Thursday, 31 December 2009

A new tradition for our whānau perhaps?

Pre-movie experience

To celebrate New Year's Eve, whaiāipo and I are taking the children to the 6.15pm session of Princess and the Frog at the local cinema . Because whaiāipo is working, I know he'd never finish work in time to make an earlier show, but at least with daylight savings, the children won't be tired, and we'll still walk out into daylight afterwards eh?!

This is the first EVER time any of the children have been into a cinema so I'm looking forward to sharing the experience with them.

[Come yesterday - when I wondered if I was going into labour - I had reservations about whether I'd be in attendance today or not!! However, I guess I experienced Braxton Hicks. Either Braxton Hicks, or the baby truly wanted to let me know he didn't appreciate me digging etc over the weekend.]

I must share with you that whaiāipo received the tickets for two adults, two children and $20 worth of candy from a client in December 2008!!!! And yes, on the very last day of the vouchers validity, we're only just getting around to using them, lol.

We only need to pay for two of the children which is great and I'm sure the candy will keep the littleuns happy.

I thought I'd start my post "pre-movie experience" when the children are excited at the prospect of experiencing something new. We let them in on the secret last night and it's been the buzzword ever since. I'm looking forward to sharing their thoughts on our return this evening. (Okay, so while others are probably preparing for NYE celebrations, Maree will happily sit on the computer blogging instead!!!!)

So, until this evening ...

Post-Movie experience ...

It's about 9.30 pm now and the children have headed upstairs (reluctantly I hasten to add) to get ready for bed. They look tired but, as expected, they've had a wonderful evening going to the "movies".

They all did exceedingly well to sit through the movie. Both whaiāipo and myself thought it would've been tamāhine 2 who wouldn't handle being in the enclosed environment, but it turned out to be tama 3. He did very well for three-quarters of the movie, but then he wanted to run about the place. Whaiāipo took him outside for a walk while I remained with the other children.

My mother had made the comment to me yesterday that we'd probably be the only ones there and in actual fact, we made over half the viewers!!! There were five other people with our family of seven!!!

We all enjoyed the movie very much, so I am eternally grateful to Gordon and Pam for kindly giving us the tickets. What a thoughtful gift for a family. Whaiāipo, being the likeable fellow that he is, obviously made an impression to be given tickets not only for himself but his family as well.

I honestly couldn't even tell you the last time I would have been to the movies. I have absolutely no idea, but it must be at least ten years plus at least!!! The last time I went to the movies, I'm sure I had to push the seat down (y'know the folded-type seat and armrest I'm talking about?) Nowadays they have very plush, comfortable seating together with a cupholder!!! I made the comment (not being facetious, just making an observation) that the tickets are a lot more budget to the old days. Whaiāipo then informed me you can pay for them online (E-Tix), print them, take them into the cinema and go up to a scanning machine which spits out your ticket so you don't have to stand in a queue! I'm thoroughly impressed. So, the next time we go, I'll do it all online. (Listen to me! "The next time indeed!!)

What a neat way to see out the old year to begin a new year. I'd really like to think we could make this a family tradition. Let's hope we do?!

From our family to yours ...

Happy New Year

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

When his mother would believe what she hears, tama 1 says it's not so

I am reminded this evening of a statement made by tama 1 about a month ago as we discussed some engineering.

Apologies for leaving it so late to add to the blog, but better late than never I guess.

We were watching something on telly when the following statement was made:

"The Airbus A380 was the largest aircraft ever built."

Tama 1 promptly says,

"No, it's not. The Hindenburg was three times longer at 245 metres. If they meant airplanes instead of aircraft then it still wasn't the Airbus A380, it was the Antonov AN-225 Mriya.

Tama 1, then followed this up with the following statement ...

"Actually, it has been reported that German Aeronautical Engineers are rebuilding the Hindenburg. The Hindenburg II is expected to be as large and have a two-level gondola at the bottom to carry 250 passengers."

[This is verbatim ... he stood next to me and dictated it so I could correctly record it on the blog!!!!]

So, after discussing this for a while, we have tried to work out by what means an aircraft/airplane/airline/call it what you will, is measured to warrant being the "biggest". Is it by the length, or by how many passengers it can carry?

Whatever the answer, I just loved the fact our son was able to teach his parents something that night.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite

Monday, 28 December 2009

Family Christmas Project: Phase Two - commence construction

First thing after breakfast, the children had to put on their builders attire.

Builders aprons together with all the necessary builders tools, eg hammers, screw drivers, measuring tapes etc were the only present the children received from Santa.

With hard hats on they were out there helping dad measure up and get the stringline up.

They learned how to measure accurately using their builders square and builders pencils.
They had a beam each to measure 60cm, and using their squares mark around their beams.
While the children did their part, dad used the posthole borer digging to the required depth. The children then helped dad carry their posts to each hole.

Although we received rain in the late afternoon and I allowed the children to keep working with their dad, I eventually had to insist on them retiring for the night because the babies were playing and slipping on the slide too often.

