Friday, 30 July 2010

Reading Eggs FREE five week trial 2010

It's that time again!

Reading Eggs is offering another great five week's FREE trial offer for new customers.

Click on the link and follow the simple registration process.

It's been a copule of years since we used it, but I highly recommend Reading Eggs to anyone wanting a good reading programme. It has loads of games, avatars and by the looks of things they've loaded a new map - map 10, so there's plenty of structure being built into it which is great.

I can honestly say, that our family took full advantage of the FIVE weeks FREE trial when we used it and our tamariki definitely gained loads of skill throughout that time, so I really do recommend it.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Latin Lessons

Before I get started, I must mention that our Greek has gone on hold because I am looking at buying a different curriculum. I'm not sure when I'll be in a position to buy that just yet, but it's a definite thing all the same. The Koine Greek we have, is just too advanced for this dodo. I am quite sure we can utilise it further down the track, but it almost feels like it's set for intermediate learners. I need a real nuts-and-bolts, right-back-to-the-absolute-beginning type curriculum.

I found it really difficult to source foreign language material. Wait a second, let me quantify that sentence. I have found it difficult to find foreign language courses developed specifically for homeschoolers/parents/teachers with no previous experience or knowledge in teaching a foreign language.

When it comes to Greek, I feel that Koine has missed an important step (or ten) right at the beginning. It's like you do lessons 1-10 and then take a gigantic step to lesson 40 and you're sitting there scratching your head asking yourself what happened to the chunk in between.

But it's like everything else, I'm always up for new challenges, so I'll keep trying until I figure out what works for us. Maybe I didn't do my homework well enough when researching, but I'm determined I'll devise a curriculum that we can supplement with Koine.So, okay ... to Latin.

We've just completed Lesson 8 with our Prima Latina lessons and everything's going well so far.

I chose the above clip from our lesson on purpose. Luck/fortune/fortunate has specific meaning in my family - from seven years ago in fact, so I thought it prudent to highlight our lessons with this particular word.

Tama 1 and tamāhine 1 enjoy the lessons we have which scares me a bit. What happens if I get stumped with Latin like I did with Greek? It's easy to feel confident that I've got good resources, but in the back of my mind, I still second-guess myself. I don't want to stop Latin because I can't figure it out myself! If I understood Koine Greek, I know I wouldn't be concerning myself with such needless worry, so it's a case of concentrating on what we're doing, keep enjoying it and move forward each week.

We may not have a huge list of vocab up our sleeve {yet} but what vocabulary and derivatives we do have, we keep practicing and finding ways to use them in our daily activities. Whether it's referring to cena at the mensa (dinner at the table) or simply reviewing nouns and verbs to recognise endings, it feels neat to be learning with the kids. I'm quite sure that with our very vocal practicing and singing, the little kids will pick up things too. I look forward to hearing their little voices chiming in at some point.

We've got two prayers under our belts now (well, the second one isn't "quite" committed to memory as well as the first, but all in good time eh?!)

So, am I glad we're doing Latin? Darn tootin' I am. I enjoyed what I learned with my own lessons all those years ago, so I'm thrilled to have another shot at it. It's not for everyone, but for our family, this is what fits us. Our kids love it. I just hope I can re-establish Greek sooner rather than later, too.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Monday, 26 July 2010

Everything and everyone is precious to me

I have been reminded in recent weeks just how precious each day is, and how precious I must value the wonderful family and friends in my life.

Two major car accidents, in as many weeks, involving teenagers from our area has been frightening news. One of the passengers involved in the first tragic accident, is a relation. As I read my local newspaper (online) I saw the name so I scanned the article quickly and learned he was one of the "lucky" ones. By the time family were able to relay information to me, he had undergone three operations!

The second accident happened just last week as I sat Skyping my big brother in Kuwait. I remember commenting to my brother, "gosh there goes another siren ... and another." Tama 2 and tama 3 were in the front room, reporting how many fire trucks, police and ambulance raced by. It worried me, because I knew from the number of emergency services going past that it was a bad accident. The fact that their sirens were turned off just as they passed our house scared me even more. There have been a number of fatal accidents on this stretch of highway: but they've been at least 7-10 kms from here. This particular day, the fatal accident was less than 2 kms from our home. I didn't know the teenagers involved in that particular accident, but my neighbours did. I spoke at length to one particular neighbour offering my support and condolences. It is so sad to think such young lives have been taken. All one can do, is look at one's children and want to wrap them up in cotton wool.

