Friday, 30 November 2007


We've all been sick this week, so Joshua only had homeschool lessons (the academic stuff, like reading and writing lessons) on Mon and again today (Fri) but in between it was mostly just me reading Pollyanna. We are almost finished, up to chapter 28 out of 32. When I ask Joshua comprehension-type questions, he is obviously getting the gist of most of it, which is great, even though bits of it (words like "veritably") are going over his head, I am sure. And he can put together a bit more than is in the text also. I asked him tonight who he thought would be glad that Mr John Pendleton was adopting Jimmy Bean, and his first answer was Pollyanna (because that's what Mr John P says in the story, that he hopes the news will make Pollyanna glad,) but then when I asked him, "who else?" he suggested both Mr John P and Jimmy B, so obviously he realised that it would be happy for them also. This has been much of the storyline, that "a child's presence" (or, alternatively, "a woman's hand and heart") make a house into a home. To borrow a phrase from Pollyanna, I'm glad he's understanding so much of this book, even though he's not yet five years old.

A little background and an update

If you read my last post on the book The New Puritans and were wondering if I'm an Anglican of the Sydney diocese, the answer is no. Actually, I'm not an Anglican at all. I was brought up in the Uniting Church denomination and became a member of a Baptist Church after doing an Alpha course there soon after getting married.

More recently...

Just last Sunday, I became, once again, a member of the Uniting Church. This time, as a member of the congregation of N where we attend regularly and Jeff works 8 hours a week as a Ministry Intern. Today, Jeff submitted to our minister (and, through him, our elders, church council and presbytry,) an application to be considered as a candidate for ordained ministry within the Uniting Church of Western Australia. I'm looking forward to the opportunities God has for us to teach and serve his people.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

A Critique of "The New Puritans"

After his exams, Jeff brought home a few books that he actually wanted to read, rather than being required to read as part of his course. One of these was The New Puritans, by Muriel Porter. This book is a critism of the Sydney Anglican diocese from the perspective of a liberal Anglican, whose husband is an Anglican priest in Victoria.

At times when I read this book, I wanted to laugh - not because what the author said was funny, per se, rather because the author seemed so blind to the contradictions in her own arguments. She complained that Sydney Anglicans seem reluctant to employ ministers trained in other Anglican Theological colleges around Australia (which are, in the main, liberal,) yet did not mention the complete barrier to employment that those trained at Moore Theological College, (bastion of Sydney Anglicanism,) face to employment in almost any Australian diocese other than that of Sydney. And she complained that Sydney Anglicans are providing support funding for ministers (often trained at Moore) in diocese which cannot fund these ministers themselves. On the other hand, she complained that Sydney Anglicans don't give vast swathes of money to the ecumenical, liberal groups that other Anglican churches support (because Sydney Anglicans do not agree with the motives or means of these groups), yet also complained that when Sydney Anglicans do get involved in Anglican organisational bodies they actually expect to have their collective voice heard (not unreasonable, given their status as Australia's largest and fastest growing diocese). The author criticised the membership of the Sydney diocese because it contains so many men and women of all ages, and, in comparison to liberal Anglican churches, so few elderly women. She does not understand that this is a sign that Sydney Anglicans are reaching out and evangelising all people, rather than being left only with the few of their membership who are too stubborn and set in their ways to give up on the church of their youth (and who patiently await the day when they might again be fed in their church from the Word of God, His Bible.)

On another level, I was deeply disturbed by the beliefs that Porter has, which have ppresumably flourished within her own experiences as an active member of a liberal church. She complained that one of the heads of Sydney Anglicanism stated that people from faiths other than Christianity are not saved. She disputed this central tenet of evangelical Christian doctrine! Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." [John 14:6] No modern day liberal doctrine of relativistic "tolerance" can get around the fact that Jesus claimed that knowing Him was the only way of knowing His Father, God. His last recorded words were: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." [Acts 1:8] Jesus himself commanded his apostles to evangelise and disciple people of other cultures and faiths into the Christian faith. The Christian church needs to remember this truth, and act in accordance with it, rather than seeking to bury it under politically correct "tolerance". All Christian churches need to get on with the job of evangelising unbelievers and discipling believers. And churches cannot do this if they persist in squabbling, like Muriel Porter, over which church diocese has the most "tolerant" plan for evenly apportioning what she seems to see as the spoils of some intra-denominational war: converts won into Christianity by the faithful portrayal of the gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God, and in his atoning death on the cross for our sins. New Christians that Sydney Anglicans are seeing converted by the power of God's Holy Spirit, just as Jesus promised all those centuries ago.

Oh, The Irony!

Warning: This is a bit icky.

I started toilet training Abigail last Thursday and she pretty much had everything down fine in three days. Still doing poo in her pants, but she was dry all weekend, even through her afternoon naps.

Then I came down with gastroenteritis ... vomitting and diarrhoea from here to there and everywhere in between. So far I've managed to pass on the bug to Samuel (who threw up twice last night), Jeffrey and Anna (who threw up this afternoon and then again a little while ago). Mess-wise, this has to be a pretty bad situation for the first week of toilet training, wouldn't you think? Still, although Abigail had a few accidents while I was out this morning, she stayed dry this afternoon. We'll keep with it. I may have to revise my initial hopes for immediate success, however. This thing might take two weeks, rather than two days, and that's not even considering the dreaded number twos.

Oh, how I look forward to the days when I only have one child in nappies!

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Weekly Reports #9 & #10

We are moving through the third unit of Basic Code smoothly with minimal fuss. In the last two weeks we have covered [e] [w] [l] [k] [v] [x] [ee] and now we just have [z] to go before we move on to the third Penmanship Reader, which I have just compiled. I have also added reading one story from our (as yet small) selection of phonics-based readers to our daily literacy activities. So far, he has really enjoyed this. He really likes the idea that he can read real stories. We cuddle on my "reading chair" together, while we do it, which helps to make it a calm and happy time.

Our current Read Aloud book is Pollyanna by Eleanor H Porter. I wanted to read this to the kids because the Disney version of this is the one movie-length DVD that they have watched, and despite needing to hold hands during the scary or sad bits, they really enjoy it. The Disney movie is, like all Disney versions, different from the original and I wanted them to know the original story also. I hope the girls may read it again themselves, when they are older and more able to appreciate it. According to the book, Pollyanna is 14 and Jimmy is 10, so my kids are a lot younger than the book's protagonists, and I know a lot of it is going over their heads. However, they are enjoying listening and I am enjoying reading the story again. It has been interesting to see how Porter has juxtaposed Pollyanna's interactions with two invalids - one in bed through illness but able to move about, the other in bed through injury though only temporarily - with Pollyanna's own (still to come) confinement to a bed, where she is both unable to move and presumed to be permanently injured. Anyway, the kids must be liking it because they often ask for more than one chapter.

Outside Play
Due to a few days of very hot weather (high 30s), we are encouraging the kids to play on the southern side of our house, which is always shady. They are at present having a great deal of muddy fun outside the study window:

Inside Play
Has consisted mostly of playing with the Mega Blocks this week as Samuel received some new ones for his birthday and the others appreciate any new toy.

Table Time
Has been mostly colouring. Abigail, in particular, is improving in her colouring as she has grasped the idea that you colour within the lines of each picture, or at least attempt to do so as far as your fine motor skills will permit.

Bible Study
This week was the last Children's Program Bible Study at my BSF class. (Next week is our Sharing Day, which I am looking forward to enormously.) The kids have benefitted greatly from doing BSF this year, and I am looking forward to them studying through Matthew with me next year.


Toilet Training
For Abigail, which started on Thursday. She is going well, driven on by an eager desire for M&M rewards for dry undies and wee in the potty. I'm hoping to have her trained adequately by the time Jeff takes the kids to Albany on 8 December.

Friday, 23 November 2007

First Steps!

My baby took his first steps yesterday, two steps towards the couch because he didn't want to put down the balloon he was holding. I saw the first step and my excited voice ensured that my daughter Anna saw his second. Joshua "was too busy building to look up, mum." This is the boy who prayed for a brother...

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Joshua's latest writing efforts

Joshua's latest efforts at free writing:The second line reads: Joshua hugs Dad. His writing is a little bit cramped at the end, and the D is reversed, but I think he did very well.

I told him today in our reading and writing lesson, we'd have a word that was something to do with Dad. He guessed "hug". The word I was thinking of was "exam". Well, I'm glad he's not been psychologically harmed by having his father studying so hard lately!

Joshua's latest writing project is a five sentence letter to Nanna, which he dictated himself. (He wanted it to be longer, but I was frightened it would take forever to complete.) He is trace-writing one sentence each evening while the girls and Samuel go to bed.Look at that tongue out so he can concentrate!Hopefully it should be ready to post in a week or so. I'll be sending these pictures along with the letter as proof it was his work not mine. I think Nanna will be overjoyed.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

My baby is ONE and has high aspirations

What a climber! Samuel turned 1 on Saturday, and although he cannot walk yet (he has just started standing unaided in the last fortnight) he loves to clamber over anything in his path. Challenges such as the slippery dip on our home-made (that is, husband-made) cubby house are mere fodder for his feet.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Before Christmas - A Very Long Post

Christmas is coming up and a friend just emailed to ask what I am planning to do with my family to celebrate Advent and Christmas. I have been praying, planning and preparing for Christmas for a while now, so here are my ideas:


1. Each time I've been to the library lately, I've been on the lookout for picture books that present the Christmas story. I read them to the kids along with all the other library picture books we get, just to lay a foundation in my kids' minds as to the reason for celebrating Christmas, before the idea of presents looms too large in their minds to fit anything about the baby boy whose birthday we are celebrating.

Our favourite Christmas story book so far has been This is the Star by Joyce Dunbar, illustrated by Gary Blythe. You chant or sing it to the rythmic tune of "This is the house that Jack built" - which, incidentally, we also borrowed in picture book form, during the same library visit. The illustrations, from oil paintings, are magnificent and the verse is lush. An excerpt:

"This is the Christ child born to be king
While hosts of heavenly angels sing.
These are the wise men come from afar
Who also saw and followed the star,
Bearing the gold, and fragrant myrrh
And frankincense, the gifts that were
Placed by the manger warm with hay
Where-in a new born baby lay.
This is the ox and this is the ass
Who saw these wonders come to pass
At the darkened inn where the only room
Was a stable out in the lamplit gloom
For the donkey and his precious load
Who trudged the long and weary road,
Looked on by the angel shining bright,
Who came to the shepherds watching by night
That saw the star in the sky."

2. Starting next year, we will incorporate a chronological Bible study into our homeschooling, supplementing the Bible story reading that Jeff does over dinner most nights. In order to align our studies with the Christian calendar of festivals, we are starting with the New Testament, with Jesus' birth, and starting our readings the fortnight before Christmas. This will be instead of Advent-type activites using a calendar or Jesse Tree (I plan to have us reading though a selection of events from the gospels over the next 14-15 weeks, culminating in reading the passion story just prior to Easter. After a short break, we'll be reading through the very end of the gospels and the beginning of Acts as we celebrate Ascension and Pentecost, then through Acts and the beginning and end of Revelation around the middle of the year. We'll spend the second half of the year working through the Old Testament stories of God's coventant people. I hope to have us ready for the New Testament stories of Jesus' birth again just before next Christmas! We'll be repeating this chronological study of biblical events each year, I hope. I will need to change the progression slightly, including more or fewer stories according to the varying dates of Easter each year.) I am constructing some sets of relevant colouring pictures for the kids to work on each day, which will go into their Make-Your-Own Bibles, using (among others) images from the wonderful Calvary Chapel resources.

The order of events and readings in our our pre-Christmas Bible studies is:
A Saviour is Promised - Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5; Micah 5:2-5a
Zacharias and Elizabeth - Luke 1:5-25
The Angel Gabriel Visits Mary - Luke 1:26-38
Mary Visits Elizabeth - Luke 1:39-56 [An interesting aside is that Mary was possibly present with Elizabeth at John's birth, considering Luke 1:26, 39 and 56.]
The Birth of John the Baptist - Luke 1:57-79
The Angel Visits Joseph - Matthew 1:18-25 [I am not quite sure where this fits in chronologically, but it seems a good point to include it here, so as to avoid confusing interruptions to the story of John's birth.]
The Trip to Bethlehem - Luke 2:1-5
The Birth of Jesus - Luke 2:6-7
The Angels Appear to Shepherds - Luke 2:8-14
The Shepherds Visit Jesus in the Stable - Luke 2:15-20

I'll include here my plans for Bible stories in the first few days after Christmas, also:
Jesus is Presented in the Temple as an Infant - Luke 2:21-24
Simeon and Anna Prophesy - Luke 2:25-38
The Wise Men Travel to Jerusalem and Meet Herod - Matthew 2:1-8 [Given Herod's later order to kill boys aged up to 2yo (Matt 2:16), the location of Jesus' family in a house rather than the previous stable (Matthew 2:11) and the description of Jesus as a child rather than a baby (also Matthew 2:11), it seems highly likely that Mary, Joseph and Jesus lived in Bethlehem for some time after Jesus' birth, notwithstanding their visit to the temple in Jerusalem for ceremonial purposes. It was possibly a year or more after Jesus' birth before the Wise Men reached Bethlehem. We'll be pointing this out to the kids if they ask about it when they see nativity scenes, etc.]
The Wise Men Worship Jesus - Matthew 2:9-12
The Escape to Egypt - Matthew 2:13-15 (perhaps also 2:16-18)
The Return to Nazareth - Matthew 2:19-23; Luke 1:39-40
The Boy Jesus Visits the Temple - Luke 2:41-52
and then on to Jesus' baptism and ministry, etc.

3. Memory verses to be learnt over the Christmas period:
Isaiah 9:6
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counsel[l]or, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
and Luke 2:11
"Today in the town of David a Savio[u]r has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."

[Which brings up another point, I do wish they would publish a NIV translation with English/Australian spellings and punctuation. It would make copywork so much easier in the future! How does one use pieces for copywork when they have spelling "errors"?]

4. I am working on teaching the kids some of the songs we sing in church, and in December we will be learning some Christmas Carols, notably "Away in a Manger". We'll be listening to them some time each morning, I think, from a variety of Christian Christmas Carol CDs we have in our collection. I'm not so fussed about teaching them the more worldly Christmas songs, such as "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer" - I think they'll learn them by osmosis from trips to the local shops.

5. Decorate the tree. We started our married life resolutely using real pine trees, but do have a realistic plastic tree, which is more kid-friendly. Last year, the kids loved helping Jeff put it together, and ladening the lower branches with ornaments, while I held baby Samuel and took photos. Jeff's brother and sister-in-law have made a tradition of giving us a new ornament each Christmas. Maybe another year we'll do something crafty and make some of our own ornaments, but this year we'll be too busy with visits to relatives.

6. Select, buy and wrap presents. This could take another whole post (and probably will) but I'll just briefly state that last year we gave each of our kids at least one book, one CD or DVD and one toy. We also add one outfit of clothing, if it is really needed. The rest of our ideas we list as suggestions for grandparents and assorted uncles and aunts to give. Last Christmas, the kids didn't get too much that was not suitable, and there were some nice surprises, especially the harmonicas from Granny and Gramps. KMart just had a toy sale and Target is having one this week. Duplo and Fisher Price Little People feature heavily as good toy choices. I do have a rule about books: nothing which does not state the author's name on the cover, I prefer editions with the original illustrations if possible (although I am flexible with this - I like Robert Ingpen's work on some classics such as Treasure Island) and abridged or paraphrased versions are not acceptable (if we have to read an abridgement, I'd rather select it myself because I am very picky.) Before I wrap the books, I will be covering them with contact, so they last.

7. Plan our holidays - because Jeff has 2 1/2 months off study, we need to make the most of this family togetherness, rather than getting frustrated by unspoken expectations about what will or won't happen. So this Sunday, Jeff and I will be comparing our To Do lists for the holidays, although already some things have been scheduled, such as visits to Jeff's mum & step-dad and to my brother and his family, and the Baptist church camp that Jeff will be speaking at. We need to make sure Jeff gets his fill of woodwork (so I can have my new desk!!) and I get to do some regular exercise without having to take the kids to the gym creche, as well as having lots of family time just having fun, out and about!

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Milk for my baby

The day before yesterday was the 13th of November, 2007 and my firstborn turned 4 3/4, which means I have been pregnant or breastfeeding (or, for much of the time, both) for the last 5 1/2 years. That is a long time, around three quarters of my entire married life, actually. When Samuel turns one on Saturday, I want to wean him from my milk. I think I do, anyway.

Jeff said "Just do it." Part of me agrees with him.

Joshua was one when I weaned him. Until his birthday, I was still feeding him four feeds each day. The day after he turned one, I dropped a feed, and then dropped another each week (the last I kept for another fortnight). I gave birth to Anna 6 weeks later, so I'm not even sure that my milk dried up. Then with Anna, my milk didn't last, and I was forced to supplement her diet with formula from when she was only six months, and she didn't get any milk from me after she was about 9 months old, at which time I was already 6mo pregnant with Abigail. With Abi I was much more careful. I didn't even give her any solids until she was 8mo, and I managed to finish weaning her on her first birthday, when I was only 3mo pregnant with Samuel. Now I am not pregnant, so my milk supply is almost as good as it was with Joshua. So there is no pressing biological need to stop breastfeeding Samuel.

But after 5 1/2 years, I am just sick and tired of the physical demands of pregnancy and breastfeeding. I want to be able to take medicine when I get a cold instead of being told my the pharmacist that nothing is suitable. I want to be able to plan a day out without respect to feeding times. I want to buy some nice clothes that aren't chosen for their accessability!

Samuel is almost walking, which means he is becoming a toddler, not a baby. When he's finished a feed, he sits up and tries to crawl off my lap, rather than snuggling in to me as he would as a baby. So it is not as if he appreciates the cuddles as much as I do.

When I was sick a while back with the flu, around the time we started him on solid food, we bought one can of baby formula. We used it when I was sick and then a few times when we went out on date nights and left the kids with a babysitter. Once we had the formula, if he woke in the night, he got a bottle because it was less physically tiring for me to feed him that way. A fortnight ago the baby formula ran out and we have switched him to full fat cows milk, and he has one or two bottle feeds a week. So he will happily take milk from a bottle, and yesterday I started showing him how to drink water from a cup.

Yes, he's big enough, old enough, capable enough. Yet I am still prevaricating.

Samuel will be my last baby. When I give him his last feed, that will be it. A connection will be broken. I won't be nourishing him - or any other babies - from my own body any longer, and I will miss that intimate connection to his wellbeing.

Weaning is one of the saddest times that I can remember from being a mother to four young children. Each of my weaning experiences have been emotional, even though I have been much more "successful" at feeding than many of my friends. Statistically, I am somewhat of an anomaly to get this far with the whole breastfeeding thing, so I shouldn't complain. But even though sometimes I get frustrated and annoyed, I am going to miss giving Samuel his milk straight from my own body.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Mark 1:35-39

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!"
38 Jesus replied, Let us go somewhere else - to the nearby villages - so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." 39 So he travelled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

Some thoughts:

What's this passage all about?
Jesus prayed alone, very early in the morning, before preaching and performing miracles. Simon and some of the other disciples wanted Jesus to come in from his solitary place and just get on with the business of meeting the people. [Simon sounds a bit like a political press secretary, doesn't he?]

What can I learn from this?
Diligent, regular, frequent prayer is essential preparation for any Christian ministry, whether it be through speech or service. In the context of the rest of Mark 1, especially verses 9-11, other pre-requisites for Christian ministry are baptism (as a public confession of one's own personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour) and the annointing of the Holy Spirit (as a sign of belief - Eph 1:13-14; as a guide in all truth and righteousness - John 16:8-11,13; and as the source of spiritual gifts required for ministry that results in the common good - 1 Cor 12:4-7ff.).
It is easy for Christians to get caught up, like Simon, in the excitement of new ministry opportunities. It is easy to overlook the importance of prayer.

How can I apply this to my own life?
I need to set aside (include in my daily schedule) a place and time for prayer, praying over my "ministry work" (the life God has called me to: being a wife and mother, homemaking, homeschooling, evangelising and discipling my children.) At the moment I use my weekly lap swimming times for this, but I know that one hour, once a week, is not enough. Perhaps in the mid-afternoons, after I have finished homeschool with Joshua and while the younger kids nap, might be a suitable time with the least likelihood of interruptions. It would also help if I had a page in my filofax where I could make an agenda list of people, situations and concerns to pray over, and to record God's answers to my prayers.
I should also be praying more often in support of my husband Jeff. I have learnt that one of the most significant wifely duties is prayer for one's husband.
Another exciting opportunity for ministry is coming up for me if I go ahead with running a short series of workshops for parents at my church on "Raising Christian Kids: evangelising and discipling our own children." I need to move forward prayerfully with my preparation for this. As I prepare each workshop talk, I need to be studying my Bible for God's wisdom about this topic, rather than my own personal, perhaps worldly, understandings. I must pray for His guidance, the gift of His Spirit of truth in this matter.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Weekly Report #8

Joshua has now finished his Penmanship Reader 2, so we are ready to move on to the third unit of Basic Code from Phono-Graphix. Actually, I just pre-tested him on some of the words from the next unit of work and he can already read many of them, using his blending skills combined with the familiarity with the (new) graphemes that he has gained from casual conversation and from alphabet awareness activites we have done. This last Basic Code unit introduces the graphemes [e], [n], [v], [w], [z] and [l]. According to his reading demonstration today, he is already familiar with all of these graphemes except [v].

His last penmanship task this week was tracing A full stop marks the end of a sentence. This is his very first rule for written English. He has it memorised; I told him the rule when he copied the first sentence in his Penmanship Reader #1 and he asked what the dot at the end was. Even though he does not have the reading skills to decode long words, such as "sentence", he was able to read "sen" and "ten", and he was content to be told what the entire word was. I helped him decode and blend the shorter words before he began tracing the rule on Wednesday. We repeated the sentence several times each day this week, while he was tracing it, and at the end of the week he "read" it to Jeff, including pointing out the full stop at the end. Yes, he knows and understands this rule. The next rule I will teach him (while he completes his third Penmanship Reader) is to capitalise the first letter of each sentence: "A capital letter marks the beginning of a sentence."

And just for fun, we've been making letters with Joshua's Duplo railway tracks:
One of the highlights of Table Time this week was playing with stickers. Joshua has been loving his Dinosaur colouring book that his Grandpa gave to him recently. Each picture has a black line image for colouring accompanied with an exemplar image, already coloured. Joshua is loving the challenge of copying the correct colours with the correct amount of pencil pressure to make them lighter or darker.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Spring Vegetable Soup with Prosciutto

I love this soup, even if it isn't such a favourite with the whole family. It is quick to make as you can prepare the ingredients as the earlier ones cook, and it's ideal to fork mash for babies new to solids: my son Samuel, 11 mo, gobbled this up for lunch today. This is another recipe I originally found in Family Circle magazine and adapted for my own family.

50g butter
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1.5L chicken stock
2 large potatoes, peeled, cut into small pieces
2 carrots, peeled, cut into small pieces
3-4 yellow squash, cut into small pieces
1 large zucchini, cut into small pieces
1/2 Savoy cabbage (the ones with crinkly leaves), grated
4 slices prosciutto, roughly chopped
finely grated parmesan
(optional) small amount of baby cereal

1. Place the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is sizzling, add the onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5min or until soft.
2. Increase the heat to high. Add the chicken stock, potatoes and carrots and bring to the boil. Reduce heat again to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5min.
3. Add the squash, zucchini and cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10min.
4. Add the prosciutto and stir through. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting (or off, if you have electric hotplates, rather than gas) and leave to cool down to serving temperature. This will allow the vegetables to soften further. If you are in a rush, serve immediately, sprinkled with parmesan.
5. (Optional) For the baby, put one ladleful into his bowl and fork mash. Add a small amount of baby cereal to absorb the soup liquids, stir and feed him!

Monday, 5 November 2007

Weekly Report #7 and a few thoughts on next year

This will be short and sweet. Joshua has been steaming ahead with his reading and penmanship tasks from his second homemade reader. He will finish that this week, and next week we'll move on to the third unit from Phono-Graphix, the last on the "Basic Code".

If we manage to get the third unit done before Feb next year, we'll be pretty much where I had hoped to be. We started reading lessons slowly this year with a few setbacks as I realised Joshua could segment but wasn't really ready for blending activities. I plan to continue reading and writing lessons through the official school holidays because I don't want him to forget too much.

We've been doing some more follow up after Bible Study and Sunday School with narrations and colouring pictures for the kids' Make-Your-Own Bibles, which the kids have enjoyed as well. I am impressed with how much Joshua recalls of stories he has been told. Anna is also quite good at listening carefully and retelling at least the basics, which is absolutely all you could ask from a three-year-old.

I am starting to get together a Bible story list to work through next year with the kids. I think I'll read each story from a Story Bible while the kids colour a related picture. Then Jeff will read the same story from the NIV to the kids that night over dinner and discuss gospel links and life applications with them. We might also work on teaching them some of the songs we sing in church, so that the kids can join in a bit more.

Table Time has been a bit haphazard this week but we did have some fun with jigsaws: And that's about it.

What Joshua's been learning lately

Jeff recently taught Joshua his first joke:

"Knock, knock."
"Who's there?"
"Boo who?"
"It's only a joke, don't cry!"

And a song that I was kinda hoping he'd never learn, not being exposed to a school playground or a school bus on long excursions or all of those things, but, well, Jeff's the Husband and Dad which means he's the Boss when it comes to curriculum choices...

"Nobody loves me, everybody hates me,
I think I'll go and eat worms.
Long ones, short ones, fat ones, skinny ones,
Watch them wiggle and squirm!

"I bite their heads off, suck their juice out,
Throw their skins away.
Nobody knows how fat I'll grow -
On worms three times a day!"

Yes, well. Ahem. Enough said.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Gaps cont.

My mum sent me an email about my latest blog to "suggest a gap for your consideration as to its priority to tackle (or not)." Sport. As in exercise. As in ball handling skills and riding a bike and running and jumping and kicking and dancing and ... maybe even being a member of a team.

I don't want physical exercise and recreation to be a gap, because I do consider it important to general health and well being, despite an article last weekend in The Weekend Australian Magazine ("Why exercise doesn't work" 27-38 Oct 2007). It also yields benefits in gross motor and interpersonal skills. I am just a little afraid that team sports could easily take over all of our free time, if we let them.

Some ideas on how we might bridge this gap:

Jeff and Joshua are signed up to start weekly Karate lessons after Jeff's exams are over, at a club that meets on the corner of our street (how convenient!). I think a father and son from our Wednesday Bible Study might join them. Thus Joshua will have an opportunity to mix with an established friend in a more formal setting. And this will also be a nice "boy" thing to do with his Dad.

As an aside, while we were driving in the car yesterday morning, Joshua told Anna "You won't do Karate, that's only for boys. Girls go to sewing lessons." (He told me he just thought that one up in his head and didn't get the idea from anywhere in particular. Jeff and I had a good giggle.) Maybe we could send the girls to ballet or gymnastics when they are a little older, rather than Karate.

This summer we are planning on teaching at least Joshua, and probably also the girls, to swim properly, depending on how they all go at it. We should take along our frisbee while we're at the beach.

We are also considering heading out for some of the Summer Season of Orienteering which is on Saturday afternoons and early evenings with a mass start. Orienteering and Rogaining are my "family" sports - I was an orienteer for over two decades, including a stint as the local club president, before I met my husband. The other family from our Bible Study will be going to some of these O events, so there would be social opportunities with them as well. Obviously with Jeff's planned career as a minister, Sunday sport won't be happening, but this might be more doable.

Our wonderful stunt kite broke last time we took it out to the local park, unfortunately. I should look into getting that fixed.

I have looked into Little Athletics, because this is something all the kids could do at the same time rather than having different times and days for team practices because of different ages. Apparently, Joshua will be old enough to do Little Athletics from next (2008-2009) season.

There is a local homeschooling group who do rollerblading, (or maybe it's ice skating, I forget,) locally once a week, once the kids are over a certain age (maybe 8) and there are other sports we could do with homeschool groups.

I realise that all of these ideas are more individual sports rather than team sports, and also none of them involve ball skills, so we might look into a winter team sport that involves balls in 2008 or 2009. Still thinking and looking around for something that gives maximum return (interpersonal snd physical skills) for minimum family impact (time committment, travel).

Jeff has been plugging for a proper bike for Joshua for a while now and I suggested we wait a while but we might get him one for his 5th bday. Every time Jeff sees them on special in a catalogue he wants to run out and get one. I remember I got my first proper bike for my sixth or seventh birthday and I think that was just about right because I didn't need to have a teeny tiny one to avoid the need for trainer wheels.

I do have gross motor skill time down on my list of "kindergarten" activities to include in our 2008 schedule when I have my week of planning in a month or so. At the moment, other than the above, I was just thinking of this being regularly scheduled but informal dance times with the kids listening to our mulltitude of fun CDs.

I also plan to make sure they continue to have outside free play every day that it is feasible. There was an article in The West Weekend Magazine recently ("The protected species" 27 Oct 2007) on the benefits of free, random play (eg climbing trees, dodge ball) rather than organised play (eg climbing a jungle gym, cricket) for developing physical skills. I think part of the idea was that more natural situations have greater diversity so there is more physical skill (flexibiility, reaction times) required as well as greater mental skill (problem-solving, tenacity). While I was reading the article, I fondly recalled my blackberrying expeditions past the bottom of our block in the Adelaide hills as a young child. I really hope that we can continue to live in houses which have decently sized back yards for the kids to play in.

Yeah, I think we'll be able to bridge that gap.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Leaving Gaps

Recently I ran across the class outline of a class from Tobin's Labs titled Are You Leaving (GASP!) Gaps? and it really made me think about what we will be leaving out of our children's education. The author, Tammy Duby, makes a point about the difference between real gaps and perceived gaps and our role in choosing how we deal with gaps.

Once we recognise that something truly is missing from our children's education, we can make a choice: will I attempt to bridge this gap, or won't I? Some gaps I am quite content to leave in my children's education, such as the need to learn to stand in two straight lines before coming through a door. Another gap may have me so concerned when I identify it that I decide I need to address it immediately.

One really helpful part of this outline listed some comparisons. The examples are mine.
1. Things that never change, which are crucial to include in our children's education, such as knowledge of the gospel of salvation throught faith in Jesus Christ.
2. Things that many change, which are "excellent" and therefore important to include, such as enjoyment and understanding of literature and knowledge of mathematics, science and history.
3. Things that constantly change as our children grow older and interests change, which are good to include, such as developing Joshua's present interest in dinosaurs.
4. Things we do not envisage changing, that are missable, such as large-scale bullying.

I will be thinking more on this when I have my homeschool planning week in a month's time, after Jeff finishes his exams. As I revisit my plans for our schedule, chores, character goals and curriculum for 2008, I will be asking myself, "Is there a gap here? Should there be? How can I build a bridge?"