparently the theme over here this week is organising & planing ahead, because here I am with another organisational idea. Not to mention I know what the other posts for this week are all about too.. You don't mind, do you?

When you purchase MUS Epsilon you're suppose to obtain the lovely Fraction Overlays. These are a big part of what makes Epsilon hands on & click for the hands on student. My boy absolutely loved using these crazy things. The only thing I hated about them was that I often found him & the overlays more like this:

Now don't get me wrong, he's doing his work, & that's awesome, but seriously the mess!! The problem was he couldn't quickly find what he was after so he just dumped the whole thing out & went with it. Then he'd say, "Mom, I need help I can't find the tenths overlay.." Yeah, because I'm bound to find it in that jumble of stuff, right? Ha!

I finally had enough of the mess & the please for help in finding a missing piece that was generally right under his nose. I took the pile of stuff & marked every single thing. Each different coloured piece is worth a different value, all though I think we're missing a 5th or a 10th, I can't remember which now. Anyway, I wrote on the back of them in pencil whatever their value was, grabbed their 2 matching overlays & clipped them all together with matching bulldog clips. Wrote their values on them, slipped everything back into the pockets & handed it back.

"Wow, this is awesome!" was the reply. Yes, of course it is, because you can see it all now! It does make the packet a bit thicker with the clips, but we use used a funband to hold the whole thing closed "just in case" & popped it back on the shelf. It all works, right? Unfortunately, 2 different groups have blue clips because one is a true blue while the other is a purple-gray-blue colour. I'm certain I have purple bulldog clips around, but until they turn up that works.

As a weird factoid, as I know I have some people who's children also have scotopic sensitivity syndrome reading, my boy finds that he can't use the white background as Mr Demme showed them. The idea is you put up a white card. Next you lay the coloured card down based on how much you need {3/4, 2/5, 1/10, etc.} then you put the clear overlay on top. My boys eyes go nuts when he does that & he seriously can't see anything. So he uses an orange or green card depending on which colour card his problem required.

You don't need to use the packet of overlays all the time, in fact he only used them at the beginning when he learned to deal with making like denominators & towards the end where he was working on the algebraic problems. If he got stumped on something I'd suggest he pull out the overlays as well.

I made the mistake one day of flipping the orange side to white thinking he'd simply put it up wrong when he looked up & said, "Who moved my stuff!!" I thought he was clowning around until I realised the folly of what I'd done. Yeah, his eyes do not handle white.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Planning Ahead

I'm constantly trying to stay a few steps ahead of the game when it comes to planning out what we'll study next, at least in the history & science departments. I like to be prepared, have a plan, & be ready to roll. These two subjects are the only ones that seem to demand a bit more of me in those regards, probably because they are the ones we use the least traditional curriculum for.

When we opted to spend a year studying Middle Ages, we also decided we'd spend a year studying Renaissance. We're planning to use Quest For Royals & Revolutions from Winter Promise. It will lend itself well to allowing us to decide to study US history afterwards or Australian history. It also allows us to continue forward with using Mystery Of History.

In fact, we ordered Volume III recently & were so excited when it arrived as we'd heard about the new looks for volumes 3 & 4. I had a hard time getting our copy away from the kids so I could actually have a turn with it!! Instead of having one huge book, you have a hardback storybook of sorts that has all the lessons in it. Then you have the softcover teacher's guide with the maps, quizzes, etc. in it. The hardcover storybook has all the artefacts & other pictures inside in colour now which really appealed to my colour lover as well.

I should clarify that MOH 3 is not a required item with QFRR, but one we're choosing to use. There are quite a few other books that are used instead of another MOH book as a spine. We may choose to drop one or simply do all of them, we'll decide when the time comes. In the mean time we're pretty excited with our copy of MOH 3!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Our Sticker Pouch

I know most girls collect purses & shoes, but I admit I don't. Now tote bags are another story, & so are stickers. The thing is, though, our family goes through both like crazy. Someone is always screaming for a bag to carry something or other in. We've worn out so many bags with library books that I finally gave up & started using a rolling cart. The entire town knows when are coming thanks to the grating outside the library, but no more ripped tote bags!

