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?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Music, dance, sadness and joy

It's been a month since my last sad sad post.
We are coming out the other end slowly.
The funeral was great! The biggest one I've ever been to - with more than 400 in attendance. This demonstrated the impact that one little lady had on so many many lives. She was unassuming and humble yet her impact reached far and wide. As her closest friend said in her eulogy, one of her gifts was connecting her friends with others. I must say this is how I came to meet so many of her close and dear friends with whom my life is now connected in a richer way.

Everytime I drive past the roundabout where I would have turned to head to her house, I feel pangs of sadness. Sad that I can no longer head there and see my dear friend.
Everytime I see her little girls my heart breaks for the loss they've encountered. (It's difficult seeing her husband and boys as well, but I think because I have a daughter, being around her girls is heart breaking for me) Yet through it all, God has been so good to her family. He is truly upholding them at this time. Your prayers have been helping for sure!

The day after the funeral we headed to the snowy mountains with some of our friends. I didn't like the timing of it but alas it was planned quite some time ago and as it turned out, it was a good thing to go away after that sad week. Time with friends was healing and soothing.

The day we were at Perisher turned out to be one of their busiest days, yet we had a lot of fun toboganning!

We're back into school now. Rebekah is thoroughly enjoying her ballet classes, still wants to be a ballerina when she grows up and therefore is going to do her first official ballet exams in a few months. She is over the moon!
All her free time is spent doing her ballet routines and teaching her imaginary friends and dolls how to do ballet as well!

She shows great interest and aptitude for all things musical. I am pretty sure that one of her gifts lies in this area as she has a natural aptitude for it, coupled with the fact that she comes from a long line of musicians on both sides of the family! I look forward to seeing where she will end up with this gift but for now the 'Recorder' is providing that musical outlet.
So, most days, in her free time, you'll either hear Rebekah on her recorder or see her doing ballet. I must say I do enjoy this as the lovely sound of music fills our home.

Rebekah also get her first basketball shot successfully into the hoop last Saturday, the day of the Olympics opening ceremony. Yay!
Ron often takes Rebekah to the park near us where there is a basketball court, to play a bit of basket ball.
As you may know Lauren Jackson (one of our great female basketballers and Aussie female basket ball team captain) was the flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Later on that morning, Ron took Rebekah to the park to play a bit of basket ball. Apparently he prayed quietly for her as he thought about how nice it would be if she got the ball in for the first time on that day, the day of the Olympics opening ceremony, a day she would always remember. And she did! He told me she was so overcome with joy that she actually cried! This day has been duly noted in her journal (that I keep for her):)

I managed to scrape in a post for July, yay! I am so looking forward to August and the weather warming up! Enjoy your last month of summer if you're in the Northern hemisphere, and winter if you're in the Southern!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Only one life.....

I have been grieving since yesterday morning.....I've lost a beautiful friend, taken so suddenly from us.
How can it be that I am enjoying a cuppa with her one afternoon, chatting about the kids, homeschool, life etc and then just over twelve hours later find out she's gone!
Death is so sudden and final.

The closing of one chapter and the beginning of a new.

She touched my life in such a great way and I will sorely miss her.

I can't begin to imagine the pain and turmoil being felt by her family.

I remind myself of that and have been praying for them. Yet my heart aches too.

She was such a beautiful friend, so graceful, generous, loving and accepting, full of wisdom and advice for when I needed it, a ear to listen when I needed it, a really kind person who always opened her home up to me and Rebekah. I will miss her so much!

Her kids and Rebekah are such close friends and I hope that friendship will continue yet I know that things will change for them as a family and I find myself grieving for the inevitable changes.

Rebekah burst into tears when I broke the news yesterday morning to her. We cancelled our outing and stayed home. We were in shock and also grief stricken at the same time. We had a great (for lack of a better word) time chatting about life, death, Jesus, faith and hope. We know we'll see her again but as Rebekah so maturely said to me, "I know that but I'm still sad and I'll miss her". I told her it was ok to feel sad and talked to her about how God can comfort us. Actually, I was amazed at the maturity and level of understanding of death and life through the words coming out of Rebekah yesterday, little did I know an 8 year old understood so much!

Amidst the shock, grief and sadness came over us in waves (as reality sunk in) through the day when we'd pause, hug, talk, cry and reminisce. Needless to say we both didn't eat much yesterday. Even Rebekah said she didn't feel like eating because she was sad.

My heart felt like it was ripping inside of me when I played with Rebekah during the day, with her toys. My dear friends children will not have their mum to play with them anymore. No mum to take care of them, hug them and nurture and love them.

At one point during the day, Rebekah said to me that she was like another mum to her and began crying.
You see, we saw each other weekly for almost a year and our kids played together in each other's homes, in the park and we babysat for each other. She was always so kind and loving to Rebekah which is why she said she was like another mum! What a compliment for her coming from a child's lips.

Ron cut short his day at work and came home in the afternoon. It was good to have him to talk to and process what had happened.
We all hugged each other much more than we normally do!

Some of the things I've learned from my friend were true kindness, grace, generosity and patience. I never once saw her lose her temper with her kids and as Ron reminds me, that is an oustanding compliment! I did tell her that when she was still with us. I'm so glad I did and didn't waste the opportunity to encourage her in that grace she had. Yet there are so many other things I could have told her and planned on telling her but didn't get the chance to!

We will miss her! It will take us time to get over the loss of such a dear friend.

When I left school we were all given a plaque with the quote:
"Only one life, t'will soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last"

I lost that plaque in the move from India to Australia but those words have been etched in my heart and mind and have guided my life and help me focus on the most important: to always live from an eternal perspective. My dear friend exemplified this with her life. This was on my heart all day yesterday.
She didn't care for possessions or a newer or bigger home. Jesus and her family were the most important. She poured her life into her children. Even though some of her kids are too young to potentially remember her when they are grown up, the deposit she has placed in all of them will stand them in good stead I believe.

I am blessed that she came into my life and though I will miss her, I know I'll see her again. I will attempt to remind her children of the wonderful mother they had as they grow up.

Only one life, t'will soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last!

p.s. I've withheld my friend's name for privacy reasons.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Narrating upside down and other things!

We had a very productive week this week after a couple of weeks of being sick and having relatives visit from interstate!

I always feel great being able to tick off all my boxes in a week. This week was one such week, we even fit nature study in, hooray!

I've got a great friend Pam and we've been attempting to do a monthly nature walk day together with our girls.

We didn't let the weather beat us today; it was freezing and blowing a gale but we got out there and did a small nature walk and had fun! We even got to draw some wattle in our journals! The girls had fun with plastic bag kites - another one of Pam's very clever ideas!

Earlier this week, Rebekah decided to do her narrations up side down again - I'm not sure what type of a learner she is (I haven't spent too much time reading up on this) but she does enjoy being read to and narrating with her feet in the air or doing something with her hands! I say, go for it, if it works for you! I am not good at multi-tasking even though women are supposed to be good at this, sorry ladies, it's just not one of those things I'm good at; actually there are other things women are supposed to be good at/ like to do that I'm not, but that's another story:)

These are Rebekah's best friends and companions. She reads with them in bed, sleeps with them next to her, takes them on car trips and to visit her friends. Jacob (though I insist he's more like Jackie not Jacob) is on the left in green and Sparkle on the right is her 'dog'. Rebekah has wanted a dog so badly, ever since she could talk, but we've repeatedly told her we'll consider it when she's 10. In the meantime, Sparkle will have to do!

Rebekah decided that she would now be their teacher and teach them how to read and write, maths, history and other things. Jacob is doing Year 3 reading, Year 1 writing and preschool maths; Sparkle is doing Year 1 history, Year 1 writing and pre-school maths or something like that! I got last after the Year 3 reading bit lol!
Any of you doing/ have done AO will know we've been reading "Understood Betsy" this week where Betsy realises she can be in Year 7 for reading and Year 2 in math and that it's all ok:) Much like most homeschooled kids (which I haven't divulged to Rebekah yet).

Enjoy your weekend!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Our Year 3 (AO2)

Some of you asked / may be interested in this:

Ambleside Online is a rigorous curriculum and includes a few American books (which is understandable having been put together so generously by some wonderful American women who volunteered a LOT of their time to make this great free curriculum)
So, some aspects need to be modified to include Australian content and some I've modified to suit our home.

So, here it is, I've crossed out what AO recommends for their year 2 and put in our substitutes next to it. (A lot of these books are free online and I've linked to the free online sites where applicable)


There is no formal AO Bible curriculum.

We are doing a mixture of things here.

We will be continuing with "Leading Little Ones to God" (which we began a few years ago I might add! but it's such a nice book that I don't want it to end, so we go through it very slowly) I blogged about this book here.

(I just love, love, love this book and can't recommend it enough as a devotional for the younger kids. Not only are the topics great, covering a lot of christian doctrine but the best part for me are all the conversations we have after we read a chapter. They are absolutely priceless. Rebekah and I have had the deepest and some of the best conversations about God, life, faith, issues she's going through etc. after these readings. Anyway, back to our curriculum....)

Egermeier's Bible Story book - reading through the stories and doing the questions for each chapter. They are not what Charlotte Mason would recommend but I think Rebekah enjoys these 'comprehension' type questions as they are a nice change from 'narration' and a novelty!

Charlotte Mason's Schools (PNEU) Bible Curriculum - we use this as a guide for memorisation passages at the moment.

Language Arts:


Italics Beautiful Handwriting for children by Penny Gardner (our choice)


Finishing off from year 2 "A book for kids" by C J Dennis (Aussie poetry we added)
Poetry of Walter De la Mare, Eugene Field, James Whitcombe Riley and Christina Rossetti


Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan Pilgrims Progress Told to the Children by Mary Macgregor (I chose a simpler version for this year and will tackle the original next year. I want Rebekah to enjoy this book and learn from it so I opted for this easier version rather than diving into the original for fear that the more difficult language might be a turn off!)

Parables from Nature by Margaret Gatty
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Robin Hood by Howard Pyle / The Way of the Whirlwind by Mary Durack (I haven't decided yet on whether we will substitute this last one or just add Mary Durack's book as a free read)

Maths: (no formal recommendation, it's our choice)

Continuing with Singapore Maths, we will finish 2A from year 2 and continue with 2B and on.

Science and Natural History:

Charlotte Mason emphasised nature study as a foundation for higher level sciences so we will be continuing our focus on nature study and using our own field guides and other nature books we've accumulated.

In addition to this we will be doing (as outlined in AO):

The Burgess Animal Book for Children by Thornton Burgess
Pagoo by Holling C Holling

and our additions to include some hands on experiments:

Usborne Science Activities – Volume One (Science with Water, Magnets, Light and Mirrors) along with many other science books we have in our home library (including the fun and educational Magic School Bus books) and other books on loan from friends:)

History: 1000 A.D. to Middle Ages

Our/An Island Story by H E Marshall
A Child’s History of the World by V Hillyer
This Country of Ours by H E Marshall (American history)

History tales and/or biography:

Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula We are substituting with missionary stories instead.

The Little Duke by Charlotte Yonge
Joanne of Arc by Diane Stanley

We are substituting the following for Australian history:

The Australia Book by Eve Pownall
John of the Sirius by Doris Chadwick (an out of print book by so generously loaned to me by my friend Pam) (On a side note, Pam has recently re-commenced blogging, she is an experienced homeschooler and I'm so blessed to know her. If you click on her name it will take you to her blog or she is also on my blog list to the right under 'everything we need')


Tree in the Trail by Holling C Holling
Seabird by Holling C Holling

We are not doing both of the above because they are about American geography, though I believe Seabird covers world geography. I may get them as free reads if I find reasonably priced copies!

Elementary Geography by Charlotte Mason (This is free online and covers the basics of geography which I want Rebekah to learn)
Children Just Like Me (a celebration of children from around the world) Unicef book by Dorling Kindersley (we have since ditched this one as it was adding too much to our workload. Instead, Ron will read it as a free read to Rebekah from time to time)

Foreign language:

This will remain an ideal for me but Rebekah has lost interest in learning Spanish, so the jury is out at present as to what we will do in this area!


Drawing with children by Mona Brookes (we continue to use this at a slow but steady pace)

Picture Study:

Art works of Fragonard, Bierstadt and Norman Rockwell

Artistic Pursuits (k-3 book 1) and other art books we have in our home library.

Craft: (no formal recommendation for this but we do this to satisfy my craft loving daughter)

Various books we have at home.


we will continue learning to knit and hopefully begin some hand sewing this year.


We will be following AO for this and listening to the music of Mozart, Mendelssohn, Bartok and Hindemith

Music and dance:

Rebekah will continue her study of the recorder and her ballet lessons

Hymns and folksongs:

We are only this year beginning to officially implement this in our homeschool!
I have decided to pick my own from a variety of hymns and folksongs suggested on the AO website. So even though we are doing this, it will not follow the AO schedule closely.

In addition to these modifications, our 'tweaking' involves not doing a straight 'narration' for every reading. But that's a topic for another post!

Besides the above 'school' books, Rebekah will be reading these in her free time (as recommended by AO) along with other books we might come across to buy her / borrow through the year:

Heidi by Joanna Spyri
A Wonder Book by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney
Hans Christian Anderson Fairy tales
Pied Piper of Hamlin by Robert Browning
Abraham Lincoln by Ingri D'Aulaire
Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
Mary Poppins by P L Travers
Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry
Mr Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater
Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle
Chanticleer and the Fox - Barbara Cooney
Along Came A Dog by Meindert De Jong
The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli

Additional Aussie literature for free reading (if our library has them or if I can get my hands on some reasonably priced copies!)

Thiele Tales - Three Long Tales for Children by Colin Thiele
Scottie in Gumnutland by May Gibbs

As always, I couldn't do all of this myself, no way! As mentioned, Ambleside Online is run by a group of homeschooling mums, who give so generously of their time and support. In addition to them, I have a lot of generous blog and real life friends who help me along the way with book recommendations etc. Thank you to all of you!

Friday, May 25, 2012

We've been......

It's more than a month since I last posted. We've been busy adjusting to our new school year and the increased work load!
Yes I did say 'we' not just Rebekah:) Mum also needed adjusting and I've been tweaking it a little already to make it work for us.

I will post our modified Year 3 (Ambleside Online year 2) in another post for those interested:)

In the meantime I want to tell you all our good news! I passed, I did, I did, I passed! I even got two years!

I'm talking about re-registering Rebekah as a home schooler. You see I was a bit apprehensive as I'd heard some rumours about the new BOS official that this person was very much into crossing their 't's and dotting their 'i's.
I went into this process feeling like I was about to sit for an exam not necessarily because of what I'd heard, I think that was just 'me'. Which is why I felt like I'd passed and was ecstatic when I got the maximum allowed time of 2 years!

Well, I am into heavy documenting of what we do, I know, a rod for my own back some would say! But you know what, I think this definitely went in my favour! While this person did come across that way to me, I think they could 'see' that I was actually doing stuff with Rebekah:)

I know I may not be popular with some home schoolers that read this because of their own styles but hey, I've got to just be me, wouldn't you agree? ;)

I have however learned to relax a little with some of what I've been doing in terms of 'documentation'. They really don't have time to read about every little trip we've taken or the lovely stories my child wrote. So, I am relaxing a little:)

Apart from this we've been doing life as usual which involves regular park days with other home schoolers, work, church stuff, etc. Oh, I've also taken on a new role in the home school world. I've taken on the role of 'moderator' for one of the home school groups we meet with on a fortnightly basis. I think my gift for organisation seems to land me in these roles. I like telling people what to do lol! Don't hold that against me if you meet me in person:)

We also went on an 'apple picking' excursion up to Bilpin in the Blue Mountains last week. I must tell you I don't know how I'm ever going to go back to eating store bought apples again! If you've never eaten an apple straight off a tree, you will not know what I'm talking about. The crispness, the sweet juicy fresh flavours, oh yum! I'm going back there again!
This particular farm is open to the public so anyone wanting fresh apples is welcome to head in and pick them off the trees (so long as you pay of course).

Here's Rebekah picking apples off a tree:

Bon appetit and enjoy your weekend!

Monday, April 23, 2012

AO1 is done, year 3 - here we come!

I've had to explain our 'years' and how we work our school years to many a friend in real life, so I thought I'd explain it to you all here as well.
You see, Rebekah began a year of Kindergarten when she was 5 (2009) for which I used Living Books Curriculum's Foundation Year for this.

The following year we began their Year 1 when she was 6.
But halfway through that, I found myself tweaking their curriculum so much, that I found I was pretty much doing most of it on my own and not following the teachers manul much nor using all of the suggested books.

I then decided I would use the Ambleside Online curriculum that I had been eyeing for many years but just didn't feel confident enough to take on. You see, it's a free online curriculum and there is no teachers manual to tell you what to do each day or give you lots of extra tips and such. Also it seemed quite rigorous to me.
However, as mentioned earlier, due to me changing what we were doing so much anyway in year 1 and gaining a bit more confidence in my home school endeavours, I set out to do AO with Rebekah when she turned 7. I blogged about that here.

This curriculum being quite advanced I started Rebekah in their Year 1. Now, you might say she repeated year 1, which would be technically true except that they are quite different curriculums and the recommended age to begin year 1 (from a lot of mums who've done it) was age 7. (It truly is an advanced curriculum, just a quick look at the book lists will prove that!). So, this is what we did but we called it our Year 2. Clear as mud?:) For all extra curricular activities, Rebekah needs to be in a 'grade' and I didn't want her doing ballet etc with much younger kids, so I decided to call it our Year 2!

Well, we've just finished AO1 (our year 2) and all I can say is that we love it so much we are continuing with it this year. 'This' year for Rebekah is 'Year 3' which we started today. More confusing I know! Not only do we not keep our years simple but to confuse everyone even more, our school year doesn't start till April! Hey, that's the beauty of homeschooling though isn't it! It's quite flexible.

So, often Rebekah is doing school when her friends are on holidays and vice versa. This time however, her holidays coincided with the schools, so she had even more fun with plenty of play dates and a sleep over!

I try to keep things simple but often they get a bit complicated, much to my amazement! I seem to have a talent for this:) It was the same when we decided to call her Rebekah and not spell it the traditional way - Rebecca. I sincerely apologise to everyone out there for the confusion related to this. I just didn't anticipate that it would throw people so much that her name would end up getting spelled as Rebekkah, Rebekka, Rebekha, Rebekahh and so on:) Sorry!

Anyway, back to our homeschooling: I feel such a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction at having completed a whole year of AO. It might seem trivial but I know for me, I was apprehensive about using this curriculum as I knew it would be challenging for Rebekah me:) But I am happy to report that yes, it was challenging but only to the point of stretching her us and not to the point of frustration. I can now say I truly love AO after doing it for a year, though I probably only did 70 to 80 % of it as laid out. We omitted a couple of things and changed a couple to make it our Australian AO1. I've got to say though, I absolutely love the books. The online discussion group is very lively and supportive and best of all it's a curriculum that's doable on a tight budget as most of their resources are free online. You've got to love that!

Here's Rebekah on her first day of Year 3 (AO2) with a few of the books we'll be covering this year, (more on that to come in another post):

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Eight is Great

We've had a busy few weeks of celebrating Rebekah turning 8.
When we were talking about her turning 8 a few weeks ago, I came up with the phrase "Eight is Great". Well it ryhmes, it's catchy and it's a great proclamation about being 8, so it stuck! We've been saying it a lot over the past few weeks during which she celebrated her birthday with not one but two parties and one special family day (with Daddy taking the day off work on her birthday).
Being an only child certainly has it's advantages.
I think we should stop calling it birthday and call it birthweek or birthmonth!

So, the sequence of events went as follows:

A Sylvanian Family afternoon tea party with her friends.

It was really difficult to narrow down the numbers. She has heaps of good friends but for space issues we sadly couldn't accommodate them all. (She's already decided that her next party is going to be bigger as she wants to invite all her friends and not have to leave anyone out!) Yes, I did get out some of my nice china for the party despite the fact that the youngest attendee was 4! I'm pleased to report that nothing was broken in the course of the afternoon. One of the great things about homeschooling is the fact that Rebekah has friends of all ages. The youngest as mentioned was 4 and the oldest girl who attended was 11. It didn't make it difficult in anyway. In fact, they all sat around the dining table chatting like little ladies for a whole 20 minutes:) They understandably got bored of that after a while and played like little girls do with dolls and other things after a couple of organised games by yours truly!

A special family day on her actual birthday. Ron took the day off work and we spent the day together. A homeschool science workshop happened to fall on her birthday and it was fun to attend as a family! Lunch at McDonalds had to be done as it was her birthday wish and then a bush walk in the Blue Mountains where we probably burned off some of those calories only to put them back on again with a lovely dinner at my mum's place!

The following weekend we had another party, this time for all of my family! We squeezed 14 of us into our little house but my family are pretty easy going and didn't mind it.

Now, I think I'll go and have a lie down, but not for long as I'm now working on re-registering her with the Board of Studies!
Yes, our two year registration period as homeschoolers is coming to an end soon. I can't believe two years has already passed. I wrote about my first registration experience two years ago here. Coincidentally, that post was about Rebekah's sixth birthday (in case you read it). While I've grown in confidence in homeschooling, registration still seems like an 'exam' to me and I have a few nerves about it all, hoping we 'pass' again:) I'm hoping this will not be the case the next time I have to register her. We'll have to wait and see on that one I guess!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Books Rebekah read in 2011 (at 7 years of age for the most part)

Ok, so this is more of a 'list' post, for our records.
I was thinking the other day: wouldn't it be nice for Rebekah (when she's all grown up and married with kids) to have some records of good books she read in her childhood that she can refer to for her own kids.
Hence, this post.
I guess it may serve as a list for 7 year olds though Rebekah is probably reading at a much higher level than that (not bragging, just saying....) :)
These are in addition to the books we read for home schooling last year which are listed here.
I refer to the boolists on the side bar of my blog mainly for good books for her to read. So, most of these books are from there, some from friends' recommendations, some because we were given the books and they were suitable, and the rest are ones I heard about on the grape vine!
Rebekah is a book lover and this warms our hearts. She is known to sleep with books under her pillow at times and has even begun to read while eating her breakfast!

I wonder if she will become one of those people who read cereal boxes at breakfast :)

These are the books she read independently:

The Bible (of course)
The Magic Pudding - Norman Lindsay
Blinky Bill - Dorothy Wall
The Wizard of Oz - Frank Baum
Ten Girls Who Changed the World - Irene Howat
The Complete Book of Flower Fairies - Cecily May Barker
The Cricket in Times Square - George Seldon
Hank the Cowdog: the original series of Hank the Cowdog - John R Erickson
The Best Christmas Paegent Ever - Barbara Robinson
The Ordinary Princess - M.M.Kaye
Baby Island - Carol Ryrie Brink
Sarlie the Barrier Reef Turtle - Leslie Rees
Aurora the Red Kangaroo - Leslie Rees
Koonawarra the Black Swan - Leslie Rees
The Story of Shadow the Rock Wallaby - Leslie Rees
Gladys Aylward (Christian heroes then and now) - Benge
How to Dig a Hole to the other side of the World - Faith McNulty
The Enchanted Wood - Enid Blyton
The Folk of the Faraway Tree - Enid Blyton
The Adventures of the Wishing Chair - Enid Blyton
The Wishing Chair Again - Enid Blyton
More Wishing Chair Stories - Enid Blyton
Magic School Bus - various including inside the Solar system, inside the human body etc

These we read to her (though she is capable of reading them independently) and some she re-read herself anyway after we read them together or for family read alouds:

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - Frank Baum
The Magician's Nephew - C S Lewis
Peter Pan - James Barrie
The Marvellous Land of Oz - Frank Baum
Ozma of Oz - Frank Baum
Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz - Frank Baum
The Complete Adventures of the Muddle Headed Wombat - Ruth Park
Uncle Arthurs Stories, the children's hour

(you can see she loved the Oz books! they are truly magical)

I'm sure there are others I've missed, but I think the majority of them are covered here.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Now for something different but exciting!

I am a random blogger as you all know by now!
So, when real life is busy my blogging slows down:)

We've been busy celebrating lots of birthdays both in the family and with friends. What is it about February that we have SO many birthdays! the exciting news....

I have a dear friend Helen who homeschools her two lovely girls Madeline and Charlotte. I've known Helen for a few years now and Rebekah and her two girls get on like a house on fire!

In 2011 we didn't get to see them as much as we would have liked as they were busy preparing for their First Lego League tournament. They were competing in a group of three which included a friend of theirs - Jaye. We arranged to catch up with them when the NSW tournament was over. Alas, they WON that and became busier preparing for the Australian tournament. And yep, you guessed it, they won that one too!
Rebekah is now proud to say she knows some local celebrities:)
They named themselves the Kookagumjoeys.

Now to the 'different' part of my post:
They are travelling to Germany in May - June this year to take part in the European championships. And as you can imagine this is no mean feat - trying to raise all that money for the family to travel over there.

So, I asked Helen if I could post something about them on my blog to get the word out as they are looking for sponsors and are doing all sorts of fund raising activities to raise the money they need, including a raffle.

This is what Helen had to say:

"The KookaGumJoeys are three home schooled girls who won the FIRST LEGO League National
tournament in December last year. They will now represent Australia at the
Open European Championship in Germany, in June.

They are trying to raise approximately $30,000 through
donations and sponsorship to get them to Germany. They would be
incredibly grateful to anyone who could offer them support of any kind.

They are currently running a raffle with some amazing prizes (1st prize is a
LEGO Mindstorms NXT Set worth $500). If you would like to purchase
tickets or find out more please check out their website:

So, if you are able to spread the word or know of anyone that could sponsor them, they would greatly appreciate it. I know I would:)

Thanks! And I am glad I managed to squeeze at least one more blog post into February, (albeit on the 29th) increasing the grand total of posts
for 2012 to 2 ! :0)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hello 2012

I've been on holidays with Ron and Rebekah visiting Ron's family down in Victoria (a neighbouring state - for my non-Aussie readers). We had a wonderful holiday. It was a very 'social' holiday for us, a bit different to most others we normally have as we spent all our holidays with in-laws and friends. Normally we spend at least a week a two of our holidays just by ourselves but this time it didn't work out that way. Nevertheless it was still lovely and nice to have a break from our normal daily routines and spend Christmas with my in-laws. They are truly a great bunch of people!
Rebekah got to have loads of fun with her cousins on Ron's side and spent lots of time with her grandparents. I'm sure these memories will hold a special place in her heart as she grows up.

I didn't really know my grandparents at all as they all passed away when I was a baby / very young child. After having Rebekah I've come to realise what a special relationship it truly is and she is so blessed to have wonderful grandparents on both sides of the family.

We started back 'school' the week after we got back which was about three weeks ago as we don't follow the school terms.

I have also been busy de-cluttering since we got back. I find coming back from holidays a great time to de-clutter, clean and re-organise in general.
While on holidays, we (Ron and I) usually spend time assessing the past year and talking about the year ahead and what we would like to see change / happen over the coming year. This time was no exception, so we've come back with some good thoughts and ideas which we'll try to implement by the grace of God.

One thing I've already implemented is doing our laundry and some general house cleaning at night. This has helped me be more relaxed in the mornings while we have been doing school work. I felt like I needed to focus more on Rebekah and her work in the mornings without being distracted. It's amazing how this small and simple adjustment has already improved the quality of our school time.

During December our church did a series of teaching on finances and we've been working on some of those things we learned that we need to put in place one of them being saving 10% of our income. We worked out that we only save about 5% of our income but we are endeavouring to change that this year and so we spent some time reviewing the family budget and have come up with some good plans to increase our savings!

Over the last year or so I've gotten to make a lovely friend who homeschools and who lives very close to us. We have decided to do monthly nature walks together this year which I'm really looking forward to. Nature walks and study are fun times for us and I think Rebekah would enjoy it even more with other kids around. We didn't get to do it as much last year and I'm hoping that 2012 will see an improvement here!

I've been also busy catching up with my mum who also got back from her trip to India just before we got back to Sydney. She was away for about 8 months so we've had a lot to catch up on and it's been lovely for both of us and also lovely for Rebekah to spend time with her maternal grandparents.

I'll be visiting your blogs very soon, if I haven't already. In the meantime, here's some pictures from our trip:

Rebekah insisted on taking her three favourite stuffed toys this trip:

Tuppy (puppy) on the far left, Cordie (Corduroy named after that famous picture book character) and last but definitely not the least and the one she is holding is Jakie (named Jacob though I always insisted it was a girl, Rebekah thought it was a boy, maybe secret inner desire to have a little baby brother?). Taken at a motel in Albury:

She has a sense of humour! This was taken outside a historic courthouse at Seymour near Melbourne:

Panning for gold at Sovereign Hill, Ballarat:

Rebekah got to sail for the first time which was very exciting and she absolutely fell in love with it:

Fishing, Rebekah got her first fishing rod and I can see lots of fishing time with daddy up ahead:

Werribee Mansion (near Melbourne), a historic old house with amazing gardens. They had a few fun things for the kids to get involved in as you'll see below:

Rebekah having a try at how they did the laundry in the old homestead:

Playing 'croquet'

and hopscotch with 'Aunt Sally' in the background ( a game where you try to knock the heads off the poles and apparently they were all political figures, some things haven't changed in Australia, we still like knocking our pollies don't we!)

and lastly, on the Monet bridge at Jugiong a few hours south of Sydney on our way back home. My blog header currently has her at the same spot last time we went down that way about a year ago:

p.s: Confession time - I've had this in draft format for about two weeks! :) I'll be around to yours soon, I'm sorry I've not been a good blog follower for the past couple of weeks!