Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Looking back at 2014

I have not blogged for over a year! I had been thinking of doing a couple of posts during the year and then I got an email from a lovely friend I met in blog land Lynisha which nudged me further to get this post up!

I started blogging for the purpose of keeping a journal of some sort of our home schooling journey. So I thought I'd do a 'wrap up' of our year - an all in one type of post for this year:)

Rebekah turned 10 early this year and my what changes have come with that age! She is turning into a delightful young girl!

I say this all the time but I just love all the conversations I have with her when she wakes up in the morning and starts sharing all her thoughts (perhaps stored up from the night before?), at breakfast, during the day, driving to places, etc. Ron gets to share in this in the evenings, when he takes over and has 'daddy time' with her. She still looks forward to her 'daddy time' every evening! Time spent with her daddy! This includes playing a board game / Ron showing her something interesting on the internet that he's just found out about/ checking out awesome videos at bed time reading and praying together before she has her own independent reading time at night.
This is a picture of Ron even doing 'origami' with Rebekah! He truly loves her to do this as he is no 'crafty' person :)

The other big change I've noticed is that she has become very self - motivated in her school work. I now lay out her work in a diary which covers a week over two pages. She can see her weekly work and I also break it down into daily chunks. She starts her work at 9.30 am ( a time she appointed) and sets a timer for 2.5 hours. If she finishes earlier she will do some of her work from the following day (this has not happened much) and if she goes over time it doesn't bother her too much either:) She knows she still has plenty of free time to play, dance, strum her guitar, etc!

It's been a very busy but productive year as well for us, filled with weekly ballet, acrobatics ( a new class she started this year and absolutely loves), a local home school co-op where she learns Latin and Debate with quite a few other kids, fortnightly guitar lessons with another home school family, monthly meetings with another local co-op that I started a couple of years ago - where the kids do a bit of 'show and tell', some art together and then play!  We also attend our fortnightly park day group which meets at parks around Sydney and which I have the pleasure of co-ordinating :)
Rebekah has loved her Latin classes this year and I heard the good news just recently that her Latin teacher is able to teach them again next year, hooray! (He is a home school graduate himself, now studying at University and his schedule permits him to continue next year).
Rebekah loves her Latin and loves the fact that her Latin teacher loves 'old books' like herself :)
She has absolutely enjoyed her guitar lessons too and you would often find her strumming her guitar in her free time!
Here she is playing her guitar for one of our local home school group's 'end of year' performance:

She still absolutely loves her ballet lessons and is excited that from next year she'll be doing two ballet classes each week instead of one! She still wants to be a ballerina one day. The last few weeks saw her take part in her end of year concert as well as in front of a very large church in Sydney at one of their events! I'd estimate there were at least 2000 people in attendance on the night and she loved every minute of it!

I also had the joy of planning and organising a "Home Educators in Converstaion" night in August. It came about because I moderate a home school group and I get a lot of questions via email about home schooling from new parents wanting to find out more. I called on some of my local friends - mums and a dad who have home educated their children for a lot longer than I have, that could share from their varied perspectives, and it turned out to be a very successful night. They generously volunteered their time for this so we could make it a free event (well virtually free except for a very minimal cost to pay for the hire of the venue). About 25 families showed up and out of the few families that were just 'thinking' about the possibility of home schooling at least one that I know of has decided to go ahead. The rest were just encouraged in their journeys and also hearing about the different pathways to Tertiary Education after being home schooled. All in all it was a very successful evening by the grace of God!

Another great thing that happened this year was that I started attending a monthly encouragement night that was started by another home school mum. Together we are studying Sally Clarkson's book - Season's of a mothers heart. This has been a  very encouraging time for all of us, studying the book together, sharing our lives and hearts with each other, praying for one other etc. Thanks V for this!

So, that's our year in brief! We've had one of our best homeschooling years this year, for which we are so thankful to God!

p.s. This is a very late post ha ha but I wanted to for the sake of my blog. It was sitting in my 'drafts' for a long long time :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Nine is fine and so am I!

Well, it's been a long long time since my last post!

I've come by occasionally to blog again but then it's been so long I haven't known where to start!

Since my last post, my beautiful daughter has turned 9! We made up a catch phrase when she had her birthday "Nine is fine" and it certainly has been!
She is blossoming into a lovely little lady!
Some cutesy little girl things have made way for more 'lady like' things, interest in fashion, make up etc are on the rise!
I'm really enjoying this season of my daughter's life, besides, it's great having some one to give me fashion and make up tips :)
Every age has it's own charm and beauty doesn't it!
She has become very interested in cooking and learning to sew and we've had some fun cooking times together and with her friends on 'cooking' play dates!

On the home school front, we started Living Books Curriculum when we finished our last school year some months ago. We are thoroughly enjoying it once again!
I love that I can just pick up the teacher's manual and go every day (aside from some minor tweaking to add Aussie history, art, poetry etc).
The books are engaging. Rebekah's favourite book is 'The Children's Homer'! She is yet to realise that her mummy didn't grow up with these books and that I am learning so much while home schooling her!

I've had a terribly busy year with work (I do some part time work from home), with my involvement in the local home school community, our church, and to top it off, we've had to travel interstate a few times this year due to family reasons.
I've missed my blog friends, I know some of you on Facebook and that has been great! However, I've missed the rest of you and have visited your blogs as time has permitted, which hasn't been that much!

I am not sure how much time I can devote to blogging and keeping up with blogs but I will certainly try to come by and visit from time to time. My health is improving slowly which has been great! Thanks to all of you that prayed for me! I know it has helped!

Here are some pictures from the past few months:

Rebekah doing some baking:

A bracelet she 'sewed':

Ron, Rebekah and one of our guinea pigs 'Peekface':

and this last one was just a couple of weeks ago, when Ron got to sit in for the first time on her end of term 'exams'. Here is Rebekah proudly showing off a 'certificate' I gave her for completing her term well!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I'm still here but things are changing!

I've been a bit absent from blog land for the past couple of months, just visiting from time to time as my time and moods allow:)

I've been through some serious 'curriculum' searching for Rebekah for her next academic year (year 4) which for us starts in April (as we don't follow the traditional school year).

I've had some health issues (ongoing and still working on getting answers) and so I've had to make life easier in terms of our homeschool curriculum.
I've loved the Ambleside Online curriculum but I've been finding it a little challenging in terms of my time and energy.
I find I need to research a lot before making changes to books as I don't want to short change Rebekah. I had already modified it a little to suit us but as I was looking ahead to their year 3, I found I just didn't like some of the books and would have had to swap out a few, changing/ adapting involving more effort and time on my part. I think I was starting to tire of all the "older" books too somewhat. Also, at this stage in my life I was looking for someone to 'tell me what to do' without having to research, research etc. So.....I'm going back to Living Books Curriculum!

I researched quite a few different curriculums and prayed a lot and I just couldn't get past LBC. We did enjoy the two years we did with them for Rebekah when we first started out. As I looked through their booklists and teachers manual samples, it brought back memories of some of the fun books we read and all the 'extra activities' they suggest, I realised that a few things were falling through the cracks for us including map work for geography, and a lot of the other hands on activities to add to our learning that don't come naturally to me! I'm sure I'll be changing some and adapting it to suit us but atleast I have a general guide for the year ahead that I pick up each week and know what to do! LBC is also rich in good books and utilises a lot of the classics like Ambleside Online but they also utilise a lot of newer books. I like exposing Rebekah to more modern well written books and being not a literary brain myself I have to search and trawl through book lists and blogs to expose her to these. LBC saves me a lot of time and effort with this!

I've continued to moderate our local homeschool group and also am very involved on a weekly basis with some families that have started recently homeschooling from our church, running the science class in this group. So it's a co-op style group and we're doing Apologia's Astrononomy book this year. I must say we're enjoying and appreciating the dynamics that comes with learning in a group for Rebekah (being an only child).

So, I've been busy and continued to stay productive with life in general (despite my health challenges and this is purely due to the grace of God and an amazing and supportive husband) but just not in blog land! :) I'm really really sorry to all my faithful blog friends out there, I've tried to visit as much as I've been able to but I have not been as active as I have in the past. I'm not sure how and when this will change but this is where we are at for now:) I'll continue to blog and visit you all as and when I can as I've missed my peeks into your lives and the interaction, sharing and friendship that come along with that:)

p.s. if you'd like to be friends on Facebook, please email me from my profile page and I'd love to keep in touch with you through FB :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New year!

I'm still here but have sadly neglected my blog!

What can I say, I think my excuse has been lack of time and this lack of time has caused me to stray over to Facebook where it's quicker to keep in touch!
I no longer refer to it as Fakebook as I referred to it in this post as I've actually found a way to make it work for me:) It has helped deepen some of my real life friendships and it has made a way to connect more intimately with some of my blog-gy friends too.

We had a wonderfully blessed Christmas day with my family in Sydney. We alternate our Christmases between Ron's and my family to be fair (as his family are in Victoria - another State in Australia). It was surprisingly cool for Christmas in Sydney which we enjoyed!
We had a multicultural feast of Indian, Italian and Aussie food, warm times spent with the family and my parents even invited their neighbours, so there were 25 of us at lunch!

Rebekah got a Furby for Christmas. I had'nt heard of a Furby until a couple of months ago, apparently they were around in the nineties and have made a comeback with apps to boot!
Here she is with her little friend:

Ron had a couple of weeks off work and we had a lovely 'staycation' in Sydney. It was really nice to be on holidays at home as we got to rest a lot. We also spent a lot of time at the shops (malls) as we had some terribly hot days and we sought refuge there to give our airconditioning a break! Time was also spent at the local pool and the beach.
Ron even started some cooking! He is not a cook by any means but with some encouragement from Rebekah, they together decided to cook dinner one night and it turned out pretty good too I must say! An asian chicken dish:)

Rebekah has been enjoying lots of play dates with her friends that are on school holidays. However, she did get back into 'school' work last week. We don't follow the school terms as it gives us the freedom to go on holidays when we like. It works really well for us as you get cheaper accommodation and a lot less crowds at your holiday destination!
Homeschoolers are a spoilt bunch:)

She is still finishing off her year 3 work and I'll post about our year 4 when we get there!
She has also graduated from a bath to 'showers'! I know, I'm a bit slow:) I've talked about that in the past here so I won't go there again:) She's enjoying the graduation to a shower and feels very grown up!

Last year was a pretty tough year for me but we managed by God's grace; (this also impacted on my blogging as I didn't have the head space to blog). I'm looking forward to good things this year!

Hope all my bloggy friends are well, I've tried keeping in touch via your blogs. I'll head over again soon and catch up on your posts. I wish you all the best for 2013!

Monday, November 26, 2012

A scientist? A dancer? whatever it is, she's growing up and keeping me busy!

Hello my friends, I'm still here! I'm so sorry if you've felt neglected by me.
I have had endless issues with blogger trying to read and comment on your blogs. I am not a tecchy person and am still trying to work out how to get my Internet Explorer to co-operate with me:)
When I have time on my ipad I visit you but that time is few and far between and I prefer reading blogs from my pc as it's bigger and better:)
I promise I'll try to catch up with you all soon.

In the meantime, here's a post I've taken a few weeks to complete! Life has been busy and my blog as always comes second:)

I told you some time ago that we kept Rebekah in her booster seat for way longer than she needed to be in it here. Well, she's graduated from the booster seat to sitting in the front seat when it's just the two of us.
Part of me doesn't want her to grow up too fast but the other part of me is really enjoying watching her develop and become a little young lady!
Rebekah has really changed so much in the past 6 months. One thing that has changed is that she has become extremely talkative!!! (unlike Ron and me I have to say):) Who would have thought, certainly not me! She used to be so quiet. She admits she loves to talk! I've decided I am going to enjoy her talking as it's a great way to connect with her - listening to her talk about the thousand and one thoughts that go through her little head;)

She's also graduated to this at coffee shops when we go out as a family:

She's definitely graduated from lying in her capsule at the coffee shop, to having to keep her entertained while her parents enjoyed their lattes and cappucinos, to then having her own babycino, from that to a minicino and playing with the toys the shop provided to doing what we love doing after sipping our coffees - reading!

She enjoyed a science club she attended last term and I think this cover she made for her folder says it all:

I love her love for science!

She has also enjoyed performing at her end of year ballet concert and has been given the opportunity to dance with a group of students at some scripture assemblies in local public schools. They will be dancing to a christmas song about the birth of Jesus. Rebekah just loves loves loves performing in front of a crowd! So, when the opportunity arose I signed her up for it with no hesitations! We want to nurture the in born performer in her! I am not sure where her love for dance will lead her to but for now, I am just glad she's enjoying ballet and we love to give her the opportunity to perform when it arises.
She will also be performing that dance at the kids services of the church (that run's the ballet school) over the first weekend in December. (It's a big church!)

It's a cliche, but she's definitely growing up, thought not too old to still do this with Daddy:

We are still doing school and will continue till a week or so before Christmas I'd imagine as we don't follow the traditional school year. I'm looking forward to my mum and step dad coming back from India from their yearly missions trip in a week! There's so much I especially want to talk to my mum about! I've missed her!

I hope to do another post or two before Christmas (my average has been once a month lol) so I'll wait till then to wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

When God closes one door.....

Well, it's been a while since my last blog post!
I've been in a different difficult season of my life, adjusting to the loss of my dear friend and moving onto a new season.
When God closes one door, He sure does open another!

My friend (whom I saw weekly, even twice weekly sometimes) passing away left a big hole in our lives.
But God has been so good to us!

You know, I'm just so excited about this new season.

It all came about so quickly! I didn't have much to do with it except facilitate a night of discussion on homeschooling at a friend's home.

It started off a few months ago. A family in our church had just moved here from another country where they homeschooled their kids. I met up with the mum a few times in the last few months to befriend her and be an encouragement to her (whether or not they decided to continue homeschooling) and besides she has a daughter just a few months younger than Rebekah and they get on really well! I then found that there was another family in our church who had begun home schooling one of their kids.
Besides them, I also have two other friends with younger kids interested in home schooling that have talked to me on and off over the years about homeschooling and how it all works etc.

A couple of weekends ago, our church went away on a camp and while we were there I had an indepth conversation with a man from our church who is here studying, who also successfully homeschooled his 4 children all the way to university! When I was chatting to him, I realised he was such a wealth of wisdom and knowledge. I wondered what it would be like to get him to come chat to these group of women I mentioned earlier (and their husbands)! Well, a thought turned to reality and we met together last Sunday night over dinner, all 5 families, kids and this dad.

Well, it seems this was a divine connection because the family that are homeschooling one child have now decided to pull their other two kids out of school and homeschool all three of them next year! Another family with younger children who were deciding whether to send their child to 'big school' next year have decided to homeschool as well! So, now we have a whole new community (albeit small at the moment) of homeschoolers in our church! How exciting! Rebekah has always wanted to have other friends in church that also were homeschooled and now her years of desiring this have come to pass! You can tell I'm excited by all my exclamation marks!!! :)

We've decided to meet weekly and do some fun things together with the kids....I'm not sure how all of this will eventually play out but we are excited about the prospect of having other families to meet up with weekly.

Rebekah and I will continue to maintain some (not all) of the activities/ park days with other homeschool groups we belong to as we've got great friends all over Sydney that attend these groups, but we are just so excited about the group starting up within our church! God is good! In our season of pain, He has created something good. I'm not sure where this will lead but I do know that we will go where He leads.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Understood Rebekah

I was going to title this post "Understood Betsy Rebekah" but alas I'm not clever enough (yet) to have figured out how to strike through a word in the title!

And if you're unfamiliar with the story of "Undersood Betsy" which we just finished reading for term 1 of Ambleside Online Year 2 (yay!) here's a snippet from Wikipedia:

"The story tells of Elizabeth Ann, a 9-year-old orphan who goes from a sheltered existence with her father's aunt Harriet and cousin Frances in the city, to living on a Vermont farm with her mother's family, the Putneys, whose child-rearing practices had always seemed suspect to Harriet and her daughter. In her new rural life, Elizabeth Ann comes to be nicknamed "Betsy," and to find that many activities that Frances had always thought too demanding for a little girl are considered, by the Putney family, routine activities for a child: walking to school alone, cooking, and having household duties to perform."

You can read more here.

This is a truly delightful story which we have both enjoyed reading and I highly recommend it especially for children around the ages of 8 to 10. You can read it for free online here and here.

Rebekah thought the author was a very funny writer as we laughed a lot at many places in the book!
It was amazing to see the connections Rebekah made between her life and that of early 20th century's Betsy. It was also amazing to see (without my questioning) what assessments she made of the various characters within the book, e.g, that Aunt Frances had given Betsy too much attention or that Betsy had become 'tanned' because of the manual work she had done on the farm. These are not discussions I have ever had with Rebekah but ones that she would talk to me about (uninitiated) after reading the book. Charlotte Mason was so right when she said not to get between the child and the book but to allow the child to make their own connections. Well, I've seen it time and again in Rebekah's life. It has freed me up and removed the 'burden' of me having to do the 'teaching'.

Also, on the topic of Betsy and making connections, I assume Rebekah concluded that she was perhaps a bit like Besty (when she lived with her Aunt Frances in the city) and wasn't allowed to do too much (ouch) because she has begun to ask me to teach her to sew and to allow her to do some cooking independently (another ouch for me)!

Being an only child, Rebekah is the oldest and the youngest! No younger siblings has made her the 'baby' of the house in some ways which has meant that at times I err on the side of 'babying' her too much and not allowing her to do things perhaps other children her age would be doing like cooking independently etc. (Ron is much better at this than me which is why I say 'I' not 'us')!
An example would be that she sat in her booster seat in the car until the age of 8 (though the law says they are not required to sit in one after 7), shhh, don't tell anyone lol! To make matters worse, we did this only after she complained that she was too old for it:)
On the other hand, not having any other siblings also means that she gets more 'adult' conversation and interaction with Ron and I, probably much more than other children her age that I find in some respects she can carry on a much more mature conversation than other children her age.

I know some of my mum friends must roll their eyes at some of the things I do or say:) I know some of this is inevitable as we all "learn" parenting with our first borns. But alas she has no one following her so I am never at the place where I can say confidently that I know what to do in a situation (because we've been there before).
I'm sure other mums of "onlies" can identify with this?

Whatever the case, I'm always learning; having to 'loosen' up a little to let her become more independent and 'trust' her with more responsibilities. This book has definitely helped me in this journey.

I'd love to hear from you all that were either an only child or have only children. What words of wisdom do you have for me? Would you care to share some of your thoughts on growing up as an "only" or raising an only child. Please do tell, I'd love to hear them. Also from parents of more than one child, what are your observations from the sidelines? Do you have any thoughts or wisdom to share?