Then I learn of a beautiful, beautiful friend of mine who has a crisis within her family. My friend is a such a wonderful mother; I always commented just how great a mother she was and hoped I could do just as good a job with our children. Then my friend moved away and we weren't in daily contact anymore. Emails became sporadic and then suddenly I had one bounce back. "Strange?" I thought, but figured she would be in touch with a new email at some point. Well, isn't it amazing how long time will pass before something brings you back together again? ► ►► (do you like my fast forward sign, lol!!) Let's use it again ...

►►► I managed to find my friend ... pure and utter luck ... but I found her. And I learned some sad news. No wonder I hadn't heard from her. My poor friend has had to contend with her youngest daughter becoming heavily involved in the world of drugs. I COULD NOT BELIEVE THIS. It didn't add up. She had a wonderful upbringing, loving parents (okay, granted they'd divorced years ago, but they had always parented their children with respect for each other), so what on earth went wrong??My heart just sank with sorrow for my friend, her daughter, their entire family and widespread friends. I don't know what will happen for them now, but I am blessed that God found a way for me to be in touch again to offer my support (and shoulder). Again, I want to wrap our children in cotton wool.

And then, just a few days back, I felt compelled to write to someone to share prayers and thoughts for their situation. The woman to whom I wrote, is facing a similar financial crisis to what myself and my darling whaiāipo went through (with one major difference). There have been very few times in which I will wear my heart on my sleeve, to share with someone (if just a portion of) our life as it was back then. This woman's plight struck like a knife and I drew so many parallels to what her written words said. I chose not to reply publicly, but emailed her personally to say a lot more than, "my prayers are with you." I felt the need to take the time and outline what things were like, but more importantly, how we made it through. I won't go into detail, of course, but it was an occasion in which I looked at our children and thanked God for teaching me how to appreciate having them.

I never concerned myself with the physical toll of stress. I kept telling myself that my faith would get me through. Faith is a powerful thing, whether that be in a higher spiritual being, or simply faith in oneself that you are a good person and good things will emanate from your soul to help others. I never once allowed stress take over my life. I rose above it and remained steadfast in my belief, and God rewarded my family and me for our devotion as a family. He rewarded me with good health... which leads me to my final story.

As I awoke to another beautiful day today, I received devastatingly sad news. So my prayers and condolences are being offered up for someone else. Unfortunately, it is not public knowledge and therefore I must restrain myself from saying too much. But the news shook me so much, I again looked at my children and wanted to wrap them up in cotton wool and simply offer my grateful thanks to God for allowing me to be their mother.

My post today, is simply to say I give thanks to God for my life, for the lessons I have learned and for the guidance He always provides. My lesson of late is to communicate, appreciate and validate my friends and loved ones.

So, to all my friends and family, I love you all and thank you for being a part of my life. I wish you joy and happiness and always remember that distance may be between us, but you are always in my prayers.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Math and Reading

I've not talked about Math-U-See for a while, so above are two examples of tama 1's work. Whaiāipo taught the children how to work out the area of a trapezoid some months ago, so tama 1's sailing through these exercises which is fantastic. In saying that, Lesson 23 was spread over the week because we mixed in some Mathletics practice to give him a break. As I said, he has no difficulty with the lessons, but to do one page is quite taxing, ie there are so many steps involved with long division never mind the checking of answers by multiplying it back out that he was frustrated it was taking so long to get through. So, I suggested we complete just one page and try some Mathletics for practice/fun as well.

Tamāhine 1 completed Lesson 22 in her Gamma textbook. She's hit the same stumbling block as her older brother did at this stage. Double multiplication. But, I used the same whiteboard explanation for her, as I did tama 1. So far, so good. Again, we jazzed up the lessons by working on one page and then practicing/playing Mathletics also.

Tama 2 has surprised the living daylights out of me with not only math, but reading also. I can't really explain it in words ... the closest I can explain it, is to say he's figured it all out on his own. It was very much a case of trial and error. I kept thinking he was being stubborn and simply wouldn't listen to me, or perhaps he had listened to me, but wasn't understanding what I was saying. It was very frustrating, so I would spend less than 10 minutes a day trying to get things through to him. My final strategy was to flag his math altogether and simply talk in general about math with him. A couple of weeks ago he surprised me with correctly answering the most basic of basic questions. Then last week it was like "boom" it all clicked!

