Monday, 31 December 2007

What was your favourite memory of 2007?

My list is in absolutely NO particular order; nor is it complete ...
  • I finished paid employment to be home with our children;
  • We started homeschooling our eldest following his 5th birthday in February; hence this blog!
  • In a blink of an eye, DS1 went from recognising the alphabet to reading books at Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 etc;
  • Confirmed DS2 has no hearing problems; he has just chosen not to speak anything further than a few words to date - and that's okay;
  • We now have five children with our latest arrival deciding to enter the world 8 days early with no complaints from me!
  • Rob finally flagged self-employment and went back to bringing in a regular weekly wage ... thank goodness for us!
  • I finally started receiving the Working for Families Tax Credit ... I cannot begin to explain the feeling of relief this has given me.
There's probably a longer list I could share, but these are the things that instantly popped into my head at this point in time.

I am grateful to be alive, to be surrounded by a beautiful family and to have my parents only minutes away.

Rob and I have certainly been tested and fully understand the meaning of "through thick and through thin". For that I am truly proud and as much as my confidence and self-esteem has wavered, I know it will return all in due course.

Roll on 2008!

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano
Maree

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Audiology Visit

I didn't intend posting DS2's audiology appointment on the school blog, but then I considered it was an educational event nonetheless so I'll give a brief breakdown on this morning's appointment.

DS2 celebrated his 3rd birthday today and although a visit to an audiology clinic wasn't part of our plans for the day, we decided to attend for the sake of eliminating any hearing problems once and for all.

The Clinician took us to the first of two rooms we'd be using and as we settled DS2 in his seat, she first takes out an
Otoscope. How do I know it's called an Otoscope? Because our eldest son told us so. The Clinician (Aura) was explaining what she would be doing and as she was saying "I'll be using this instrument to ..." DS1 pipes up and very matter-of-factly tells everyone "it's called an Otoscope". Daddy, mummy AND Aura all looked at him with the same "surprised" expression.

"You're absolutely right" said Aura. Wow!!! I have to save I felt very proud; surprised! but proud.

Okay, so after that exciting moment, we watch our wee man having his middle ear tested.

As expected, DS2 has no problem there. So, we left that tiny room and headed for the next room ... with two doors. DS2 was more intrigued by the two doors than anything else to begin with.

However, Aura quickly had DS2 seated and to my surprise had him understanding what was required next. The simple drill of listening for the beeps and placing the blocks in a hole ... I wasn't sure if he'd cooperate, but phew! he was a good boy and did exactly as he was asked.

The same test was repeated but with a different headset that rests to either side of the ear and vibrates. DS2 sailed through everything.

And the final test was with earplugs and the computer. To be honest, I've forgotten what this did, but the graphs looked very pretty and according to Aura DS2 was perfect. Like, hello! I already know that, lol

So, the long and the short of the visit? Well, our son is three and yes, he isn't speaking many words at this stage, however, his hearing is perfect.

Did we need to take him to have his hearing tested? No, probably not, but it does provide a sense of comfort knowing he's fine. I would rather eliminate that possibility and have the verbal ammunition when anyone enquires if he's "deaf", or "behind", or whatever other quaint ways they have in pretty much implying he's "slow".

Will we go down the track of speech therapy? More than likely the answer is no, but in saying that, I have my curiosity about the experience and figure it would be a means of free education for DS1 etc. Like I said to daddy, "who knows what clever things DS1 might know and say with the speech therapist!!!" So, we'll play it by ear (mind the pun, hee hee) and decide on that when the time comes.


Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano
Maree

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Children experience their first live Orchestra and first Children's Christmas Party

Last night I took DS1 and DD1 to their very first live orchestra. We enjoyed a two-hour free family proms concert by the Trust Waikato Symphony Orchestra, held at the Rotorua Civic Theatre.

They felt very "big" handing the usher their tickets. He then let me know we were allowed to keep them so I thought they would make a lovely momento.

Luckily it started at 6.30pm otherwise I would've been carrying DD1 out for sure. She became tired in the second half but the conductor had the audience become involved by standing to sing Land of Hope and Glory by Sir Edward Elgar. I knew some of the words but, as we didn't have a concert program, it was all a matter of just standing and swaying with the kids to enjoy the occasion. I remember it from each year's Last Night of the Proms that we would watch on telly. The kids really enjoyed the idea of "getting involved", as did mummy.

