Saturday, December 31, 2016

Back to the Classics Challenge 2017

I've decided once again to participate in the Back to the Classics Challenge hosted by Karen, over at Books and Chocolate. Basically the goal is to read between 6 and 12 classic books in 2017 according to the categories given and then to blog about each one. There's even a prize up for grabs! For the interested, here are the categories and my tentative selections.

1.  A 19th Century Classic -I've still got Heart of Darkness and Ivanhoe left on my 50 book Classics Club Challenge.   So it will be one of them. ETA I went with Heart of Darkness.

2.A 2oth Century Classic - I enjoyed My Antonia so I'm looking forward to Willa Cather's O Pioneers!

3.  A classic by a woman author -  I came across The Dollmaker by Hariette Simpson Arnow in a list of classics. I'd never heard of it before but the description leads me to believe it's my sort of read.

4.  A classic in translation. -  I'm going with Tolstoy's novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich

5.  A classic published before 1800 - I should pick Dante's The Inferno since it's on my 50 classics list. But I'm feeling a calling to read The Odyssey. And Miss 16 may be tackling it this year. So either of these two. I could always read both!

An romance classic - I've already read many of the top classics in this category but have yet to read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. So that'll be my choice here.

7.  A Gothic or horror classic   - Not my favourite genre. I'm still deciding between Dracula and Frankenstein.

8.  A classic with a number in the title - Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona is being performed locally in February so that's an easy choice since we prefer to read the Bard's work  before seeing it performed.

9.  A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title -  I'm not certain about this category but am leaning towards White Fang since I read The Call of the Wild with the kids when they were younger and enjoyed it. Or possibly The Metamorphosis.

10. A classic set in a place you'd like to visit - This is another category I'm not sure about. But I'll probably go for something by Dickens since I'd love to visit England (especially London). Perhaps Nicholas Nickleby. I'm doing another reading challenge (Popsugar's) which requires a book with a title that's a character's name so I could get two for the price of one!

11. An award-winning classic  - I'm leaning towards Pearl Buck's The Good Earth which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932.

12. A Russian Classic - I'll tackle Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment.

ETA Clicking on the category link will take you to my review for each one.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Our Year in Review

The end of 2016 has prompted me to take a look back at the year that was. In many ways it was a frustrating year for me as I was plagued by a variety of vestibular symptoms that at times severely limited what I could do. However, there were lots of achievements and other positives as well and sometimes it is good to remind myself of them.

Homeschooling ran smoothly and easily this year - mostly hits but a few misses along the way. By far the most popular of Miss 16's classes was ornithology. The subject matter meant it was always going to be a favourite but I think the structure really helped. I had gathered together a whole heap of resources and ideas and effectively presented it to Miss 16 as a buffet. She could pick what she wanted from what was on offer and I had no preconceived ideas as to what or how much she would do. Some of the highlights were the many lessons we used from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Birds without Borders, some lessons from HHMI BioInteractive, a MOOC on animal behaviour, citizen science bill marking, plenty of field work and observations- including the albatross cam. We utilized textbooks, living books, DVDs, live speakers and lesson plans from middle school to college level. We even attended a one day conference on braided rivers  which had a big bird focus. The other most popular course was Applied Ecology and Conservation, where she attended lectures at a local university. My fears that it would be too much were thankfully unfounded and it only cemented her interest in this area. Algebra 2 was solid but uninspiring. It was never going to be loved and while it wasn't hated I know Miss 16 was delighted to finish the final level of maths we require. I had high hopes for her composition course but the first online class she took via Fortuigence focused more on process and technical competence when I was wanting her style and voice developed more. The course was fine, just not what we needed. The second one proved to be too costly. Instead she worked through Brave Writer's Help for High School and ended up taking from it what she wanted when she wanted. She claims she can't write someone else's way - a point I think I instinctively know. It's probably why we've used a variety of different writing programmes over the years - in the hope that all my kids would be exposed to a variety of ideas and be enabled to take what worked for them. In addition to this specific writing instruction Miss 16 wrote a variety of papers for "school" plus several short articles for real-world publications. I think my expectations and standards may be too high when it comes to writing - Mr 19 earned A+s on his university essays when I would not have graded them that highly. While Miss 16's writing is always competent the stand-out stuff only happens some of the time - when inspiration strikes. While I'd love exceptional all the time I need to remember that's not really realistic. Miss 16's final course - Child Labour - was initially a bit unfocused and we had a hard time finding the type of resource we wanted for Victorian Britain. However, we salvaged it by adding a comparative element looking a child labour issues in Progressive era America and in third world countries today.

