Friday, September 16, 2011

And the boy defeats his mother with glee!!!

Jackson (9) and I played Battleship today while his baby brother slept.  It was not pretty!

What my game looked like!!

What his game looked like!!!

His reaction!

Great lots of fun!  I hope he is as good a sport when he loses next time. :)

Best wishes
Jen

Blogging tips

Funky Junk Interiors is a great blog that I found one day when surfing around for things to build out of old pallets.  I have stayed as the author has a great style, inspiring for her decorating and refreshing because of her honesty.

I have set my blogger settings as she has suggested because, quite frankly, I was new to Blogger after using WordPress for years, and I had no clue.  She hasn't steered me wrong.  Everything works and that is good.  I hope you find her tips helpful too.

Best wishes
Jen in Oz

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

And it was one of those big significant ones.  Yay!  I made it, with not too many grey hairs.

The cake was chocolate, yum, and was decorated with little icing flowers and jungle animals.  My "name" on some websites is JungleMama so the little animals were every appropriate.

Sorry there is no picture - if you have boys you will understand that demolition goes quickly on projects like chocolate cake.  lol

Best wishes
Jen

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Updating old posts

I have been figuring out lots in the last few days about how to put images in my posts.  Check out these recent posts to see how I am doing.  Still some refining to do but better than just me yammering on, huh?

The Workbox System - Jen's Way

My School Room in All Its Reality

Our School Photo

Best wishes
Jen

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Is this a typical school photo?

Me thinks not!

Homeschooling is much more relaxed than school so please know before you view this photo of all my boys that - yes, one is still in his pyjamas at 11am and, yes, the baby dressed himself in yesterday's dirty clothes. 


My biggest kid in bright blue is 12, almost 13 years old and likes to remind me he is taller than me.  Jack in red is 9.5 years old and loves to play tricks on Mama.  Harry is 6.5 years old and cute as a button.  Don't try to cuddle him too much though.  He squirms.  And the littlest guy, well, Griffin is 3 and is cute today but that could change at any moment.

And in the background we have most of my books.  I love Anne McCaffrey, keeping old books from my grandfather's era and the school book section is always messy as I actually get to read and use those books whereas I haven't read a fiction book for well over 2 years.

Best wishes
Jen

My school room in all its reality

Well, I had meant to do this post about 2 weeks ago to link up with the Not Back to School blog hop at Heart of the Matter.  I somehow had this idea that I could get the school room all nicely set up and clean before I took photos.  Reality check Jen!!  You live in a house with 4 boys and an adult male and none of them, repeat None of Them, is interested in cleaning up after themselves or anyone else.

So here are my school room photos.  This space is actually a really large bedroom in this strange old house so one end is our lounge room and the other end is our school space.


Mum's shelves
On the top shelf are my LLBean totes, one for each child.  These are our workboxes.  They can stand on their own and I llluuurrrvve them.  On the next shelf down is my filing box with our worksheets photocopied for the next term,each filed by subject and then book title.  I also have my printing supplies and some stray worksheets and notebooking pages.

The colourful plastic files are my way of doing workboxes.  Each child has a colour and they are numbered.  The plan is to fill them each day with their worksheets or a photocopy of the cover of the book they will be working from with me.  These go in their tote along with a set of pages set out as a checklist.  My children share a lot of resources at different levels so this I keep them in my purple day crate.  On this shelf I also store our pencil jar, our erasers and our sharpeners in little metal buckets.

Mum's shelves and purple day crate

The middle shelf  of the shelves houses a box full of preschooler activities.  These are the product of many printing, laminating and cutting hours.  I love creating them but am still to get my 3 year old to be able to fully appreciate them.

My purple crate fits in the empty shelf when it is empty and the books out of it get sorted into the bottom shelf by subject.   I fill the purple crate each day with our books for the day.  I like to file them in the order I will need them and just work my way through the box.

The crates to the left in the picture contain some craft supplies and a much larger LLBean tote that I use for the library or just about anything actually.  Did I say I love my totes?


Sonlight and craft shelves
This bookshelf contains my eldest's Sonlight books and some extras that are for this year but not this term.  Down low are the supplies and activites my 6 and 3 year old are allowed freely.  Up high are the electrical kits, maths manipulatives and special paper supplies.  Just to the left edge is our morning notice board.  I have a calendar chart on here and I use the rest of the board for teaching.



These shelves are more for storing the boys' work.  I am not the greatest at filing.  Erk!!  So when the boys have art work or worksheets that need to be kept they are put in their own crate.  Once a term I pull them out, throw out the rubbish and file the rest.

Of course I also store the obligatory laminator, paper cutter and other tit bits here too.  The plastic boxes (a favourite storage method of mine) contain past school work, past art work and more craft supplies.  Some day I should just let the boys have free reign of the craft supplies, photograph the worthwhile creations and throw the rest out.  Some day!

The posters are for our Zaner-Bloser hand writing curriculum.  When we get back to being able to use our school table (see next photo) they will be a great reference as we work.  I love my printer but this one is dying.  Please pray it will hold out another 12 months until next year's tax refund.


School table taken over by dh fixing up a computer
The computer will be moved back to the desk against the wall soon and we will be able to get on with school more easily. Yay!
The reality of a lounge floor and no toy storage
This is the lounge room floor right now.  It is probably only 15 minutes away from clean but it hasn't been on my radar for a while as I have been spring cleaning my kitchen.  That is my youngest in front, eating a very healthy breakfast of a chocolate weetbix biscuit.  Groan!!!

Ok, I did it.  It took quite a while to get it all put together but now you know how homeschooling with 4 boys looks.  Messy!

Best wishes
Jen

Space-challenged Workboxes

I have read a lot of posts about Sue Patrick's Workbox system. I love the idea yet haven't been able to justify the cost or the space requirements when I know I am dealing with 3 kids, possibly 4, with anything I set up.

Now, I will be the first to admit I haven't read her book (can't justify postage to Australia, do you get the idea I am careful with my money?!). If you have and my ideas here don't suit her system I apologise. I am just a mum trying to do my best to help my little school work better.

First of all, a note on scheduling. I have scheduled my day into 3 blocks of school, hopefully about an hour each, but some days are shorter, others longer. The idea of 3 blocks is also so that I can change it up a bit. For instance, if block 3 keeps getting missed then I just make it the first block for a couple of days.

Next, I use Homeschool Tracker Plus to keep track of lesson plans and daily tasks. I love how it has become easier and easier to use as I have child 2 and 3 use lesson plans I have already created and used for child 1. It takes a while to get in your groove with it but it has been worth its purchase price and the discussion group is priceless for help.

Now, down to the workbox system. I am using tote bags from LL Bean for each boy.



In front is a small binder with memory work that I work on each morning individually before we all sit down for school together.  I then add a set of school block checklists and their plastic envelopes to each tote with a number on the front. Each boy has a different colour envelope set up and different little race cars to match.

This is how the school block checklists look.





The first column has either a race car with a number to match the folder number or a picture for an activity like snack, game, play outside etc. If Science, Art, History or Music don't need a folder for any paperwork then I put a little card in the appropriate spot so they know what is coming. If there is a colouring page or mapwork etc to be done then I just use a folder number race car.   The final column is where the little car or other card ends up when the folder is completed.

The little race cars, one colour per child
Cards for breaks, reading and computer time
Cards for subjects not likely to have anything in folder


The folders are see-through and expand out so I am able to fit in their heftier books and they can see what is coming.  If a book is used for several children I just include a photocopy of its cover/s.



To be more true to Sue Patrick's system the boys then put their completed folder into a "Done" box for me to empty out, correct and refill. This is an important part of the visual aspect of Sue's system, seeing the amount of work needing to be done diminishing as folders disappear. The goal for each day is to empty out their tote bag.

Each child has an appropriate number of folders for the level of work they do. This is a variation on Sue's system. Also my sheets for the school blocks have much more detail than her system of just cards. I fill these in with a permanent marker from my HST report of daily tasks for each child and just leave the workbooks in their folders.  Each day I just erase and rewrite the details.  It is not often I need to change the books in each folder as we try to work in the same order each day.


I think there are a great number of good ideas out there on how to organise your workboxes.  Please don't feel you need to do any of them exactly as written, even mine.  Always adapt anything to suit you and yours.


Best wishes
Jen

PS This post has been updated and better photos added since its original posting in 2010.  I am also linking up with Workbox Wednesday at Adventures in Homeschooling and Heart of Wisdom.

Homeschool Meme, thanks Tracey

I have been tagged for a homeschooling meme by a friend, Tracey over at Little Men in My Library.  She has a great blog, always good reviews on books.  I envy her built in bookcases and their contents.  Oh to have my own personal library!!

1. One homeschooling book you have enjoyed

I haven’t really read very many homeschooling books although I guess the one that had the most impact on me was Educating Childrenat Home by Alan Thomas.

2. One resource you wouldn’t be without

Can I say two?  My printer and my laminator.  I love making up resources for the littles to use.

3. One resource you wish you had never bought

I haven’t had many regrets with my homeschool resources as I have usually had to be very careful of my spending so consider them long and well first.  I do regret buying some books by Gerber, only because at the time they were far too advanced for my children and I could have used those funds elsewhere.  They have sat on my shelves for over 5 years waiting to be used.

4. One resource you enjoyed last year

Homeschool Tracker Plus software, it has saved my brain a whole lot of figuring and scheduling.  And for my eldest - Sequential Spelling.  He is not a phonics type learner and the patterns in SS really work for him.

5. One resource you will be using next year

God’s Design for Life series.  I know this science program is very light on but as a family that has had a baby or toddler in it for quite some time and will still for another year the short lessons suit me perfectly.  I do condense some lessons together if the topic suits but otherwise it is quick to use.

6. One resource you would like to buy

I would love to get a Latin program of some sort but haven’t picked one yet.  I am waiting on my younger reader to become a little more fluent and then I can combine 3 for Latin classes, always a good option here.

7. One resource you wish existed

Two whole me’s - one to bake, clean and keep house, the other to focus on teaching my boys.

8. One homeschool catalogue you enjoy reading

I have always loved the Sonlight catalogue even though it didn’t suit our family for many years.

9. One homeschooling website you use regularly

The Rockpool is my first choice whenever I need a lift.  Lovely bunch of gals who are very accepting of the many different options out there in homeschooling and lifestyle.  And Australian, although you may find a good proportion of NZers there too.


10. Tag other homeschoolers

Ruby at Mumma's Place.

Best wishes
Jen

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Spring Cleaning Day 2

KITCHEN
Inside microwave - done
__ Pantry shelves
Walls - done down to bench height except near oven
__ Windows
__ Window sills and frames
__ Exhaust fan filters
__ Stove top
__ Bench tops
__ Under sink
__ Appliances cupboard
__ Oven
__ Floor
__ Rubbish bin


Hmm, not a lot done this time.  I did have a busy day though.  My eldest and I fold and deliver junk mail so a lot of time was taken up by that.  I also did 2 large sinkfuls of dishes, oops, catch up time, and dispatched one sickly female rat, thankfully immature.  I hate dispatching babies and always pray as I do any of it, nasty task that it is.


Better day tomorrow,
Jen


Monday, September 5, 2011

Spring Cleaning Day 1 Achievements


KITCHEN
Wash curtains - deferred, done recently
Ceiling - done
Light fitting - done
Outside of microwave - done
Spice shelf - done
Top of fridge - done
__ Inside microwave
__ Pantry shelves
Walls - done down to bench height except near oven
__ Windows
__ Window sills and frames
Exhaust fan outside - done
__ Exhaust fan filters
__ Stove top
__ Bench tops
__ Under sink
__ Appliances cupboard
__ Oven
__ Floor
__ Rubbish bin
Curtains - see top of list


I use Enjo for all my cleaning.  Especially after  a recent experience with bleach.

I must admit to being a bit casual about how I dilute bleach and this one time I had just sploshed a bit in a container of warm water.  I started cleaning a door with lots of hand prints and found it was working great but because I had blocked sinuses due to my grass allergy I couldn't smell how strong the mixture was.  I ended up bleaching all the little hairs off my hands, so much so that a half hour of keeping my hands under running water didn't alleviate the pain.  It took days to heal all the little burns.

Today I have been using my 2 kitchen gloves in the most part.  For the last few areas I used a multipurpose cloth so I will be interested to see if I notice any difference long term on the ceiling.  The one thing I find challenging with using Enjo is remembering to wipe in a circular fashion instead of in straight strokes.  The gloves really do work better if you change the direction you use it often.  And wiping the area dry after with an old cloth nappy is important too.

My kitchen walls are looking a lot less dull, and even though I can still see where someone has done some paint patching in the past it is nice to know I have done what I can to make it look better.

A little tip for the top of the fridge - I line it with a toweling bath mat, much like those you might get in cheap motel chains.  I then sit a basket on top with all my wraps and plastic bags etc.  The bath mat lets the basket slide off easily when I am reaching up to get into it and also keeps that horrible dusty kitchen grease at bay.


Best wishes
Jen

Spring Cleaning

Well, I have decided that the way to beat the grumpies is to get busy.  I have created myself a Spring Cleaning Checklist that I will work through over the next 3 weeks before we go away.  It will be very nice to come home to a clean house after our holiday.


Spring Cleaning
Checklists

KITCHEN
__ Wash curtains
__ Ceiling
__ Light fitting
__ Outside of microwave
__ Spice shelf
__ Top of fridge
__ Inside microwave
__ Pantry shelves
__ Walls
__ Windows
__ Window sills and frames
__ Exhaust fan outside
__ Exhaust fan filters
__ Stove top
__ Bench tops
__ Under sink
__ Electrical cupboard
__ Oven
__ Floor
__ Rubbish bin
__ Curtains

BACK ROOM
__ Curtains
__ Ceiling
__ Light fitting
__ High shelves
__ Top of dryer
__ Household shelves
__ Pantry shelves
__ Brewing shelves
__ Walls
__ Windows
__ Desk
__ Floor
__ Curtains

TOILET
__ Curtain
__ Ceiling
__ Light fitting
__ Shelf
__ Walls
__ Window & Screen
__ Floor
__ Rubbish bin
__ Curtain

BATHROOM
__ Curtain
__ Louvers
__ Ceiling
__ Light fitting
__ Mirrors
__ Walls
__ Shower walls
__ Screen
__ Shelf
__ Washing machine
__ Sink
__ Floor
__ Rubbish bin
__ Curtain

BEDROOM - CHRIS AND JEN
__ Curtains
__ Ceiling
__ Light fitting/fan
__ Windows
__ Top of wardrobes (J)
__ Shelves (J)
__ Top of dresser (J)
__ Top of drawers (C)
__ Walls
__ Bed vacuum
__ Floor
__ Rubbish bins
__ Curtains

BOYS’ BEDROOM
__ Curtains
__ Ceiling
__ Light fitting/fan
__ Windows
__ Top of M’s wardrobe
__ Top of J’s wardrobe
__ Top of H’s drawers
__ Walls
__ Floor
__ Rubbish bin
__ Curtains
 
LOUNGE/SCHOOL ROOM
X Curtains
__ Ceiling
__ Light fitting/fan
__ Windows
__ Shelves/cupboards
__ TV Unit
__ Desks
__ Walls
__ Lounge and chair
__ Floor
__ Rubbish bin
X Curtains

DINING AND FIRE SPACE
__ Curtains
__ Ceiling
__ Light fitting/fan
__ Windows
__ Shelves
__ Cupboard
__ Sideboard
__ Drawers
__ Walls
__ Fireplace
__ Lounge
__ Floor
__ Curtains

Best wishes
Jen

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal 3 September

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

WARNING: Grumpiness here, no inspiration, read ahead at your peril!

In my life this week…

I really just don’t understand why the kids can’t all be sick at the one time.  Over the whole week, yes, spread over the whole week my kids have had a 3 day virus.  It is so annoying when I generally work with a few of them together on some subjects so I don’t feel I can work ahead with the one/s who are not sick.  I may just have to get over having a perfect schedule with perfect ticks in all the boxes for everyone.

On the positive side I have made it to the gym twice this last week.  Well I guess 2 is better than none.

In our homeschool this week…

Absolutely nothing!  There we go, first 2 weeks in and we have already “lost” one of the 4 weeks I had up my sleeve for life and its speed bumps.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

I have been homeschooling for years and I think you should know that even if you are an experienced mummy you still don’t always have it all together and you can burn out if your attitude is not right.

What’s working/not working for us…

Hmm, so far I can see it is my attitude that is not working for us this last week.

Things I’m working on…

I have 3 weeks until we go away for a big holiday and I need to spring clean this house in that time.  I am working on a big list for the cleaning, and another for the packing.  And I guess I better work on my attitude. :)

Best wishes
Jen

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A treat for the kids

I am trying to work on getting everyone in my family to eat healthier. I figure it is no good me sitting eating salads if I am feeding my family brownies.

One little trick that I am doing is to introduce new meals and treats. With my kids (and myself) I find it is a battle to change our servings sizes on our favourite treats. Instead I am introducing new treats and making sure that I introduce them right from the start in healthier serving sizes.

Our latest new treat:

The Spider Sundae

3 small "slices" of ice cream
5 or 6 mini marshmallows
1 teaspoon of topping
1/2 cup of lemonade or less even

I use a small water glass and put in the ice cream gently so it almost appears to fill the glass. Then I had toppings and pour over only enough lemonade to cover the ice cream. I eat mine with a teaspoon so I can savour every bit. The big kid drinks his down fast.

I have seen these done with chocolate topping, coconut, glace cherries and choc chips but that is a bit overboard for me.

Best wishes
Jen


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