Sunday, 17 January 2010

Enjoying our Summer Downtime

We're still enjoying our summer holidays here in Rotorua, New Zealand and any mention to the children to (jokingly) restart falls on deaf ears! Surprise, surprise!

That's fine by me at the moment because the majority of my time is spent counting down to tama 4's arrival in a matter of days, so I'm grateful it's the school break because my mind simply isn't in that zone.

Anyway, I wanted to share just a couple of books that the children have read online this week which we've added to our cyber-bookshelves.
Tamāhine 1 read the above book from the Children's Library.

From the summary of the book: "One night, a flying train takes Jimmy and Nelly on an adventure to outer space. Was it all just a dream?" After flying past Fairyland, they fly into space and meet some stars, the moon, the sun and even meet the Little Grey People from Mars. When they all fall out of the train and land back in their bed, the reader is left wondering if it really happened, or if it had simply been a dream.

Tamāhine 1 read the book in one sitting which was great. And I know I've mentioned this before, but one thing which makes a big difference for Tamāhine 1 especially, is the fact she can enlarge the print of (most) books at the Children's Library. It's not like holding a book in your hand where you can run your finger underneath to keep your place, and when you're still learning to read with confidence, something like enlarging the print helps a lot.
A perfect book for Tama 1 to read was this week's freebie from The Big Universe. This book touches on many aspects of what makes a Test Pilot. It even mentions the Greek myth of Icarus which the children remember. No flight story would be complete without mentioning the Wright Brothers and Amelia Earhart. It's amazing how much he knows about flight already, but y'know, there's little wonder he has an interest in planes. His Uncle Warrick works hard at the Rotorua Airport and like many in our family, Warrick has a strong interest to join the RNZAF one day soon. We had many Uncles in the RNZAF during the war, our second brother Mark was a proud member for many years and the list goes on.

With the children's interest in aeroplanes, we headed down to the airport and watched the A320-200 prepare for departure on Saturday. Here's a few photos of us watching Uncle Warrick ...

After their final communications and signals to the pilot this is the last part before the flight takes off. For us, watching the ground crew is probably just as exciting as watching the plane actually lift off.

Okay, so I've mentioned a couple of books the children have read. Now I want to mention the 2010 Homeschool Diary

which is available for purchase at The Broad Room. It's designed for New Zealanders - and there's an Australian version also. There's also an Organiser which is designed for 10-17 year olds. Not having a 10 year old yet, we only went with the Diary this year.

The Diary and Organisers are available in either .pdf or printed version. My reasons to purchase the .pdf version were three-fold. Firstly, I can print it out in A4 or A5. Secondly, I can print extra pages of any part of the diary. My third reason? Well, that's a long-winded reason, but here goes.

I've been hopeless at organising school for me and the kids. Everything pretty much happens on a day-by-day basis. I looked at the way the Diary was structured and I thought, well, this is what I pretty much do, but my method has never made coherent sense. I'm hoping the Diary will teach me how to focus. Organise things NOW as opposed to making it up as we go along. With a few years of homeschooling under my belt now, I need to structure our school year better. So, although I place a lot of confidence in this Diary helping me to achieve that goal, I am being cautiously optimistic in my spending.

My goal for this year can summed up as:

PLAN - FOCUS - ACHIEVE

I'm quite sure it's the goal for many of us, but sometimes we feel we don't reach that end result. Although I know we - as a family - have achieved much over the past three years, there are certain aspects I wish to improve upon. As Stephanie points out in the User Guide section of the Diary, "... to fill in during the slower month of January. Give yourself some down time..." This year we're actually having that down time, so yes, that's good advice for me. Sit in a comfortable chair and start dreaming of the year ahead and what we wish to achieve.

To decide for yourself, follow this link and scroll down to open the sample of the Homeschooling Diary. I'm glad I made my decision to incorporate this resource into my planning for the year.

Well, that pretty much wraps up what I wanted to share about the week. If anything, I hope I have left you with food for thought to consider the 2010 Homeschooling Diary.


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ka kite ano

Thursday, 14 January 2010

First thing this morning we saw ...

Each morning, whaiāipo heads off to work around 7.40-7.45am and this morning was no exception.

Within five minutes my mobile rang. With its fancy ring-tone, I know it's whaiāipo.

It turns out he's ringing to let us know there's a helicopter spraying the crops down the road (about 4kms from our home).
So, I bundle the kids into the van, grab the camera and leaving the breakfast dishes scattered on the bench and door unlocked we head down the road in search of this helicopter.

It's a gorgeous morning already and we had a great vantage point to be freely entertained over the next half an hour or so.
Do you ever click the shutter button and you get a one or two second delay before it takes the photo? I'm sure I would've captured the perfect photo of the helicopter barely flying over the power lines! But I'll add the photo anyway because I simply find it amazing how a pilot can confidently fly so close to such deadly things.
He was literally right next to us over the fence for this photo ...
And this one ...
We watched it land to refill and then fly off to other farms. We followed it from Gee Road (here) back to Rotokawa Road.
Okay, so this isn't exactly a first-time event for us, but it's the first time I've been armed with camera at the right time!!

Thank goodness for mobile phones.

Now that I've shared that piece of morning exploration, we're about to head back towards town to do our weekly grocery shop (oh, but that's not before the kids finish drawing their pictures of what they saw first!!!)


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ka kite ano

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Our homeschooling lesson of the day

HOW COOL IS THIS ???


Whaiāipo was sent to a really exciting plumbing job today. He had to repipe a hot water cylinder in this HUGE 20-metre long, 39 tonne mobile operating theatre. He gave the children and I the heads-up, so on our way home this afternoon we tried to get as close to it as we could. I didn't have my camera, just my mobile phone. Because the bus was inside a workshop I couldn't get a clear enough photo. Besides, there were a lot of tradesmen working and I didn't want to get too close without permission.

So, I decided to have a look on the internet to see what I could learn about it.

I am SOOOOOOOOOO impressed with what I've learned. For major starters I learned that the entire trailer unit was built right here in Rotorua, by a firm called Mills Tui. Now, although I knew Mills Tui have made fire trucks and stuff like that, I have to admit I had no idea they made this awesome mobile surgical bus.

It travels through rural New Zealand on a five week cycle.

The website even has a calendar to show where the bus is located on a daily/monthly basis.

It's currently off the road for its yearly maintenance I guess. It has to be fully-operational by the 19th to start its 2010 tour of duty on the 24th.

They reached a milestone of 10,000 operations in rural New Zealand on 27th May 2009 - in Oamaru of all places!!!
The current plan is to "establish permanent Tele-presence networks links between seven selected rural sites (see locations) and academics, professional bodies, tertiary hospital and leading health professional, in order to deliver virtual lectures, reducing this isolation and enhancing lifelong learning opportunities for rural health care providers."

There is a lot of information packed into their website. Every bit of it is really interesting, educational and downright awe-inspiring.

Whaiāipo said that as he worked underneath the side-extensions, he could feel people basically walking on his head. He had the privilege to get up close and personal and was really blown away by the sheer size of the surgical theatre.

Pretty WOW wouldn't you say?


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ka kite ano

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Inside my Bounty Bag

Lauren, a reader in Australia, was quick to comment on my earlier post and because she mentioned she received condoms in her Bounty Bag, I simply couldn't resist opening mine to see if I did too!!!

Nope, there were no condoms.

There were the usual things like magazines, samples of different ointments, disposable nappies and Ecostore laundry powder, pamphlets on an array of motherly topics etc. But one new thing since tama 3's birth was a pamphlet from The Department of Internal Affairs. Something called Decorative Birth Certificates ...


I like these! They are a far cry from the budget version they changed to a few years ago...
If you follow the links then be sure to scroll down to the section "Pictorial Birth Certificates" which outline the meanings behind the pictures used.

Gorgeous.


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ka kite ano

Indicators that baby's arrival is drawing near

When you start devouring the Baby Names book and feel like you should know the pages off-by-heart.

The feeding/rocking chair is resurrected in preparation for all those hours about to be spent breastfeeding.
Your midwife hands you the Bounty Gift Pack and a packet of New Born disposables.
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ka kite ano

They'll know how to win a girl's heart

The children have always been sweethearts when it comes to giving mum "flowers", and it's been gorgeous watching tama 2 teach tama 3 how to pick them.



Even if they are weeds, a mother will always proudly display her flowers, won't she?!

Bit scary to think that one day my boys will be giving a girl - other than me - flowers. The day will be here all too soon.


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ka kite ano

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Snippets from our weekend

Saturday

Trying to relax in preparation of tama 4's forthcoming arrival is rather difficult. I don't like to sit around, but much to my midwife's delight I was able to report that due to visitors over the past few days I've managed to sit back and relax more than I normally would.

Yesterday I also had a pleasant surprise. A former work colleague (from about 10 years ago), managed to track me down via the internet. We had a lot of fun emailing each other for an hour on and off. [That was a great way for me to relax actually.]

When I finished nattering to my friend, I spent a HUGE portion of the remaining afternoon fiddling with each blog post in preparation of getting this school blog printed. After attempting a dumby run on blog2print, I noticed I could save a few pages (and therefore $'s) by eliminating excess space. My efforts paid off because when I did my second dumby run I managed to knock off at least $10 which in the grand scheme of things is big moolahs eh?!

Now I just need to make these final decisions:
  1. Do I want it printed in soft-cover, hard-cover, or the really cheap option of .pdf?
  2. Should I order it now and pay off my visa, or do I wait until I can afford it?

With the beautiful summer weather, the children have been enjoying themselves playing and that's been another good way for me to relax. I'm enjoying their school holidays just as much as they are. No stress about what to do for school work or trying to drag them inside away from their fun outside. A very happy household this way.

Sunday

"How to convert your 7 seater van into an 8 seater .101"
I made sure the children didn't miss out on another learning experience with their dad today. Even though it only took whaiāipo half an hour to complete the task, I wanted the children to watch and assist.
More softball ...
I like the idea the kids came up with - to use their motorbike armour for backstop position

One of the pleasures I have of our home is that even in all its unfinished glory, I can be in the kitchen preparing dinner while at the same time be able to look out across the yard to see the kids enjoying themselves. Makes light work of my task while allowing me the vantage point of seeing where everyone is.


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ka kite ano

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

How I'm relaxing pre-new baby arrival

This morning I made sure I sat down to enjoy spending time outside with the children. Mum sitting in the shade while the kids played on their playground.

I wondered how tama 2 was able to get up on the trapeze ... and now I know ...




Kinda makes me wonder why whaiāipo and I bothered putting the trapeze higher now that I see tama 2 worked out a way to get on eh?!
It'll probably take us a while to save up enough money to buy some sand to put around the play area, but in the meantime the children seem to be coping with the dirt surface. We also want to buy some shade sails, which we can hopefully afford in a few weeks.
Both tamāhine 2 and tama 3 took a few lessons to understand how to land with this bigger slide as it has a higher drop than the smaller slide. Without sand to land softly into, they soon realised it is best to land on their feet.
This morning, I've at least made sure I've tidied up and have the laundry totally sorted so that if baby decides to introduce himself tomorrow then whaiāipo won't have to do much. I've packed clothes etc for the children to take to nana and koro's, so it's just my bag to get ready. I always leave that till the very last minute, ie when I know it's really happening.

At 2 o'clock I finally found the energy to take the Christmas decorations down.

What took a full day and more to put up, only took two hours to take down.

Another Christmas over.

Soon I will celebrate another pregnancy over.

As much as I enjoy being pregnant, seeing myself like this makes me look twice and say, "is that really me?"

No wonder I feel so heavy. (A good heavy, but nevertheless, heavy ... if you catch my drift?)


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ka kite ano

They call it O/T (Little to do with homeschooling)

My visit with midwife (Aroha) went very well yesterday. I'm still unsure as to baby's true ETA so whether he arrives tomorrow (7th January), or not until the 20th, we'll simply have to wait and see. I'm feeling quite tired this morning but that's because I didn't get any sleep on Monday night, waiting for whaiāipo to return from Huia, Auckland. Like a sub-contractor said to whaiāipo at work yesterday, "Blimey, you were practically in Sydney!" Yes, I can understand what he means. Huia is a long drive on the west coast, so whaiāipo practically went to Aussie.

However, the $10 seats were well worth the trip, even if my body is tired and I should've slept instead of sitting up waiting for his return. But then, I'm like that ... utterly hopeless when he's away from me. I always worry about anyone on the roads, especially my whaiāipo. It was so unfortunate that the traffic was such a nightmare, but it had to be expected because so many Kiwis were on the roads returning home to start back at work yesterday and because the people we bought the seats off were leaving on their NZ tour today, we had no option but to pick them up that night. So it's my own fault I feel tired.

We spent a good portion of yesterday at nana and koro's which was just as well because I would place a bet that my mum will be in hospital before the end of the week for her weekly retreat. That's what I refer to it as now because it's become a weekly ritual to have transfusion after transfusion. I just wish the doctors would work out how mum's losing the blood so she can lead a normal life again.

Anyway, having her mokopuna around her seemed to brighten her day. Simple things like building block towers (the following is by tamāhine 1) can bring joy to mum.


There's little wonder the kids have an interest in planes. One reason is because we live relatively close to the airport and we get to see plenty of them. Yesterday was no exception.

As we drove into town for the midwife appointment, tama 1 noticed a small plane. I had the camera with me, but because I didn't notice it myself and tama 1 was in the back of the van, it was much too much later when we talked about it so I missed getting a close-up shot of what we learned is a Russian Yak (Yakovlev). I don't know which model it is at the moment so I can't put any link to it.

Anyway, after kai last night the kids were playing outside and around 7.30pm I heard what I initially thought was the Canadian Floatplane because it had the same grunty, slow sound. When I looked up I realised it was smaller and put two and two together. "It's the Russian Yak kids!"

We had free entertainment for the next hour watching the plane go through some neat tricks.

Suddenly I'm being taught by my 7 (nearly 8) year old son terms such as "pitching", "yawing" and "rolling". (Well, I did know rolling.)

Tamāhine 2 missed out altogether because she had just fallen asleep. But the other four were mesmerized.

I tried to get photos of the kids with the plane in the background, but you'll simply have to use your imagination.
Plus, try as I might to get some good shots of the aerial manoeuvres, the plane was pretty much 6-10kms away from us, so these next two photos are the best I could get.


Just after 8.30pm he flew past us heading in the direction of Tauranga, so we finally came inside. The kids were on high for the next hour and finally hit the hay at 9.30!!!



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ka kite ano