Sunday, April 28, 2013

Week ending 28 April

It has been a very low energy week. I think the mid-week public holiday was responsible.

DSCF6496.JPGDSCF6571.JPGEarly in the week we drove to a small reserve that features a small lake (more accurately a large pond) where we heard a Royal Spoonbill was wintering over.  We've seen them before but the size of this "lake" would make it easy for us to closely observe. The spoonbill was there and we did enjoy the close-up view but the unexpected highlight was the pair of black swan who had built their nest right on the shore. While we were there mum got off the nest to go and feed so we got a good view of the eggs and later got to watch her as she did some repair work and tidying of the nest on her return. Some locals told us they've been there for three weeks and we read that swan's eggs take five to six weeks to incubate. We'll be returning in the next couple of weeks to check  in on them.  Given the very public location of the nest - a walking track frequented by dog owners is only a metre away and a road just five metres back - we're hoping they aren't disturbed or worse. (Apologies for the poor quality of the photos. Blogger is refusing to upload photos tonight so I have just cut and pasted and pasted.)

We made several new types of bird feeder but no joy yet in attracting birds that we've seen in our neighbourhood, but not in our backyard.

I began reading A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver aloud to Miss 12 and she has been steadily reducing the books in her started-but-not-yet-finished pile. She had about eight different books on the go at once!

We've started watching David Attenborough's Life of Birds. She doesn't really remember when we last watched it - but I guess that might have been four or more years ago.

We celebrated Talk Like Shakespeare Day on the Bard's  birthday by writing a 60 second version of Othello (and insulting each other in Shakespearean language - all in good fun though). We still have to get around to actually recording it Othello.

We read several books to commemorate Anzac Day and made Anzac biscuits in the afternoon. In the morning Miss 12 and Miss 18 went to a local dawn service with dh. Mr 15 took part in a later ceremony across town, marching with local Scout groups.

We finally located all our  Mystery Classes and entered the competition. The entry required a school name so Miss 12 had a great time coming up with a very creative name for us. Not sure what Mr 15 will say when he realises he has been attending the "Splendid School for Gracious Girls" :-)

We made a start on a painted and embroidered canvas - a depiction of a bird (of course). The painting is all finished and the embroidering has begun. Hopefully it will be completed this week but with minor surgery to her arm on Monday maybe not.

Mr 15 attended the local university Open Day. He's not sure what he sees himself doing when he finishes homeschooling so this was a good chance to begin information gathering.

Miss 18 got a part-time job. She looked seriously for a part-time job last year but only got one interview despite sending out hundreds of applications. She gave up, frustrated,  but recently sent out another small bunch of applications. One week later and  she had two interviews. The only difference is that she removed the mention of homeschooling from her application after a friend of hers mentioned she didn't seem like she'd been homeschooled. Apparently her friend's image of homeschoolers was the socially awkward, religious fanatic stereotype. Not sure if the interviews this time around were just coincidence or not. Also, not sure how we'll handle this on Mr 15's CV.  He wants to start applying for part-time jobs and given his age we'll have to mention his secondary education.

Miss 12 took part in a Junior Keeper for a Day programme at a local wildlife park. She was meant to go in December but broke her arm and was in hospital recovering from surgery instead. While she enjoyed some aspects of it -especially the close contact with the lemurs - I think overall she was a little underwhelmed at how little they got to do. Seems like it was more like a guided tour than a real keeper type experience. It was for 10-14 year olds but I also got the feeling she thought the programme was a little young. It is a bit hard to tell because she is trying very hard to be diplomatic and not hurt our feelings since the outing was a birthday gift.

We also finally made progress on making our bird bath. Turns out my mother-in-law was having a sort out and had exactly what we were looking for. Now we have the supplies the construction should hopefully be straightforward.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Week ending 21 April

Some of the highlights from this week:
We've been creating
-  Oaty Cookies
-  Pasta with Chilli, Tomato, Eggplant and Feta
-  Russian Nesting Dolls

 - Plastic wind organs

We've been reading
Good Masters, Sweet Ladies
- Othello
Poetry for Young People:Edna St Vincent Millay
Norman Rockwell:Storyteller With a Brush 
- The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere
 - The Elements

We've been watching
- Titanic (in honour of the anniversary of the sinking) 
- Birds - most notably an uncommon (to our part of the world that is) white heron, but also the green finches that are squabbling over the remains of our sunflowers
- Performances of Chopin's music on You Tube
- The second batch of Monarchs we've see this season form chrysalises
-  Trampolining at a local inter-club competition.

We've been playing
-  Board games especially Ticket to Ride (still) and Bohnanza
 - Apps including 94 seconds, Dropwords,  Seven  Little Words, Lexathon 

We've been celebrating

- Mr 20's graduation with a BSc (1st class honours)

- The end of term. Here the school year is four terms, each usually ten weeks long. Although we don't have to follow the school term  all the kids" extra-curricular activities do. One of us who shall remain nameless  - Mr 15  - ended up attending four end of term events through the different Scouting sections he is involved in as either a member or a volunteer helper . He undoubtedly ate far more treat food than can possibly have been good for him.

- A successful return to competition for Miss 12 after several months off due to injury. Admittedly it was a lower level competition than she would be expected to enter but it was important to get a competition under her belt (as well as competing the move that led to the injury in the first place) and she achieved that,  so mission successful. The placing was a nice bonus.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Week with the Dog

Monday should have been a really productive day. We've just switched back from daylight savings time and everybody was up and working by 8am. However, it turned out to be not so productive after all. Once we'd done some Latin and worked through the latest Mystery Class clues  I went out for a mid-morning walk and noticed a dog wandering by itself. When I got home it was wandering up and down our street and onto the road. Mr 15 went out and brought it home. It had a phone number on its collar but the owners couldn't collect it until the afternoon. So most of the day was spent dog minding. He loved attention and whined whenever he was left alone outside so patting him etc was a full-time job. Miss 12 did manage a few bird sketches in honour of Draw a Bird day - her favourite was probably from a lesson based on James Rizzi's work.

Tuesday was cold and gloomy so Miss 12 and I spend a lot of the morning snuggled under the duvet reading - some poems by Emily Dickinson (Miss 12 has almost memorised Hope is the Thing with Feathers), a scene from Othello and several folk tales. A math lesson and a trip to the supermarket rounded out the morning. The afternoon involved the joys of paperwork and bureaucracy (relating to Miss 12's surgery later this month), some science experiments involving condensation, emails to a friend, some game playing , a bird video and bread making. She also did some knitting while listening to me read aloud and watching the video.

Wednesday morning was uneventful yet relatively productive  for Miss 12- Latin, maths, the beginnings of a report on the Crusades, some grammar, not to mention Othello and Ruby Bridges' Through My Eyes after looking at Norman Rockwell's The Problem We All Live With. The afternoon was spent reading, writing, playing games and working with Romeo. She chatted online with her best friend who moved away  several months ago and they made plans to write a book together. Mr 15 was very busy organising a two-day tramp (hike for you North Americans reading) he hopes to do next month. Sadly, the other guys who were meant to help with the organisation have pulled out so he's doing it all while hoping they'll still get the numbers needed for the tramp to count towards the requirements for a youth leadership programme he is involved with. Late afternoon Miss 12 had practice. This is the first week she has been back with her regular squad since she broke her arm and it was great to see her laughing and having a good time with one of her friends. She has really missed the social side of training for the past few months.

The card Miss 12 made for me.

Thursday was the day I turned another year older. Miss 12 and I had the house to ourselves for most of the day since dh had a  rare in-office day and Mr 15 spend the day working with my brother-in-law labouring and gardening. In many ways it was a repeat of yesterday but Miss 12 also spent some time in the kitchen and made a lemon coconut slice as well as cheesy bean patties for dinner. In the evening she went to Scouts, where they learnt about rocketry and even got to make their own gunpowder! Here both girls and boys attend Scouts together - the organisation as a whole seems more liberal than its North American counterpart.

Friday was fairly quiet - I thought I was coming down with the cold that Mr 20 and dh are just recovering from.Miss 12 did some weekly math problems and we attempted Maori but the latest programme we decided to try was a bust from the beginning. Back to the drawing board on that one. Miss 12 is even considering giving Maori away and maybe learning French - which would be much easier since we own several good quality resources which I know will work well for her. Still if she wants to learn Maori I refuse to admit defeat - at least just yet! Miss 12 had training and Mr 15 had his last woodwork class for the term. Normally he bikes but I had to collect him since the table he made was a little hard to transport home on the back of his bike!

The weekend got off to  a busy start with three people (four counting the  poor overworked chauffeur) having to be out the door before 8:30am on Saturday. Miss 12 had early morning training due to a competition this weekend (not that she is back competing yet) followed by a Scout fundraiser, Mr 15 had a mountain safety course (compulsory for the youth leadership course, yet really boring for him because he already knew all the stuff from his Scouting experiences) which lasts all weekend long, and Miss 18 had Kung Fu grading. Miss 12 and I  fitted in a couple of games of Scrabble in the afternoon to mark Scrabble Day. Sunday was much quieter for me since the cold I thought was not developing knocked me about a bit. I did help Miss 12 with the colouring for the nesting dolls she is making - colouring is a nice soothing activity when you don't feel like doing much else! We also worked on the final Mystery Class clues - since the coming week is going to be busy we thought we'd make a head start and watched the final Earthflight episode.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

April's First Week

This week has had far too many errands for my liking - optometrist, dentist, physiotherapist, private coaching sessions, meetings....but once again I feel better when I look at all the learning and good stuff that actually happened anyway.

* We read about April Fool's Day, learned about Norman Rockwell's April Fool: Girl With a Shopkeeper and had some fun with puns.

* We also worked on our Journey's North Mystery Class project - there are classes in the USA, China, Antarctica, Germany, Iceland and Tanzania among other places. Some places are still proving somewhat tricky to pin down, but we're confident we'll nail them all before the end.
* Miss 12 completed a paper weaving kit. Getting everything lined up was a little tricky but she was reasonably pleased with the finished product.

Paper weaving - birds of course!
* We  marked the anniversary of Hans Christian Andersen's birth by listening to several of his stories on line.

 * We  visited another pet store seeking more information on birds. Now that we have an empty cage Miss 12 is keen to get a bird of her own and is carefully researching options before making her final decision - budgie or canary, male or female. We also visited the library to choose some books to help in the decision-making process.

* Not as much time was spent in the kitchen this week but the Roasted Pepper and Chicken Tart was a favourite with everybody, as was the gingerbread.

* Miss 12 spent a morning at the mall with Miss 18. I hate shopping but the girls do not and both needed new clothes so a nice sisterly outing was in order.

* We made a math version of Guess Who. We each thought of twelve different numbers, wrote them on cardboard and used bluetack to stick them on the original game boards.  Not exactly pretty, but quick and easy which is what I'm all about. Some good math thinking went on as we tried to guess which number the other person had.

* We played this art version of the classic "I Have...Who Has...?" game. We both learnt some new art terms as a result!

* We began reading Othello aloud - one scene per day. It is more challenging than Twelfth Night which we did a couple of months ago but she is keen. She does say that in the next scene I have to read Iago - he had some pretty lengthy speeches in the scene just completed!

* We're enjoying our daily installment of new poetry via 30 Poets/30Days and are also making good progress memorizing Emily Dickinson's Hope is the Thing with Feathers. While we work on this we are enjoying more of her poetry via the Poetry For Young People collection.

* Mr 15 is having a few problems with his science. The text he picked turns out not to explain things as well as he would like. Thankfully Mr 20 is helping him out. It is one of the big benefits of having the older kids still living at home. Another benefit is the younger kids can see first hand the effort the older ones put in to their university studies. They are in no doubt as to the amount of hard work required to do well!

* We watched three videos on  endangered native birds - sadly we have a lot of species in that category.

* We started Not One Damsel in Distress as a read aloud. After Great Expectations last month and Othello as well I wanted something that tripped off the tongue a little more readily!

* Since Ticket to Ride has been such a huge hit around here - I would say 4 of us  have played at least once every day since we got it at the start of the year - we decided to treat the family to the USA 1910 expansion pack. Needless to say much game playing has resulted.

* I was especially pleased to celebrate No Housework Day ;-)

* After much research and soul searching a decision on bird ownership was reached and Romeo joined our family. Miss 12 is looking forward to training him. Apparently they can be toilet trained but I'm not sure she is that ambitious at the moment!

Monday, April 1, 2013

April Learning List

This month we'll be celebrating or commemorating the following special days April Fools Day, Hans Christian Andersen's birthday, No Housework Day (I'm sure this will be my favourite!), Draw a Picture of a Bird Day, Scrabble Day, Titanic Remembrance Day, Leonardo da Vinci's birthday, the anniversary of Paul Revere's ride, Talk Like Shakespeare Day and Anzac Day. Mostly we've got small, obvious stuff planned - read a book,watch a movie, draw a bird, play a game of Scrabble. For Talk Like Shakespeare Day we'll take some idea from here, but  also inspiration from Seven Cool Homeschoolers and the BBC's 60 Second Shakespeare and make a short movie probably using puppets. This is bound to be frustrating a positive learning challenge since we've no previous movie making experience. It will probably be Othello since she asked if we could read it aloud - one scene a day like we did with Twelfth Night in February.

We're becoming honourary Americans and marking National Poetry Month via 30Poets/30Days. We'll do another poetry teatime(maybe the day before Miss 12 has surgery to remove the wires in her arm - might be a good way to take her mind off things) and have set ourselves the challenge of memorizing a couple of poems.

Pinterest is a great place for me to strew things I think Miss 12 might enjoy. She browsed through my boards and picked a few things she's like to do this month. There's lots of arts and crafts - printable nesting dolls, embroidered paintings, plastic wind organs, a homemade field journal,  plus printing and playing an art "I have...who has" game. To my surprise she also picked a few math activities - a symmetry webquest, some math problems of the week and a Guess Who numbers game. Then (no surprises here),  there are lots of bird related activities - make different types of feeders and see which birds prefer which ones, make a bird bath, make felted birds, make paper mache birds, and watch David Attenborough Life of Birds series again.

A long awaited highlight for Miss 12 will be taking part in the Junior Keeper for a Day programme at a local wildlife park. She was meant to attend in December but broke her arm two days before and was still in hospital recovering from surgery. For me one highlight will be Mr 20's graduation ceremony. He'll be receiving his BSc (Hons) and I'm hoping he gets the extra seats he's requested so the whole family can attend.