Stickers don't get ripped, but they sure do get a lot of use around here. The kids always seem to think it means they did an extra great job if they get a sticker. Admittedly I use to use them on their work much more often then I do now, all though handwriting still tends to get gold stars. These days, however, the stickers get used up a lot more for checklists.

There's just something that encourages them to tick things off if I offer out stickers or put chore lists on the white board. Whatever works, right? The only problem is the stickers were all over the place & there was, no joke, a moan that someone couldn't find the beloved monster stickers. Yeah, the ones I paid all of $1 for a huge pack of them. I mean, seriously there were a ton of other stickers to choose from including the brand new viking stickers I'd picked up that weekend!!

Which reminded me, that I also have a huge reddish for small bags that help me organise things. You've rather gotten the picture that I like to be organised, right? Good, & that makes it easier for you you understand such an absurd fettish, right?

The little blue bag above is actually suppose to be a make-up bag, but that's another thing I don't do. It's been years since I've worn make-up, turns out I'm allergic to half the stuff in them & I kind prefer the non-scratched to bleeding look of my face to be honest. All though, I did wear some horrid eye shadow to look like a punk-rocker type person at Mr S' 40th. Yeah, my eyes were in pain for days over that stupid idea, & my kids kept asking what on earth that stuff on my face was. Ha! The bag, however, was discounted & just right for holding the pens I colour code my journal with. The previous bag I'd been using broke it's zipper ages ago & I was trying to make do with one of those silly kiddie pencil tins, but honestly it was driving me nuts because everything kept spilling out!

This pouch was from ebay. It's suppose to be for organising yourself while traveling. It's called a passport holder, I think. After our one, & only, passport fiasco we have all passports under lock & key while we travel so this isn't used for such a purpose. I was actually going to use it to organise a few postcards I'd bought to mail to the US, but when I heard the moan & groan about the stickers & then found myself demanding that whomever stole the tiny Thomas ruler give it back I decided I could use it to fix the current mess we were in.

I slipped a nice selection of stickers inside & then wondered where the rest of my sticker stash was. Yep, I actually have a sticker stash. They still haven't all turned up because the drawer everyone thought they were in is mysteriously empty. There's 3 smaller sleeve/pouches on each side. I just cut the sticker pages down so I could slip them into the pockets. It's also super handy so more then one child can grab stickers at the same time.

There's also a big slot on each side which holds the spelling stickers on one side & puffy stickers on the other side. There's one zip pocket on the righthand side which is where the sticker books the sheets of cut-up stickers are stored in until we need more. The pocket on the front has a few bookmarks & the ruler.

The ruler use to be Jayde's when he was much littler, but I confiscated it from a "get rid of" pile because it fit perfectly in my pencil bag & I use it when I'm doing Bible study. Morgan liked the idea of using it for Bible study so now he'll snag it too, & often forget to return it. Jayden use to snitch it to draw his L's with until I told him I was not waiting 5 minutes for him to write an L with a perfect right angle on the thing.

The whole thing can zip close & gets stored in a box that sits atop our book shelf, all though during the day it's most often on the table so people can quickly snatch up stickers to mark off their planners as they work through their day.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Lego Club: July 2014

This year the boys are part of an invitation only Lego Club. It was actually their own idea, but took a little help getting up & running. Basically, they wanted to start a Lego Club & invite a few friends over to build things with them.

While I had no qualms with the idea I suggested we brainstorm ideas on how it would all work out & from there we pulled together a few ideas.

We ended up with once a month meetings, we simply picked a neutral type date {i.e. 1st Monday of every month}, a theme for each meeting which would be disclosed upon arrival, & a challenge of what to build. My kids were pretty giddy about it & were open for inviting everyone they knew over, but I suggested a limitation, at least for a while, on how many people were invited to join us. The idea wasn't to be selective, but to keep things calm as we all found our feet. We've been meeting for a few months now & while not all invited have come at the same time yet, each meeting has been a hit for those who've joined us.

