Wednesday, August 31, 2016

2016 Week In Review: Weeks 23-30

I've fallen behind with our Weeks in Review this term as things have just been so crazy. Rather then break down the past 8 weeks individually I thought I'd give a recap of what we've been up to over the past 8 weeks for school:

We wrapped up our poetry book, devotional, & several more read alouds. We enjoyed the poetry book, but I won't say we loved it like we have others. I think our favourite is still the book we used in 2015. The boys & I read I Am David a couple of weeks ago. While it was a book I'd set aside for Morgan to read with his history I knew Jayden would really enjoy the book as well so opted to pull it out & do together. The book has a long standing history with the men in the family & I didn't want either of the boys to miss out.

We also read Operation Yes! together which is a fun listen. It too was part of Morgan's list of books to attend to, but again I knew my younger would also appreciate it. I really love the story in Operation Yes! as it shows how military families {especially children} juggle the emotions of their parents being deployed or the constant moving around that adds up to a bit of instability for them.

We've moved through Acts, Romans, I & II Corinthians, Ephesians, & Colossians in our Bible readings. We haven't read each of these books in full as our schedule has us just gleaming a few chapters here & there. I had a chuckle one day when I turned on the audio version of Ephesians & after a few verses one of the boys pointed out that was the same chapter we'd read the previous day.

We've yet to settle on a new devotional. Most of what we have on the shelf is geared for years gone by, & come November we'll start our annual Jesse Tree devotionals. We may pull a simple devotional off the shelf & run with that for a while, or we may just continue forward with Bible readings for the month of September.

Morgan wrapped up all of Bookshark History 7 & was completely smitten with every aspect of it. He ended up working on the core independently balancing his own scheduled for readers & read alouds as he took over doing all of it himself. He's been raving about how much he's loved it for weeks now.

Both boys have worked on their science, all though Morgan stuck with his schedule where as Jayden tended to limp along. Morgan wrapped up Physical Science for now & will move into his new science book in Term 4. I know some will wonder how on earth he finished the book early, so I want to clarify that he did not complete every lesson. There are reason we are moving him into the new curriculum before that has happened & we'll share about that in another post.

Lots & lots of reading. Jayden wrapped up 2 more readers that he was given, all though claiming he didn't like them. He's a hard cookie at times, but finally stated that while there was nothing wrong with the story he found the books a bit below him. Ahh, the trouble of helping one's brain heal while keeping reading skills fresh. I disgusted him with yet another simplistic book to finish off the term with & need to look for more grade appropriate books for him for Term 4.

Morgan's enjoyed carving his own path with his stash of assigned readers this year & has wrapped up another book from his stack, Mr Lemonchello's Library which felt a long time coming. As his academic work grew in length & depth he found he had less time to dig in deep with some of these readers, & his pace slowed. While he enjoyed this book, I'm guessing he didn't enjoy it as much as his last two which he opted to read at all times of the day, where as he's had his nose in other books outside of school lately.

Morgan's hockey season wrapped up at the start of August with a show-down between his team & the other team that was at the top of the ladder. Keep in mind they only had 3 full teams this year due to low turnouts so the third team was divided amongst Red & Green so they could join in the fray as well. Excuse the blurry photo it's kinda hard to catch this kid in action as he's generally in the thick of things. He's the one in the red hunched up against the young man dressed in black. They were in a fantastic lock/tackle for the ball.

He's been completely smitten by hockey & spent the weeks of the olympics carefully scheduling his school around hockey games. He was desperate to watch the Kookaburra's game that was airing at midnight, & I stayed up to watch it with him. We were sooo tired & it was such a heart wrenching loss to witness, but hey what a memory we'll have for it, right? Unfortunately both the HockeyRoos & the Kookaburra's were knocked out of the Olympic finals for medals, & we had to really chase down times to catch any of the other hockey matches.

We met up with friends to participate in another fun art project. This time we heard about Pop Art & Andy Warhol. The kids were pretty shocked to learn how much the 7 Elvis painting sold for, & when Jayden finished his own project & realised he hadn't signed the front of it decided he'd be lucky to get a measly penny for his art work. Ahh, that boy! We're waiting on the library to bring in a book on Warhol & then we'll try our hands, at home, on another couple of projects based on his style of art.

Both boys finished off their writing books, their previous spelling books, & are ever so nearly done with math books. Slowly but surely they are working their way towards the finish line. Next term we were set to do a few different things, but have decided to go ahead & slide into some of the new curriculum rather then wait until next year. I'll have to share about those choices in another post.

Jayden pulled out his mega cool robot & was working with that for a bit too. He still needs to focus on programming it to do a few things, but he couldn't stop laughing each time he asked if it could dance & it would attempt this funny little jig. His bird isn't too fussed about it either & has been caught perched on the bot's hand a few times. Cracks me up each time I see it.

Despite our scare with Nana earlier in the term she's doing fantastically well & we surprised her with dinner, flowers, chocolates, & a chocolate pie for her 82nd birthday. It's very very difficult to make a GREAT cake that fits all the allergen criteria in our home. We've nearly mastered a beautiful buckwheat cake, but as it can be fickle I went for the pie method instead which is safe for all of us. Our theory was that on your 82nd birthday you've likely all ready celebrated with 81 cakes. Funniest part was she'd all ready had 2 cakes that day from friends & groups she meets with regularly.

It's been a crazy crazy term for us, much more crazy then the other 2 this year, but it wasn't a bad term. Morgan kept himself on track the entire way & finished ahead of schedule which was really impressive to watch. He holds himself to some pretty high standards & goals, had a few setbacks, but in the end stuck it out. Jayden's term was slightly more lax then I'd normally care to see but he did faithfully attend to his reading, math, & language arts daily, with a fare dose of science thrown in there.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Simple Cherry Ice Cream

We missed out on cherry season last summer. It was a very narrow window due to unusually weather. We had a crazy wild spring, followed by a hot dry summer & it was just kinda sad that we didn't get to enjoy as many cherries as we'd normally enjoy over the summer months.

Cherry fever hit our house, after the short summer supply, a month or so ago & our local shop had some frozen ones on special so I picked them up. The boys wanted to make banana splits complete with "cherries on top" & all that hoopla. I wasn't opposed, but in all fairness, banana splits are crazy here because we have to make every aspect, except the banana, from scratch.

One afternoon the youngest was wishing we had ice cream & while we didn't I told him I had an idea. We chucked our bag of cherries in the blender with some chilled coconut cream we had in the fridge & he was chuffed with the ice cream treat.

We've made it a few times since then, thanks to half price cherry sales, & it's a huge hit each time. The batch above was a little less thick as we dunked in a little too much coconut cream when mixing it up. Here's our pretty basic recipe:

Cherry "Ice Cream"

500g cherries
coconut cream

We throw the cherries in, then the cream, I'd start with about 1/4 cup & work up as needed. You don't want to burn out your blender. We have one of those nifty fancy pants blenders so it's pretty tough & has a tamper tool making it super easy to whirl all sorts of creations together with little effort.  We haven't tried freezing it after making it up because it doesn't last that long.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

What's On The BookShelf: July & August

 In July I crash listened to all of 7 of the Harry Potter books via Audible. Yep, all 7. After a few rough weeks of craziness & some rough patches I was looking for a book to read to invest myself in & when I was sorting through my stack I opted for the HP Series.

It was nice to absorb myself in books where good always wins, the right choices are always made no matter how hard they are, & where friends stick with one another to the very end. Yes, I've read the book a few dozen times {to put it lightly}, but sometimes rereading a good book is like visiting with old friends.

Book 5 is always the hardest, the turning point. Professor Umbridge is so decidedly evil for all the typical reasons: self glorification, hatred, bigotry.  I've always hated & loved that book. Not to mention the loss of Sirus always deeply annoyed & saddened me.  All though each time I reread the loss of Dumbledore & then Fred it's caused me to state my complete distaste for Rowling. Ahh, I'm a nerd what can I say. I think my family caught on to just how nerdy I am when they announced they were going to bed & I shouted, "What?! Now?! The Battle of Hogwarts has just begun I cannot go to bed now!"

As always listening to Jim Dale read any book is pure delight, & these books were fun to listen to again, despite being sad & heart wrenching in places.  I did not, however, rush out to buy The Cursed Child after finishing the origional series, & am not entirely sure I'm interested in reading it. My #1 beef with Shakespeare has always been that I hate reading out play scripts. They leave much to be desired because of the lack of description, & knowing that's exactly how The Cursed Child will be formatted makes me groan, not to mention the amount of spoilers I've all ready read about the story.

