Monday, November 28, 2011

So....whatcha doin'???

We don't technically unschool, but since coming home from our holiday, I have to say it's been looking a fair bit like unschool! Apart from me mentally freaking out that we aren't "doing enough", we have been working on a few "projects" and child-led interests!

Video Boy was very keen to save up and buy his own computer. He has a netbook, but he was interested in getting a gaming computer (yanno, so he can play more games!). Hubby (who has an I.T. background) suggested that he might like to build his own. This idea has really lit Video Boy's imagination! He is very enthusiastic about it. And so, he has been browsing the catalogues from the shop, searching the internet and discussing things with hubby, so find the parts he needs to build his dream computer. We have given him a budget and he is learning how to make up a spreadsheet to list the parts and add up the costs. I just need to make sure hubby starts to order parts and keeps the project flowing, or we will rapidly lose enthusiasm...

We have been doing a bit of writing (my suggestion). Video Boy is struggling for ideas, but Wombat Girl is happily working on her story about the Darkness. I read her page of writing and I think it shows a fair bit of promise!

There has been a fair amount of screen time, including Minecraft and King Arthur's Gold. I asked if "KAG" had any historical/educational value to it, but they replied honestly - nah, you mostly just build stuff and fight battles. Oh well, you build

On the ship, one of Video Boy's way's of amusing himself at dinner was to draw stick figure adventures. They were very detailed drawings, with very detailed adventures and he happily drew away for over an hour some nights. When we got home, his friend suggested he might like to try Pivot Stickfigure Animation. He downloaded it and has spent many happy hours animating short scenes - pretty clever and learning a lot about animation and programming.

Wombat Girl's mind is always whirring away. She comes up to me one afternoon and says "Mummy? Can I build a tesseract?". To which my new "unschool" reply is "yes, of course - what do you need?". So nearly one packet of Blu-Tac and toothpicks later, she has built her four dimensional analog of a cube, complete with oral explanation of said tesseract.

In a desperate attempt to do something "schooly", I made encouraged them to sit down and watch the first episodes of the Great Courses DVDs I purchased before I went away. We have fun watching these - pausing, discussing unfamiliar concepts, drawing/calculating examples as we go. We watched Quantum Mechanics - the Physics of the Microscopic World Episode 1 - the Quantum Enigma, where we learned how classical physics did not explain some anomalies of the very small. And we also watched Algebra I - which showed how we use algebra every day (even when we don't realise it!) and gave us some problems to think about.

Both of my kids think well above their years, but in different ways. One question on averages had Wombat Girl adding and subtracting and kind of getting close to the correct answer; I calculated it algebraically (because, yanno, I am a maths tutor) and Video Boy spent ages mentally doing stuff. He was only 2 off the right answer. I asked him how he came to that, and orally, he explained exactly what I had done on paper, but he had made a mental maths error. I was pretty stunned that he intuitively worked out quite a complex problem.

One of the last problems was a question involving Pythagorus' theorum. I explained it was concerning right-angled triangles where the square of the hypotenuse was equal to the sum of the squares on opposite sides.

Algebra I 

Wombat Girl was fascinated and about a half an hour after the DVD was over, she asked "can I have some scrapbooking paper?" to which I answered "yes, I'll get some for you" (see, I'm really getting into this unschool thinking). She had googled Pythagorus, and came up with the proof (which I hadn't come across before) - the link above has the instructions at the bottom!

From a piece of  square paper, cut out the square as shown -
note that the square is made from the hypotenuse of each of the triangles

Join the triangles remaining so they form rectangles...

You can see the squares formed by the other sides of the trianges -
and it still fits into the same page of the  original square
Who says kids won't do maths unless you make them?? 

We have also started reading aloud Peter Pan my J.M. Barrie. We have a lovely series of books by Walker Books, and this one is a special Centenary Edition with illustrations by Robert Ingpen, who also illustrated another favourite of ours, Storm Boy. I am looking forward to many hours on the couch snuggled up reading!


To infinity and beyond! No, not Toy Story, but the very interesting documentary about our current ideas about very large numbers in regards to mathematics and the observable universe. From an early age, Wombat Girl has been fascinated by numbers and has asked questions about infinity. So, she really enjoyed this.

I have to admit though, when she came up with her hypothesis about dimensions and the universe (and whether it was finite or infinite), bouncing around the room, discussing with her brother, at 9:30pm - I was proud, amazed, puzzled (I had to listen really carefully and actively to understand what she was going on about) and worried about how she was going to be able to get to sleep with so much stuff going on in that head.

She is sitting next to me now, after asking what the difference between a theory and theorem was, and defining hypothesis, going to write her "hypothesis" up in a little booklet.

So, writing, maths, science, technology, reading, speaking, designing...considering we haven't been "doing" anything, we've done quite a lot...don'tcha think?

I'm baaaccckkk!!

Well, kinda, sorta!

So this morning I got up early(ish) for my....walk. It is now 8 weeks since I saw the physio and I should be able to run, but you know, I can still feel that tight hip flexor/glute, so I did some reading . This is what I came up with:

  1. Start walking. Apart from walking on our holiday, I haven't been out and about. Did you know that when walking, your body absorbs 2 times your body weight? It is a great stepping stone to get the body ready for the more intensive running. It's how I started running. My physio was adamant that it takes the body a long time to get used to the stresses of running - the muscular-skeletal system, that is, not the cardio-vascular (that is much more adaptable). Some websites recommend building up to 10-15 miles (16-24km) of pain free walking before attempting any running. So I'm approaching my walking the same as my running - three walks a during the week and a long walk (or bushwalk) on the weekend.
  2. Re-introduce running by alternating running and walking - most websites suggest run one minute, walk three. I might even re-do Couch to 5K! I reckon it will feel weird just running! And goodness knows I've probably lost most of my aerobic fitness that I built up. But it's OK, I know it can come back. I'll have to make sure there is no pain in my hip when I run - otherwise I'm not sufficiently healed to run again.
  3. One website recommended running at 25-50% of your pre-injury pace. Considering I was running at about 8 min/km that means 16-20 min/km. I can walk faster than that - can you imagine what it would look like trying to run that slow? Is it actually possible to run that slow? I'll just take it real easy - concentrate on form and not worry about pace.
  4. Don't increase distance, frequency, intensity or pace of running at the same time. My physio said the injury was a classic case of "too much, too soon". So, first I'll just concentrate on building up to 5km. And then slowly (ever so slowly, with walk breaks if needs be) increase the distance. Pace will come (one day, maybe).
  5. Use the foam roller after every run and then stretch. Strengthening exercises on the off days. 
  6. Try to do some yoga or pilates once a week. I went to a yoga class last week and really, really enjoyed it. The instructor also does pilates and massage. I'm going to go get a really good massage too. My body will thank me later (after the pain subsides).
I am just enjoying getting out in the fresh air again. So is my dog. 

I'm "only" walking, but it's a step in the right direction!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Putting the pieces together

I love jigsaw puzzles! Wombat Girl got a Wasgij (jigsaw spelt backwards, just in case you were wondering) for her birthday about a month back, and so after the cruise, it was a perfect time to get it out...

I got the fun job of flipping all the pieces over!

The tricky bit with Wasjig, is that the picture on the box is NOT the picture you have to build!! No...that would be too easy! In our case, the original picture of a street scene set about 100 years ago has been updated! They provide you with some clues to get you started, and some of the colours and buildings match,  but basically you just have to guess!

One of the first clues we had that Wombat Girl was gifted was her uncanny knack of putting jigsaw puzzles together. The preschool teachers were amazed at her ability to magically see where the pieces go. Things haven't changed much...

Sorry about the blurries...

The finished product!

So, we (well, mostly I) managed to kill quite a few hours completing this jigsaw! I can think of almost nothing better I'd like to do than helping my girl search for pieces of a puzzle - sure beats ironing!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Back to the grind!

Well, it didn't take long to get back into the swing of the "real world". We picked Max up from the wonderful friends who were minding him - I think he had a fabulous vacation too!

The trouble with going away is coming back. I loathe unpacking! It's so tedious, it stinks, it reminds you are not on holiday anymore, and it inevitably leads to washing and ironing. It's taken me about two weeks to catch up! I think I still have a backpack with stuff in it from the trip...

I had 258 emails waiting to be downloaded after my cyber-holiday! And I'll never catch up on reading everyone's blog posts! I sorted out all the sources of digital photographs and checked back in with Facebook.

And slept. And blew my nose - who knew the human body was capable of producing that much fluid?! Disgusting. I haven't been sick in over a year (the joys of not going to work every day), so this one hit me hard, but thankfully didn't last all that long.

But just as I was starting to feel better, the morning from hell arrived.

I awoke bright and early to hear Video Boy gasp "OH NO!" loudly from the bathroom. Even in my sleep-riddled state, I knew what that meant - one half of the $1400 contact lenses had gone down the plug hole.

I got out of bed and he was a bit stressed (duh). For some strange reason he hadn't put the plug in this morning (every other morning I had found the plug in the sink where he left it) and lo and behold the teeny-weeny piece of hard plastic and fallen down the hole. I told him not to turn the tap on and when his dad got up, we would pull the s-bend apart and find it.

Which we did - along with a pair of tweezers Wombat Girl had dropped down there months ago and lots of gunk. Which I could NOT deal with, because I already had to deal with bad stuff.

After reassuring Video Boy, I went downstairs to let the dog out, so he could do his morning ablutions. Only to discover, he already had. Excuse me, but OMFG! This is a reasonably rare occurrence (if you read my running blog, you will know it's happened before - almost identical place) -something upsets his tummy (too many table treats?) and he just can't hold it in.  Poor thing. Poor me.

I put the dog outside so I could clean up without him stepping in it.  He doesn't like being outside when everyone is inside, so he spent the next half an hour psychotically jumping up on the sliding glass door. Great - another clean up job I'll have to do!

I have no idea how I dealt with two babies, because I was heaving all over the place. The only thing that stopped me from puking was the thought that I would have to clean that up as well! Anyway, rug all cleaned up and by that time, surely it was time for a cup of tea!

It's mornings like that I'm glad I don't have to get everyone out the door and to school by 9am...

On the bright side (and there nearly always is one, isn't there?), I got a little bit of work guiding a Discovery Ranger tour for a local primary school. How very cool is it that they pay me to walk around National Parks talking about things I love to a captive (and very enthusiastic) audience?

Ranger Ingi!!
Can you see the joey?
 I've also had a huge de-clutter of the living room and our dining room and homeschooling bookcase/storage area, which looks heaps better and I have my head around where we are up to.

It's good to go on holidays, but it's nice to be home too (truly, ruly, it is). And I love to plan the next holiday (I like to have things to look forward to) - my friend just posted the best holiday pics of Phuket, Thailand on Facebook...looks totally divine...elephants too...

Friday, November 25, 2011

All at sea...

... and so we are headed for home after a whirlwind tour of New Zealand! We enjoyed our time, saw some cool stuff, had fun, learnt stuff. If I could change anything, it would be to have a sea day in the middle so we could have a rest day, because you get all 'touristed" out.

It was nice to be back at sea - no where to go, nothing to see, but onboard entertainment. We watched a lot of movies, read a lot of books and the kids did lots of craft in the kids club.

Snoozing spot
Unfortunately, because ships are contained environments, with lots of people, germs spread quickly. I think because of all the handwashing videos and pump packs of anti-bacterial handwash everywhere, we did not experience any of the noroviruses (which produce nasty gastro-intestinal side-effects), but Video Boy did come down with a nasty cold in Bay of Islands, followed by Wombat Girl, then hubby (on formal night). I was taking my vitamins and trying not to let any of my family breathe on me, but on our trip home in the car, I succumbed too, and spent the first days at home feeling quite wretched, and understanding why hubby didn't feel like formal night!

Don't touch the handrails...

...or those ones (or the elevator buttons!)

I attended a behind-the-scenes tour of the Princess Theatre, where most of the shows were held. The lead singer complained that she had been singing with a dreadful cold that had been going around that week, so it seemed that we were in good company! I have done a fair few performances on a range of stages, so it was really interesting - I cannot imagine dancing when the seas get really rough, though!

View of the audience from the stage

Backstage dressing room was tiny!

View from the wings

I was going to stay and watch Water For Elephants after the tour, but so many people were hacking and coughing, I got germ-phobic and headed back out into the fresh air!!

They rope off the pools when the seas get too rough (although I did find on this cruise they shut them down much quicker and much calmer seas than compared to last cruise). If you look carefully (sorry about the film quality) you can see the water sloshing forward and backward into and out of the pool - it might give you a little idea of how much the boat moves.

I either must have got my sea legs, or the Sea Legs medication available in New Zealand recommended to me by a veteran cruiser really worked wonders, because I felt much better on the trip home.

It was our 16th wedding anniversary on the last full day at sea. Hubby was feeling yuck from his cold, so I celebrated by reading in the library or out on deck - so much for togetherness!

We got balloons and cake!
 Anyway, the weather was fine, we had had a nice trip, but we were ready to get back home (there's nothing like your own bed!).

We had to pack our bags the night before - that was a fun task (not) - the boat was rocking, my head was pounding with the looming cold and there were clothes and junk everywhere! Anyway, I got most of it shoved back in from whence it came and remembered to leave a change of clothes out for everyone for the next day.  

It was early in AM (and a change of time zone) when we got in the heads at Sydney Harbour. But it never fails to delight me:

Changeover day is amazing - they have everybody all organised so they get to their flight or hotel as smoothly as possible and all passengers have disembarked by 9:30am. In the life of the cruise ship, they spend minimal time in port, with all new deliveries of food and stock on board, rooms cleaned and ready to embark a new shipload of passengers for the next cruise by midday!

If only they could organise Sydney traffic as well, we'd be very happy customers!  

So that's our trip - hope you enjoyed it - we certainly did! We will probably go back to New Zealand at some stage and we will probably also take another cruise at some stage (maybe somewhere warm). We don't know where are next holiday will be, but now it's time to get back home, get unpacked, and get ready for Christmas!!

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...