Thursday, September 26, 2013

7 Quick Takes (vol. 2)

Recently I took Roo off to get a haircut, which is always an interesting experience! I can't help but remember the time, not too long ago when a hair cut was a traumatic experience for both Roo and myself. These days a little discomfort shows on his face for only a few minutes before he settles in for a good long chat with Dave the barber. This time, one of the many topics Roo covered was his favourite ABC3 TV show,  Splat-A-Lot. Roo suggested that Dave should watch it. Roo informed Dave that it would make his life better! He also told him that he would have to watch it after attending Mass, as it begins at 11am! Listening to Roo chatting away in the barber's chair always brings a smile to my face.
This week we finally made a pilgrimage to St Mary of the Cross' tomb at Mary MacKillop place. I believe that when one goes on a pilgrimage there are meant to be crosses, or little sufferings to offer up. Our little trip was no exception. Let's just say that we experienced a little difficulty with one of our modes of transport. Some of us alighted the train at a particular stop, others of us did not! We eventually arrived at North Sydney, and were able to spend some time in prayer before the tomb of Australia's first canonized saint.

On the way home I mentioned to one of the children that as I knelt down to pray (with said child), I became overwhelmed with emotion and began to cry. This surprised me, as I had prayed with one of the others boys a few minutes before, and was underwhelmed, but this time bam, tears began to flow, which is very unusual for me. My son quickly looked at me, and said that he had experienced the same thing, and had been crying too!

I would love to go back again soon as our visit was rather short. It's such a beautiful setting with the lovely gardens , and old buildings in the heart of the city, yet set apart from it.
The day we left for our holiday my beloved coffee machine broke down! It had served us faithfully for 6 years. Every day at morning tea time I would stop and make myself a cappuccino.  I am not a huge coffee drinker, but love a well made cappuccino once a day.

We have upgraded to a more fancy model, which has required a little more skill than simply pressing a few buttons! I am beginning to understand why it is so difficult to get a truly good coffee. After many failures, I am on my way towards figuring out how to pull a 30 second shot of espresso every time. Having a streak of perfectionism (especially in regard to coffee) is proving to be a time consuming business, but an enjoyable one all the same.
Yesterday Bilby came home from the Aspect Siblings camp. I'm sure he had a great time, but as he didn't get to sleep until after 2am on the final morning he hasn't been able to give me much information as yet!

While we were picking him up, and watching the little presentation put on my the children, we saw the first teacher Roo had when he went to the Aspect school. It was so lovely to see him chatting to her, and reminiscing about the good old days in Blue class!
Every time we attend a Catholic Homeschool camp I come home with a case of baby envy, or more accurately large family envy! James came with us to the last camp, and he came home with a dose too. I just love watching how the children in large families interact with one another.
Today Roo finished book 1 of All About Spelling. He has really enjoyed this programme, and feels a great sense of achievement at having finished the book. Before we went on holiday, I had to convince him not to take it away with us so that he could finish quicker! Book 2 here we come.
In an effort to strengthen my back, which keeps going out resulting in my having to spend 2-3 days lying flat, I have decided that I need to do some exercise. I tried Pilates with a physiotherapist, which was great, but is very expensive, so I am looking into other options. My motivation is lacking. It's just not my thing, but better than the alternative I guess!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September Photo Journal

We have not long arrived home from a mini holiday, and the North Coast Catholic Homeschool camp, where Roo made his First Holy Communion.

Ready to recieve First Holy Communion.

It's difficult to get everyone looking their best!
 The medal  Roo is wearing belonged to my maternal Grandmother, who wore it on her First Holy Communion day, which is rather a special thing to still have, and be able to use. I was a little nostalgic on the day as Roo, is probably the last child I will prepare to receive First Holy Communion.
 After camp we spent some time with our good friends Sonia and Patrick and their beautiful family.

Bilby and our Godson. All the little ones just love Bilby. He is fantastic with little ones.
We spent a day at Dreamworld, and I am happy to say that  being over 40 has not stopped me from indulging in my passion for thrill rides! With the exception of rides that spin. Koala takes after me, which meant we spent most of the day together on some very scary rides. We had a blast! The photo below was taken on our last visit when Koala was just 5. The look on his face in the photo is priceless!
Koala aged 5. One of my all time favorite photos!
 We just had to take the photo again, 8 year later!

Koala ages 13
 We had a great time away!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Questioning The System.

A close friend of mine is considering home educating one of her five children as he has been struggling at school. As I have encouraged her that she can do  it, and calmed her many fears, I have been able to reflect upon how very dependent we are on the system to educate our children. This lady is highly educated, yet she doubts her ability to educate her nine year old son!

The experience has reminded me of the huge divide there is between those with kids in the school system, and the rest of us. It really is a total paradigm shift. After over eight years of home educating I now know that terms like "behind" and "failure" are only useful in a classroom setting. Just as I know the sun will rise, I know that my children are just where they need to be, and I am able to totally ignore the guidelines of the education department, and some members of my family and society at large, who would think that my children are "behind" in some areas, and that "they should be able to ..." They do not measure success the way that I, and most homeschool families do. My children are thriving, and have their self esteem intact as they are not forced to compare themselves with other children their age on a daily basis. I fully remember feeling as she does, and asking myself all those questions. Am I capable, what about maths, and university entrance, will they fall behind, and on and on, and on.

Attempting deschool a someone in a few phone calls and emails is a tough ask! She is not closed off to my opinions, which I know must sound strange and perhaps even slightly radical. I can imagine the confusion of being advised to allow your child seemingly do nothing for a few months when you have been told he is struggling at school! Being told that the final year of school is irrelevant to getting a place at university must come as a shock after a lifetime of being told how crucial it is.

I will continue to challenge her beliefs, and encourage her to question why it is that the education department's standards are her yard stick of success, and why she feels incapable when all evidence points to her competence. And I will continue to be thankful that I am able to see the world through the lens of home education.  

7 Quick Takes (volume 1)

In an attempt to get back into blogging, I thought I would have a go at 7 Quick Takes. Here goes!
Since I last blogged we have had some changes in our family life. Roo, is now homeschooled. I absolutely LOVE having him at home. He is thriving, and I am so much more relaxed than I was when Bilby first came home. No changing curriculum and stressing over getting it right. I now have the experience and confidence to relax and enjoy the time I have with my youngest! Last week I complimented him on having learned all the phonograms on his All About Spelling chart, to which he replied "I'm so good!" I just love the self believe kids at this age have.
Koala, on the other hand has returned to school. I firmly believe that he is right where he needs to be, and I have once more learned to never say "I will never..." He is thriving, but I miss him terribly.
Today I was able to spend a few hours with my dear friend Tanya, whom I haven't seen for a while as she is hard at work with her university studies. Tanya is a real inspiration to me as she has so much energy and passion for Our Lord, her family, and her career.
In a few days we leave for a little holiday, and we are really looking forward to it! We will be relaxing by the beach in our little camper trailer for a few days, before attending a Catholic Homeschool camp, then visiting dear friends in Brisbane, then a day at a Gold Coast theme park to indulge Koala and my passion for roller coasters!
At the moment I am listening to "The Book Thief" on my Ipod which I am really enjoying. Audio books certainly make house work a who;le lots more enjoyable! We have recently discovered Audible. Bilby, Roo and I have been listening to lots of great books. I must say it makes reading aloud easier!
Fathers Day is tomorrow. DVDs seem to be the theme this year. Bilby remembered that James has often commented that he would like The Princess Bride on DVD, which we found despite my belief that it was inconceivable that we would be able to find it (sorry I couldn't resist). Then Roo saw The Incredibles which is James favourite kids movie. Koala's gift will be to help me cook James a special breakfast of poached eggs with smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

It's Almost April.

This April you may notice that the world turns a little blue. April is Autism Awareness month. The Sydney Opera House will be lit up blue, Newcastle's City Hall clock tower will be blue, and some of your Facebook friends might be sporting ASD profile badges. Now you may be about to switch off, close my page, or groaningly say something like "Not another worthwhile cause to think about." Well please don't. Let me tell you why it is so very important to use April to learn a little something about Autism Spectrum Disorders.

You may not have a family member with an ASD, but I am sure that someone in the circle of your acquaintance is touched by autism. Perhaps it's a friends child, someone at church, or in your homeschool group.These people need you to know a little about autism so that they feel supported, accepted and understood. All too often families touched by autism feel rejected and misunderstood simply because people do not have a basic understanding of what ASD can mean.

Even in my own extended family there is limited understanding of what autism is, and how it impacts my children. I totally understand why this is the case. Autism can be difficult to pin down! You might know a person on the spectrum, and therefore think you know what autism is. You couldn't be more wrong! If you take something away from my post let it be this quote. "To know a person with autism, is to know ONE person with autism." My own two children with ASD are poles apart in how autism effects them.

Roo didn't speak fluently until he was about four and a half.
Koala spoke right on time.
Roo's sensory system needs a lot of movement. His engine is often running fast.
Koala's sensory system is under sensitive. He likes to be quiet and still.
Roo is very agile and walked right on cue.
Koala has low muscle tone and walked at 22 months.
Roo has never had a meltdown
Koala has frequent meltdowns

I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

So this April I will be writing a few short posts about autism. I invite you to come back and learn a little more about ASD, and celebrate (yes you read that right!) the diversity of autism!