Sunday, April 24, 2016

Week Ending 24 April 2016

It's the first week of a two week school break here and although homeschoolers don't have to follow the official school year we tend to take our breaks at the same time.

Miss 15 was certainly ready for a break. She spent the first couple of days being delightedly unemployed, then spent a day working full time at a school holiday programme at her gym. We also kept an eager eye on the gymnastics Olympic test event where our country earned a spot  in trampolining at the actual Olympics for the first time ever. Definitely looking forward to watching that in August.

Miss 15 is now away at an ornithology camp for teens, She attended the first ever one last year.  This year's is at a different place - the location of a field camp she attended last year.  I've had a couple of brief texts - enough to know that she's enjoyed mist netting and banding, has learnt a few new things, and has seen two new (to her) bird species. Sadly, her camera appears to have died so I doubt there will be many, if any photos to see on her return.

Miss 15 in the back, scoping for birds at the teen camp. 

The real highlight of the week was attending Miss 21's graduation ceremony. Since Dh was up on stage as part of the official academic party the rest of us were given reserved front-row seats which was a nice bonus. Afterwards we all went  for a celebratory dinner out.  I think the last time we all ate out as a family was when Mr 23 graduated!

Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours. 
So proud of all the hard work Miss 21 put in to achieving her degree and am looking forward to watching as she embarks on her next big adventure - which starts next week!

 Linking up with the Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Week Ending 17 April 2016

This was a much less eventful week than last week, which meant we had much more time to devote to actual homeschooling. In fact we had more time than a normal this week since Miss 15 did not have any university classes ( the university has just started a two week mid-semester break) and no coaching (the current recreation trampoline term has ended) - just training which for Miss 15 is not until the early evening.

So we accomplished all the planned schoolwork  this week. Four maths lessons from Algebra 2 completed  (44 finished for the year so far which means we are 1/3 of the way through the book) plus one chapter in Help for High School for writing. This week involved keenly observing an idea. Miss 15 focused on the recent referendum on whether or not to change our national flag. I liked the way the exercise encouraged students to look at both sides of the issue, to consider it from various angles and in different ways. We had lots of fun with ornithology, completing several lessons from HHMI Biointeractive. We did a lot of statistical analysis including constructing spreadsheets on Excel.

This was all new for us so we took it slowly. To finish up The Beak of the Finch unit we did a fun simulation activity, using different tools to represent different sized beaks and seeing how useful they were with different types of seed.

Simulating a small beaked finch ...and a large beaked finch.

I've seen plenty of variations of this activity. Most are aimed at younger students but the structure of this one plus the follow up analysis meant it was suitable for high school level students. We did have to modify it slightly since it is designed for a larger group of students. But it was still very worthwhile. To finish up the week we completed another HHMI unit - Great Transitions: The Origin of Birds. We enjoyed a short film examining the links between birds and therapod dinosaurs, an interactive activity on comparative anatomy, then another film looking at a biologist's study of how young birds use their developing wings. Really fascinating stuff. These HHMI Biointeractive units have made a great contribution to our ornithology studies.

One advantage to actually staying at home and not having to deal with any unplanned interruptions is that you can get all your schoolwork done in a relaxed fashion and still have plenty of time to do other more fun things. This week Miss 15 took  an hour or two one morning bake a birthday cake (for me) with her older sister.  Another morning was also spent with her big sister on a girly outing to the hairdresser. And Miss 15 and I spent a morning on a birding excursion with our local birding group - fun and it counted as field work for her ornithology course.

Since Mr 18 is on a break from unviersity he decided to put his "professional" skills to work at home and make some French bread from scratch. The recipe recommended periodically spraying the oven with a fine mist of water from a spray bottle. Since we didn't have a spray bottle he compromised - with a water pistol!

The other big news of the week was confirmation of an overseas trip for trampoline training. We've known about the possibility for a while so Miss 15 has been saving hard to fund it. It also given her an opportunity for some real life learning -  applying for a passport!

Linking with Kris's Weekly Wrap-Up.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Brave Blogging: Awesome Adulting

One of the buzz phrases in the Bravescopes community is "awesome adulting" - the idea that we homeschool mums should have a satisfying, nourishing and enriching adult life. After all it is the only one we are getting! And it's not selfish. As Julie says in her Awesome Adulthood scope "One of the best gifts you can give your kids is to lead an awesome adult life so that they will be inspired to want to become awesome adults themselves."

However, sometimes trying to be an awesome adult can feel like too much pressure. If we don't have the time/energy/money to pursue that awesome goal we have are we letting ourselves and our kids down? I don't think so. Hold on to those big dreams  - their time might come! In the meantime all of us can manage to add a little smaller scale awesome adulting into our lives right now.

Intellectual stimulation is important to me and I love to read. Right now reading is central to my awesome adulting. A couple of years ago I signed up to the Classics Club Challenge where I committed to read and then blog about 50 classic works of literature in a five year period. I've enjoyed broadening my reading even if I don't always enjoy writing about what I've read. This year I've taken on a couple of other reading challenges as well  - this one from Popsugar and this one from Modern Mrs Darcy. No blogging required for either thankfully and they are encouraging me to tackle genres I don't normally read as well as giving me some new, quirky ways to pick my next read. I still read plenty of books just for fun too, even if they don't fit any of the categories in my various challenges. Since my kids are all teens and older I have more time for reading than I did when they were younger. Then my awesome adult reading was more limited - a magazine subscription was a valued treat and I'd occasionally tackle a novel - but a light one since my sleep deprived brain wasn't that good at concentrating! But it still counted. My kids could see me taking time to do something that I enjoyed.

For several years I've been interested in the idea of learning yoga. Trying to find the time and money to attend a class has always been a challenge. But this year I took the plunge and started practising at home with the aid of online videos. Thank you Yoga with Adriene! At some stage I might manage to take a class but doing videos at home lets me enjoy perusing this new interest right now, rather than waiting for that magical "one day".

Another thing that is important to me is getting outdoors. My daughter is a keen birder, an interest we share. Whenever we take a birding trip it is awesome adulting for me, homeschooling for her (we'll be putting ornithology on her high school records for this year) and it's positive one-on-one time for both of us. However sometime I'll be keen to go birding and she isn't.  In years gone by I might have just dropped it and waited until she wanted to come as well. Not any more. Now I'll continue alone simply because I'm interested and I know I feel better if I get my quota of outdoor time.

While the identity of homeschooler is always going to be a central part of my adulthood (I've been at it for nearly 20 years already and I've got a few more to go) it is not the only part of my adulthood. Yes, it has required some sacrifices or concessions (much as I would like to go birding in Central ) Park next year the fact that we've been on one income for so many years means that simply cannot happen) along the way.  Homeschooling can be a big part of any awesome adulthood but you can and should have other parts as well. Even if, like mine, they are relatively small.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Fortnight Ending 10 April 2016

Last Week - Just two highlights in a mostly routine, uneventful week. Miss 15 made another good pick for her ornithology course and we started a unit from HHMI Biointeractive on The Origin of Species: The Beak of the Finch. Lots of good quality science and based on actual research. Especially fun was sorting finches based on their song, spectrograms of their song, and then their beak.

The weekend was all about a trampoline competition - her first as a judge. She loved the experience, learnt a lot and is convinced she'll carry on judging even after she retires from competition. I was worried that judging, then having to change and compete before racing off to change and then resume judging might affect her performance but she had a little more downtime than I feared, her routines went smoothly and she won her event. All in all a good weekend.

This Week

Monday - This should have been a really productive day at home since Miss 15 didn't have her usual university class and she didn't have to be at the gym. Instead we opted to exercise our "visitation" rights and borrowed Basil for the day. I'm not sure who was happier - girl or dog! A great day spent loving and playing with the Boxer.

It didn't take him long to get back into all his bad old habits - like sleeping on beds!

Miss 15 also spent time analyzing the trampoline results and seeing whether or not the marks she gave aligned with those given by the more experienced judges. Mostly they were so she felt reasonably happy with her first judging performance. In the evening we attended our monthly birding meeting and enjoyed the presentation by a wildlife photographer.

Tuesday - First up was a drive to the out of town university for Miss 15's Ecology class. A lecture on pest control today. Then home for an early lunch and time to squeeze in a few hours homeschooling before heading to the gym. She is working twice as many hours as normal this week since the head coach and a couple of the senior athletes (one of whom also does a lot of coaching) are at an overseas competition - hence lots of their classes need coach cover. She made good progress on her latest writing assignment. We're just started using Help for High School from Bravewriter.

No complaints from her so far and I've been impressed with what she's produced. I love the focus on developing the writer's voice. For some reason maths just wasn't working today. She eventually did get through most of the lesson but it took a while! And our plans to make a start on a statistics based ornithology lesson were thwarted by an uncooperative printer! The day ended with more than five hours at the gym - coaching and training.

Wednesday - The day started with a delivery of a load of firewood which needed to be moved and stacked.

Then I was felled for several hours by a health issue which has plagued me on and off since last year. That put paid to our plans for ornithology. Miss 15 wasn't in a mood for writing either but did get on a maths roll and completed two and a bit lessons. Then it was another 5 plus hours at the gym.

Thursday - University class took up most of the morning. In the afternoon we finally managed to get to ornithology. It was a lesson involving statistical analysis and graphing based on actual data collected from finches on the Galapagos Islands.

Since Miss 15 was not familiar with standard deviation or Excel spreadsheets this was one lesson I really needed to be involved with. (Confession - I'm not familiar with Excel and my recollection of standard deviation is very rusty. Thankfully Mr 18 is doing a statistics course at university and is very up-to-date. So he taught me and then I taught her.) A great lesson which involved lots of learning for her and introduced her to yet another aspect of her potential career. We also checked out the albatross cam and saw the chick receiving a supplementary feed since it has lost a little weight over the past week. The rangers provide written updates and answer questions. It has been interesting to learn more details of how this species is managed. Miss 15 squeezed in a maths lesson as well before spending the rest of the day coaching and training.

Friday - Today was crazy. I turned my cellphone on about 9:30 and discovered a flurry of texts and missed calls. One of the coaches was out sick and Miss 15 was desperately needed to coach for a couple of hours in the morning A few more messages resulted in her coaching 5.5 hours (normally she does one hour) plus training straight after. Result - the only bookwork that got done today was a little review of her university course material in the morning before I turned on my phone!  Luckily homeschooling is flexible but I'm glad all our days and weeks aren't like this one.

Weekend - An early start on Saturday morning as Miss 15 did yet more relief coaching at the gym. All in all she has done more than four times her usual hours this week. The rest of the weekend has been spent relaxing - reading, and watching her club mates plus other members of the national team compete at an overseas competition - gotta love live streaming. A pair of bronze medals for the team made for satisfying viewing.

Hopefully the restful weekend will contribute to next week being an academically productive one.

Linking up with the Weekly Wrap-Up over at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.