wide open spaces

June 8, 2011

I’m sitting at our kitchen table as I write this. The sun is shining through the slats of the blinds. I can look through and see our dog fossicking about in the yard, and the wind ruffling the grass. The wood fire is crackling away and I can hear the sound of children playing with Lego. We’re home and it feels good to be.

Our time away was wonderful. Even better than we imagined! Here are some of the highlights:

We celebrated Easter with family in Melbourne complete with an Amazing Race, an egg painting competition, talent show, a 50th birthday party and a High Tea for Kate and Will’s wedding.

We camped at Queenscliff, drove the Great Ocean Road, viewed the Twelve Apostles, panned for gold at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat, and swam in the ocean at Point Lonsdale.

We followed the Ned Kelly trail, visited an army base, manned a sub at the War Memorial and marvelled at our heritage, climbed the Telstra Tower on Black Mountain, ran wild at Questacon, admired Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly exhibition at the National Art Gallery, printed our own coin at the National Mint, visited Parliament House, extracted DNA from a pea at the CSRIO, and played hard at the Australian Institute of Sport.

We spent time at Jindabyne, climbed Kosciuszko, explored Thredbo village, and bobsledded our way down the mountain.

We drove through stunning country to Bega, NSW and camped right on the beach at Mimosa Rocks National Park where we took baths in the ocean, cooked on a campfire, observed the wildlife, and played endless games of soccer.

We headed south to Gipsland country and tried some 4 wheel driving, then moved on towards the Mornington Penisular. We visited Philip Island where we cracked a stockwhip, threw a boomerang, saw koalas up close, and watched  fairy penguins toddle their way up the beach.

We pottered about the towns of Sorrento and Portsea and caught a tractor ride to Fort Nepean where we saw the Harold Holt memorial, and explored the old army tunnels and bunkers. Amazingly it was from here that the first British (allied) shot of World War 1 was fired!

And now we’re home. The wide, open spaces have left me feeling revitalised and refreshed. They’ve reminded me that there is so much more to education than that which can be found in a book, or from a curriculum. Not that these aren’t good, they are. But real life experiences can equate to so much more. Since being back we have filled our days with journalling, drawing, scrapbooking, baking, gardening, piano, making Lego models inspired by our travels, writing letters, sewing, reading, and generally less structure than usual.

There are a few thoughts floating about my head, mostly to do with slight changes I want to make to our home schooling. Being away can do that sometimes, help you see where you really want to be, which is often close by where you were heading anyway, but slightly to the left or right. ­čÖé


the view from here

April 15, 2011

So far this year has been my busiest yet. Which is saying something, especially when I think back to the pregnancy years…and there were a few of those ­čÖé Now it could be that I’m just getting older, (feel free to shake your head emphatically ) but the pace has really picked up around here. As a result the way we home school has shifted gears too. At first I panicked a little (OK, a lot). Things felt out of my control. Change had turned up uninvited and I, for one, was not that thrilled about it. However time has a wonderful way of lending perspective to things and from where I stand now, almost one term later, I can appreciate the view. That’s right, when Change descended upon us it brought Good Things. And while I may not have chosen to climb this path which led to this hill, I am, at this moment, so glad I did.

So what’s changed? Well, life has stepped in. Tennis lessons, swimming, youth group, soccer training, referee courses, church activities, piano tuition have ensured more trips out the door and less structured learning time at home. Add to these the normal dentist appointments, plus orthodontist visits (yes – braces, here we come!) and one broken arm,┬á and my calendar was really beginning to fill up. Growing teens have meant extended bed times and more discussions and documentary watching of a night too.

Once I stopped seeing these things as interruptions, and started thinking of them as opportunities, then we really took off. My keen-to-be-a-doctor son got to come along to the ER and the Fracture clinic several times to observe and learn. He and his big sister chose to undertake referee training from 6-9.00 at night mid week and experienced what it’s like to study for and pass a theory test – 87% for S and 91% for C. Opportunities have abounded for L too, particularly┬á in her monthly┬á kids group where she’s been asked to share her faith with the group several times.

And as our routine took a hit, other elements crept in. The older children have become almost completely responsible for their work. Blogging and story writing have been on the go. C can be heard banging away on her much loved old typewriter most afternoons. Maths is sometimes done at night when hubby  is home. Someone is very nearly always baking, or playing piano. And despite it all, perhaps even because of it, the children are thriving.

And me? Well, hubby finally convinced me I needed a mobile to keep on top of things, and surprised me with an iphone4. I am loving it. Especially features like itunes and ibooks which enable us to listen to Howard Pyle’s King Arthur while in the car. ­čÖé How cool is that? With an extensive trip planned around VIC and NSW downloads like this one are sure to come in handy. The trip in itself is shaping up to be a great learning experience. We’ve planned visits to museums, galleries, mints, colonial towns and plenty of opportunities for enjoying rugged coastlines and landmarks like Kosciusko.

And amidst it all we’re reading beautiful books like Misrule, the sequel to Seven Little Australians, and the children are loving curriculum like IEW, Story of the World, Progeny Press literature┬á studies and Apologia Science. Our days may be busier, but learning is happening everywhere. As my old Nana used to say, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat!”

taking a leap

April 13, 2011

Well I’ve done it! I’ve taken the leap from blogger to WordPress. And here I am. Not much else has changed. It’s still me, writing about our days, sharing our art, our play, our studies, our ups and our downs.┬á I hope you’ll join me as I write about my journey home schooling my 6 gorgeous peas, trying hard to keep my sanity amidst the busyness of our lives, and remembering to count all the blessings along the way!