Monday, May 30, 2011


Regular readers will know I've started a bit of a health kick and have been doing the Couch to 5K program.

It started when I read on Facebook that a group of teachers I did Bootcamp with a couple of years ago entered their first triathlon. I found this depressing because if I had have kept up with my fitness, I could have been with them. Instead I was about 10kg heavier than when I finished bootcamp.

Then I went to the movies with a colleague I worked with last year. She had lost nearly 9kg by going to the gym and eating well and drinking less. She looked fantastic and just...glowing.

And I was watching the Dog Whisperer - and I knew I had to spend some more time exercising my dog. So we went for a walk using his methods of being "pack leader" and it was enjoyable - he wasn't pulling at the lead!

These things intersected and I knew it was "time" to get better health wise. So I dusted of my Couch to 5K app on my iPhone that I attempted last year and started running (dog in tow!). The first week was 60 seconds of running, followed by 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes. OMG!!! That just about killed me! It was such hard work - especially the last running interval! But I did it. And I did it twice more after that.

A trip to Sydney mucked up my schedule a bit, and it was nearly a week before I got to Week 2. I would have given before, written it off, but I was determined this time. So I just picked myself up and began Week 2. And haven't looked back!

Now - don't get me wrong - it is VERY hard work. Sweaty, red-faced, out-of-breath, sore knees, sore hips, sore shins, hard work. But I was determined. When my mind whispered "You can't do this" I yelled back "I so can!!!". I imagined the skinny, fit version of me! And the dog dragged me forward! By Week 5 I was running 8 minutes (twice without stopping) and faced the dreaded "Week 5, Day 3" - 20 minutes running, no walking!! The nemesis of the C25K program! A bit daunting, but with a postive mindframe and taking it nice and slow I did it. I'm not ashamed to admit to a bit of air-punching and happy-dancing :-)

A few things helped me tremendously:
  • The C25K app on my iPhone - tells you when to walk and run and records your progress and uses the GPS to track your runs.
  • A rocking playlist!! Now mine might be a big different to yours, but Maniac (Michael Sembello from Flashdance), Holding Out For a Hero (Bonnie Tyler from Footloose) and Alive & Brilliant (the amazing aussie Deb Conway) really psyched me up!
  • Chi Running book by Danny Dreyer - really helps to run with that nice feeling instead of that painful feeling.
  • The Facebook C25K page - amazing support and encouragement from a bunch of strangers! 
So now I've "graduated" - finished the 9 week program and running 30 minutes without stopping. My first goal post-finishing is to speed up a bit so I'm achieving 5K in that 30 minutes. Then I'm going to step up the distance. 

While I still find parts of the run (the warm up and especially the hills!) difficult, I have now experienced "runner's high"!! I have experienced the euphoria you get when you doubted yourself but overcame the doubt and achieved. I have experienced more energy and better sleep. I certainly "glow" for a few hours afterward and I'm even losing a few kilograms! And the dog loves it too!

So for anyone else out there who thinks it might be "time" to look after yourself and get healthier, I can strongly recommend the Couch to 5K program - the most important thing is to get off the couch and keep putting one foot in front of the other!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - 13

In my life this week…
I have been tutoring!  Word of mouth spreads quickly and I am doing 2-3 hours of maths, science and chemistry tutoring every afternoon.

Up to Week 9 in C25K - I can proudly say I can run for 30 minutes without stopping! I "graduate" on Sunday! This running bizzo has made such a difference to my life and I can safely say I'm addicted and will keep going.

In our homeschool this week…
Lots of maths - volume, converting units of volume, area of triangles.  I'm really proud of the kids' maths. They (for the most part) handle the more difficult questions I set for them and Wombat Girl is working around 3 years ahead. It is rewarding to see them being challenged at just the right level!

Poetry - we did some poetry exercises from Creating Poetry. Now I have to say poetry is NOT one of Video Boy's favourite things, but he loved the "train of thought" exercise! Still working on re-drafting and then editing those initial idea starters. I promised I wouldn't put them on my blog :-)

Combined science and english with a viewing of Mountains of Power DVD from the Snowy Mountains Hydro company. For those overseas, Australia's biggest engineering achievement was the building of a huge hydro-electric scheme in our Snowy Mountains area (and I use both the words "snowy" and "mountains" loosely here!!). I wanted the kids to develop their notetaking/summarising skills (we used this scaffold to help us) and also I wanted them to look at the information presented critically.  What was the video NOT showing us? Is hydro-electricity all good, clean power? What are the negative impacts that they did not show us (no surprise)?

Self-portraits. Video Boy baulked BIG TIME at completing this, and this is attempt 5! But it turned out pretty good in the end. Wombat Girl loved the whole thing. I did one too!

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
Feels like I have been juggling a lot of balls and they are falling around me. I am a real introvert - I could happily stay at home, but I have to make more of an effort to see the people who are important to me and to get out and do things that are important to me.

My favorite thing this week was…
Guided meditations with the kids. Just lovely to have quiet time, to slow our busy "monkey minds" and "be". 

