Week In Review 2019: Week 4

Our first month of school is under our belts, and crazily enough the first month of 2019 is also under our belts. This also means that in less than 2 weeks our eldest turns 18, where on earth did the time go?!

This week we had a public holiday on Monday to recognise Australia Day, which was a little silly because Australia Day fell on Saturday, but alas the government felt need to be sure we all had a day off from work.. or something like that.

While we didn’t attend to all our studies on Monday we did attend to a few things, amongst which was math. Most of the rest of our day was spent putting the house back in order and stacking up wood from the shrubs we trimmed.

Ahh, the story of our shrubs is a long one and best saved for another day, but they are very very tall and need much taming. We opted to thin them out just a little bit to prevent the neighbour doing further damage to them, and it took us nearly the whole weekend!

There were some groans about having to attend to math on a “public holiday” so I attempted to woo them with leftover {allergy friend} brownies I’d made for Australia Day. One child was delighted, the other snubbed them. Ahh well, you simply can’t win them all with brownies, but a good Pavlova often does the trick. 
One of the boys has been watching the new Carmen SanDiego shows on Netflix and in one episode “Carmen” jumped on a snowmobile to make her escape, the detective in pursuit caught up with her in a matter of seconds to which someone was overheard muttering, “Clearly the writers didn’t do enough Algebra problems.” Oh goodness did I laugh!

The crazy racoon will pop up every so many lessons with TT, or some other encouraging note or joke, and each time it’s happened I’ve tried to snag a photo with 0 luck. This week I managed one and sent the photo through our Family Chat which confused poor Mr S who was at work and had 0 clues what was going on.

Another full week of history, which felt a considerably heavier load this week with not attending to it on Monday. We will likely have a day or two to catch-up with in our final week of term, but that’s all right, I’d rather enjoy the journey then spend the days rushing through them.

We’re still working our way through The Cat Of Bubastes, and will wrap that up next week. I opted to slow the pace for a variety of reasons, which is lovely but also means we will likely have to scrap a few of the Living Library books in order to be able to do that with future books, but that’s fine. We’ve previously read a few that were planned.

We have 8 chapters left in our first PAC booklet, which actually surprised me because it looked like a lot less. I can only presume that a few of the chapters ahead will be short, not that any of the chapters have been super long yet. We’re still enjoying the little booklets and feel they give a more balanced view of things than Unveiling The Kings Of Israel does.

We continued our voyage with Unveiling The Kings Of Israel this week, we still found small issues with it, but it was much less than in previous weeks. However the author spent more time speaking to his personal travels, history {from his changed date system}, and other author’s writings which were all interesting to read.

We also found that we had more timeline figures to add to our Portrait Gallery, but it was also stated that if you no longer had room {we didn’t} to put them on the actual timeline lines. We did, but I have to confess they seem big and clunky there. Had we known we could have printed them at a slightly smaller size to help it fit better. Oh well, perfection is not the goal!

We had a lot more mapping in our notebooking pages this week, which the boys enjoyed, compared to writing. Not that they don’t like the writing aspect, although they felt slightly frustrated by this weeks written narration as the information provided was very skimpy. We’ve read about Hammurabi in previous trips through World History, so they weren’t lacking for knowledge, but sticking with the assignment they tried to draw from the information provided.

If you’re astute you’ll notice that the above photo strip is the same as last week.. that’s not from a lack of attending to our Language Arts, but more the lack of Mamma remembering to take photos. We’re still enjoying our time with Just David, although honestly I’d like to snatch the book and go curl up somewhere with it because I want to see where it’s taking us! One of my boys isn’t as impressed but he confessed he’s struggling with the narrator of the book, so I read it aloud a few days.

They’ve made enough progress on their first poem that they were able to use the “missing words” side of the card to practice with this week, one still has a bit of work to do with his geography card, but the other has them down pat. Not a huge shocker. They both have the Latin/Greek down too.

This week we read about Ralph Waldo Emerson, and discussed some of his poetry’s deeper meanings. The kids also had their first dose of sentence diagramming which they didn’t bat an eye out after years of IEW which gave them the confidence to recognise parts of speech. They still need to attend to an annotation lesson, but it will keep for another day. They also worked on a few other small writing projects with the curriculum, there’s a bit more meat in there than it appears upon first glance.

We continued with our Art History lessons this week wrapping up Disc 2 with Mr Stebbing and jumping into Short Lessons In Art History which has small bios about various authors. This meant we also reached a new section of our Art Gallery Notebooking Pages which made for a nice change. These are the only pages we aren’t typing on, the kids took turns labelling the art work this week. Morgan is still working on his Tiffany Window, I’m excited to see the finished project! 
We found that some of the description of the Madonna with Child and Virtues were difficult to see in the small, but beautiful, art work on the notebooking page so I had a quick google search and found a lovely large photo of it on Wikimedia which allowed us to see all the wonderful details that were being described to us. 
We made a small switch, yes already, to our curriculum. We were given the opportunity to try out Guest Hollow Chemistry, which had me thrilled to bits as his was something I’d intended to go with in the first place, and yet didn’t originally run with. The curriculum is put together with lots of lovely book choices, videos, and a hefty workbook for the students.

It comes with gobs of videos suggestions and link, practical kitchen experiments {okay, cooking!}, and the ability to make this curriculum cover a few credits that the boys need for high school so I was  beyond excited to give this a whirl. I know we’re still in what’s often dubbed “the honeymoon” period, but my goodness did we have fun! My science hater didn’t complain once, and may have chuckled, oohed, and ahhed.

We’re loving Dr Joe And What You Didn’t Know which is loaded with fun questions that have surprising answers. While I really do prefer physical books for most things we are relying on an Audible copy merely because we wanted to dig into this programme NOW and that was the quickest way to get the book as our library doesn’t have it. We’re also digging into Culinary Reactions, which is also in audio format for the same reason. We learned about weighing and measuring ingredients and why it matters and affects the outcome from a chemical reaction, we learned about calories, and foams.. With the big experiment this week being to make bread, we made our traditional Buckwheat Bread recipe which we turned into pizza crust, my science hating child was over the moon giddy.

We watched a load of small clips on YouTube which I put together on watch lists on YouTube to make it easier to pull them up each day and mirror them from a device to our tv. It also cuts down on the race to find the right link, and allows an auto-play feature to work on the playlists. We watched Mr Brady with the crazy hair get very excited about all kinds of elements, and his helper blow up bubbles made of helium. We also watched a Mythbusters Episode about the Hindenburg and possibilities of how/why it might have blown up.

Honestly, it was one of the best weeks of science we’ve had in a while, mostly because everyone was keen to attend to the lessons!

We also decided to take our own route with health.. after much prayer, internal debates, and some research we’ve decided to take a much different route with health. The reality is that we had a very thorough year of biology last year which covered reproduction on an absurdly crazy amount of levels, as well as different functions of the body. Frankly we’re not interested in a health curriculum that is repeating everything we learned last year. So after coming up with a plan of action I sat the boys down and explained that amongst a few other requirements for the year I would be emailing them articles that they’d be required to read and then we’d be discussing them the following day. They were pretty excited about it, I may or may not share the articles and other requirements as we attempt this voyage.

All up we had a good week despite the interruption on Monday. We decided that we like it better when interruptions and holidays happen on Fridays vs Mondays. We spent the week feeling far less rushed to accomplish things than we do when they occur on Mondays, and yet it’s all the same amount of time really isn’t it? 

Week In Review 2019: Week 3

Our third week of school is all wrapped up, we had a few minor bumps this week in our studies and schedule, but nothing major that can’t be ironed out in the weeks ahead. We also had some insane weather here that had us melting where we stood, man do I miss central air conditioning on crazy humid days like that! By the end of the week the air was smoky and the smell of it burns the eyes and throats, our poor little island is on fire and we are in desperate need of rain to help combat it.
We are nearly up to our full schedule; we didn’t have health this week due to how it was oddly scheduled, and we may change tactics with that in the future. One of the boys wants to do a seperate writing curriculum which is not in hand yet either, but excluding those I think we’re up to full speed here which is nice. It gives us an idea of where those bumps are and how to iron them out for the remainder of the term.

It’s always a small challenge to see how our new term will unfold compared to previous ones as we work towards new goals and create new schedules to aid us along that path.


We began Unit 2 this week in HOD’s World History, I’m not really sure why they are called units instead of weeks to be honest. In fact in our home we generally just say week. Ahh, anyway, we had some issues with further readings in Unveiling The Kings Of Israel this week, it’s left us very disappointing as the book is nothing like the description. Sadly, it’s more of a distorted retelling of OT Bible happenings with the very rare and occasional insight into customs at that time. It ends up resulting in far more time being taken on this book as people scramble for Bible saying, “Wait didn’t… really happen?”

I am grateful do have these discussions with my children, without doubt, but I’m really disappointed  in the book being scheduled and used because of the multiple gross errors within. When you know that the Bible is being distorted it leaves you wondering if the archeological and historical information is also being treated in the same manner. Monday was especially hard with this book because the boys had a written narration on the information within the book about Abram, and in the end they reread Abram’s life story from Genesis before attending to the writing. We are super grateful this book is only used for 8 weeks.

We also read a few chapters from the PAC booklet again, it’s amusing to us that we were worried those would be what we’d not enjoy, but thus far we haven’t minded them at all. They’ve shared more historical and/or custom information on the time periods than the previous book which has made it very enjoyable. And they completed their first official Portrait Gallery in their Book of Centuries, it only took 2 years as the BOC lasts for all 4 high school years.

We are still reading through The Cat Of Bubastes, but I confess it’s not one of my favourites. I much preferred the radio production we listened to of this book a couple of years ago by Heirloom Audio, in fact if I were to ever do this level again I’d use that in place of the book. I’m not sure why I’m not enjoying the story, it may be that the chapters are well over 30 minutes each and they are often scheduled ate the rate of 1.5 chapters per day. The boys are enjoying the book though, which is the important part. We also enjoyed this article to understand more about the birthright and blessing that is given to Jacob in Genesis.


We have just a few chapters left in But Don’t All Religions Lead To God, and it’s been sharing this book with my youngest, making it my second trip through myself. It’s funny how upon rereading books you notice things you didn’t previously or things that hit you before hit you harder this time.


I did share this article with my boys when the author claimed Jesus was a refugee, a very common, all be it entirely false, claim. For the nitty gritty to understand the why you’ll need to read the article, but for the quick version Egypt was ruled by Rome, and Roman citizens were not refugees within lands still ruled by them.

I’m excited to wrap up the book next week and jump into the other aspects of it and see how we go. My youngest has far more questions with our readings than the older did, and it’s been enjoyable to have those discussions with him. I’m also hopeful that the next book scheduled will help with some of the questions he’s been asking.

We started our new language arts programme, which thus far has been enjoyable. It’s a little light compared to what we used previously, but at the same time we’re only just starting so we’ll see if that remains the case all the way through or not. I purchased the Physical/Digital combo kit unaware that you would get EVERYTHING in both formats, I also didn’t expect the little booklets to be of such beautiful quality, had I known I’d have ordered 2 sets of booklets and skipped the digital version. I printed the kids out the worksheets they’d need and we’re working through Unit 1 together. With future units they may or may not work solo, but as it’s new they opted to work together for now.

We’re enjoying Just David by Eleanor H. Porter, we’ve read many of her other books and loved them all, but somehow I’d never heard of this one. We indulged ourselves in her mini biography in Unit 1 as well as the first 12 pages of the booklet. We were aiming for 15, but this was one of those minor blimps I was referring to.

The programme comes with Geography, Latin/Greek Roots, and Poetry cards. The objective is to select the ones in your unit and work on them. The Latin/Greek Roots are the same for the whole year, my kids already knew nearly all the words on there with only a half dozen or less being “newish” to them, but they still run through the list each day. The Geography card for the first unit is New England and one has the states down pat, the other just calls everything Rhode Island which cracks us up. They selected the poem Trees by Sergeant Joyce Kilmer and run through it each day as well.


They made it through Lesson 6 in the art history dvd as well, and had matching notebook pages to answer some questions about the information they heard. I find it interesting that my non artsy student was not looking forward to all the “art” this year, but has fully enjoyed watching these dvd and being a part of the daily discussion around them. I confess that I didn’t partake in many/much of the videos this week as I left them to it while I was dashing around dealing with other things, and we met up after they finished to work through the notebooking pages.

We are dragging our first science lesson out over two weeks, which is probably a little bit nutty, but Monday is a public holiday and Mr S will be home to do the first lab with the kids. It’s really a very simple one, but he wanted in on Chemistry this year so I figured it was a great way for him to be a part of things in a fun way. Although he did ask if he had a white lab coat.. I mean to say!

While waiting on the lab the kids finished off their element flash cards and continued to quiz each other. They do really well with the flash cards, but were really disappointed with their practice test results. It’s a practice test though, and I heard at least one of them practicing with the cards slightly differently after his practice run so it’ll be interesting to see how they go on the actual test.

Both boys are doing excelling with their math. One thing we’re enjoying about Teaching Textbook is that each problem can be watched with an explanation of how to work it out if someone gets in a jam, but one of the HUGE drawbacks of it is that the math problems are presented on a YELLOW notepad on the computer. This is a HUGE issue for my Irlen kids who have yellow and red on their no-no colors. {No-no colours, are colours that set their Irlen into hyperdrive..} and with TT’s colours being yellow and orange this can be a huge issue at times. We’d love to see future version of TT allow the student to change the notepad colour just like they can change their buddy and background.

Our struggling student has made huge headways by having him only do every other problem. He’s able to concentrate better on those problems because he’s not being over exposed to the crazy yellow and orange colours. Which in turn boosts the confidence and shows in the work. I’m grateful to have found a way to work with the problem, but man it’d be so awesome if Teaching Textbooks would fix that little notepad!

There was also some foreign language happening, but no pictorial proof, as well as hobbies and kitchen help. Our state is currently on fire which means a total fire ban. We are allowed to use gas grills/barbecues {thankfully} which we took liberty with due to the extreme heat and not wanting to overheat the kitchen. The kids watched the fajitas we cooked one night as well as baked potatoes another, and made the pasta to go with the goulash on a third night. So grateful who kids are who are capable in such matters!

Incoming School Gear

A package of more school gear arrived at our house this week, such excitement! This is a programme I stumbled upon while hunting down something else. I’m familiar with The Good And The Beautiful as a curriculum, but was unaware they’d branched out with gear for high school so I was pretty excited when I spotted it. I downloaded the very large sample and poured over it for quite a while, then spent some time in prayer about it, and finally put it on the list for our official LA curriculum for the year.

We waited until after the Christmas — New year shut down of our local post office before putting in an order and then waited. We actually ordered in the wee hours of the morning {USA Time} on their Tuesday, so when their Saturday rolled around and we still had no shipping notification I became a little bit concerned and reached out to the company.

If I’m SUPER honest I’d say that the feedback at that time was unsatisfactory and indicated that my items hadn’t shipped and would likely go out Monday from their warehouse. By our Thursday I was a tad frantic about the fact that I’d still not received any indication that our parcel had shipped, and reached out to the company yet again. This time they told me my item had shipped out on their Wednesday, are you confused by all these time frames yet?!, and then passed on my tracking number. Low and behold my package was out for delivery! 

One of the huge draws for our purchase with this curriculum was that there was only 5 books for the required reading. There are reading challenges within if you want to indulge in them, but for my student who could care less about excess reading 5 books was not overwhelming to him. In fact it was very normal sounding.

Interestingly enough, even though we use a literature rich curriculum I still have a child who’s not really keen on reading all the time, and you know what I’m totally okay with that. It’s always a treat to see him curled up with a book, which does happen, but I’m also content when it’s not his “thing”.

For my student who loves to read 5 books seemed crazy limited and he told me so. I reminded him that our literature based history curriculum would have LOTS of books in it, further he could easily take up ANY of the reading challenges within the LA programme, and that it would also leave him with plenty of time for the large stack of library books he often has on the shelf too.

Another huge deal about these books is that the author of the curriculum doesn’t pick books with language in them. Our non-reader had a situation where he was reading a book by a former favourite author and came to a scene where not only was God’s name used poorly, but a slew of curse words followed. He was very upset by the situation, and it took a lot to convince him to finish the book, which I finished pre-reading and blocked out words of offence for him.

The idea is that the students work through each of these Units at the rate of 2 weeks per each. Now my kids aren’t use to “lifepacs”, but this is the second set we have on the shelf this year {PAC from HOD being the other..} I actually think these will deeply appeal to at least one of mine because it’s very obvious at a glance how much more you have to go to “be done”

I’m actually so impressed with the quality of these little booklets. All the other booklets like this from other companies that I’ve seen are very cheap paper quality, but that’s not the case with these. The only suggestion I’d make is that the art work within be on a shinier paper and possibly even perforated to remove and “save”. 

Another component is the “cards”, now if I understand correctly you get all 4 years worth of cards at one time. There are poetry cards, latin root word cards, and geography cards. Yes, geography. I know when I was researching the programme some found the idea of geography worked into LA/English, but my kids love geography so it didn’t even phase me to be something to be concerned about.

The cards are perforated and have a sturdy cardboard laminated feel to them. It’s kinda what I wish the art work in each of the booklets above was like. I should probably clarify the artwork is for picture study.

Finally, it also came with this little reference book which will last for the full 4 years you can use this curriculum as well. It’s full of information on grammar, writing, and spelling for students as they work their way through this course.

I’m actually curious how much further courses will cost if you will only need the booklets and new literature, in the mean time though I can’t wait to dig into this curriculum on Monday! 

Week In Review 2019: Week 1

Wow, hasn’t time flown by, it seems like yesterday I was living in a tiny little 2 bedroom apartment kicked back on an oversized sofa reading through Cathy Duffy’s 100 Top Homeschool Picks as I debated what curriculum to use with my children.

12 years later my eldest is nearly done with high school, I can only dream of that oversized sofa which I long ago donated to Goodwill upon leaving the USA, and Cathy Duffy now has 102 Top Homeschool Picks book out.

Yet, here we are, two high schoolers in our little school. The end is in sight for this homeschooling Mamma and she faces it with a bag of mixed emotions that range from fear to delight. You know the old saying, “The days are long and the years are short?” Oh how I hated that saying when my boys were little, when the days were incredibly long and I was worn and weary dying for bedtime at 3pm, but now that I have teenagers who stay up later than I do I fully understand that statement.

The days truely were long in the beginning, and honestly some still are, but my haven’t the years flown by? Where did they go, and how did they slide by me so fast?

On Monday we started our 2019 school year after a long and delicious summer break in which we did a lot of nothing and a little of everything. Many rounds of Dutch Blitz were had, many episodes of Tim Hawkins humour were watched, memories were reflected upon, goals were set for the new year, and hours were spent watching the stars come out.

No one was entirely ready to go back to the grindstone, although a part of all of us craves the routine of normal. There was sighing and gnashing of teeth as each of us set our alarms for the beginning of a new work and school year.

And so we began our very light start back to business. We intended to only worry about: our maths, which always takes forever to get into the swing of; Bible, because what’s a day if it’s not started off on the right foot; and Health, the elective no one cares about but is a pesky requirement covered in a, let’s be honest, dreary manner.

Math was a little rocky on day 1 after such a long break, we really did have the best of intentions to be about it over the summer holidays, but we were kept on our toes with Nana’s needs & we also needed that space to simply rest. I have one who slipped back in quite easily without having forgotten much, & another who struggled a bit so we slid him into half lessons as his brain stretches and strengthens.

Bible was a bit of an interesting thing for us. We are use to, in years gone by, having a Bible Reading Plan provided for us, but for many reasons which will be explained in a very thorough upcoming review, we are no longer using the Sonlight Curriculum. I ended up digging out an older Bible Plan in which a student/family can read the Bible through in 180 days, as in a school year, to get us through the week. While we enjoyed it, I think the pace is a bit full-on and then remembered on oh, you know, Saturday, what my origional Bible plans were. Come on, admit it you’ve had weeks like that too! Fear not, I’ve slipped those plans into action for next week and you’ll learn about them then.

Health was alright. I really expected one of mine to be a tad fussy about this, although we’ve had multiple long chats about high school requirements and how some you’re stuck with and some you get to pick and choose so he was well briefed on what to expect. The only issue he ended up happening was that I asked him to answer a health question before 11am. You heard that snort, right?

The health is scheduled in an interesting manner with HOD, which really means a manner that seems odd to us, but then keep in mind we weren’t reading history this week so we may feel different once we get into the full swing of things. Either way, we ended up reading three days worth in one day, so on Thursday when the kids crowded in with pets and smoothies and quilts we listened to our Bible reading and then I announced that aside from math I didn’t have anything else for them that day and suggested we dig into our Art History Curriculum.

My resident artist is so very excited about this curriculum he was REALLY gung-ho to jump in with both feet. Okay, so I’m not going to lie. When I told him this curriculum was on tabs this year he had a long list of artists he hoped were covered {they aren’t all}, and when it arrived I had to pry it from his hands so I could actually verify if it was all accounted for. So, despite the fact that the younger was all for a super short day {as if our days weren’t already short this week!} I vetoed and we watched the first lesson.

It has a slight “older” feel to it, but we really did enjoy it! We also have the Art Notebooking Pages from HOD, but I only purchased one set for my kids as I suspected the resident artist would enjoy them more than the non-artist. Having said that, the questions on them really do lend themselves to great discussions in which both boys took their turns stating their opinions and their reasonings for it, querying the other on aspects they wondered “why” about, and then came up with an answer they were both happy with to write down on the page.

Friday they just tackled math, and then we headed to the library, much later than intended, where they collected holds and other goodies while I hid on the second level and worked on one of my writing projects before making a mad dash to collect Mr S who got out of work early!

Saturday we wrapped up our week with a bit of fun at the beach to beat the insane heat that was making us all feel a lot like wilted lettuce. That water was REALLY cold though, and because the tide was in and just starting to turn it was also very calm. So we played a few crazy silly games all concocted by our youngest before we clambered out and watched a family of black swans make their way ashore while Mr S tried to capture them on film.