Friday, September 30, 2011

So I say..thank you for the music!

So, now you all know how important books are to all of us round here. Hubby, Video Boy, Wombat Girl and I all LOVE our books.

And we seem to go in cycles - a week of immersing ourselves in literature, maths, or science. Ebb and flow. Intense and relaxed.

Well, at the moment, Wombat Girl is immersed in music. She is loving it and learning it and listening to it. Video Boy and Hubby quite enjoy it, but it is Wombat Girl and I who LOVE it.

Back in the day, it was me who brought LP's and CD's into our newly set up house (Hubby brought the knives and forks and the couch, so it was only fair). I got a special CD tower made to store them all (and then they still overflowed).

How fabulous that Apple invented the iPod and I can now have that entire stack of music on one device. And how fabulous that they let me use my credit card and download new music whenever I want! (actually, again - too easy - they need to set some limits for problem music lovers!).

My Dad loved music and so does my brother (who is having a love-affair with vinyl at the moment!) and my sister (although she and I have slightly different tastes in music - death metal anyone?). The funny thing about music - we can be passionate about it, but we can differ (sometimes significantly) on what we like to listen to. Me? I'm a classical ballet, musical theatre, 80's pop kinda girl with acoustic overtones. But I'm open to new ideas too :-)

I always have music playing in my head. I love times, like painting bedrooms, entering data into MYOB, running or driving to Sydney, where I can put my iPod on shuffle and listen and listen. Music moves me to tears at times. It makes me dance around the loungeroom like a crazy woman (I'm glad there's no video footage of that!). It reminds of times past. I look forward to new releases from my favourite artists and undiscovered gems!

I could not comprehend a life without music. And yet, sad to say, I cannot play an instrument (Mary had a little lamb on the recorder does not count!).

Wombat Girl loves her music too. She is most often humming a tune to herself. She sleeps with Glacier Bay playing on her iPod in the background, to keep the monsters away. She listens to John Mayer's "Stop This Train" on repeat in the car until even I cannot stand it any more.

Wombat Girl started keyboard lessons when she was in Year 1 at school. She progressed nicely until she had to start playing the bass cleft with her left hand. It got too hard. She stopped. And I have to say I was a bit sad. But as we've gotten more un-schooly, she has fished out her keyboard books and is working her way through them. I have not nagged her to practice once - it is all her doing. On some days she will spend a few hours in total practising her next song. She is teaching herself to read music. She is learning pieces off by heart. It's not easy for her at times, but she keeps going. She is also learning about perseverance, practice and persistence.

That is the essence of how I want my kids to learn - because it's something they want to do, not because I think they should or make them.

And most of all, I love that she loves music. It inspires her, fills her up, helps here cope with the sad, makes her life more shiny. And for that, I say "thank you".

(Don't you just love the shiny jumpsuits and blue eyeshadow?
But good music never goes out of style!)


Just when things are looking up, my body lets me down. Again.

My right hip agony from a few months ago has migrated to my left hip. A bit of niggle at first. Able to run, particularly once I've warmed up, the pain virtually disappears into a little whisper. Until after the run, and then it ROARS!

Ice, heat, massage, nurofen. And no running tomorrow. I've done what every good person with an injury does - Googled it, stretched and strengthened and even done the appropriate sheets from the Anatomy Colouring Book to learn about muscles/tendons/ligaments in the hip/glute area. The pain is so bad, I'm contemplating giving my newly acquired health fund policy a good workout at the physio's.

I'm frustrated - I've done everything right. Good shoes. Been slowly increasing the distance. Trying to run with good form (landing on my midfoot, keeping tall, relaxing upper body and calves). And I'm not fast! It's so annoying. It's not like I'm smoking and eating crap. I'm trying (really, really trying) to look after myself, get healthy and fit and live a longer, more energised life. It pisses me off.

The Hip Flexors

But obviously my 42 year old, overweight body has different ideas. I'm finding that running is so intense, that it finds any/all weaknesses you may have in your body. So (grumble, moan, sulk), I'm going to listen to my body. And maybe I'll be a better runner in the process. I can hope.

What's your worst injury and what did you do to overcome it?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What a strange thing running is...

So this morning, I got up early (well, 6:30am is early for me!) to go for my run. Hubby was up too and pulling on the shoes. This has not been a good thing so far - but who am I to say "I want to go by myself"? And so we went.

12 degrees - not too cold, definitely not too hot. I put one earphone in - music in one ear, hubby in the other. I definitely like my music! There were lots of people about - school holidays. How annoying are those people having a big group chat in the middle of the footpath, who see you coming (hot, sweaty, red-faced) and then not move out of the way one iota????? It's bloody hard enough as it is, without having to detour, people!

Anyways, after the first km (which is always tough), I felt good. Music? Cooler weather? Who knows, but I felt excellent. Pushed hubby onto to doing 5km when he wanted to finish at 3.5km. That feeling is why I love running. Maybe the bad, crappy, make-this-pain-end-now runs are there to make the good runs feel good. But damn, it was good to have a good run!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Whose decision is it anyway??

We've had an interesting morning. One that made me think and hopefully, talk the talk and walk the walk.

I'm on a bit of a health kick. We are going on holidays (a cruise to New Zealand!!) in a month. I've been running, but I want to lose a few kilos before we go. We've been eating better, but I also am trying to do at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. 3 days of running, some swimming, some cycling, some strength/resistance/stretching, some walking.

Diamond Princess Cruise
Us in a few weeks!
So, this morning, I thought I might swim. We didn't go last week, and even though it's school holidays, it shouldn't be too crowded. Now, I like to exercise in the morning - it's done and I don't put it aside for other things.

"So, come on kids - get off the computers, ipods, and don't put that DVD in - we're going swimming!'

This upset Video Boy. He was all set to snuggle into the couch and watch the Yogi Bear DVD we got on special yesterday.

Well, we can watch that this afternoon after we've been for a swim, I suggested.

"OK.."   Sulk, sulk, pout, went Video Boy.

"OMG!" I though to myself (and other unprintable things). "Why is this always so freaking hard?? It's just a swim!"

But then I stopped. OK, so I had a plan of what I wanted to achieve today. The way I wanted it. But obviously, so did Video Boy. I went to him and asked him to explain how he was feeling. At first he didn't want to talk.

"It's OK, let's swim."  But I wanted him to really tell me what he was thinking and feeling, without being afraid of my reaction.

"I guess I'm kind of annoyed." Frustrated. He had a plan for the day and it wasn't panning out.

And so, I thought - do I really have to swim in the AM? So I suggested he watch the movie and we swim in the afternoon - "would that be OK?" Big smiles.

It doesn't mean his needs/wants are more important than mine, but mine aren't more important than his either. I have plenty of other stuff to get on with (washing, ironing, fixing the front door) and I can still get my exercise in. He still wanted to go swimming - just not right now.

Some things are more difficult to negotiate (paid work), but this morning we made some progress with our relationship. He told me how he is feeling. I listened. We can find a way to make both our days work. I told him my wants were not more important than his ("really, mum?"). And it's a win-win. I'm learning!

The relationship is more important
than anything else!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Post-race funk

I have to admit to being in a bit of a running funk since last week's big race. And I guess if you focus on the negatives, last week wasn't so great:

  • I finished 11,071th out of 14,318 starters
  • I finished 1,178th out of 1,632 females aged 40-49
  • I walked in places
  • I look fat and slow in the finishing video (that's me in the purple top, black capris, black hat with iPhone armband in the middle - the tall guy in the striped shirt cuts right in front of me). I look exhausted.

And my runs this week have been less than stellar. My 10 year old daughter came with me (as did my hubby and son) and she runs faster than her mum.

I feel like a fraud. I keep reading post C25K blogs/Facebook pages, and everyone seems to be running half marathons 6 months after finishing. Or at least putting in more km's than me.

My left hip flexors are sore. 

I don't feel like giving up, but I do feel deflated.

But then, I have to look at the bright side:
  • Four months ago I could barely run 1 minute
  • I have lost (if the scales are correct this morning) 7kg so far (just imagine how much faster/further I could run if I lost another 10kg!)
  • I ran in a 9km race which a few weeks ago I didn't think I could (and it was bloody hot)
  • I'm off the couch!

So, I'm going to take it easy on myself and my hips - a bit more stationary biking and swimming, hip flexor stretching and strengthening. And keep on putting one foot in front of the other - because on a good day, nothing feels like running does!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Renewed vigour!

After a few weeks of very unstructured, not-schooly learning, I think all of us were looking for a bit more "meat on the bones".

But, I have slightly changed the way I do things. Whilst one child is lost in the world of Septimus Heap, I worked quietly the with other, one-on-one, just like I do for tutoring. No distractions, or interruptions.

Video Boy has been baulking at maths worksheets, so I took a different tack - would he be interested in doing some science/maths? Is it science, or is it maths Mum? Both! I am amused by the way schooled children love to put things in boxes - one thing or the other. But that's not how real life works, is it? Anyway, we did some calculations based on Ohm's law (voltage is current times resistance) and talked about formulas, substituting and re-arranging equations. Science AND maths in one easy lesson! And Video Boy was quite chuffed to know he was doing questions from a Year 10 textbook!

If none of the Ohm's Law thing makes sense to you, then this video explains it nicely!

Wombat Girl's work of choice was algebra. We are working through expanding expressions, and for her also new, working with directed numbers (and pronumerals). She hates repetition, so I usually get rid of a whole bunch of questions for her, but include revision frequently. She was working away reasonably happily, asking for help (or rather, reassurance) when she came up against anything she wasn't sure of. So, she was really surprised when I mentioned that she was also working from a Year 10 maths textbook!

"Now I have renewed vigour for my maths, Mummy!" she announced. Too cute! She's very keen to try one of the Open University introductory maths courses :-) and is working towards that goal.

We also had a look at waves and the lack of a untangled slinky in our house led to YouTube viewings:

As I was trying to explain that in waves the particles vibrate but the energy moves, I used a "mexican wave" as an example. I was faced with blank stares. Shock! horror! My children had no idea what I was talking about. Thank goodness, yet again, for YouTube and Brainiac!

All this waves, and frequencies, and periods, and harmonics talk lead us to swinging pendulums - they have one of these at Questacon, and of course Wombat Girl asks "can we make one?":


Loving our learning and our life :-)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Go!! Sydney Running Festival 2011

Race day!!! My first fun run in 16 years!

I committed the cardinal sin of racing - wore a new top (lovely new lululemon ultra-light racer-back tank) and new lululemon running socks (sooo comfy!). Had my iPad all loaded up, drank lots of water the day before (it was forecast to be warm), had pasta for tea (ha ha - carbo loading!) and I was set.

It is always amazing to attend these big events. The public transport rises to the occasion, the organisers had done a fabulous job to deal with such huge numbers - 16,500 people in my 9km Bridge Run alone! 3700 odd marathoners, 8500 half-marathoners and 6000 family fun runners/walker (4km). And yet it didn't feel crowded.
Just some of the crowd gathered in
 Bradfield Park under the Harbour Bridge
Sydney put on a stunning, if unseasonably warm, day for the event. By the time my race started at 9am it was mid 20's (celcius!). The marathoners had started 1.5 hours earlier at 7:25am (got to see the start!), but many were still going long after I'd finished!

The end goal...
The day before, I had picked up my bib, but they couldn't find my bib number! So they printed out a new bib and put me in the "A" seedings! Well, I felt like a complete fraud. I'm NOT a fast runner, more a jogger at the best of times, but the saving grace was it wasn't so crowded up the front and you couldn't see bib numbers as you ran! 

I had Runkeeper all set and ready to record my big run, but as started I mis-pressed buttons and it wasn't going. I didn't bother with it, as I had my music all pumping. And finally, we were away!

Running across the Harbour Bridge was pretty amazing! I was wishing I could stop, take photos and just soak it up. So many people! So many people running fast!! But by halfway across the Bridge, there were plenty of walkers. I can proudly say I kept on running! And kept running all the way along the Cahill Expressway and up Macquarie St (which was uphill all the way and it was getting very hot by then!). I gratefully soaked up water at the first water station (some of which was poured over me!). 

I knew the hardest bit would be the Botanic Gardens and it was. I succumbed to some walking stretches - particularly on the uphill bits. I was VERY grateful for any bits of shade I could find! It was still quite crowded and many people stopping, starting, and a few near collisions. There were also many people succumbed to the heat, being attended to by first aid officers - I seriously didn't want to be one of those! Later that night on the news, I heard one 31 year old guy went into cardiac arrest - they revived him and he is recovering in hospital.

The best part of the run was the return down Macquarie St to the Opera House. Downhill all the way, able to get some speed up and it was so nice to aim to the big blue arch...

After the event - it was much more crowded
when I ran through there!

...except that wasn't the finish line! I still had a few hundred metres to run! I could see the time up ahead - 1 hour, 12 minutes - I really wanted to finish under 1:15. What an amazing feeling to have all those people cheering, the Sydney Opera House looming and "Holding Out for A Hero" playing in my ears! Bonnie Tyler really did help :-)

Just as I finished, the loudspeaker announced the first female finisher of the marathon on the course next to us! What an amazing moment to see that achievement.

I had hot swollen feet (no blisters!), hot swollen hands, sweat dripping off me, my usual beetroot face, but I finished - I didn't leave much in the tank. My timing chip said 1 hour, 10 minutes, 31 seconds! 7:50 min/km pace (even with walk breaks). I'm happy with that. The website says I came 11,007th! I won't be happy with that next year, but considering I could barely run 1 minute four months ago, it is a good achievement. I also raised $370 for children's cancer research in the process.

Unbelievably, I saw a friend from home after the race (there were soooo many people). She had to pull out of the half marathon due to injury and ran the 9km race instead. She had done it at least 5 years previously, and said it was the hardest one she had ever done and there were sections she had never walked before but walked this year. Made me feel much better!

I hung around to get the free Powerade etc and then watched the marathoners come home. Saw the sub-4 hour finishers and I am totally in awe of anyone's ability to run 42km, let alone in those conditions!

All in all, it was hard work, but a fabulous day and I'll be back next year. And I think I'm gonna have sore legs in the next day or two...

Friday, September 16, 2011

A week in pictures...

A local homeschool get-together, which involved trampolining...

...and strategic possession of the cubby house:

A different homeschool group get-together in the park...

Multi-tasking (couldn't decide whether she wanted to play piano or read Septimus Heap, so she did both!):

Video Boy reading about video game design (funny that):

And when she wasn't reading Septimus Heap, Wombat Girl was reading Percy Jackson:

Life's good.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


OK, getting all ready for my big race on Sunday!

First up, did 4.04km (7.53km/min) run today. Felt good, with slightly stiff calves - could have kept going at the end, but I don't want to overdo it this week.

Next on the "to do" list - iPod playlist! I know some people don't agree with music during races, but I've only really run to music - it inspires me and peps me up when the going gets tough. I don't want to mess with this trying to run 9km!  So gimme a beat:

  • Firework - Glee cast version (get all psyched up)
  • Take Five - Dave Brubeck (gets me into a nice rhythm - I don't want to go out too fast, this will calm me down)
  • Whistle If You Need Me - Kelsey James (great piano piece which I hope I get to listen to crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge)
  • Alive and Brilliant - Deborah Conway (fantastic Aussie singer in 5/4 time)
  • Never - Moving Pictures (just visualising Kevin Bacon from Footloose will pep me up!)
  • Full Moon - The Black Ghosts (Twilight...ahhh)
  • Supermassive Blackhole - Muse (ditto)
  • The Rhythm of the Heat - Peter Gabriel (remix by Engelpost)
  • Climb Ev'ry Mountain - Junior Vasquez mix (that's about as techno-funky as I get)
  • Rock This Party - Bob Sinclair (everybody dance now...)
  • Let's Get It Started - Black Eyed Peas (and the beat keeps running, running...)
  • Don't Stop Believin' - more Glee cast!
  • Hang On - Smashmouth ('cause I figure I might need to at that point!)
  • Whip It - Devo (best rhythm for running!)
  • Maniac - Michael Sembello (cause she's running like she's never run before)
  • Let's Get Loud - J Lo (cheers me up no end - it's all I can do not to sing aloud)
  • All Fired Up - Pat Benetar (I believe there comes a time...)
  • Playing to Win - Little River Band (more Aussie genius)
  • Holding Out For a Hero - Bonnie Tyler (just love it)
  • Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield (reaching...for that finishing line in the distance)
  • I Run For Life - Melissa Etheridge (the anthem to finish!!)
If I can maintain 8min/km for the whole thing, that should take me up to the finish nicely!  What do you think? They are my personal favourites - what's your "must have" song on race day?

Get ready....

So, I decided after last week's run that I would "upgrade" my entry at the Sydney Running Festival from the 4km Family Fun Run (/walk) to the "proper run" - the 9km Bridge Run. Eeek! But I figure if I'm going to drive 3 hours to Sydney and run, then bugger it - I'm going to really run! And I'm running in memory of Sophie, my friend's 12 year old daughter, who died earlier this year from a brain tumour. Every day I'm out there running, I'm glad I'm able to. You can help by donating at my page:

My calves were sore after my one hour triumph last week. But I did some "intervals" on Tuesday anyway - 3 min running "fast" and 2 min recovery. Felt pretty good! But my calves were pretty sore after that. So, on Thursday I just ran for half an hour - 3.82km in 32 min (8:23min/km av pace). Not fast, not long, but still out there. And I saw wildlife:

It's a heron...

On Sunday, I was torn between seeing if I could run close to 9km (or at least make 8km) and taking it a bit easier seeing how I've increased my mileage the last two weeks and I should be "tapering" (LOL - can't believe I'm using those words in a sentence about me!!) and taking it easy.

Well, I've decided I'm hopeless at setting my pace (even with Runkeeper telling me every km what it is) because I obviously went out fast (7:15 min/km for the first two km). But I had nothing left in the tank after about 5.5km. It was a bit warmer, sun was out, my mouth was a desert and to be really honest, I was feeling a little dizzy. So I maxed out at 6.6km, 52 min (7:53 min/km). I need to learn to take it slow on low runs, or they aren't going to be very long!!

Been reading Run Like a Mother - fabulous writing, wonderful tips and great for keeping me up late at night as I read "just another chapter".

Less than a week until race day!!!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Socialisation blues

OK, so not a really original post, but "socialisation" is one of the most asked about aspect of homeschooling. "But, what about socialisation?"

Well, what about it? I think, sometimes when people ask this question, they are not really clear themselves what they are referring to. Do they mean "will your kids have any kind of social life?", to which my (very much tongue in cheek) reply often is "well, occasionally I let them out of their cupboard under the stairs if they've been good". Other homeschoolers will reel off a huge list of extra-curricular activities that they run themselves (and their kids) ragged with.

The real answer is, of course, we have social lives. Me and the kids. They have friends over to play. They go to other kids houses to play. They have sleepovers. They have headlice. I meet up with my friends - not every day, but once a week, or once a month or I also have friends that I rarely see, but when we do catch up, it's like we have never been apart. I even have friends that I haven't even met in real life (yet), but yet sustain me with advice, support and well, friendship, and I attempt to do the same.

But maybe what they really mean is "aren't you afraid by keeping your children at home, you will be turning them into social misfits?" but are too polite to ask that directly. What if Video Boy turns out to be like Sheldon, from Big Bang Theory?

I believe my kids have reasonably good social skills. They can participate within society and its norms. They have good manners (mostly!). They can sustain conversations with people of all ages and backgrounds. They can answer the phone and ask for what they want in shops. They may be a little "shy" at times - but many of us can feel that way in certain social situations. They can be naive and sensitive. But I kinda like that :-) It would be boring if we were all the same and I think extroverts can be over-rated (especially by teachers).

I think there is a great myth out there that we need to send our kids to school to have social lives and learn social skills. We don't - those things can be done adequately and perhaps even better at home and in the wider community. In a supportive environment with people who truly know them and love them and care for them. There is a tendency to look at any social "problem" (shyness, anxiety, bad manners) and blame it on homeschooling, when the reality is, those same problems would exist for that person in school - and would probably be even worse. The reality is that there are lots of people who have appalling social skills who spent 13 years in the school system!

And when you add "gifted" into the mix, then what the kids really need are not 30 other kids of the same age, but a few "soul mates" who "get" them. Other gifted kids, teenagers or adults. Or other kids who they play well with. Friendships that can be nurtured so that they provide them with the same benefits as my friendships provide me. Friendships that allow them to be their authentic self.

And isn't that the whole point of "socialisation?"

Thursday, September 08, 2011


OMG! OMG! I've blogged before about how awesome the Muppets were. My brother sent me this link and lo and behold I've found another gem!!

I think I have to add the full verse to accompany that:

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
  Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
  The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
  He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
  He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

Notice that the Muppet Jabberwock is exactly as the Tenniel illustration!

It is such beautiful nonsense! As Alice puts it:

"It seems very pretty," she said when she had finished it, "but it's rather hard to understand!" (You see she didn't like to confess even to herself, that she couldn't make it out at all.)

"Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas -- only I don't exactly know what they are! However, somebody killed something: that's clear, at any rate ---"

Terry Gilliam has apparently done a movie (but the trailer had rude bits in it!).  However, in the ultimate piece of geekdom, even Dr Who gets into the Jabberwocky act:

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Quantum physics in our PJs!

One (of the many) things I love about homeschooling is that we are not necessarily tied to State-directed curriculum. We can follow our interests and largely disregard "Grades". We are also not tied to someone else's idea of what learning should "look" like.

You may recall our interest in dimensions - Flatland, Klein bottles and thinking in 4D. Well, I stumbled across Minute Physic's YouTube video on What is a dimension?

So, of course, I called the kids over, and they watched this and all the others on their playlist. Sometimes, like the Infinity one, they watched over and over until they "got" the concept. And all in their pyjamas (eating watermelon for breakfast)!

I particularly enjoyed the one on gravity, so after watching that, we watched The Universe - Gravity, which was pitched just at the right level for us

and then Wombat Girl watched Bill Nye's take on gravity:

Video Boy and I then looked at the physics booklet we have been working through and compiled a mind-map trying to piece together what we knew about waves:

The great thing about mind-mapping using software is that as we learn more and our ideas change, we can edit, change, add to and update our mind-map to reflect that. 

For those who prefer a little more structure to their days, and for my mum, you will be glad to know that we did, in fact get out of our pj's and get dressed during the day and carried on our learning!

Homeschooling Meme - thanks Jen!

OK - had no idea what a "meme" was! But I'm learning quick :-) I've been tagged by Jen, over at Jen's Busy Days, fellow book lover and bookcase coveter. This meme seems to focus on "resources" - a topic of interest for many homeschoolers, but I have my own thoughts on the matter (as you will read below):

1) One homeschooling book you have enjoyed:
I've got lots and read lots (surprise!), but the original and the best was Creative Homeschooling for Gifted Children by Lisa Rivero. It gave me homeschooling as an option for educating my gifted kids. It started the journey and for that, I will be forever indebted.

2) One resource you wouldn't be without:
Oh, that's an easy one! My laptop! The world at my fingertips :-)

3) One resource you wish you had never bought:
I wish I hadn't got carried away and bought the whole kit that went with Acid, Acid, Everywhere. It didn't contain anything we didn't already have (or could have easily got) and it cost too much ($150). The unit of work was OK (problem-based learning), but the kit was a waste of money.

4) One resource you enjoyed this year:
So U.S. based - it's the middle of the school year and we never stop learning! Anyhoo, when I asked self-confessed non-writer Video Boy what he enjoyed most about homeschooling last week, he said "Freewriting". What? So, I nominate Brave Writer's "Writer's Jungle" as the resource enjoyed most! Great Jabberwocky activity in there too :-)

5) One resource you will be using next year:
Well, we are still in the middle of "this year", but one resource I can see us still utilising next year will be Mapping the World by Heart, slowly but surely learning more about the world around us.

6) One resource you would like to buy:
Mmm, this is tricky, because I feel like we have lots of resources already and I'm definitely moving away from pre-packaged curriculum - I'm of the opinion successful homeschooling is less about the resources and more about the atmosphere. I wouldn't mind some decent chemistry lab equipment, but mostly we can get by with equipment we already have at home. Might look into more Michael Clay Thomson - but not convinced about the obssession with grammar - more interested in the academic writing. We'll always be buying new books to read and new board games to play, though :-)

7) One resource you wish existed:
I wish we had enough money to get my cleaner back, but I'll gladly trade that for being able to stay home with my kids (they just have to help me clean up now).

8) One homeschooling catalogue you enjoy reading:
Don't read any?! I'm enjoying looking through the Games Paradise website for board games for Wombat Girl's upcoming birthday - does that count?

9) One homeschooling website you use regularly:
I used to go to Rockpool a bit, but I prefer reading your wonderful, inspiring Blogs lately.

10) Tag other homeschoolers:
Do I have to? Feel free to do your own meme and let me know in the comments so I can check out your answers :-)

Monday, September 05, 2011

Books, books everywhere....

....and not a thing to read?

It annoys me when the kids complain that they don't have anything good to read. It reminds me of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, when Ferris asks if they saw anything good that day, and Cameron says "nothing good" and Ferris replies "Nothing - wha - what do mean nothing good? We've seen everything good!"

We have everything good in our bookcases!

Whilst I'm the first to admit we do have a LOT of technology in our house (another post for another day!), our first love is books.

You know when you are pregnant, and you are idealistically thinking about what your little peanut will become and what your family will be like? Well, we don't always get what we want. My husband imagined being the cricket or football coach for our son's team (maybe he can be the chess coach instead?). I imagined watching years of ballet concerts and having wardrobes full of costumes (maybe I can watch a piano recital one day instead?). But we both wanted our kids to be readers.

My hubby is a reader (and I wanted someone who could dance really well, never mind!). He often stays up later than he should, "just to the end of the chapter". He almost exclusively reads fiction and loves now that the kids have good series of books to get his teeth into too.

Hubby's bedside table

I read more non-fiction than him - books to learn about giftedness, homeschooling, running magazines, how to build chicken coops. And fiction books have to get me in, or I find myself snoozing before too long, but I enjoy getting lost in other worlds. Sometimes I long for a really cold, rainy day, as an excuse to make a (well, several) cups of tea and curl up and get lost in a good book for hours.

My bedside table

I've read a couple of blog posts lately that have referred to the relief the parents felt when their reluctant reader finally picked up a book on their own initiative and read it (and enjoyed it!). I feel for them, because in this regard, we are really very lucky.

We read to our kids from when they were very tiny. And their love of reading seemed to naturally flow from that. My boy, who hates to write, loves to read. He loves non-fiction (I don't know how many times he has read Horrible Science and he loves when the Nintendo magazine subscription arrives), but he has also been known to be awake at 1am finishing off a novel (mmm, wonder where he gets that from?).

Not an uncommon occurrence...

Aged 9

Video Boy's bedside table

My girl loves to read. She pretty much taught herself before starting school and one of my fondest "proud mummy moments" was picking her up from preschool, to find her surrounded by a circle of children, reading a story out loud to them. It is such a pleasure now to see her enjoying some of my old favourites such as the Secret Garden, and finding new stories of her own to love.

Wombat Girl at 15 months

Reading to Grandma, aged 4

Some things never change...aged  7
Wombat Girl's bedside table

We still read aloud - it is hands-down one of the best things about homeschooling. We can spends hours (if my voice holds out) reading our current book if we want. We have more time to explore the world of classic novels. So many books, so little time!

We get our books from the local independent bookstore when we can, although Book Depository and Amazon get a workout too (and are all too easily accessible, in my opinion - maybe the need a "self-declared limit" for problem readers??). The local library is tiny, but we frequent it to top up our supply.

You can tell a lot about people from their house. I like people who have lots of books! Our house (which is really little more than a glorified holiday shack) suffers from lack of storage at the best of times, is filled to overflowing with books. I dream of those beautiful wall-to-wall built in bookcases, with space for nic-nacs and colour-coordinated books....

But the reality is more messy than that (and, apparently so are my editing skills in html - cannot get those pics to line up nicely no matter how I try!):

The media is full of stories of the demise of the printed book. And while we have enjoyed stories on our iPad (love the dictionary features - one double tap and new word learnt!) and I've just downloaded Kindle for PC and will use that as well, we also love our books. I have kept all my books from my childhood, and they are still there, being used and read by my kids now (hence the comment about being annoyed when they say they have nothing to read - hmph, we have lots of good books to read!). There is something about the smell of an old book, handed down through the generations or the smell of a shiny new glossy textbook. Or is it just me?

I guess most of all, we love to read. Learn new things. Get lost in new worlds. Find out a bit more about ourselves in the process. That is what is so cool about books.

I feel a bit for those adults and older children who proudly announce "oh, I don't read" (maybe they are a bit defensive after years of listening to people like me rant at them). But in the words of Anne, of Green Gables, "oh, how much you miss!"

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