After kai, whaiāipo was determined to get the beams around the tops of the forts up. This photo was taken from the comfort of indoors.

Just before 9pm, whaiāipo accomplished his task and cleared the bulk of his tools into his work van. Such a pity he has to return to work tomorrow. We could have this project finished by the end of the week. Hei aha, we're all stoked to see the fruits of our labour thus far.

BTW, the green slide is only placed on the right fort temporarily. It will go across to the left-hand side once we're further along in the project.I am especially proud of tamāhine 1. She worked like a trojan - she honestly put in a massive effort. She dug the most dirt of all the kids and did whatever task she was asked to do without complaint.

As she looked out watching her dad this evening working in the rain, she commented to me "if it wasn't raining I could be out there helping daddy."

My angel girl, with her heart of gold was a joy to watch. Y'know, she even helped her father cook scrambled eggs for kai tonight. None of us were interested in a big tea, but I was pleasantly surprised my baby girl had the energy to help cook dinner.

Tino ātaahua

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Sunday, 27 December 2009

The Family Christmas Project has begun

By the end of Sunday ...

It took us two days to clear the site and spread the dirt. I feel absolutely exhausted. The children put in a fantastic effort. The heat really took a lot out of us all, but here's the result of our labour.

There were 320 wheelbarrows of dirt to be shifted (16 barrows per cubic metres. Therefore 10 cubic metres per truck load. Two truckloads equals 320 wheelbarrows.)

Phase One: Complete

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

As another year draws to a close

Ever since I started my blog(s), I have considered printing them as a real book. The one and only place I ever knew about was Blurb.

Until today.

I was catching up on some Yahoo group mail when I learned about Blog2Print.

It was great to learn of another site because I had honestly (no, honestly, I really had) been thinking of getting the school blog printed in the New Year. My thoughts are to print from Romankids Homeschool Academy's inception through to the end of 2009 as the first volume.

So, just in case anyone else has thought about having a hard copy of their blog, then you may be interested in one of these websites. Perhaps you know of another and would like to share?

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Winding Down; Slow-Mo; Bring on Christmas, Part Deux

Carrying on from where I left off yesterday ...

The kids are basically doing whatever they please.

Considering we always do maths, you'll be shocked to know we've only done one day's worth of math lessons this week. Everything really has started to come to a standstill. I only seem to manage little spurts of energetic enthusiasm.

That lack of enthusiasm is obviously rubbing off onto the kids and that's fine by me. They are (all) more interested in playing and making a fleet of Air New Zealand aeroplanes. [There's plenty of learning going on with that and it's fun. Tama 1 has painstakingly followed the designs from his chart of planes. No detail is overlooked.]

Tama 2 is making great progress with his repeat reading of the Montessori lessons. We started with Starfall also which we're taking nice and slowly. As hoped, his reading is improving his pronunciation/annunciation. I'm trying not to place too much expectation on tama 2 and keep a relaxed method of learning for him. He, himself, is trying to be like his older brother and sister, which is helpful to a certain extent: it provides extra motivation.

We started manuscript writing and he's doing very well so far.

I'm curious to know how others record their work. For some time now I have used Google Documents. I like the way I can do spreadsheets, documents, presentations, forms etc. I've enjoyed using Google Calendar also for recording both school work, appointments and important dates like birthdays etc. I gave up trying to figure out a way to get Word documents to upload to the blog so I decided I'd use Google Documents because one is given the option to share it with others or keep it private. I like that idea. I know there are similar computer assisted programs like this, but Google has been my preferred choice. I'm hoping to organise my Google Documents with more precision next year. I think that if I'm ever subject to an ERO Review then I can at least send the Review Officer a link to any or all of the documents.

I've again run out of steam, but I will finish the subject of winding down, because I'm quite sure you've got a good picture that it's all wound up on this side of the world.

It was a fantastically hot summer's day today. I had a close relative of mine from Auckland pop round this morning as well my dear friend Auriel. A truly lovely way to spend Christmas Eve.

Our shopping this evening went pretty much as planned. We have the large "surprise" to share with the kids. I'm looking forward to the morning. We're planning to have a BBQ. Nana Nancy will pop over to see us around that time and we'll call up to see my folks later tomorrow night.

Be safe and have a wonderful day with your loved ones.

Here's to a wonderful Christmas.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Winding Down; Slow-Mo; Bring on Christmas, Part One

Christmas is just around the corner but I really wanted to try and get a post done to at least wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Safe and Prosperous New Year.

We have yet to do any Christmas shopping ourselves. This year we have decided to fix up what toys the children already have because whaiāipo and I feel the children have everything they could want. If possible, I simply wish to get a new netting surround for their trampoline, oh and a new (spring) pad also. Their swing set is in dire need of a complete overhaul, so depending on the price of new swing seats we will try to upgrade that equipment also. The two older children could certainly do with new bicycles, but that can wait for birthdays. What they have at the moment will suffice.

