Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Swimming & Reading (not at the same time LOL)

Bugsy performed solidly at swimming this term and consolidated himself into stage 4.  Flossy comfortably passed stage 6.  Chicky swam well and as she's in the pre-school program doesn't pass stages, although now that she is 5 i've been told to enrol her into a stage 2/3 class as that is where her skills are at.

I will be interested to see how they go over the summer.  We will not be doing our regular swimming this term and instead will be participating in the Education Department In term Swimming Program which will see the kids swim every 'school' day for 2 weeks.  They will also be doing surf club over the summer and i'm lead to believe (have not actually confirmed) that they can pass swimming levels through surf club.

Chicky has now completed the second set of Nora Gaydos Readers and whilst she's desperate to move onto the blue box (level 2) there is a bit of a step up so i've managed to convince her to finish the first set of I See Sam Readers first :)


Take care
Amber xx

Friday, October 12, 2012


When my blog is quiet it means, you guessed it, we are super busy!

Just a quick update :)

Chicky has completed the first set of Nora Gaydos Readers and is powering through the second.
Yard fun-3.jpg
She has also finished Go for the Code C which means she's now ready to take the big step up to Explode the Code Book 1.

Canon 7D-44-2.jpg

Not much else to report right at the moment.

Take care
Amber xx

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Planning for 2013

WOW!  The past year has zipped by at a VERY rapid rate of knots! It's time to plan and purchase for 2013 already!

Flossy will be year 4, Bugsy year 2, Chicky Pre-Primary (US K equivalent) and Possum will be 2yo.

So here is what we have planned for a super fun year -

Flossy age 8, year 4 -
Galore Park Junior Maths book 2* & 3
Kumon Word Problems Grade 3* & 4
Khan Academy
Logic workbooks & games
Galore Park Junior English Book 2*
Classical House of Learning History & Literature (SOTW4)

Bugsy age 7, year 2 -
Rightstart C
Kumon Word Problems 2
Khan Academy
Logic workbooks & games
All About Speling 2* & 3
Explode the Code 6, 7 & 8
I See Sam Readers*
Writing With Ease 2

Chicky age 5, Pre-primary -
Rightstart B
Kumon Word Problems 1
Logic games
All About Spelling 1 & 2
Explode the Code 1, 2 & 3
Handwriting Without Tears My Printing Book
I See Sam Readers*

Possum age 2 -
Speech Therapy
Occupational Therapy

Together -
Auslan using various resources from Bilby Publishing

Engineering is Elementary which i will flesh out to include cultural study for Bugsy & Chicky as their 'program' for the year.  We will spend 2 weeks on each book, which will include the engineering project and geography/culture for the country.

Lego Mindstorms, Snap Circuits 750 & other STEM programming activities as listed here.

Come & Look with me (art appreciation)

Various art and crafts as instigated by the children

Nature study

Music appreciation (classical)

Swimming, surf club & Scouts

Bugsy & Chicky will not 'tag along' with Flossy for SOTW4 this year.  I think it is too heavy for them at their ages/maturity and Flossy will follow her own course of study mostly independently for the year.  Bugsy & Chicky will instead have a STEM focus for the year and Flossy will join in as her science.

Yes, we are changing up our maths.  Flossy completed the entire Miquon line up as per our maths scope and sequence posted here.  You learn a lot about a program when you complete it from start to finish that you wouldn't know without using it in it's entirety.  Whilst i love Miquon and what it has to offer i have learned that it isn't going to be the right fit for Chicky and i think Bugsy is far enough into it that it's time for a change for him.  He's set off on the right foot as Miquon is such a solid foundation that it's the right time to change him.

We are also dropping Latin.  This has been a really tough decision for me.  I can see and completely understand the benefits that Latin has however it is taking up a significant portion of my time working with Flossy and understanding it all.  Possum needs to learn more Auslan as he doesn't talk.  So we will be switching Latin for Auslan for the time being.  I already have Latin Prep from Galore Park which is what we were going to do after Getting Started with Latin.  I will now shelve this and hand it on to Flossy to complete independently maybe in year 5 or 6.

Items marked * are programs that we have been working on this year which need completion.  As we school year round we start new books as and when required, not necessarily at the beginning of the year which means that some books hang over to the following year :)

Tentative plan for 2014 is an Australian History year for everyone before beginning the 4 year history cycle again in 2015.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Saturday Afternoon Drawing

A bit over a week ago a friend passed on to me a DVD she received free with some Faber Castell pencils.  She had purchased several packs of pencils, all came with DVD's and she had several copies of the same one.  Her children had enjoyed it and she thought mine would too.


After lunch today whilst Possum napped we watched the first segment on drawing a cartoon style koala.  It's the first chance we've had to look at it.  It's not a teaching DVD per say , the artist just talks you through what he is doing step by step.  We got all our supplies ready and just paused the DVD after he completed each step so that we could work along with him.

Having children with some perfectionist qualities we had discussed before hand that every artist produces different work even when drawing the same thing.  They should be proud of their efforts because if we wanted an exact copy we would just photocopy the drawing and not bother with the hassle of drawing it ourselves.  In the spirit of artistic license the children chose to omit features the artist had included and add in some of their own.  For the most part however they stuck to what they were shows.

Here are their final products.




I will be keeping an eye out on my future Faber Castell purchases to check for free DVD's, certainly worthwhile.

Amber xx

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Olympic Lapbooks

We've just completed our Olympic Lapbooks, they were so much fun!  I pulled various pages from the resources I listed here and we also read the books listed too.  The children were all so engaged in this format of school.  They were eager to get to this part of their day and create something they could treasure.

The lapbooks are a concertina fold so the cover page saying 'My Olympic Lapbook' ends up being the front :-)  I removed their names from the bottom of the cover for the photo's.

Here are their final creations.








I did almost all of the writing for Chicky, but I did write what she told me too.  Bugsy did about half of his writing and Flossy did all of hers complete with her own research.

It was unanimous that their favourite athlete is Lauren Mitchell.  During our discussions it was revealed that anyone can bike, run or swim but not everyone can do all those cool tricks!

Favourite sports were split Flossy chose diving, Bugsy fencing (although he is most disappointed not to have seen any) and Chicky chose gymnastics.

We still have a few things to fill in this week including the medal tally and the weather in London but everything is stuck in its place and just needs a quick note each day until the Olympics are over.

We've had such a fun time doing 'Olympic School'.  Have you done something special for the Olympics in your homeschool?  We would love to take a look.

Amber xx

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Possum Update

Big drum roll for Possum.....

at 1 year and 10 months...

Possum now weighs...


What a long time coming that has been!  We had a review with the paediatrician this past week and he was satisfied that Possum is finally putting on some weight even though it's very slow.  We now have a green light to start some dairy and gluten food trials again.

We also had a review with our feeding team which consists of a speech therapist, occupational therapist, dietician and physiotherapist.  They were all VERY impressed with his progress.  He is biting and chewing his foods better.  He is not as scared of foods as he was.  He is more willing to try things even if he spits them out.  They were satisfied to the point of saying they now feel his food preferences reflect a more normal fussy toddler than a child with feeding issues and they don't see a need to see us again.  He's also drinking plenty of water both from a straw and a sippy cup, this was another of his issues.

All the hard work is paying off!

He's such a happy boy.  I had to share these photo's taken today :)

Fireman Adison-6.jpg

Fireman Adison-27.jpg

Amber xx

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Girls Keeping Busy

Flossy and Chicky have been busy the last few days.

Flossy entered a short story competition and i would love to share her story with you but it is a condition of entry that we keep it a secret until we know if she has made the short list, so you will have to wait.  She also wrote a poem this morning which i can share :)

For koalas flowers are teacups as they sip gum nut tea and in the underwater flower of the anemone clownfish smile and jellyfish float free, and for the lucky lady red gum honey bee the flowers help make sweet and yummy delicious red gum honey.  Sometimes flowers grow on a tree and yet sometimes they're in front of me.

Chicky has completed the first box of Bob Books.  Woohoo!  Another up and coming reader in the family.


Amber xx

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

I am humbled and honoured to have received The Versatile Blog Award from Erin @ Seven Little Australian's and Counting a little while ago :)  Thankyou Erin!  Sorry it has taken me so long to pass along this award.

Rules for the Versatile Blogger are :

Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them.
Tell your readers 7 things about yourself.
Give this award to 15 recently discovered bloggers.
Contact those bloggers and let them in on the news.

7 things about me are -

1. I was once in a junior Australian Rifle Shooting Team and went to England to compete.
2. I constructed toy solar powered cars and boats when I was 11 from bits and pieces.
3. I wanted/want to be a photographer.
4. I have a background in insurance.
5. All of my babies were born in hospital.
6. I hate spicy food.
7. I was a very sporty kid.

I would like to award The Versatile Blog Award to -
14. Relish

Launching Project Photog

For regular visitors to my blog you may have noticed a change to the tabs at the top of the page.  Some of you may have already popped over to Project Photog to see what it's about :)

Project Photog is my online journal to become a professional photographer, and if i don't become a pro, that's ok with me, I will always be a passionate photographer and I will have learnt plenty!  This is a LONG term project.  I don't anticipate 'working' at all until Possum is at least 6, and even then maybe only on weekends or when Rusty is around to look after the kiddos.  This is my 'life after kids' goal and in order to get there I need/want to start now.  There is so much to learn!

So if you want to see what i'm up to please head over to Project Photog.

Amber xx

Monday, July 30, 2012

Pop-Up London

Some of you may have read my previous post about the London Olympics which included a book list.  Most of the books on that list are specifically about the Olympics but one that has stood out from the rest is Pop-Up London.  It shows off all of the major London landmarks following the Thames from Kew Gardens to the Olympic Village.

I'm not generally a fan of pop up books, not because they aren't lovely but because they end up trashed and not working properly and that just makes me sad.  Finally the children are old enough to enjoy this format and not attempt to destroy it, well, all bar Possum.

I thought I would share with you some of the beauty of this book so you can see for yourself.


Royal Albert Hall

When you turn the book around you can see inside some of the buildings.  Inside Royal Albert Hall.

Buckingham Palace

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge opens up to let a boat pass under.

Under the flap you will find Olympic Park.
This is a beautiful book!  There is plenty more to see.  It is constructed to a very high standard and all of the pop-ups work smashingly.  All of us have thoroughly enjoyed pawing over the pages and I'm sure it will be treasured for many years.

Amber xx

Monday, July 9, 2012

Checking in

Busy, busy, busy!!  Possum has been sick with an ear infection going on 3 weeks, poor baby.  He's been quite brave and we seem to finally be getting back on top of it, thank goodness because the sleep deprivation from comforting him all night has been taking a huge toll.  I don't know if i make sense half the time LOL.

In spite of all this school continues to cruise along.  I say cruise because we have been taking a bit of a lighter approach.

Bugsy has completed Kumon Word Problems Grade 1 and i will hold off on Grade 2 until he has completed more of Miquon Blue.  Flossy worked on them concurrently however i can see the benefit of waiting just a little before starting this one.


He has also completed the dark green I See Sam Readers and his reading is going swimmingly!  3 more levels of I See Sam to go and he will be done, then will come the challenge to select school related reads for him.


Flossy has worked hard to finish Miquon Yellow.  There are some challenging questions in that book!  Miquon Purple is next and i'm sure she will find it just as challenging.  Then to decide what to do next. I though i had that mapped out but now i'm having second thoughts.  I will just see how she goes with this book and decide closer to the end i think.  Very proud of her and she is proud of herself knowing how close she is to completing the series.


Chicky is motoring along with reading, phonics and handwriting.  For maths we are working on counting to 100, she makes it to 12 no worries but we have a long way to go LOL.  I am hoping by teaching her to write the numbers she will see them easier which might help her to remember their names.

Possum apart from being unwell with his ear infection and trying to cut his molars which are taking forever to come through is good.  He's started using more signs, yay!  So far i have seen sleep, food, baby, teddy bear, bath, cat, dog, bye and i think that's it.  I'm so pleased we are finally getting somewhere on the communication front.  Last night we actually had a little game and conversation and he signed in context.  It was enough to melt your heart!  He is walking everywhere with confidence now too and his understanding seems to have come on in leaps and bounds!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

It's all coming together

After my last post about loosing my groove i've been trying to find a new one.  I'm pleased to say it's all coming together again, yay!  Hoping for smooth sailing until the end of July now, fingers crossed.

Kids are again trucking through their work.  Today Chicky completed her Get Set for the Code Book B.  I imagine she will work through the next one quite quickly now.  She has really come on with her phonics and handwriting.

Don't you just love the expression!

Possum is coming along beautifully.  After his first sign a few weeks back he's now also signed dog and teddy bear.  I'd really like food, drink and finished but he's got other ideas LOL.  I shared a few weeks back that he had taken his first steps, well i'm proud to say that he is now toddling around the place (i don't think i shared that in our last update?).  So at 21m he is walking independently, very exciting to finally see him toddling around the place!  Just to make my heart melt he has learnt to give kisses and big cuddles too :)

I am REALLY enjoying my new camera!  I've been taking photo's most days, mostly candid ones, here are a couple of my favourites.



I studied photography in highschool and i am finding most of the principles are coming back to me however i had no experience in digital editing so i'm enjoying learning something new there.  A friend suggested that i pick up Understanding Exposure as a refresher and i'm glad i did, lots of nuggets in there :)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Gearing up for the London Olympics

Are you planning anything special for your homeschool over the London Olympic Games?  We are!  I've been scouting around and here are the resources that i have found.  I'm sure we won't use all of this but I thought i'd share :)

Homeschool share printables including suggested book list

RIC Australian Olympic Team in London Teacher resource book

Australia Post Letter Link

Australia Post Primary Curriculum Support relating to the  Olympics

Scholastic 'Go for Gold'

Books i have to use are -

G is for Gold

Hour of the Olympics

Ancient Greece and the Olympics

You Wouldn't Want to be a Greek Athlete

Usborne The Story of the Olympics

The Story of the Olympics

Pop-Up London

The 2012 London Olympics

London 2012 Games Activity Book

I don't have any specific plans yet except watching lots of the games and enjoying the literature to go along with it.  I'm sure we will pick and choose through lots of the other materials.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lost our groove & an update

We hit the ground running at the start of the year and worked really hard and really solidly. Our days seemed very fluid with only the occasional speed bump. Lately though we have lost our groove. It doesn't take much to throw you completely off track. At the start of the year Possum was napping in the morning. He'd go to bed around 10am and wake around lunchtime or shortly after. This gave me a great solid block of time to really get stuck into the one on one subjects with the kids. Now Possum has moved his nap to the afternoon. He's going to bed around 12.30pm and that means I'm juggling every morning. The big kids are not in the right frame of mind to focus in the afternoon so we really have to focus in the morning. Unfortunately I am finding Possum is a big time sap and I'm struggling to keep everyone on track. Sometimes my day just capitulates into fun and games and no formal school at all. I have to keep reminding myself that homeschooling is a marathon not a sprint and this season of busy toddler, will pass.

In spite of all of that we have been making some forward progress. Bugsy has completed Handwriting Without Tears, My Printing Book and has made the big transition into Writing With Ease 1.

Bugsy has also completed Miquon Red so will be moving into Miquon Blue.

Chicky has been reading more of the I See Sam readers. We've instituted a 'reading time' where everyone except Possum is required to read allowed to everyone else. It's really helping promote the reading culture and Flossy has even declared that she is finally enjoying reading allowed. Bugsy has started putting on voices for different characters now that he isn't struggling with decoding each and every word.

Possum is finally walking, woohoo!  I posted a little while back that he had taken a couple of steps and he kept that up but preferred to crawl until last week when he suddenly took off!  In very exciting news he slept through the night for the first time ever last week, hopefully there are more nights like that to come.

Jasper (our dog) is feeling much better 4 weeks on from his surgery.  We still have to keep him quiet and he is still crated much of the day but the vet has advised that we can begin to give him more yard time over the next 2 weeks so that by the time he is 6 weeks post op he should be back to his normal self.

We rescued a baby rainbow lorikeet last week.  Whilst out for a morning walk we came across a baby with a broken wing.  We threw a jumper over it and took it to our local vet who was going to assess it for suitability for rehabilitation and send it on to a wildlife carer.

I got a new camera a Canon 550D with a lovely 'fast' 50mm prime lens.  Photography was a passion of mine in high school and is something i would love to have devoted more time too.  I've got some photo shoot ideas in mind for my kiddies.  Here are a couple of snaps from day 1.  See the difference between these and those ones of Bugsy above (the one of Possum is with the new camera).  Doesn't it take a much nicer picture than the point & shoot, swoon.  Lucky i know how to use it properly, no auto settings for me :)

Hopefully i will be back to regular blogging shortly.  I've got an award to pass on!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Possum Signed!

Just a quick note. I had to share that Possum signed his first sign this evening! Proud Mummy moment :-)

He signed 'sleep' several times. We were getting ready to pick Flossy up from Cubs and I was putting on his jumper as it's cold and he signed 'sleep' and looked at me and I said 'sleep' and he immediately signed it again with a huge grin. He did it several times over the next 15 minutes including once we got to Cubs to pick Flossy up.

I'm so excited! This is his first attempt at proper communication! He babbles plenty but doesn't have any words yet. Woohoo! All our hard work is paying off!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Technology ~ Is it robbing us?

Sometimes it's interesting how things find you at a pertinent moment in life.  Just this week on a premature baby forum i am part of, a lady posted a link to this blog post.  It's not the first time in the last little while i've seen something like this.  I was reminded of this post by Carrie @ Live, Learn & Love Together.  I was so sad to read it, but could completely understand her position.

Unfortunately i think it is too easy to fall into the black hole of the internet.  I will just sit down and do x invariably turns into an hour and several rabbit trails.  In the past i have really tried to keep myself in check, open new tabs for the rabbit trail and come back to them another time but we all fall off the bandwagon at some point and need that reality check to get us back on track.

I'd like to think that i use technology intentionally.  I certainly don't spend hours chatting on the phone.  Clearly i don't spend hours and hours editing photo's and making my blog pretty and perfect.  Sometimes i don't even get to edit posts before hitting publish (sorry for the typo's and missed auto-corrects!).  But i do 'surf' the net and research 'stuff' and Facebook and get caught up in threads on message boards (homeschool or prem baby related).

It's all relevant and justified but it is a huge time sap and i have to wonder, is it robbing me?  Does the benefit of all this gained knowledge really help me?  What could i do with this time?

Well, i could spend more time 'playing' with my kids.  I could spend more time cleaning the house or cooking.  I could spend more time on 'Amber's Knowledge Quest', or reading, or sewing, or ... anything really.

BUT, i can't help but wonder is this just a new crisis in the ever changing world.  Were parents of previous generations really engaged in their children's lives?  There was the era of 'children will be seen and not heard'.  There was the time where mothers slaved for hours hand washing clothes.  Did they really have more time and inclination to engage in their children's lives?

I am not by any stretch suggesting that not engaging is a good thing, or normal.  I am just highlighting that it isn't limited to the current generations technology time sap, it's just that the time sap has become a new thing using up peoples time if they let it.

So, i'd like to challenge my readers to really have a good hard look at the time you spend with technology, whatever your black hole might be and make sure your being intentional about that time and not robbing yourself and your children.  Before you know it your kids will walk out the door.  What will they remember about you?


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Washing Baskets

Do you use your just for washing?  I've heard library books take up residence at several peoples houses, sometimes toys.  At my place it seems the baby gets the basket :-)

Here is Possum on his first trip to the beach.  What better place for the baby than a washing basket bed under the sun shelter.

Here is Possum helping me hang the washing.  What better viewing place than the washing basket complete with comfy pillow so he could see what i was up to.

Here is Possum helping to squish all my clean washing.  What better place to snuggle than clean washing.  This was taken this evening.  I wonder if he remembers me putting him in there as a tiny tot or if it just looked like fun.  He played in that basket for a good 15 minutes whilst i cleaned up the kitchen from dinner.  So cute!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Last Wednesday we had the pleasure of attending our very first ECHO cushion concert.  It was performed by WASO as part of their Music for Kids program.

From their brochure ~

Toot, whistle, plonk, boom, shake, rattle and roll!  WASO's Education Chamber Orchestra (EChO) is a high-energy 15 piece ensemble, featuring one of each instrument of the orchestra.  We invite all our young friends to join us and have a go on our instruments after the show.  Enjoy 50 minutes of musical celebration as we dance, sing and have lots of fun.
Suitable for 2 to 7 year olds.

We caught the train to the city, then found the right CAT bus to get us close to the Concert Hall.  Then we had to find the entrance to the building, because it isn't in a logical place!  It was a rainy morning, but thankfully we didn't get wet.

The venue was lovely and the carpet very comfortable.  We got a spot right at the front which was excellent as Flossy and Bugsy were chosen as helpers at one time.

The concert itself was just wonderful.  They had a story line which was captivating.  All of the instruments were introduced throughout the story and the children were engaged in clapping, dancing and singing.  On conclusion the musicians allowed the children to try the instruments.

Flossy tried the trumpet and actually managed to make a lovely note.  The musician was quite impressed.  Bugsy tried the french horn.  Chicky tried the violin.

The concerns run again in July and i will be contacting WASO to find out if it will be the same storyline or if they will have a new show as we loved it and the kids are keen to go again.  I've also managed to find two other WASO performances aimed at children aged 6-13 called Play me a Picture and Witches, Wizards and WASO and it is highly likely that we will attend those too.

Flossy and Bugsy are now resolute that they would like to begin music lessons again.  This time Flossy would like to try the trumpet and Bugsy the french horn.  I might have a challenging time finding teachers but it will have to wait until we move back to the city.

*Sorry about the quality of the photo's, there was no flash photography permitted and my little point and shoot struggles in the dim light.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Vanilla, mmmmm!

Quite some time ago, in fact when Chicky was a very tiny tot Pam @ Grow Bake Run was telling me about how she had made her own vanilla essence.  She'd taken the initiative after reading all about it from Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.  Ever since our discussion (about 3 years) i've been meaning to give it a go!  Today i finally did, but i will have to wait until Christmas to see if it's any good.

To make your own vanilla essence you will need ~

a 700ml bottle of Vodka, it must be 40% alcohol or more, i chose Absolut Vodka
8 vanilla beans

Take a sharp knife and slice through the vanilla beans leaving about 2cm joined at the end.

Decant 2-3 tablespoons of Vodka from the bottle.
Add the vanilla beans to the bottle.
Add back as much of the Vodka you decanted as you can, i was left with about 1 tablespoon over (do what you like with that)

Put the lid back on and put it in a cool dark place for the next 6-9 months.
Every month or so give the bottle a shake.

Can not wait to see how it turns out!

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