First School Week of 2019

Well, week one of the homeschool year is complete.

We survived.

No one was particularly keen, myself included.

Holidaying is much more fun.

Plus, the end of this year is the end of homeschooling for Ethan.

So, if we don’t start the school year, then we can’t finish it.

That sounds logical, doesn’t it?


Well, we did manage to drag ourselves to our books,

so the year has started.

This week there has been plenty of great reading.

Reading is always our favourite part of the school day.

No, I don’t send my kids away to read through a pile of books by themselves.

Sure, that’s fine,

but, in our house,

we prefer to read aloud and share what we are learning.

This way we have shared learning and experiences and can discuss it.

In History, we are reading about Theodore Roosevelt.

I find the man fascinating

and his character is to be admired.

Franklin Roosevelt, his distant cousin,

said Theodore was ‘the greatest man he ever knew’.

Did you know that Eleanor Roosevelt

was Theodore’s niece (his brother’s daughter)?

Franklin was a distant cousin to both.

The book we are reading is by Albert Marrin,

one of my favourite authors.

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We also read a book called “Kids at Work”.

I’ve had this book on the shelf for ages

and we finally got around to reading it.

The photos in this book are by the famous photographer, Lewis Hine,

who showed the world the reality of child labour.

The photos are haunting.

To see such young children working at dangerous jobs

for long periods and for so little money.

Children as young as five!!

It was a tough book but a necessary one.

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We also started two literature titles this week.

We began reading Frankenstein and the Aeneid.

Well, we haven’t launched into the ‘real’ Aeneid just yet.

We always start with a children’s version of tougher books,

so, this week, we are reading Penelope Lively’s “In Search of a Homeland”.

Straight away the boys noticed the changed in the names of the gods and goddesses.

In previous years, we read the Iliad and the Odyssey,

so we are used to the Greek version of the names.

Now we have to switch to the Roman names.

I’m going to get one of the boys to make us a name comparison poster,

so we can refer to it as we listen.

I can’t keep all my Roman gods straight in my mind.

Oh and I won’t be reading the ‘real’ Aeneid.

We’ll be listening to an audio version of the story.

Just reading the children’s version, I’m massacring all of the names.

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No, we’re not using a children’s version of Frankenstein.

These sorts of classics don’t really need a simplified version.

Well, not if you are used to classic books.

Sure, the language is tough,

especially when you dive into the first few pages,

but the storyline is relatively straight forward.

Well, it is so far.

I haven’t read Frankenstein before so I’m looking forward to this book.

I’ve also ordered a book about the author, Mary Shelley.

From what I understand, the story of the creation of “Frankenstein” is rather interesting,

however, Shelley’s life is rather a sad one.

The book I ordered was “Mary Shelley:  The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein’s Creator”.

Having checked out Common Sense Media,

I’ll be avoiding the Mary Shelley dvd like the plague.

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We also began reading the Tuttle Twin books.

I only just heard of these late last year

and HAD to read them

(mostly for my own curiosity).

They are way too young for my boys,

however, if the content is good and could spark discussion,

age recommendations never worry me.

The first book, “The Tuttle Twins Learn About the Law”

took us only a few minutes to read

and each book is the same length

so the books won’t take much time away from our other reading.

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Plus, I plan for the books to be launching points.

This first book leads naturally into reading Bastiat’s book, “The Law”,

a book perfectly suited to my students.

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We’re also reading, “Uncle Eric Talks About Personal, Career, and Financial Security”.

We love the Uncle Eric series by Richard Maybury.

We plan on reading them all.

These books also spark conversation!

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In Science we are finishing off a book we started last year,

“What Einstein Told His Barber”.

It’s a ‘popular science’ book that answers all manner of questions

and it’s great as a launching point for different directions of study,

which is why it’s taking so long to finish the book.

We also make notes about our learning in a notebook.

We made several new entries this week.

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We also returned to reading “Art of Argument”.

I’ve done a terrible job at teaching logic.

It’s the subject that is always forgotten

and set aside.

So this year we are going to attack it with gusto.

This week, we reread this book from the start

and even worked through a few new chapters.

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Logic is so important.

In a world without logic, you must use power and threats to win arguments.

In that world, people aren’t pursuing the Truth,

but merely desiring to win,

while embracing or ignoring their ignorance.

So, this year, we WILL study Logic.

Oh, I can’t help myself.

I have to add a great related quote I read this week.

“Be careful that you’re fighting for the right cause.”

I snorted.  “What, for the Igniters?”

“No.  Don’t fight for the Igniters.  Don’t fight for the Keepers.”

I pressed both hands against one of the house walls, taking a deep breath.  “Shouldn’t I fight for what I believe in?”

“It’s not as simple as that.  Fighting for what you believe in is too subjective.”

I raised my head to meet her eyes.

“We need to fight for truth.  Your beliefs can be misguided.”

“So can yours,” I ground out, defensive, though I wasn’t sure why.  Hadn’t I been thinking the same thing before she entered the alley?

“Exactly.  Both Igniters and Keepers and people in between fight for their own agendas…instead of being willing to discuss and seek what’s right.”

I tried not to sneer.  “Do you really think there’s some ultimate truth out there?”

She laughed.  “Of course there is!  It is the foundation of morals and justice.  A foundation of truth represents what life was intended to be.”

(p267.  “Fawkes” by Nadine Brandes)

“Fawkes” is a brilliant book by a brilliant author.

Yes, she’s a Christian author,

but I love that she doesn’t moralise in her book.

Faith is an integral part of her writing,

but it’s not lathered on thickly as decoration,

which is so often the case in Christian fiction.

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Anyway, back to our school week.

Each school day, the boys reviewed the states of the US

and the countries of Europe using Seterra.

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The boys also worked on Latin using Picta Dicta.

Picta Dicta has been great for building their vocabulary skills,

to go with all the Latin grammar they know.

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They also worked on grammar each day, parsing four sentences a day.

It’s pretty second nature to us now

and we actually enjoy it.

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The boys also worked on their spelling.

It’s an area where they need some refining and tweaking

so it’s going to be a big focus this year.

The first essay of the year was also started.

As you know, we don’t use textbooks for content areas, like History for example.

Instead, the boys write essay to relate what they have learned or are thinking.

Since it’s the start of the year,

I had to select a non-book topic.

So the boys will be writing about whether we should celebrate Australia Day on the 26th January.

Using the Lost Tools of Writing, the boys have to research and address both sides of the argument

and that’s what they did this week.

They also gathered their arguments together and selected a viewpoint to defend,

and then wrote a detailed outline of their essay.

Next week, they’ll draft the essay.

It generally takes two weeks to complete an essay

when you include all of the steps.

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Yes, we did some Math too.

Yes, there’s a hint of reluctance in my voice.

We are still finishing off our year 11 text

so we had to dive right into a tough chapter

with no warm up period.

My head hurts just recalling it.

But we blitzed through two exercises a day!

The online worked solution book disappears from our account in April

and we have several chapters to finish before then,

so it’s full steam ahead.

Why are we still working on last year’s text?

Well, lots of people are happy with

the ‘you don’t have to do everything’ approach

or the ‘do every second question’ type of thing,

but that’s not us.

Seeing how the exercises are carefully planned

to guide your learning,

it just doesn’t sit well with us to be skipping things.

So, we often don’t finish a whole textbook in ONE year,

but we ALWAYS finish a WHOLE textbook.

At the rate we worked this past week,

we should be on schedule to finish this book this term.

I’m happy with that.

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What else did we do?

Well the boys read independently each day.

That’s a requirement.

In the car, we also listened to several hours of our latest audio story,

“1493: From Columbus’ Voyage to Globalisation”.

It’s a fascinating book.

Did you realise that slavery in the US was heavily influenced by malaria?!

While slaves from Africa were a lot more expensive than indentured servants from Britain,

the indentured servants (and colonists) more often died from malaria,

so the extra expense in the short term became a better investment in the long run.

We just listened to the chapter on sugar plantations

and it’s already inspired a learning tangent.

We want to learn more about Queensland’s history of kanaka labour in our sugar cane plantations.

I will have to see if I can find a book or documentary.

Yes, there was some socialising this week too.

Non-homeschoolers are always worried about our social life.

Well, we went to a friend’s place and played boardgames all afternoon

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and we also went to the park with different friends for an afternoon.

Oh and on the weekend we went to my niece’s third birthday party.

So that’s plenty of socialising.

That wraps up our first week of school for the year.

If anyone is wondering, there are 54 sleeps until the next lot of holidays,

but who’s counting.




Posted by on February 9, 2019 in Homeschooling Days


Finally Back Home

After Canberra,

we drove to Port Macquarie

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and stayed the night

in a nice little cabin.

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Then, the next day,

we got back into the car

for one more day of driving.

We were soooo over driving by then.

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After five weeks of driving

around the east coast of Australia,

we were all very keen to be home again

so the Queensland state border

was a very welcomed sight.


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Oh and in case you were wondering,

these are the books I hauled home

from down south.

Lots of treasures.

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Posted by on February 2, 2019 in Australian Holiday, Family Events


Back to Canberra to Visit Rome

When planning our holiday,

we noticed that the National Museum of Australia in Canberra

was hosting an exhibition about Rome – “Rome: City and Empire”.

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However, it was starting AFTER we’d visited Canberra.  😦

But, never fear.

We made a way to make it happen.

On our way back home,

we simply stopped in Canberra.

Although we skipped the dodgy motel

that we stayed in last time,

and, instead, stayed in another differently dodgy motel.

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(They only had internet in the foyer

– who wants to sit in the foyer to use the internet! –

and they only had a handful of carparks for the WHOLE motel!)

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However, the exhibition was well worth returning for.

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And we were delighted to discover that they had an audio tour.

We love tours!

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The exhibition space was huge

(compared to what we are used to in Brisbane)

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and the exhibits were amazing.

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I loved all the quotes around the walls.

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Did you know that only men with full Roman citizenship wore the toga?

(The head of this statue does not belong with the body of this statue.

Even the Romans recycled!)

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Before the age of facelifts and Botox,

the emperors had to make sure

that at least their statues and busts looked good.

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Their images also acted as propaganda.

This head depicts Emperor Commodus.

His head looks ‘ageless and wise’,

(well that’s what the plaque said;

I thought the eyes made him look creepy)

yet Commodus was cruel and horrible.

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All of Augustus’ portraits

depicted him at 30 years of age,

even though he lived to be 77.

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I enjoyed checking out the different hairdos

on the female heads.

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There were stacks of gods and goddesses

depicted at the exhibition.

This is Fortuna.

You kept her happy if you wanted a desirable fate and a huge fortune.

To have this goddess abandon you,

would be disastrous.

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People also had figures of these pagan deities

in their homes.

Keeping all of these ‘gods’ happy,

must have been quite a challenge.

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If you wanted to test out your Latin skills,

there were plenty of opportunities at the exhibition.

Here’s a little something to get your started.

It’s a diploma of citizenship

that was given to a retiring soldier.

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Yes, there were a few exhibits about gladiators

but not a huge amount,

which was nice.

Too often, that’s all people know about the Roman empire.

This relief shows two female gladiators,

which were not rare,

but still a bit of a novelty.

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I liked looking at all the day to day items,

like this skin scraper and oil flask.

When people went to the Roman baths,

they would exercise and then go to the heated baths.

There they would be rubbed with oil

and scraped down to remove both the oil and the dirt.

Afterwards, they took a cold bath

to close their pores.

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Check out the decorations on the scraper.

Would we, in the modern world,

bother with ‘mere decoration’

for a simple tool that scraped gunk off us?

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And, this is a theatre ticket!!

One of these isn’t going to fit well into your purse or wallet.

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This is a ‘bulla’,

an amulet worn by children until their sixteen birthday.

It supposedly protected the child from evil spirits.

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There were a couple of lovely mosaics.

Imagine your floors covered with these mosaics.

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Okay, probably not what I would want on my floors either,

but, I still appreciate the work that went into creating them.

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I prefer this mosaic though-

cupids riding dolphins.

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I particularly appreciated the exhibits

that depicted Christian symbols and images.

This plaque contains the Chi-Rho symbol,

which symbolises the first two letters of Christ’s name.

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These spoons also contain Christian symbols and messages.

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This one says, “Vivas in Deo”,

which means, “May you live in God”.

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Have you ever heard of denarii?

It’s a form of Roman currency

that you might have read in the Bible.

This is what denarii looked like…

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Did you know that the Roman statues

weren’t white like the statues we see today?

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They were actually brightly coloured.

Hopefully not as brightly coloured as the statue

that the boys coloured.

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There were so many fascinating exhibits to explore.

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In fact, if this exhibition ever travels to Brisbane,

we”ll probably visit it again.

We liked it that much.

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The Murray River and a Submarine

Whenever we had a whole day of driving ahead of us,

I always made sure to find a few little interesting places to visit

…merely so we had an excuse to get out of the car and walk around.

So, when we crossed the Murray River,

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I declared that we HAD to walk along the Murray River.

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I claimed that it was an important river

(and it is),

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and that we should mark the occasion of crossing the river

with a little walk and visit.

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My family thought I was mad,

but, at the same time,

it was nice to be out of the car.

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Our next little stop was in Holbrook,

 where we found a submarine

…although the town is nowhere near the sea or ocean.

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The submarine was in the middle of their town park.

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There was a great story to this submarine,

and we’d know the story

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if we hadn’t found this note on the museum door!

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Okay, well, despite being frustrated,

we did track down the story.

This little town used to be called, “Germanton”,

but, during WW1, this wasn’t a popular name.

The townspeople wanted a name change,

so they adopted the more patriotic name of Holbrook

after Lieutenant Holbrook,

who was the first submariner

to receive a Victorian Cross.

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He and his crew,

after being shot at,

almost running out of power,

and staying under water longer than was safe,

had penetrated rows of sea mines in the Dardanelles,

to sink a Turkish battleship.

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Hence, the installation of the above water section

of a submarine, the HMAS Otway, in the town park.

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After we left Holbrook,

Google Maps took us on another little off-road excursion.

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Okay, well it was partly hubby’s fault too.

He wanted to take a scenic detour

and he took the turn off

before I could google how much longer

the ‘little’ detour would add to our drive.

Three hours turned out to be a detour

that no one wanted to take,

so Google Maps took us,

via whoop-whoop,

back to the highway.

This is what whoop-whoop looked like.

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Our road improved slightly

and then some cows were added to make things interesting.

Never a dull day of driving.

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But, we eventually arrived in Canberra

and our new-to-us accommodations.

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