Saturday, March 8, 2014

Week Ending 9 March 2014

This was a much calmer, more stay-at-home week than last. As a result I'm feeling less flustered, more organised (except for all the surplus furniture cluttering up the garage that is) - and we're all caught up on the housework!

After me giving the impression last week that we were enjoying wonderful summer weather, Mother Nature decided to celebrate the move into autumn by treating us to winds and plenty of rain - a "one-in-one hundred year storm" according to media. All I saw from my window for  three days was grey sky and rain!  That plus the fact that some parts of the city dropped a metre as a result of the earthquakes contributed to serious flooding in some areas. Fortunately our part of town saw nothing worse than surface flooding. The weather did contribute to our spending even more time at home than planned though. Mr 16 had one  cricket practice plus the game itself called off , Miss 13 had a trampoline practice cancelled since flood waters prevented her coach leaving home, and the cultural festival we planned to attend on the weekend was also cancelled since the ground was still too wet to support a large crowd.

The week spent reviewing French seems to have paid off. Miss 13 had now got the vocabulary nailed and is more confident of her abilities so we are ready to move into the next chapter. There were about half a dozen words she was still struggling with and she was determined to nail them. She also felt  a hankering for chocolate and - never one to miss an opportunity - suggested I should buy her a chocolate bar if she memorised them all. I agreed - on the proviso that she could recall them all - French to English and English to French three days in a row.  She earned it so I was happy to meet my end of the bargain.

Maths is going smoothly. Last year it was Miss 13's bugbear subject - the one she really wanted a lot of help with. This year - so far - she's working fully independently and only very occasionally says "I got one problem wrong and I can't find where I made a mistake. Can you please take a look?"

We finished our unit on cells by looking at diffusion and osmosis and conducting a lab involving a bag of cornstarch solution being placed in a container of iodine solution. The iodine diffused into the bag but the cornstarch molecules were too large to diffuse out. Sadly, we disposed of the experiment before I  remembered that Mr 16's camera is repaired and I could actually take a photo.

A Banded Dotterel
Much of our birding has been done online this week. Miss 13 wrote an entry on New Zealand's Banded Dotterels and then attended the last online bird class for this quarter. Despite us both continuing to have mixed feelings about the class she's keen to continue with the final quarter which starts this coming week. We've also been watching a live eagle cam (thanks for mentioning it Diane) which is a great way to learn about a bird we can't see in real life. We also watched a BBC programme on Australian cassowaries. Miss 19 actually saw them when she was in Australia four year ago. We did make one outing which was a mixed success. We spotted a White Heron (Miss 13's first for the year) plus plenty of Caspian Terns ( a favourite of Miss 13) and Royal Spoonbills (a favourite of mine - they seem so exotic), not to mention a large group of Banded Dotterels in a location we've never seen them before - possibly a result of the bad weather. On the down side flood waters and road closures due to earthquake repairs stopped us getting good looks at two sites the Glossy Ibis frequents. This bird - just the one - visits the city every year and has been back for a couple of weeks now but we've yet to spot him this year. Maybe next week.

I spent one enjoyable afternoon catching up with my friend who has just returned from more than a year overseas. We went out for coffee and it was great when we realised Miss 13 and her daughter who are also good friends, are legally old enough to be left at home alone. That wasn't the case before they moved. We both love spending time with our children but sometimes it is nice to be able to talk and relax without them as well.

Graphing the photoperiod for this year's Mystery Classes

We're continuing with Journey North's Mystery Class, calculating and graphing the photoperiod for ten secret locations around the world, plus our own. This helps us work out the rough latitude of each place. Next week we'll get the data that will help us narrow down the longitude. Then for the next four weeks we'll get cultural or other clues that will (hopefully) allow us to discover the exact location of each of the ten Mystery Classes. If anyone is really keen it is not too late to join in. You can even try things out by just working on one or two locations for fun this year before giving the entire project a try next year. I'll have a post up in the next day or two that will explain exactly how the Mystery Class project works.

Miss 13 with her medals!

The week ended with the first trampoline competition of the year. A bit of a mixed bag for Miss 13 with only one of her three individual routines actually going well. On the positive side she got through her new routine and didn't crash out . She came away with a 3rd placing in the individual section and a 1st in the synchronized event with her new partner - not to mention the toy lamb finger puppet which was in her mystery prize bag! . Best of all her scores were high enough to qualify her for Nationals later in the year. Always a relief to get the qualification out of the way early in the season. Just need to work on fine tuning the routines now and/or developing new (more complicated) ones.

Now I'm off to catch up on some missed sleep. What with having to pick Miss 19 up from a friend's 21st party last night (actually early this morning),  and the early start of today's competition, combined with my waking a whole hour before the alarm went off  this morning, I'm feeling more than a little sleep deprived.


  1. yay for stay at home weeks!

    Foreign language is something we are sorely lacking. We've tried a few things and never found one that stuck. I need to work on that.

    Do you have legal ages to leave kids home alone there? I think we have a rough guideline, but I am not sure if we have a legal age for that here.

  2. Nice to see you here Theresa. Here the law says you can't leave a child under the age of 14 without reasonable supervision. I4 is also the age you can be left in charge of younger kids. Seems strange to me - I'd want kids to get used to looking after themselves first before being left in charge of others. Guess that's why I'm not a lawmaker.