Sunday, February 12, 2017

Week Ending 12 February 2017

This goes down as one of those weeks in which we never really got our homeschool groove on. Lots of interruptions and disruptions, not all of them bad, but still.While the week wasn't as productive as it could have been, especially in terms of book work, it did still include lots of good stuff.

Monday was supposed to be an at-home day, one where we would make a good start on this week's formal work. However, late on Sunday night Miss 16 came into my room and asked, "What are we doing tomorrow?" When I replied that we were just staying in and working, she asked if we could go to the sewage ponds instead. What? Your children never randomly request a trip to your local sewage ponds - not even as a way to get out of planned homeschooling? As regular readers may have guessed Miss 16's reason was bird related. She'd just read an online report that an extremely rare bird had been briefly sighted at our local ponds. So, of course, that's where we went . We spent a couple of hours scanning the ponds from the road and checking out other likely spots nearby. Just as we were about to head home one of the park rangers, the guy who reported seeing the bird, arrived and gave us permission to climb the fence. (For obvious reasons the public doesn't have free access to the sewage ponds!). One of his colleagues was already there so the four of us stationed ourselves at different parts of the most likely pond and we spent another hour peering through our binoculars. Sadly, still no joy. We decided to call it quits then and head home to get some book work done. An update at night revealed that nobody had managed to  find the bird but it has been seen since. I foresee another trip to the sewage ponds in our future!

Tuesday started with a driving lesson for Miss 16. The instructor says her driving is great but she has to check her mirrors more frequently. Statistics caused a couple of headaches today. One wrong answer in the solution manual was easily dealt with, but Miss 16 didn't understand how to do one thing and it wasn't  covered in the video. A little searching revealed where the missing instruction was to be found. At least we'll know where to look if we run in to similar problems in future lessons but it did suck up a bit of time. Then Miss 16 received an email from the editor of the national birding magazine advising that the regional columns, of which she writes one, were due in just 3 days. The previous editor used to give 10-14 days notice. So she needed to get started on that straight away. And then she received a text asking if she would permanently take on coaching two extra classes at the gym. This was a big decision with many variables to weigh up so we spent an hour or so tossing the pros and cons back and forward. In the end she decided to take the extra classes. Hopefully  it won't prove too much, but if it does she can always cut back her hours next term.

Wednesday could have been a productive at-home day but Miss 22 had to go shopping ... and Miss 16 needed some new clothes ... and shopping with a sister is much more enjoyable than shopping with a mother (especially one who hates shopping with a passion) ... and the two of them have missed spending time together while Miss 22 has been in Europe... so Miss 16 spent most of the day at the mall with her sister. And when she wasn't at the mall she was coaching and training. And when she wasn't doing that she was sleeping. So no bookwork at all.

Thursday was - thankfully - a much more productive day,  helped no doubt by the fact that Miss 16 didn't have to leave the house until 5:40pm. She was only training, not coaching. The new coaching hours that she agreed to take on are on a Thursday, but she said she couldn't start until next week. It's amazing how much work can be got through with determination and no interruptions. Only a couple of points of interest. She managed to get through two day's worth of statistics, although I helped by pruning the number of questions she needed to answer since the lesson was on the statistics concept she is probably most familiar with. And, since we've finished reading and listening to The Two Gentlemen of Verona we tackled some of the questions from Shakespeare Online. Since this is one of his lesser known plays I had a hard job finding many suitable resources to use in our study.

Friday was a great day, although no bookwork was involved. Instead we visited a local wildlife park where Miss 16 observed the Keas, a mountain parrot endemic to New Zealand, and completed a variety of different ethograms to record their behaviour. We used this assignment as the basis of our work. We had hoped to complete this last year as part of her Ornithology course but my health problems prevented us making the visit. So it was great to finally get there and the assignment works well with  this year's Animal Behaviour course. The Keas are housed in a walk- through aviary and we spent over four hours there. Some of them were as interested in observing us as we were in observing them - much to Miss 16's delight. Perhaps the most curious of all was a Kea known as Katie who has a deformed beak, but was still well able to explore all sorts of novelties with it!






Saturday morning was an all-bird count at a local lake. This is a big undertaking.  The lake is divided into sections, groups of volunteers are assigned to each section and every.single. bird is counted. In some sections there are several species which number more than a thousand! Miss 16 and I ended up taking the high road. Half our group walked close to the lake edge counting hundreds of waterfowl, while Miss 16 and I zig-zagged back and forth on the vast area of dry, exposed lake bed searching for flocks of waders. We did find a few, but none of the rarer, exciting species we were hoping for. Hopefully the results will be out early next week and we'll get an idea of which sections of the lake are holding the birds we're after.

On Sunday evening Miss 16, Miss 22 and I attended an outdoor performance of The Two Gentlemen of Verona. There's an outdoor Shakespeare here every summer and Miss 22 and I have been going for about 10 years. Miss 16 joined us four or five years ago. I think the boys both came once or twice each, but they aren't such fans of Shakespeare. These outdoor plays are always enjoyable, without pretensions of being the highest calibre - they are put on by an amateur company. Miss 16 was especially fond of this one since it includes a dog. Forget Sir Laurence Olivier or Kenneth Branagh. As far as Miss 16 is concerned the "actor" who played Crabbe the dog is the finest Shakespearean actor ever!

The ex-homeschoolers who live at home both had busy weeks. Mr 19 sat the final exam for the maths course he's been taking over the summer. He's now on holiday until university proper resumes in a just over a week. He spent one day of his break volunteering at the Coast to Coast race. The race goes across the South Island from the west to east coast and is a mix of running, cycling and kayaking. The elite athletes do it in a day but Mr 19 was helping out at the two day event - marshalling, assembling kayaks and various other jobs. He had a great time and hopes to volunteer there again next year. Miss 22 has also been busy, mainly catching up with all her friends but also starting back at her old job as a checkout supervisor at a local supermarket. I'm glad she's having fun this week since she is about to enrol for a PhD, which should keep her busy for a few years!

Linking to the Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.


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