While I haven't taken photos of each meeting I did remember to snap quite a few at our latest meeting, & I thought I'd share how simple we keep things. First off all our lego is now housed in our giant rumpus room which is on the second story of our home. In fact it's the only thing on the second story of our home. Pretty much all the lego that is not built in some fashion or another is inside those big drawers on the bottom of the table. There are shelves on the side which hold various containers of other things & built projects on the other side of the room you can't see.  Children are welcome to build wherever suits them, & most choose to build directly on the white table as it's closest to the drawers. The basket in the middle of the purple table holds bases. Lego Bases are pretty expensive here where we live, so rather then shell out a few hundred dollars upfront I spent $40 on a few of the larger square bases. I went with a couple of grey, blue, & green. I then pulled out one of my boys smaller square bases & used that as a guide to cut the bigger pieces into smaller ones. It was pretty quick work with "the knife of exact zero" & a cutting board.

I pretty much kick my kids out of the rumpus room after they help tidy it up the day prior to our meeting. Then I take over decorating & setting up. Why do I kick my kids out? Here's the thing, the idea is for it to be a fun challenge, but my boys would be so eager to delve in they'd start planning all about what they'd build. I haven't got an issue with that, & there are no winners or losers in our challenge, but I like it to be just as much as surprise for my kids as it is for the other children.  The lego table is decorated with some of our Lego Books as well as books about the theme we'll be taking on that particular month. Really they are just for inspiration, we don't read them aloud or anything. Those who finish building can also peruse through them or those who choose not to build can do the same thing.

I tend to flag a lot of lego pictures on Pinterest. My eldest can look at a picture & whip something up in a matter of minutes. His latest goal is learning to make round items from square objects & he opted to google for some help options. It's a slow process, he's learning, but he's really happy with how it's going. As for our club.. I printed out a variety of pictures of winter things for our last meeting. Some included pieces & instructions, some did not. I had a total of 9 pictures hanging up this time I think.

This easel greeted the kids at the top of the stairs & helped block off the office from the rest of the play area. It was just a few ideas of things we, here in Australia, might see in the winter time. Just in case people needed a little extra inspiration. Lots of these ideas were worked into various builds this month! That's pretty much it, then the kids are off & running which can last anywhere from 40-60 minutes. 

Anyone who wishes can put their piece{s} up for display on our table for others to look at. I, personally, love looking at the various lego builds. I'm always astounded by how each person can give a lot of detail in a small amount of time & space. None of our boards were white, children covered them with white lego to represent snow. 

These penguins were a fun & easy build. We had patterns on the wall for 2 different types of penguins, & this was the easier of the two. We had a few in different colours testing out which looked more realistic with the mouth & foot colour, but in the end this was what made it to the table for display.

Jayde made antartica, everyone thought the little white circle at the top was a satellite, but apparently it was an umbrella, thus the blue piece on top was rain! Funniest thing about his build was that I totally forgot we have a beautiful beautiful book about Antarctica I could have put out, but forgot about!

His scientist got stuck in a snow pile. I thought it was a very clever way to show what had happened!

One of their friends built this park scene. I love the way the sidewalk was cleared for the business man, who cleverly remembered his hat!!, to walk down. Did you notice the snow build up in the trees? 

See the tilt to the back of the park bench? This was awed over for days about how clever it was to remember that park benches aren't always made at right angles! 

Our youngest bildet made this fun snowmobile, & then I picked it up to check it out & the front fell off. Oh my goodness, I'm so glad I had a clever builder near by who could help put it back together for me!! We've been impressed with our youngest builder's constant use of wheels! I have a few challenges ahead I'm really curious to see how wheels will be worked in, all though we never require that anyone has to build on theme!

Morgan made this Winter Clothes Shop. There is so much intricate detail in it we all kept finding new things! Seriously, I think this child could build anything out of lego. This is an overhead view of most of the shop. but the two characters on this side are having a snowball fight, see how the lady was splatted in the face with one?

At the back of the shop a happy customer was building a snowman, see her rolling the next portion?

This happy fellow drinking his lovely warm drink threw us all a little. We thought he was, perhaps, wearing muddy boots, but they are, apparently, ice skates.

Shop entrance, I'm surprised that fellow wasn't shouted at to hurry up & close the door before all the cold air got in!

Front window display. Check out those snowpants! Can you also see the front counter there too? That's the screen to the cash register. You can make out the side window towards the right which had tops for sale on it.  Can you see a pile of snow there in front of the window?

We've got some pretty clever builders attending our meetings, haven't we?