Tuesday, March 28, 2017

When Our Blender Exploded..

 It all started last week, or maybe the week before that. You'd think I’d remember the exact date because it's not every day kids blow up a blender full of smoothie in your kitchen. In fact it's a first for us. 

It was a mess of epic proportions, the stuff legends & movies are made of. I’d just sat down to ice my knees when a child flipped on the blender & I heard the unmistakable sound of a metal spoon in it. We have this crazy high powered blender so a spoon just gets eaten up, but it’s loud & horrid sounding. The child didn’t turn off the blender, so I dropped the ice & started running for the kitchen, & seconds before I skidded across the tea towel laying in the doorway the lid to the blender flew off & the large metal spoon, the one surely no one would miss sitting in the blender, came flying out. 

People ducked, someone shouted, “TURN IT OFF!” & the noise came to an abrupt halt. Everyone surfaced from the places they were hiding, under counters, behind chairs, I picked myself up off the floor & as the mess came into focus my mouth fell open. Then as my eyes roved the kitchen wall I saw the smoothie all over the window, the horrid blind I’ve been meaning to replace for a year now, the cupboards. All the cupboards. Not a single one missed out, including the ones on the opposite side of the room. And as I started to chuckle I slipped on smoothie on the floor & as I went crashing into a cupboard I looked up, who knows why! Perhaps I expected a miraculous hand to reach out & save me, what I saw was a ceiling covered in more smoothie. 
We spent an hour scrubbing & thought we’d gotten it all, but it was a few days later I noticed more smoothie.. on more cupboards. I had a pitiful headache a few days later & wanted to go back to bed. We are on term break after all, but messing up my normal sleep schedule can actually give me pretty intense headaches. I decided on the distraction method.

I went into the kitchen, sighed, grabbed some fancy pants DoTerra cleaner & a few rags to begin the task at hand. I mean, if I have to scrub up week old smoothie at least the kitchen will smell nice afterwards, right? Essential oils are one of the fewest smells in the world that don’t give me migraines. 

So there I sat, sprawled, in a most unladylike manner, across the floor. I was scrubbing the baseboard of the baking pan cupboard. I was dreaming of autumn weather, Tropical Storm Lawrence dissipating, & what on earth I might fix for dinner when the eldest wandered in.

“Do you want any help?”
“I dunno, I mean I’d love help because who knew smoothie could go so far, but you don’t really have to stop what you’re doing to scrub smoothie.”
“Well, I wanted a shower, but I just realised I might have an underpants shortage.”
“That’s peculiar isn’t it?”
“Not really, I forgot to watch my laundry.”
“Oh, if you’re running a load would you wash Dad’s grey t-shirt. He was incredibly forlorn about it not being clean this morning.”
“Forlorn? Really Mom, I doubt that.”
“He was! He looked everywhere for it, apparently he owns more than one grey shirt & I thought it was clean. He said wearing a Party Mad t-shirt to work was inappropriate.”
“He has a point.”
“I guess.”

He ran off to start laundry, including the infamous shirt. I really wasn’t sure I’d see him again until I was done. But the youngest was sleeping, soundly. In the middle of the living room floor. He looked so peaceful we left him alone, but it also meant the eldest was feeling a little lopsided. Funny how that happens.

So he wandered back into the kitchen, “I guess I could help. I don’t really mind.”
“Whatever you want to do. I have to move, my knee might be locked up now.”
“Maybe you should ice it some more.”
“I can’t, if I look at one more curriculum catalog my poor head might explode.”
“I’ve been thinking about that..”

We’ve all been thinking about curriculum Our eldest’s final years in our homeschool can be counted on one hand. I don’t even need all those fingers to count them actually. It’s this mixture of excitement & pity. It’s kinda scary realising the one thing you’ve done for the past 11 and a half years is nearly at a close. Anyway, it’s the time of year when we’re looking ahead to what we’ll use next year.

I thought we had it all sorted out with the changes the youngest was making, the choices the older had made. Now we were just waiting on the date circled 6 times in bright neon yellow on the calendar to arrive so we could place our orders. Those words, “I’ve been thinking..” cause my knees to go weak, which isn’t saying much because my knees are weak enough that I have to constantly wear tape on them anyway.

“What have you been thinking?”
“Well, I’ve really loved all the books I’ve been reading for school.”
“You have read a lot, 42 or some such oddness at last count.”
“Yeah, anyway the one thing I really hate in a book is when there’s cursing. It just makes me so angry. I dunno, has the author forgotten how to use a thesaurus of something?”

It’s a hard world we live in when words that were once taboo & crass are now second nature. A few days prior to this conversation I’d been left alone in the lounge room of an evening, I flipped to a sitcom that was entirely new to me, which is pretty much everything on tv because we really only watch sport on our tv. I was shocked by the common place language on a network channel. My son has struggled with groups of teens who fall back on crass language often, but he takes to heart the words of the Psalmist who said, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock, my redeemer.” 

My son often weighs his actions against his interpretation of the Bible & when he’s unsure he comes to ask. This statement, therefore, didn’t really surprise me, but it did give me pause to think.

“You know, we always skip a book or two with the programme because I find that there is always one or two that I find in appropriate for our home.”

Which in fairness is saying something, because I don’t police books. I find that my children are very good judges of character, but I do prefer to lead by example.

“We skipped
Betsy & The Emperor because I felt the author made Napoleon out to act like a child predator. Not to mention Betsy was incredibly fool hardy. Which is kinda true about her. Did you know her family returned to England in disgrace for some of what happened with Napoleon & they were banished to Australia.”


“Yes. There’s a book in our library about it..”

And so the conversation went, round & round about books we’d read & loved. Books we’d skipped due to some reason that made perfect sense to him now, but wouldn’t have when he was younger. To a questionable book that has been added into the curriculum, to a rather questionable one scheduled in this years curriculum. Which brought us full circle.

“I dunno, you’re going to find that if you stick with the curriculum you are using you may find a progression of books that are like that.”

“No, don’t say that! They can’t all be like that.”

“They won’t be, but some will.”

We were quite a while, I was on the other side of the kitchen now, wondering if the red muck I was scrubbing up was strawberry jam, ketchup, or blood. I was leaning towards the jam but in this house anything is possible.

“So maybe I could do a mix. You could pick out the best books that I will love, & we’ll mix those with the other curriculum. I kinda like that idea, I really loved the look of that Bible study.”

“I could do that, I mean we haven’t ordered anything yet.”

“Nothing? wait, I thought you ordered my math book? I hope you ordered my math book, I really really need to get started on that.”

“Yes, I ordered the math book, I meant I hadn’t ordered anything else.”

“Mom, are you just laying on the floor or are you actually doing something?”

“I need water. You should go wake your brother up.”

It wasn’t until after he left the room I realised he’d never actually helped with any of the cupboards. Not that I mind, I enjoyed listening to his thought process.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

That Time Of Year

It seems like each school year we make a few changes somewhere along the line. This year as we wrap up our second term & look ahead at purchasing curriculum for the new year we’ve discovered a few changes we’ll be making.

The majority of things will stay the same, but Jayden will be easing into the Hearts Of Dakota Resurrection to Reformation. He’s not really thriving with our current curriculum choice & I’d like to see him do more then survive. This boy thrives on non-fiction books, fact filled fun reads. He finds it delightful to curl up with the encyclopedia & spend ages reading away in it.

As I was looking ahead to the new year & the various other curriculums available I found myself on the HOD website & wouldn’t you know that was the same day our catalog arrived. Jayden & I sat down & compared the two curriculums he could choose from to use in the new year. He admitted that he doesn’t enjoy Sonlight or Bookshark because of all the fictional stories {which the rest of us love}, but he was scared of a change for fear of finding himself in something else he didn’t like.

I really appreciated his honestly & the mature side he showed in this situation. He took 24 hours to think it over & I spent that time reading up on the curriculum & praying about the choice ahead to be made. And just like that, the decision was made to switch.

There’s a small bit of an overlap between where he is & the programme he’d move into, so rather then stress about that we’ll pick the programme that picks up where he currently left off & begin it when it arrives. Rather than stress over finishing it between then & the end of our year, we’ll just take our time with it.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Middle Ages

We’re gearing up to start Middle Ages in the new term, & as I was sorting through resources I thought I’d share some of our favourites here. We’ve used many over the years at varying levels, but this is likely our last trance through this time period & so this trip through the choices are based on the resources I know will best appeal to this particular child.

My goal is to limit this time period to the 9-10 weeks scheduled with our Sonlight Curriculum, so we can meld it right into Renaissance in our final term of the year. However, we’ll be adding in bits & bobs to help aide us along.

I have a couple of new resources to use this go around as well, which I’m pretty excited about! We also have a few fun things which I hope will be right up my World Traveler’s alley so I’m excited to move into this new time period. Not to mention, I find the Middle Ages far more enjoyable than Ancients.

Below is the list of everything we’ll be planning to use this trip through:

We will not be reading this entire book in 10 weeks! We’ll read about half, maybe a little more, depending on the schedule in our curriculum. We’ll roughly be aiming to get through Chapter 25 in either case.

Again, our goal wont’ be to get through all of this, but we will be aiming for roughly half. Last time through we only used MOH2 through the period of the New Church, but our last time through we had a great amount of other things going too. This time our aim is to follow it through, we’ll see what happens. We'll be using the MP3 Audio version.

We own a fair amount of books in this series & used most of them on our last trip through world history. The current world study traveler isn’t as much into all the hands on projects the last one did, so while this has been pulled out I’m not sure if we’ll use it in full. There are a few topics in the book we may read about if they aren’t covered in any of our other selections.

This series has been well loved by everyone in the house, & I was really excited to pull the Middle Ages title off the shelf again. This may cover a few of the topics from the above book that I want to be sure our world traveler grasps as these books are really incredibly thorough, but if not we have the other book to fall back on.

We picked this up on our last trip through Middle Ages when one of the boys had a huge fascination with knights. They perused the book thoroughly, but I’m not sure how much of that was for the photo eye candy or the actual content. Either way I pulled it back off the shelf & added it to my pile. It discusses the many levels of training a knight went through & the life they lived there after.

You can’t study Middle Ages & not enjoy a book about a castle, right? We picked this one up a while back thinking it was scheduled last time through, only to discover it wasn’t. We’ll enjoy it all the same as we watch the planning & building of a castle come to life in this book.

This title is probably just a pinch behind time wise, but it’s such a great read that we can’t leave it off. It tells the story of Stephen’s stoning & those who were brought to Christ through Stephen prior to that moment. While we know the ending of Stephen’s story, it’s still a beautiful book to bring to life & remind us of the struggles those who first called themselves Christians endured.

This book starts out a little rough around the edges with an incredibly abusive grandfather who is the legal guardian the young protagonist in the story. But once you move past that small portion of the first chapter it’s all adventure & intrigue something that I think my world traveler will eat up.

Last trip through this time period we read Adam Of The Road & found it to be one of the most boring books we’d encountered. Don’t hate us if you love the book, but honestly it was a little happily ever after for it’s time period. I was delighted to have this book on the shelf to pull off & show another side of the traveling minstrel. The Puppeteer’s Apprentice is much more full of action & shows the good & bad side of life on the road during the Middle Ages. Beware, there’s a tear jerker ending though!

This is a new title to us, but we’ve heard many wonderful things about the book & have decided to give it a go. I was debating having my world traveler do this one solo as it can be picked up in audio fashion from Audible, but as it’s not one I’ve read yet I’d like to read it with him, so we’ll see what transpires there.

We own this book both in paperback form & audio form so we may listen to this one vs reading it as our schedule will be pretty full with all the lovely books we have & I really don’t want to rush through our various books & plans.

I picked this book up just a few days ago while I was out & about. I spotted it it on a clearance table at a local toy shop. The book discusses the various types of catapults that were used during this time frame & then has supplies for reader to build one as well as a few cardboard castles to use as your targets. It’s right up my current World Traveler’s alley! 

My dad sent the boys one or two of these books many years ago & it has inspired many fun crafting sessions as they’ve invented varying weapons from time to time. I thought I’d challenge my  boy to make a “weapon” or two per week from the book. A quick note about this book: The projects within can be built from general supplies around the house, but most should be done with parent supervision.

We own many of the Drive Thru DVDs & had a great time watching them through Ancients, so I pulled our next set off the shelf for the next time period. I noticed our DVDs are still sealed, which is peculiar, because I was certain we had previously watched them. Perhaps we watched them off the tv instead!?

I was actually scanning our movie shelf for Robin Hood, but couldn’t find a single copy which baffeled me as I’m certain we own the old Disney cartoon version. Ahh well, I stumbled upon this one which I pulled off to watch at some point. We’ll likely scan Netflix, YouTube, & iTunes for other titles as we immerse ourselves in the time period.

In fairness we own a few games that would be classified as Middle Ages, but I stumbled upon Cathedral while in that afore-mentioned toy shop this week. It was on special for a really great price {for our area} & I snatched it up. I can’t comment on how exciting or not it is as we haven’t dug in to play it yet, but my World Traveler is already intrigued by it because the pieces are beautifully carved wooden castles. Can’t wait to give it a go!  {Aussie readers, you can also find it here, but I promise I didn't pay even close to that price. Check your local ToyWorld.}

We own several different versions of this came, all loads of fun to play! Any excuse to indulge in a round is a good one, right? The funny part is I'm not sure we own the origional as it was out of stock the day we picked up our very first copy which was playable without the origional version. We've been trying for ages to obtain the origional. Ahh, but that's okay we have the winter edition which is just as fun & fits the Middle Ages theme, some of our other versions are better suited to other periods of history.

Also not pictures, but a fun card game. We kept in the car for a while to pull out at picnics & other outings where we'd be for a while. I'm not sure my current World Traveler has played this one, as he was considerably younger when we obtained it & may have needed a buddy each time. It's funny how games where they needed a buddy became new all over again when they are able to play it on their own.

We have a few different version of Chess around too. The ultimate favourite that often comes out is the first version we ever purchased the kids, a funny little Sesame Street version. My boys may be teens these days, but this one still gets pulled out to be used. We've had to glue a few of them back together over time, but it's still holding up.

We picked up this nifty lego set a few years back on a deep deep discount at our local lego shop. Some of it is still put together, some isn't, so I may challenge my World Traveler to put it back together while he listens to some of the lovely books ahead.