Luckily the conductor then announced the finale would be Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. I couldn't have been more pleased as I knew the canon sounds would promptly "awaken" DD1 should she happen to drift off! Sure enough, they did the trick which was most satisfying for mummy as I truly didn't fancy having to carry her to the car ... not at 37-38 weeks pregnant!

Both children truly loved their evening out. I wish I could have taken a photo of them. To have captured their expressions on camera would have been so priceless. DS1 clapped so enthusiastically and tried to be in time with the cymbals as best he could. Reminding them to speak quietly was practically pointless, but honestly, who really cares at a family event such as this?

"What beautiful music mummy," DS1 squealed with delight. "Look there's cellos, violins, bassoons, cymbals, a triangle ...."

As we were sitting rather close to the stage they couldn't see many of the instruments but would call out "that's the timpani drums etc" as and when they recognised the sound. Gorgeous. Well done kids!

Our drive home was wonderful. They couldn't stop talking about so many aspects of the evening. As you can imagine, they were filled with explanation to daddy when we got home.

So thanks Auriel for reminding me the concert was on. We all enjoyed ourselves and hopefully we'll all be doing it again next year!

Sunday was another big day. The three older kids were off with their nana from Tauranga to:

Daddy and I arrived in good timing to pick them up ... after they'd already collected their gifts from Santa and Mrs Claus. The weather was hideously hot and luckily nana had a good place under a tree. What little breeze came along was welcome. I'm glad daddy, DD2 and I arrived when we did. Had we been there any earlier I think I would have fainted from sheer heat exhaustion. DD2 really enjoyed her little experience. That's the first time our family have all been out to such an event together. It was very special, and I'm so proud of our children for being so well-behaved and appreciative of what the day provided.



Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano
Maree

Friday, 23 November 2007

Life skills

Like most households, before we start our day there are chores to be done.

While I do the dishes, the children wipe down the table and chairs.

I'll have the laundry on the go and some days, like today, I have a loaf baking in the breadmaker.

More often than not there is laundry to be folded from the day before. If there's lots to be folded it's all-hands-on-deck, but today there was a small amount so while one child helps me fold ... another will make the beds. As you can see, DD1 is helping with the laundry while DS1 makes the beds.














And finally everyone puts their laundry away in their drawers.

By 10 o'clock we're all done ... and just waiting for DD2 today because mum promised school would include a walk in ...


It's hard to believe how regularly I would frequent the Redwoods pre-kids and then with one or two it became a weekly-come-fortnightly visit, yet nowadays with four it's more of a once-every-three-weeks type deal.

As baby is due in just under 3 weeks, I decided we would only do a short track today. I was absolutely right to stick to the short walk too! Oh, the kids were fine and no doubt would have gone for longer had I indicated a change in plans, but mummy decided she couldn't walk longer than she did.

Such a funny thing, it doesn't matter how many times I go there I will always look around and remember: running a certain track; meeting a friend at this particular point; greet the many regulars you knew at certain times of the day; talk to the bus loads of foreign visitors with pride about our area; plus cut it fine to drive out of there before the gate closed me in!!!! I have always felt safe there, whether on my own or with the children. It's beautiful whether it's sunny, raining or windy. Basically I guarantee an enjoyable visit should you ever be in our neck of the woods (mind the pun).

Not that you can probably make the kids out in the photo, but I tried to catch them as they were running on ahead of me.

BTW we managed two walks this week, so that wasn't too bad an effort was it?


Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano
Maree

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Ambleside Online

I've been a long time on Ambleside groups, looked at Ambleside Online umpteen dozen times, printed out screeds of information as well as started and stopped different aspects of it but without following through fully. Now, however, I've decided it's time to focus on the schedules properly and implement as much as I can. It's still very much the feeling of "where do I start?" but I truly hope to feel more confident this time next week.

So what happened with not following through? As corny as this excuse sounds I decided I needed to start Ambleside in September to coincide with the American school timetable. The main reason being I wanted to read alongside the groups with Vol 1 and Vol 5 of CM because as much as I tried to go it alone back in February, I felt lost to say the very least. Within a month or two I figured I'd start with the next 'class'. A lot of what parents were talking about, or were doing, I hadn't the foggiest idea what they were talking about. It's only now that I feel somewhat more confident with where we're at and (kind of) where we're going.

My aim now is to follow AO with more tenacity. To achieve this end will require longer visits to the Rotorua Public Library by the looks of things; to find a lot of the composers and artists etc. Speaking of the library, I'm glad I have My Account set up via their website as I managed to put my very first book "on hold" a couple of weeks ago. With Library Elf I received notice that it is now ready for pick up. Had it not been for that email reminder I probably would've forgotten all about it I think.

Isn't it great what libraries have developed to make life easier? Do you know I could even nominate to pick up items from the Mobile Library if I wanted to? That would certainly save me driving all the way into the city which is definitely a good thing.

Getting back to AO. The plan tonight/tomorrow is to set a new timetable and see how that one works. Yes, I'm quite sure it's going to take a while to find the right combination, but oh well, perseverance is the key.

Also on the list of things to do this week is to tidy my desk! What a bombshell I create these days. Gosh, gone are the days I would never finish my day with clutter. Everything had to be in its place. Granted everybody utilises the work station but argh! I wish I had more drawers and shelves.

I have to say it's been great that dad installed the shelves shown in the photo! They've made a huge difference.

Thanks dad!


Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano
Maree

Saturday, 17 November 2007

He Manu

With Pukeko only a matter of metres from our deck lately it feels like an opportune moment to start learning some of our native manu (birds).



Starting from top left to right, these are the birds I've chosen to get us started.
  • Kākāriki is a nice introduction. The children already know Kākāriki means 'green' in Māori so it's not a difficult name to remember. (Kākāriki = red-crowned parakeet)
  • Pīwakawaka - chosen because they are such a common bird really. There's every likelihood you'll see them wherever you are in Aotearoa. (Pīwakawaka = Fantail)
  • Ruru - our native owl. Owls are a recognisable bird so I figure it's an easier bird to learn at this stage. (Ruru = Morepork)
  • Tūī - a beautiful songbird that imitates other birds' calls and has glossy-black plumage and two white tufts at the throat. We hear them at home here, but get a better sighting of them when we're at nana and koro's; probably because their trees are closer to their house! (Tūī = Parson Bird); and last but not least
  • Kiwi - chosen because the children already know this bird. This flightless, nocturnal bird is of course our national symbol. (Kiwi = Kiwi)
So, that's our list of birds to learn over the next week or so.


Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano
Maree

Friday, 16 November 2007

Friday's Child is Loving and Giving

A very long day today ... the weather was rotten and the children had about an hour max outside time. Then we no sooner started some mahi when DD2 woke up. Her sleeping pattern has been very different this past fortnight; an indication I need to rethink our school hours.

DS1's reading was interrupted on a number of occasions so it looks like we'll be finishing his book at bedtime tonight.

Maths was short today as I felt DS1 had put in a lot of effort during the week so I gave him a worksheet which he filled in very quickly, showing he's definitely understood his work this week.

Handwriting was via my dictation. Granted, it was our poem, but I chose that so DS1 felt comfortable with the dictation and it was a bit of a test to see if he remembered how to spell words. I've not attempted a spelling test, so this was a semi-spelling test.

We covered a little grammar ... when to use a capital letter:

"When you see a fullstop, what does that mean?"

"It's the end of a sentence."

"So what does that mean the next letter starts with?"

"A capital."

DS1 asked about the use of an apostrophe for the word "your". Because I was dictating, it could've sounded like I was saying "your" or "you're".

"This is called a contraction, and you've used the apostrophe in a number of words ..."

He understands for example that "could've" is a contraction for could have etc as he's easily written and used these forms of words on his own but we've never spent lesson time covering contractions. The reason I guess I'm recording this part of our discussion is that it shows he is thinking about things and not just following my direction. That's a good sign isn't it? I'm sure that's how he picked up reading so quickly and easily; his mind is capable of thinking and questioning for itself as opposed to following instruction only.

Does that make sense?

DD1 practiced her handwriting again and that's really the extent of her schooling today. She wasn't in the mood to do too much. Being stuck inside really is off-putting for everyone sometimes and today was her day to have lost interest, wanting to follow her own choice of activity. And hey, I was quite okay with that.

Well folks, that's pretty much been our week of school. I can look back over it and think "gee, we should be achieving a lot more than this", and then again I can think "no, we've done okay y'know?" For me, as long as we do maths every day, read and as often as possible get that handwriting in, then we're doing fine.

I'm still very much of the opinion I want to get more boxed curriculum, but have I decided what curricula? Nope! Not on your nelly. I am hoping, however, to spend the weekend really concentrating on that very issue.


Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano
Maree

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Thursday's Child has far to go

[I apologise in advance if today's post sounds like a ramble. It probably is as I've been awake since 4 am but I was determined my week long attempt of writing a post for school would continue. I do hope you enjoy it nonetheless...]

Since daddy became an employee and we've adjusted to receiving a weekly wage, the children and I now have a regular day (Thursday) to do the groceries.

Today was quite a muddle in the end. We didn't get away from home till around 11 o'clock because my Well Child Kaitiaki from Tipu Ora (similar-type organisation to Plunket) popped in to see the children. As usual, we get to chatting and on average, she'll be here for at least an hour. We normally get on to talking about my parents as Wharangi and my folks and have known each other for years.

Wharangi no sooner left and our neighbour popped in briefly to discuss a couple of things to do with the upcoming weekend. Finally, we're away. We headed to the Recycling Centre and took care of business there. I wanted to pop into Urban Ore - the little store at the Recycling Centre, but there were too many vehicles so I decided to flag it for today.

Up to mum and dad's, get baby settled and DD1 and I head into the city to do the groceries. I enjoy having our little girlie time together. Her questions abound, but it's nice knowing I can take the time to answer her.

As for school work, DS1 did his next maths test and sailed through it. We proudly showed nana and koro his efforts as they haven't seen his tests before. I'm still reeling in the fact that he's grasped the "unknown" factor.

DD1 practiced some handwriting, but I think we left it a tad late in the day for her. She finds grocery shopping quite exhausting; possibly because she chats the whole time we're out, ie from the moment we leave in the vehicle, all the way through the shop and home again. Phew!

Anyway, today I wanted to share what a typical drive into the city is like for us because once upon a time the children couldn't speak or read, so it was possible to drive with the sound of the radio or if there's two adults in the vehicle, you could actually hold an adult conversation. Nowadays it's a totally different story.

When DS1 was learning to read and count, one of the first things he started to notice were the speed signs so he would point out if a sign read 50, 60, 70, 80 or 100. Then he started to read the words on road signs such as Stop and Give Way as well as distinguish the meaning of the colours at the traffic lights. As we sat at the traffic lights he would point out the flags on the souvenier store and rattle off what countries they belonged to.

Okay, okay, so none of this is new to parents. Yes, we all enjoy knowing our child is learning and is able to communicate what signs they can read or interpret. But then, it changes a gear. Once they're able to read, suddenly you are drawn into a conversation about brand names, how many Telecom vehicles there are on the road because they have the monopoly on our phone lines, or the fact that Ford Road connects between Sunset Road and Malfroy Road, or asking if we're going to the Mad Butcher at Te Ngae or Ti Street.

I find DS1's understanding of direction very intriguing at the moment. For example, when we arrived at nana and koro's today, he quickly lets them know that we saw Uncle W heading towards Sala Street going to work. (That's quite a distance for him to relate in which direction Uncle W had headed.)

But travelling into the city has its interesting rituals. If it's after 11.30am we always look towards the Airport to see if Uncle W's car is there. He always parks in the same spot. Then we get to Hannahs Bay and have to keep an eye out for the little black dog that is famous for being in the same spot. If the doggy's not there, where could it be? Then we get towards the Te Ngae shops where a house was burnt and is in the throws of being rebuilt, so we have to discuss the latest developments.

If I happen to take a different road at any stage I'm advised that if we go another way we can get to nana and koro's that way etc etc. My all-time favourite is that I have an extra pair of eyes to tell me "I just saw daddy". If DS1 hasn't actually seen daddy himself, he may have read "there's an Atikinson Donaldson van mum". He knows which van belongs to the boss too! His eagle eyes are very handy indeed. I'm able to pull off to the side of the road, give daddy a call and we can meet up to have a chat with him.

I mean, only a few years ago I didn't have that little voice to talk to, whereas now we have full-on conversations about the weather, the banks, the roadworkers, the buses etc.

So, do I miss having the difference of having nobody to speak to? Nope, and I love hearing the children discuss things around them. We all engage ourselves in amazing conversations. Simple little things and yet I'm sure that if the children were at school, we wouldn't be able to take the time to talk like this because we'd be stuck in gridlock traffic rushing from point A to point B, and the conversation would be steered around "so, how was your day? What do you have for homework?" and that's about it. They don't get the opportunity of saying "shall we take a different route to such-and-such today?"


Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano
Maree

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Windy Wednesday

Not a great deal of outside play today. Unfortunately we had very strong winds this afternoon which for DS2 especially wasn't fair. He loves being outside, so it was quite difficult to coax him inside.

About the biggest highlight of the day was around lunchtime when an RNZAF C130H Hercules flew into Rotorua Airport. I managed to get a good close-up photo as it slowed down just east of our home.

As we live relatively close to the Airport, we have grown accustomed to seeing the Hercules on many occasions. One of (my) favourite airplanes to watch is the parachute plane (or the shark we sometimes refer to it as because it has a shark's mouth painted on the nose). My younger brother tells me its a modified Fletcher top-dresser, so there you go.

It's fun to try and see the parachutists jumping out. It's a good exercise in counting as well as distinguishing colours and following directions (ie as I describe where to look in the sky). Also, it's a helpful exercise on say, days like today, when the wind would control where the parachutists are deployed. On average there is a specific point where the parachutists will descend. But on a windy day it's a good lesson to explain to the children about westerlies etc by using the parachutes as an example.

But I digress ...

Today's school work mainly centred around mathematics. DS1 is on Alpha with MUS and although when we received Alpha I felt he could start from where we've reached today, I chose to start him from the beginning so that he (1) got the hang of what the workbook looked like, and (2) built up his confidence that he is capable of doing the workload; especially when we did his first "test".

On the MUS yahoo group there was a thread recently where some children were struggling with Lesson 8 "Solve the Unknown". Here I was thinking DS1 would be the same, so again I thought I'd better start further back to help encourage him feel confident enough to attempt this part.

Wow, I was absolutely thrilled with his response to the first exercise. I don't know whether to describe him as having "breezed" through them as that sounds far too confident, but I honestly have to say I was very, very pleased with him.

As for DD1 on Primer, she's still having trouble differentiating between 6 and 9. Today I tried to remind myself to count to 10 and let her go at her own pace. I know she'll click soon enough. She really enjoys using the manipulatives which are fun as well as educational and I know they are helping her.

Other than that the children did art ... okay, so it was colouring in and not a craft project, but these were pictures they wanted to colour in, so we can call that art still can't we?

As for myself, I spent a good chunk of the day occupied with DD2. For some reason (not sure if it was due to the windy weather) but she didn't want to sleep. Again I had to try and practice counting to 10 and accept schooling wouldn't cover as many subjects as I planned.

So, that's basically Wednesday's schooling.


Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano
Maree

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Tuesday's child is full of grace

I have such a sieve of a memory that I had to Google the Mother Goose poem "Monday's Child is Fair of Face" because I thought I might try and write a post for each day this week as a means of recording our schooling and figured the Mother Goose poem would compliment the idea.

Anyway, the site that I accessed has a gorgeous wee exercise where you pop in your date of birth and it will come up telling you what day of the week you were born on. [Just remember it's an American site so in reality if you were born in New Zealand you'll have to look at the day before, ie they tell me I was born on Monday when of course it was Sunday in New Zealand.]

But I do like the poem ...

MONDAY'S CHILD IS FAIR OF FACEby Mother Goose
Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,

Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go.
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child born on the Sabbath Day,
Is fair and wise and
good and gay.




Today I wanted to share our day's schooling highlighting we were away from home for the entire day; which of course is not uncommon for a lot of homeschooling families, but for us it's still not an everyday event.

You may recall I am now visiting my midwife each week which means by the time we go into the city our day is half over. Rather than traipse all the way home having lumbered four kiddies in the vehicle, I find it less stressful to take the children to my parents and spend the bulk of the day with them. It's worked out very nicely so far whereby we share a kai together and then start akoranga (learning, school, class, lesson). This way I have a few extra pair of hands, ears and ideas which allows me to get more mahi done with the children.

The many uses of the Environment bags eh!? In our case the bags cart school books ... and no, the pile of books to the right of DS1's right leg are not his school books! Nana is sorting through some stuff, but it would've been impressive if I said it was his school work eh! lol But as his Uncle in Tamaki Makarau (Auckland) commented to me this evening, "he could be marking exams". Pono (True!) Very true!

Things worked out very nicely for us today. DS1 read to nana before getting into maths. The children also recited their new poem to nana and koro. DD1 practiced her handwriting, and then had a tinker on nana's laptop. She's picked up using the mouse pad quite nicely. And yes, I do recall saying I don't like giving the children much in the way of computer time, and by rights they don't. But while DS2 and DD2 were having a moe (sleep), I allowed DD1 to have a tutū once she completed her art work. (DS1 chose to do his art work five minutes before we left might I add!) The very last thing we covered were NZ native manu (birds). We only spent about five minutes on them though as koro is always able to talk about these sorts of topics at great length so we'd no sooner look at one manu and koro would go off on a tangent!!!