I did purchase some books a few weeks ago with the great intention of cheating wrapping them as gifts but decided that no, in fact they won't be given as Christmas gifts. I bought them for the purpose of school - thanks entirely to the Supervision Allowance - and that's how they should remain.

[I reminded myself that although we're far from financially comfortable, our circumstances have at least changed enough that not EVERYTHING has to be used as a gift simply to fill Christmas stockings. Hence the decision I don't NEED to use the books as gifts. For me, that's enough of a gift to myself to know we're getting financial control once again.]

[To think, this time next Christmas I'll be jumping with joy knowing we'll have cleared past debts. Wow!!! That's very exciting to me!!!]

You may recall I mentioned in a posting not so long ago that we waited over a month to get our hands on Mercy Watson to the Rescue? Well, I decided to buy our own copy ...

Where did I buy it? Not in New Zealand that's for real!!!! Would you believe it is cheaper (by quite a lot I might add) to buy books from the United Kingdom or the States!? I would normally choose, however I chose ...

Why? Well, because ...
  1. They offer FREE worldwide delivery, no matter how little or how many you purchase.
  2. The books I wanted were discounted.
  3. They offered a FURTHER 10% discount on their ALREADY discounted price!!! ...No, honestly they really did!!!! CRAZY huh?!!!
As we go to press, we're waiting on the remaining three books and hopefully they arrive tomorrow.

No major though as I already mentioned I don't plan to wrap them as Christmas gifts. In fact, we've opened them and started reading already.

One interesting point to make is this ... each book has arrived INDIVIDUALLY packaged!!!! What a hoot!!! So, on Tuesday when I had my appointments with the obstetrician and then the midwife), we arrived home to find eight packages in the letter box. What an absolute giggle.

[The books are all part of the LessonPathways Year 2 Language Arts suggested reading list.]

[I decided that if all the children are to follow in the same vein as tama 1, then it would be worth the investment to purchase our own copies, rather than use the local library.]

[And even if we didn't continue with supplementing our school curriculum with LessonPathways, the books would never go unused.]

I find it fascinating that they have come from the UK, individually wrapped, and have cost me a lot less than buying them from the likes of Fishpond, the Nile, Wheelers etc.

I did manage to find a couple of the books on TradeMe, and I would've purchased from there but to bore you with details, I kept the books on our watchlist and when I noticed people placing bids, I flagged making bids on them myself because by the time I added the postage, I realised I would actually get a better deal from the Book Depository. And yes, I will put my hand up and admit, I decided it was more worthwhile buying brand new.

There was no comparison.

Aaaah ... but what really swung it was that extra 10% discount.

From our recent purchase, I started reading with tama 1 this week ...

He's really enjoying this chapter book. We're but a few pages shy of finishing chapter 4 of the 195 page story. One of our tasks at that point is to discuss things like:
There's a few other activities we can do, and we'll see how we get on with those. Depending on due date of baby number six, we will either carry on straight after Christmas, or take a break. I'm finding it tiring to do too much at the moment and the kids really aren't interested in school work ... Christmas beckons, so why should I push them to do school work? Let's relax, enjoy summer and count down to our new family member's arrival eh?! Too right!!!

Tama 1 is also very keen to read the other two Runaway Ralph books so I will make a point of saving up for those.

When I read about the author, Beverly Cleary, I discovered she has written many, many books indeed. If this book is anything to go by, I would say I'll be investigating the others too because I'm really enjoying the story myself which is great. I've read a chapter ahead so that I can be prepared for any questions tama 1 may have. Basically he's only asked me what a word means such as: anxious, wavered, scrounge, accustomed, droned, provoked, relished, awed ...

I've got some more to chat about but I've run out of steam to do much more tonight. So I've now edited the heading to indicate this is Part One. I will hopefully post tomorrow to share the rest with y'all.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Quick reflection

It's around this time ... when I get closer to a new baby arrival ... that I hold my youngest in my arms and sadly admit they will no longer be my baby. Soon they will look like a giant to their new sibling. It's a bittersweet moment.

I am down to weekly midwife appointments and I have to say I've had mixed emotions this time around. With this baby, I have seen my chosen midwife probably a maximum of four times. The other times I have been seen by someone else. No, that's not a problem and in fact I like the other ladies, after all, Tuia did deliver our last two babies and I enjoyed having her. So, on the one hand, I really don't mind if Tuia is the one I have to phone to deliver tama 4, but it's been sad not seeing Aroha (my chosen midwife). A minor quibber, but it's made me feel less special. Just because I'm having my sixth child, does that warrant me any less of a client? Okay, it's probably not by design that Aroha is not available to see me, but I really like her and get on well with her, so I just wish I'd seen more of her because she's been my midwife for all the kids.

Another thing I find interesting is that I have been asked to see an obstetrician. When I asked my midwife why, she said it's because of my age and the fact that I've had so many kids already. What a hoot!

At first I really wanted to decline the appointment but then I started to reflect on the learning experience for the children (well, possibly ... it all depends how busy they are and whether it's a simple "in/out" type of appointment). But I also told myself that I will attend the appointment so that the obstetrician has the "privilege" of meeting "me"!!!!

Apparently he will want to explain the risks involved. I suspect he will also want to try and convince me that six is enough and give me the old "have you thought about contraception?" speech. Well, he'll be in for surprise! My body, my choice.

But yes, I held my little man this afternoon and for the second afternoon running, he fell asleep in my arms. He hasn't done that for a very long time, so I don't know if he is picking up on my body shape and that a change is fortuitous or whether he simply wants a cuddle, but I've enjoyed holding him. Soon he will be a big brother, no longer the baby.


Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

It's so much fun when you receive a package

Wednesday the 9th

9.00 am-10.00 am

I browsed around the WatchKnow wiki site. In all honesty that's all I did ... "browsed" ... but it looks inviting. It feels safer to me to have the kids use this sort of site rather than stumbling upon unsavoury videos on YouTube. It's well-categorised and I do like the way you can use an age filter to only look for clips that are age-appropriate. It's still in the early stages of development, but I'm sure it will gain momentum very quickly.


The children and I were very, very excited today because our eagerly anticipated Math-U-See textbooks arrived. It was particularly exciting for me because I had ordered three levels ... Primer for tama 2, Gamma for tamāhine 1 and Delta for tama 1.

It's neat looking at the bookshelf to see we now have a growing collection ...

Primer .... α ... ß ... γ... δ

I enjoy having children who love maths. I had the warm fuzzies when I walked in the door with the package today. The kids told me they had been sitting on the couch waiting as I yakked to Martha - our postie - trying to guess what colour Delta would be. Turns out tamāhine 1 was right. Kōwhai (yellow). As soon as we had it open, the kids were all nose-to-books scouring the pages.

They were all very keen to start using their new textbooks, so it wasn't long before I had three students with three different MUS levels opening their clean, crisp new textbooks. It was so obvious tama 1 wanted to get stuck in because no sooner had I put the δ DVD into the computer and was watching intently to see what pointers I could pick up on, when suddenly tama 1 comes over and plonks himself next to me chatting about it.

As we watched the first few lessons on division, tama 1 was answering all the questions with ease. As soon as he registered just how simple divisions were, he was keen as mustard to work on the first lesson.

All three had their first lessons completed within minutes.

Considering I maybe could've/should've started tama 2 on Primer months ago, I decided to wait until now and I'm glad I did. I haven't done any formal maths with him prior, but he's been confidently using numbers of his own accord. As he worked on the first lesson (or was it lesson two?), I asked him to try and skip count in two's. To my surprise he did indeed count in two's. That was neat because it's been months and months since he's listened to the skip counting songs on the MUS Songbook and CD.

Late this afternoon I started looking for our Math-U-See DVD's because I feel I need to watch them again in case I've forgotten anything important. After an hour of tearing my hair out I had a rest and then went to it again. By this stage I'm getting extremely hot and bothered, and grumpy. As soon as whaiāipo got home I took advantage of the kids bombarding dad to head upstairs and look in the boxes of miscellaneous goodies. What was a tidy mess is now a disaster zone. I couldn't find α (Alpha) or ß (Beta). Talk about throw me into a frenzy. I finally gave up, had dinner and suddendly remembered ß (Beta) wasn't in the proper DVD cover as I had bought it off a friend so it was in a CD case. Phew! I found that one ... now, where was Alpha?

What do you do when you're in a flap? You jump on Twitter and tell the world you're losing your marbles.

Thursday the 10th

But what a good idea it was to blurb it on Twitter. Why? Because my girlfriend sends me an email this afternoon to let me know she read the Twitter message and she in fact has the Alpha DVD. Yay!!! I hadn't lost it after all !!! Thank goodness for that. At least I know where it is now. There's no urgency to have it, but you know what it's like when you're organised and have things in set places. When you can't find it where it should be, then you get very tetchy and restless.

Well, I had actually planned to write about some other things as well as math, but MUS seems to have completely dominated the discussion. So, I think I'll leave it there and try to come back with something else over the next few days.

The summer heat has been quite intense these past few days. Our house gets the sun in the main living areas by 1 o'clock and we are under intense heat until 8 o'clock, so you can imagine how uncomfortable it is downstairs. Because we live so near the lake we can't leave the doors open after dark because we get inundated with troutflies which is no fun whatsoever. This being the case, I can't stay downstairs too long because it's simply too hot and my pregnant feet are feeling it tonight. So, I shall leave it there and head on my merry way.

Rock on Supervision Allowance. Sure hope I see my bank account has a pleasant figure appear for me on Friday morning.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Monday, 30 November 2009

The last few weeks ... in brief

Gosh, I started this post over a fortnight ago but now look at me! The last day of November '09 and I'm finally publishing it. Because I've run so far behind, I'm sure I'll be leaving out vital chunks (as usual).

I am definitely finding it difficult to keep up with the blog because when we're home, our entire day is school-oriented and any so-called "down-time" is busy with little ones, tidying up and feeding everyone. If I'm not feeding them then I'm washing dishes afterwards etc etc. Then we're back into school work. But I'm sure you know exactly what I'm saying, huh?!

Tama 2 turned five on Friday just gone and he officially starts school today. Although he doesn't have the same schedule for school work, he does account for a little attention to introduce him into the wonderful world of continued education. So that's three students, two toddlers and the 'bump' of course who can, by himself, make my days uncomfortable.

My girlfriend asked me recently if I'd be purchasing another computer and I jokingly replied I could do with buying a laptop because I find being downstairs too tiring at night. If I had a laptop I know I would happily tap away upstairs as I lay in bed. Considering I wake up most nights and can be awake for what seems like hours, I do wish sometimes I had a laptop. I could easily while away my time doing something constructive ... like plan the next school day, draft a blog post, or simply surf the net, lol.

But then again, it's not long before baby arrives so I really should be making the most of my nights ... be they unsettled or not.

What I'm trying to say is, I'm sorry I haven't been able to post as often as I would like, but my days really do race by too quickly hence big gaps between each post for a while longer.

Anywho, let's get the ball rolling with the kids progress over the last few weeks ...


Tamāhine 1 read the following (Cat on the Hill by Michael Foreman) from the Big Universe

while Tama 1 read (Migrating Animals of the Air by Jacqueline A. Ball) also from Big Universe.

We discovered there was a quiz to go along with the Migration book which was great so we gave that a go too. Although I've recorded the questions and answers, I don't think I can post it to the blog because I'd hazard a guess I'd be breaching a copyright law for sure.

Actually, it would seem quizzes were a bit of a recurring theme the other week (ie 16-20 November). Let's think ... we did a Moon Quiz and a Meteor Quiz. Tama 1 and Tamāhine 1 also worked together on a quiz about The Hubble Space Telescope. They took turns writing out answers - Tama 1 cursive and Tamāhine 1 printing. Very tidy writing from both of them.

Observation: That particular week, Tamāhine 1's writing was better when I dictated to her than her copywriting. That's not to say there was anything wrong with her copywork. I simply noticed how much tidier it looked. Perhaps she finds it easier writing on a single sheet of paper than writing in an exercise book, ie she doesn't have the uneveness of the middle joining found in an exercise book?


Tama 1 steadily worked on Lesson 27 over the last fortnight. I'll provide two examples to give you an idea why we spread the workload over the fortnight:

Example 1
Write in words: 318,611,353
Tama 1 then has to write out: Three hundred and* eighteen million, six hundred and* eleven thousand, three hundred and* fifty-three.

whether you use the word "and" like we do or not I don't know, but this is one thing I really can't change. Our kids aren't confused when we say "and", so I choose to keep it that way. I understand what MUS uses, but we can't change that one ... not yet at least!

Example 2
Write each number in place value notation: 321,618,818
Tama 1 then has to write out: 300,000,000 + 20,000,000 + 1,000,000 + 600,000 + 10,000 + 8,000 + 800 + 10 + 8

uite exhausting just looking at it huh?! You have to make sure you have enough zeros eh?!

Tama 1 has moved on to Lesson 28 this week and completed A&B today. All going well, he will finish through to the Test lesson by the end of the week.

Language Arts

Tamāhine 1 worked on :

(1) Spelling exercises
(2) Reading comprehension called Max the Dog
(3) Synonyms and antonyms
(4) Nouns
(5) Similies
(6) Differences between dashes and hypens
(7) Sequencing of events

Tama 1 and Tamāhine 1 worked together on a few Language Arts lessons. One in particular we really enjoyed was Smart by Shel Silverstein. You may recall we learned the American coin currency the other week? Well, there was a reason for that ... Smart by Shel Silverstein.

Having spent the time learning pennies, dimes, nickels etc we were able to come to the conclusion the boy made a big mistake trading his money. I really enjoyed that lesson and at 43 I have actually learned how much a dime etc is worth. I bet you anything that if I wasn't teaching the children myself then it would have taken a major win on Lotto to take a trip to the USA before I'd ever think to know the American currency. What a hoot!

Last week we finally picked up a copy of Mercy Watson to the Rescue from the public library. This was a book I tried getting out of the Mobile Library WEEKS and WEEKS ago. Well, it may have taken us a month (if not longer) to get our hands on it, but we finally got it. So, Tama 1 and I have read it and started our exercises for this book.

Firstly, Tama 1 worked with Tamāhine 1 and Tama 2 to make a simple booklet about their favourite food/s. We then completed the sequence of events and have started a discussion about emergency services. There's still a lot of work to do with it but I'm glad Tama 1 enjoyed reading it. I wasn't sure if he'd take to the story at all ... don't ask me why?! Perhaps it was because we'd waited for such a long time to check it out of the library that I wasn't sure if I was making too big a deal over it.

Tamāhine 1 read Soup and the Sandwish and wrote a little story about celebrating a special event and what kind of food was part of that celebration. She used her knew terminology of "firstly", "then", "next" and "finally" and illustrated it also.

Tama 2 read "Go, Go, Go" and "Big". These books were very simple (24 words each). I'll ease him gently into things and stick to what we have been doing pre-school but introduce writing etc in coming weeks. I could be wrong, but I'm sure he's daunted at the idea that he might be working as much as his older siblings.

Tama 1 worked on "The Neighborhood Mystery". Just like Tamāhine 1 they tried to predict the story and as we progressed through the reading we discussed if their predictions were correct etc.

Last Thursday the children and I were heading into the city and were driving past the Rotorua Airport when Tama 1 excitedly called out, "Wow! Look at that big plane! It's an Airbus A320-200" ... he honestly did say Airbus A320-200!!! [I could remember Airbus but flag the rest of it!!!!]

I turned the van around and pulled into the parking lot. If I'd known the plane was going to be here I'd have arrived a lot earlier to take the kids into the terminal, but because I could hear the engines going, I knew I didn't have enough time to park in the "paying carpark", and get everyone into the terminal quickly enough. So we stayed where we were and watched it taxi out. It wasn't long before it came roaring down the runway and we were all like, "wow!" when it lifted and was in the air within seconds.

I really wish I'd known it was here so I could've brought my digital camera, but at least I had my mobile phone I guess. You'll need to use your imagination to count the "crowd" of 4-6 people standing by the fence. There was another guy with his camera on a tripod to our left and two other guys in their car as well. Quite a crowd eh?!!! Well, I'm sure there would've been more indoors (perhaps) but we felt quite privileged to watch the new plane. We did see a group of at least 20 or 30 official looking people walk out onto the tarmac to watch it leave too.

My brother who works at the airport was saying it was meant to be on the down-low because the plane was here more for the staff to familiarise themselves with it. My mum said there was something in the paper the night before ... but we don't get the paper, so I was none the wiser.

The official trans-tasman date is 12 December 2009.

Before I finish off, I simply had to share our discount card from The Mad Butcher at Te Ngae. The plan was to leave using it closer to Christmas but it was a case of needing it today. It felt great walking out with "free" meat - it really did!!! It took weeks to build up the stamps, but I was ever so grateful to have it today.

This deal is only available at the Te Ngae branch, but no doubt other meat shops have their own loyalty systems. I always went to the Ti Street branch straight after the supermarket but they don't have a loyalty scheme so it's Te Ngae for us now. And anyway, Te Ngae is heaps closer to home so it makes more sense eh?!

I'm quite sure I've missed out some good stories about school, but if I don't hurry up and publish this post then it'll be another week down !!!

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Sunday, 15 November 2009

What a week!

Now that we've made it to the weekend and can relax I'll try to record a few [schooling] moments because although we experienced many interruptions, we did manage to accomplish some things.

Firstly, Math-U-See. As you know, Tama 1 is working through Gamma. We're steadily working through Lesson 25 at present and we're making tremendous progress.

A Big Thumbs up for Steve Demme's method

Honestly, it is just wicked! Once I sat down and figured out how to do it myself, it was incredibly simple to implement. In a matter of minutes I understood the workings of it and I have only word to describe it - awesome! Yes indeed, for my little non-mathematical brain to have understood it is jolly impressive.

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[When you see how tidy he is in his approach to writing things out you can see why we're only doing one page per day at the minute.
I realise that in the new manuals, MUS have printed on both sides of the pages to cut down on the bulkiness and cut down on paper wastage. Speaking for ourselves, we actually prefer these older-style manuals because the kids do all their workings out on the left-hand side. But that's just something we will have to adjust to. I guess it won't much matter now that Tama 1 is actually working on larger equations because there's not enough room in the manuals to do his workings out anyway.]

In all fairness, I can say that Tama 1 understands both the 'traditional' method and the 'Math U See' method, so he's flexible enough to move between the two if need be, ie recognise different methods. The problem last week had nothing to do with using the traditional method, but rather, it was the fact that he had bigger multiplications to do, ie not just single or double digit numbers. Now that he's advancing into triple digits and upward thereof, he was simply daunted by the amount of work to do; or more to the point, the amount of work to do on his own. When I sat with him (acting as nothing more than his study-buddy) he managed the equations all on his own because simply by having me nearby he was able to relax. I can relate to that. I can remember being quite frightened being wrong in front of my fellow students and teacher when I was his age because it was at the multiplication stage of my short enjoyment-in-life-of-math that everything went pear-shape for me. In my case "embarrassment equalled failure."

Returning to last week again, I figured out quick-smart that one of the problems for Tama 1 when doing the bigger multiplication problems, is the fact that there's no columns or ruled lines across to act as an aide for the child. As soon as I drew lines down and across, hey presto!, he mastered each equation. Once he's run out of room in the manual, he moves to writing on a pad of paper [... hence the photo included above]. Tama 1 takes pride in his presentation, which I freely accept he gets from me! lol. In order to keep his workings out with the manual, I think I'll trim the sides to fit and glue along the top of the workings page then pop it in the manual that way. He prefers to draw the lines as opposed to mum printing out the grid pages and that's fine by me. Whatever makes it more enjoyable and understable for the kids then that's the way we'll do it.