Birding is a big part of Miss 16's life outside of an official ornithology class. She continued to edit the local newsletter, wrote a regular column for the national birding magazine, and contributed articles to a magazine for children, published by a Young Birders Network that she is involved with. She attended most of our group's field trips, assisted on several organized bird counts and otherwise got into the field as often as she could. A highlight was attending a camp for teen birders. Overall she saw  more than 120 different bird species this year, including some Australian ones. Her favourite was the Black-tailed godwit, spotted at the teen camp.

The other key thing in Miss 16's life is trampolining. 2016 was probably her best ever year. At the start of the year she attended an introductory level judge's course and has been working on completing the required number of hours before taking the next course. She really enjoys judging and can see herself continuing even after she retires from competition. Her club held a training camp in Australia (which she was able to fund herself as a result of her part-time job as a trampoline coach) and the facilities and different coaching input really helped her master a new skill that she'd been struggling with. Since then she's progressed in leaps and bounds, adding several other new skills to her repertoire. Competition wise she's had a great year going undefeated in individual trampoline and winning two national titles - one in individual and one in synchronized - her first ever national titles.

Passing the first stage of her drivers licence was another high point for Miss 16. She's getting behind the wheel every chance she gets and is looking forward to passing the second stage in six months time, which will allow her to drive without supervision.

Despite my limitations,which I've chafed against some times, 2016 has not been all bad for me. I knew this was not the year for big plans but I was still determined to do some awesome adulting by carving out time to do some things I enjoy. I enjoy birding as much as Miss 16 and despite not getting out as often as her, still managed to see 95 different species this year (respectable by New Zealand standards), including my first ever Pacific golden plover which I have unsuccessfully sought for the past three years. I love to read and luckily have been able to continue with this, on all except a handful of days. All told I read 152 books. I also met my self-imposed challenge of trying at least 50 new recipes, thus justifying somewhat my slight addiction to recipe books. I took up yoga and despite a few illness imposed breaks along the way, feel like it's a practise I'll stick with. I toyed a couple of times with becoming a more serious blogger, but in the end decided it wasn't for me. I'm glad I didn't pursue my  plan of writing reviews. I originally started this blog to document and share our experiences of homeschooling teens since several groups I was involved with were bemoaning the lack of such blogs. I feel most comfortable doing that in a weekly "this is what we did and used" format. I don't wish to encourage anyone to homeschool our way or hold our approach up as an ideal, especially since our way keeps evolving and has looked very different for each of our four kids! Rather I'd just like to be one of many different examples of what homeschooling can look like in the high school years. And since that's what I feel most comfortable with that is what I'll continue to do. It makes a good record to look back on if nothing else!

For all my homeschool graduates 2016 has been a significant year. Mr 24 finally completed his PhD and is now busily searching for a job in his chosen field, while continuing to develop his programming skills which he taught himself during his thesis work. Miss 22 officially graduated with her degree in psychology, and then departed for a working holiday in Europe. She was meant to be away for six months, but  had such a good time that she extended her trip. Mr 19 successfully completed his first year of university and was officially presented with the highest award in Scouting by the Governor-General.

I hope 2016 was a good year for all of you and your families. Wishing you all the very  best for 2017.

Classics Club 40:Three Sisters

My overall impresssion of Chekhov's Three Sisters is one of unhappiness and depression. Admittedly the fact that I listened to most of this (via Librivox I think) would have contibuted to this impression. The voices of many of the actors  struck me as whiny - it certainly didn't endear them to me.

The three well-educated sisters and their brother are living in the country (which they clearly consider to be beneath them intellectually and culturally) but dreaming of returning to Moscow, where they are sure their lives will automatically be better. As the play progresses it becomes clear the return to Moscow will never eventuate and the sisters fortunes are declining in the interim. Motherly, oldest sister Olga ends up taking on a principal's role at the school where she teaches, even though she doesn't want the job, not least because of the workload it involves. Masha, the middle sister, is in an unhappy marriage and falls in love with Veshinin, a soldier, but he is transferred away. The youngest, Irina, is convinced she will only find true love in Moscow but ends up marrying Tuzenbach, whom she respects but does not love. He is killed in a duel, leaving her to devote her life to the service of others. Brother Andrei seems destined for a promising career but ends up marrying and becoming a shadow of his former self. While the Prozorov family is declining, Natasha (Andrei's wife) is the one character whose fortunes seem to be rising, in terms of power if not happiness. In the beginning she is mocked by the educated sisters for her poor choice of clothing. By the end she has taken control of the family home, telling Andrei exactly what to do and forcing the sisters to give up their rooms for her children. The parallels with changes in Russian society - the rise of the bourgeois and the decline of the educated, upper class - is unmistakeable.

There is definitely a lesson for the reader in all the depression. As Veshinin said "We're never happy. We can never be happy. We only want to be happy." The sisters were so busy pining for the Moscow of their past and dreaming about the Moscow of their future, that they didn't seem to have any interest in becoming happy in their provincial now. Interstingly they didn't seem to make any real attempts to actually move to Moscow either. How much happier would many of us, the readers, be, if we put our efforts into enjoying the life we had now and/or actively working towards the future we wanted, instead of simply complaining and wishing?

A key feature of the play is the lack of action. While much exciting action - affairs, fires, duels - is referred to in the play, all the action happens offstage. Onstage there is a lot of sitting around alternately complaining and wishing, or musing on the philosophy of life. Masha herself remarks that "You've got to know what you're living for or else it's all nonsense and waste." I was left with the impression that it was the inability to know what they were living for, rather than their inability to return to Moscow that was the root cause of the sisters' unhappiness.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Classics Club 39: The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea tells the story of Santiago (the old man), a poor, down-on-his-luck, Cuban fisherman. This short novel takes place mostly at sea as he attempts to first find, then reel in, and finally return safely to port with, a large fish.  The classic man against nature (and also man against self) conflict is relayed to the reader primarily via the old man talking and thinking to himself.

The text is very sparse, and this sparseness mirrors the sparseness of Santiago's life. The sparseness, shortness and seeming simplicity of the novel make it a quick and easy read. Yet the simplicity is deceptive and there is much more to the story than an old man trying to catch a fish. The reader can ponder the process of aging, consider the extent to which they could emulate the  Old Man's admirable qualities, (he never complains, remains mostly optimistic and upbeat despite adversity, seems grateful for everything he has - even when he has nothing) and think about the way they could reach out to the marginalised in their community (the way the boy did to Santiago). The Old Man has a great respect for nature, and even though he makes his living from killing he does not do so in an indiscriminate manner. I couldn't help thinking the world would be healthier place if more people had a similar respect for nature today. I was also left pondering the extent to which the Old Man (and by extension the reader, whoever he or she may be) was the author of his own misfortune. Was he honourably persevering through difficulties bought on by bad luck or was he too stubborn and proud to change his ways/accept the help and advice offered?

The ending was depressing  - Santiago did not successfully return to port with his big catch, despite his Herculean physical and mental efforts. However, I was left in no doubt he will try again, as should we whenever, life gets the better of us.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Week Ending 25 December 2016

Christmas Eve already. How can that be? I don't feel in the least bit ready but Miss 16 and I have been busy in the kitchen all morning and we've made a raspberry cheesecake, pavlova, mint truffles plus prepared the stuffing for the turkey. The rest of the food has been bought, all ready to be cooked tomorrow. Presents (hopefully all of them) have been bought but not yet wrapped. We'll get to that this evening after the traditional viewing of Miracle on 34th Street.

Apart from Christmas preparation we've only done a few other things of note.

* Yoga. Since the worst of my vestibular symptoms are currently under control I've been managing this every day which feels like a major achievement! Miss 16 has been joining me to try and maintain some of her fitness during the break from trampoline training.

* Celebrated the travelling daughter's birthday in her absence. Miss 16 made a cake and Snap chatted a picture of it to her beloved big sister, followed by another picture of her eating it! The birthday girl wasn't perturbed since she had bought herself a cake to enjoy on her train trip from Edinburgh to Liverpool.

* Rewatched A Man for All Seasons and answered questions about it. This means we've finished 5 of the 17 movies covered by the curriculum. Since we can't locate one of them locally (and I'm not sure it's worth the cost of postage to risk buying a second-hand copy via Amazon), we're practically a third of the way through. I originally thoughts we'd get halfway through during summer break. Not sure we'll make it with Miss 16 away for one week in January and very busy for another. Not that it matters, since it won't be a hardship to add movie watching to our normal schedule once it resumes.

* Virtually explored other parts of Europe courtesy of Miss 22.


The Scottish Highlands

Barcelona - Miss 22's favourite place so far

* Driving Practise. Miss 16 continues to get behind the wheel virtually everyday. She had a lesson with a professional instructor this week. I'm a member of the Automobile Association and they offer three free lessons to members or their children. She found it took a bit of adjustment getting used to his car instead of ours. He certainly took her places that I wouldn't yet and threw a  lot at her in one lesson, whereas I'm cautious and methodical and prefer to introduce just one new thing at a time i.e. we might go out in the rain for the first time, or take our first trip around a double lane roundabout, or work on lane changes but I wouldn't do it all in one lesson. But she survived and sees him again in early February. In the meantime he gave her some things to work on with me.

* Played plenty of games. Ticket to Ride is the current favourite.

* Mr 19 has had a busy week. He's taking one class at university during the summer school period. That finished for the Christmas break on Monday. Since then he's been working (he has a part-time job in a supermarket bakery) every day including several 4 a.m. starts. He's definitely looking forward to his day off on Christmas.

Finally, I just want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Classics Club 38: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the first volume of Maya Angelou's autobiography. It covers her life from age 3 to 17. During this time her life circumstances were less than ideal. Her parent's marriage breaks up and Marguerite (as she was known then) and her brother are sent to live with their grandmother (Momma), a move which leaves them feeling abandoned. After a few years their father returns and takes the children to live their mother, whose family has links to the underworld. At aged 8, Maya is raped by her mother's boyfriend. Soon after both children are returned to their grandmother, in a bid to aid Maya's recovery. However, Momma lives in Arkansas so racial discrimination and prejudice is an unavoidable reality. When racial hostilities reach dangerous levels Momma returns the children to their mother in order to keep them safe. During this time Maya takes a lengthy visit to her father, falls out with his girlfriend and is homeless for a period before returning to her mother. Through her own persistence she overcomes discrimination becoming the first black woman street car conductor. Confused about her own sexuality Maya propositions a boy, resulting in her becoming pregnant. This volume ends with 17 year old Maya adjusting to her new role as a mother.

So much of this early background screams disadvantage and could well have seen many a person trapped in an existence of disadvantage and abuse. Maya Angelou overcame though, and in this background of her autobiography we can see some of the reasons why. She was fortunate to have a largely strong and supportive family. Momma was neither warm nor cuddly but she provided love and stability when the children needed it. She also sets a positive example in terms of hard work, treating people well and rising above discrimination. At two crucial moments Maya's mother stood by her, first by not doubting her over the rape and not sticking with her then boyfriend, and second by supporting her once she discovered Maya was pregnant. The close-knit black community in Stamps, the family's faith, and the value Maya found in education also contributed to her inner fortitude.

The other factor that really stood out to me was the importance of having other people believe in her at key junctures in Maya's life. I'm thinking here especially of Mrs Flowers as well as Miss Kirwin. Even if we don't have children of own, we should not underestimate the positive impact we can have on a child's life - a gift, a smile, a positive word of encouragement, time. Any one of these can stick with a child, potentially sustaining them and spurring them in a positive direction.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings could well have been a depressing read. But it wasn't. Even though it ends with Maya as a young unmarried mother, the reader is left with the sense that she will overcome whatever obstacles life throws at her in the future.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Week Ending 18 December 2016

Just one week until Christmas and I think presents and other organizational matters are finally beginning to fall into place. For which I'm  grateful - I hate the feeling of being disorganized and having lots of loose ends. Apart from seasonal preparations there have been a few other things of note.

* Not one but two birding trips this week. First up Miss 16 and I travelled north to an estuary, one of my favourite birding spots since there is a wide variety of bird life in a relatively compact area. On this trip we waited until the tide was lower, before walking through sticky, goopy mud to the far end, which is a favourite hangout of two fairly rare but regular migrant waders. On this trip we couldn't make it all the way down since one of the creeks was too high for us to safely cross. We still managed to spot one of the species we were after - a Far Eastern Curlew, which we admire for it's impossibly long curved bill. Later in the week we went out with a friend for a full day's birding. A national twitchathon was happening - basically a competition to see who could spot the most species in 24 hours. We weren't competing - Miss 16 doesn't enjoy birding as an extreme or competitive pursuit. But it was a great excuse to go out anyway. We visited six sites in eight hours. The birds weren't cooperating - several species  weren't to be found in locations where they normally are. But we had a great day regardless. Miss 16 managed to find (and point out to me since she's nice like that) a species I hadn't yet seen this year and we all got good views of the incredibly rare Cox's Sandpiper.

* Since she can never have too much bird-related we were pleased to discover a new David Attenborough bird documentary was being aired on tv this week. I don't think we've ever been disappointed with anything he's involved with.

* We took a trip into the centre of town to search for some new Christmas decorations. It's very disorientating since so many buildings have been demolished post earthquakes, a few new ones have been completed, and there have been several major changes to street layouts as well. Not to mention the ever present road closures and diversions to allow for infrastructure repair. I barely found my way around! Once I managed to get us to where we were going  Miss 16 quickly settled on an owl . Like I said she can never have too much of anything bird related. Besides nothing says summer Christmas like a snowy owl!

* We started another movie for Miss 16's Movies as Literature course. This time it was A Man For All Seasons. I can remember reading the play and then seeing it performed many years ago as part of a high school English class. We'll try to watch it again and give Miss 16 a chance to tackle the questions in the coming week. I think she could answer the questions on the first viewing, but she prefers to watch once just for enjoyment. And the curriculum does recommend at least two viewings.

* I began work planning Miss 16's  Animal Behaviour class. After some research I narrowed it down to a choice of two textbooks which I've borrowed from the library. Now she gets to decide which one she prefers and then she'll simply work through it over the course of the year. If there are major differences between the books in terms of content we'll use independent research to tackle the topics not covered in our book - time permitting of course.

* I stumbled across a site on how to tackle the Harvard Classics in just 15 minutes a day over a year. Spoiler - you read key extracts rather than everything in it's entirety! I'm toying with the idea of doing this with Miss 16 but still thinking about logistics especially when she is away from home. Would it be better to have her and I read separately (there is a Kindle book which would make this easier), wait until she returns and then read double until we are caught up, or just read when we are together and if it take more than a year then it takes more than a year? I guess I don't have to decide that right now.

* Miss 21 treated us to virtual field trips to Athens and to Canterbury, including the cathedral.

* Trampoline  finally finished for the year. Miss 16 is already missing it and planning ways to do some strength and conditioning work so she doesn't loose her fitness. She's even considering running - and she hates running! The three week break is too long as far as she is concerned.

Linking to the Weekly Wrap-Up and Homeschool Highlights

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Classics Club 37: Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice is definitely a light and entertaining read. It is not the meatiest, most worthy or life-changing classic that I've read. Personally I don't subscribe to the view that "proper classics" have to be deep and difficult to read. Further, I'd argue that the light exterior does not mean a lack of worthy content. In fact, Austen makes several pertinent points within this novel.

There are two key reasons why I found Pride and Prejudice such an enjoyable read. The first is the witty dialogue. I loved the pointed, biting comments made under the veneer of polite civility. I just wish I could come up with such retorts when the situation demanded, even if I'm too polite to utter them! The humour when Mr Bennet remarks that his wife's nerves are his old friends, so often has he heard them mentioned or when Mr Bennet counsels Lizzy on the marriage proposal from Mr Collins, not to mention the spirited discussions between Lizzy and Lady Catherine over Darcy's proposal are just a few examples where the dialogue zings and the pages seem to fly by.

The second is the memorable characters. From self-centred , flighty and immature Lydia to slimy,  odious, pompous Mr Collins virtually all the characters remain with the reader after the final page has been turned. Witty but negligent Mr Bennet and his meddling, foolish but well-meaning wife; proud, haughty and loyal Mr Darcy; rude and over-bearing Lady Catherine; the eminently realistic, practical Charlotte Lucas; the almost-too-good-to-be true Jane; and of course the spunky, intelligent, thoughtful Lizzy, who has flaws many readers can relate to, are characters that won't soon be forgotten.

At first sight the plot seems a mere frippery. A family with five daughters trying to marry them off to rich husbands. Mrs Bennet's obsession seems a little ridiculous. Yet, in the context of the time it was not. Mr Bennet's property was, not through his own choice, entailed to a male relative. The Bennets have no sons, so the only way to ensure a secure future for their daughters, one free of severe financial hardship and all it would entail, is to arrange suitable marriages for them. And here lies one of the novel's important messages - the dangers and difficulties caused when women are denied equal rights to education and property. One other serious message is alluded to in the title. Lizzy, Darcy and some other characters cause unnecessary problems for themselves and others when they allow their own pride and tendency to pre-judge others to guide their actions.The novel can be read as a lesson to the reader not to to do the same in his or her own life.

I love Pride and Prejudice. Since it is light and entertaining it would make a great introduction to the classics, especially for readers not ready for a deep and difficult tome.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Week Ending 11 December 2016

* We went birding again this week. No new birds unfortunately but it was still a great day out. I'm really glad I'm able to get Miss 16 back out in the field again. Her opportunities have been pretty thin on the ground in the second half of this year as a result of my limitations. There was also a committee meeting for our local ornithology branch. We're both on the committee. Meetings aren't nearly as enjoyable as being out in the field actually birding though!
* We rewatched Arsenic and Old Lace with Miss 16 pausing the DVD every time she wanted to answer one of the questions from our curriculum.

The first of our virtual field trips this week was to Bruges.

* Miss 16 made Nanimo Bars, one of our Christmas traditions from the time we lived in Canada. Both Mr 24 and Miss 21 are Canadians by birth so it's nice to retain a few links.
* Miss 16 and I went to the tree farm to pick out our live tree. We do most of our decorating at the start of December but leave the live tree until 10-14 days before Christmas. The summer heat means it won't look at it's best on the big day if we get it much earlier, no matter how much love and attention we provide. Getting the tree into the house and set up is always a hassle but I love the smell - Christmas wouldn't be the same without it - so we persevere every year!

Our second virtual field trip - courtesy of Miss 21 - was to Copenhagen

* We went to the mall and a few other places to do make a start on Christmas shopping, including gifts to leave under the Wishing Tree. I hate malls and shopping with a passion, but it wasn't as bad as I'd feared.
* I devoted some time to planning out Miss 16's  English course, locating and roughly - very roughly- scheduling a variety of resources, including Stewart English, Lightning Literature, Bravewriter Boomerangs, Vocabulary from Classical Roots, Sound and Sense (Poetry), plus Teaching with 50 Great Short Stories plus a few other things I found on my shelves or in my digital files. We won't complete every book, but pick and choose e.g. I'm aiming for between 5 and 10 of the short stories.
* A copy of Practical Statistics for Field Biology arrived from the library. At first glance the explanations look good and I think she will enjoy it. But there are no exercises! So I'll have to search online to see if I can find a course which has used the text and which has assignments (hopefully with an answer key), or else find stats exercises from elsewhere and try and coordinate them. I could give up on it entirely but I think the biology context will really help make statistics more palatable so I'll try and find a way to make it work for us.

Linking to the Weekly Wrap-Up and Homeschool Highlights.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Week Ending 4 December 2016

On Monday Miss 16 and I went birding again at the same section of the lake we visited last week. It was amazing how much it has changed in a week, with many of the ponds along the lake edge having evaporated. While the range of birds was similar, numbers were very different. Pacific Golden Plovers were nowhere to be found, but there were more than 50 Ruddy Turnstones. The week before there was only a handful. The bird of the day was a Cox's Sandpiper, a rare hybrid. We bumped into five other birders, all on the hunt for the same bird. Normally the lake is deserted, and I can only recall one other time when we've come across another birder there. The remainder of Monday was also filled with birdy things. In the afternoon we watched another episode of a marine documentary. As always the birds stole the show - at least as far as we're concerned! And in the evening we attended our birding group's last meeting of the year. The speakers shared photos and anecdotes from their visit to Botswana and Zimbabwe. Given that it was filled with birding, plus a couple of driving lessons, it's no surprise that Monday was the highlight of Miss 16's week.

Mr 19 and Mr 24 enjoyed a day walk together.

The rest of the week was filled with more driving, lots of reading, plenty of game playing and reading, and of course trampolining. As well as her regular coaching and training, she also helped assess some of the recreational athletes for their badges. We also started another movie - Arsenic and Old Lace, a dark screwball comedy starring Cary Grant. We watched it one night and she'll tackle the questions while rewatching it next week. Miss 16 also did a lot of the Christmas decorating. Pretty sure she missed her older sister since it is a job they've shared for the past few years.

As promised last week here is a video of Miss 16's new routine. It's not yet perfect but we're proud she completed it!

Miss 21 has now quit her job in Surrey and is busy travelling, which means we're looking forward to lots more virtual field trips! This week's offering include Dublin and a behind the scenes look at the Harry Potter studios.


Cliffs of Moher

Harry Potter Studio Tour

Linking to the Weekly Wrap-Up over at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers