Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Looking forward - Maths

For the last couple of years maths has been a subject on auto -pilot:

Miquon for the first years,

A mix of Keys to ... and Singapore for the middle years,

followed by Jacobs Algebra and Geometry.

While I have a mix of love maths children and bright but not so confident students this has served us well.

However since Jacobs only has the two books we are left looking for another program to see out the senior years. Veritas recommended that we move to Foresters, and we did. So far we are struggling through the first 4 Chapters, redoing, backtracking , trying to get our heads around the specifics and the proofs rather than intuitively accepting what we know, but the love of Maths is dying fast. The jump from one style to another needs a transition that we simply don't have.

 So I'm starting to look at the options. KHAN Academy is definitely one option, and my daughter likes it, but I'm not quite ready to take on a program which I can't plonk down on the desk in front of me and say yep there it is.

So we've taken a risk and purchased the Advanced Algebra book of Life of Fred. Hopefully it works, at least it should be fun, and right now having some fun back in school is what we need.

 But if anyone reading this has any thoughts, I'm still open to suggestions. I need something that will give a bright but uncertain young lady the confidence that she knows what she is going and will succeed.


Monday, December 10, 2012

The End of a Long year

2012 has been long year. Some really neat things have happened along with a lot of stretching and change.

It seems to have had more than its share of stuff packed into it. The year reads as a haze of...

Increased responsibility for Tony at the school he teaches at with becoming project managed for putting in the new computer system, hardware and software. 

Looking after my mum following a pesky skin graft, and them hubby misjudging the white on white of fuzzy snow while skiing and messing up his knee.

Lots of ups and downs at the ballet studio, but my girl finally got a Distinction for her exam and thoroughly deserved it.

New experiences as we were graciously offered homeschool opportunities for Bush-craft, Caving, Rock-climbing etc, through the organization that certifies the outdoor education leaders.

A trip to Christchurch for the long term research project that were my youngest is involved in and which compares the development of full term and prem babies.

 Its been busy, the blog has been neglected and now it is nice to see the end of the road, Christmas and summer ahead and time to regroup.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Patchwork Daybook

Outside my window...

Late Spring early summer, the irises have been a nd nearly gone, the roses are in bloom, the vege patch weeded and green. Outside is calling and its time to enjoy.

I am listening to... 

 "Never Once" by Matt Readman, even though I wasn't so sure about this CD when hubby brought it home last year, it has seriously spoken into the last few weeks. Right time right song. I have really really enjoyed this CD.

 I am thankful for...

A quiet weekend, a day in the garden, church this morning and just chilling this after noon while we waited for phone calls. The last few weekends have been busy, we have a wedding to attend next weekend and then ballet performances the week after. Peace now is special.

  From the learning rooms... 

We've been enjoying having company for a weekly Greek session, and its been fun since we all have different skills.

From the kitchen... 

 The first BBQ of the year. or at least the first family one, really easy, really special.

I am reading.. 

We're reading the Autobiography of Charles Finney, and The American Constitution in our studies. Finney is giving me reason to think deep, partly because my I came to faith in the charismatic movement of the early 80's and partly because the more it progressed the harder it was to see god, and the more human/hyped it seemed to be, Its nice to not be looking for the next spiritual high, nice to be on solid ground. nice to watch and see the wonder of God moving in beautiful, ordered, amazing ways that end up with the right thing happening, at the right time for, the right reasons. Other than that I'm enjoying a light week, time to catch up on sleep, time ot look ahead to Christmas.

A few plans for the rest of the week,,,

We're all hoping for a quiet settled week, and a chance to make some progress in school. At the end of the week we get to gather with family for a long overdue wedding. Looking forward to it!

 Here is picture thought I am sharing...

 Spring is Beautiful

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Maths Lesson

The math was so hard on that day, 
When number lines came to play. 
Digits more numerous than hay, 
Yet rightly used have a simple way, 
Which we may one day understand. 

The numbers go on, never end, 
 Not left nor right do they bend. 
And no letters do they ever send 
In lines that do not ever end 
Which we may one day understand. 

Some digits, positives are tumblers 
And Zero is no fumbler, 
 Negative numbers do not slumber 
Irrational be many a number 
Which we may one day understand. 

By the Artist 28 August 2012 

I love how subjects intertwine in a classical education, even if we aren't always enjoying them, and need to handle them in a different discipline. 


Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Week of Snow, Some Good, Some Not So Good

We finally got up the mountain, two snow days in the midst of what has been a way to busy term.

The first managed to be our worst day up there, the weather changed, first hubby got caught in whiteout and twisted his knee.

While I was down in the medical center with him the whiteout moved up the mountain to where our kids and some other homeschool families were skiing. I hear my daughter did a great job of leading them safely down to the bottom of the run to where my boys were waiting, then they took over leading the way down the rest of the mountain.

To finish the day, as we were leaving, I pulled my car in towards the shuttle/pick up area to collect hubby, was waved on by the attendant, despite everyone calling out that I was picking up someone who was injured, and pulling forward ended up in the path of a backing vehicle. Fortunately no significant damage to our car.  I think the guy backing was relieved at that.

After a week of trying to sort things out, we had another chance at my husbands insistence to go up the mountain, Blue skies, no wind, more snow on the trails..an awesome day to remember and soak in the beauty that God has made and a chance to remember why we love this place. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Midwinter Daybook

Outside my window...

A Clear mid-winter sunset. Grey on grey tinged with pink as the sun slowly settles. Its been a beautiful blue sky day, just a tad cold but clear and fresh.

I am listening to... 

My boys playing battleships,  they are bored enough to have to pull out board games and work their way through old pursuits. Its good. We haven't been here in a long time.

 I am thankful for... 

Slow days and being able to sleep in, take time and move slowly, we'll start doing more and going out as the school holidays progress I think there is a trip to the family farm, and hopefully a day visiting the glowworm caves, but in themeanwhile we are still slowing down and getting on top of life.

 I am praying for.. 

 Friends and winter illnesses.  It seems to be that time of the year when everyone is either getting sick, recovering, or catching a new cold or flu.

From the kitchen.. 

One of the neat things about the hoidays is being able to sit at home, and listen to other people cook. Hubby is a great ccok, so are our kids, but normally I'm setting it up and heading out to ballet...so being able to sit back and hear the sounds of others cooking while I write a blog post is cool.

From the learning rooms 

 I''m finally at peace with being able to do school or at least some school in the hoiday.. and not feel guilty.  Every holidays we have loose ends and every holidays I feel guilty...and this time nope were having fun, molding what a normal day is like, keeping good habits going and building new ones..and still sleeping in watching movies going out and about and having fun. Could be  agood plan for the rest of the year.

However I definitely have itchy feet curriculum wise and am seriously looking at what we should move into our day from a Charlotte Mason viewpoint. Its funny how one thought drives another. But I would like to bring back the things around the edges that we have lost over the years. Nature journals, picture study, composer's poetry etc. 

 I am reading.. 

Bondage of the Will by Luther, and enjoying it, discussions with the kids not quite so easy.  

A few plans for the rest of the week.. 

Ballet lessons and art classes got moved into the holidays this time around, a trip to the family farm for a day, a long day-walk in a nearby national park... the glowworm caves as a day trip, and hopefully thanks to some online vouchers dinner out with my and hubby...

 Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Some days you really wish you have a camera on you at all times...lovely red/cream kitty with black smudges getting carefully cleaned- up in the bathroom, after the boys have been playing with the toy submarine in the bath...cat seeks his escape path...into the bath...oops...wet, bedraggled, unhappy cat. Funny though, very funny...

Unfortunately I only have the clean dry version on film

 A Daybook post in the tradition of A Simple Woman's Daybook


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Ambleside or Veritas?

I have to admit that despite never using Ambleside as written for more than 1 year, I don't think that I have ever gotten their ideals out of my head.

I like the idea of enjoying great literature, nature, artists and composers slowly and thoughtfully. I love the way that Ambleside manages to drop out the busywork and let us enjoy what is good.

 I miss that approach when it is gone really miss it. Any mention of Ambleside or Circle time sends me scurrying back and wondering how to put back what I am missing in my approach. And since combining two approaches is never really a good thing, that usually is enough to send us over the edge. Yet in the middle of a year that has become in many ways an uphill push I am back considering the Ambleside approach.

The only problem is considering it using the Veritas materials. Yep as much as I love the Ambleside and Charlotte Mason approach the book-lists used in Ambleside always send me hurrying back. There is along the way too much that pushed the boundaries of what we believe without explanation. Since its hard enough for my daughter to read the likes of Luther and have to think through his ideas in terms of her beloved, it really doesn't take much to have us all cringing that something is off, liberal, faith challenging. And while there are only a few books in the selections, a few music pieces they always leave me scrambling back to Veritas...safety.

Veritas takes the other approach. When something isn't of a reformed evangelical American persuasion you know about it. Which is good at least then you can disagree with them and move on. They do however manage to put the goodness or at least show why there is shadow in all of their books and that is soul filling and refreshing. (Ok yes they can also be repetitive, but we don't mind that again..."Been there done that!" move on.)

So my question comes back to am I about to take the CM philosophy as a framework and infill it with the Veritas selections and study guides. (Yes I realize that CM would object to the study guides - but somehow that search for background material seems to be the most frequent question of the Ambleside lists.)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Humanities or Grammar School at Home ?

For a long time there has been discord in our home-school, we started this journey step by step, looking into a vista of discussion, learning, truth , beauty and consideration of what is good. Wonderful lofty ideals.

But to often it seems more of a daily grind to get through our blocks of time before the end of the day. The endless struggle to keep my turtle on track, to slow down my hare and to keep lifting up the fragile flower that unfortunately is my guinea pig.

Amongst it all it the realization that all of this is uncharted territory. Not necessarily difficult, but non the less territory that we have never walked before. Bible College and their introduction to Church history, Veritas press and classed make it possible, but they don't of themselves make it easy.

For the last few days we seem to have wandered a little more as we struggled with the colds and flues, we have played more simply because that's what holidays mean and holidays are getting closer, and slowly there it a little more hope, a little more joy in our studies a lot more forgiveness. 

 I haven't yet gotten to terms with what it will look like I guess it will continue to change. But I like the idea or enjoying the journey, and appreciate that when the pressure comes off a bit my trio is much more willing to investigate the rich diet put in front of them. I can say the colds and the approaching holidays have been a breath of fresh air around here.  Now only if we could stop the sore throats and keep what we have learned.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Welcome, and please say hi as you wander

As a homeschooling family down under in New Zealand, its always interesting to see all the people who visit from all around the world.

It seems that we have visitors from the most interesting places.

So please feel free to say hi, leave a comment, or let us know something interesting about your
country. We would really enjoy hearing from you.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Catan, Warm Fires and Colds

As a family we seem to have all come down with our second round of colds within a month, and everyone is at some stage of sniffling or sneezing.

Its been good to be able to grab a couple of lemons through them in the food processor, add a tablespoon of grated ginger and a pottle of honey and whiz until we have honey and lemon syrup. About 2 tablespoons in a mug of hot water seems to keep the sore throats at bay for a while.

And in between there is always Catan Seafarers to keep us occupied.


Laid back kittens

It's clear these guys are very relaxed Burmese, Jan over at Radinka did a good job ..

Pippin Relaxing while we watch a movie


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Thanksgiving revisited

We're moving into the reformatiion in our studies, and for the older two that means Omnibus has picked up one of Luther's writings, on the Bondage of the Will. Officially the Veritas worldview notes suggest a focus on our free will vs the sovereignty of God, Christ's Lordship. Underneath though it raises another issue, one that I desperately feel the need for a reminder, to be grateful for eveything, because God made it.

In reading the background notes I kept coming back to the idea that we  need to recognize our achievements, and our failures are God's gifts to us, not our own successes to receive praise for.  They are the things that we do because a good and loving God created us, redeemed us, gifted us and and loved us.

Even where we haven't received the redemption bit and are still a long way from knowing this God who made us, the truth remains. Our feel good moments are not in what we achieve, but rather in the love that God has for us.

Now if I could only  step away from my insecurities and live that. That would be life changing!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Early winter

As I wait for news of snow on the mountains, I keep wandering back to these pictures we took last year on our Mid year break and a small lake called Waikeremoana The early morning frosts on the lake were beautiful.


Joys, Struggles and Successes

The Joys,

Ending the Week with a family viewing of "A Knights Tale" admittedly we had a couple of scenes that we fast forwarded through, but we all had fun watching it and recognizing the bits that seemed like Chaucer and the obviously modern takes.

The Struggles

Tiredness, definitely a week of feeling tired, there is always something about the middle weeks of a term, productive or messy that simply make us feel blah...and this was very much in need of being sorted this week.

The Successes 

Latin and Greek are finally starting to make sense again without me sitting on the answer key. Its been a while since we have had a routine that makes regular space for each of these, and the truth is they can't be done as a block, we really really need the repetition of a little each day.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Patchwork Daybook

Outside my window...

Grey skies and the last of the autumn leaves, we're waiting for winter...and for snow on the mountains. So far the snow has stayed down south, and we're still waiting..

I am listening to...

An album called Focus on  the Prodigal, its a collection of songs based around the the story of the prodigal son.It suits what I need to be reminded of today.

I am thankful for...

Changes in the schoolroom, while not complete the move change the order of our subjects and simply to think about what we are trying to achieve rather than push on through our work is paying dividends, so far its been good.

I am praying for..

That we will continue to find our rhythm for the year and find ourselves on the same place. What to keep what to drop, and how to bring the fun, beauty and joy back into our over busy days
From the learning rooms...

I spent my free time consolidating my home-school planning blog with this main one.  Mostly these were my road maps through our afternoon studies.  Blocks of study, either Science, Literature, History or Bible. In the last year or so I stopped planning these out, just winging it, time to focus our studies again.

From the kitchen..

Soup, lots of soup recipes that we are trying out, as well as the old favorites. Last week it was Leek Potato and Bacon from the Foodtown magazine, this time trying to see if I can find a good base for a Beef and Barley Broth style soup.

I guess I also need to make the fruitcake to go with Tolkien...

I am reading..

The Return of the King and finishing up Chaucer. It should be a good week lots of good writing, fruitcake, and thanks to hubby lots of wood to keep the fire burning in the lounge.

 A few plans for the rest of the week..

Art Lessons for the bigger two this week. One of the Mum's in our home-school group has enlisted a friend to take art for 4 weeks, a quick overview of drawing and painting from still life through to an acrylic on canvas. For my Artist it gives her a chance to fill in the gaps and sit under a real teacher.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Pheobe is our elderly moggy, she was left in the cattery to long as a kitten and so she doesn't really know the niceties of being a lap-cat. She has a really hard time when Zeke disappeared, followed by a worse time when Merry and Pippin came to keep her company. Slowly she's learning to share. What's neat is seeing Merry behave just like Zeke would, quietly determined to wait out her tizzy's and make her part of his family. Its a good think he's patient and has Pippin to play with!

A Daybook post in the tradition of  A Simple Woman's Daybook 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Joys, Struggles and Successes

The Joys,

 I've really enjoyed reading through Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales. I was really worried from the way they are presented, but the tales we have read under the Veritas Omnibus have been reasonably light hearted and fun.

Having The Return of the King along side that for everyone could only be fun as well, now I just need to make the fruit cake and pour the tea!

We started this week re-thinking the structure of our school days, and hopefully moving towards a more relaxed, more productive day. All our skills subjects are now in the mornings and the afternoons are free for us to read and discuss.

The Struggles

 Lots of fine tuning still needed to have this work and to weed out the things we do just to make the auditor in me feel like we have ticked the boxes. Along the way we've had our misunderstandings on what has and hasn't changed, um..that audit training again, still some de-bugging to happen.

The Successes 

We managed to finish a week or at least most of a week, a short 4 day week, but a week of school! For the last few months having a houseful of teens, ballet, a home-school movie project, and a host of one off interruptions this really seems like an achievement.