The main thing is, Tama 1 is doing fine with his multiplications. It's still rather intimidating to look at more numbers for him and I know he is daunted at the prospect of working on even bigger equations (having glanced further along in Gamma). However, I know we have worked out a way to assist him and if I'm honest, I'm actually quite keen for him to do more than one page per day so we can get to those bigger equations already!!!! (tsk tsk mum! So much for learning some patience, lol).

Saturday, 8 o'clock at night

Tama 1 takes a pad of paper to whaiāipo and says, "I think this is how many hours there are in a year ... and this is how many in a leap year." He was absolutely correct on both accounts.

Then he decides to calcuate how many minutes there are in a year! Now THAT was a big equation so I helped him out just a little, ie indicating it was a two-part equation and explaining he'd need to add an extra zero when calculating as he would be multiplying by three digits. (There's probably a technical term to explain this, but I'm sure you'll understand what I'm saying. I know it's to do with place value, but if there's a special term I apologise, but I can't think of it right at this time.)
  1. There's 60 minutes in one hour and there are 24 hours in a day. He multiplied 60 x 24 without a problem. Total = 1440
  2. Now for the biggie - 1440 x 365. That's where I needed to teach him to add an extra zero:
Now, if you aren't familiar with MUS's method or you haven't reached Gamma yet, you may or may not understand how this works. It's a neat way of carrying over your figures. You write them in the body of the equation as opposed to placing them at the top of the equation. Such a simple yet very effective method!!

SOTW Volume 1

It's been an eternity since we did any History studies and I feel dreadful about that.

If I had an excuse as to why we haven't done SOTW for so long, well, I would probably say it's because I've allowed the children to actively pursue their interest in other areas. For example, Tama 1 loves engineering so for weeks now he's devoured the books at home here on engineering structures, machines and such like. He has drawn so many inventive plans of buildings, aeroplanes, ships and goodness-knows-what-else that I've not for a moment felt he's fallen behind with studies. Considering History is chock-a-block full of inventors, who's to say our son won't be in the history books himself one day?

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But anyway, this week I dragged out SOTW Volume 1 and the above photo is what we worked on this week. We discussed Hammurabi and the Babylonians. I asked him if (next week) he'd like to type out his notes (1) for his typing practice, and (2) as an alternative method of note-taking. He likes that idea, so I'll be sure to include a photo of him working on that next week. One point he enjoyed learning about the Babylonians is the fact that they were the first people to divide a year into 12 months, divide a day into 24 hours, and an hour into 60 minutes.

Tamāhine 1 has been working well this week on all areas of her schooling. There is one area though that I have neglected a little and that's her handwriting practice. I got a little lax about practicing daily, so over the past few weeks I have made a more committed effort to re-establish it into our routine. I'm sorry the photo below isn't as clear as I wish it could be, but I was trying to provide an example of how she's come back to it like a duck to water. It took her a lot longer to produce her work, but once I reminded her to sit straight and relax her arm, she found it easier. The tendency to lean onto the forearm initially certainly exhausted her so I sat with her and with subtle yet encouraging reminders of what to do, she soon found her feet again and as the days passed, all aspects improved.

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Tama 1 and Tamāhine 1 worked together during the week to learn US currency. So far we have learnt about American coins:

Penny = 1¢ - Abe Lincoln on the front, Lincoln Memorial on the back
Nickel = 5¢ - Thomas Jefferson on the front, his home of Monticello on the back*

Dime = 10¢ - Franklin Roosevelt on the front, torch on the back
Quarter = 25¢ - George Washington on the front, Eagle on the back*
Half-Dollar = 50¢ - John Kennedy on the front, Presidential Seal on the back

* For us to distinguish between the two we noted that Jefferson had a wig with no curl and Washington has a wig with curl.

We had a lot of fun learning the coins and adding up with the American currency. Okay, so it's not quite so relevant living all the way over on the other side of the world for us, but at least we'll be prepared if we ever get the chance to travel over there, lol.

And finally, just a quick reminder to any whānau members checking in. Hopefully you have sent in or voted online (like I did).

I thought it was pretty flash to receive the form with secret code to vote online. Tumeke alright.

I cast my vote on receipt of the form on Friday rather than wait because (1) of the ease of convenience to vote online; (2) even though I have until 10 December, I already knew who I would vote for; and (3) we have a busy few weeks ahead what with two birthdays within six days of each other and getting myself organised with baby clothes etc for our new baby arrival. Besides, it's a good feeling knowing I've got another task out of the way (albeit small).

So there's a quick wrap-up of our week. I've tried to include everything that was achieved and hopefully I haven't left anything out. Time to get a coffee me thinks! and get outside with the kids and whaiāipo.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Plans are all very well and good, but ...

... experience teaches me that things won't always go according to plan.


