Friday, June 30, 2017

Week Ending 2 July 2017

So much of this week has revolved around one of Miss 16's main passions - birding. On Monday night it was the evening meeting of our birding group. The speaker did a great job presenting the results of long term research into Black Petrels, a seabird species that breeds only on a couple of our offshore islands. She also mentioned that they often have opportunities for volunteer field research assistants. Needless to say Miss 16 was very interested and will definitely be following this opportunity up!

Tuesday saw us making a journey across town to the sewage ponds. Unfortunately, the bird we were hoping to spot wasn't to be found. Not to be deterred we made a return trip on Saturday and were rewarded by good views of the bird - a White-winged black tern - hawking for insects over one of the oxidation ponds.

Wednesday's mail saw the arrival of the national birding magazine and journal, so lots of time was spent on bird-related reading.


Miss 16 has three pieces in this edition of the magazine and is busy drafting an article for publication in the journal.
On Thursday we attended a full day workshop on braided rivers. Lots of great bird related presentations, since many of our most endangered species only breed in braided river habitat. But also lots of work focusing on other creatures that live in braided rivers - fish, grasshoppers -  as well as papers focusing on the ecosystem as a whole. Given that Miss 16 is inching closer to needing to make some decisions about her future, it's interesting to see what areas especially grab her attention. Hopefully a clue that will help make it easier to decide what and where to study at the university level.




The goal of the workshop was to share knowledge which will help increase the survival of species like this Kaki, which rely on the braided river habitat.

We realized that time was running out to participate in this year's garden bird survey, on Friday. Our temporary accommodation basically lacks a garden,  and therefore there aren't a lot of birds to be seen, unless we lean out a window and peer over a neighbours' fence. Instead we took the opportunity to walk to a homestead and public gardens just a few blocks away, where we found a sheltered spot and counted birds for an hour. Far more species than we see at home, but we did miss being able to count from the warmth of indoors! 

Part of the garden where we sat for an hour doing our bird survey. It also featured a lovely little gazebo with stained glass windows. We thought we might have had to take shelter in it if the wind increased or it started to rain. Thankfully shelter wasn't required.




I allowed Miss 16 to take a break from most of her normally scheduled schoolwork this week, so that she could focus on one particular project. She has been asked to submit a short paper on the Cox's Sandpiper to Notornis, the national ornithological journal. That bird was first seen in New Zealand late last year and Miss 16 played a role in it being officially recognized, which is I think why she was asked to write this paper. That, and right now people are conscious about fostering and encouraging young birders. But writing for a national, peer-reviewed scientific journal is a little intimidating and requires significant effort. So rather than try and squeeze it in between regular homeschooling and trampoline coaching and training (and trust me many days don't have any time left between those two things) I offered to clear her schedule so she'd have big chunks of time to work on the first draft.

The week wasn't totally bird focused though. Miss 16 continued with Animal Behaviour, since that is her longest course - the one that won't be finished when the rest of her planned work is scheduled to be complete. She also did a little grammar most days and we watched a movie since Dh somehow managed to find The Journey of August King for us. That was the one I thought we'd have to miss from her Movies as Literature course because I couldn't find it anywhere. And there was also trampolining, her regular coaching and training plus she volunteered to assess recreational athletes who were trying to earn incentive badges.

By rights I should be busy unpacking now, instead of writing a blog post. Sadly, our move back home has been delayed. It's only by a few days, but the delay is frustrating, not to mention financially costly to us. Despite some advantages to our temporary accommodation I'm definitely looking forward to getting back into our own place. Hopefully this week. The movers are booked so it had better happen! Just to add to the fun we had a call from the contractors to tell us they had damaged the carpet in our living room and it would need to be replaced. Of course that won't be done by the time we move back so we'll have to put up with concrete floors in the living room for a week or so, not to mention the hassle of moving the furniture back into the room, only to have to move it all back out again. Sigh...

Linking to the Weekly Wrap-Up and to Homeschool Highlights

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Week Ending 25 June 2017

Not a very exciting week at all. Once again I was out of the house more than I would have liked. My husband's class at the out-of-town university had their final exam, so he had to be out there several days so he could answer any last minute questions, then to collect the exam scripts for marking. Lots of reading time for me as I waited for him to be finished! Luckily Miss 16 doesn't really need me around and gets her school work done regardless.

Tossing coins to generate data (simulating the chances of two brown eyed parents producing a blue eyed child) for statistics. She was looking at binomial distributions this week

We finished reading The Odyssey for literature and then watched a Great Books video.

Typing up rare bird report. Ornithology isn't an official subject this year, but it is her passion. Real world writing is more meaningful than an artificial assignment.

I was geekily pleased to tie all of this week's poetry in to her other courses. We studied Langston Hughes's Harlem (Dream Deferred) mainly using the analysis from Schmoop. This obviously linked to last week's movie, A Raisin in the Sun. Then we looked at two poems about Helen of Troy, which linked back to The Odyssey. Just for fun I even found this little statistical gem!

The only thing that we didn't get to was her movies course. We couldn't find the movie in question in any video store or library, but did discover it on YouTube.  Except when we went to watch what we discovered instead was a link to a dodgy looking site. Sigh. So we resigned ourselves to having to skip that movie, which is a shame since it sounded interesting. It is based on a novel so if I can find the novel we might read that instead and discuss how we would turn it into a movie. Being unable to watch the movie left us with a few spare hours, so we decided to put them to good use, take advantage of our temporary accommodation and walk the couple of blocks to the mall to grab lunch.

Lunch at the mall was one of the things Miss 16 and I aimed to do while we are staying here. Walking to the weekly farmers market was another and we did that again this weekend. Another plan was to walk to a historic homestead and gardens which is just a few blocks from here. We haven't managed that yet so I hope the weather cooperates this coming week. If all goes according to schedule - and so far, amazingly enough, it seems to be - the repairs to our house should be finished by Friday, enabling us to move back over the weekend.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Week Ending 18 June 2017

We've spent most of this week trying to get back into routine since the previous three have been so disrupted. It hasn't been as easy as I'd hoped. Miss 16 has been struggling with a major decision which has affected her concentration and motivation. She's made a temporary decision but a permanent decision may be a few more weeks away. I think/hope that homeschooling will be better once she makes that final decision  - and makes peace with it, which may or may not turn out to be another thing entirely! 

The other factor that's affecting our routine is we are not actually at home and that seems to make so many simple things more complicated. I still don't know where everything lives in this house, the kitchen is small which makes meal prep tricky (most of the pantry items are stored in boxes outside the kitchen), I've never used gas before and the hob seems a little ... temperamental shall we say. It's not bad or impossible, just different and different takes adjusting too. Plus we've had to make trips to flooring stores, paint stores etc which has eaten into the amount of time I've actually been able to be involved in the homeschooling.

Still, we did manage to get a fair amount done. Not vocabulary since Miss 16 finished the first book before we left for the conference and guess where the next book is? That's right, in storage. But normal amounts of statistics (a return to the least understood topic so far, so that was challenging), grammar, poetry, history and animal behaviour were completed. We continued with The Odyssey (should wrap it up next week) for literature and added in a couple of online videos for extra interest. Plus we watched, discussed and analyzed A Raisin in the Sun for Miss 16's movies course.

A friend who travelled with us to the conference introduced us to Five Crowns. It's become our current favourite game. This week, if we were at home and not homeschooling we were most likely playing a round or two.
The week also had some good non-homeschool related things as well. One was the annual winter wader count. It was my job to organize it this year and we were very short on volunteers but it all worked out in the end. Miss 16 and I ended up doing two sections though which meant a lot of walking over uneven, wet boggy terrain and there weren't a lot of birds. But we thought our efforts were well rewarded when we spotted three Gull-billed terns, a rare species which neither of us had seen so far this year. The downside is Miss 16 now needs to submit a rare bird report for them, plus she was recently asked to submit one for a bird we saw way back in 2015, and she needs to start work on a short article she's been asked to a submit to the national ornithology journal. If only writing about birds was as much fun as going out looking at them!

Last night we ended up having a big family dinner. Mr 24 had flown back from Australia for the weekend for his girlfriend's birthday so they came around and joined us, along with Miss 22 (who is currently house sitting) and her boyfriend. The meal was a little more low key than I might have liked due to the limitations of our current kitchen (and the difficulties of trying to deal with all the different dietary restrictions - Miss 22 is vegetarian but there are lots of vegetables her boyfriend won't eat; apparently his family thinks it's hilarious he's dating a vegetarian) but it was great to catch up with Mr 24 and to spend more time with the partners of the oldest two. After a few years of contraction as the kids got older and left home/had other responsibilities it seems as if our family gatherings might have entered  a stage of expansion.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Fortnight Ending 11 June 2017

It's been a very busy fortnight. In many ways things are looking up at our temporary abode. The gas issues have been resolved meaning we have heat, hot water and a hob for cooking. Our cat has not yet fully accepted the move but is at least putting in an appearance every day for food. Yesterday she even came inside and slept for about six hours. I've no idea where she is hiding out the rest of the time but at least she knows where we are and is staying close. We even have Internet -  hooray, hooray. After I posted last time I went to do a load of washing ... and discovered the washing machine did not work properly. Something was wrong with the spin cycle and the clothes came out soaking wet. After 10 days the the repairers finally came to take it away and left us with a loan machine. It doesn't fit in the space the other one did so it sits in the middle of the laundry, making maneuvering in the room rather difficult. But it works and I now no longer have to spend a couple of hours a day at the laundromat. Amazing how much easier life is with these improvements.

Actually Miss 16 and I missed the worst of the no Internet/no washing machine deprivation because we've been out of town for nearly a week at an ornithology conference. She had a great time - found most of the papers interesting, took part in a banding workshop so got more hands-on experience with birds, and met up with a couple of friends from the young birders group. They even skipped out on one of the less interesting conference sessions and did a little birding by themselves.

Banding a Silvereye




My experience was a little less positive. As a regional rep I had a meeting to attend before the conference. It lasted over six hours! I wanted to go the banding workshop but there was another workshop at the same time that I thought would be of benefit to our group as a whole so I felt honour-bound to attend that instead - duty before personal pleasure and all that. The final day of the conference was field trip day. Miss 16 and I picked the same one and while there was some gorgeous scenery, none of the three rare species we were hoping to see cooperated. Frustratingly we heard one but the bus had to leave before anyone managed to track down the bird. We drove there and back with friends and - of course - did some birding along the way. Over the course of the trip I managed to spot seven new species for the year, while only three or four of them were new for Miss 16. We'd both hoped for more but I guess we now have a reason to go back.

Freezing fog rising above the lake.


Mirror Lake



The South Island Robin was one of the new species I added to my year list.

Somewhat surprisngly, May turned out to be a pretty good reading month for me. I completed fifteen books, almost half of which counted for my various reading challenges. My favorite titles were Fiona Davis's  The Dollhouse, Clare Mackintosh's I See You, Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham, The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion and Anna Pitoniak's The Futures: A New York Love Story.