Friday, April 28, 2017

Week In Review: Week 23


This was our full first week back this term now that kids were on the mend & ready to jump into things. There are still some lingering coughs & congestion from the allergen exposure, but they are both well on the mend.

Despite being our first full week back it was a bit lopsided having school Monday, Tuesday off, & then school the remainder of the week. Tuesday was Anzac Day, & with Mr S home we were off from our normal academic studies.

As for the picture to the left, Mr Archimedes was being quite contrary one morning this week as he was deeply offended he wasn't allowed out of his cage upon the awakening of the first person in the home. His affronted behaviour continued into our morning basket time until I finally turned the book around so he could read it to us. He promptly eyeballed it up & then became quite quiet. On the bright side, at least he didn't attempt to take a chunk out of the page, which is what I half expected him to do.

Morgan & I are up earlier & ready to roll before Jayde so we've been reading through Evidence For Jesus together. This was one of the Bible books scheduled in his Sonlight readings this year, & admittedly one of the few SL Bible Books I'm not minding. It's been quite an interesting read as the author has pushed his point. We read through several chapters & I really enjoyed that the chapters in this book lined up with a book I was reading with Jayde this week too.

This boy really loves when I read aloud to him, & as he's been working so independently this year, aside from the family Read Aloud, we haven't shared a book together in a while. I snagged one of his lit books  we've been slipping a chapter or so of that in together in the mornings too. Bonanza Girl is an absolute hoot thus far, & my boy nearly lost his morning smoothie during one reading in which Mamma was outraged that breakfast for 3 cost her $2 instead of the .60 she'd anticipated. It took us a while to contain ourselves to continue reading, you know after we each pretended to be Mamma & outraged at the cost of breakfast. It's a seriously funny book & we're excited to see where it goes.

We are still working through our assigned poetry book. We're nearly finished with Edgar Allen Poe's section, & to be honest he's not a favourite poet. His poems often speak of sorrow, death, & the rather dramatic side of life. Mind you, after reading his biography we do understand this mindset that he had, what a rotten way to live thinking your foster father didn't love you enough to adopt you, when it was likely a mere lack of communication between the two men.  Maybe it's just us, or maybe it's that Poe has followed Dickinson & we very much enjoyed Emily's poems & thus it's a hard act to follow..

We pulled out our vocabulary cards which weren't getting much attention. We reviewed some older cards to see how much had stuck & there were only a couple of words that were forgotten. We'll start with a fresh batch in the new week & these will be retired to the wall where we will see them daily to remind ourselves of their meanings.

We started a new read aloud a week ago, I think I mentioned it last week, & we indulged in a few more chapters this week. After reading through a stack of books on Tuesday I had to pull up an audio copy to enjoy because I wasn't sure I could read any further. I was delighted to find that Audible had the Recorded Books version with Virginia Leishman as the narrator. She does such a lovely job & her British accent is delightful as always. We often flip between hard books & audio books depending on how much previous reading I've been doing.

Jayde started his new curriculum this week. He had a rough start Monday & Wednesday but found his groove by Thursday, which was an absolute delight to see. I am a big fan of his Bible book, we actually own another one done by the same author so this isn't too unfamiliar territory for him. It's spread out over the year & the pace is slower than what we might have normally set, but it allows him to build the confidence to do Bible study on his own. This week, however, we did most things together so he could learn the ropes & expectations in each area.

He's also working on memorising Philippians 1 this year. He's generally very good at memorising things so it'll be interesting to see how he goes. We've decided to do this in the way we generally do our Memory Box. We took turns this week being the reader of the card while the other person followed along.

There's also a devotional that we do a few days a week. We've owned this book for years, but I don't think Jayde has read it. His little blue notebook is for writing specific things from this, & other sources, into.  This book really speaks to him, & it was fun watching his face light up as we read through the first chapter together.

Monday he had some research to do on Rome & wondered if it was a bad time to call Uncle D & ask for firsthand information. I suggested he check with google for his answers & then if he felt uncertain about them we could send Uncle D a message.. you know, after making sure it wasn't 3 in the morning. He really enjoyed the research aspect of his studies.

We read a few pages in the art book he'll be using this year as well & then he was able to look at a detailed painting on his notebook page. He found a few things in both that really peeked his curiosity, but I confess this photo is entirely staged. I told him to pretend to be really interested in the book again so I could snap a photo. What he really wanted to do was dash to the kitchen to see if the guys were done with their project or not.

It was a little bit funny that Diana Warring's cd was included in our boys HOD this year as I'd actually considered using her history programme with him.  Jayde is so-so about the CD. Mrs Warring is very high energy & with our boy's acute hearing it makes it hard to find the right volume level for him where she's not too quiet or too loud. While I struggle with the volume of her voice too, I was prepared having heard her passion for history & homeschooling during an online conference years ago. I really appreciated these audio recording because it is her passion that really makes you want to pay attention to every word she speaks.

This was the science I mentioned in my last post that I felt was a bit below our boy & his grade/age level. regardless we're embarking with it anyway & so far he's enjoyed the short readings each day. He's challenged to write down written narrations & sketches in his notebook as well, which is the biggest reason I felt this science was the right choice. Writing is an area our boy is likely not up to snuff in thanks to his VPD & working with a text that is easy to understand will allow him to concentrate more on the writing aspect. That, & the kid would rather poke his own eyes out than deal with a science that will mention molecules & atoms again this year. I think glue may have moved off the mortal enemy list as atoms & molecules may now be resting in first place. Ha!

Tuesday was Anzac Day, & generally we go to the 11am family services held at the local Anzac Cenotaph, but this year it was very cold & wet out. We were really worried about the boys, especially the eldest, being out in that. He was still dealing with a pretty ugly cough on Tuesday. We all just sat there at 11 am looking at each other & the youngest finally said, "I feel weird." That pretty much summed it up. This is one of those moments that our youngest really loves, as his passion for all branches of the military is pretty high. When the Anzac Day match {Aussie Rules} came on he was quick to sit down & watch the Anzac Ceremony. After it was over he sad, "I didn't know the MCG could be that quiet." It really is an amazing thing to watch 87,00 plus fans so quiet that if someone sneezes you can hear it.

You've probably noticed a huge bias in photos this week of Jayde vs anything else, & if you know our family well you're probably thinking how incredibly weird that the camera shy child is the only one in the photos this week. Yep, so am I.  Monday was rainy & miserable & grey so our eldest grabbed his gear, a blanket, & went off upstairs to find a patch of warmth to lie in. He needs as much natural light as possible on overcast days or with his VPD it's impossible to see.

He's been reading through Volume 7 still of Hakim's A Story of Us. He's had a few questions while reading through this particular volume which have raised many interesting discussions. Over all he really does enjoy these titles & is often full of questions & facts that he can't wait to share with us after he's done reading.

He & the math book that finally caught up got busy this week. Only, wouldn't you know I couldn't find any spare binding to spiral bind this thing so he pulled an empty binder off the shelf & we set to work hole punching it, which in fairness was quicker because our 3-hole punch can manage many more pages at a go than the ProClick can. The only flaw so far was when I corrected a page & pulled the ultimate "mom mistake".. okay so it's probably only a "Mom Mistake" in our home & stems back to when I was homeschooled & got a whole page of math problems wrong & it wasn't until I was trying to deal with corrections that I had to search out my mother & say that unless 2+2 no longer equaled 4 there was no way I got my whole page wrong. Turned out she'd been looking at the wrong page in the answer key. I did not look at the wrong page, he'd skipped 1 problem {unknowingly because his work was scrawled all over the place} & I didn't skip a problem in the answer key. Thus there may be a bunch of scribbles on his page which say, "Just joking George, you didn't really get this wrong.." Never mind his name isn't George, you totally get my Weasley joke, right?

Jayden's level of HOD had an optional Shakespeare component to it, which I was delighted to add on for a few reasons. The biggest is that we also had Morgan do Shakespeare around 6th or 7th grade & he really enjoyed it. He used different resources, so I was quite intrigued to read the Lamb version of Shakespeare with my boy. Yes, the programme guide has the children reading it on their own, but I read it to my boy while he works on his colouring & then he added a quote to the page as required.

His finished notebooking pages for history this week. It was a fair sum of writing compared to what he was use to, but it was one reason we were pulled to HOD for him in the first place. From L to R you have: Polycarp, Justin, & Constantine timeline figures {hand drawn & dated}. Polycarp biography. Postcard of Rome {research information he gathered} which was addressed to Mrs Potts because I said he couldn't address it to the refrigerator. Map of the world which he marked Rome on, photo of Justin which he labeled. Written Narration of Constantine, Roman Arch {was to be used for a hands on project we skipped}, & photo of another Roman Arch

This was Jayden's spine for the week, & he absolutely loved it. I'm not at all surprised, another winning feature in our move to HOD with him was the selection of non-fiction books that we knew he'd enjoy. I heard him discussing several of the martyrs he'd read about with Mr S last night while I was trying to get dinner out of the oven, & the excitement over finding the sign for Christian/Christ in his Roman Empire game. 

All up it was a lovely week back to studies. I really appreciated that despite a rough start to our week our boy found his feet with his new programme. He accomplished all we set out for him to accomplish with it this week. While there are no photos, he also tackled his regularly scheduled math programme this week.

We left our writing & grammar for next week so that he could ease back into a schedule specially with the new programme. This level of HOD uses IEW's Middle Ages, but as we are already running with SWI-B from IEW, we felt it was better to stick with what we are doing.

Our eldest really accomplished more than 2 things this week, I'm just lacking the photos to show all his accomplishments. He tackled all his history {HUS Vol 7 & After The Dancing Days}, broke in the new math book, started reading A Long Way From Chicago & was so caught up in the story that when we called him for lunch he shouted down the hall, "I'm sorry I can't come now. Grandma is about to shoot someone, or maybe she has I don't know yet! I'm not sure she's a good Grandma, I'm just.. I have to figure this out!"

Ahh yes, my first impression of Grandma when I read that book many moons ago. I actually bought him the trilogy to work through because while Grandma is rough around the edges, especially in that first chapter, she grows on you & I know he'll want to hear the rest of her story. I'd made the mistake of saying, "It's like Grandma's Attic, you know if Grandma were naughty.."

He tackled French this week, & a grand amount of it too. He was really hung up, as I shared last week, with some flaws in the app, but has really found his feet with things using the website & set himself some mini goals that he tackled & succeeded with.

He was suppose to jump back in with science this week, but there was some hiccup there I still need to get to the bottom of or he'll find himself doing a module over the summer months. Science is something he actually enjoys so when it doesn't get tackled he tends to get flustered about it.

Jayde kicked off DITHOR with a biography this week, I was actually excited to see that biographies were scheduled first because his first true love is for non-fiction books. The manual is an interesting beast in that it has the feel of being written for large groups, perhaps even school settings. All the same, we'll keep with it because there is a reason I made this purchase. I will say I was impressed to know that my boy knew the difference between a biography & an autobiography since it was something we mentioned when he was 6 or 7. I did end up opting for the lower level of this as well feeling it would really be wiser with his VPD & to help build up that confidence. It's also nice that the expectation of pages to read is discussed when a book is introduced. This allows him to know what he's in for from the get-go. The only real downer was that due to the rougher start to our week he wasn't as far along in his book as the manual may have expected so it was a little difficult to fill in the character sheet on this book. All in all though, he's given all of his new work thumbs up, & coming from this kid is REALLY high praise.

Next week we'll add our other subjects back in & be off at full kilter again. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

New Curriculum


I've been stalking our postal delivery guy for the past 12 days waiting on this very order. I placed it on the 7th of April, it shipped officially on the 10th & we watched the tracking as it moved across the USA & then into Australia.

I have to give a huge shout out to Heart Of Dakota {HOD} for their tracking. It's amazing! Seriously, I've never had a parcel come to Australia where I could track it beyond it's port of entry. That includes parcels I've paid triple digits for shipping on. I've always figured if I pay extreme prices on shipping it should arrive in a golden box. While I couldn't track this parcel all the way to the point of delivery I knew when it hit Australia, I knew when it cleared customs, flew out of Melbourne, & when it landed in Tasmania. Pretty impressive, & knowing when it landed in my state made it easier to guess when it would arrive.

The boys were still recovering from the whole dairy fiasco, so I'd sit in the library after getting Mr S off to work, & watch out the window for the daily delivery truck. Yep, I'm pretty lame like that.

It arrived on Friday with 2 delivery men in tow, our normal favourite fellow & a new fellow. We had 2 boxes from HOD & one from CBD. I'd originally planned to place 2 ordered with HOD & one with CBD in an effort to keep all my purchases under the set Australian limit so I wouldn't be slapped with a 30% tax on top of what I was already paying. HOD was amazing to work with though & had me place one order & then broke it up into smaller shipments for me which was a huge relief for fear I'd mess up orders.

