Tuesday, November 23, 2010

November gifts from the garden

My favorite thing about November has to be that my rose garden starts to bloom, and forth next few months I can enjoy fresh roses in a huge variety of shades on my table.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Patchwork of Days - Daybook

Outside my window...

The sky is clearing after one of the few spring showers that we have had this season. I've been watering the garden for some weeks, its nice to have rain. Its also nice to look out while it clears.

I am listening to...

The sound of kids talking as they clear last nights dishes. Its a nice happy sound for all of us. Sometimes parenting is easy.

I am thankful for...

Lots of little things - this week has made me aware of the effects of being grateful...
  • for eggplants on sale and moussaka for Sat night dinner, 
  • rose syrup that makes great rose flavoring for Mediterranean desserts,
  • hubby moving my desk back over to the window so I have better light for reading, 
  • the gift of a  second hand laptop for the kids...
  • extra space because we moved out the old school computer. 
 It is good to look at the world through gratitude.
From the learning rooms...

Busy! My daughter has had the hard word that she needs to finish her work for the term by Christmas. She's been working at half pace all year, and objecting to speeding up. Since I don't handle conflict well I've tried to jolly her along, and focus on what is good. Now we've had to address this head on. It will be a busy few weeks.

From the kitchen...

On Thursday I put together the first batch of Rose-petal Jelly...I was a bit timid and its a good Rose Syrup...great for baklava and other Middle Eastern deserts so I'm looking forward to enjoying them but it looks like after we do the monthly shopping I will be making another batch or two.

I am reading...

I'm hoping to get time in our omnibus schedule and read the next installment of Norse Myths for my youngest son's studies. I've enjoyed seeing the background of the other major influence in English literature - especially Tolkien even if sometimes these stories seem very depressing and wild.

A few plans for the rest of the week:

A much quieter week ahead - almost normal before ballet practices and year end activities start to effect us. This is good. I like quiet.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Art - Artistic Pursuits

Art has always been a welcome relief here. Nature Journals and drawing made school a lot better for my girl and for me. I've enjoyed learning to draw - art in school was fun and that's about all.  When we started homeschooling I had to get my head around art being not just fun but also having things to learn. Scary.

We started out with how to teach art to young people by Evan Moore. Lots of fun projects looking at each of the elements of art. That was fun while it lasted although for many of those sessions there was more theory than fun.

About that time we also added in Drawing iwth Children. I learn heaps. We even had some fun, But for 5 and 7 yr old's it was just too complicated. We really didn't have the fine motor skills to do anything like this.

Then someone suggested Artistic Pursuits. We worked through the books sometimes slowly, sometimes seriously. Generally steadily. I've enjoyed the mix of art appreciation. ( It makes up for my Charlotte Mason failings) serious technique and fun.

Stopping ans starting isn't so good. We've worked through all of the K-34 materials they are fun, and can be enjoyed at a much higher level than the suggested K-3 we've all learnt from these.

The composition and drawing books are great. There is enough of a balance to develop even my youngest who decided early on that he wasn't any good at art becasue he couldn't draw like his siblings. I'm hping so we make it inot the colour books... but this is what we have acheived.

Drawing Animals - the Naturalist age 10

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An artist in the family

When we went up for our ballet exam the teacher pointed out a picture of ballet shoes on a music background that she had thought about buying for the studio. Looking at its simple construction I figured that Beth would be able to put that together... mostly it was simple, the main drawing part was a pair of ballet shoes and on the original there were simple line drawings on fabric.

My artist was a little less confident. The canvas was big and well it was for someone else. It had to be good. We did a trial run and made the project even more complicated. It it needed to be a painting not a sketch. She's good at sketching, adding paint is another matter.

Two weeks ago she finished it, and on Thursday she handed it over...

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Iris border

Nearly 5 years ago we moved into what we thought was a temporary rental while we looked for a new home in town.

The house had been owned by a retired couple who filled their days creating a show level garden. They had planted nearly every inch in flowers creating a beautiful enclosed cottage garden.

Times changed and they were unable to maintain the section. It was sold ...first to a member of our church who let us among others use if for a transition between homes. Then by God's grace we became the caretakers of the garden. Lots has changed to give the children some grass adn to allow me to grwo some veges... but much of the garden is still as it was planted. In late spring it comes into its own as a wonderland of color.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Patchwork of Days - Daybook

Outside my window...
A blaze of purple, pale blue, cream, burgundy and green the Iris are in full flower. Behind them roses are opening. Definitely time to sit outside and enjoy the view

I am listening to...
Our last book order from Amazon for next year arrives - and with it my Christmas CD for this year - Chris Tomlin's Glory in the Highest. Its a little bit early but we couldn't resist playing it for the first time.

I am thankful for...
At the dress rehearsal yesterday I was once again grateful for the roles that my daughter has had over the years and the current choreography put together by their dance teacher. The studio is doing Tinkerbell.. and the junior grades are a mix of small creatures and fairies... the older Jazz grades are toned down this year - but the adult themes in the music isn't quite what I would want to hear every week. for my girl...they have been given the Call from Prince Caspian, and Maze of Grace. Both fun, refreshing and our girls get to be young ladies. Yes I'm grateful.

From the learning rooms...
Celebrations - my middle child who has the reputation for not enjoying languages is consistently getting 90% in his weekly tests. The move to Henle this year, and a gain in confidence have made a huge difference.

From the kitchen...
More thoughts in how I structure our purchases, and keeping order in the kitchen. I spent part of yesterday morning working through a list of the the preserves that I will make this season - fruit crops allowing and what I want to pick up in terms of meat when the price drops in Autumn. I think I have a plan.

I am reading...
The pile by my desk is growing, but this has been a week to relax and enjoy CS Lewis, Narnia style. 

A few plans for the rest of the week:
I would like to say that the peaceful routine of life returns but it looks like another fun and busy week. We have a Water Safety Day at our local pools, which if it is like  the one they had last year will be a lot of fun. I also have a Friend coming over for coffee.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fresh Eggs and Spring Gardens

In late summer I finally managed to find the cash to buy a portable chicken coop and bring some hens back into our lives. the kids had enjoyed having the girls around when we had lived semi-rurally for a couple of years. They wanted the girls back. Its been an adventure.

Keeping chickens in a town section is different no large run. but these girls are friendlier than our other hens ever were - young pullets that follow the kids when they go down to feed them. Hens that dig through my rose garden and the vege patch. Hens that get banished in spring because the lawn has to grow, or the new beans are coming up. Fortunately we can start letting them out again when we are gardening.

In the mean time these girls are giving me enough eggs for one or two egg meals a week, sometimes even breakfast. Its been good to enjoy fresh home grown produce again.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The History Delima

As I said I love Veritas's history and the Christian emphasis that is incorporated into the work. I like having a solid base if Christian thinking in the middle ages and the reformation. When it hits the Explorers and American History we become unstuck. It's here that the resources get expensive and well as a Kiwi it doesn't really fit our needs. But it does provide a good launching pad into Omnibus.

Hence the Delima.

For my oldest we simply jumped around so much that we never got to this period of time. Ok we came unstuck here and I wasn't sure what was happening. But now my middle child is struggling with not having a spine to read from, and I'm struggling with being pulled away from the narrate and then have some fun pattern that we all are familiar with.

Hopefully this will make history both more meaningful and increase his confidence in what he is doing. It does mean that we will hit Omnibus a little later - 2nd or third term of next year. But it seems worth it and in truth I can se that we really aren't all that ready for Omnibus year 1 yet.

For now its back to the Story of the World with  Veritas added in for projects when we get to it.

More pictures from Mt Bruce

And then there were these guys almost/probably on the endangered list, but we have seen one or two as we've walked in the bush ....they are the North Island cousin of the Kea. (Kea's aren't endangered and are probably one of the best known parrots in NZ. They are the bane of car-owning skiers and trampers because they love the rubber on windscreens and windscreen wipers...but they are also the clowns in every camp ground, car park and picnic spot around the southern alps. )

This northern cousin though the Kaka is ...he's browner, shyer maybe only a little bit...and a bush  not an alpine parrot.  At the Santuary they feed them to keep an eye on the birds that have been released back into the wild, andto stop them starving over winter.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ahh that could be why they are endangered.

While we were away we went to the Mt Bruce bird Sanctuary. Its a trip that meant a major detour on our way home from my Mum's place but it was worth it. Nature study for us has meant a fascination with the birds of NZ, and from our bush walks and living out in the country we had lots of feathered visitors. But a number of our native birds are on the endangered list. Breeding programs like the one at Mt Bruce do thier part to turn things around....

And so I finally got to see the Kokako....its last remaining natural habitat isn't that far from where we live...about an hours drive, and we have enjoyed several walks there, but never have we seen one of these in the forest. I figured they were shy and hid high up in the canopy...


Until we met this one... when it decided we were friends it came up to the wire....it repeated what we said..and a number of other parrot like sayings. We were warned not to hand feed her after all they do want to breed and release... but she was so friendly, and fun, but it wasn't easy to resist....a truly blessed day.

Kokako Mt Bruce

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Patchwork of Days - Daybook

Outside my window...

Spring, a mass of green a border of Iris in nearly full bloom, Self sown Grannies Bonnets amongst the Iris, Roses about to open, oh yes and well weeds

I am listening to...

The family is relaxing in from of Ratatouille after a late Saturday night of Guy Fawkes fireworks. When the movie is quiet there is silence.

I am thankful for...

The teaching series we have been listening to from Mars Hill. Learning to be teachable with lots of opportunities to practice this arising in our daily lives.

From the learning rooms...

 I really need to catch up on my Latin studies so that my daughter has work for tomorrow. I was meant to work in Sat instead we went on a family trip to buy a trailer. Um Latin after supper. I'm enjoying  the Aeneid and Luke, have avoided looking ahead to far into next week.

From the kitchen...

Re-organizing my routines back to our monthly shopping and dinners from the pantry again. Somehow over the past few years one good idea after another has turned simple and fun upside down. Money saving ideas seem to have added to my budget in ways that I still don't understand.  How is it that money saving good ideas can end up making the food bill just so much bigger?  Its nice to return to normal, and re-discover a our version of simple and easy.

I am reading...

Seasons of a Mothers heart and a couple of other good devotional books found their way into my bookshelf this week. I'm hoping to enjoy some encouraging reading.

A few plans for the rest of the week:

This week looks like being simply normal. I need to plant some tomatoes, my seed raised ones haven't quite survived transplanting and so I need to buy some. I'm also hoping to tidy up the section ans sweep the spring snow off the pathways. Saturday is the dress rehearsal for my daughter's end of year production.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Appreciating the Patchwork

Our homeschooling journey could easily have been described as a pull between two poles. I love the Omnibus from Veritas in truth I love their whole history and bible program. But I also love the idea of a freer CM style learning, based on good books, nature study, relaxed learning and quiet peaceful days.

In the past we have swung between the two and our own blend of block studies. Each has its advantages, each has its downfalls especially when I add in the quirks of my kids and myself. Often I've felt like a failure from jumping between the two and a whole lot of  variations in between. But along the way we have learned, and I think that I'm finally coming to a balance between the two styles.

For the younger ones living books and narrations largely replace the cards and worksheets. I still use the worksheets where they take what we are learning a little deeper but often its reading, narration and any interesting activities. I know we overdo the formal stuff - written narrations are way to common, but they work, yes I agree ex-auditors really shouldn't be left to home-school alone.

With the Omnibus this term we have taken the selections for about nine weeks, and stretched them so that we start the introductions to most of the books in week 1 ...and finish most of the books in week 10. Slow reading, time to sit with a book. No more hard weeks of reading that is pulling us down. ( OK in truth that's only the Histories ...but that was a long time of not wanting to read.)

We still have our writing project and art project Fridays. Hopefully next week I'll mark them in time for evening presentations. For this week its a Monday presentation. They are great fun, and yep I get to see what really had made a difference for the younger ones. With Omnibus this is the time to play with the writing questions and essays.  the also give me a day to catch up, and a day we can bump if there is a home-school group activity, skiing or a long weekend. No more  inflexible Monday to Friday schedule with these interruptions sending me into stress mode.

I still have three kids in different places in History, Bible and Literature .. it really is a patchwork, but  its working out. They have something that is theirs and that is good. But now we are far enough in to have conversations at dinner and discuss Homer and Virgil. Just because someone asked a question, and we are all far enough along in the journey to have it start to come together. It wasn't in depth, but to see the various personalities interacting was worth the struggles, and is also worth the patience of going at their own pace.