Sunday, December 21, 2014

End of an era...

And here we are. Four years after we started, finishing up homeschooling.

We are ending more with a whimper, than a bang, but that is also one of the reasons we are going to back to school. Yet, there are still signs around the house that we were, at least for a bit, homeschoolers:

[caption id="attachment_2111" align="aligncenter" width="640"]IMG_8039 We did craft once...felties![/caption]

IMG_8038 IMG_8040 IMG_8042 IMG_8043


I feel a little bit sad, because there was so much I wanted to do, but we never quite got there. There are quite a few unfinished and never started projects hanging around the house and ideas hanging around my head.

But you know what? As I said to the kids, I don't regret what we did - not for one second. Look at just some of the lovely memories we have to look back on:



OIMG_2999(1) IMG_2969(1) IMG_2531(1) 6181180_origIMG_6020(1) IMG_6397(1) IMG_6806(1)


Oh, that made me a bit teary, looking back at all the cool things we did, together. TOGETHER! And how much they've grown! They've journeyed from children to young adults. Oh sure, we've had our difficult moments and sure, there aren't as many lovely pics from this year, but I'm so glad we did it.

And you know, I met so many lovely people! In real life and online, through this blog and Facebook and the Home Education Association. A real community! I thank every one of you for the support and tidbits and joy in our journey together.

In a few short weeks, I'll be posting pics of kids starting school in their shiny new uniforms. At one stage, I was very convinced we'd never do that ever again. But never say never. It's just a new phase in our lives, but as I look back on the last four years, I'll always look back with fondbness at our homeschooling era.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Transitioning - homeschool to actual school

Wow. So this is really happening! My homeschooled kids are headed back to bricks and mortar school.

Last week, I sent Video Boy and Wombat Girl back into the "real world" - well, transition days into Year 10 (I think that would be the equivalent of Freshman year in US high schools - someone correct me if I'm wrong?). I had to go to work (a recurring them around here), so Hubby dropped them at the front office. They found the group and went into the gym for the compulsory Catholic school intro and prayer. Wombat Girl wanted to know if she had to learn anything for that, because there hasn't been a lot of prayers in the last four years, but I assured her that she would be fine just listening. In fact, the Principal made a point of saying that all faiths and even(!) atheists were welcome at the school, as long as they were respectful.

And then Wombat Girl got lost. Now, I must preface this paragraph with a reminder of her last transition/orientation day where she found herself separated from her class and, not knowing what to do, took herself off to hide in the toilets. When I went to hand over her bag which she had left with us at recess, her teacher had NO IDEA that she was missing. A frantic search finally found her in the toilets and I'm not ashamed to say I might have shed a tear of relief. Anyhoo, with this emotional baggage in tow, fast forward 5 years and this time she had not been allocated a roll call class, and when she had, a teacher accompanied her (and another non-allocated student) to where her class should have been. And then walked around the school with her until they found where they had moved to. All good. But school bureaucracy....don't get me started!

Practical upshot of the two days? Kids enjoyed themselves (even P.E.), met friends (homeschoolers socialising? Who'da thunk it???) and enjoyed trying out a few Elective subjects.

Warning - proud homeschooling mumma moments!

In Video Boy's maths class, teacher shows pictures of fractals and asks if anyone knows what they are. VB waits a while, noone else answers, so he pipes up "a fractal". Yay for the homeschooler!

In Wombat Girl's class, they were asked if something cost $4 plus half its cost, how much is it? Lots of people yelling out 6, but WG pipes up 8 (which is the right answer). Yay for the homeschooler!

And yay for my clever kids!

And so they decided that they were very happy with the Catholic school option and that going to the other option was only going to confuse the issue. Decision made.

Tonight I have sent off enrollment acceptance forms and elective choices. WHO AM I???

But the kids are excited and happy and that is a good thing. And I will continue to add more good, bad and ugly stories of the transition from homeschooling back to to school - hopefully lots more of the good than anything else! In a perfect world, they will go back and SMASH IT and make lots of friends and wow the teachers who will say "well, who'da thunk homeschoolers could make the transition so well?" But, I'll let you know all the tricky bits too, because this is the real world, after all.

homeschool socialization

I might also post about cruises, my coffee addiction and other random goings on in our lives - that would be OK too, wouldn't it?

Have your kids moved back to school after homeschool?

Did they smash it?

What's your best story of losing a child?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Back to school?

Hi y'all my loyal readers! I do realise I've kind of stopped mid-way into my holiday blogging. I do realise I'm leaving you hanging. I'm so sorry. I will continue the journey...

Life has just got in the way, you know? Like I get up at 7am, am at work by 8:20am, finish anywhere between 5:30pm and 8pm, come home (usually via the grocery store and more often than not via Beer, Wine and Spirits, where if you are friends with me on Facebook, you will have been following the Mrs BWS saga of bad service - I should post those status updates here - apparently they are hilarious), cook dinner, check Facebook (and update on Mrs BWS because there is NOTHING on TV) and am in beddy-byes by 9:30pm, where I toss and turn until about 1am because HORMONES.


So, I rarely have enough "oomph" left in me to sit up and miniaturise photos (which I never had to do on Blogger!) and blog about a long forgotten about holiday. But it's a good memory for me, so I will finish the holiday posts eventually.

And so, here we are. I wanted to touch base with you, because we are in the process of trying to decide which school to send Wombat Girl and Video Boy to next year! Decisions, decisions...

They need something else better than a half-assed attempt at homeschooling from me. I wish financially I could stay and home and do amazing stuff with them and join in all the homeschool groups, but :-( I can't. So I think, on balance, they will be better off at school. We just need to find the right fit.

So we have been to see two schools nearby, had interviews, shown documentation and have been accepted by both schools. One a public senior school (Years 10, 11 and 12) who have a specialist Science/Maths program (which about 10 local kids take up) - the rest of the year is made up of a specialist sports program, which means many big, boofy football types wandering around the corridors. The other is a Catholic school, who have Japanese and a Learning Support teacher who actually does individual learning plans for the kids. Next week, the kids will spend a day in each school on "transition day" and will get to get a feel for each.

But you know what? Sitting in interview rooms, talking to teachers, is DOING MY HEAD IN. I can't get past that overwhelming feeling they don't "get" kids like mine. I have some ish-shues with some of the words that are coming out mouths:

  • a vice-principal confusing ADHD and Aspergers (I mean, really?)

  • a campus head asking Video Boy what he will do if he forgets his Ritalin (well, duh, he will follow procedure - he doesn't have to make the procedure up, dickhead)

  • a Learning Support teacher who states that the research shows that acceleration of gifted kids leads to poor outcomes (what, like Miraca Gross' longitudinal study showing that for exceptionally and profoundly gifted kids NOT accelerating actually harms the kids socially and emotionally?)

  • to the Head Teacher who wants to stretch them "sideways" because it's important they are well-rounded. (why is this? Show me the research!)

I dunno. Just a few alarm bells ringing.


But we also KNOW it's an imperfect system. We know there are opportunities (an actual real science lab, chess tournaments, actual read other children) which we aren't accessing through homeschooling currently. There are pros and there are cons. I'm just hoping that the cons don't away the pros...

I'll try to be back next week to let you know how the kids got on and if we are any closer to making a decision!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

7 Revealing Facts About Myself!

I'm always chuffed when people take the time to leave comments on my posts. I know there are lots of you out there reading my drivel, but it's lovely when you respond. Most bloggers feel the same - although I am a bit slack these days in reciprocating unless you are on FB which I check on my phone.

So I was really chuffed to read Alyson from World Family Travel comment that she actually reads my blog and doesn't just comment for the reciprocal rights! Very cool.

And I was REALLY chuffed to read that Lucinda from Navigating By Joy loves reading my blog, doesn't want me to stop blogging, even if we stop homeschooling. As if! Although just quietly, I'm glad I don't have the word homeschooling in my blog title - it's nice and vague! Just like me...

But Lucinda also nominated me for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

Someone thinks I'm inspiring! You like me, you really like me!!

Thank you Lucinda! I find her very inspiring - especially her maths and science activities - she inspired me to be a better homeschool mum from the other side of the globe (how cool is the internet, huh?).

As part of this award though, we have to reveal seven facts about ourselves. Now I've revealed almost everything about myself on this blog - you don't miss out on much - so if you go "meh, I already knew that" I will understand ;-)

1. I'm not a morning person! I take a while to warm up and my preferred waking hours are in the evening. But I (sometimes) force myself to get up early to exercise before work. But I warn you - don't try to talk to me and sometimes it's a bit scary:
  1. Extra large for your viewing pleasure
2. I have another blog - I originally shared the above picture. It's about my weight loss (or much of the time, weight gain) journey. I'm considering merging the two to give me more blog fodder and to over share more of me. Go check it out at: It'll make you feel better about yourself! And let me know if you think I should merge or keep separate.

3. I have a potty mouth - sad but true. The f-bomb frequently gets dropped around here, much to my husband and children's dismay. We even joked last night that I have tourettes. I try to refrain a bit here (family-friendly and all that), but on my personal FB page a bit more of the "real" escapes.

4. Despite my oversharing here I am, in fact, an introvert - you kind of have to drag me, kicking and screaming to social events. I am very happy at home, blogging, social media-ing, playing games with my kids and drinking wine and talking shit with my husband. How ironic that my day job involves being "up" and talking and connecting with people so they book their holiday with me. And I'm good at it! But it exhausts me.

5. Under this exterior hides a ballet dancer - once a dancer, always a dancer.

6. Before I was a travel consultant, ranger, library/visitor centre assistant, homeschool mum, high school teacher, swimming instructor, retail business owner and resort manager, I was a fluvial geomorphologist! Yes I was! I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Physical Geography and I used to traipse around rivers all over NSW and WA giving geomorphic advice.

7. I don't believe in (any) God(s) - I was raised a Catholic and grew up believing in God. I questioned some of the teachings in my teenage years attending Catholic school, but it wasn't really up until the last couple of years that I have really questioned a spiritual being and after a lot of reading and thinking have concluded I don't believe. It's been really freeing. But I'm still a good person (except maybe for the potty mouth) and I don't make a big deal about it and I certainly don't judge those that do believe.

Is that me in a nutshell? Who knows, but it's bits of me you may not have known.

Now I have to share the "rules" and nominate other bloggers:

  • Thank and link to the amazing person who nominated you.
  • List the rules and display the award.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
  • Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.
All done, except the 15 other amazing blogs. Look at the sidebar for who inspires me - the ones I love the best are there. Plus, I need to go cook breakfast.

8. I also like to break rules.

Surprised at any of that?
What blogs inspire you (share the love)?
Should I merge my blogs?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dinner time discussion

This working full time is pretty full-on. I mean even when I was teaching a couple of years back, I generally got to school at 8:30am and left by about 4:30pm (unless it was report writing time). And don't mention the holidays.
Granted, I was wishing away my life, hanging out desperately for the next holidays. And I may have been slightly unhinged from trying to look after huge groups of teenagers every day.

But this new job I have as a travel agent has pushed back my leisure hours. Oh, and the hours I used to devote to domestic duties. I'm away from the house at least 8am to 6pm, and probably at least twice a week work hours later than that if it's been a busy day.

So, the family have had to step up to ensure a more equitable division of the domestic labour.

Most of this involves getting the kids to cook something for dinner at least once a week each. In reality, it's more like once a fortnight, but I have grand plans of a roster to make it easy for everyone (hubby, that includes you too!).

And they've been great! Meals have included spaghetti and meatballs, chicken and mustard filo parcels, homemade pizza and burritos.

OK, most times the thought crosses my mind that it would be easier and certainly quicker to do it myself! But think of the skills they are developing. And the self confidence. And the meals that I didn't have to prepare after a long day at work!
And because we are all about equal opportunity here, rest assured Video Boy has spent equal amounts of time in the kitchen as his sister, but because I am a slacker mum who was drinking wine in the lounge room, I neglected to take his photo. But you get the idea! 

Monday, August 11, 2014

First steps...

This afternoon we went back to school!

Well, we had an interview with a contender for school next year for Video Boy and Wombat Girl. The school we are looking at is a senior "college" here in the ACT - which is generally Yr 11 and 12. But a couple have a Yr 10 in College program. This college has a talented sports stream (uh no) and a talented maths and science stream, which is the one we are interested in. Apparently, the majority of the kids in Yr 10 (about 2/3) do the sports bit, and around 8-10 do the maths/science bit. Maybe my two too!

We spent the morning filling in application forms - I will admit it was not without tears from a certain someone who struggled to come up with ideas about what she was good at and why they should accept her. After quite a bit of brainstorming, we converted those dot points into sentences. I was pretty proud of Video Boy's application to this task and he continues to impress me with his sense of humour and amazing vocabulary. I photocopied certificates from the various external exams and competitions the kids have done.

Then we drove to the school. I am (was) a high school teacher. I know what big schools are like and what the kids are like. But I have to say, as we walked up to the entrance of the building, with 18-year-olds hanging around their (souped-up) cars, smoking (!) and swearing, I was ready to turn right around and head back to the shelter of home! Huge hulking, boys lurked in corridors and they are SO LOUD. Bloody teenagers.

If only...

This auspicious beginning was not further enhanced by the response that the teacher we had made an appointment to meet was not at school, having had some kind of family emergency. Needless to say, we had not been contacted about this.

They got in touch with the Deputy Principal, who took us to his office. He didn't know much about the program, he told us, but he is a maths teacher and was interested in both the kids. The Principal joined us a short time later. Apparently, quite a lot of staff are off sick with the flu, hence the hangers-around.

We chatted about the program. He asked about the kids' strengths and weaknesses. He asked about their fears and goals. He was a really positive man. Despite my reservations about all things school-like and that school, in particular, I found myself warming to him.

Things in this school's favour:

  • they have a specialised maths/science program, small as it is
  • they are trying (as much as you can in a school) to focus on kids' strengths and passions and work around the other bits
  • they have flexible options for getting through Yr's 10, 11 and 12 - not necessarily involving exams at the end
  • they are looking at the Cambridge Programme for next year, which may work
  • they have lots of good elective options to choose from.
The kids are amazingly positive. Video Boy is so mature about the whole thing and was able to express himself really well. Wombat Girl was her usual quiet self, and she is aware her confidence may be an issue in the rough and tumble of school. But she is still keen. 

So. Wow. 

We will check out other options to be sure, to be sure. But it looks like the kids may give school a try next year!

Friday, August 01, 2014

Homeschool and real-school update

Kids have busy. As usual. I take that as a sign they are becoming "independent learners" and "self-directed" and all those good educational phrases.

In maths, they have been tackling solving quadratic equations by factorisation and have now been exposed to the wonders of the Quadratic Formula. Can any of you recite it by heart (even if you no longer can remember what it's for)?? Bonus homeschool points for you if you can!

Usagi watches on...

I have no idea why they are doing their working out on serviettes.
We do have paper at home.

We are doing chemistry in science. Looking at the periodic table, learning about elements and ions (more bonus homeschool points if you know the difference) and ionic compounds. I do have worksheets which show how the different valencies combine together in compounds.

But the kids didn't have that, because I was at work. So Wombat Girl made her own. I'm am busting with pride at the self-directed, student-centred, independence of this girl!

Usagi (Japanese for rabbit) was the time-keeper for the ICAS exam in English this week. We got our results back for Computer Skills - Wombat Girl got a credit, and Video Boy got a Distinction!!! So proud!

Lots of Japanese too (written and verbal). I need to order the next workbook!

They've also been busy with English (Journeys in Time and Dear Diary), Geography (investigating the place geography of Australia's neighbours) and History (all the -ims - capitalism, socialism, egalitarianism, nationism, imperialism, Darwinism and chartism).

And, because you wouldn't want to be bored, word puzzles on the phone and mazes.

Which brings us to the big discussion topic. School. Actual bricks and mortar real school.

Video Boy bravely told me (because he was a bit worried I might not be receptive) that he would like to give school a try. He wants to be ready for university. He wants to talk to someone else apart from Wombat Girl. He wants to do practical activities in an actual science lab. He wants the opportunity to do things they get to do in school (robotics, chess competitions, careers days etc).

I totally get where he is coming from, both from a social and academic sense. Our "homeschool" may be ticking boxes, but it is definitely not quite the way it was a couple of years ago. Despite my best efforts, I agree that they may be missing out. I want them to be ready for uni too.

I'm a bit excited that a lot of pressure may be lifted from my shoulders and I can just send them off every day for someone else to look after the schoolwork side of things. I'm not looking forward to early mornings and homework, school lunches, assemblies and freaking permission notes.

On the plus side, the senior college system in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is one of the reasons we moved here. I'm hopeful it will provide what the kids need.

Wombat Girl is a little more anxious at the prospect, but I think (just between you and me), she really needs more socially and cognitively than she is getting at the moment.

And so, I am researching real-school options. I have high standards and I don't want to just chuck 'em in anywhere. I am hopeful we may have found a good solution - I will let you know in due course.

So it seems we may Defy Gravity in new and exciting ways. I'm still anxious about it all - I probably always will be. I do know that we have other options if the school thing doesn't live up to expectations. That makes me feel better. Usagi will have to stay at home though...

Quick - recite the quadratic formula!
What is the different between an atom and an ion?
What's your favourite "ism"?
Even gone from homeschooling back to the school system? Tell me good things!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Something to look forward to...

How goes it?

Life here goes on.

One last trip back to the house on the coast to pick up MORE stuff (it's finally empty. Finally). Even the pot plants are now in Canberra. A little worse for wear after their trip up the mountain, but here.

I could not believe my little yellow cichlid was still alive down there! He was in a tiny tank, completely putrid, unfed for weeks, but there he (she? who can tell?) was, peeking out from amongst the muck. I couldn't leave him there, so I popped in a Tupperware container (except cheap and nasty), sat him on my lap and brought him to Canberra too. We even named him Harry - the fish who lived.

Except, he didn't. After surviving all that, he is now in the big fish bowl in sky. I'm unreasonably upset about his death, given I was willing him to die so I didn't have to frig around moving fish tanks. Bloody fish. Rest in peace, Harry.

Apart from that, I believe I have finally unpacked the last box this weekend. And put things in their "proper" place. I can't tell you how much better that makes me feel.

Now things are settling into a routine. Get up, organise some work for the kids, go to work. Come home. So it's time (so the scales say) to include some exercise and healthy food in that pattern. It's time.

I sell travel for a living now. And one of my "selling" lines is to convince people that they should treat themselves to that break, and have something to look forward to because we work hard and life can be a hard slog and part of going on holiday is the antici......pation.

And so, after some conjoling of the other half, we are anticipating our next holiday! My boss found a FANTASTIC deal on Princess Cruises! A balcony stateroom for sub-$100 a day you say??? Well, don't mind if I do!

We fly to Hong Kong, spend a couple of days there (losing my Disney virginity), then board the lovely Sapphire Princess for 9 nights to Da Nang or Hue and then Ho Chi Minh City in Vietname, Bangkok in Thailand, finishing up in Singapore and flying home. Seriously good deal!

Our cabins are located just inside near that round pool!

I'm so excited! Only 6 weeks to count down! I can't wait to share our new adventure with you :-)

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Have a great day!!!

Before I start, um, I have to own up to my mistakes - Video Boy is NOT five half decades old. Because that would make him 25. Things to take away from this:

  • I can't count or
  • Don't drink and blog


Yesterday was my birthday. I turned nine half decades old. 45. If you missed my life story, here it is. And the last two years are on the blog!

Birthdays are funny things though. So many messages on Facebook wishing me a "great day"!

Bah freaking humbug!

Birthdays are overrated! Just because it's been another year around the sun does not make that day great. Well, not in my experience, anyway. I don't really get spoiled. I had to work. And I'm another year older and fatter. Meh.

And it would be soooo easy to wallow in that. Let it wash over me, envelope me. Drag me under.

But. I'm happy to be here. Happy to be getting older because the alternative is that I am missing out. Missing out on my kids growing up. Missing out on amazing experiences. Missing out on family and friends. Missing out on seeing the world.

And so I will take that birthday. It may not be a great day (the 'days' hardly ever are). But I'm determined to make it a great life :-)

And panda onesies make everything seem better.
Or at least warmer.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Five half decades later...

Yesterday was my son's birthday. Video Boy is fifteen (15) years old! FIFTEEN YEARS! How can I be the mother of a fifteen year old?

Is this fifteen years ago?

How did we celebrate this momentous occasion?

With New York style pizza in the centre of Canberra:

We decided if it was too cold to watch ice-skating, it was too cold to Segway, so we went to JB Hifi and bought Mario Kart 8 as a birthday present and retreated home and raced each other. I generally came last, except for one memorable race where I swear the Wii U felt sorry for me and I came first!!!

I think I will win the Mother of the Year award, because I gave my son tomato sauce and deodorant for his birthday (a bit of an in joke). Doesn't he look impressed?

I also made nachos and he did get other presents! And he has relative presents on the way too.

His friends from the south coast are staying with us for a few days and over-dosing on computer games, video games, board games and a trip to the movies, which is nice for them.

As I stood in the queue at the movies today, I noticed he was nearly as tall as this giant of a man also in queue. My baby is growing up and as the dude from EB Games reminded me, he can start to learn to drive next year (lalalalalalala).

Happy birthday Video Boy!

Are you the mother of a teenager?
Noticing any upward trajectory?
Can you even remember the baby years?

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"...