Sunday, May 14, 2017

Week In Review: Week 24

The halfway point of our term snuck past us this week. We had absolutely no idea that's where we were until I sat down on Saturday to look over the calendar, update attendance & all that jazz.

Wow, the term has flown by, hasn't it! We were worried about having to make up some time/work with that week of allergy induced sickness the kids had, but thus far they've worked really hard to make-up for that time.

Autumn has officially rolled in, all though a few days this week Winter was knocking on the doors. I'm not quite ready for the cloudy days of winter, but I do so enjoy the crisper autumn ones!

Morgan & I wrapped up Bonanza Girl on Thursday. We hit those last 2 chapters & couldn't put it down. Funny to the end, all though there were some doubts about the ending. There's a lovely author's note at the end of the book that you really mustn't miss if you read the story. Our copy is now mangled because Archimedes decided to go "read" the author's note himself. *sigh*

We did not finish Evidence For Jesus but we did read several more chapters. It's interesting to look at this book from the perspective of a believer & a non-believer that's for sure.

We dug back into our Fix-It Grammar this week. I'm not sure what on earth took us so long to dig it out this term. I think learning the ropes of a new curriculum played a small part in that, but it's all good! We really love our Fix-It, quick, simple, & to the point.

We also finished off our beloved read aloud: The Railway Children. We got to the final 2 chapters of this one & lost ourselves for a while as we finished it off. There was a collective sigh in the room when it ended & then some bemoaning that the author had not shared the excitement over all that had likely unfolded. There's a lovely biography of the author at the end of our copy which was an interesting read too. Now to find a new read aloud, one child requested, "..something less old-fashioned!" And when I said, "What a shame, I was considering Robin Hood next." He changed his mind a bit when he heard that, but in fairness we still haven't selected a new read aloud!

It was chilly enough that this funny roo joined us for math lessons one day. He said he was very very cold, but then proceeded to eat a Bio-Stick {frozen juice pop} which made the rest of us chuckle a bit. Said Roo is making lovely progress in math, & flew through this weeks lesson. I do love how Mr Demme offers a hard lesson, often followed by a slightly easier one at times.

Morgan tackled his own math in the sunny kitchen under the Dakin. Smart boy on such a chilly day {don't be fooled by the beautiful light in the photo!} No, he's not googling math answers, he uses a calculator for some of his math work these days. It took us forever to convince him it was not cheating to use a calculator!

Our sweet boy wrote out Phillipians 1:1 this week & when I looked at his paper I was a little distressed by what I saw. I pulled out his grey overlay {generally only used while waiting on his tints to come in} & put it over the paper. He'd had no idea how poorly his handwriting had been until that moment. So, I printed a bunch of my homemade HWOT Style papers & cut them to fit in his little notebook. We need to make an office supply shop run to get heavier duty paper to fill his book with & remove all the white papers.  I'll have to share a handwriting comparison in another post. Either way he was writing a quote from his devotional in the above photo, but also copied out Phillipians 1:1-2 during the week.

Morgan tackled more of Module 11 in his Physical Science book. Archimedes flew over to "help" after getting told off for trying to drink my smoothie. Seriously, that bird is a character & a half. Morgan was actually listening to a lecture & taking notes, which greatly irritated Archimedes who tried to steal his pencil. As for the child doing school, his science notes have come such a long way, they were awesome to look over. He'll wrap up that module in the new week.

We are enjoying our final poet of the year in our poetry book: Walt Whitman. The artwork on all the pages with his poems are really beautiful. We had a lovely chat about how, as a poet, his work didn't sell as well as he'd hoped which brought up the topic that many poets & authors we consider amazing today were not considered amazing in their time. Some of them were considered to be quite the cracked-pots actually. 

Jayde enjoyed more picture study with his lovely book. The picture this week wasn't one we both enjoyed as it portrayed Jesus in a bit of cloth that was falling off & a bit.. revealing. It was however interesting to try & decide which disciple was which. We read another Emily Dickinson poem this week as well, one of my favourites, the "Nobody" poem. Jayde was quick to guess the meaning behind the poem as we read a bit of a biography about Emily earlier this year in which we learned of her extreme shyness & how people often tried to get a peek at her because she was considered to be such an oddity.

He also tackled the rest of his art project from last week. The idea was to make a piece that looks like stained glass. Apparently Jayde doesn't remember the beautiful stained glass we saw in Stanley last year. On our historical tour one of the stops was a local church. You could only get in with a key & the location to obtain said key was closed for the day, but we were still able to check out the beautiful historical stained glass features from the exterior. He decided to google a window similar to what he was suppose to be making for ideas on how to lay out his "glass" lines. His end piece is beautiful & while driving around on errand day he spotted a lovely stained glass window & then noticed the Nana's neighbour had hung something in her window to make it look like a stained glass window as well.

We started several new books in HOD this week & they were each lovely in their own way. Jayde loved this one, which is no surprise as it was a non-fiction. However, I think he loved the snippets of facts he was learning about a particular person this week & I suspect this reminded him very much of Our Island Story which he absolutely loved, in fact he loved it so much he leant it to Nana & told her she really needed to read it so she could brush up on her British History. She delighted in the idea as, "it's been many years since I was a school child."

This is another HOD selection & wow, aren't the illustrations in this book amazing! We read about the same Goth in this book as we did in the previous. He was also to base his longer historical narration on the reading in this book. I found it really interesting which portions of the reading he could easily remember vs which ones he needed a little help with.  

We started A Midsummer Nights Dream in Shakespeare this week. It will be interesting to see if he struggles to keep the characters straight in this one as there's many loops to this particular story, aren't there? He's far far to young to remember, but many years ago when we were state side we saw this very play done for free in a local park. It was a lovely event put on at a very low cost, but what fun we had!

He's still working through Jed Smith, but we pulled out our DITHOR lessons to tackle this week. I wanted to give him a good head start on the story so he could pull from it to apply the character based lessons, & it worked as he found some of the lessons much easier this week. He struggled with the one about discussing times you've shown specific character traits. He seems to feel he lacks them, so I took the paper away & filled it in, loudly, pointing out each time during the week when he showed the character traits we were discussing.

Jayden & I  began a new read aloud together this week as well. This is a new story to us, so there was much curiosity as we sat down to read. I was delighted to get to use an Irish accent which I can do far easier than the British accent. One of the main characters is a Viking, so there were absolutely no complaints about this title. 

This weeks art project was suppose to be tea dying a bit of paper & then writing first in Greek & then English a verse from the book of John. Due to the previous art project still being in progress we cheated & simply wrote the verse where we were suppose to glue our "parchment". I thought we had some parchment around from a previous craft, but we didn't & our boy was just as delighted to do it this way. He was very smitten by the idea of writing in Greek & decided he'd like to learn Greek. So much so he got himself all set up with DuoLingo & has been working daily on it. 

His lovely notebooking pages for the week. His postcard was address to Mr X this week. I would not put it past this child to use every letter in the alphabet at some point, he's a hoot. He was also delighted with this weeks research topic, Constantinople, because he knew many of the answers to questions he was suppose to research & was delighted to look them up & see if he was right. 

I loved this detailed drawing in one of his timeline boxes this week. He spent a long tie on making those boats "just right" & then was stressed about drawing the people so I suggested he go with stick figures. 

Morgan tackled his French this week as well as his own history programme. We didn't see much of him during those times, but I looked up one day to find him plunked at the desk across from us. I had to do a double take because he was sitting much like my father use to sit. He also tackled a few art projects of his own this week, one of which had me banned from the craft area because it was a Mother's Day card.

Morgan also had hockey this week. I couldn't get a photo of him without other children & coaches so no actual photo to post. He had a lovely time scoring 3 of the 4 goals in his first game {more of a scrimmage as they warmed up & worked on skills} & then was put in as a goalie in the next game where he made such a lovely tackle in the opening minutes that his coach's delight & joy was pretty fun to watch. The young men coaching this week are older teens from the state team, & their enthusiasm is lovely to see as is their attitudes in teaching those younger players.

Jayde took his Civil War quilt to keep warm with {yes it was in many photos this week as I was using it while my book quilt was in the wash} & was given special permission to take an ipad to play on. Normally that's a no-no, but he was dealing with some anxiety issues & I suspected being distracted by conquering some land in Rome might mean we could both enjoy the hockey match in our own ways.

We normally take a daily afternoon walk, but we've been slack lately as we've been really struggling to find a groove. This week we seemed to have really hit our pace which was lovely & we headed to the local footy field near our home for a jaunt. A bit later than we normally go out so others were walking their dogs which mean our Buster didn't enjoy himself as much as he might have otherwise. We keep him in a lead around other dogs as he's a bit of a grump in his old age towards some dogs. All up though it was a beautiful day for a walk & were a little sad that we didn't get  more in.

No social engagements, aside from hockey this week, as the local group was meeting a little too far up the coast for us. It was raining heavily down our way & I just wasn't up for the drive on top of battling a migraine. Instead we stayed home & we each worked on various things.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Week In Review: Week 23

Our term feels slightly all over with that sick week in there, but we're in our groove & we had a really lovely week.

I walked into the library one day this week to grab my water bottle & found our table as we'd left it for lunch. I had to chuckle because it perfectly explained our entire day & couldn't resist taking a photo of all the hard work that at least one child had put in. {The other child worked hard too, but his mess was contained to the desk he uses..}

Yes, our weather has finally dipped cool enough to turn on the heaters. All though we've still had semi-warm days at times where the heaters are off & we throw open the windows for a few hours to freshen up the house a bit. The kids are very very grateful for their lovely warm homemade snuggle blankets their Gram sent them for Christmas.

We're nearly done with our beautiful read aloud. We've really loved this book & the boys discovered the "big secret" of the book, all though the eldest had guessed correctly what he suspected it would be. He said that Mother gave away the secret during an earlier scene. If the younger had figured it out he didn't mention it in our discussion. We only have 4 chapters left to read & then it will time to select a new one, which is always an interesting moment in our home.

At long last we wrapped up Edgar Allen Poe's section, & in all honesty I don't think any of us could be happier. I wasn't looking forward to his section in our poetry book this year, but have to say it wasn't all bad, we did enjoy reading his biography & dipping into a few of his more interesting poems. However, many of his poems are riddled with death & sadness, not a topic we are keen to dwell on. Further, we found that the notes prior to Poe's poems were often misleading. If any of them were correct than there was a fair bit of the poem or story left out! I'm looking forward to moving into Walt Whitman's section in the coming week.

New vocabulary words were loaded & ready for us this week. The sheet I slip them into is very flexible so I tend to fold it up so they can only see one word at a time as I introduce the new selections. Everyone agreed that the bottom left was absolutely disgusting! I did select a few I thought they'd know in order to make the ones they don't know a little quicker to learn. We'll stick with this load of words a bit longer.

Morgan & I are still making our way through both of these books. We are just over the halfway mark in each one. Bonanza Girl continues to be as funny as ever as we watch Mother, Katherine, & Jemmy make their way in their adventures. Evidence For Jesus continues to be enthralling for us & again this week our readings lined up with what I covered with Jayde in Peace & Peril.  I'm really enjoying watching our boy's excitement & interest in topics like this. He & I are really bummed that A Case For Christ isn't coming to our town, in fact the nearest town showing it is over 3 hours away. Alas..

Both boys tackled a new lesson in math this week. Morgan is our early bird so while he was waiting on Jayde to get rolling so we could indulge in our read aloud & Bible readings he watched a Math lecture. He normally does a lesson with Dad on the weekend & they go over new material, review old material, & he's set for the week, but last weekend was a bit of a mess so he tackled things himself this week. I love that he took that initiative.

Ignore the look on his face, I have no idea what's going on there, & I promise my kid has pants on just gaping holes in the knees. Jayde tackled research on Monday, one of his very favourite aspects of his new history programme. He's actually on, so I think this was a photo of him prior to science one day. His research this week was about Alexandria.

We read several more chapters in Peril & Peace which Jayde is absolutely loving. I suspect he would when we made the choice to use HOD, so I really enjoy watching his enthusiasm with these books. Our schedule was caught up to where we'd left off with Forbidden Gates so we dug back into our read aloud this week too. I love that with HOD he's not just listening, but looking for specific things in our readings. What he's looking for differs each day, so it also keeps him on his toes.

We finished The Tempest this week in Shakespeare, & he wrapped his notebooking page with the second picture being coloured & the second quote. I've noticed that his handwriting is a bit slack the last couple of weeks as he's not been using his normal grey paper. Whites, yellows, & oranges are huge struggles for him with his VPD, & while the photo doesn't look it the parchment area to write in with the notebooking pages has a yellow tinge to us. I may have him practice some typing skills with those, but I really do appreciate the amount of physical writing he does with HOD.

Morgan got back to science this week complete with a nifty experiment. I was asked to participate so I had to swing a string with some washer tied on it, & then he says, "Now keep it going Mom, & when I say NOW, I'm going to cut the string." At which point I suggested we move outside before he said the secret word!

I seem to have lost my photo of Jayde's work, all though you might see the eclipse drawing he did at the top of this post. I thought it was beautiful. We covered the sun & eclipses which he really loved & was inspired to look up when the next one would be in our area. August, how awesome is that? He's very excited & marked the calendar so we wouldn't forget. He's been using a lovely sketch book for his science notebook, but I printed him out some of our science notebooking pages on grey paper because I think he'll need the grey paper for his VPD.

Morgan had skills raining with hockey this week. The winter season is upon us, which has him excited & me thinking I should pull out Jayde's quilt to work on during matches because I'll need the extra warmth! He had a blast, all though the boys leading the training session had out orange balls for the training period & even with his tints on the orange was just killing our boys VPD. We may need to call Dr T about it because he may be in need of a new level, or then again neon orange balls on a neon green playing surface may be one trigger to many for our boy. I suspect if he'd spoken up they'd have rallied behind him & found him another ball. The group of kids he plays with are just amazing like that.

Jayde had one final reading in Peril & Peace to go as well as a written narration when we had to leave for hockey so we packed up the books to take with us because he really wanted to wrap his work up on Thursday so he could sleep in a little on Friday. Ahh, the inspiration this boy finds cracks me up. Yes, this photo is totally posed, he was actually reading a chapter near the back of the book. I told him not to lose our bookmarked spot & so he pinched the back pages tightly together.

Jayde has been reading Jed Smith as his biography. We haven't tackled any further DITHOR lessons yet as I wanted him to get a good jump start on his reading so he'd find the lessons in DITHOR easier to find answers for.

Morgan is still enjoying A Long Way From Chicago on his own, he'll be a while reading it as he had some slow days during overcast weather which is always hard on his VPD. I'm not too stressed about it as he'll accomplish the job. He's not using DITHOR, this was a book in his own history curriculum.

I seem to be missing a fair few pictures, but that's alright. We worked on the second verse in Philippians this week. Jayden also worked further on his Bible study based on Philippians, as well as his devotional this week.

I'm always short on pictures of Morgan these days as he's often busy working independently. He mowed the lawn on Sunday afternoon, & I was busy doing a freezer check for my menu so I snapped a photo. Ha!  As for history he finished of Volume 7 of HUS & dug into Nothing To Fear. He's got one more HUS book to go before term break, so despite our sick week he's looking really good with his goals.

Jayden's final history notebooking pages for the week are all finished up. The grey slots are where he's typed up things on the computer & then printed them out. We cut the pages down & use some double stick tape to affix them. I really love these keepsakes at the end of the week.

All up another busy week for us. We did some IEW writing as well, but we were so carried away watching the lecture that I seem to have missed snapping a quick photo. Oops! 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Stepping Back

It all started a litte less then a year ago when the horrors of Orlando were unfolding across network news in the US. Facebook was alive with its own news, thoughts, & lots of opinions. There was hurt, pain, & anger over what happened. During all the chaos I was pulling up names of a few friends who were traveling down that way, when a family member’s Facebook post floated across my vision.

The gist of the post was that the member wanted to ask their American family member what they thought of gun laws in the USA because they were tired of hearing about gun massacres as Americans were, in short, too stupid to give up their guns.

As an Expat I hear a lot more than people realise because, until I open my mouth, I look like everyone else. I’ve had people utterly embarrassed when they realise I’m an American, & I’ve had other people who don’t actually understand just how degrading what they say really is. I’ve never had family intentionally do it before though.

Friends of family members, yes. I’ve had a family members friend taunt me around a park during a party once, pouring out racial slur after racial slur & then belly laugh about how stupid I was to not even know he was insulting me. I’ve had another family member’s friend boldly declare on Facebook how they hate Americans, but never, until that moment, had a family member ever said it.

There was, suddenly, this little hole inside me that was quickly opening into a chasm, and in that solitary moment, alone in the bathroom combing out my hair. I cried. I cried like a big baby. I cried for all the years I’d lived in this beautiful country & stared at a sky where I didn’t recognised a single constellation, & yearned for the ones that could point me home. For all the missed Thanksgiving, for the lack of camaraderie and patriotism on Independence Day, for the missing fireworks that boom around the mountains & echo down into the low valleys, & I cried for all the blistering hot summers I’d endured with mozzie welts all over me. I cried for the traditions my kids missed out on, & I cried because I hurt.

My pangs of homesickness, in that moment, knew no depth. I cried for the years of love I poured into caring for my mother-in-law, & all the years I’d missed helping my own parents. I cried for missing out on the last years of my father’s life. I cried, because it hurt in ways that many will never understand. I tried to wash my sorrow down the drain in a hot shower, but the tears just wouldn’t stop.

In that moment I realised just how desperately homesick I was. Something I don’t talk about. Sure, I pang for certain things, & I miss people. Who doesn’t? But you learn to assimilate into the community around you, & you learn to enjoy the unique beauty many other people only read about in books. I often get homesick around Thanksgiving because there is no comparison to it here, & during that time I distance myself from things that make it worse, but in general I don’t talk about homesickness. 

It’s shocking to wake up one day & see that someone you trust could speak so crudely about you, but even more shocking is to wake up one day & realise that you have a bitter, ugly, sour taste in your mouth. One that, no matter how you try, you can’t seem to shake & spit out. One that would rear it’s head at the ugliest of moments & cause hot tears to spill, & the more I prayed the more I kept hearing the same thing, “Walk away.”

I’m not talking about leaving this country right now, but walking away from Facebook. The longer I stayed, the more horrors I watched unfold. Australian businesses mocking Americans in an attempt to make a sale. Groups on FB, that family members are likely unaware that each time they clicked on a post I could see it, which spoke of evil the meme creator wanted to cause on all Americans.

Rifts between friends & families over the copious amounts of false news floating around. People convinced you hate them because you didn’t respond to their every post, & lots & lots of bitter resentment oozing from everyone. Hostility at every turn, because people never seem to know if one is joking or not.

The more I was able to see the ugliness, the clearer things became, but in the clearness I also saw other scarier things too. Young family members & friends who click on lewd adverts, memes, & videos which then were popping up in my news feed, most likely unknown to the young person. Vulgar memes by those starved for love, affection, & attention, which resulted in having to remove people from my friend’s list.

Those friends who take a million selfies because they need to be told how beautiful they are each day. Those young friends & family members who take semi-lewd photos of themselves looking for a little attention, unaware of the type it’s likely to bring. Parents who have to be pumped up at every turn to be told they rock this world in order to make it through another day.

And those endless articles of hatred spewed from the left, the right, & everywhere in between. Christians friends screaming how we must show love all while “liking” memes that are full of hate towards various political parties & peoples. Other Christian friends who can’t do good or show Jesus’ love without coming on FB, complete with photos, to prove they’d fed the homeless, paid for someone’s groceries, or in some way blessed another person.

And somewhere in there, on rare occasion I’d see the only thing I was really on Facebook for, a photo of a family member I hadn’t seen in years. The sweet face of a niece I’ve yet to have the delight to meet, my deployed brother, my mother enjoying life, my older & equally sweet niece doing what she does best, a friend’s baby giving it’s first smile. All these are so far & few between though, that you spend months looking, reading, & watching absolute rubbish waiting for that one beautiful thing to float through.

The world’s need for instant gratification has reached an all time high. People who give up Facebook for Lent, apps to block Facebook because we are too weak to stay away. Friend’s who break the rules to get their kids on early. Teens who mock other teens for not wanting to be a part of social media. Groups who will only update you via Facebook, companies who uses Facebook in place of web pages.. the list goes on!

It was probably a month or two after the first ugly incident happened that I was quietly working away in my crafting corner listening to The Life Giving Home. I was colouring one minute & stock still the next as I heard the younger author say, “I decided to give up Facebook. Just for a month. I realised I was checking it way too often, & I needed a break.”

I listened as her story unfolded, of the changes that she noticed overcoming herself as she acclimatised back into family life around her. This young woman, who’d authored the book with her mother, stopped me in my tracks as I sat & listened & knew one thing was certain. God was speaking to me & the message was still as clear then as it had been months prior.

Yet, each time I planned to step away something was required of me at least once a day on the infamous social media site. I had items I was selling in a second hand group. I was waiting for an answer from a business before I placed an order. I was asked to help admin a planner group. I was waiting on a school order to arrive so I could reach out for help from fellow users if needed.

There’s always a reason, or excuse, if you allow there to be one, & that’s exactly what I was doing. I was strolling through FaceBook on a Saturday morning a few weeks ago waiting for the others in the home to get up, when I realised that I was so use to seeing rubbish I wasn’t really stopping to read anything, I was simply scrolling for the sake of scrolling, & it hit me: “This is pointless.”

And so I walked away. Not for that moment, but for the month. I didn’t say good-bye, I didn’t warn people, I didn’t make a grand announcement about the “sacrifice” I was making. I didn't change my photo to indicate I’d be away. I didn’t even turn my account to inactive. I simply moved on with life. 

 I admit it was odd at first, not pulling up FaceBook to mindlessly troll while I iced my bum knee after my daily workout. I had snapped a photo of one of my kids, over the holidays, to share  with my family, & it was odd not to be able to quickly upload it so they could see it. Then there was the need to find out where a local group was meeting & they only communicate via Facebook. Or the point where Facebook, suddenly aware I wasn’t visiting anymore, started sending me emails. Telling me how many posts people on my friend’s list had made, how many likes it had, which person uploaded a photo & when, anything in an attempt to lure me back.

The scary truth is, not only was I relying on Facebook for a fair amount of information & needs, but clearly Facebook didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t visiting anymore. It started out with just one email telling me just how much I’d missed out on. How many friends had supposedly posted, how many photos I’d missed out on, how many private messages I had, & so on. But when that lure didn’t work, the emails became more frequent. Some 3 weeks later & I’m getting 2 or 3 a day to tell me when people post photos, & who that friend is & how many people liked that photo. This morning alone I’ve received 3 emails telling me of people who posted photos, when the photo was posted & how many likes it already has. I’m still getting emails telling me how many private messages I have, how many friends have posted, how many family members have posted. Which is kinda creepy, to be honest.

As for the photo I wanted to share with family, I texted it to my mother, unfortunately I didn’t think to check the time & she may have gotten a fantastic photo at 3am, but she didn’t complain. I show up when I show up at a local business & if they aren’t open, then, unfortunately for them, I move on to another shop that I know is open & will have what I’m after. 

Sure, I miss hearing the accomplishments of my friends, & I do miss seeing those occasional bright smiles of family members, but in truth I don’t miss the stress, the judgemental ugliness, the constant seeking of self gratification, & the constant anger that floats around Facebook. Life is more relaxed, & to be honest I feel much less angst in my own life.