Pillars of Pine

Pillars of Pine

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Literature and Literacy Analysis

Well, after much thought (too much, me thinks!) I suddenly remembered a curriculum I had on my shelf that had been happily gathering dust for a number of years - Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings

I though about all my goals for the rest of the year in regards to Literature - to have my high school students read good books, analyse Literature, and continue to write essays.  Ultimately, I wanted a course in English Literature, although nothing I looked at seemed quite right.  However, after blowing off the cobwebs from the huge volumes of the LOTR curriculum, I was pleasantly surprised - this resource covered all of the above, and more!  Even though it's focus is on LOTR, it also covers other Literature as well, such as Beowulf and the Arthurian Legends.

We completed the first chapter and lesson today, and so far, all looks good.  The only issue I have is that the lesson plans are written for 180 days, where as we only have 3 terms (150 days) left in the school year - so we'll work that one out as we go  - the lesson plans themselves do mention it can be done over one semester - I'll need to sit down with the plans and go over them thoroughly when I have the time. 

Some of us have previously read LOTR, others have not, but had always 'planned' to.  So, it seems as if this curriculum may just be the one.  The children are very keen, too - which is always a great start! 

I'll post some more later as to how we are going with it all.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Decisions, Decisions!

Sometimes, I find the most difficult part of homeschooling is to simply decide what we will use, and, what we won't use.

We are very blessed these days - there are homeschooling curriculums galore, for every subject and every grade level.  But without actually trying them all, how does one decide?

Since the er, 'dumping' of our Adventure Novel curriculum, I'm now left with a choice - I'd like to go back and complete one more IEW programme with my son before he finishes up his homeschooling journey.  After some research, I've narrowed it down to two choices:  Windows to the World, or The Elegant Essay.  Not sure yet which way we will go, but I seem to be spending far too many hours researching and trying to make the decision!

Hmm...  maybe a random answer generator will do the trick!


Friday, March 23, 2012

TTC13 - Twin Touch Markers Challenge - 2nd Attempt!

As I wasn't that 'thrilled' with my last attempt, I decided to create another card for the Touch Twin Markers Challenge - TTC13.

Here's my card:

For this card, I used clear stamps by 'Inkadinkadoo', bazzill cardstock, and the following Touch Twin Markers:

2  Old Red
9 Pale Pink
41 Olive Green
48 Yellow Green
67 Pastel Blue
69 Prussian Blue.

OK - creative time over - time to tackle the housework!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Controversial Homeschooling Article

If you'd like a read of a very interesting, but controversial, homeschooling article and a blog post all about it, pop over to 'A Peaceful Day' - Jeanne has written an excellent post about the article, as well as provided the link to it. 

It has certainly had me thinking a lot about things the past few days - exactly how much is the 'minimum' we should cover, and who is it that should decide what that 'minimum' is?  What if the parent is ill - should they continue with homeschooling, knowing that not everything they'd like to cover will be covered?  Would the child be better off at home anyway, or would they be better off in the school system?  And, what is more important - morals, or academics?

Very interesting information......


The Inheritance Cycle

I certainly cannot make the claim of being a fast reader, but I do eventually get there!  I've just finished the 4th and final book of Christopher Paolini's 'The Inheritance Cycle'.  And I have to say that I absolutely loved it!

The story, the characters, the setting - everything came together in one delightful tale of magic and adventure.  It took me ages to work up the courage to tackle such a huge book as Inheritance, but eventually, I began by reading a chapter a day, which quickly escalated into two, then three, and then even more as I neared the end of the book.  And now, I'm just sorry that there isn't more of it! 

Definitely a wonderful read - time in Alagaesia is time well spent. 


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

And That was That....

Today, I sat my two teens down for a chat.  They had both been taking the 'One Year Adventure Novel' course, but, well, it didn't seem to me that they really 'were' using it, given that it had been so long since they began the course, and I'd seen very little work from them.

They both said they liked it fine, but would rather be writing fantasy novels, where as the programme insisted on an 'adventure' novel.  Of course, they do realise that the knowledge could then be used to write in other genres, but they were struggling with motivation to complete the course.