Actually, I can't rave enough about the HOD customer service. Seriously, amazing. I was emailing back & forth with them a little bit to verify a few things with them before ordering. They allow substitutions if you already own books, so I was able to swap out MOH3 which we own for Morgan's science book for the 17/18 school year. So so awesome!

Morgan & I unpacked all 3 boxes. It took us a bit as the books arrived wrapped in paper, with lots of extra bits of paper in there to protect everything. This photo is nearly everything that arrived. The CBD box had a science kit in it that we opened up to verify everything was there & in great condition before we packed it right back up & popped it on the bookcase until it was needed. 

I also ordered The Art Of Argument from CBD because I wanted the DVD to go with it.  I heard pros & cons about the DVD, but when possible I try to get Morgan DVD or CD options due to his VPD/Irlen. It means he can maintain his independence while keeping the paces set by the schedules. We'll see how it goes. I'm keen to watch it with him, but the reality is I might have to watch it on my own. This kid is a mover & likes to stick to his schedules!

We ended up ordering Morgan the World Geography for high school that HOD offers. We left the choice up to him because in the end the work is his to do. He was really torn between using Core 200 from Sonlight or moving to HOD. There were a few reasons that led him to make the switch: HOD offers notebooking pages & he really loves that aspect. He loved the idea of the Mapping With Art book which speaks his language: maps & art!  

There were a few other reasons too especially the idea of missing out on a few books that Core 200 would offer him in the literary department. I reminded him that he could use that list to read through any time he wanted, just because a book is on a curriculum list doesn't mean he has to save it for school.

In the mean time I'm really excited about his choice! There are some nerves involved because with SL he's been able to utilize Learning Ally for many of his books which has been extremely helpful with his Irlen, HOD uses a different variety of books & most aren't available in that way. However, I really love the work they have the student do in order to show what they've learned both in history & literature. We'll see how it goes, it will be incredibly weird not to be using Sonlight, but I suspect we'll be using Core 400 before he wraps up his school career.

All up Morgan' won't start any of this until September. He'll wrap up Core 100 & his other choices for this year before jumping into this. We're both really excited about it, but he's relieved he gets to finish what he's doing first. Ahh, that's my box checker!

Jayden's pile isn't much smaller here, but he will start on Monday. I've mentioned elsewhere that Jayden was moving because we felt it was the best choice for him. I didn't see Sonlight as a viable option for him for high school at this point. Jayden is our non-fiction lover & he'd rather be doing as opposed to reading & I was really concerned that using the high school levels with SL would be a walking disaster.

With that in mind I was looking through our HOD catalog that had come in the mail that very week & realised that if we were going to make the switch sooner was better than later. All curriculum companies who offer history work at different paces & it can be hard to make changes without having a child double up on materials. Jayden had just finished up MOH 1 & this was the perfect time to move him into HOD's Resurrection to Reformation which picks up where MOH 1 leaves off.

Again, I'm really excited about the choice, where as Jayden is nervous. He saw the pile of books & immediately felt overwhelmed. I'm guessing I've just never placed all his SL books in front of him at one time. He generally has his 2 spines & his reader. Other books just suddenly appear when he needs them. Ha!

So we pulled out just the books he'd need to start with & that helped him feel a little better about things. Again, this level uses notebooking pages, which I appreciate as a way for the kids to have a record of their journey. However, I also feel that these show the kids which ideas to focus on which helps to build study skills for down the road.

My only real concern with this level is his science which is certainly below him, but he's not done a year of official Earth science yet so it may be some new material to him. It's a perfect tie of year for Astronomy as well with the dark nights. We like to curl up in quilts & crawl on the trampoline to see what we can see. He'll also move through that book pretty quickly & then hit some material that I know will be reasonably new to him.

If you looked closely at the photo you might have also noticed Drawn Into The Heart Of Reading {DITHOR} which I opted to purchase to use with my boy. He is not my reader, he's not super keen on reading & it can often be hard to pick books for him. I decided I really wanted to try out DITHOR with him to help expose him to a variety of genres & help him see there can be value in both. It's advise to go a bit below their reading grade level so you probably noticed 2 student books. I wanted to have both in case the level I selected was way below him. I do think he'll enjoy many of the titles that have been selected, & the first book is a Biography which is right up his alley.

His programme came with audio cds, one of which he'll listen to weekly. He'll have a few research projects, hands on projects, & so on. There will certainly be a bit of a learning curve for our boy, but I'm hopeful it's one he'll rise to & enjoy. I guess we'll find out in the coming week!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

WEEK IN REVIEW 16/17: WEEK 21-22


I seem to have lost a few of our school weeks in the depth of the business of life, I hate when that happens, but rather than try to figure out what we were doing I'll just move forward. We started back to our 3rd term for 16/17 two weeks ago. It was an odd start for us after a rough weekend. Some crazy wild storms ripped through & our anxious boy was holding on by a thread. We had a visitor who couldn't hold their tongue about some of the damage the mainland was enduring due to the storms & floods there & our poor boy had to escape to another room where I had to talk him out of a panic attack.

All of it added up to the need for extra sleep to allow his body to recoup from the excess stress he'd endured. It also meant that Mamma was pretty frazzled herself & had a lovely long chat with our Dr about getting our boy a bit more help with some of his triggers. His new curriculum wasn't here yet, so it was a good opportunity for him to rest & recover from what he'd been through.

Morgan on the other hand was gung-ho to jump right back into his work where he'd left it. He was also anxiously awaiting a postal delivery with his new math book. Oh the math saga this poor kid has been enduring. We've always purchased our MUS books through MathsAustralia, it just makes sense. Our children are pretty diverse with the metric & imperial measurements, putting me to shame most of the time.

However, it turns out that the Algebra 1 & higher books are not up to snuff. By that I merely mean that to save on printing, or whatever, the Aussie version has all the problems squashed onto one page, not front & back, just the front. For the average kid that's probably just fine, but for an Irlen Kid that's just asking for trouble. We'd purchased a used copy of the book he needed not really considering this & when it arrived, I opted to order a brand new version from Maths Australia only to discover there'd been no update from the 2005 version. Yikes!  This resulted in a purchased from CBD, which we had delivered to our USA address, & then from there scheduled a collection & Mom helped get it out the door.

Only, wouldn't you know the collection didn't happen! Which resulted in phone tag with the company we use, & a rescheduling of the collection. Let's just say this is like the million dollar math book we should consider insuring! And the only thing crazier/funnier is that once it arrived I had to pull out all the pages, run copies off on his Viza Blue paper, & then bind the whole thing up for him. He'd given up hope on the whole situation for a while, but it did arrive in our first week back to school, along with lots of other lovely goodies Mom tucked inside. Did I mention we love getting packages from home?

We started a new writing programme this term too. I really was not feeling the love with Writer's In Residence for Jayden. I found it was focusing far more on grammar & much less on writing. He doesn't need the grammar as that was coming in from Fix-It, so after seeking out some advice we opted to purchase IEW's SWI-B. We were really blessed to find someone local who was in search of WIR & we're able to quickly sell that & purchase their IEW. Another friend blessed us with allowing us to borrow their Teacher DVDs & we hit the ground running.

The boys found Mr Pudewa pretty amusing, especially his stance on pens. I have one child who is deeply opposed to pens because it means mistakes can't be fixed, but he still found the whole pencil/pen issue very funny.

Both boys are using IEW. Morgan is still really loving Cover Story, but admittedly I'm not. I don't need to do the work, so it's neither here nor there, but I just really feel that the writing instruction is lacking a bit. I'm sure it's meant to be an incremental build up to the assignments, but considering Morgan was coming from writing an essay a week with specific guidelines & word counts I was really worried that he'd lose skills. I asked him to join us for IEW & he was more than happy to jump in.

We moved into Book 2 of IEW's Fix-It which is based on Robin Hood. We're still using the same method of in-book corrections, typing up the fixed sentences. Great practice for those typing skills, both boys are eager to be able to type as fast as I am, but Mr S has warned them that there's a downside to how fast I typed. When they asked him what that was he showed them my MacBook which has no letter on the N key, half the M is missing, & there's a grand deal of the coating on the space bar missing. Which, in fairness is nothing, I've worn out the 2 main lines of keys before & was so sad when it came back from the shop with the keys replaced.

Morgan was delighted to pick up his Core 100 books again & get moving with those. He started in on HUS 7 & got a little irked when the author hinted at something to come in a future book. It caused him to pause & start digging for more information until he felt satisfied to at least have a bit of a grasp about what she was hinting at before continuing forward.

He also wrapped up Dragon's Gate shortly after getting back into things that first week, & then  read Call Of The Wild & was deeply dissapointed in it. He was holding out hope Buck would end up back with his family & I think felt a little too much the loss the family might have felt at losing their dog. I told him he should read White Fang for a real shocker. We might actually see if we can locate a copy of the movie, that was one I use to watch often a kid. He moved into After The Dancing Days after Call of the Wild. He hasn't commented much on it yet, so we'll see what he thinks of it as he goes along.

He was having some issues with French, the updates DuoLingo does can be good & bad, but when I found him frustrated I asked if I could lend a hand. He's been using the app exclusively & didn't realise there were some pretty big benefits of using the computer instead. I also shared some tips & tricks I use when working on my own French lessons. It'll be interesting to see how he goes with the latest web update Duo has done. It may be time to pull out Rosetta Stone for a while again. I find these 2 programmes really compliment each other.

We pulled out our next read aloud after wrapping Anne Of Green Gables up. It took us a bit longer with Anne then we'd intended, but it was well worth it.. There were a few solemn moments around the room when we hit Matthew's fate & Marilla's eye situation. Then shock when they realised just how old Anne was now that she'd become a teacher. One is very eager to read the rest of Anne's story in the rest of the series, & I have no doubt he will fully indulge between other reads. I'm keen to pull out the old movies to watch with them & introduce them to Before Green Gables.

We haven't seen the new Anne movie, & I hear tell there's a new series as well. However, I'm afraid it'd be a hard sell for me. I grew up watching the origional BBC series which my father dutifully recorded on his old Beta machine, complete with plug in remote control. Ha! He even copied them onto VHS when those machines came out & I'm pretty sure I wore them into the ground watching them & playing Anne Shirley when I tired of playing Laura Ingalls.

Our new read aloud is another beloved favourite [mine], The Railway Children. There was a time when I couldn't walk past a copy of this book without purchasing it. I don't think I realised I was doing it until one day the kids asked why we had 10 copies of the book on the shelf but I'd not read it to them. Whoops. I ended up parting with most, if not all, of those copies & was given a beautifully illustrated version for Christmas. We happen to own the movie to this as well, which is really well done. I have one who doesn't remember the movie so he's on edge waiting to hear what happens next, & the other is convinced he remembers the movie very well & knows what will happen. I guess we'll have to wait & see if he's right or not.

We jumped into another spelling lesson, but I'm finding more & more these days the kids know the words with no help & prompting on the first go, so we only pick out a word or two that they may generally stumble with & we work with that until they can spell it without issue & then move forward again. I've told them that when they can apply it all to daily writing we'll put spelling on the shelf for good.

We hit the local walk track a few times, including a family bike ride in which someone opted to smash one of our back windows. Whomever chucked the block of rock through our window was clearly board because nothing was taken from our car. The police were incredibly helpful with the whole situation. When Constable Ford came to take our statement he said he felt slightly intimidated typing because Mr S was the computer guru, & home ed Teacher or not he felt he had to do his best typing & spelling. It was a delightfully hilarious moment during a stressful situation. We've since had our window fixed, but it's highly unlikely the culprit will ever be caught. A shame really, I have plenty of weeds in my garden that could use pulling..

Our second week was a little shorter with the long Easter weekend. We took the kid to see the new Lego Batman movie thanks to some lovely gift certificates we had. Unfortunately, the kids were exposed to dairy & dropped like flies within hours. We very rarely frequent the movie theatre as it's incredibly expensive, but we always ask if the popcorn is dairy free. I was crazy stressed out with some other things that were going on & didn't think to ask. I just handed the kids a bucket of popcorn & they ran with it. Crazy thing is, Jayde even reminded us on the way to be sure to ask before we bought any popcorn!

The kids were out for Mr S' birthday. They clapped while I sang Happy Birthday. They did wrap the gifts, but were out cold very early into the evening. The next morning the eldest, who deals with breathing issues due to milk, was dealing with vertigo, wheezing, & major ear pain. Being a Sunday, & a holiday to boot we made calls to the medical number & spoke with a nurse who fetched a Dr to help us. With the wheezing easing they urged us to wait it out unless symptoms became worse, in which case we were to get medical attention immediately. Some 8 days later our wheezer still has a barking seal type cough, they both still have various signs of what happened to them from congestion & coughs to still being run down way too quickly.

Easter Monday we wanted to get them out into the fresh air as it was beautiful & they could finally walk, so we took them down to the river for a quiet picnic lunch. We had swans for company, but this small jaunt really wore them out & they needed a bit of time to rest before they hid the gift they'd picked up for Mr S. Mr S hid some items we had for the kids, but forgot the kids weren't feeling top notch & picked some pretty tricky locations for the sickies.

Needless to say 2 weeks into our new term & we took a week off or the kids to recover. They should be well enough to get back to business on Monday, & as Jayden's new curriculum arrived on Friday the timing really is beautiful. I'll share more about our new curriculum in another post though.

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.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Week In Review 16/17: Week 17


We're at that point in our term where we are counting down until Term Break. This break will also mark the halfway point of our year, which means we're also discussing what will be used next year for each child.

The upside of using programmes like MUS, Sonlight, IEW, & Apologia Sciences is that it's pretty simple to just get the next book or level. Which is basically what will be happening here; there was some debate about the next SL level for Morgan, but that was quickly sorted.

It's always a relief to be at that halfway point in our year & be able to breathe a little easier. Mind you, we only breath easier if people are on point with their studies & for the most part everyone is. We had a stall with math in waiting for new curriculum to arrive {our fault} & so there's a small hiccup there, but we're not too worried about it. We've also made a small change to science {again} for Jayden, but that'll be okay too.

We wrapped up our current poet, Emily Dickinson in the poetry book we've been reading. We really enjoyed her poetry & the biography in this book has sparked ongoing chatter about this poet. The only downside we had with her poems were that they don't have titles & so at times we had a bit of confusion as the reader plunged from one poem right into the other thinking they were connected & just different stanzas.

We're still enjoying Anne Shirley's story. Oh the memories reading this book with my boys brings back. I still remember all the fuss & bother when the origional movie was on tv & how my father diligently recorded it so we could watch it over & over again.. As I read I hear those very voices all though I cannot mimic them. Morgan was dissapointed we didn't get to read as much of Anne's story this week as we would have liked, but we had a few late mornings & when that happens Anne's story is put on the back burner. 

The Animal Whisperer has nearly wrapped up Ancient Rome in history. He's enjoyed aspects of this time period, but is really at that point in our term where he's ready for a break. He wrapped up the 1st volume of SOTW & is due to start the second one on Monday. He'll only read a couple of chapters before we'll have him lay it aside for the term. He's reading more chapters of MOH in order to wrap up Volume 1 before the end of term. That way he can jump into Volume 2 & enjoy hearing about the new church as he starts in on the middle ages. I also have a few books for that time period I'd like to pull out & read with him.

Morgan wrapped up Volume 5 with HUS this week & is eager to jump right into Volume 6. That's the last one to read before term break. He is, however, really missing hearing more than one view for his spine this year. In previous years we've always had a couple of spines going at a time so he can hear the same stories from different view points, allowing him to draw his own conclusions. One year, I think we had 3 spines going, which was crazy, but he absolutely loved it. He asked if we happened to have MOH IV on hand so he could read corresponding lessons. Unfortunately we don't, as it's still quite pricey, but I told him I'd pick up the MP3 Audios for him.

Yes, I mark up my IGs. I tend to sit down & highlight various sections for the weeks ahead. Yellow are discussion points, Green is vocabulary & Key people or times. Blue is geography. All though I think all you can see in the photo above is green & yellow.

Jayden's timeline is still rapidly growing. He's still adding to BC all thanks to MOH, while SOTW is up to AD. It's funny to be adding both at the same time! We're now up to 4 lines. We had 3, but he really wanted a fresh line for the AD pieces. We'll have to give an updated picture/video at the end of term. We have a few BC pieces out of place as the count down vs up causes a few hiccups when pieces are added at times. 

Morgan's new math book arrived this week, hoorah hoorah! Yes, he was excited too, no seriously he was! However, it arrived late enough int he week that I suggested he wait to dig in until the weekend. He starts new lessons on the weekend so that if he needs any guidance Mr S is there to work with him. I suspect he'll breeze through the first lesson, but I guess we'll wait & see. He's relieved to have his new book, this kid takes his school pretty seriously. Yes, he's laying inside a pizza; his USA Gram crocheted that for him for Christmas. Isn't it awesome?

Jayden wrapped up another math lesson this week as well. He should finish his current math book in 2 weeks unless he gets hung up on any upcoming lessons, which I doubt. Despite his nervousness with math at the beginning of this term he's doing really well. I wasn't sure how the last few lessons in the book would go, but I'm delighted to see they've been a breeze. It never fails that the lessons that trip him tend to be the easier ones & the more complicated lessons are "no big deal" for him.

Morgan finally hit the point in Cover Story where he's been given some writing assignments, we'll see how that goes. Previous to hitting that point I'd suggested that if he didn't get some writing assignments soon we'd need to move into another writing curriculum & he was rather aggrieved at the mere thought! He has a large assignment that will be due next week, but he's pretty excited about it so I can't wait to see how it goes for him.

Jayden's writing {IEW} showed up this week, so he'll jump in with that in the new week. We're new to IEW, but we've had various people recommend it for the reluctant writer & our boy certainly fits that name to a T. I'm excited & leery to see how it goes for him, & totally delighted that they have video lessons.

Jayden wrapped up nearly all of the Chemistry in BkSk Science 6, & we've decided to shelve the remainder of this science programme. We ran into the same problems using it a second time as we did using it the first time. While we love this book the various sections are written for different age groups & the Chemistry section is actually quite thick. When I noticed my boys eyes were glazing over & he was no longer paying attention it was time to decide what to do next. It doesn't help that the experiments are limited & once you wrap up the chemistry section the experiments still only focus on chemistry. He'll return to his Science In The Beginning book for the remainder of this year & then we'll give BkSk Science 7 a whirl.

Morgan moved into Module 4 in Marine Biology & enjoyed kicking off the week with a lab. It was pretty simplistic in that he just needed to cut open sponge & determine what type he had, with the beach next door we were able to collect more than one sample for him to check out & he after the lecture he was quickly able to tell us which types of sponge he had. The postal satchel was just what he pulled out of the bin to cut open the sponge on as we had no newspaper on hand.

A better look at his awesome sponge. We'd gone to the beach last Sunday intentionally to pick up various pieces of sponge for him. There's always a bunch of it laying around the beach so we scouted out the three varieties we most often see on our beach. At the park on Friday he went down to the beach & found a magnificent specimen bigger than a human head! We use to find large chunks like that & the kids would wear them as hats when they were younger. Ahh, I don't miss all the sand in the hair. hehe

We should be wrapping our grammar book in another couple of weeks, just in time for the end of term break. I had to chuckle this week when my eldest grabbed the book off the table & said, "Wait, what? I didn't realise you meant the name of the story was really The Nose Tree! I thought you were just kidding." Ahh, that funny boy! 

Wednesday things were completely chaotic in the house & when Morgan realised how late it was he asked if I'd like him to make dinner. Who am I to decline an offer like that? Pasta alla matriciana with Peas, better known as Bacon Pasta in our home, was on the menu so he set himself to work. Mr S generally makes this meal around here so when he came in & saw what was being cooked he found it really hard not to "help".  As a note, we swap chicken broth for the wine & don't add chilli, I think when Mr S made it the first time he opted not to use chilli because the kids were younger & couldn't handle anything "hot". Due to dairy allergies cheese isn't mixed in the pot, but each person who can have cheese adds it on their own plate.

This funny blue blob was made from Jayde's thinking putty. He was using his putty during math, but had become distracted so I asked him to put it down so I could add a face to it.. Later he hid it in the hood of jacket to "surprise me", all though the surprise was on him because I didn't find it until the next day when it required extreme help to remove it from my jacket! Ha!

We had an outing on Friday, just the park, where the kids met up with a friend. We didn't stay incredibly long, but the boys still enjoyed themselves. Morgan has been attending to French & Piano during the week as well, but generally when I'm busy so no photos. His French is coming along well enough now that when I'm practicing mine of an evening & Mr S asks what on earth I'm saying Morgan can generally pick up the gist of it, or at least say, "Dad it's French, you wouldn't understand." All in all, another lovely week of school all wrapped up.