As I stood at the kitchen making breakfast I looked across at tamāhine 1 and thought to myself how much I take for granted not having to rush the kids off to school. It's 8 o'clock in the morning, and tamāhine 1's relaxing with a good read of her choice. Mum's not saying, "quick, into the car kids or you'll be late for school!!"


Today I sat down with tama 2 while tama 1 worked on Gamma Math-U-See Lesson 24 and tamāhine 1 did online MUS exercises. [Tamāhine 1 completed Beta on Friday 30 October, but I won't be moving her into Gamma just yet as I want to practice certain math facts for a while longer, hence online practice.]

Unfortunately it didn't go well with either boys. Tama 2 became hoha about reading, so I ended up letting him step away and play after less than 20 minutes because I knew he wasn't going to cooperate. I just wish I'd been quicker about letting tama 2 go because I probably would've avoided a little meltdown from tama 1.

Being the intelligent, deep-thinking and probably over-analysing son that he is, tama 1 can easily become upset when he gets something wrong.

Experience has taught me how to manage these moments, but today no amount of coaxing, cajoling, inveigling was going to work. So, I ended up sending the kids outside to play and said we'd come back to school after a long break. [Again, that's experience with our kids talking.]

I knew it meant a two hour plus break. During this period I too could take a breather and figure out what the underlying problem was. After much thought, I realised:

One problem: They could all be tired. I suddenly remembered tama 1 went to sleep at a very, very late hour last night. No wonder he couldn't focus. Of all days to try moving him into bigger multipication equations. Nope, today was possibly not the best day to have him work on it.

Another (possible) problem: I was teaching tama 1 to do the equation in the traditional method of multiplying, and not the Steve Demme way. I now blame myself that I hadn't used the new method; after all, I have followed the philosophy of Math-U-See all along, but I was uncomfortable changing the method to multiply simply to suit myself! I don't like to use the expression, 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks,' but it kind of rings true for me at this juncture. My head swirled trying to change to the MUS method, so I stuck to what I knew.

If you're familiar with Gamma Lesson 24 then you'll know what I'm talking about. I wasn't taught to do multiplication this way at all and yet, my reasoning to use the traditional method is because whaiāipo and I have used our method in front of, and with the children, on many occasions, yet I made the terrible mistake of thinking tama 1 was comfortable with this method.

Once I left tama 1 to it, he got himself bamboozled. I'm sure his mind would've been swirling with questions like ...
Do I add this carry-over number to that digit?

Do I multiply the totals? ...
When he did the first few examples with me, he was fine, but he obviously wasn't ready to move on alone. Throw into the mix a double-dose of tiredness and a big dollop of "I don't like to get things wrong" and voilà you have the perfect recipe to become upset.

Needless to say, when we did finally return to school work, we left maths and did other subjects instead. Everybody was a lot happier and able to concentrate.



I started the day with a photo of tamāhine 1. I'll end with a photo of her as well. Our beautiful 6 year old lost her third tooth as she cleaned her teeth getting ready for bed tonight! No, she's not singing ... I had to ask her to open her mouth for the photo because when she smiled you couldn't see where she'd lost her tooth, lol.



Today we had success with Lesson 24 multiplications. I was happy enough for Tama 1 to complete one page, but said if he wanted to try two pages then we could give it a try. We took our time and I sat back watching him work. He needed the occasional guidance but overall it was all him. We will take our time and if tomorrow he doesn't do so well, then that's okay. Patience is one of the greatest gifts I am learning as a homeschooling mother. That's not to say I've perfected the art of patience by any stretch of the imagination! but I have at least learned how to read the signals from each of the children when to stop, slow down or pull back altogether.

Tama 1 used the following website for his spelling.

{Actually, there are quite a few good teaching tools disguised as games aren't there?}

Yesterday the bulk of my attention was centred around the boys. I tried to move across to tamāhine 1 and help her also, but it was more in the form of sitting at one end of the desk and asking, "are you doing okay tamāhine 1?" and that sort of line of questioning. When I did finally get to sit with her, I could see she was doing fine, and I just thought "that-a girl!!!"

Today it was important I did something with her, so while tama 1 had fun practicing his spelling on Wordcentral I sat with tamāhine 1 as she worked on her math lesson. She'd already completed the Venn Diagram lesson by the time I sat with her, so I made sure I was there as she worked on Patterns.

One of my aims with tamāhine 1 at the moment is to improve her spelling. Phonetically, yes, she's fine. By building her love of reading I know she will pick up many words so it's a two-fold process. Keep the reading up and build the spelling. Tamāhine 1 probably has more language arts in her daily work than she may like, but at least I'm finding different things for her to use to keep her interested. Two of the library books she read today were:

It's always nice to have a 'real' book to read, as opposed to reading from the computer, nē rā?!

She made a good job of reading these books. Words she found difficult:

fromage de vache ... any surprise there? ... hardly
Juanita del Zorro - I pointed out Juanita is my friend's second name
Dolores del Zorro


Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano