Monday, December 31, 2012

Sayonora 2012

I thought I might pop by my blog to have a little reflect on the year that was 2012 and to pause for a bit and have a think about what I want to bring to 2013, just so y'all don't forget about me and so I can take stock.

Let's start with the positives, shall we?

  • We had a nice summer, relaxing by the pool and out and about in our nearby National Parks:

  • I tidied up our homeschool space, moving it downstairs:

...which we still use (sometimes!) and occasionally still looks as neat as this!!

  • We had a great trip to our nation's capital Canberra and also to Thredbo in the spring:

  • We found out that Video Boy does, in fact, have ADHD (the inattentive type) and were able to finally put another piece in the puzzle that is my son:

  • I got to meet some other, new (to me) homeschool mums in the area, and finally met Helena and her family from Loving to Learn

  • In homeschooling, we did great maths, some OK writing, some interesting science and I'm sure we did some other stuff too....

Wombat Girl found tea and quadratic equations equally fulfilling!

Turns out they're not too old to enjoy being kids

Board games continue to be a very important family recreational past-time

We did enjoy our paper folding and fractals (and so did you!)

Occasionally I make them do "proper" work
  • The kids did well on their external testing (NAPLAN and UNSW exams), showing progress and reassuring me that we must be doing something right!
  • On a personal note, I took charge of my health and finished the year 5kg lighter than when I started (with a couple of ups and downs in between):

  • The kids grew. A lot!

OK - so onto the not so good things about 2012 - not to dwell on the bad, but to learn from it and move forward:
  • I spent way too much time at work. Paid work, which is nice for $$ and all, but especially toward the end of the year, the balance got out of whack.
  • Consequently, we didn't really get into a homeschooling groove this year. Sure we got some stuff done, but there was lots I had planned that we didn't achieve and I just had an overwhelming sense of "just getting by". 
  • My babies are growing up! I know this is inevitable, but it just compounds the need to spend time with them while they are still at home and still "kids", rather than adults.
So, 2013, what do the fates have in store for me? Well, you never know what's around the corner, but based on where we are now and what we've learned this year, next year I would like to:
  • Work less, homeschool more. My main "resolution" for 2013.
  • Laugh more, say "yes" to my kids and hubby more.
  • Keep on track with my health and later in the year, run a half marathon (gotta have goals!)
  • Go on a decent relaxing, but interesting holiday (longer than a couple of days break)
  • I may post later in the year of big changes afoot, but these things take time and may not even happen, so until then, I will keep on keeping on, doing the best that I can.
So on that note, I wish all of you a very Happy New Year - may you work on it being a good one and may luck smile on you (at least occasionally!).

Monday, December 24, 2012

Have yourself a very Merry Christmas!

Hello all you loyal Defying Gravity followers!

Well, the year is rapidly coming to an end. It is the eve of Christmas Day, and no matter what your religious persuasion, it is the time for peace and goodwill.

Defying Gravity has been a bit quiet of late, but rest assured, we are all still here, still well, and looking forward to the festive season (a hot one in Oz) and lots of joyful learning in 2013! January looks a little hectic, but hopefully after that things will settle down and get "normal" again (whatever that is).

In the interim, here's our little geeky contribution to Christmas merriment:

Merry Christmas to you all and our best wishes and joy for the year to come!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Another year over...

Well, I know that we still have weeks left in the year, but it feels "over". Or maybe I'm over it. Something like that.

The kids that go to school are finishing up - the private schools are done and the public schools shuffle on until the middle of next week. I figure we are as "private" as they come, so we are just done with "formal" school too (although we all know the learning never ends!). I wonder what the kids will buy their teacher (word is, the private school tiger moms are giving their kids teachers Chanel handbags and Moet champagne!).

What have we been up to, though, I hear you ask?

We have done the tree! I let you know last year that I have difficulty relinquishing control of the tree to my offspring. This year I bought more decorations (like we need them!) and went with a red, green and silver theme. The kids are totally getting more grown up because they totally kept within the theme and the big silver/blue ball did not make a return appearance:

Video Boy is getting too tall - gotta stop feeding him!

So tall he can help his Dad with the star!

This year's tree!
We've also had visits from my sister:

My big sister, my Mum and me!

And we've done some visiting of our own (not to mention socialising!):

8 dear friends being silly!

25 years after leaving school, 8 of us have produced 16 offspring, ranging in age from 14 to 1.

And I've been working. Oh! Have I been working! When I took this little, casual job I did not for one second think I'd be working so much. And now the National Parks holiday program work is kicking in too.

It's a pretty nice office, though...

I feel as if I just have to get through this Christmas business with the least amount of fuss possible, whilst still actually celebrating the thing. Then get through January and it's complicated roster of work appointments. And then...and then...come February, I will be saying "no thanks" to more than one weekday shift a week. Time to get back to the kids. Apparently I have some and apparently I homeschool them. Breathe out....

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Long time, no blog!

Hello there? Anyone still reading this thing?

My poor blog has been sadly neglected of late, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if you'd all packed up and gone somewhere else where they actually write stuff and post pictures!

We are still here, still homeschooling (of sorts). I have been overloaded with "work". You know, the type where you leave the house and go do stuff for which you get remunerated (and I've just learnt, via spell check, that it is not renumerated)! My little casual, a day every so often, job has gone nuts. The library has been shut down and moved up the road and separated from our little visitors centre, so that means they need double the staff. Add to that multiple staff on annual leave at the same time and all of a sudden my skills were very much in demand!

Luckily, Hubby is able to be at home when I'm at work (I get paid more than the casual staff in our shop), but it does mean that homeschooling has been much more like distance ed for my kids and me. I've missed them dreadfully and they've missed me.

We have, however, managed to squeeze in something resembling a little homeschooling Defying Gravity style!

We have done some writing! Not quite NaNoWriMo, but some fun exercises from Write Shop freebies I downloaded:

We been reading about inventions and watching very interesting DVDs on Inventions That Shook The World:

And we've done Christmas craft!! (Just give me the Homeschool Mother of the Year award right now!). I blatantly stole this idea from Stephanie at Ordinary Life Magic. They work beautifully and use up some of my stash of scrapbook paper and ribbon (I knew they would come in handy one day):

We've done some maths stuff too, but that's about it. I've been stressing about the lack of formal work, but I know that in the end, it will all come out in the wash. I've been stressing about working so much, impending Christmas and big life decisions too, but hell, what's a little stress between friends?

It won't last, this business. I hope it won't anyway. I've taken myself off a few shifts for January. But by February I want to be back to "normal". A girl can dream.

BTW, I've lost 5kg since the end of October! Even with all the work etc, I've been exercising/running 6 days a week and eating clean. This has also taken much of my mental energy.

So, deep breath, carry on and keep calm and all that :-)

Monday, November 26, 2012

ADHD - the reality

I've been a bit absent here of late - been working a lot at the library, we are making some REALLY BIG decisions (which I may share if they look like becoming a reality), and I've been overhauling my lifestyle to be serious about losing some weight (check out my other blog if you wanna).

But last week (or was it the week before?), Video Boy had his checkup with the developmental paeditrician. All is going well - he has grown 6cm in 6 months!! I kid you not - the kid is turning into an adult before my very eyes. He has put on 3kg. And things are going well with his medication, which seems to be having the desired effect and helping him concentrate on his schoolwork and settling him down in many way. He is on a low dose for his body weight, and we will have to pay attention (ha! did you get my little ADHD joke?) to the effectiveness of his medication as he grows (even more).

I wanted to include this post and not shy away from this aspect of our homeschooling lives, because I not only do I want to demystify homeschooling and gifted kids, but I also want to demystify the controversial topic of ADHD.

I can't tell you the number of negative, thoughtless comments I come across from otherwise well-meaning people that belittle and demean this very real, very impactful condition. Things like "change your kids diet, and then they won't have ADHD and you won't need to drug them". Things like "labels are hurtful to children".

Things like this:

I think those comments and jokes come from a place of ignorance, rather than any malice, and for sure, there are some aspects of our modern lifestyles that could do with a bit of questioning, but I wonder if they would stop and think for a second how the parent who has researched and read and journeyed and consulted with doctors and has "drugged" their child might feel. I also get the feeling those comments perhaps come from a place of Facebook and YouTube research, rather than from peer-reviewed scientific information.

You see, although for us the drugs do not make a momental difference in Video Boy's everyday behaviour and we don't need them to keep our sanity intact (unlike many other families), they do actually have some benefits that help him and without them, he would struggle in many areas and perhaps not be achieving as much as he is. As he commented to the specialist: "I don't really notice the difference when I take them, but I do notice if I haven't."

Those drugs allow him to focus on work he doesn't find intrinsically interesting (maths, writing, comprehension, etc). They allow him to gather his thoughts and hold them in his head, instead of watching a dust mote float by. They minimise his reliance on the emotional centre of his brain to do his executive functioning - this means less tears, less stress, less anxiety. They allow him to manage risk better and make better decisions and to delay gratification (a very useful thing heading into the teenage years!). They allow him to make the most of his (not inconsiderable) gifts. They allow him to start to reach his potential in one piece, physically and emotionally.

Video Boy has Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder. It is part of who he is. I don't want him to feel ashamed about this or the fact that he takes medication that helps him manage better. Much in the same way his contact lenses help him see normally, the Ritalin helps him think and process normally. 

That is our reality.

Do you have kids or know kids with ADHD? 
What about twice-exceptional (gifted/learning disabled?
Do you have strong feelings about not giving young kids medication?
Have I made you stop and think (even just a little)?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Out and about - art and nature

OK, so I've been meaning to get to letting you know about a couple of homeschool "adventures" we've been on lately (which do not include my little bout with gastro...that's a whole other story).

First up, the kids went to a local artist for a Digital Photography/Art workshop. This will probably be an ongoing thing and we'll get there when we can, or at the very least use what we learn at home.

The general concept is a homeschool group of kids (aged about 10-13) getting together to take digital photos, dress-up, have fun, edit and publish. Video Boy was less enthusiastic than Wombat Girl ("I'm not good at taking photos" says the boy who has never really actually taken any), but he got into it after a bit of encouragement from me and seeing what the other kids were doing. He enjoyed using the iPad apps to play around with his photos...

I can't wait to see what else they are going to come up with!

And the next day they went adventuring. Again with other homeschoolers. This time in the bush. Back to nature. Out in the wild. Without their mother.

Did you hear that? I sat around all day, drinking cups of tea, talking to other homeschool mums and having fabulous, interesting conversations while my kids were off doing things without me!!! Unless you homeschool, I don't think you can appreciate how fabulous that was.

It was even fabulous-er because (unbeknownst to me) they were have a fabulous time. I was concerned they might not enjoy it, but I needn't have feared. They LOVED it.

Making fire, games, senses, plants, animals, cordage - they were dirty, tired and happy by the end of the day and can't wait to do it all again!

The guys over at Bluegum Bushcraft are very cool - Lee seems to have a knack of relaxing the kids into it, relating to them, mentoring them. The kids, and therefore I, are pretty happy campers:

Unfortunately since then, I've left vague instructions to "do Khan Academy" before rushing out the door. The kids are missing me and I'm missing them, and thank the stars they are largely "ahead" of the curriculum! But this work gig shouldn't last too much longer and things can get back to "normal". If normal includes art workshops and bushcraft days, that's even better!

Sunday, November 11, 2012



Was browsing through the 8th Annual Homeschool Blog Awards and voted for Deb at Not Inadequate the Funniest Homeschool Blog, because, well, she is the funniest writer evah! (go vote for her!).

And then I was perusing some Blog Designs because Erin at Seven Little Australians and Counting (who, BTW, has a lovely new header and looks pretty nice herself) (go check her out).

And I had some vague recollection that last year (or year before?) I was nominated in Best New Blog category, which obviously I'm not anymore ('cause, yanno, I'm super-experienced now!).

And I had a look around the other categories, and guess what???? I'm nominated in the Best Nitty Gritty Blog category!! How cool is that? I don't know who you are or when you did it, but thank you! According to them, this category is for homeschool blogs that are brutally honest and open about their mistakes and failures (guess my Keepin' it Real post qualifies me!). Apparently I make you feel better and I let you know that I'm not perfect! Well, duh! What would you do without me?

So maybe, just maybe, if you had a spare minute, you might like to pop over and vote for Defying Gravity - in amongst that huge list of other Nitty Gritty homeschool blogs. I'm one of the few Aussie ones as well :-) You've only got to 16 November as part of my extensive readership to get me over the line, so head on over - I'll wait!

And hey! There are prizes!! How much do you wanna bet I win the 2 night stay in San Antonio, Texas (transportation not included...bummer)? Or maybe the Branches of Eden DVD examining DNA evidence from a biblical perspective. Mind you, if I win the family registration to the Great Homeschool Convention in Cininnati, Ohio - I'm there (hi Jane!).

But it's not about the prizes! It's the honour! And I'm honoured that someone out there liked my blog so much they took the time to nominate me. Pretty chuffed!

The Homeschool Post

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Keepin' it real...

I know. I've been absent a bit, haven't I? You've missed me a bit, haven't you (go on, humour me).

You know what happens when you suddenly get over-loaded with busy (homeschool stuff, outings, meetups, work, work and more work - I'm suddenly drowning in "casual" work!)? This happens:

My dining table is under there somewhere...

Yep. The housework slides when you take your eye off the ball!

On the plus side, some of that mess is the worksheet-y stuff I left the kids to do while I was at work. Anyone know the difference between Action Verb Predicate and Linking Verb Predicate? I don't - so I will have to do some catch up reading. All I know is verbs are "doing words" and that's done me pretty well for 43 years, but you are never too old to learn something new!

OK. It's Saturday morning and I'm off to the library for 5 hours of borrowing and returning and shelving. I am rapidly running out of clean "work clothes" (apparently you can't wear track pants and t-shirts to work). Our fridge is empty. The house is a mess.

It won't be like this for too long (I hope). Whilst the money is nice, the workload is not sustainable! Hopefully I will be able to tell you about some cool stuff the kids did last week really soon. But I'm cutting me and you some slack while I get through one day at a time. That's real.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Random Monday

You want living maths? I'll give you living maths!!! How about the Fibonacci Cabinet?

Whinge time. (do you "whinge" in the U.S.?? It is probably an Aussie/British thing). Anyway, my complaint today is about husbands who hog the remote. It. Drives. Me. Insane. Apparently, there is only one person in the room watching the TV - except he is attempting to watch about 5 channels at once and never watch an advert. I don't think I ever get to watch a show in its entirety when Mr DF is in the living room. Drives. Me. Nuts. It is just uber-selfish! And it's not as if I've sat meekly our entire 17 year marriage and put up with it. I have whinged directly to the source of my frustration, but nada. Nothing. He still does it. Drives. Me. Bonkers. 

I do believe that I'm not alone in my annoyance....

 My daughter wants to go Trick or Treating. I'm not happy about this. It is only in the last couple of years that Halloween has become a big-ish thing in Oz. I personally don't get it - but that may just be my cranky old whinger self coming to the fore. I don't want to bother making a costume (that's why we homeschool, so we don't have to do the dress-up days at school!) and I don't like the idea of her wandering the streets harassing old people for lollies. I could, however, be convinced to make this! I wonder if that would satisfy her Halloween urge?

Ermagud!!! I totally loved Edith Ann (the very clever Lily Tomlin before her Ms Frizzle days)!!!

And so I have to revisit her sandwich making skills:

Happy random Monday! Go visit Deb at Not Inadequate so we can take over the whole internet.

Embroidery Project - Blue Butterfly

I downloaded this pattern as a PDF from Hoop Embroidery Co on Esty as my first attempt at the technique known as "thread painting"...