I didn't let my excitement get the better of me, however, by putting him under pressure and start quizzing him. In fact, it wasn't until Friday just gone that I disguised a quiz as a general chat. Tama 1 listened on and watched as suddenly tama 2 was (quickly) answering questions. Tama 1 and I both encouraged him and tama 2 just excelled with his responses. What an awesome, AWESOME moment. I feel very proud. ... Relieved! ... But proud!!!

I mentioned his reading just above, also. Well, again it feels like he's just picked it up without me really being a part of it. Whatever the miraculous reason is, I am absolutely thrilled to bits. His reading has gone from zilch, nada, nothing to frustratingly in limbo and then suddenly WHAM! guess what mum, I woke up and I can read!! Not only is he reading, but I'm quite surprised at how well he can spell too!!! (I'm not speaking phonetically either!)

It is through tama 2's miraculous learning that I feel confident our little tamāhine 2 will be okay too. No, I'm not comparing the two (per se), and I'm not saying that what worked for one will necessarily work for another. I am simply stating I have experienced first-hand the ability of a child learning whether in the "traditional" sense of the word schooling and otherwise.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Friday, 23 July 2010

And the view really IS beautiful from the top of any mountain one climbs

Today marks six months since tama 4 was born, which tells me it's taken that long to do some sort of physical activity as a family! Yowza! Time flys by too quickly, nē? It's been a long time ... but finally our ENTIRE family went out for a walk last weekend. We went to an old favourite: Sulphur Point.

...Aah, life feels good when I get physical exercise...

We also FINALLY took our family up one of the local tourist attractions:
We were fortunate enough to purchase a two-year family pass for the price of one year. So now we can cruise on up whenever we feel like it. feels good to be rewarded for showing loyalty, love and perseverance...

I have two reasons for why we are getting out now:

The first reason, (stand back I'm about to share) is a personal one:-

Our family has made a lot of sacrifices over the years and as the last episode in the "B-word" series nears an end, we are rewarding ourselves for having remained strong as a tight family unit throughout the financial crisis period. Soon that entire experience will be nothing more than a distant memory, so as we prepare ourselves for the final home-stretch, we begin to toast ourselves and celebrate.

The second reason, is to help me and tamāhine 2:-

It's been a slightly bitter pill to swallow; acknowledging the realisation that our daughter is very much like her mother. I'm not a social butterfly; I haven't been for a very long time. Our second tamāhine is exactly the same. And no, I haven't just come to this realisation in recent times - no, I've known it for a long time. I also know that it is because I worked for years to help whaiāipo that I lost a part of me along the way. Now I need to get it back - if not for me, then for the sake of our tamāhine. Or, if you want a shorter version: it is therapeutic for both of us.

And today, we celebrate our little man turning six months old.
He is, without doubt, a gorgeous baby! Happy 6 months old tama 4!

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Injecting the love of reading

I feel I'm spending too much time on the computer in the mornings lately that I need to "break the cycle," so I will [try to] spend but a brief moment sharing what books the children have read in recent weeks.

First up is Madame Pamplemousse and her Incredible Edibles. Tamāhine 1 enjoyed this story. There were a number of words and culinary terms which were understandably difficult for her, but the story itself held her attention. This book I had her read aloud so that I could assist with explaining the tricky terminology.
I picked up the next set of six books for a very cheap price a few months back and I'm glad I bought them for tamāhine 1 because she read them in her free reading time each day. She managed to read one book per day. The vocabulary is very simple so she managed to read the books in their entirety on her own. Tamāhine 1 couldn't wait to finish one book in order to read the next. So, six books read in six days!
The main character, Delphie, is given a pair of magical red ballet shoes. At any given moment, they will sparkle and when she slips them on, she is carried off to the land of Enchantia - the land where the different characters from all the different ballets live. On each adventure she helps fix a problem in the land. Aimed at 5-8 year olds, these books are a delightful read for any little girl.