DS2 was gorgeous, he hopped under the duvet that nana puts on the floor for DD2 to crawl on, and wouldn't you know it, he fell asleep. He's so funny though, he got RIGHT under the duvet and covered himself up! Within minutes he was "fast a moe" (as we say). I think he's still catching up from his weekend of fun as well as just sheer exhaustion from all the bike riding he's doing nowadays.

Actually, the children's schooling started when we went to see my midwife didn't it? Everybody had to come with me today because we were running very late; which also meant we didn't get to the recycling centre. Luckily for me, our children are beautifully well-behaved and my midwife knows each and every one of them very intimately. The children enjoy coming along, especially to watch me having my blood pressure taken and then get to listen to the baby's heart beating in my puku.

As soon as we arrived home, the children were straight inside to grab their bikes and headed out to burn off some energy. I love this time of year. Spring and Autumn are by far my favourite seasons. With daylight savings especially, your days just feel brighter don't they?

So, I think that covers our Tuesday pretty much ...


Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano
Maree

Monday, 12 November 2007

Pukeko in the area and Monday's school

Pukeko are common throughout New Zealand and it's not as though we haven't seen them around us somewhere at home, however, it would appear they've made a nest closer to home than ever before.On Friday I thought I heard their distinctive sound but couldn't actually see them. Then on Sunday I noticed in the distance what appeared to be a "family". Well, the adults you can make out quite clearly, but not expecting to see wee ones was quite a treat. Then later in the evening I saw the mummy and daddy scouting around so I quickly had the children come outside so we could watch them. Again, the chicks were too far away to make out clearly, but the kids were excited nonetheless to see them.

The reaction by the goats was surprising. They were quite scared of them. They stood in their usual frightened stance - like when cats or dogs come too close!

Monday

We were doing our school work at the dining room table today and as I was juggling baby on my
lap while listening to DS1 doing his reading, we saw this crane arrive. So, we quickly tried to get some more school work squeezed in before I allowed the kids to get some real life experience of watching it operate. The novelty of watching for myself is well and truly done and dusted. After umpteen dozen buildings daddy built requiring this kind of machinery, I don't need to watch any more.

My photo on the left isn't what I wanted to capture. I think because I was too busy trying to get the crane in the shot, I didn't encapsulate the children watching the machine and discussing what they saw quite like I wanted.
The photo on the right is DS1 looking very official going up to Bruce to pay him on behalf of T&A. I grabbed one of daddy's old building hardhats to add a touch of importance to his role!

Lunch time followed the completion of the crane work, and shortly thereafter the children enjoyed PE. We've got everything set up nowadays ... the basketball hoop, mini tramp, cricket set, then of course their bikes and wheelbarrow with digging equipment. Speaking of digging, we're preparing to do the SOTW1 Archaeology dig some time this week. Today's out because of the unexpected interruption; but then you get used to unscheduled interruptions with homeschooling don't you? It seems to be part and parcel of being at home.

Our homeschooling friends popped in briefly around 3.30-4 o'clock. That was great to see them, albeit briefly. The poor things are up for review next month. Eek! Here I am dreading applying for our exemption, but to be faced with a review, yuck! As much I know they'll breeze through the exercise, I'm sure it must be as nerve-racking an experience to cause sleepless nights like I'm bound to face leading up to my exemption application I bet!?

Speaking of exemption, how's the draft going Maree? .... ask me another day please!


Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano
Maree

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Our backyard and socialising

I don't usually add these kinds of photos to our homeschooling blog, but I thought I'd take the time and show something of our backyard.

For the past few weeks our goats have made quite a good clearing to the bush area and over the weekend the kids have had fun utilising some of that clearing for adventure play.

In these shots the kids have ridden their bikes down to their new pozzie to enjoy their picnic lunch. As the weather warms up over the next few weeks it's going to be fun to watch them explore even further into the bush to discover all sorts of insects, birds, flora ... Just 50 metres through the bush and you come to Lake Rotorua. We, and many neighbours in the area, all have our own private little tracks leading to our own little beaches. Unfortunately we haven't maintained ours for quite a number of years (what with still working and then babies coming along). So this spring/summer we're hoping to get a track sorted again especially now that our children are getting older and the fact that daddy isn't self-employed, working 24/7 anymore! These sorts of family enjoyments are being rediscovered;or discovered - depending which way you want to look at it.

For the past two weekends we've enjoyed the company of a Solomon Islands family who have come down from Hamilton (Kirikiriroa). Their dad, as well our kids dad have been rebuilding the roof on the neighbours house. Long story, but suffice it to say it's going to take at least one, if not two more weekends of mahi from the men to get done.

So while the menfolk have been doing their manual labours, our kids have entertained the visitors kids. In return we've been spoiled to enjoy feasting on an umu both weekends. Similar to a Maori hangi, the only difference being, an umu is cooked above the ground as opposed to under the ground like a hangi. The flavours Rose has managed to come through in the kai has been very enjoyable indeed. So the longer the dads take to get the work done the better ... lol

Although the men work a long, hard day each Saturday, on Sunday it's rest day. Patteson (yes, without an 'r') doesn't work Sundays, so our kids dad is following suit. Good! I'm more than pleased. Just makes the Saturday very, very long and very, very exhausting.

Last weekend Patteson (Junior) and Trevor noticed the go-kart in the shed. Rob promised that if they returned this weekend he would let them have a ride. So, as promised, today the boys had a great time zipping around the backyard ... much to their father's fright at first I think because he was calling out to Patteson to slow down. But when he saw our 5 and 4 year olds zooming around even faster, I think he relaxed and realised all was good. I don't know if this photo will show up too clearly, but here's daddy atop the go-kart taking our DS2 (not even 3 yet) for a blat...



And I can't resist this final shot of DS1 as his confidence has grown to fly up and over the dirt hill on his push bike!

It's a great experience for all of us. Not only do the kids get more socialising, but they've learned where the Solomon Islands is, what an umu is (and tastes like), had bigger kids to play bigger games with, as well as watch and learn how daddy and Patteson put on a roof.

On a personal basis I've enjoyed meeting them. I find them very inspiring. Both Patteson and Rose were students of our neighbours when she lectured at Waikato University. Patteson is doing his Masters at the moment, before they return to the Solomon's. I feel so lazy in comparison. My neighbour encourages me to return to studies, but what with a new baby and homeschooling, I don't know when to try it again .... oh well, all in good time. Let's just enjoy where we're at for the timebeing! And on that note,


Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano
Maree

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Saturday's mail delivery and weighing up ideas




Postcards & gifts sent from the Bahamas via Postcrossing contact


We (and when I say we, I mean me!) haven't involved ourselves as much as we possibly could with Postcrossing, but we've been fortunate enough to receive a nice wee gift along with postcards from a lady in the Bahamas recently. It's nice to have someone go to so much trouble to give our kids some great information of their country.

Also in the mail were some books I bought to help us with our SOTW Egypt studies. Just a couple, but hey, it's a couple more than what I had and it all helps. Harvest really is an awesome buy-sell facility for homeschooling curriculum. It's a great way to see what others are using/or at least tried, plus if you're like me and don't know where to source things from in New Zealand then you're bound to buy a bargain.

Over the past week I've been giving serious thought to introducing boxed curriculum for more subjects (Geography and Science in particular). Why? Well, birth of baby no. 5 is fast approaching and finding time; let alone energy lately, is giving me enough reason to think along these lines. Plus, I'm sorry to admit this, but I have thoroughly enjoyed having MUS all set out in front of me.

Let me explain it this way. I've had an interesting exercise in time management this week. Here I was thinking I would start DS1 in one subject and DD1 in another, but oh how wrong they proved me to be. Whatever DS1 was doing, DD1 wanted to be doing also. If it's anything but maths because maths requires more patience on my part and a better understanding of how to balance the two levels and all the while having to keep that third eye on DS2.

Try as I might to get school work done while DD2 is asleep semi-worked, but as she's not sleeping as long these days, I've had the two littlies to contend with as well. Granted, when baby no. 5 arrives he's bound to be sleeping a lot, but I'll also be sleep deprived no doubt. So I need a helping hand I've decided and if I can find curricula that can assist without my poor little brain going into overdrive, then I think this is our best plan of attack.

Don't forget you're trying to squeeze in your household chores as well. Yes, I know I shouldn't complain. There are bigger families than ours and they cope. At least with a lot of larger families they have a number of older children who are able to take on more responsible chores to help out. As much as our children help with some chores, I'm still required to do the bulk of them and right now, physically, I'm opting to take the easy way out and do things either half-pie, or not at all.

I have at least made a concerted effort to read my emails at night once everyone's asleep, which has helped immensely, ie I've freed myself during the day to work with the kids as opposed to trying to juggle the emails in the daily routine as well.

Yes, when I put it down in black and white, it convinces me even more that I'd prefer boxed curriculum for more subjects.

From a superficial point of view, I also love having all the manuals and the kids enjoy having their individual workbooks.

From a practical point of view, it's proven simple enough to take our schooling with us wherever we go. As I need to visit my midwife every week now we will spend at least one entire day away from home. That means I've at least got the resources to do school .... anywhere .... any time.

This week's To Do List ...
  1. Revamp our schedule.
  2. Make decision on curricula.
  3. Enjoy and utilise having our classroom area back again.
  4. Count to 10 if the pressure seems too much.


Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano
Maree

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Decimal Street

I liked the idea I read on the MUS yahoo group and decided to make the Decimal Street chart. The directions are in the Alpha Teacher's Manual.

The only difference I made to what was suggested on the group site was to make numbers and laminate those as well (on our A4 laminator at home), rather than use a marker pen to write and wipe off. With a bit of velcro on the back, it's all good. This way I can take it away wherever we go and not have to worry about it being ripped or dirtied. With DS2 wanting to touch everything and DD2 starting to crawl about confidently, I'd imagine it would be ruined within days had I not spent $12 on laminating it. At that price, I'm happy to perfect a second chart at some later date!

For DS1 this is a gimmick, but for DD1 it's both a game and a learning tool. She's kind of clicking to the -ty's --> so am I for that matter. DS2, as expected, lies all over it and plays with all the blocks but it's all good.

Had I realised the size it would grow to before I started the project I would've gone to the store to buy an A2 size sheet, or bigger possibly. I just had some A3 which we taped together thinking that would be big enough, but oh how wrong could I be?! The lady in the store said they can take the individual parts and build it up for us which is handy to know. Because of all the sticky tape I had used they said it would probably come out all crinkle, but in actual fact it only has a little bit of crinkly so I'm happy with the end result.

So, if you do consider making one, it's worthwhile laminating it. I can tell you my sheets measured 80cm x 85cm. They had to trim down the sides ever so slightly to fit the machine, otherwise it would have required going to a bigger laminator which, as you can imagine, would have cost a lot more money!


Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano
Maree

Thursday, 25 October 2007

SOTW Vol 1

DD1 (4 yo)DS1(5 yo)

Finally I have ink for my scanner. It may not be the flashest or fastest but it will do me fine for the timebeing. I'm just glad I can start displaying some of the kids work at long last. Taking photos is all very well and good, but capturing their art or writing proves pointless with a camera [in our circumstances at least]. Perhaps I need lessons in using a camera, do you think!! You're probably right.

So neat, here we are starting with Story of the World Volume 1. Although we started SOTW back in February/March, we've decided to start again. No particular reason other than we left History for a bit and mum feels we all need to start afresh.

I'm sure lots of families will recognise this page from the Activity Book. Both DS1 and DD1 spent time this morning colouring in their pages. DS1 added a picture of himself wearing a stripped shirt if you're wondering what the figure represents to the right.

The weather has been so beautiful today, the children have spent most of it outdoors. The latest thrill is riding their bikes down the 'dirt hill'. Even DS2 starts halfway up and with a gleeful squeal rides down like a champion. Nothing beats seeing the grin on their faces. The thrill of racing down the hill. Gorgeous!

Considering we had a full-on afternoon with MUS yesterday, it was nice to have a day of PE with a dash of History thrown in. We also get to watch the neighbours house being rebuilt. The large transport truck left our backyard today and the men placed some of the roofing back on. The children's father gets to replace the whole roof and do the plumbing, so the kids will have lots of weekend lessons ahead of them. Now, what subject(s) will that come under? lol

I'm still working on a "timetable" for our lessons. Whatever I think I have planned soon changes. I guess that's the beauty of home schooling, things are allowed to be flexible. I tell you what though, I have really enjoyed using MUS this week. I'm not having to come up with lessons myself. It has me teetering on the fence again about whether to try a boxed curriculum or not for the other subjects. As much as I don't need to be in a hurry about these things, I feel compelled that it is worth a try just to save my sanity. Let's face it, baby no. 5 is due early December and my hands are already tied when it comes to schooling DS1 and DD1, but then I have to watch our beautiful DS2 "minding" his little sister as she embarks on her next milestone of trying to stand etc. DS2 is quick to grab things out of her hand because he thinks they're too dangerous, or the way he 'demands' to feed her with a bottle because he thinks she needs to drink it! With all that going on, I'm doubting my abilities to think of what to do; school-wise that is. Hmm, well I'm just thinking out loud at this stage but for myself, anything to make life easier is my motto.


Thanks for dropping by
Ka kite ano
Maree