Thursday, September 8, 2011

The show

Josiah's letter to Grandpa

On the Tea cups

Josiah on the very steep Titanic Bouncy castle slide

The fairies

On Monday this week I took the kids to the Royal Adelaide Show. I really was really uncertain if i could manage all three of them by myself in such a busy place as the show but we had a really lovely day. I had organised to meet my brother there and for him to help me out but we only ended up spending about an hour or two with him. The children were very well behaved and the day went smoothly. We watched the Fairies, which was a highlight for Anna and Josiah really enjoyed the Zimbabwe brothers. We arrived about 9.15am and left at 7pm! It was a very long day and Anna was the first to complain of sore feet about 6pm. We did the yellow brick road and it was really good, i had never done it before. The kids really enjoyed collecting samples from all the different places. We saw some of the animals and watched the cows being milked. The kids enjoyed all the sights and most of the smells. They bought a showbag each and went on a couple of rides. The show offers lots for the homeschooler as there is so much to see, do and learn. I asked Josiah to write a letter to his grandpa telling him about the show which encourages recall as well as his writing skills. I helped with the big words but was impressed that he could work out most words himself. We are going to post it to him today along with copies of the photos.

I was really proud and suprised that the day went off without any difficulty or stress, it was a really enjoyable day out. The kids are already looking forward to next years show.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My bit for the environnent

Shredded paper mulch, we recently cleaned out our filing cabinet!

Some Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes i harvested yesterday

The kids patch next to the cubby.

I like to think myself a bit of a greeny, i'm definitely not a hard core greeny but there is certainly an aspect to my personality which wants to save the environment and be energy efficient. I believe we have been given the responsibility to look after God's world and that we should do our best to achieve this. So as i was pondering this, i thought it might be a good idea to analyse this and make some plans for future improvements i would like to make.

I sat down and wrote a list of the things i already did, and this list was long. But is still feel as though there is a lot more things i could be doing. There is also some things that i already do but could do a lot better. So here is my list of things that i want to do in the near future and some things that i am working towards:

Composting/recycling: We already recycle most things that can be recycled a through our council recycling. But I have been thinking and talking about doing some intensive composting. i have just inherited 3 half rain water tanks which i will use as compost bins. My plan is to compost everything organic. So getting a third bin for the kitchen (Rubbish, recycling, composting) and putting in it, all paper, cardboard, hair, fabric scraps, tissues, vaccum cleaner dust and of course food scraps.

Curtains and pelmets: We have ridiculous vertical blinds in most of our house, they are horrible. They don't keep out light or heat. We have bought roller blinds for most of our windows which helps to keep light and heat out but we would like to make thick, heavy curtains and pelmets for all of our windows to further their insulation properties. In an ideal world, we would also have double glazing but this would be very expensive.

Gas cooking: We currently have an electric stove/oven and my mum has a huge (6 burner) gas stove that she doesn't need for just herself. We have talked off and on about swapping the two but both houses would require plumbing and electrical work which costs money. But we should do it!

Getting door snakes/seals: i really notice the cold air coming in under the doors and i made some door snakes a few months ago to use, but i haven't finished them and now i've lost them.

Eating more vegetarian meals: There is no denying the health and environmental benefits of eating less meat. We currently eat 1-2 vegetarian meals a week, i would like to increase this to 5 and so we would become weekday vegetarians. Hubby is still coming around to this idea but as i find more delicious veg recipes, it is becoming more of a reality.

Grow more food: we already have a large garden but it wouldn't even account for 1/2 of our veg needs. I have always had a dream to grow all of our veggie needs and we are slowly working towards this. I have learnt a lot about gardening along the way and i really enjoy it, each year i am planting more and more and getting better at it.

The biggest and hardest thing for me at the moment is to consume less (not just food). A significant budget cut due to us buying some solar panels will help with this, but i need to reduce the amount of stuff that i buy. I am slowly changing my mindset about this and instead of just going out and buying something from Big W, i stop and think, can i make this, can i buy it from an op shop or can i borrow it. I still have a long way to go.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The start of Homeschooling

J has finished kindy and now it is school holidays. For the past term we have been practicing homeschooling at home on the two days J has not been at kindy. It has gone really well, Praise God.

The first couple of weeks were really hard as we both found a rhythym and routine, i think i was expecting a bit too much of him initially and wanted him to concentrate much longer than he was able. When i set time limits to the activities, he responded much better.

WE have been using LEM phonics and have nearly completed the first work book with the single phonograms. He knows all the sounds of them and how to write them. Along the way he has learnt to do some simple reading, which he absolutely loves. I am really pleased he likes reading as i think that will make learning much easier for him. He especially loves non fiction texts.

Although it is school holidays we are still using the homeschool room as an office and i am drawn to teaching him whilst i am in there working on the computer etc. So today i asked him to write a story while i was doing some lesson prep for next term. This is the first free writing that he has done ever, all other writing he's done has been copying words. This is what he wrote:

I am really proud of his reading and writing, i helped him to spell work and computer but the rest he did himself. As you can see, he is a bit of a perfectionist like his father and as soon as he learnt that he had done something wrong, he crossed it out and started again. I am going to have to learn not to correct him too much along the way so that he is confident about what he is doing.

We have been using a maths curriculum called mathematics for Christian living but i am finding it dry and repetitive and so have begun to combine it with another called mathletics. This is keeping the repetitive practice of writing of the MCL aswell as some interesting pics and concepts with Mathletics.

I have just been looking at a science curriculum by Sonlight which i think we will use, we do have one by BEKA books but i find the Sonlight one more structured and the year and lessons are already planned in an easy to use format.

At this stage i am planning to invent my own curriculum for the other subjects, or at least until i find something i am happy with.
I am very excited about starting full time next term and almost wish it would hurry up! But then i think that it will be hard work when the time arrives and that i should enjoy the holidays and the preparation for now.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A new adventure......

We are going on a new adventure, we have decided to homeschool our kids. It's a decision we are keeping very open minded about, especially in the light of our current illnesses.

I have been quite suprised about everyone's response to our decision. I had previously thought that we would have a lot of opposition, but the majority of people we have told are very supportive of it. I even had one friend who said that she had thought about mentioning it to us before as she thought it would suit us!

The negative or neutral feedback has come from friends who don't have kids or have a clue about education and from our parents, who's main concern is for our wellbeing, not our ability to provide a good education for our children.

If you asked us 12 months ago about homeschooling, i would have said "no way, i can't wait for the kids to got to school" But since J has started kindy, things have changed.

J loves kindy, the kindy is fantastic, they are well organised, structured and the staff are very inclusive and good at reading kids and their abilities. The problems began when he came home. After a few weeks, J began to get really surly and aggressive towards us and his sister. His attitude in the evenings was terrible and i found myself thinking, what has happened to my kind little boy, he's turning into a monster!

After the weekends, he had returned to normal, but after his first session of kindy for the week, the monster returned.
This behaviour improved a lot when he got his glasses, but by this time, we had begun to explore other options.

In the last 12 months, we have met several people who either homeschool their kids or were homeschooled. It is amazing how God prepares you for things! The main thing that stood out to us is how strong the kids faith is, and that they are very well adjusted, well educated, socialised people.

The main opposition to homeschooling these days seems to be the socialisation factor. There must have been a time where all homeschooled kids were anti-social or had poor people skills. This has certainly not been the case for the families that we know!

The main reasons for our decision are

1. Behaviour management/socialisation.
2. The ability to provide a christian based education
3. Dissastisfaction with the schools in our area.
4. The ability to work at the children's pace.

1. Behaviour management/socialisation.
We want our kids to be confident in who they are and who God created them to be. There are too many examples of kids in conventional school with really poor behaviour which they have learnt from their parents and from their peers. This might sound extreme, but we don't want our kids to be teenage parents or binge drinkers or taking on any other dangerous kinds of behaviour. I realise that homeschooling will not guarantee that this wont happen but if our children's primary relationships are with their parents instead of their peers, then they will try to impress their parents and not their peers.
We understand that we will need to be deliberate with providing extra socialisation opportunities and i don't really think that church will be enough. I think it is important for kids to socialise with all kinds of people, not just ones that are like us. THey need to learn to deal with people they don't like and conflict.

2. A christian education
This initially was not a big concern for us as we believe that our kids learn from observing us (for better or for worse!). After having looked at the christian content in the curriculum we have chosen, we can see that there will be so many more opportunities to discuss God's place as creator and ruler of this world. All subjects have a christian focus and especially science places God as the creator of all things. Something that is not taught in schools!

3. Dissatisfaction with the school in our area
I do not want to sound too negative about the schools but we have a couple of friends who are relief teachers in both the primary and secondary schools in our area. The stories that we hear from them about how hard it is to teach, particularly in the primary schools and the difficulties that students have with learning because of poor diet and distraction by other students have really affirmed our decision. The culture of some of the schools is almost a hopeless one, even the kids who want to learn are often held back because the teachers are busy dealing with the "problem" kids in the class rather than teaching. It is unfortunate that in some of the schools, the teacher spends more time managing the class that teaching it! Not all the schools are portrayed as bad, but the issues are probably still there.

4. The Ability to work at the child's pace
This was an issue for both Simon and I, who in both primary and secondary school became frustrated and bored whilst we waited for the rest of the class to catch up. In a conventional school, the pace is determined by the majority of the class. In homeschooling, because of the one to one nature, students can learn at their own pace, if they grasp a particular concept quickly, they can move on. If it takes longer, then more time is able to be spent until the idea is concrete.

All of these things, and more, are issues that can be avoided or promoted with homeschooling. THe one on one contact with our children will enable them to learn at their own pace and to pursue special interests. The school day will be shorter due to the lack of other distractions and we will have flexibility to pursue interests or work on projects that are particularly interesting to our kids. We can also provide a well balanced education including a christian perspective to subjects.

I realise it will be hard work, there will be days when the kids wont want to do what i want them too, or days when i'll want to do something else, but with God's help, i think we can succeed.

We are keeping open minded about it, if it doesn't work, they can always go to school!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The need to feed

I found myself in an interesting situation recently. I found myself really having to resist the urge to feed another baby. This has never happened to me before. I have always had in my mind that i would be happy to breastfeed another baby if the need arose, but i never thought i would have the urge to do so. I saw the baby again today and the urge wasn't there anymore, which i suppose is a good thing. I have been thinking a lot about this and have come to the conclusion that my urge to feed was not an urge to provide the baby with food but more an urge to love.

This baby was only four days old and has been placed in foster care. I am sad for the baby that he will miss out on a beautiful feeding relationship with his mother, but more than that, he will probably miss out on the chance to bond and to be loved by his mother. Whilst i have no doubt that the baby will be safer and better cared for with someone else, it is still sad that he will miss out on a loving relationship with his mother.

It is not an easy task being a foster carer and i know this even though i am not one as i have several friends who do it. It is hard for the carers, it is hard for the parents, it is hard for the kids and it is hard for those who work in positions of authority related to foster care. It must be hard to love someone elses child, especially if they have challenging behaviour and are only with you for a short period of time. Initially i felt awkward interacting with the kids in foster care, and my husband still does. But i came to the conclusion that the kids probably need as much love as possible, particularly those who have suffered abuse at the hands of their parents. Can loving them in anyway be a bad thing?

So whilst i haven't had the urge to feed someone elses baby again, i am comfortable in loving them as much as i can, in the short period of time that i have contact with them.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A debrief of the past few weeks

Life has been hectic for a few weeks which i am not quite used to. I have had a friend who has been on holidays for the last month and has been with us everyday of her holidays. It was great to have her with us and she has been such a blessing and a help to me. Having her with us has been excellent except with the extra pair of hands i have tried to do twice as much in each of my days, which has been exhausting. As well as doing twice as much during the day, we have stayed up later talking and catching up. I have loved having her with us but during the last week, i was longing for my life back so i could go to bed early and stay home some more. I realised how much i enjoyed my routines and the controlled environment at home (well, not really controlled but all within my control).

On top of this, i have become involved in the youth group here in Pt Augusta. This has been excellent but i have not had my 9.30 bedtime on Friday nights! We have been renovating the youth room which has involved lots of physical work, even more so with my kids helping us.

Throughout all my busy period, I have had a longing to get home and just be at home with my kids. Aswell as being so much easier to manage the kids at home, routines are so important. Interupted sleep times, meal times and not as much attention from mum as i've been to busy with other projects has had a toll on my kids (and on me). I am reaffirmed in my role as a stay at home mum, and even though i was not leaving my kids at home whilst i was going to work, i was still leaving the home and my kids security wth me.

I was listening to focus on the family on vision fm yesterday and one of the guest speakers was a woman with 7 kids and she homeschooled them. She was quite inspirational, but one of the things she said and i agree wholeheartedly with is that with having your kids at home, you can have the most influence on them. We as parents have a responsibility to our kids to instruct them in the ways of the Lord and to teach them how to live their lives.

Homeschooling is something that i have been thinking about for a while, and even though it is still a while away, i think it deserves some consideration now. I have never ever thought that i would homeschool my kids, and i have not made a decision either way, but i have been thinking and challenged a lot on it this year. I can probably say now that i am willing to consider it as an option now, whereas before, i just thought those who homeschooled their kids were extreme and over protective. We'll see what God has in store.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Church membership

For the good part of this year, i have been thinking of becoming a member of the church. Not just an attender but a proper official member. I hadn't thought it through very hard until this weekend but i have thought about it maybe a dozen times this year. I am unsure as to why i wanted to do this but i am settled here at my church in Pt Augusta so it seemed like the right thing to do. The subject of confirmation came up at a bible study i attend and it was then that i discovered that in the uniting church that is the same as church membership.
I asked the question, what is the point of being confirmed or becoming a church member as it seemed to me that it should be a fairly obsolete thing. Well, i opened a whole can of worms as far as my bible study group was concerned (It consists of the minister and the church council chairperson). Apart from being able to be on church council and vote on church council matters, there doesn't seem to be any other benefits apart from the pride of being a member of the uniting church.

I asked the minister if i could join his confirmation classes the following week after discussing it with Simon and he was very, very pleased to have me involved. I have since been given some reading material and have talked about it with a few different people.
I am not one to commit to anything if it is not absolutely necessary but perhaps i thought that maybe this was something i could change about myself.

Our congregation is a member of the Assembly of Confessing congregations (ACC) which as far as i can tell is a group that split from the main body of the uniting church when the church decided to ordain homosexual people as ministers. Now personally i believe that the bible is the absolute truth and we should use it as a guide for living our lives and i also agree with the views of the ACC
BUT... i do not agree with the promotion of the ACC and all the time and effort that has gone into establishing it and building it up to become a separate body. I don't have exclusive allegiance to the uniting church either, it just happens to be the church that we are part of at this stage in our lives.
All the energy and time that has been invested into dividing the church once again, this idea of we are right and you are wrong seems to miss the point clearly. Who are we as people to think of ourselves greater than anyone else just because we think we are right about a particular issue. Shouldn't we be investing this time and energy into loving others, the hurt and lonely and poor, feeding them, clothing them, showing them who JESUS really is, not who the church is.
I think a major problem with the church today is that it is trying so hard to get back its reputation and fill pews that it has lost the big picture. It is more about getting bums on seats and money in the offering plate than loving those who need it most. (I know this is not the exclusive objective of the church but often it seems like it)
Now i know that i suck at doing these things and because i was raised in the church and am surrounded by church people, i have a tendency to get caught up in this way of thinking but i am trying to be more like Jesus, i am trying to make a difference or at least wanting to.

My Dad warned me about getting involved in church politics, he's been there done that. I don't know what his opinion on all this is but he just said "Don't get involved unless it's absolutely necessary" This has caused me to reconsider whether to become a church member or not, but on the other hand there is this niggling going on saying do it, you might need it for what is planned for you in the future.