Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Weekend Fun

As I mentioned in my last post, we had family with us for the weekend. How nice to share some time with Stuart's sister, and two of our sweet nieces for two whole days. It saddens us not to have family around up here, so it is wonderful when we get visitors!!

One of our nieces was here competing in the state finals for touch football. She (unlike me) is very athletic, and very talented in fact at many many things! Her team (the 14 and unders) won the grand final!! We were very proud of her and excited to be there to see their big win.

Here she is on Saturday night, sharing one of her other talents with us - piano playing.
*Sigh*. She has surpassed me in this skill!

Our other niece Hannah, who has recently returned from England. She was there for 2 years and we had missed her very much. So nice to see her again! Saraya loved spending time with Hannah. :)

Stuart and the children collecting sticks (the fun way :)).....

... for a bonfire Saturday night!!

Basking in the warm glow.

After a full weekend we had a very quiet day yesterday. Elijah unfortunately was quite unwell; he developed a fever mid-morning which lasted throughout the day. He also had one big vomit which I am hoping was just in conjunction with his fever and not another tummy bug! We have had a dreadful winter with sickness and I must say I am relieved that tomorrow is the beginning of Spring. :D

Today we had to do the grocery shopping, but apart from that we were home. Saraya baked 2 banana cakes (new recipe), I made some muffins, washed laundry, wrote our meal plan and shopping list, dreamed gardening dreams, read to the children, and helped Saraya start a scrapbook purely for the purpose of art study. Tonight she stuck in all the work she has done on Van Gogh, and we talked about who she will study next. She has decided on Mary Cassatt, so we will start that tomorrow along with our Nature Study in the morning. We are also looking at the fruits of the spirit at the moment, and this week are thinking about kindness. The children are learning Ephesians 4:32 as a memory verse.

The children certainly keep me busy. Here is William being William. Dressing up in his big sister's beanie, then asking me to take his photo. ;) Funny little man.

We were blessed with dinner tonight from a dear friend, so I was able to play some ball games and read books with the children late afternoon instead of being tied to the kitchen. Such a rare treat for all of us. It's been a good day.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


We are being blessed with family visiting this weekend. Stuart's sister and two of our beautiful nieces are here! We are enjoying lots of hugs and laughter and yummy things to eat. ;)

Aunty Chrissy took this beautiful photo with her super-duper camera at sunset yesterday, just after they arrived. The children were so excited to see them!

I will add some more photos of our fun tomorrow. Have a peaceful and joyous weekend, friends.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Learning at Home

Am I an 'unschooler'? The simple answer is no. But at a closer look....... well, maybe.

Some watercolour art Saraya created during her free time today

We do do formal lessons. Elijah has a phonics lesson with me on Monday and Friday mornings. He wants to have one every day, but to be honest I have trouble fitting that in. Perhaps next term? Saraya does a maths lesson on Mondays, art history / picture study on Tuesdays, science / nature study on Wednesdays, and literacy blocks on Thursdays and Fridays. (We did a big history block last term, and are skipping formal history this term).

However, the more I observe our children, and look through the photographs at the end of every week, the more I realise that real, authentic, very very important learning comes from within. Give a child resources, and time, and their learning is simply unstoppable.

Saraya is a reader, and for this I am thankful. I know that no matter what else is going on at home, she is reading. And we chose her books carefully, just as we do with multimedia. Her mind is young and precious, and still forming. So I search book lists for wholesome, educational, character-building books, and find them either at the library or the Book Depository - and they do so much work for me!! They feed her heart and teach her lessons which she then in turn shares with her younger brother. She read "The Family Under the Bridge" yesterday, and has since been thinking a great deal about the poor and the homeless, asking oodles of questions and brainstorming ways we can do more to help the less fortunate in our world. Fantastic!!

Every night our dinner table looks like this! The minute she is done eating, out comes her book.

We are discovering some funny, safe titles as well. Today she read "Hello Mrs Piggle-Wiggle", and this one.
It's an awful lot of reading (probably about 2-3 hours a day); but it is becoming clear that it will be a passion for life.

William hard at work - drawing little circles, spirals, then working on his snipping skills!

And doing his own watercolour art after watching his big sister

I love that aside from our little formal lessons each day, the children have so much time on their hands for freedom, exploration, reflection, rest and creativity.

I put out this big box of Wedget blocks this morning and Will built these towers all by himself! He was so pleased with himself.

Elijah completed his first big puzzle on his own this morning while Saraya and I did her literacy lesson (on abbreviations today), then began making handmade gifts for the visitors we are expecting this weekend. He wrapped each one in his own handmade wrapping paper.

Sometimes the creativity can get on my nerves. It's constant, what can I say?! And with Stuart gone all day long, it falls on my shoulders to provide the materials and the help when it's needed. But the results? Priceless.

Saraya showing me her completed toy rabbit for our little friend Archie.

On Tuesday night the children were chatting in bed and Elijah asked Saraya if she could "teach me to sew in the morning, after breakfast?". They were both SO excited and couldn't wait to get started! I gave them some felt pieces, a marker, some scissors, a needle each and some gold embroidery thread and left them to it.

Teacher and her student

And look what he made! A beautiful butterfly, for a little friend he loves to play with. We happened to be seeing both of these friends at a big play / morning tea on Wednesday morning and the children were so excited to deliver their presents.

After a very social morning we came home for lunch and rests, and what do you think the children were busy doing again that afternoon?

Yep, more sewing.

And I love that I didn't plan any of that. I can plan fun activities, learning experiences, excursions, lessons, cooking classes, opportunities, etc. etc. - but some of the best learning happens when the children are given the free gift of time. So yes, there is a lot to be said for unschooling. And I'm happy that for the most part, that's just what we're doing.

I love homeschooling!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Moments Like These

It's moments like these I want to freeze time.

Moments with my husband, home with us.

William and his Papa, just hanging out together.

Playing. Learning. Talking.

Enjoying the afternoon sunshine.

New toy library toys, and wood ducks waddling by.

Yes, I wanted to capture this moment.

Thank you Lord for this man.

Thank you for weekends, for stillness, for time to breathe and rest and just be home together.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

One Thing

I have only one thing to say today.

How I would love the resources and space to create this learning environment for my family!

What do you think?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Our New-Look Homeschool Week

For us, weekdays are very different to weekends. Saturdays are 'Papa days' - well the morning at least, while I'm teaching piano - and Stuart spends lots of time playing with the children and running errands with them in town. Sunday is very much a Sabbath day - a day of rest - for all of us. We seldom go anywhere, and it is a quiet, restful, family home day. Stuart works long hours through the week, and the children and I have lots and lots to get done at home. This requires organisation on my part!! And this term, we're trying something new.

I have written a very simple timetable for the children to see when they walk out of their bedroom in the morning. This tells them in a basic form what we will be doing each weekday. Many things are not included in the chart, but the basic form is there.

The chart includes their morning chores, outings, and any formal learning we will be doing each day. Saraya and I are only covering one to two school subjects per day. This is indeed a new tactic for us. Previously we had been spending 15-20 minutes on each subject, probably doing 3-4 subjects a day. I was interested in seeing how it would feel if we instead did a block session on a subject - say 1 - 11/2 hours. The goal is to cover in one day what we would normally cover in a week. And the object is to simplify things, for both Saraya and I. And guess what? It's working!!

Of course, having been unwell and also rather busy these past weeks, we haven't stuck rigidly to the timetable. But that is okay. Life ebbs and flows, as does homeschooling. The children are always involved, always interested, always learning. And life is just that - life. It requires flexibility.

Interested in how a 'typical' day might look for us? Well, here's a basic glimpse for you.

7am-8am - everyone wakes up, we have breakfast, Stuart leaves for work.
8am-9am - I work on chores (beds, dishes, washing on, etc. etc.) and the children have free time. This is often creative/dramatic play, or drawing/reading at the table. They often play outside too. Sometimes they are on chook or rubbish duty during this time also.
9am- I call them to get dressed, make beds, do teeth and hair, etc. They also need to tidy up whatever they've been doing.

9:30-10:15 - The children watch 'Playschool' (though Saraya often reads during this), followed by a 15 minute educational program. This morning it was on "Wheat" - growing, grinding, bread baking etc. I consider this 45 minutes PRECIOUS - I often check my emails, have a coffee, hang the washing in the sunshine etc. It's my breathing time. :) This morning I even used it for Bible study.

10:15 - Outdoor play and morning tea. This is fresh air time, time to stretch our legs.

11am - Formal learning time. Today was Monday, so for Saraya it was maths. We did a whole Math-U-See component, which took us about an hour. This included the introduction of a new concept, 5 practice worksheets and a test. Saraya got 100% on the test so I know she's ready to move on to the next concept next week. I will now informally wind some informal maths into the rest of the week to reinforce what she learned today - just seizing the moments when they spring up. It's important for kids to see how relevant and useful maths really can be!

For my boys, this is activity time. Sometimes I just lay out 2 boards, playdough and toys. Sometimes, they are happy dressing up and playing outside. Sometimes Elijah uses Starfall or Alphablocks on the computer. Today however, I opted to put out a selection of table activities and they kept busy the whole time for which I was thankful.

William digging and scooping lentils

Elijah playing with Stuart's Micro Machines (still around from when he was little!)

And while the boys were busy at the outdoor table, Saraya worked away inside.

I 'float' during this time. Saraya needs help with a sum, or Will spills lentils everywhere, or the phone rings..... yeah, I float. :) I also like to sit and spend time with the boys during their play.

Once Saraya was done, she quickly joined in the 'fun' activities. :)
Writing words with Duplo letters.

Playing with this pirate puzzle - it's tricky. I sat and had a good go too which had the kids smiling, especially when I struggled figuring them out. ;)

Lunch is usually sometime between 12:30 and 1pm. Most days we have a picnic. The kids usually play outside while I prepare our food and they have dragged the rug down under the trees by the time I get out there. After we eat I read the children a chapter or two of our chapter book - we're still reading "The Secret Garden" at the moment. William often kicks a ball or chases the kittens or some such thing while we're reading.

1:30-ish - Rest Time. I pick out a pile of books for Elijah, and he reads them on his bed. I pick a pile of books for Will, and he and I lie on my bed. I read to him, and usually try to shut my eyes for 5 minutes as well. ;) Saraya reads on her bed. In the last couple of months she has gone from reading picture books to reading chapter books. First the large font, illustrated type... and now the smaller font, no illustrated type! Thursday-Sunday she read "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe", using rest times and other quiet times in her days. Yikes!!!

2:30 - the children have tidied away their books, made their beds etc. and we are all up. Today being Monday our afternoon session was baking, of which Saraya is in charge. I also get Elijah to do a fair bit in the kitchen- today he helped me grate cheese and carrots to put on our wraps at lunch time.

3:00 - Well, on a home day like today, afternoon 'Playschool' often gets turned on. It did today. I used this time to clean up the kitchen and get the mince for dinner cooking. Then we all headed outside and ate some of the slice we had made for afternoon tea.

3:30 - 5pm is usually total free time - I often do emailing/phone calls, dinner preparation, folding, watering the garden, reading with a cuppa on the verandah (on really good days.....), pushing the kids on the swing, etc. The children most often play outside - dressing up, tree climbing, running, bike riding, trampolining, etc. Today I offered to take the children to the park (it's literally a 5 minute drive from here, a very quiet tiny little park but it was a nice change of scene and I'd already cooked dinner!). I took my book and enjoyed a quiet hour on the park bench while the children played.

5pm - Bath time. This time is also dotted with other things........ tidying up toys, putting away folding - and this is all the children's responsibility. And Stuart helps with baths, once he gets home. :) I am on dinner duty!

5:30-ish - Dinner.

6:30 - Bedtime routine. I do dishes, and Stu settles the kids. Teeth etc. and stories / chatting on the bed. Prayer time and quiet music on. We try to get their lights out by 7pm. Once dishes are done I get Will into his routine... teeth, nappy, and reading books on my bed. Stuart usually comes in and settles him.

Evenings are grown up time! Most often Will is asleep by 7:30 which leaves us several hours of quiet before bed. This too is precious time, especially when you homeschool and have little ones underfoot all day long.

So there you have it. If you're still reading, you are committed!! :P This of course is a glimpse - every day is different. Tomorrow for instance is a town day, and we will be out for the whole morning at our kids music group, and grocery shopping. Lunch and rests will still be the same, but the afternoon will contain all our formal learning and house chores that need to be done. I like having a balance of town days and home days.

Off topic, I wanted to share what I gave my brother Michael for his 21st..........

He and I from 1989 - 2010. Each photo is engraved with the year. I was so happy with it, and he sent me a text tonight to say he cried when he opened it! Sweet guy. :)

Oh, and I had my hair cut on Saturday!! So nice to be feeling well enough to be up and about, and it was long overdue.

I went for a shorter, easier maintenance style and I'm liking it a lot so far.

Phew! This was a marathon post! Lucky Stu has been out at indoor netball tonight. He is home now, so I'd best go spend some time with him. Blessing friends! xx

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Things Happening Here

Thank you friends for praying, I feel much much better!! It seems I did indeed need antibiotics to fight this infection - they are working, and it's so nice to have a clear(er) chest and be able to breathe easy again. :) It seems pneumonia has been ruled out, which is a huge relief.

I have rested more than I have since having children this week. ;) I have read lots of books, and thought about lots of things. And slept too. In a funny sort of way, it has been nice to have an excuse to rest! And that got me thinking - must I be so ill to feel justified in resting? Or should I be incorporating more rest into my normal daily life? I think so. I don't want to get sick like this again, and must take it easier on myself to stay strong and healthy - for myself and for my family. Of course I already knew this.... but some lessons you only learn the hard way.

In other ways, the week has been difficult. Getting behind on the laundry and housework etc. doesn't bother me overly (I know I'll catch up), but feeling as though I'm neglecting my family does get me down. And the children have particularly felt it. Mama in bed??! What on earth??!!! So. There have been some difficult behaviours to deal with, especially with Saraya who often struggles when things are different from the norm. She's just one of those kids. By Wednesday morning (my sickest day) I was pulling out my hair, and a kind friend agreed to have Saraya come over for the day and help care for / play with her little ones. Saraya also did the dishes and folded washing over there! So she was a genuine help. And a change of scene did her wonders. Thursday another friend offered to take her to Bundaberg with her children, for a day of fun activities- well, she was overjoyed! And yet another friend looked after the boys for several hours, and cooked us dinner..... I have been so blessed. Not having family nearby is hard. When friends step up and help, it is just so wonderful. It really got us through.

Then yesterday it was just the children and I again. I didn't overdo it - we just took things slowly. Saraya did a writing project and spent lots of time riding her bike and climbing trees. :) They did some quiet craft and played with playdough and we sat in the sun and read The Secret Garden together. Saraya is still reading up a storm independently too. In recent weeks she has read The Secret Treehouse, Arabian Nights, and Mary Poppins. And now she has started on The Chronicles of Narnia. This was something we were planning to read aloud to her, but she was already 6 chapters in before we could stop her!! So perhaps we'll read it aloud to Elijah instead. ;) Reading is something she genuinely enjoys, which makes me very happy.

And this morning I have just finished music teaching. It feels so good to be well again. I still feel the lingering symptoms of having been so unwell, and will continue to take things slowly. But it's nice to be out of bed and in clothes instead of pj's, and out in the sunshine again! Stuart will return home with the children shortly. I'm not sure where they have been this morning. This afternoon I am having my hair cut. It hasn't been done for many months so I'm looking forward to that.

Other news...........

* We have found some local Art Classes which Saraya is going to attend on Saturday mornings for the next 4 weeks. Very excited about this!!!! Art is definitely her other passion, and she is excited to be doing something all of her very own.

* William is simply adorable. When he says "My love you Mama" in my ear it just about makes me cry every time. :) He is also still infatuated with machines and mechanics. He is always building or making or 'fixing' something. And he sings non stop.

* The other boy around here who sings non stop is our Elijah. :) Non stop. I am planning to formalise his piano lessons some more too..... he is just all music, that boy. He deserves more attention musically, so I need to pinpoint a time in the week that we can have a formal piano lesson together. And Mum recently told me that she has bought a small child-size drum kit for him for Christmas!!!!! So I'm putting some earplugs in my Christmas stocking. ;) I just know he'll LOVE it, he adores the drums and is desperate to learn.

* I am reading a great book at the moment called Simplicity Parenting. It's all about simplifying the environment and lifestyle of your children. It is excellent. I have marked some pages and will endeavour to put up some quotes in the coming days.

* Not so good news.... Stuart has enlightened me on the state of his mind concerning living here where we are. It has been a difficult time, comprehending that we may not be able to afford living here after all. The mortgage is quite big for us, on one income. It's do-able, but really restricts everything else we can do. Or can't do, which is the point. It seems that the financial stress of living here over-rides the joy Stuart has here. When he looks out on our land, he sees the huge cost of bank payments and maintenance. So we are considering our options. And I am praying hard about it. Whatever happens, I know that having our family together, and healthy and happy and low-stress is the most important thing.

Stuart and the children will be home soon, so I'm going to stop here! Writing is such a great outlet, and my blog continues to be a journal for me. Hope I haven't bored you all. ;) Happy weekend. xx

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Please Pray

So, I overdid things on Monday. I was feeling much better and it was so nice to be up and doing things again........

I woke up yesterday feeling dreadful, even worse than I was last week. And today was no better. I am very thankful for good friends who have been helping me, and children who are trying hard to be helpful while their Mama is lying in bed.

Tonight I went to the hospital (thank you Petrina, for escorting me there :)) and was able to see a doctor who has prescribed me antibiotics. He seems to think I should have been on them for the past week. :( He is fairly confident I don't have pneumonia (I was worried about this possibility), but if I am still unwell by Friday I need to go in for a chest x-ray just to be sure.

So. Would you pray for me? I just so desperately want to get well so I can be back to normal and caring for my family again. I am OVER being sick. Thank you. :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Easing Back In....

After weeks and weeks of concerts and events - and sickness - we are easing back in. To normal, every day, at home together, life.

Today is Monday, our longest no-Stuart day (work, late meetings, and netball at night), and I am still far from being 100%..... but it was a good day! Lots achieved and 3 happy little people tucked into bed. And 1 tired Mama soon to go to bed. :) Here's a glimpse of our day.......

early morning drawing session

breakfast dishes still on the table, littlest brother looking on

'cooking' with river rocks

"mix it, mix it, mix it"

researching Michelangelo's art

computer play

homemade bread rolls for lunch


little boy tree play

trying hard at puzzles

baking white chocolate and raspberry muffins

doubling the quantities to make a double batch

chalk space pictures

warm muffins with our afternoon read

and all ready for a rainy play outside before bath time!

Normality is wonderful.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin