Monday, 2 March 2015

My Daybook: March 2nd, 2015

Outside my window...
It's afternoon and summer storm clouds are gathering, hoping it doesn't mean an incoming lightning storm. We have swimming lessons today and we already missed last week, as when we arrived for lessons they were calling all the children out of the pool due to lightning

I am thankful...
that we live in the age of modern technology.  Although Anna Maria will be far away for the next three months we can still keep in constant contact via skype and emails.
I often ponder on the courageousness of our early Australian ancestors as they set sail from England and Ireland on a journey half way around the world.  Never again would the majority of them see their loved ones and it would be years before they heard any news via letters

I am thinking...
that it might be a great time to undertake a study of all things Irish and then the UK. Literature, geography and history will mean more as we 'journey along' with Anna Maria

Learning all the time...
well Australian history and geography at present with the younger children.  The French Revolution and World War One respectively for the older children, with a 'little more' as well;)  Then again today we visited a fantastic exhibition from the Antarctica and we may well take a detour...

Celebrating the liturgical year......
we're at the beginning of Lent, and I'm still 'getting organised', so a normal Lent;)

From the kitchen...
Jelly Bean has taken up baking with a passion, goodies are being baked daily and she has natural skill. I'm torn she is using gluten flour and it's Lent....

I am creating...
an itinerary for blog posting. I've printed out months until May, am planning what type of posts I want to write about and when I'll publish.  Even have some titles all penciled in. Realistically I know plans change, that's fine, it's a start.
Talking blogging, where you sick of all the homeschool posts the last few weeks? I know I was certainly sick of talking about homeschooling towards the end.  Time for some new focus I think

I am working on...
altering clothes; turning dresses into skirts, sizing overlarge skirts into something classier. I'm contemplating how to turn an oversize women's linen top into something useful; a top for me, a nightie for Bella??  Hoping to come back and chat about upcycling clothes soon, a huge sense of achievement for minimal work

I am going...
to our niece's wedding this weekend and then another niece's wedding at the end of the month.  I've borrowed a dress for one wedding and am going to 'recycle' the dress I wore to my brother's and our nephew's weddings for the other, with as per your advice changing the accessories.

I am hoping...
that an email I need to write this week returns with favourable news. I made an extremely hard decision last week to 'close the door' on a 'bigger picture' that included something near and dear to my heart, I gave it to God and handed it all over. However He had it all in hand, the door has not closed on the 'bigger picture' which means there is still a chance for my 'near and dear' project. I just need to finish praying over my email, send and await an answer. It's been a lesson for me though, He really does 'have it':)

I am praying...
  • for Anna Maria, for her safety and that her grand adventure is all she seeks
  • for my brother who departs 5 days after AM to Rome and Europe.  Yes jetsetters they are!
  • for Carpenter as he begins his final year of his LA degree today
  • for Einstein, he has a couple of job interviews this week, may he be offered the 'right match'

I am pondering....
education, kindling and fanning the flame of enthusiasm. How to strike the balance between consistent learning and keen learning, and how can I nurture enthusiasm when I'm not feeling very enthused nor self-disciplined myself

I am reading...
Consider This, a couple of friends and I studying this book, we are getting together monthly and sharing our thoughts, very thought provoking

I am listening to......
nothing at present but... if PC upgrades his MP3 player to an ipod I may inherit the MP3 and then I could download and listen to podcasts easier..maybe...

I am hearing...
Bass singing, "We all live in the yellow submarine" so cute.  Taking him for a speech assessment though this month, his speech is not always the clearest. Familiar road this, most of our boys have needed a few lessons

I am struggling...
with tiredness, I'm just feeling tired and I don't know why.  Maybe I'm just feeling the effects of twenty one years of interrupted sleep, might be time to wean Bella, though I'm not overly in a hurry

Clicking around...
  • Screen Freedom: Why Go Screen Free? - Totally, totally 'get this'! Totally on board.  Screens have crept more and more into our lives, they are insidious you know, you have to be constantly disciplined. So big crackdown here, Lent's always a good time to get serious anyhow
  • Making Your Own Photos Books - I so want to do this, I want to make books of my blog, I want to make books of my family.  I have not printed any photos for 11 years!! and sadly we are missing the first two years of Jelly Bean's life when a computer crashed:(  For some reason though I'm just frozen in inertia, I need to get my mojo going

Around the house...
  • Shower screen in our ensuite has been installed, very excited, stay tuned for pics
  • Front door screen is also hung, yay no more chooks (chickens) sneaking in

One of my favorite things...
children being creative, children playing outside, NOT on screens

A few plans for this week...

A little peek at my day...
  • Orthodontist Appointment
  • Homeschool excursion to an exhibition at the Art Gallery
  • Children have:
  • Swim squad & lessons
  • Referee meeting
  • Ballet Lesson
  • Rock n Roll Dancing

Ireland, Scotland, England & Wales: Anseo A Thagann Sí

Three short days and our precious Anna Maria(21) boards a plane and heads off on an adventure of a life time. She lands in Dublin and then begins her travels throughout Ireland; then later on Scotland, England and Wales. Three months living and working in Ireland and the UK will be a wonderful experience and we will be following her travels vicariously through photos, email and skype.

Anna Maria has researched well and has an itinerary complete with a list of sights to see and adventures to experience. If any of my readers from Ireland and the UK have 'must see' recommendations to add to the list, we'd love to hear from you.
If anyone has any suggestions or advice for traveling internationally please share.  And of course if you can keep her in your prayers, always much appreciated.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

This Week in Learning: February 27th, 2015

Despite my best intentions it's been three weeks since I've recorded any of our learning notes.  The length of time and my patchy notes mean that the following is only a partial of all we've learnt.

My logistical issue of finding time to work with the older children was solved by PC's suggestion of focusing on the teens 2 days a week, where the glitch now lies is my self-discipline of sticking to the plan. Two weeks in the last three saw interruptions and both times these fell on the Wednesdays. I had a choice; let the lessons go for the day or try to fit the plans into the other days. Whilst the first option was tempting, as Wednesday is the only day I've set aside for Geography, I realised I needed to choose option 2 at least for Geography, which we did.

  • Jelly Bean has transitioned to the next stage in her reading:)  Not only did she read a pile of books but she insisted that she wanted to do her Faith, Science and History separately to the younger boys and discovered that she could read independently after all!!:):)  Major transition!
  • Jack Jack continued reading Hey Jack and he also Zac Power and is really enjoying them. 
  • Jem is steadily moving through Level 1 and doing well. Was rather excited to notice him in Church the other week sounding out words in the bulletin
Michelangelo read:
Princess read:
Jelly Bean read:
Jack Jack read:
  • Michelangelo is implementing the spelling strategies learnt and we're seeing a big improvement:):)
  • Using an extremely difficult work list with Princess which is a stretch for her.  She is most determined to get the words correct and works hard on improving where necessary.
  • JB enthusiastic about learning cursive, lovely hand
  • JJ diligent and mostly neat though not necessarily enthused
  • Jem happily traces letters
  • Princess copying Bible passages and psalms into cursive
  • Still happy with old texts, Let's Make English Live and English Today for JB and JJ, Covering a mix of oral and written lesson. Basic grammar, composition structure, manners and speech. Really feel they are giving a good grounding and children are happy with the approach

  • Reading through Children's Bible with the younger children, though switched to New Testament at the beginning of Lent.
  • JB is now independently reading Child's Life of Jesus and I'm reading it to the boys
  • Michelangelo moving quickly through Introduction to Catholicism and finished the first Beginning Apologetics, still loving the apologetics books
  • All children working diligently on their online Maths
  • Princess' main focus has been maths
  • Michelangelo learnt how to compact numbers for scientific notation
  • Reading through National Geographic for Kids magazines to the younger children
  • JB began reading the magazines independently:)
  • Princess has been researching extreme weather, began with volcanoes, finds it fascinating 
  • Michelangelo learning about: nano technology in stain glass windows, 
  • Suns' power
  • Modern jet fighter planes 
Deep connections with mapping, love when that happens:)
  • Filling in mega and smaller maps of Australia; drawing state borders, labeling states and capitals. Marking the towns and cities of their many relatives who are far flung throughout Australia
  • Reading Australian History with the younger children, using Our Sunburnt Country as the spine and adding in picture and chapter books.   JB is also reading through the Australian Pictorial Studies (Australian history in cartoon, see above pic). 
  • Thus far we have covered Aboriginal life prior to European settlement and the Discovery of Australian by Europeans; Jansz, Hartog, Tasman, Dampier and James Cook
  • Michelangelo studying French Revolutions, began reading Song of the Scaffold. Tale of 14 Carmelite nuns who were killed in the French Revolution
  • Aboriginal Picture Books
Bittangabee Tribe - Beryl Cruse
Dirrangun - Bronwyn Bancroft
You and Me Murrawee - Kerri Hashmi
You and Me: Our Place - Leonie Norrington

We're big fans of Percy Trezise:):)
The Peopling of Australia - Percy Trezise
Land of the Dingo People - Percy Trezise - Love!
Land of the Emu People - Percy Trezise Love!
Land of the Brolga People - Percy Trezise Love!
Land of the Snake People - Percy Trezise Love!
Gidja - Percy Trezise
The Cave Painters - Percy Trezise
The Quinkins - Percy Trezise
The Magic Firesticks - Percy Trezise
The Giant Devil Dingo - Dick Roughsey

Non-Fiction Living Book
Nanbaree - Isobel read parts

Friday, 27 February 2015

When Drop Down Menus Won't Work

The humour of me giving blogger technical tips hasn't escaped me, however I'd like to share a few tips I've recently re-learnt. My technical knowledge is random, I'm quite technically challenged in some basic areas and yet lately I've been reading and discerning html code and am going to chat on the topic. I'm still shaking my head in bemusement.

A few months ago I was determined to install drop down menus here on my blog.  After reading several blogspot tutorials and hyperventilating over how difficult it seemed, talk of searching within my html code and installing code tends to have that effect, I found this tutorial by Ro Little (thank you Ms Little:). Three steps and I would have my drop down menus, as it didn't include changing my template's html coding manually, this I could do. Forthwith I began following Ms Little's steps and they do work and should have worked except....I ran into a few glitches along the way. After much frustration, googling and searching I eventually discovered why I was having problems and how to rectify them. Fast forward to this week when a friend asked for assistance in installing drop down menus on her blogspot blog, after hours and hours of trying to discover just why the menus weren't working when they should have been I remembered my similar problems and how I solved them.  Can you believe I'd forgotten my frustrations and then my solutions! Sharing the reason we had troubles installing drop down menus for anyone struggling to do so, and so I never forget again;)

Click back over to the tutorial.
Step 1
The planning part is simply fun, organising out how your main categories and sub-categories drop down menu will look like, be still my heart.

Step 2
You must be sooo precise, every dot and dash must be exactly as the coding is written. It takes time for your brain to click into a coding groove, and this step could be your waterloo. I had many more categories and subcategories than Miss Little supplied and this is where I initially had problems, I didn't always copy exactly so then spent much time finding and correcting my mistakes. I can't stress enough how precise you must be, just one missed dot or dash can cause problems, eventually though your brain starts to read coding a little, and you understand where and why you are having trouble. I found it easier to work on my coding in a word document and then pasted over(see tutorial for instructions). At this stage all going well you will see your category heading and your sub-categories spread across the blog, not dropping down yet.
Step 2 is straightforward enough, just an exercise in patience and attention to detail (areas I need to hone) Once done it should work and often does work, except when......

Step 3
You've followed Step 2 precisely, you've correctly copied and installed the CSS code according to Step 3 and you still can't get your drop down menu to work. You are soo frustrated, why is it not working?? The problem has nothing to do with Ms Little's tutorial, nor any of the many similar tutorials out there, if you have a problem at Step 3 the problem could well be your template!! It baffles me that I couldn't find any tutorials explaining this, I had to cobble together information here and there after much searching.

Template problems can be caused by a few factors, like me perhaps you initially tried many tutorials to solved your drop down menu vexations and you may have tried to add code directly into the template and then left traces behind when you cancelled it. Sometimes a click on revert to default template will rectify the matter, sometimes not. After much frustration I realised my friend's problem was she had installed blogger's watermark template which apparently doesn't allow drop down menus, potentially any changes you have made to your template at some stage could be causing your drop down menu to not work. Hours and hours of frustrating problems can perhaps be easily fixed with a click of a button!

**The button to click? - Switch your template back to a Simple template, then add the CSS code! If you change to a different simple template, you must re-install the CSS code once again.

Any problems installing a drop down menu will either be your coding or your template.

If you are wanting to install drop down menus I'm happy to help and guide you through. If you have lots more categories and sub-categories then the tutorial's coding I'm happy to send you mine to superimpose over. Hopefully this may eliminate for you some of the frustrating mistakes I made.

Whilst navigating 'how to' is a steep learning curve, it looks so awesome and is totally worth the work. When you 'crack the code' you have every right to be so darn proud of yourself:)

Thursday, 26 February 2015

The Emperor Who Built the Great Wall of China

When Jillian Lin asked me if I would like to review a copy of her new book The Emperor Who Built the Great Wall of China, I was intrigued by the subject matter, and highly honoured as is the first time I've been approached by an author to review her book. (Though I have been asked previously on behalf of two authors.)

A fascinating picture book that introduces children to the first Chinese emperor, whilst easily understood, the book is packed with information. We learn how the seven kingdoms became one, of the unity Emperor Qin Shihuang bought to China through the use of one coinage and one writing system, of how he built roads and rivers. Yet we also learn of his cruelty to the people and destruction of all books. It was under Emperor Qin that the Great Wall of China was built in which more than one million men died during its construction, he also built a massive underground tomb for himself for after his death. The book concludes with yet more facts and a test your knowledge section.

As a huge fan of picture books, I was excited to find one on this topic and I highly recommend it.  Available at Amazon for only $3.15.  Ms Lin also has more books scheduled for publication on China so be sure to check them out.

*Previously shared other books on China

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Celebrating an Ordination to the Diaconate

Earlier this month found us in Our Cathedral City celebrating the Ordination of a dear friend to the Diaconate

Six years of study and discernment, and finally Deacon S__ was ready to be ordained a Deacon 

Oh this thrilling moment when the deacon (or priest) lies prostrate before Our Lord, always gives me goosebumps 

Laying of hands

Robing ceremony, first the stole 

and then the chasuble

 Assisting at his first Mass as a Deacon

Hopefully next year we'll be celebrating Deacon's Ordination to the Priesthood

*Previously I shared a Priest's Ordination

Monday, 23 February 2015

See Me Homeschool: A Pictorial Record

Joining in the See Me Homeschool Blog Hop, a photo record of a day in our week, the beginning of a week, a rainy day.
Pics only, no words!

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Our Learning Spaces - Aussie NBTS

Our Worldwide Classroom

Wrapping up this year's Aussie NBTS Blog Hop by taking you on a tour of our Learning Spaces. Our home is a 'house still under construction', we are slowly melding 'two houses' together, some rooms are still awaiting their floorboards, the finishing touches are far from done and decorating is not my forte. However we've built our home ourselves and filled it with lots of love.

We gather in our learning room to use the blackboard for various language arts instructions, and the younger children sit at the the desk for some of their lessons.  The smaller table on the right is used by our littlest ones.  The cupboards house the children's books in daily use and the stationary.  

The cupboards under the window contain the art, craft and sewing supplies, also toys suitable for our fourteen month old.

Whilst we have a learning room currently, I want to assure readers that it is not necessary to have one to homeschool, for a number of years we didn't and I'm not sure how I will lay out our learning spaces when we finish our extensions as what we currently have could be condensed.  

Just to the right of the learning room is the toyroom, with plenty of toys and dress ups for the children to play with, they are just a 'step around the corner' from us when we are working in the learning room. 

The first door to the left of the learning room leads into our library.  We are indeed blessed to have thousands of books, mostly finds from book sales.  This is a quiet area to retreat to and it is usual to find at least one reader in there.

The second door on the left of the learning room is our study. Our teenagers do much of their studies in this room and they find it a benefit that the door can close out the noise of younger children.  The older three children also have desks in their bedrooms to study quietly at.  The younger children use the computers for their maths study. 

A buyers tip: most of our computers where purchased for $50-75 from our local council's auction site. A great way for anyone to purchase start up computers. 

Reading time always finds us in the loungeroom, snuggling up and enjoying many books together:)
(You can't hear the noise level but be assured it's not always a quiet time)

Learning is not only academic, board games and pool games in the Games Room have also many lessons for the children to learn. 

Without a doubt building a house has created many learning opportunities for our children.  The various skills involved, teamwork and tenacity amongst them. 

Living on a rural property also affords many opportunities for learning whether it be working together on a farm project 

or playing together. 

We are blessed to have many learning spaces.