Saturday, December 13, 2014

New studies require thinking


I have switched from Architecture for a time to study a Diploma in Business.  I am hoping this increases my employability in the short term.  The big city costs more and there are some great opportunities I want to take advantage of.

So I am reading on knowledge management for one of my first subjects and something flicked a switch.  The author of a reading asks what your company's core competency is.  It is noted that the reply would usually be a core product but that we need to think beyond a product to the company's actions and innovative abilities.

I realised that this relates to homeschooling in that we aren't trying to create a "product" that knows x, y and z but a student who has the abilities to find out x, y and maybe b or whatever their experience of life demands.  We want our students to be competent and to be innovative, not just a regurgitator of a particular piece of information.  We want them to be able to apply their knowledge and be able to gain more knowledge if necessary to meet their goals.

Anyway, significant to me, but maybe not you. :-)

Best wishes
Jen in Qld now

A Quote to Ponder

A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Sorting out a cleaning schedule

We have moved into our new house, been here just over 3 weeks, and I think it is time to create a cleaning schedule.

I first came across the idea of "zones" with FlyLady a very long time ago.  Her zones never suited my house so I learned to make my own.   Having just moved into a new house the old zones from a 100 year old house don't suit a modern home with a proper laundry and 3 bathrooms.  (Yes, a Proper Laundry and 3 bathrooms!)

I have taken my old schedule and tweaked it a bit.  It generally takes a good few hours and a bar or two of chocolate to sort it out, but it is so nice once done to have a plan.  And of course the motivation to get it done is high when you have just moved out of a house and noticed just how much dust there was on the tops of the books and how many cobwebs were hiding on walls where I couldn't reach them before.

My scribbles:

I have now created some lovely pages which I will print out and bind with my menu plans for a complete housekeeping book. 

I know there are prettier ones out there but I just wanted functional and easy to understand.  This will work quite well for me for 6 months when I will most likely decide to tweak it.

Now to finish those boxes, create a plan for the new homeschooling authority I need to work with, and figure out how I am going to get enough time to do Uni studies in 2 week's time.

Best wishes

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It is finally happening!

It has been a long 12 weeks but we have finally found a house, not easy when you live interstate and your husband is working so he can't take much time off to house hunt.

I think it will be good but it is hard to tell when all I have seen is videos and real estate photos.

Now to get on with the huge to do list.

Sometime after we settle I may update you all with my list of dos and don'ts for moving.  It has been a long time, over 7.5 years in fact, since we last moved but I am hoping I remember all the important bits.

Anyway, lots to do.  Hope everyone is keeping well.

And Jo, I will get to that filing, I promise!  Here is how it looks right now.

Yup, scary!!

Best wishes
Jen, soon to be "home"

Monday, October 6, 2014

Short Term Plans for Our Return to HS

Well, the boys' education is entirely my responsibility again.   I wish Blogger had that emoticon where the little person is running away waving their arms and screaming.  It is a bit how I feel right now, but as always with me, I don't wallow in panic before too long before I start making plans.  Now as my family would know it doesn't always mean the plans happen exactly as planned but I do stop waving my arms around and screaming.

For our short term plans that could be interrupted at any moment by packing a house, cleaning a house, a removalist truck arriving and then the icky job of unpacking boxes... well you get what I mean, my plan is to go through the maths books the boys have brought home from school and fill in the gaps. 

I intend to mark their work each day and make notes of concepts that they may not be getting for a few weeks.  Then I will focus for the rest of the year on making sure that any concepts that have been covered in this year's maths are solid.  For my youngest I will pull out his old Singapore Maths and just work him through it.  It won't go too fast for him and will be good review if he has already covered the concepts.

For language arts I will be focusing on handwriting (alphabet), finding out what they know about grammar using the ACE books for my eldest as a guideline, more handwriting (copywork), using some DK books for cloze exercises and getting them to do a journal for more handwriting (maybe?). 

I would love to do some little mini unit studies but I think I need to be realistic.  I don't want library books here when I start packing, and I don't want them on the computer all day long "researching".    Maybe do 2 short sessions of school a day, an hour or so before lunch and another hour or so after lunch.  Same things as above but just twice a day.  And if I don't get to the afternoon one because I am busy at least we covered the two main subjects in the morning.

Well, that is the plan.  See I feel better already.  :-)

Best wishes

Saturday, September 20, 2014

End of an Era and Back to Homeschool

The 3 younger boys finished school on Friday.  With us moving soon on a date yet to be decided I felt it best to have a nice neat and tidy finish date.  I cried.  This school time has been a great experience.  They have had some great experiences and made some good friends.  I think we are all sad to be going.

It was a great school.  The boys got to make great friends and learned what school/education is about.  No issues with the school, wonderful place with teachers who cared and enjoyed their work.  I do think my 9 year old could have been pushed a bit and the 12 year old could have been supported more but I understand the limitations of the system.  :-)  And they taught the 6 year old to read.  Yay, my least favourite part of homeschooling.  I would rather teach maths any day.

So, now as we are about to move I have pulled them out of school and in this last term I am going to find out where they are at.  Handwriting needs work (always did) and I want to check on their basic maths skills.  But somehow I also need to fit in a move too.  :-( 

Anyway I guess I am a little scared.  I didn't do so well last time I had them all home.  I know I had a strong willed 4 year old at the same time as a hormonal 14 year old and I had my grass allergies.  This time the kids are all older.  The teen is a reasonable person (apart from doing his school work), the 4 year old is now a more reasonable 6 year old and I have been having immunology shots that so far are working well.  Usually as the weather warms I would be flat out with sinus headaches.  Not a single one..yet.. touch wood. 

So things are looking good, but I am still quite nervous.  I missed so many things that then caused the middle two issues at school.  I don't want to do that again.

Ahh, big breath, keep packing boxes and keep hugging the boys.  That should cover all the necessities.  :-)

Best wishes

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Teaching more than just school stuff!

Good post to come back to!

Best wishes

Monday, September 8, 2014

Parenting fails for today! :-)

Hmm, okay I was a bit groggy from an afternoon sleep so that is my excuse.

I usually  mix up my kids but usually only their names!  Today my teen is in the kitchen moaning "I am dying!" while doing the dishes (does that happen in other people's houses too?) and I am talking to my 6 year old.  I glance over at the teenager but don't talk to him, instead I bend down and ask the six year old why he thinks he is dying?  Umm, wrong kid!

And then I go to get the washing in that I asked the 12 year old to hang out yesterday because I was rushing a uni assignment in.  This is what I see! 

The same 12 yr old asked me what is for dinner, than changed his question to what are we eating the next time we eat.  Hmm, might have been a bit slack lately on regular meal times between being sick and having the pressure of a Uni assignment due that I ended up submitting 2 weeks late.

So... I hope I am not the only one who needs a restart button some days.  lol

Best wishes

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Creativity TED talk (not that one!)

This is so applicable to homeschooling and life in general too.  Some days it works, sometimes not!  We just need to turn up.

Best wishes

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Family Update July 2014

So, you remember me mentioning that I had a few busy (bad) days just before an assignment was due?

Well, here's an update on us.  About a month ago DH realised that leaving his employer at the end of his contract in June would give him a larger payout than if he stayed on for another 6 months so he took it and has moved to Qld to look for work.  We will be staying on so that DS2 can perform at the Sydney Opera House in a school choir and go on the Year 6 school trip to Canberra in late September.

We spent the 2 weeks of the school holiday collecting firewood for winter (our only source of heating) 2 days out of 3.  Things fell apart at home a bit like you would expect with 6 people creating messes but no-one home long enough to clean up.  Still catching up now after kids have been back at school 2 weeks.

DS1 spent last week of school holidays on an AAFC activity at our local RAAF base.  Then he got home for 3 days, helped dad pack the trailer with all his worldly possessions and then travelled north with dad.  He came back on aeroplane (his first time solo) on the Saturday, spent time at a friends and then got picked up by me (a two hour round trip).  Then on Sunday went on another AAFC activity all day. 

In between that DS2 had an accident at school on Friday that required an ambulance.  He and another boy ran into each other at high speed.  Both got concussions and we think mine has a broken nose, although I am not sure now the swelling is going down.

He has had bruising come up and go down with both eyes going green yesterday but fading to yellow with purple patches today.  He still has a bump on his brow but his eye is open again.

The other little one was in hospital for longer but as is the way with 12 year old boys they are both up and going full speed already.

Of course that all happened the Friday, Saturday and Sunday before my assignment was due and I had no other adult to share the load.  :-(

Well, I am still here, needing a good coffee (don't like it but can't rest, stuff to do), and Rescue Remedy or a good cry.  Can't decide just yet.

So... hubby has got work already, a contract position, but good pay and work so Yay!!  Now I just have to survive, keep the kids safe, pack the house and clean the house before our family can be back together as it should be.

Best wishes

Architecture for Homeschoolers

Hi all,

I am studying my first Architecture subject this study period.  It has been interesting. 

For our first assessment we had to work collaboratively with people to create a poster about a structure by an award winning architect.  That wasn't simple when 2 of our group were in Western Australia with busy lives and 2 of us are mums on the east coast.  But we did it, and the poster submission went well.  We got 8/10.

I have just completed my second assessment and this is where architecture for homeschoolers comes in.  We had to build a structure that could hold 1kg for 2 minutes using either paper (no staples, glue or sticky tape,etc), spaghetti/fettucine with plasticine/blutac joints or sugar cubes with no joining material.

Here are a few of our attempts.

Hubby's pyramid held 1kg easily.  Failed at one of the side joints at about 1.5kg.

DS2's held over 2kg. :-)

Three arches did well and held weight until one twisted to the side.

A very wobbly paper attempt that failed after a little while where the holes "overlap".

And this one is my last attempt.  I can tell you there were some much prettier ones but after the few days I had had just before this was due this was as good as it was going to get.

So there you go!  Test out your kids and see what budding little engineers and architects you can uncover.

Best wishes

Friday, June 13, 2014

Feeling like a Real Uni Student

I am starting to feel like a real uni student after my adventure into the deep dark depths of the closest university's rare and collectible books section.  Oh boy did I have fun?!!  I got to look over some very inspiring floor plans for an Australian architect.  I also got to peer through glass cabinet doors at books on education from long ago.  Wouldn't you love to read how they used to teach English almost 100 years ago, or trigonometry or read records of Australia's history right back to 1800s.  Oh I just drooled and said I would be back for a little light reading sometime soon!  ;-)

Another bit of news about uni - got my marks back for my first subject, Critical Thinking!  88% High distinction!  Yay, I do still have brain cells that work!

Best wishes

Monday, June 2, 2014

Having confidence to homeschool

It is sort of like this.

From my perspective it seems there was an era where some people lost the ability to understand food and it became much easier to rely on the supermarkets to supply simple things like bread that we could make ourselves, and to supply jar mixes and packet mixes.  The people who thought this was the only way came  to rely on these premade foods, not realising there was a way to do it for themselves.  Of course, in the meantime there were still others who were making their own and even growing their own. 

Then we had the cooking show thing.  We got to see all sorts of people cooking, some like Maggie Beer with fancy stuff that those inexperienced ones would just drool over and still think cooking from scratch is not possible unless you were a professional.  Then we get to Jamie Oliver.  A bit more down to earth, and it looks a bit easier, less fussy.  Now some are starting to believe the ordinary non-professional could do this, but he is still a "professional" so maybe it is harder than he makes it look.  Still not ready to try in case they fail. Then add on Master Chef etc and we are seeing ordinary people cooking from scratch.  Now we realise maybe we can do this thing.

But still there are those people who think that you must be "qualified" as a chef or cook to be able to cook so they keep relying on their jars and packets or going out to eat "proper food" prepared by someone else.  They could have done it themselves but either they can't due to lack of belief in themselves, or an over belief in a "system" that doesn't always work for everyone's tastes or health.

This is how I view the homeschool/ public school debate.  It doesn't matter how much we try to teach people how to cook from scratch.  If their mindset is that only "professionals" can cook from scratch then they will continue to find every reason they can to support their mindset.  After all no-one likes to be wrong.

I think the problem comes when the only people who are managing the system have all the one mindset.  That is when we would become very limited in our freedoms.  And that is why the BOS (NSW Board of Studies) needs to have more input in a very regular way from the homeschooling community.  We need them to know that we have figured out how to cook even if we aren't professionals.  They need to respect that we have the right to be different from them, and that we don't have to all follow the same method.

Just a thought

Monday, May 26, 2014

Money trees

Do you ever have one of those moments when you post something somewhere, in a comment, or whatever, and you think, gee, that was deep?  I had one of those today.  A comment I made to someone else that I thought I should really read every so often just to remind myself of it.

I think money trees are deciduous and they lose their outward growth sometimes.  But just when you really need it there will be new growth, and in the meantime you have grown... in patience, in thriftiness, in inventiveness.  I have had my seasons with dh's depression and under employment.  I now have faith that the others skills I "grew" during those hard times will hold me through the deciduous seasons and I am pretty sure they will happen again so I don't fear what I am pretty sure will happen.  I just prepare!

See, it was one of those!  OK, may be not for you  :-) , but it was significant for me.

Best wishes

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Study progress and other thoughts

So far my studies are going well.  I do notice I have a tendency to immerse myself in something that is important to me.  This has meant that not all the housework necessary for a smooth running household has been happening.  I tend to cram all my washing into the weekend and that is being too reliant on a nice weather weekend.  I need to change that.  After all I am not a teenager living at home where I can study as much as I want or think I need without thought to clean dishes and clothes and meals being provided.

My critical thinking course is very interesting and thought provoking.  I am learning about all sorts of fallacies with regards to arguing and how to determine if an argument is being strongly presented.  Thankfully so far I am tracking for a High Distinction.  I would really like that as I do have Big Plans for my future studies and good marks now will help with applying for scholarships later.

I will be studying my first Architecture subject next month.  I am a little excited and a bit nervous too but I have studied the basics of building when doing my drafting many years ago so it won't be too be a leap in understanding of concepts. 

The main issue I have now is balancing home, husband, health and homeschooling as well as my studies (couldn't figure out how to make that a H word  :-)  ).

I think if I want to continue studying I need to work out a plan.  Sadly that could mean an earlier bed time and an earlier wake up time.  I am better in the mornings for learning new things but I need to take into account the daily school wrangling (required with PS now and HS later) so I will need to start early enough to get a good amount of studying done but not so early that I am wiped out by mid morning.  lol

Funnily enough I have been tracking my sleep on my tablet and have noticed that 9 hours of sleep is a bit too much for me.  I feel more drowsy when I wake than when I have had only 7-8 hours.  The biggest deal for me seems to be the irregularity of my sleep and wake times. 

Of course, a dementia suffering, arthritically pained dog is not helping with 2am wake ups for the loo. It seems like I go from broken nights with babies to broken nights with an old dog.  I am even co-sleeping him (usually not allowed on beds) so he settles.  Ack!!  Well, I guess I could always switch the washing load and take advantage of the cheaper electricity overnight.  :-)

Well, there you have it.  I have been a busy little bee lately and will have for the next week with my final assessment of 1200-1500 words.  Check out the article I chose to analyse.  Very interesting!

Well, on the health front, I better go buy groceries.

Best wishes

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Engage in life!

I know I need to work harder on teaching my children to live in the real world.  Very true and poignant YouTube!

Best wishes

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Studying and keeping busy

Hi all,

Sorry it has been a while.  I decided to do something for myself this year while I have only 1 child at home.  That meant looking in to Uni and I found out that I can get FEE-Help even if only studying part time or online.  Yay!  I don't really want to study full time at this stage in my life. :-)

So... what am I studying?  Well, so far I have done an Academic Writing prep course (got 90% on each of the 4 assignments in this 6 week prep course) and am still to complete a Critical Thinking course through Macquarie University.  I am getting good marks so far, averaging about 80%.  I will finish it at the end of May.

My ultimate goal is to work on a Bachelor of Applied Science (Architectural Design) through Curtin University but to switch to Bachelor of Architecture through University of Qld when I can go full-time in probably about 3 or 4 years time.  I did some studying of Architectural Drafting way back in early days of our marriage but found studying and being newly married on a limited budget to be very difficult.  Still on a limited budget but I know how to manage myself better now.

As for the guy still at home, he is doing ACE, slowly at first, but he is really starting to get used to the work load now and we should be up to full speed this term some time.  Me studying has actually been a help I think as ACE is supposed to be independent but he does need me there to keep him working and not getting distracted.  I am able to sit opposite him quietly not distracting him by moving around the house and also close enough to prompt him to work when needed.  I also think me studying hard is a good example to him of how much work is required for a university level course.  We both sit at the table with our headphones on and work through from 9.30 to 12.  Pretty good!

I am not sure how I will arrange my time when the others come home but I am sure I will find a way.  It is nice to be studying something that isn't just about homeschooling.  It is like doing a job 24/7 and it wasn't always fun.  This is a nice distraction!

Well, off to do housework.  It never stops.

Best wishes,

Friday, April 18, 2014

K5 Reading and Maths online program

K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students. I've been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program. If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.

I think this could be quite good for my slightly older ones who could do with extra work on their maths.  I will get back to you with a review when I am finished my trial.

Honestly this is the first time I have ever reviewed anything, but hey, might as well give it a try.

Best wishes

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Red weird things in my yard

I have done a good amount of walking in rainforests but I have never seen one of these before.

These are about 2-3 inches across.  Weird huh?

Apparently they aren't uncommon.  Here is what wikipedia had to say about them.

I will have more soon as there are little white egg shaped things in the grass nearby.  You may be able to see one in the bottom left corner of the photo.

Yay, science in my own backyard!  :-)

Best wishes

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Confused and not confused, still angry!

I hang out with a lot of PS people now and I find that the most forceful ones can start to do my head in, making it so I question my resolve to homeschool again.  They seem to focus on how great the social aspect is of school.

And yes, I can see there are great opportunities at school.  I don't think we would have known that one of my sons enjoys choir without that free chance to try out.   And there are some friendships forming through regular contact,  but if we had been able to access more homeschooling activities in our early days here and there had been social invitations from other families then friendships could have been formed while homeschooling too.

It might be working out here for the boys but I know from attending 13 primary schools and 2 high schools that there are no guarantees of the type of "society" in each one.  Some may be good like here, others will not.

I understand why people feel the need to pressure me.  Me being different makes them feel unsafe.  When I remember that this  is how society works to encourage conformity then I get less confused about my choices and goals.  And then I get a little angry that our society can't appreciate that what they are standing up for has flaws.  They don't want to acknowledge that their "PS god" has flaws.   It may work for lots but there are also lots for whom it doesn't work, and it can even go as far as harming.

Sorry,  but I am not agreeing with your propaganda!   I will not rely on the odds of getting another "good" school.  By the time we move I will hopefully have had at least one month of desensitisation to my allergens.   With some steely resolve and some improved health I will be homeschooling my boys again.  

I know my shortcomings and I also know the PS has them too.  There are no schooling gods, just different methods and I get to choose for my children, not others who can not see their schooling "god" has clay feet (and that applies to both camps).

Best wishes

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Living in 2 different "school worlds"

Well, dh hasn't got a new job yet although we know his contract will be up mid-year and we know that I need to move away from cow paddocks that contain one of my big allergens.  So we are still here.  In this old house with old carpet and old walls.  But life goes on.

I am now living in 2 different school worlds.  I have 3 in school, with my fourth and youngest child ironically being my first child to go to Kindy.  The other 2 have moved up grades and are now in Grade 6 and Grade 4.  I am still homeschooling my eldest and will be using the most structured curriculum I know of.  Yup, very different to the last 5-8 years.

I am still very involved in the education of the ones at school.  Just like any other homeschool mum of several years I have accumulated several books and resources that I don't want to waste.  lol  We are doing critical thinking and reading comprehension activities from some of those resources.  All the teachers are happy for me to do extra things with the boys and are very supportive.  Nice to know, as I really love Singapore Maths and don't want to stop doing it.  And Building Thinking Skills books have always been favourites here any day of the week.  I don't think the boys even consider them school.  :-)

The oldest at school still struggles with his spelling and both of the elder two at school have horrible handwriting.  I am using the methods used in Sequential Spelling to help ds2.  They have a great resource available, The Patterns of English Spelling, and I hunt through it for words that have the same tricky sounds in them as his spelling words.    For handwriting I just sit there and nag them.  lol  Okay, probably not the best way, but I am thinking that consistency and high expectations may be my best bet there.  If you have suggestions for bad handwriting habits for a 8 and 11 year old please share!

And to top it all off I am volunteering in the canteen each Wednesday and am even considering joining the P and C.  I like being involved.  It has been a long time, what with all the moves and the babies, since I have had a chance to just chat with other women without little people interrupting.  Life is pretty good right now, just need to get more sleep (have continued some bad habits from my teen years and it is Not Good) and keep on top of these allergies and life will be good.

Best wishes

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Jamie Oliver's Lamb Roast

Well, last week we did JO's Mothership Lamb Roast.  Leftovers became Lamb Pastilla and Lamb burritos.  Leftovers were not as much as the pork roast.

Funnily enough the weekly grocery spend was not very big last week due to using leftover roast chicken from Christmas and the carcass in a risotto from Jamie's book and some leftover pork becoming a stir fry.  I have one chicken carcass left in the freezer but all the other leftovers have been used up now.  Still, it did make a huge difference to the bill having 2 meals here already.

This coming week I am trying the beef roast but I have found out that beef brisket is not a common cut in Australia at the butchers.  Apparently it is meat just off the outside of the ribs and is usually made straight into sausages.  The old duckies would roll it, corn it and roast it but there aren't too many requesting it anymore.  I have found a local butcher who will cut it for me and will cost me $8.99/kg.  I think I will make friends with him and get all my roasts through him.  Jamie actually suggests this as a good way to know what is cheap to buy and how to best cook it.

I would normally cook my roast on Saturday night so that hubby can have a roast roll for lunch on Sunday but it has been stinking hot so I will do it tomorrow when, hopefully, it is cooler.  A little bit!

Best wishes

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cooking with Pork Roast leftovers

I am trying more of Jamie Oliver's ideas from "Save with Jamie". 

Last Sunday I cooked his Pork Mothership Roast.  I used a leg instead of a shoulder so it didn't take quite as long to cook, thank goodness I was checking it regularly.

There has been a huge amount of leftover meat.  So far we have had BBQ Pulled Pork with Waffles and Slaw.  Well, I changed the waffles to a slab of toasted sour dough bread, but otherwise the only other change I made to his recipe was to reduce the chilli factor.  There aren't too many chilli fans here.  The kids didn't like the slaw at all.  I wasn't surprised, after all cabbage, mint and chilli aren't common ingredients in our meals.  I loved it.  There was a good amount of leftover slaw so I have been adding it to any meal I can for myself.  It was great on a sandwich with onion relish and corned silverside.

Today we tried Banh Mi rolls.  Again on sourdough but that was too "chewy" for most of us.  The normal bread was much better.  The surprise here was the pate on the bread.  No one liked pate on its own but were okay with it in their sandwich.  When reheating the pork Jamie would have had us add chilli but I added a dash of sweet chilli sauce instead.  Even then there were runs for water and dollops of sour cream added.  lol  Definitely not a family used to lively food.

There is still a good amount of slaw left as well as almost 1kg of pork.  Dh and I have decided we will cut up the pork, add some egg noodles and the slaw and put it inside a pastry shell along the lines of pasties or peroshki.  We figure that they can then go in the freezer for reheating on those days we get stuck.  If there is still pork left after that I am thinking of trying this recipe for Jhal Farazi.

My goodness, these roasts go a long way.  Think about it though, I am paying less or the same price per kg as mince but not having as much fat and for my carnivores the meat stays more obvious.  :-)

Best wishes

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