What’s working/not working for us…
Being able to have in-depth discussions with the kids. This is too hard in the classroom, because there are just too many kids. But being able to discuss things, talk about issues, explore them in depth, express ideas, think critically - that is one of the many bonuses of homeschooling!

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…
Do you ever get rid of the feeling that you should be doing "more"?

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

No - you can't share my poetry with the world!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - 12

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…
Went to see Water for Elephants at the movies! I loved the book and spent a very pleasant couple of hours watching Robert Pattinson on the big screen. I'm easily pleased!

I had also booked in with a couple of girlfriends and my mum to a "long table lunch" at the local seafood restaurant Bannisters (which is truly a yummy dining experience with glorious views up the coast).  For Australian readers, you will be familiar with Wendy Harmer and Jessica Rowe, who are both promoting books and who were the guests at the lunch.

Well, I was getting dressed and most excited to be doing something so "grown up" when a migraine, complete with flashing aura, hit. Not happy Jan!  The headache lasted two full days. I managed to get through the lunch with large doses of paracetamol and champagne. But it spoiled an otherwise lovely day.  BTW - I went to high school with Jessica and she recognised me! Brush with fame :-)

After my headache subsided, I was back to pounding the pavement. I'm up to Week 8 of C25K and running 28 minutes without stopping! Yay me!

In our homeschool this week…
We continued our "At Home" theme.  Loving reading Anne of Green Gables and so I felt it was time to introduce the kids to the absolute magic of the mini-series with the amazing Megan Follows and Colleen Dewhurst.  If you haven't seen this, add it to your "must see" list!  We watched as far as we'd read - DH was home for lunch and in a grumpy mood, but even he couldn't resist the delightful humour and over-the-top apology to Mrs Rachel Lynde from Anne!

Lots of practical maths calculating perimeter and area and costing fences...I'm hoping this will come in handy soon!

We continued our work on energy with experiments using a cold bottle with a coin on the opening, and using the heat energy generated from our bodies to create kinetic energy in the air in the bottle and ultimately on the coin.  

Also created energy spirals or "energy snakes" - again converting heat energy into very perrrtty kinetic energy.

And our first lapbooks on energy are underway, completing minibooks on our energy walk from last week and researching energy resources from the ocean.

We continued our poetry morning tea - this week Wombat Girl read beautifully from My Country by Dorothea Mackellar, I read The Lady of Shallot by Tennyson (inspired by Anne!) and Video Boy read from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy describing Vogon poetry....

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
We had a lovely day at Batemans Bay - they have the best bike path there - no traffic, wide and flat - perfect for beginning riders. We took the dog and he had a lovely time walking too!  I neglected to take my camera, so you will just have to imagine us in glorious autumn sunshine, riding and walking...

My favorite thing this week was…
Actually getting through the week's planned activities!

What’s working/not working for us…
Moving the printer/scanner upstairs so we have easy access to it!

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…
How much does it matter at this stage if my kids don't show all their maths "working out"? I know they understand the content, we have a record of their learning, but their writing phobia means they don't want to slow down to show all the steps. Is this something that will come in time and as the work gets more complex, and can I force the issue later?

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
We really liked this page that explains various alternative energy resources clearly and has lots of lovely youtube videos:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Life is full of decisions. What to wear? What to have to breakfast? Watch Sunrise or Today? And most of these decisions don't have a lot riding on the outcome, because the options are just variations of the same theme.

But some decisions are biggies. Should we try for a baby? Should we move house? What school should I send my kids to? Should we homeschool our kids? Should I quit my job?

These decisions affect your life. The outcomes of these decisions impact the day to day. They affect our future and affect our memories. 

But the tricky thing is, that you can keep down the same path and you have a rough idea of the outcome. This is a "non-decision". In not changing things, you are deciding that you can handle the status quo. If you decide to take the path not taken, you don't know what is going to happen. You can guess, you can research and make lists of pros and cons, but ultimately it's a risk. 

So that's the decision - stay with the known, safe option. Or take the unknown, riskier option.

Lots of people play it safe. And that's OK, if that is what is making them happy. But there is nearly always an option to be made to change the current path. To venture out into the unknown. To take the first step.

And you know, having taken quite a few "big" decisions in my time, the unknown is not that bad. Sometimes it might not quite work out as planned, but sometimes, a lot of the time, those big decisions bring big rewards. Maybe not material rewards, but better futures, better memories.  And I think that is worth the risk. Don't you?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - 11

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…
I took the final step and told my principal that I would not be returning to school. Wow. A big decision, but one that has been a long time coming. Now the world opens up with a whole range of possibilities!

Still running....

In our homeschool this week…
The kids got right into EvacU8 from Windy Towers - a maths/logic game.  Every spare minute was spent solving the problems so that they could print out and build a 3D model.  The only problem was the base for the model was on the box...which we don't have!  Much disappointment ensued :-(

We did "real" maths too - working on perimeter this week.

We also got going on energy, although Video Boy astounds me with his seemingly innate knowledge of science content:  " I know how if you go below the Earth's mantle it is hotter, you could use that to heat water and turn a turbine to create electricity..." - the guy just "invented" geothermal energy!

We then went for an "energy" walk with the kids. We really are lucky to live in a beautiful part of the world, so we wandered down to the beach and Wombat Girl took photos of all the different forms of energy we could find. It was a stunning autumn day and we loved being able to go to the beach when all the other kids were stuck in school!!!

We always get a giggle out of Bill Nye the Science Guy (see below) - I love his quirky sense of humour!  I have also been hunting out lapbooking and minibook resources to see how that works for us to record our learning.  I'll keep you posted.

We continued our Democracy unit, looking at King John and the Magna Carta (see below). I love homeschooling - I'm learning as much as kids!

And lastly, we had a "Poetry Morning Tea" from Brave Writer.  One of our focuses this term is reading aloud (and not just me!). Video Boy read a very funny Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig and Wombat Girl chose Halfway Down by AA Milne.  This led to viewings of the Muppet Show and the Muppet Movie...brilliant stuff!

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
Went to Sydney for a friend's 50th.  We had another lovely visit to our fellow homeschooler's house where we loved playing pictionary!

My favorite thing this week was…
Watching the kids and DH all snuggled up in bed enjoying their Agatha Christies! Priceless...

What’s working/not working for us…
Being able to explore our environment as a natural part of learning.

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…
Despite all the wonderful work, links, photos, we still have lots of tears from my two sensitive, intense learners.  Will we ever get through a day without tears?

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

Friday, May 06, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - 10

In my life this week…It's been a big week for me.  I have posted before how difficult I find teaching.  It seems to have come to a point where I have decided to quit my job as a high school science teacher.  The school is still trying to convince me to do otherwise, but I think the words of my wise 10 year old daughter say it all...."Don't go back Mummy, you are so much happier at home with us" and my smart 11 year old son "You can find another way to make some money".  

While I believe I am a good teacher and I do form good relationships with the kids I teach, the contrast between what we achieve at home and the "system" is too great.  My health is also faltering, with very high blood pressure and all the risks that that entails.  I guess I'd rather be happy than make other people happy.

On the plus side, I'm still running!  No more walking intervals for me now - just building up my endurance to get to the goal of running 5km without stopping and then working on the speed (I'm not breaking any records at the moment, let me tell you!).

In our homeschool this week…
Back to school!  This term's theme is "Home".

We have finished reading Who Really Killed Cock Robin (you will have to read it to find out!) and have started on Anne of Green Gables.  Wombat Girl was very excited by the prospect of this book; Video Boy...not so much! But after the first 2 chapters, he announced (after having laughed his way through them) "that was really not as bad as I thought it was going to be!".  Obviously, it's the way I read it aloud :-)

The Story of ScienceWe really enjoyed The Story of Science - Can We Have Unlimited Power?  It nicely introduced the concept of energy and we had fantastic discussions about the first law of thermodynamics and the different sorts of energy.  We have put those ideas into an Inspiration Mind Map, which we will build on and update as we learn more.  I love mind mapping as a learning tool - it really helps cement concepts, is great for visual learners and also helps those higher order thinking skills like analysis and synthesis.

In maths, we watched the "measuring" episode of Basic Math and got started on metric units of length and converting units of length.  We hope to put this knowledge into good use later this term (stay tuned!).  We also did a bit of "fun" maths with the Beyond Base 10 unit of work from Prufock Press.  The kids really got into it and we are enjoying exploring other number systems (bunch of maths nerds!).

Thanks to fellow Blogger Helena, we are playing Forbidden Island and loving it!!!  How fabulous to find a board game that the whole family can enjoy, but we aren't playing against each other.  Loving the cooperative nature of it.

We are also working on our handwriting and freewriting.  Using the Speed Up! program, I am working on the kid's stamina and their kinaesthetic sense.  Video Boy has motor dyspraxia, so this is something that I'm hoping will be beneficial for him especially.

We also got an exercise ball - and enjoying it to do some strengthening exercises and stretching!

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
Back to gymnastics this week for Wombat Girl, who is now working on her flexibility and stretching! I was very happy being at home for the entire week with my kids and had no real desire to venture out at all!!!

My favorite thing this week was…
Getting back into homeschooling and spending wonderful hours and days with my kids.

What’s working/not working for us…
Mind mapping and using technology to record our learning.

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…
How lucky am I to be able to do this with my wonderful children?!

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
Cos I'm free! Freewriting...


Wombat Girl gets creative

Speed up exercises

The List!

While I was getting organised for this term, Wombat Girl decided to get organised too. My list of things to do included angles, democracy, writing tasks, handwriting practice and electronics.

Her list was, well, hers!

  1. Bike ride
  2. Agatha Christie books
  3. Make a big button
  4. Become an egg
  5. Pretend Max (our dog) is a pair of dumbbells
  6. Spend 15 minutes saying "-ses" at the end of every word
  7. Cuddle Max 59 times
  8. Put Pinkie (our guinea pig) on a racecourse
  9. Climb Mick Ryan's tree to the very top
  10. Make it rain and get saturated
Gotta love THAT list!

52 Ancestors - Unusual Name

In this week's post, we have been asked to look behind an "unusual name" and I've chosen my great-aunt's husband, Fred...