My Daybook – November

OUTSIDE MY WINDOW I SEE….Beth and Dami playing together. That 3 year old is one lucky kid! He adores his older siblings and they are so good to him.

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I AM GIVING THANKS….. for this beautiful weather at the moment. I can’t get enough of being outside.

I AM PRAYING FOR……..family members who are ill. My Nana, who is 93, has been struggling with her health lately. She never ceases to amaze me with how switched on she is though. When you go visit her in the nursing home she gives you a running commentary  of all the old folk whose poor minds have been lost to them long ago. I think her good brain health is due to her never having her drivers licence so she would walk and take public transport everywhere.

I AM LISTENING TO…the sound of the basketball hitting the driveway – the two big boys are really enjoying shooting hoops together at the moment. They are out there at any chance they get. I can also hear the laughter from Beth and Dami.

I AM THINKING ABOUT….next year! I know it seems like a long way off but now is the time to order books.

I AM LEARNING….as always, I seem to being learning about the gut. I have loved reading ‘Brain Maker’ and now I am reading Pete Evans ‘The Complete Gut Health Cookbook’.

I AM CREATING….neat and tidy bookshelves. Not very exciting – or creative! I needed to give our playroom/schoolroom a makeover. There is still plenty of work to be done…my house looks like a bomb has gone off in it. I hate it how things always get worse before they get better🙂

IN THE SCHOOLROOM….we are taking it very easy this term. We have enjoyed plenty of excursions, and the kids are planning their own days. All the kids know what needs to be done to finish the school year so as soon as one subject is finished, then they have less work to do. Beth, Zac and Dami are creating pretend food for their Cafe. They have finished their maths, spelling, religion and geography for the year.

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Our Zoo Excursion

COOKING IN THE KITCHEN….as always… our GAPs food and plenty of ferments.

IN THE MORNING BASKET…we are using the Baltimore Catechism each morning. I read from the text then choose one question for the kids to write in their notebooks. It has lead to many an interesting conversions about many parts of our faith.

We are also doing a fair bit of picture study. I’ll keep my method for another post, but it has been a lovely addition to the morning.

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Our morning basket time. Dami is fully dressed for the day but insisted on wearing his dressing gown.

I NEVER WANT TO FORGET….what a blessing it is to be a mother. Every day has its challenges, but also its blessings. I can choose to dwell on the bad, or I can try to see the blessings in each day. Sometimes it is as simple as a walk among the roses, or a cuddle from the three year old.

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This rose was picked and given to me🙂

I don’t want to wish this time away because I know that in the blink of an eye they will be all grown up and left home.

Tidy Time Madness!

It’s 3 o’clock.

School is done for the day, what a relief! There is only one problem….the only way we could get through our school day is by letting our gorgeous 3 year old get out any toy he liked!

Mess drives me crazy. I have learnt to live with it though. I don’t know that it is possible to keep a perfectly tidy house when you have 5 kids who are home all the time. I do know  that I am a much more happy, relaxed Mummy if things are tidy and organised though.

Often I can’t stand the mess and I will enforce the ‘one toy out at a time rule’. Other times it’s not worth the effort – I’d rather use the time to teach the other kids and let Dami get out whatever he likes. Once one toy is out he gets quite attached to it, but he wants more toys out as well. Today it was his Marble tower, so carefully made, but not yet ready to pack away even though he had finished playing with it. I tried packing it up and all I heard was “No! Not my Marble tower, Beth helped me make it!” His cars are out, along with his Octonauts toys. Add in there a couple of other toys, and it’s madness!

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I often tell all the kids, if all of them leave just 5 things lying around, that’s 25 things to tidy up. If they do that in a few rooms in the house, then that quickly becomes a messy house.

Even though my house doesn’t seem to stay tidy for long, I have a few tricks up my sleeve for getting people to tidy fast.

In case my tricks will help anyone else then here you go…

  1. NUMBER PICK UP – I pick a number generally between 15  -30 (depending on how much time we have or how messy the place is) and I tell the kids – in a very enthusiastic voice – “Right! Everyone pick up 20 things and put them in their correct place…on your marks, get set, GO!” Everyone (including me) rushes around to see who can make the target number first. As we are running around we often yell out what number we are on. No one argues about whose things they are tidying up because it doesn’t matter. This doesn’t get the place completely tidy but it does make a huge difference.
  2. CATEGORY COLLECT – This one takes a little longer but makes tidying fun for the little ones. As quickly as they can they need to tidy up toys that fit in a particular category…”Pick up all the red/orange/hard/soft/round/little/big toys”. Keep changing categories until all or most of the toys are picked up.
  3. LOADER SCOOP – My younger kids are always the ones who need some encouragement to tidy. Left to their own devices they would get nothing done. This game gives them an easy job. They are the loader and they need to scoop up all the toys and place them in the middle of the room. The older kids then put the pile into categories to make it easier to put them away. Some kids can sort and others can put away. It does save time when tidying so you aren’t going back and forth to the same toy box each time you find yet another toy that belongs there.

These games don’t just include tidying up toys. Anything that is not in its proper home is included in the game.

 

Anyone have any other ideas for keeping a tidy house? Please share your ideas with me and help me to keep a tidy house !🙂

 

The Perfect Homeschool? – or Not!

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It’s planning time again! It feels like only yesterday that I was planning for 2016, and here I am again thinking about what books I need to buy for next year. I was thinking the other day, for the first time since I started homeschooling 10 years ago I am not excited for the next school year. Planning and organising is my passion, so why no enthusiasm?

It took me a while to work it out, but I think it is because I feel that this year was a total flop. So many curriculums which I planned on using, just didn’t happen. Life threw me a curve ball. Term one was three broken bones in the family. Then term 2 we began our huge detox as a family.

Little did I know back then that we would go into survival mode.

Little did I know that Jay would spend most of his days unable to move off the couch. His detox was so debilitating that school was not a priority….his healing was our focus. So one by one, each subject got put completely on the back burner. Our daily plan become this;

Having a good day? Then get as much school work done as you can.

Having an average day? Then do maths and english.

Having a bad day? Then do your easy online subjects (religion, geography) and your textbooks which you can just read (science, history) –  we ditched anything that involved writing for these subjects.

Having a terrible day? Watch documentaries, listen to audio books, rest and relax. Just try to get outside for a small walk and some vitamin D. Even if you have to crawl out there….just get yourself outside.

 

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Soaking up some vitamin D, and some brotherly love.

I was so worried when it was time for our moderator to come (in Western Australia we have a person come out from the Education department to see how our homeschooling is going). Jay said to me, “Mum, I have nothing to put in my portfolio!” After having a little panic, I realised that although we had no concrete proof of learning, I know that he has still been learning and expanding his mind.

I decided to look at each individual subject and list every book that he has read. We also noted down all the tests he has had and what he learnt from them (DNA tests, bacteria tests). He has also learnt a huge amount about the body and how it functions. He is even now thinking when he finished school he would like to be a chiropractor and functional doctor.

So this year was not a waste. His portfolio still looked great, even though it was very different to each of his past 8 years portfolios.

So while I sit here sifting through curriculums, talking to the kids about what their interests are for next year, and thinking about what worked and didn’t work this year, I have to keep in mind that you never know what another year will bring. What challenges will you face? How will your goals and plans change? As I have done for the last ten years, I will search for curriculum that meet the needs of my kids but I will be prepared to change whatever I must as life always takes us in directions which we cannot control.

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The path is long….and hard

What never changes though is the fact that God is by our side. With the help of Mary our mother, the angels and saints we will continue to strive to do our best and even though we fail many times we pick ourselves up and keep trying. Will we ever have the perfect homeschool? No, but we will continue to do our best and that is what we are expected to do.

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My biggest achievement this year, climbing Bluff Knoll

 

My Daybook – September

OUTSIDE MY WINDOW I SEE….a beautiful spring morning..it is truly magnificent!

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My morning walk, down the back of our block.

I AM GIVING THANKS….. that the term is nearly at an end. Holidays are in sight and we are taking time out to go down south for a week – I can’t wait!

I AM PRAYING FOR……..a dear friend’s children who have been in a car accident.  And I am praising God that they miraculously came out ok.

I AM LISTENING TO….Zac cooking an omelette for his breakfast. At 8 years old he is quite a whizz in the kitchen….he makes awesome omelettes and scrambled eggs.

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I AM THINKING ABOUT….how to add more steps into my day. I bought a fitbit for my birthday with some vouchers that I had. I am so pleased that I got one, it is really helping me to get more steps into my day. Hopefully I am going to be fit enough to climb Bluff Knoll in a few weeks!

I AM LEARNING….all about the gut. I am reading and enjoying ‘Gut‘. The big boys are also reading it. I love that they are learning so much about their body at such a young age.

I AM READING…. I have a number of books on the go right now. ‘Anne of Green Gables’, ‘A Story Formed Life‘ ‘Gut’ and ‘Brain Maker‘.

I AM CREATING….checklists to show my homeschool moderator. I know any day now she will call and make an appointment to come and see me, and I want to be prepared!

IN THE SCHOOLROOM….we are enjoying our world war one studies. I have been using Bloom’s Taxonomy with the kids lately and it has really enhanced our homeschool experience. Here is a good post explaining how to use it in your homeschool.

We have also just finished ‘On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness’. It was such a fun read-aloud we didn’t want it to end! Now I have to decide on the next family read-aloud. Any suggestions?

COOKING IN THE KITCHEN….as always… our GAPs food and plenty of ferments.

IN THE MORNING BASKET…a new read aloud! I don’t know what yet. We are also learning about Handel by listening to these. Maestro Classics is a wonderful site for teaching the kids more about Classical music. They also have downloads to integrate into other learning areas.

I NEVER WANT TO FORGET….How much fun it is playing games with the kids. We have plans to spend most Saturday nights playing games. Last games night I played Labyrinth with the younger kids and then once they were in bed Paul and I played Dominion with the big boys. Our games cupboard is quite extensive as I buy the kids a new game every Christmas. One of my most treasured childhood memories is playing games with my sister. We still reminisce  about the games we used to play. My kids still play the exact games now, in fact Labyrinth is from my younger days. I can’t wait to play games again with you one day my lovely sister!

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The fire after it had burnt down a fair bit

 

We had an awesome bonfire on Saturday night. The kids had a ball riding the motorbike and playing tag with friends in the dark. They also played ‘King of the Castle’ on a huge pile of dirt. The aim was to stay at the top of the dirt pile as long as you could – all the other kids would try and pull you down. As you can imagine, they were all filthy and black by the end of the night – I wish I had a photo of that!

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The dirt pile…it looks bigger in real life!

PLANNING FOR THE WEEK AHEAD…organising costumes for our drama concert and trying to finish off subjects for the term.

Drop School, It’s Tulip Time!

Sometimes you just need to drop everything and go and spend some time in nature. When there is a tulip festival on, how can you possibly resist? We skipped school this morning to go and visit the very beautiful Araluen. Every year, at this time, Araluen is in its finest. People flock from near and far to feast their eyes on the beautiful tulips that fill the grounds.

We set off early this morning, trying to beat the crowds.

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We spent time admiring the flowers, waterfalls and wildflowers.

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The kids climbed rocks, and explored hidden areas in the bushes.

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While Beth and Dami did some nature journaling…

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the other boys went on a bush walk.

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We enjoyed morning tea (yummy fermented apples and kefir) and then the kids decided it was ‘stacks on’ Dom!

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When we got home we had lunch then spent the afternoon reading about the parts of a flower and drawing and labelling our flowers. Of course the younger kids just drew and labelled whereas the older boys had to write definitions as well.

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It’s funny after such a beautiful spring morning, it is now raining. As we sit and drink tea and some kids continue to draw more flowers, I am so grateful for homeschooling. These are the days that I want to remember forever.

Writing and Rhetoric – A Review

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I have been wanting to do a quick review on this curriculum for a while. We are really enjoying the change this year. We have previously used IEW for many years. I love IEW but after about 6 years of using the program I felt like a little change – a change is as good as a holiday right?

Each book lasts for 6 months. Each lesson is varied and lasts about a week and is broken up into 4 sections;

Tell it Back – Where the children retell the story from the beginning of the lesson.

Talk About It – This section is discussion time for the teacher and student. There are various questions about the text and sample answers are provided for in the Teacher’s Text.

Go Deeper – This makes the student analyse the text more.  This consists of multiple choice questions, and grammar type questions (nouns, verbs, adjectives etc.)

Writing Time – This gives the student an opportunity to write at length. Sometimes this is improving part of the story, or changing it slightly, or in older grades it involves writing essays. Often at the end of the writing time it has a section on encouraging children to improves their public speaking skills. In our homeschool this might be reading aloud to each other, or to Dad at the dinner table.

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Beth and Zac have completed Book 1:Fable and they are now doing Book 2: Narrative 1.

To be able to do this curriculum with an age difference I expect more of Beth than I do of Zac.  Beth writes more lengthy dramatic stories, whereas Zac’s are more simple and sometimes he even dictates to me and I write for him.

Another thing I love about this curriculum is that it encourages picture study. Some lessons include a study of a famous painting. One such painting for Beth and Zac was Rembrandt’s ‘The Return of the Prodigal Son’.

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Dom started this year on Book 5: Refutation and Confirmation and is now doing Book 6: Commonplace. Although very good, there is a large emphasis on American history. Dom has said that he prefers IEW, but I have said that we will be doing this until the end of the year. And possibly into next year too🙂 This curriculum is pushing his mind into very critical thinking ideas (thesis formation, confirming/refuting arguments, essay writing, annotation).

I am very pleased with this new curriculum and glad we decided to have a bit of a ‘holiday’!

What writing curriculums are you using this year?

 

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