Another Mockingbird Book

I just finished reading this middle school novel.


It has such an interesting premise –

a group of teens aim to bring more attention to the book “To Kill a Mockingbird”

by making the book ‘disappear’.

Yes, this book did make me want to reread “To Kill a Mockingbird”

and I really enjoyed the writing and the humour in this book.

But I was anticipating a different ending.

For that reason alone,

I couldn’t ‘highly’ recommend the book,

however, I still think it was a good read,

especially for kids.

There are PLENTY of issues to discuss in this book

and, if it gets people reading “To Kill a Mockingbird”,

then that’s a good thing.


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Posted by on June 30, 2019 in My Library


An Interesting Health Book

Health can be a pretty boring subject to teach

BUT NOT if you have a really interesting book to read.

This week, we finished reading the book, “Chew on This”.

It was fascinating AND disgusting.

It’s all about the most popular fast food menu items

and how fast food companies use their power.

We were amazed by how our world has changed

because of the growth of fast food outlets.

We didn’t realise how powerful and influential they are.

We were also appalled by how much fast food people consume

and that school children in the US have access to fast food.  :O


However, we did do some of our own research

to discover that Australia doesn’t have all of the same problems…yet.

For starters the size of the US meals are MUCH larger compared to ours

…regardless of where you eat.

When we visited the US a few years back,

we ate at McDonalds and were shocked at some of the basic differences.

A small cheeseburger meal came with

a soda and fries close to the size of a large Australian size,

AND two cheeseburgers!!

We thought they’d misunderstand and tried to explain that they’d given us the wrong order.

But I digress…

If you are trying to convince your children

that fast food is a poor food choice,

read this book.

Or just read this book anyway.

It’s really interesting.

We enjoyed it

…although it could be a while before we can eat McDonalds again.

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Posted by on June 30, 2019 in My Library


A Day in Our Homeschool Life

So what does a homeschooled highschooler’s day look like?

To be honest, it’s a little dull.

In the primary school grades, there were hands on activities galore.

There were lots of excursions and fun projects to do.

But, highschool…well it’s a lot of work.

Don’t get me wrong though.

The highschool years are fascinating.

We’ve learned so much and read the most amazing books.

Anyway, I better get this day moving.

To start with…chores.

I don’t spend my day doing housework, but I quickly do what must be done

and then leave the rest for a less valuable time.

The house can wait, the kids can not.

But rest assured, I have my own little workers I put to good use.

This morning, my boys stripped the bedding from their beds for a wash.

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Have you ever timed how long it actually takes to empty a dishwasher?

In our house, it takes as long as it takes for toast to cook,

so I unpacked the dishwasher while I wait.

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And I filled the waterbottles

because, seemingly, no one else in the house does.

Some things you can teach kids,

and others…well, there are more important things in life.

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After a quick breakfast,

we started in on some reading.

We finished off our current chapter in “Not I, But Christ”

and discussed the purpose of Law in the Bible.

It’s not so we have a list of behavioural guidelines,

but rather a standard by which we can measure ourselves to see how far short our efforts fall.

Without God, we do not measure up.

We need Him

and that’s what the law was trying to show us.

It is also a ‘shadow’ of what Christ is like.

A description so to speak.


Next up we talked about conscription and national service schemes.

This is a fascinating topic, particularly when you look at Australia’s history.

Did you know that there were two referendums in WW1 asking whether Australia should conscript soldiers to the Western Front?

Both failed but it was a very close race.

Did you also know that Australia had a compulsory universal national service scheme?

(By universal, I mean that all the men had to participate.)

Actually, we’ve had a national service scheme a couple of times.

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We also read a few interesting articles I found.

One was really eye-opening.

Did you know that conscription was being discussed in Parliament in 1999 and 2000?

They wanted to increase army numbers in East Timor.

As always, all of this reading and discussing left us with questions.

Today we had two that we needed answers to.

How large is our current defence force, particularly the army?

Are women permitted in direct combat positions nowadays?

We discovered that our army is just shy of 30 000.

We were shocked at how small it was.

Compare it to the US army.

They have over a million.

And sadly, women are now permitted in direct combat positions.

With this comes repercussions.

When the next conscription rolls around, women will be on equal footing with the men.

Oh joy.  😦

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By now the sheets were ready to hang

and a new load of washing was ready to be put on

so my not so little men found something to do while they waited.

Ethan worked on his PrepL course,

the new online ‘learning to drive’ course.

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We’re loving the new PrepL course.

It forces learners to ACTUALLY READ the road rules

and be competent before getting their Ls.

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Brayden grabbed a book and read while I hung washing.

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With the chores taken care of,

it was Math time.

First, we watched a video that explained the concept of our Math lesson.

I find the videos the night before and use them to better explain the concepts.

Yes, senior Math is tough, particularly the two advanced Maths,

but it’s not impossible.

I mean, we’re expecting our kids to be able to do it,

so surely mothers with 40 to 50 years under their belt can cope.

(Yes, this is my Math mantra.  Hehehe.)

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Today we were working on exponential equations

and learning how to use logarithms to help solve them.

It wasn’t too bad,

although we did come a little unstuck with the way the answer book was factorising the problems in question 3.

I should add that a ‘worked solutions’ book is VITAL for highschool Math.

Not just an answer book but a ‘worked solutions’ book so you can see all of the steps.

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All up, we spent about an hour and a half working on Math,

not including the video.

Yes, that’s my Math exercise book on the table between the boys.

I do Math alongside the boys.

Oh and don’t you LOVE the book holders I got from Ikea.

They are actually ipad stands.

$3 from Ikea.

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I finished my Math before the boys

(this doesn’t often happen)

so I ducked out to the letterbox and checked the mail.

I got a newsletter from Creation Research.

There was a brilliant (scary) article on the current state of Science education.

Listen to this:

“ALL geology students HAD TO choose a NEW dissertation project from either:  Natural Hazards (i.e. earthquakes, volcanoes, etc.) or Past Environmental Change WITH EMPHASIS ON CURRENT CLIMATE CHANGE.  EVEN students of historical geology (fossils etc) MUST connect any study on past climate change to claims of current climate change.”

This poor geology student, who wrote the article, was forced to change his dissertation project

because the university wanted to focus primarily on climate change to the exclusion of everything else.


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With Math finished,

another load of washing was put in the washer

and the last load hung.

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The boys took their bedding and remade their beds

and then scootered around my house while they waited.

Yes, scooters inside the house.

We have extra wide hallways and the perfect circuit around our kitchen,

which is in the centre of the house.

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Next up was spelling.

Usually, the boys use a program Ethan created to drill their spelling

but, every week or two, I quiz the boys on a new batch of words to see which words have to be added to their drill list.

Yes, I’m still doing spelling in the senior years.

My spelling lists are just a hodge podge of lists I’ve found on the net.

Both boys are using different lists and quizzing them turns me into a crazy person.

I have to say the name of the boy and then his word,

then glance and check the other boy’s word and give him a new word

and back and forth like a ping pong ball.

Since most of the spelling is correct,

(I’m just looking for gaps)

this process happens quickly,

somewhat like Olympic speed ping pong.

After the quiz, the boys had to take their missed words and add them to their spelling program.

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Grammar is done quickly every day at our house.

We’ve been doing it for years and it comes pretty naturally nowadays.

To all those people who think that grammar is pointless…

you are wrong.

Oh and I do grammar alongside my boys as well.

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Another quick task that we do every day is geography reviews.

Today, we were back reviewing the countries of Europe and the states of the US.

Next will be Asia and Africa.

You have to review to keep this stuff in your head.

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While the boys were blitzing through these mini tasks,

I jumped online and bought their first Christmas present of the year.

A new Gigamic game…Squadro.

I’ve been waiting to find this game.

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These games aren’t cheap

(although, when I first discovered them, I found them for about $10-15 each!!),

however they are beautifully crafted wooden game that will last forever.

I love them.

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We have stacks of Gigamic games.

I love these kinds of strategic quick games.

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Back to the washing machine for my last load of the day.

No I don’t wash this much every day.

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Then lunch.

Phew.  A break.

Each person makes their own and gets an hour to do whatever they want.

Me…I checked emails,

I read the news headlines to make sure the world wasn’t going to end tomorrow,

wrote what we’d accomplished in my planner

and mindlessly surfed for while.

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When the timer goes off, it’s back to work.

Next up on the agenda was essay writing.

We aim to complete one essay each fortnight.

Currently, we’re up to the drafting stage of our essay about whether conscription should be used in times of war.

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Essay writing takes a while

and both boys are quite good at it now.

If they hand me a half-hearted effort,

I’m happy for them to repeat it on Saturday.

so they make sure to read it through

and add plenty of flourishes.

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Meanwhile, I vacuumed.

Might as well.

The boys didn’t need me for this task.

And my LG stick vacuum, which is right next to my desk,

makes it super easy to just pick it up and go.

I love this invention!!

Have you seen that they have an attachment head that mops now?!!

I want it so badly,

but apparently they aren’t selling it separately.

Please LG vacuum people.

Make it possible for me to get one of these.

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Next up, I folded the dry washing.

Yes, I’m a KonMari folder.

(Don’t know what KonMari is?  Read “Spark Joy”.)

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Then it was chocolate time!

No, not for the boys!

They were busy working.

Besides, chocolate is only for Mums.

That’s why we sneak it when we’re pretending to be doing important things in the pantry.

Shhh…don’t tell the kids.

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With their essay drafts completed,

we moved onto our favourite part of the day

…read alouds.

On days when we have plenty of time,

I read a little bit from every book in our pile.

On days when we’re squeezed for time,

I simply select a book or two from our pile.

Today we read a couple of chapters from “Isaac the Alchemist”.

You get a really good insight of what Isaac Newton was like in his early years from this book.

It’s fascinating.

We read the chapter about the skeletal system in “Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology”.

Yes, this is an elementary text but we’re using it to quickly and easily fill a gap we’ve found.

We’ve read a lot of books about health and diseases,

but our basic knowledge of the human body could be better.

We did a unit on the human body when the boys were younger,

but it was a long time ago now

and well forgotten.

So we’re blitzing through this book for review.

We read another chapter from “Chew on This”.

This book is horrifyingly good.

Today we read about how fast food restaurants are putting their foods in schools in the US.

The statistics were terrible.

40% of elementary schools sell fast foods from places like McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Burger Kings.

75% of middle schools have it

and 90% of highschools.

Wow!  Just wow!

We also read another chapter from “The Family Romanov”.

This book is GREAT.

Currently, we’re reading about Russia’s involvement in WW1

and their lack of essential supplies.

Their soldiers went without winter coats and boots

and their ammunition were rationed,

if they had a gun at all.

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Finally, we read the first book of “Consolation of Philosophy”.

This was another great read

and not nearly as hard to read and understand as you might think.

Lots of discussion was had about this book.

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And while I read, the boys folded the smalls.

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Yes, it was getting late by the time we wrapped up school for the day.

So I went to start dinner

…only to discover that I was missing a crucial ingredient.

So a quick call to hubby was made to ask him to stop in at the store and bring home a can of tomatoes.

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For dinner, we were having pasta bake; everyone’s favourite.

Imagine the aromas

…garlic, tomatoes, onions, cumin, cinnamon, cheesy white sauce

Made from scratch,

then poured over the pasta and baked in the oven.

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While I waited for the pasta bake to bake,

I tidied the school desk,

which looked like this at the end of the day.

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I also ironed hubby’s work shirt for tomorrow.

I hate ironing.

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And looked over Math for tomorrow.

Then wished that Math was never invented.

Then, in desperation, turned to youtube for a video that explained things to me.

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After dinner,


I edited the boys essays,

read and responded to some emails,

watched an old episode of 911 on 7Plus

and then went to bed and read more of “Monsters of Men”.

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That was our day.

Not the most fascinating day

but not the least fascinating either.

We didn’t cover all subjects,

but we covered a bunch.

“Will your days look like my days?”

No, and they shouldn’t.

Your days should look like your days.

So look for inspiration or comfort in reading about my day.

Or just enjoy the read.

Avoid, at all costs, comparisons.

Every homeschool should be unique

because every homeschool has unique students and teachers.


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Posted by on June 13, 2019 in Homeschooling Days


Highschool isn’t to be Feared

Today I thought I’d chat about homeschooling highschoolers,
since I’m just about to graduate my first homeschooled highschooler.
Lots of people worry about homeschooling in the highschool years;
I was one of them, although I tried my best not to think about it too much.
My approach was to think only about the step that was in front of me
and not to let tomorrow’s concerns creep into today.
And this approach seems to have worked.
Here I am with a grade 12 student and a grade 10 student and I’m still sane
…well, mostly.
Actually I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the highschool years
and I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to spare my children from the stress and nonsense
that happens in the senior highschool years at school.
So, what can I share about homeschooling highschoolers with those coming behind me?
Well, firstly and most importantly, stop worrying.
Work with the day in front of you and enjoy it.
Worrying won’t help at all, unless you’re aiming on going grey early.
Secondly, highschool takes more time so prepare to spend a good chunk of the day working.
If you are able to finish highschol work in half a day, you aren’t doing enough.
When your kids reach the highschool years, their work expectations need to increase.
They need to be reading harder books, writing longer more complex essays and studying more rigorous topics.
That’s just the nature of highschool work.
This is partly why I find it more difficult to blog nowadays.
I have less time and the work that we’re completely isn’t as photogenic,
but I assure you that our days, while not visually interesting, are mentally interesting.
Now, for the most common question, “How do I teach all of those senior subjects?
There are two parts to my answer.
Firstly, you don’t have to teach all of those difficult subjects if you can’t or don’t wish to.
There are so many resources to help homeschoolers.
Online classes, tutors, dvd courses and more.
Secondly, my own approach has been to work alongside my children, especially for Math.
It’s been a long time since I studied senior Math subjects
so I’d really struggle to teach or help my boys if I wasn’t in the midst of it with them.
I look over the exercise beforehand and I also use youtube videos to help me understand and teach new topics.
Then I sit beside my boys and actually complete the exercises alongside them.
Yes, I have my own exercise book!
Its great for my brain and it means that I can easily help my boys when they struggle
(and they can help me too!)
I work alongside my boys for a number of subjects.
This is probably where I’m very different to most homeschoolers.
It’s common for homeschooled highschoolers to be given their textbooks and a schedule
and be sent to their rooms to teach themselves using their materials.
The idea is that this approach encourages independent learning hence self-education.
Those things are great, however, I have a different priority at this stage in the learning process – mentorship.
A mentorship is a relationship where a more knowledgeable and experienced person
guides or teaches a lesser knowledgeable and experienced person.
I think a mentor, or a teacher, better educates a student than self-education,
particularly at this stage in life.
Not to undervalue independent learning, however, if I have a choice, and I do, I’d want someone to teach me.
Consider having to build a car from scratch. Which would you prefer?
Having an teacher guide and instruct you or teaching yourself with a textbook?
I know which I would choose for myself, so I want my children to have that same advantage.
Having someone to guide and instruct them, also gives them someone to discuss and converse with.
Dialogue is a vital component of learning.
Explaining, questioning, elaborating, debating – these are all part of a good education.
Highschool is also a time when our children need people around them.
It is not a good time for them to be alone.
They crave social interaction so spend time doing things with them
and make sure they have plenty of time with their friends.
Another thing I don’t do that other homeschoolers may do is narrow our subject selection in the senior years.
In school, students select a narrowing number of subjects as they get older.
The reason for this is that senior subjects are seen as the first step towards their future job or career.
The subjects they won’t use in their future jobs are ‘dropped’ in favour of ‘more useful’ subjects.
In my homeschool, we don’t narrow the subject focus because we view education differently to schools
If a subject was worthy of study in the beginning, it doesn’t lose it’s worthiness
simply because it won’t be used in future careers.
Education is for life, not merely a job, so we’re still studying all manner of things.
But if you are going to narrow your subjects,
I’d advise you to keep Math and English (particularly essay writing).
You’d be surprised how many university courses have at least one Math subject as a prerequisite;
courses you wouldn’t think were Math related in any way.
And the universities we have looked at have all had English as a prerequisite for every one of their courses.
So keep working hard on those essay writing skills.  They really do matter.
Oh and encourage your highschoolers to read, to read a lot.
(Dvds and podcasts are a poor substitute for books.)
What else can I share with you?  Feel free to ask questions.  I’m just throwing out thoughts of my own here.
I think the most important thing I can say, aside from don’t worry,
is don’t change your homeschooling to suit your tertiary goals…unless you want to.
You don’t need to send your kids to schools or distance education programs
to get them official paperwork or rankings.
You don’t need to rush them into courses and Tafe certificates to fulfill university prerequisites
…unless you can’t wait.
There is no need to change the great education you were providing your children
before the fears of highschool hit.
There is time to finish giving your kids the education that you dreamed of when you first started homeschooling.
Don’t let irrational highschool fears steal the final years from your child.
Enjoy those years of homeschooling your highschooler
…and there’s plenty to enjoy, especially the great books and discussions.
But most importantly,
let your highschooler enjoy their final homeschool years.
They can’t get them back once they are gone.


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Posted by on June 11, 2019 in Homeschooling Days