The next set of books I bought (again, I got a bargain) were intentioned for tama 2 a little later when he's ready for chapter books. Tama 1 and tamāhine 1 decided to read them when we went up to Kirikiriroa last Wednesday. They'd read them before we even got home!!!
I chose the Geronimo books because they connect to some of our geography lessons, eg Mighty Mount Kilimanjaro. The books have a cute twist to teaching children little details. I like the way they use different fonts to emphasise words. A neat way to captivate a child's attention I figure.

Okay, the last two books are tama 1's reading. He's read a lot of Roald Dahl books now, and I'm not sure if I've left any off from previous posts. I hope not!

He read Matilda in a matter of days. I enjoy him reading Roald Dahl aloud. We laugh so much it's brilliant.
The following book I have held for a while and I've been waiting, and waiting, to find the right time for tama 1 to start reading it.

Finally, he's picked it up after I finished reading it. [ I personally "think" he was put off by the skulls ... but I'm just guessing. ]
If anyone has heard of The 39 Clues, you'll know there's a worldwide competition involved and that the above book is the first in a series of ten. Each book is written by a different author. I read the first book and loved it. This is my kind of book!!! I decided that if tama 1 doesn't enjoy it then that's okay, I'll still read the lot of them.

We signed up online and tama 1 is part of the Ekaterina branch of the Cahill family. I can't really give away too much of the story because tama 1 has only read the first four chapters. My subtle way of leaving the book lying around in the hopes of him becoming curious to read, finally paid off. He started reading and as he got to the third chapter he announced to me that he likes it. Yay! ... But as I said to him, if he doesn't like it, kei te pai. I just want him to "try" a different genre, that's all. Besides, we can still have fun doing things online with the story anyway!

So, there you have them. That's the bulk of the books to date.

I'm loving the children sitting down to read alone because it's been a great method of encouragement for tama 2 to study his phonics. He's making great strides. It seems like an eternity ago now when his speech was all but non-existent and my concerns for him to speak were at the forefront of my mind. I held on to my blind bit of faith that he would come to it in his own time. And he did. Now look at him! He's picking things up so quickly and easily, it's taught me to stop listening to others who concern themselves with "milestones." What a load of twaddle: but I'll stop myself from ranting before it's too late! My opinion is simply that - MY opinion. I have difficulty with anybody or any institution who try telling me what to do. Shoosh! Maree, that's enough, (hee hee).

My next "challenge" is tamāhine 2. She really is a totally different kettle of fish. A bigger challenge than tama 2 ever was. Her speech reminds me of tama 2 ... small, quiet and nearly non-existent. However, where tama 2 differed was in his ability to socially interact. My little tamāhine 2 chooses to be a loner. As I said to Radiant Journey the other day, I respect the fact that she's a loner and chooses to be who she is and where she is at this time in her little life. I have experience on my side that she will come right in her own good time. God has blessed me with my little one and He will guide me on how to help her.

That's enough personal detail. I'm really trying to stand strong to my "keep it only to schooling" on this blog! But in a way, it is relevant to learning. It shows that I face my own kind of learning challenges.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Wednesday, 21 July 2010


Okay, the other day I mentioned TOGA, right? Well, after chatting to my brother on good ol' Skype last night, I thought I'd add this little diddy as well.

I can recall the first time we learned the word, "pugno", which means, "I fight." I said aloud to the children, "I wonder if a pug dog comes from the word pugno? (NB pugno is not pronounced with a hard g, more like p-oo-ng-oh. I was simply considering the connection with the spelling.) Anyway, fast forward to my conversation with Craig last night.

We were chatting away when - for whatever whacky reason - my brother sent me the following YouTube clip:

I giggled and explained to him what it reminded me of and so began a discussion of pug dogs, pugnacious, pugilist etc.

Well, this morning I thought I'd do a quick search to confirm my thoughts and I came across the following explanation from this link:

Looking for the origin of "pug" leads us on a merry chase. First stop is the Old English word "pocca," which meant "bag" and gave us "pocket," "pock" (plural "pox," as in chickenpox), "pucker" and "poke," what not to buy a pig in. Another offshoot was the word "puck," which meant elf or goblin. Originally a small but frightening demon, "puck" eventually led to "pug," which was used as a term of endearment for anything or anyone of small stature, including dogs or noses. In fact, before pug dogs made their appearance, a "pug" could be anything from a child to a monkey to a ship's cabin boy. However, "pug" as a slang term for "boxer" is not related, being short for "pugilist," from the Latin word for boxer, "pugil."
So there is a connection between "pug" the dog and "pug" the nose, but tread carefully explaining it to the next pug-nosed person you meet, lest you awaken their pugilist nature.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is: the children and I are enjoying learning the origins of words and asking ourselves what derivatives we can think of as we progress in our studies.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Thursday, 15 July 2010


I meant to record what I learned from our eldest the other day as we reviewed some Latin vocab ...

I began running through the general list of words and then came to, "toga."

The kids would usually have replied with the correct answer of "toga is toga."

This time, tama 1 said, "Take Off Go Around."

Well, there you go. I'd heard of "touch 'n' go" but not TOGA.

Yet another flight term he's managed to throw into our daily language now.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Monday, 5 July 2010


Something arrived in today's mail today which prompted me to think of tamāhine 1's Congress drawing from yesterday's blog post.
Forms have been sent to households asking us to check our electoral details. I checked my form and as the details were correct, I was about to throw it in the fire when I thought, "wait a minute, this can be a lesson for the kids." So I yodeled out to the kids and we discussed [albeit briefly] the NZ Government and a little of the US Congress - making the connection using tamāhine 1's drawing.

Anyway, I'll skip past all the blah blah blahs and tell you this part ...

Tama 1 asked me if I knew how young a New Zealand Prime Minister could be ... "oh what?! ... um, no, I don't."

Tama 1 said, "well, I know that in America they have to be 35 years of age. They had to have been born in the US and lived in the US for 14 years."

Oh hang, which one of us is [meant to be] the teacher and which one of us is the student again?

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Sunday, 4 July 2010

House of Representatives, Senate

No, we're not studying the US Congress or anything governmental !!

Tamāhine 1 just happened to find a picture of the Capitol and decided to draw it.

She made such a great job that I wanted to share.

Be sure to double-click to get a closer look.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Motherhood: Eternal Partnership

Earlier this week, I happened upon this blog.

I, personally, don't think one needs to share the same religion in order to connect on any spiritual level with someone else, so although not of the same religious denomination, I enjoyed the clip Tristan posted so much that I decided to play tag and pass it on.
I have a lot of "moments" when I doubt my abilities as a mother so when I viewed this video clip, I felt very encouraged and reminded myself just how precious my role truly is.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Thursday, 1 July 2010

We've still got our noses buried in books

Tamāhine 1 thoroughly enjoyed reading The Giants and the Joneses.

For her next reading book, she picked this book yesterday:-

She's up to chapter 6 (of 10) after only two days. [ As I sit down to compose this post, tamāhine 1 has actually picked the book up again and started reading.]

I got this book because I liked the opening line ...
"I have noticed that teachers get exciting confused with boring a lot. But when my teacher said, "Class, we have an exciting project to talk about," I listened anyway.
There's a wonderful humourous style to this book and I can't wait to find out what unique talent of Clementine's saves the "Talent-Palooza, Night of the Stars" talent show !!

As for tama 2, his challenge this week is to read:-

"Sarah and Jessica arrive in New Zealand for a holiday. They find a mobile phone in the the taxi from the airport. It is Michael's mobile, but can they find him? He has messages from home - are they important? Go with the girls on a New Zealand adventure."
We've only read three pages so far, but the only words he's had trouble on are the characters names (ie Sarah, Jessica and Michael). Other than that, we're off to a flying start. We've gone from Auckland, in search of Michael, to Ninety Mile Beach. We've seen him, but he was in a bus zooming along the beach, so I wonder how and where the girls will find him next? ...

Again, we're enjoying the splendid humour of Roald Dahl with Tama 1's latest reading:
Tama 1 and I were in fits of laughter as he read on our bed last night. We just couldn't contain ourselves! Our experience(s) with the Roald Dahl books read to date, definitely highlight that Roald Dahl accomplished the ability to write stories that:-
"cause [my] reader to: (1) Laugh (actual belly loud belly laughs; (2) Squirm; (3) Become enthralled and (4) Become TENSE and EXCITED and say "Read on! Please read on! Don't stop"
In response to each point: (1) check; (2) check; (3) check and (4) DEFINITELY CHECK CHECK CHECK!!!!

Tama 1 is already up to The Second Miracle. He only started the book on Tuesday, so I'm quite sure he'll finish it tomorrow ... or tonight ... depends how much we laugh, lol.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano