Sunday, January 30, 2011

A New School Year & Sharing Our Plans

Ok so you guessed it from my earlier posts, the new school year has begun for us.

Really I was just being silly. I've struggled to get back into my blogging groove and needed a few short simple jolts to get me going, hopefully those did the trick ;-)

So yes it is that time of year for us Aussies, time to pull out the supplies and our plans for the year and dive right in.

Do you remember the Not Back To School Blog Hop, how much fun was that! honestly I had many late nights sitting up reading all of the hundreds of blogs that linked up to that. Seeing their rooms, reading about their plans and being a fly on the wall, getting a glimpse of their days was fun and educational.

And I was having my own little tantrum because I wanted to join in too!!!! Well tantrum might be stretching it a bit, but I felt like I would of been a bit of an imposter joining in when our year was beginning to come to an end.

So I am going to have my own little Not Back To School Blog Hop, just me,myself and I, oh and all of you of course. During February I'll be sharing our plans, some snapshots of our learning spaces, a day in our life and of course reintroducing my cherubs.

I'm not sure if any of you (that school to the calendar year) are keen to join me, if there happens to be enough interest and you all let me know via the comments I am happy to pop up a linky for it.

First up is reintroducing my get that camera out for some 'first day of school' photo's!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

It Really Is Beginning To Look Like.....

New books, to nourish and excite the mind,

To find out about the world around us,

To learn new skills and to improve on others....

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's Beginning To Look Like.....

The look, smell and feel of brand new, neatly organised stationery.

Crisp clean , freshly sharpened pencils.....

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Real Math Real Fun Real Gentle

I wanted to introduce you to Arthimetic Village today.

An engaging, fun, active and gentle way to introduce children to mathematic concepts, through whimsical, light hearted rhyming stories with kind and gentle characters.

I was thrilled when Kimberley, the author, agreed to send me the books to review and use in our homeschool. I didn't, however realise, that I would be receiving five autographed books from Kimberley, that was very sweet. :-)

Arthimetic Village is built on the premise that the best learning experiences are effortless and light hearted. With the engaging characters inside the covers of these books children will develop a deep understanding of number value, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

Each book covers these concepts in more detail.

Arithmetic Village is the first book in the series.

It uses verse to introduce the basic math concept of number value and sets the tone for the Village.

Arithmetic Village explains number placement with easy to understand symbols: one jewel = 1, a golden bag = 10, and a treasure chest = 100.

Polly Plus is the second book in the series.

Polly introduces the concept of addition by collecting and adding jewels to give to the King.

Linus Minus is the third book, in the Arithmetic Village series, which teaches math with characters and rhyme.

Linus playfully introduces the concept of subtraction.

He joyfully loses jewels throughout the village.

Tina Times is the fourth book, in ¨Arithmetic Village¨ which teaches using characters and rhyme.

Tina is fast and efficient as she introduces the concept of multiplication.

She discovered the trick of counting in groups to make adding quick.
King David Divide is the last book in Arithmetic Village.

King David is mighty and wise, sharing jewels equally is what he decides.

He introduces the concept of division by equally distributing jewels throughout the village.

His dog, Rover gets the jewels that are remaining.

I am very excited to have these in our collection for Math this year and in the coming years. I know that K will love the characters immensely and I am looking forward to sharing the stories with her.

I've been busy preparing my jewels, sacks of jewels and chest of jewels for K to play with and explore and I am just now heading over to the Arthimetic Village site to begin printing and laminating all of the fabulous activities that Kimberley has made available over there.

I'll keep you updated on how we are enjoying Arthimetic Village but in the meantime I thought you might like to watch this short video series, from the Kimberley, about the stories.

Monday, January 17, 2011

500 eBooks $1 Each

I thought this was just simply too good not to pass on.

Now granted, I may just about be the only person on the planet that didn't know about these $1 deals, but, better late than never I say.

Thanks to some very new homeschooling friends, now I do!!

You only have until the end of the month though.

So jump on over and enjoy the $1 eBook Deals!


Friday, January 14, 2011

Utter Devastation

This past week I have been barely able to speak and certainly have been unable to blog. I've sat in front of our television, unable to tear myself away, barely doing anything but staring and crying.

The devastation that has hit our capital city, just some 20 - 25 minutes from my home is utterly unbelievable. In fact 75% of Queensland has been declared a disaster zone. Some of our smaller inland towns have all but been destroyed.

 Part of the CBD of Brisbane. The entire CBD is a ghost town, completely shut down.

High rises and apartment buildings near the river.

Goodness knows how many cars and other vehicles have been lost.

This is how residents are getting around these days.

Our fresh food markets, completely under water. 
Fresh food is having to be flown in from down south.

A raging inland tsunami hit the city of Toowoomba. 
It was completly unexpected, caught everyone by surprise and took precious lives.

This is through the main st of the city. This city has a population of around 100 000 people.

Cars were smashed against the bridge like they were toys.

And piled up like they were filming some end of the world type movie.

Roads completely cut in two.

Some of our country towns were hit the hardest.

The water came so quickly that people didn't even have a chance to leave their homes safely.

To try and give you some idea of how widespread the devastation is, Katrina covered an area of 239 000 square kilometres. The queensland floods have covered an area of 1000000 square kilometres.

In rural and inland Queensland the task of trying to clean up begins, in Brisbane we are still waiting for the flood waters to recede.

It is very heartwarming to see so much support for people in need and especially from bloggers everywhere.

My parents witnessed a flood like this when I was only a baby and I never thought that I would ever see anything like it in my life time. I thankful everyday that all of our friends and family are safe high and dry.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Morning Routine Chart

This simple little chart has made our morning much smoother since we have been using it, this past week.

It's been one of those little things that I had been meaning put together for so long, a 2 minute job, something quite insignificant really, but something that just never got done.

Why oh why do we do this to ourselves?!

Now, instead of me rattling these words off every morning to the kids, "have you brushed your hair, your teeth, made your bed, tidied up your room", now I simply remind them to check their "I Have" chart, plain, simple, easy.

Should of done this two years ago!

I'm not sure this will be of use to anyone but you can grab a copy via this link.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Win Win Win

Deluxe CD Sets over at Montessori Print Shop.

What an awesome giveaway, so many wonderful printables on these files. Wouldn't my printer, scissors and laminator be busy with all of these!

Competition details are here.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Our First Big Achievement For 2011

We're barely into the new year and already we have a huge accomplishment in the house.

C has been using his potty!! YAY!!

This is a huge step forward for him (and me, my baby disappearing before my eyes) considering he has known what to do in this department since he was just 12 months old.  During that time he could tell me constantly when he was 'weeing' and 'pooing' but I could never persuade him to use the toilet or the potty. And (maybe a little gross for some point coming) could wee in a cup or similar device in the shower.

No big deal, we don't really do 'toilet training' here anyway, they all end up going on their time, we big folk really have no control over that and why should we? All toilet training does is cause stress for both parties I think.

I'm not a fan of potty's, I think they are pretty disgusting really. B used one when he was first learning (he was close to 3.5 before he got it), but K never did (she was 2 and caught on it so quickly I can't even remember the process), it seems that C will also be a potty user for the time being anyway. We have 2 of them and with our recent sunny days and frequent use of the pool I thought I would leave them out near the pool area. As we all know, with any 2 year old there is always loads of weeing going on after swimming....the perfect opportunity to suggest the potty.

On this particular day (just after new year) he made the suggestion super easy on my behalf when he came to me whilst swimming to let me know that 'poo poo' was coming out. Oh superb! Getting him out of his floatation device swimmers is a mammoth feat in itself let alone when you are trying to rush because a poo is coming. We made it, with only a small smothering on the swimmers and the remainder in the potty, including two more wees later that day.

Finally he was able to tell us that he doesn't want anyone watching. Was that all the problem has been all this time!! Why aren't children born talking? I'm damn sure half our battles would never ocurr if they could just express themselves. Ok so he doesn't want us to watch, fine, we don't particulary want to watch either.

He much prefers to stand when weeing, which is equally fine, but the potty he prefers is relatively shallow as far as potty's go, hence a good deal of wee splashes over the edges and onto the floor. He is not bothered by this at all and will quite happily grab some toilet paper to help clean it up.

After the 3rd wee this morning, and he and I using nearly a full roll of toilet paper cleaning up the splashes, I casually suggested that we really need to try and keep the wee in the potty and his response, "But I can't Mum"! all I could do was agree with him and laugh on the inside.

Potty training for him is not awful, scary or a time when he gets in trouble for making a mess, it is a time of change, growing up, learning new things and growing towards independence (even if deep down I want to keep him as my baby forever).

He is so proud when he comes to tell me that he has 'finished' and after the clean up and the hand washing he's on his merry way, with a smile on his face, as he always has.

Looks like it is going to be a great year ahead.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Quotes To Live By - The Year Ahead

"To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to consider too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help in everything is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his or her work for peace.
Thomas Merton

I don't do new year resolutions, I don't see the point really. I do take the time to contemplate the year passed and the possiblities that lay ahead.  Having all of us together at home over the Christmas /New Year break brings those thoughts to the surface regardless of the fact that it is a time of new beginnings.

A time to remember all of the blessings that the previous year held, but also a time to let go and move forward, to look ahead and not look back (too much). It is a time where I do make plans and general overall goals for myself for the year ahead.

The quote above is one I read not long before Christmas. I think it was on one of your blogs, but now I can't be certain. It spoke to me, in more ways than one. In fact it reached out, grabbed my heart and slapped me in the face! I printed it as soon as I read it and have it hanging right above my computer.

You see I am a multitasker, always doing a myriad of things at once. I love, in fact I need to be busy, my mind goes stir crazy if I don't have projects to work on, plans to create and build, activities to organise.

I always knew that when I became a SAHM that I had to do something, just being a mum was never going to be enough (silly I know as being a mum is way more than enough). Blogging happened, homeschooling fell in my lap, running a homeschool support network , having more children (we only thought we'd ever have the 2), creating work units and learning printables, joining online communities to enhance my knowledge, starting online communities for local homeschoolers and the list goes on really.

Now in many ways being a multitasker is not such a bad attribute to behold. However just because one is a multitasker does not mean that all of those tasks are done to the best of one's ability. There are always times that things suffer and for me those 'things' take turns in the old suffering department, so I guess at least it isn't just the same one or two things all the time. Or at least that's how I justify it all.

When we first began homeschooling 3 1/2 years ago, we were never home, we had an outing or an activity to attend every single day of the week. We loved it, the kids were only nearly 6 and nearly 4 so we didn't need to be concerned with academics at all really. When C came along I knew we would need to slow down somewhat and over the past two years we have slowed down considerably, to the point where this past six months I made the decision to not be out of the home more than 2 days per week (during the week) and stuck to it. We have experienced a lot more peace as a result of that.

However that doesn't stop the busyness of everything that can happen at home. The one big area that has really slipped for me over the years is organisation in my home. In fact it is also one huge embarrasment for me and something that I never mention on here and never even considered mentioning until I read this post and I felt compelled to blog about it.

On the face of the things, our home is ok, it is fairly neat and tidy and when I am expecting guests it always comes up quite nicely. However, do not ever drop in unexpected (I simply do not do unexpected guests well hehehe) and do not look in my cupboards or behind any closed doors, for you may never, ever emerge from the abyss.

Before kids I was a pretty organised person, I always had comments at work regarding my organisation and even when we first married my filing system was so utterly well organised that it was kind of anal really. Then the whirlwind of children happened and moving house, not once or twice or even three times but five times since we have had children. Boxes get packed and some of them never got unpacked, stuff gets accumulated, toys and general children's items, add homeschooling into the mix and my absolute love for books and lets just say that there are a few spaces within the home that are completely out of control.

It is overwhelming and has always been easier to just shut the door than to tackle the mountain in front of me. After all I have always had plenty of more important things to do, but finally, like a brick landing on my head, it has hit me, cluttered home - cluttered mind, stress and disorganisation in the home infiltrates the entire home and all of its' inhabitants.

This is the year that the quote above will be what I read and strive for every single day. This is the year to declutter, get rid of the stuff and organise the stuff we wish to keep and to choose my projects and tasks wisely.

The year where I will ask myself, "Will this benefit my family or cause us stress" before I say yes (even to my own ideas and thoughts). I know this won't be easy for me. Organising the support network has been my ministry of sorts over the past few years and it has grown and blessed so many families. The community is open and embraces all homeschooling and parenting styles, which is something that I strived for - acceptance of all.  The network has grown with the philosophy that we all have something to offer and we can all learn from others regardless of how different, from us, they may first appear to be. It has been a very humbling experience and whilst at times it has been stressful it is also one that I am truly thankful for.

The network has  grown to where it is now being looked after by a committee of dedicated mums and it is in very capable hands, I just simply need to be able to not have to say yes to every single activity that is on offer (which is very hard to do).

The same rings true for the pressure I feel in our homeschool. I truly think that each and every homeschooling parent feels it, afterall we have really deviated from the mainstream and I think that during our homeschooling years we all feel certain degrees of pressure.

I gain far more from the blogging community than I lose (and lose is not a great choice of words) but I often feel an immense amount of pressure to perform, to show off all of these wonderful exciting experiences I am giving my children. To prepare units of learning that everyone oohs and ahhs over.

To spend hours putting together tot school activities for one child that he may use only once. All the while knowing full well that he doesn't really need any of it, he gets far more than he needs just by participating in our acitivites and being with us every day. (hence you have probably noticed a lack of tot school posts from me of late)

It's keeping things in perspective, using what works and leaving what doesn't. Knowing that we can never do it all and we will never be able to do it all. Knowing that there will absolutely be gaps in my children's education and that will be the case for every single child, regardless of where they are educated and that that is ok.

It is continually reminding myself that we are doing ok, we are moving forward, we are learning (all of the time) and we are growing together as a family. It is taking the time every so often, to reflect on where we've come from and to see how much we have grown.

So in saying all of that (and oh my if you got this far, bless you) -

Unless I can declutter and organise I know that I can never truly move forward and perform to the best of my ability.

Unless I can reduce the things that I 'have' to do, instead of 'need' to do than I can never truly perform to the best of my ability.

Unless I can stop and just enjoy life then I can never truly be the person, mother, wife friend I truly want to be.

I hope to continue to share my 'decluttering journey' throughout the year.

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