After a long chat and listening to their views, we unanimously decided to call it quits with the One Year Adventure Novel.  We still do like the programme - and I have a suspicion that a couple of my younger girls will love it, so, we'll put it aside for now, and see what the future brings.

As my teens are working through the English textbooks, 'English for Australian Schools', and as they have already completed several IEW writing courses, I have decided to be nice, and allow them to continue with only their English text and their Literature Lists for the rest of the year.

My son, however, said that he wouldn't mind taking a geography course, so we've added that in instead - I think we'll use the 'Ultimate Geography Guide', along with the lesson plans from Mother of Divine Grace School, both of which I have on my shelf.

It feels like we're always changing bits and pieces of our curriculum, however, I strongly believe that there's no point  pushing things that are not being enjoyed, or more correctly, when learning isn't taking place.  In this case, I felt it was time to let go of a curriculum that, while excellent, was not working for my two teens at this point. 

And,  we're moving on.......


Monday, March 19, 2012

TTC13 - Twin Touch Markers Challenge

We've had a relaxing day today- having some computer time, cleaning up around the house, and so forth.

The latest theme of the 'Twin Touch Marker Challenge - TTC13' is 'Spring'.  I have made the following card. The design I drew myself (yeh, brilliant, I know!), and all the colours I used I've listed below:

Front of Card


Here's the list of colours I used:

9 - Pale Pink
23 - Orange
31 - Pastel Yellow
35 - Lemon Yellow
48 - Yellow Green
54 - Viridian
63 - Cerulean Blue
67 - Pastel Blue
74 - Brilliant Blue
85 - Vivid Purple
104 - Brown Grey
CG1 - Cool Grey
WG9 - Warm Grey

It's funny, actually - I can paint an entire landscape, but I'm finding 'simple' drawings quite difficult!  Well, like everything, I guess it's a simple matter of practice.  :)


My Happy Place

Years ago, back in the days where I went out to work for a living, I attending a seminar which spoke about reducing our stress levels.  During the seminar, we were asked to close our eyes, relax, and to imagine we were in a nice, relaxing place - we were to think of the most calm and peaceful surroundings we could. The idea was that, if in the future we felt stressed or overwhelmed, we could return to our own, special 'Happy Place'. 

During the exercise, I thought of a peaceful forest scene by a river, with birds singing and dear coming down to drink from the stream. It was a lovely, relaxing picture, and the idea worked - I always felt somewhat calmer when I thought of the scene in my mind.

However, that was years ago, and it's been a long time since I've thought of it.  That is, until yesterday.  Yesterday, we attended an auction, and on one of the tables, I spied the most beautiful picture.  I instantly exclaimed, 'Wow!  It's my Happy Place!', and when my children looked at me rather strangely, I went onto explain to them the story.

So, I bought the picture - much to my surprise, actually - at 110cm x 60cm it is rather large, and it had a note attached stating that the picture had recently been re-glassed and framed at a cost of $175. So, I figure my $45 was quite well spent. The beautiful wooden frame is, however, rather heavy, so putting it on the wall may be an adventure, but I have the perfect spot - right above my table in my room, which is where I often retreat when I need some time out.   It's a very rare thing that I will spend money on something such as a picture, but there you go - I've now officially bought something  'just beacause'! 

My Happy Place


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Our Year Thus Far.

We're now well into Term 1, and it's time to stop and take a look at how we are going.

My teens are very independent these days, preferring to work on their own.  I sometimes don't even get to mark their work, as with answer keys and so forth, they're quite capable to grade their own assignments.  Of course, I do check their progress from time to time - fortunately, they are very trustworthy, but, they're still teens!  :)

My teens have been using the following resources:

Maths - Teaching Textbooks or Life of Fred (they choose their preferred text)

Writing - One Year Adventure Novel, while my 15 yo is working through Student Writing Intensive, Level B.

Grammar - English for Australian Schools

Literature - As for history, my teens have a reading list - some of these titles include 'The Wind in the Willows', 'A Christmas Carol', and 'I Can Jump Puddles'.  They've decided that it would be best to concentrate on the history reading list first, and will then complete their literature list in the 2nd half of the year.

Science - Apologia - two are working through Chemistry, and one is almost finished General Science, about to begin Physical Science.

History - we are using historical novels for world history, with a focus on Medieval History for the 1st half of the year.

Australian History - History Through Movies. 

So far, we've watched the mini-series 'Captain James Cook'.  It unfortunately had some nudity included (the natives on Tahiti), and some less-than moral behaviour with the natives, but otherwise, it was excellent.  (As a side note - if you follow the link I've provided to the DVD, the same seller has a host of other excellent, Australian movies and mini-series available, some long out of print or no longer available).

Logic - Critical Thinking, Book 1.  We all come together for this, and we have quite enjoyed it, and had a great deal of fun with the questions.

Religion - Understanding the Scriptures.  We're almost done - just two lessons to go!  Again, it is a resource we use in a group setting, with my two oldest teens completing the lessons, and each Thursday, we come together to discuss the answers.  I've found this to be an excellent text - and the information is presented at just the right level.

Music - Concert Band, Choir, and various other resources depending on their interest, which ranges from 'no thanks' to formal lessons and music theory.  The instruments chosen this year by my three oldest are harmonica, clarinet and piano.

Art - Artistic Pursuits, High school level, and much informal art, including drawing and painting.  By this level, my children know if art is 'their thing'.

Computer Studies - Pure & Simple, as well as their own studies into website building and movie making.  Once upon a time, I would have insisted on a 'curriculum' for much of this, but they are doing so well without one - my son has created some wonderful animated movies, my 16 year old is busy finding out all about website building, and my 15 year old has created some amazing animated characters.  It seems the old 'learning by doing' is working well here.

PE - plenty of time outside, on the skateboards or firing arrows into the hay bales.  We recently purchased both a left-handed and a right-handed archery bow, and it's fitting in very well with our Medieval studies.

My 15 year old completes some lessons with her older brother and sister (such as Logic), but joins in with the younger ones on such subjects as Latin.

The youngest three (aged 13, 11 and 9) are using the resources listed below:

Maths - Signpost Maths + Calculadder Drills + Times Tales (and they've also read most of the Life of Fred Elementary Books)

Writing - Student Writing Intensive, Level A

Grammar - Voyages in Literature

Spelling - Phonetic Zoo Level A

Latin - Latina Christiana Book 1 -  as always, it's 'slow and steady' with our Latin lessons, but we're getting there!

Literature - they have been reading through our selection of 'troll classics' - shortened versions of famous books such as Black Beauty, etc.  As a read-aloud, we have been thoroughly enjoying 'Pollyanna'.

Science - Science in the Creation Week, by Dr. Jay Wile.  We are very much enjoying this book!  The lessons are simple to do, the experiments work, and there seems to be the right amount of information per lesson.

History - We've completed 'The Middle Ages' lapbook from 'In the Hands of a Child', and are now gearing up to begin our Australian History studies, using 'Australia, the Wide Brown Land for Me!' plus the notebook.  As well, we are still enjoying the 'Horrible Histories' DVDs, and they are listening to the Story of the World Audio Books, which they will finish up in the next week or two.

Logic - Building Thinking Skills, Mind Benders and Balance Benders.

Religion - The Golden Children's Bible - reading and narrating about 6-8 pages per week.  As well, I try to read the saint of the day and say some short, simple prayers with them each day.  I hope to begin using the 'Acitivy Paks' from Homeschool in the Woods for the Old and New Testaments, but we've not begun these as yet.

Music - my 11 year old has trumpet lessons, and my 9 year old sings in the choir.  I've a great music appreciation programme planned out - no surprises here, we've not really begun that - yet.

Art - Artistic Pursuits, Book 2.  Again, we're running a bit behind with 'the plan', but we've very much enjoyed the lessons we have completed.  We are also finishing up 'The Drawing Textbook'.

Computer Studies - Logo Adventures, once per week.

PE - plenty of time outside, on the skateboards or firing arrows into the hay bales. We also make great use of the 'Wii Fit' programme.

There's more 'bits and pieces', of course - but this year, I'm attempting to become more focused on the basics. 

While we have not completed everything I'd planned, I find that this year I am much more accepting of what doesn't get done.  In the past, I felt that if we hadn't completed several science lessons per week, I had somehow failed - now, if we only fit in one science lesson per week, then that's one more lesson completed, and I'm satisfied.  It's been quite a shift in my thinking - there are still things I'd like to see improve, of course, but it has led to me becoming more relaxed and more able to 'go with the flow' as sometimes, life takes over.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Year our Cameras Went Nuts....

I have just completed the mammoth task of dating, ordering, and filing over 1400 photos.  All of these photos were from 2011, and they are now all in photo albums, in order, and on the shelf.

And in case you were wondering, no, I didn't have every photo I took printed - this was just a selection!   I did, however, take advantage of a New Year, 'prints for 10c each' offer.

Did we take just a few too many photos last year?

I think so...

BTW,  if you happen to be looking for some great photo albums at a great price, the blue albums pictured above are availalble for only $60 for four, including postage to anywhere in Australia:


I happened to find this deal via Google search.  The albums are lovely - simple, slip-in albums that also have a place to write something about each photo (not that I have done that for every photo of mine!).  Each album holds 300 photos.

While I completed my task, I must confess to having the thought that this whole thing would be such a waste of time if our house ever burned down....

Still, it's nice to have all my photos, right from my childhood, organised, labelled, and in order on the shelf for easy reference - at least this is one thing I seem to have managed to keep up with over the years.

Another job off the 'to do' list - well, until this time next year!


Monday, March 12, 2012

I Now Make my Home in You.

One of my favourite hymns is 'Be Still My Friends'.  As we sang it yesterday in church, some of the words struck me in a very powerful way:

The mountains, the valleys, the oceans deep
Sing praises and glory to you.
And all of creation joins in song
But man find You within!

Awesome, isn't it?  All of creation sings of God's glory - but we can find Him within us - we are temples of the Holy Spirit.  While the rest of creation looks up and gives Him praise, we have Him right here with us, in our hearts and in our minds.  He knows us, and is always with us;  He has made His home within us.

How special is that?


Saturday, March 10, 2012

And, my day is complete!

I finally managed to beat my son at chess today! 

Yep, I can sleep soundly tonight, safe in the knowledge that although he's now 17,  he doesn't have to beat me every time, all the time.



Wednesday, March 7, 2012

TTC12 Touch Twin Marker Color Challenge - Pt 2

Oh, we're having some fun now!

My new Touch Twin Markers arrived today - which of course meant that I simply 'had' to put them to use straight away.

They are simply beautiful - although they are alcohol-based, there's very little smell, and they colour beautifully, covering large areas easily, without leaving any overlapping lines.

So, I thought I'd make another card -  after all, there's always birthdays coming up in the house!

The design is based on a card making project from the Project Centre on the Creative Memories site, but I added and changed a few elements.  And, instead of searching around to find the exact right colour for the papers, I simply punched the tag, flower and circle from white paper, and then coloured them using my Twin Touch Markers.

Here are the colours I used:

I am, of course, entering this into the Touch Twin Marker Challege as well, which you can find at:  Touch Twin Marker Challenge  .

I feel like a big kid again, playing around with markers and all, but, I'm having fun!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

TTC12 Touch Twin Marker Color Challenge

My most recent hobby has been card-making.  I've not done a great deal, but it is an enjoyable way to pass the time, especially when I am not feeling well myself.  I find it gives me something to do when I do not have the energy for housework, exercise, or when the energy levels are down.

Here's a card I completed just today, which I'll be giving to my daughter to congratulate her on completing her TAFE course:

The only thing lacking in my supply kit has been a good set of markers.  However, I'm hoping that problem is now solved.  I've recently placed an order for a set of ShinHan Touch Twin Markers, and I'm hoping they will be here very soon.  While I was researching these particular markers, I came across the Touch Twin Markers Blog, which is full of interesting information and challenges.

The card above was created in response to the latest challenge on the Touch Twin Markers Blog, and although I do not yet have the markers, I thought I'd select some similar colours of my 'brand X', and give the challenge a try.

Here's the link to the challenge:  Touch Twin Markers and More!  Challenges

Hopefully, my new markers will be here within the next week, and I'll be able to complete a few more cards.  No doubt my creative teens will have some ideas for them as well!