In August I dug this book off the shelf & began rereading portions of it, skimming through others, & delving into portions I felt I really needed to refresh myself on.

My youngest found the entire idea that I was reading this book absurd because I am all ready homeschooling 2 teenagers so why bother? Ahh, if only..

I actually pulled this book off the shelf to refresh myself on various ways to accomplish things in grades 9-12 in the USA. Yes, we live in Australia, but having children who are citizens in both countries we'd like to be sure we've covered all the ground work.

There are also rumors afoot that we could land back in the states before our children have completed their high school years & so it's equally important, if not more so, to be sure we're covering the ground we need to cover now so that the kids don't need to backtrack down the line.

Over all the book gives some great tips & ideas, but there are some aspects of it that are so-so. For instance, the author states that she doesn't advice what she's about to suggest that you do. Which makes one shake their head & ask exactly why she's suggesting it then. While I'm not intent to hold my child back if he wishes to aim for dual credit I think there is a lot to be said for rushing children through some things instead of enjoying where they are at. Not to mention the mass of immature children who are not ready for various aspects of life that have been thrown at them.

I've also been plaguing many friends on US soil for help & tips & running various information by them to make sure we're on the right track. It's funny to be 10 years into homeschooling & suddenly feel like a fish out of water. Having said that after much research, asking, praying, & help we finally feel like we have direction & our eldest has even formulate a 4 year plan with the idea that some things are mandatory & others are ones he can pick & choose from.  Exciting times for sure!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

More Pre-Reading

As we gear up to move into our 4th & final term of the year I'm in need of pre-reading a whole new stack of books! This is always exciting & daunting at times. Morgan is moving into Sonlight's Core 100 & so I scrounged the shelves to see which books we had on hand while I awaited our new curriculum's arrival in the mail.

We seem to have an odd variety of them around & some I'm familiar with, but it's been ages since I've read them so I'm keen to refresh myself. Others, I can't remember reading so there's no time like the present!  Here's my opinion on the 4 pictures above:

Stink Alley: This story takes place in Holland when the Pilgrims, or Separatists, had opted to flee King James I religious oppression. The story is mainly about one little girl, Elizabeth, who is trying to find her way, both in life & religiously. Her own parents, & step mother, have all died from various afflictions & she's now on her own living with William Brewster's Family. The author shows the contrast between those who called themselves Separatists & the Dutch people they were living amongst. I enjoyed the story that was portrayed & the struggles that young Elizabeth learned to cope with & many of the conclusions she came to. Don't miss the Afterward of this book! I'm really looking forward to my boy reading this & seeing how much he remembers from our earlier studies of this time period from the English perspective to see how he applies that knowledge to this particular story.

A Long Way From Chicago: This story takes place over a varied amount of years from the 1930's through the 1940's, each chapter dealing with a new year & a new visit to Grandma. In fact, each chapter is sort of like a whole new story, all though there's mention of previous antics from the former years. This was a fun read to watch Grandma get up to so many funny little antics & to watch how her grandchildren changed because of them, but also how they coped at times. This is one in a trio of books, & I really need to obtain the other 2 in the series, but I'm waiting to see which, if any, are included in our curriculum when it arrives.

Dear Mr Henshaw: I have to say I was pretty dissapointed in this book & plan to drop it from our upcoming list of books. There are far too many wonderful stories to waste time on this one. I'm not opposed to my children reading it by any means, but rather it's not one I'd require of them. The story is many letters written by one young boy to his favourite author. Said author suggests the young boy start a journal as he can't answer all the letters the little boy writes. Thus, a good portion of the book is also the journal Leigh writes. Over all there is nothing wrong with the story, but it is incredibly sad. Leigh is dealing with the separation of his parents & the fact that his Dad took the dog so his Mom got him. He deals with resentment & anger over what has happened & learning to cope. He admits at times that he's furious with his mother even though he knows it's not her fault & throughout the book comes to conclude that he cannot count on his dad, or even trust him because he doesn't keep his word. I think that this is a hard story to swallow, not because I don't think it could happen, but rather because there is no happy ending, no resolve, & no closure.

Call Of The Wild: I made a huge mistake when I started reading this book, yep I kept thinking the whole time of White Fang & thus I was so confused by why the story wasn't unfolding as I remembered. I have always gotten the two titles mixed up & once I sorted myself out it made reading this more enjoyable, or as enjoyable as it could be. The vocabulary is, as with most London books, beautiful & he holds no bars on his descriptions of times gone by, but there's a large amount of unexpected gory descriptions in the book. From the first beating of Buck to the final ending with the Yeehat Indians. It's certainly not for the faint of heart, & it's really hard to say if the ending is happy. While Buck may finally understand the calling of the wild, his life is never easy. I'm not entirely sure that my boy will enjoy this book, but we'll see.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Looking Ahead

Things have been rather quiet around here on the blog. Life has this way of taking us in directions we didn't imagine & then dropping us off at random intervals. None of it's surprising to our Creator, but it sure can be surprising to us, can't it? Such is the way of things around our home lately..

Our youngest is still dealing with days riddled with anxiety, all though they are much brighter days then they were at the start of this journey. He's better equipped to handle the moments when things weigh him down, most of the time. We're learning, alongside him, to look for his triggers, to notice when things aren't quite ride & offer what we can to him.

He's faced many of the fears that were holding him back, & some he's weathered bravely & others he's needed to retreat from. We know he'll make it, but the journey can be rough at times. Add that to teenage hormones & some days are a real struggle, but we'll get there.

He's still not content with school, & we've made some big changes for him in the year ahead. In fact his new curriculum arrived yesterday much to his chagrin. He was hoping it wouldn't arrive before 2025. Once the box was opened he changed his mind a little bit, & I really think once we dig into it he'll find his groove & I hope a bit of his joy in learning again. Time will tell.

The eldest is still steadfastly working away at his pile of school for the year. He'll wrap up his history early, which excites him to have the time to focus on the literature he'll have left to deal with as well as many electives as he hones his ideas on what he'd like to do with himself for the future as we attempt to help him map out his 4 Year Plan for the future.

This has led to some interesting discussions about jobs he could pursue in fields of interest. We've even discovered many jobs that could combine many passions he has. Much of the remainder of his year will be dabbling in the various fields that he's interested in to help him choose the direction he'll need to take in the 4 years of high school ahead of him.

Yes, 4 years. We're choosing to stick with the US methods despite our current location. We have a few reasons for this choice, but we aren't quite ready to share all of them yet. What I will share is that at this stage we're also persuing an Umbrella school for Expats for our high schooler so he can walk away with an accredited diploma. Depending on which of these options we choose he'd even have the option of participating in a graduation ceremony if he wanted to travel to the appropriate location.

Our boy is looking towards the arts or history for his focus beyond high school, & I'm excited to see what the Lord has in store for his future. I know whatever he choose to do he'll be incredibly dedicated & passionate about it, regardless of how long & difficult the journey may be. I'm excited & nervous for him as he finished up this chapter & prepared himself for the next.

I've been battling an onslaught of migraines, something I haven't dealt with in a long while. After helping Nana battle through a virus of some sort, countless amounts of chicken soup seemed to help, I managed to pick up a cough & with it came the crazy headache. I'm ready for it to hit the road as it's really hampering my ability to cope with things & it's really messing with my VPD.

While celebrating Nana's 82nd birthday my VPD went a little nutty under the lights in her home. Our home is generally bright during the day & dark in the evening as we don't have many lamps on. It tends to catch guests off guard, but for the VPD sufferers it's easier to deal with natural light then artificial. I ended up asking my eldest for his ball cap, he generally wears one everywhere he goes, but he'd left it in the car. I must have looked a real sight because the poor kid took one look at me & dashed out to the car for the hat. When I say light sets off VPD, I'm not kidding. I popped that hat on which blocked out the lightbulbs & my head settled down & I was able to rescue the carpet from near death when the youngest dropped a lit match on the floor. And thus he, & I, learned a valuable lesson about lighting 82 birthday candles.

Mr S is, as always, crazy busy at work & then comes home to help in any way he can. He's an absolute champ rolling up his sleeves & jumping in with the tasks I'm not able to accomplish while dealing with this migraine. He's become a personal math tutor around here as the eldest embarks on Algebra, in which I'm little help in explaining the why behind the formulas. Mr S has also embraced Crazy Science Lab Teacher who breaks out popsicles & other funny treats while they wait on longer experiments to "do their thing". Oh the memories these kids will walk away with, right?

So here we are. A crazy mess of insanity, but loving every minute of it.. or most of those minutes anyway.