I was wrong, my photo gallery tells me that this year has been non stop learning. Even if we didn't think much was going on, we have done plenty! I joke sometimes that homeschooling is a permanent holiday, but I think the truth is more like permanent school or the kind of learning that was the norm before the institution of school was invented. It is just the children are so used to asking questions and finding answers, that they don't notice the seamless lessons in everything we do. When you think about it, all parents are homeschoolers - some also send their children to school. Heading into our fifth year of home education, I can't ever imagine using the institution of school again. I understand the need for it of course, but I feel so very blessed that we just don't need it for our family.
In term four, Zoe decided that she wanted to join Lily in the Australian Girls Choir. Luckily their birthdays are quite close together, and I was able to put them in the same class. I wondered how Lily would go sharing what was 'her' thing, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the increase of singing in the house since Zoe began lessons. The end of year performance had some songs from Annie so you can imagine them singing 'It's a Hard Knock Life' every morning while they do their chores. Even Henry joins in! They were the cutest pair dressed for the end of year concert, in all white.
Violin lessons are going very well and they even manage to play every day. Well, most days. We try to make playing (not practicing, because they are actually playing) a part of our daily routine. Our teacher, Eleanore from Music Generation, is just amazing and I am so happy with the children's progress this year. The above video was taken after their first lessons together, they usually have solo lessons, one after the other and I know it was a bit of a challenge for Eleanore to get all three to be quite long enough to play! Another challenge was that none of the children had heard the song Silent Night! Yes, I know, mummy fail. I have had quite a few of those this year! Nana, Papa and NannyO joined Heath and I for the little concert and the women all cried! The playing was much nicer in real life :)
This year we have attended three robotics classes run by the Logan North Library and organised by one of my wonderful home schooling friends. These classes use laptops, iPads, Lego and a variety of packages specifically made for children to learn coding. The video above shows Henry coding his robot to make different noises once he had it spinning. We have a great time in these classes and love that they are totally free!
Near the start of the year, Heath decked out the Prado and we headed to Fraser Island for some 4WDing and our first family holiday. We stayed in a three bedroom house in Eurong and trekked all over the eastern part of the island. The first stay was during a bit of a heat wave and we didn't know much about tides which meant we were stuck in one place while we waited for the tide to go back out. Even though we had heaps of sunscreen, hats and swimsuits, the children and I ended up with some pretty bad sunburn on our legs. Yes, another mummy fail but the monkeys all swore they would never get sunburned again. Lessons learned, we forgot about the first trip, because our second trip in May was amazing. The weather was magic and it seemed we almost had the island to ourselves. We drive up to Rainbow Beach on Thursday to catch the short barge across, then head back home on Sunday. There are a few weekend visitors, but for the most part it is a very peaceful part of the world. We are looking forward to going back as soon as the new school term starts.
Excursions... this year we have had so many that I did kind of lose track of them. We checked out the free tour of the Brisbane City Hall clock tower. I haven't been there since Heath and I were married and I had to get a photo of the children in the same place where we had some of our wedding photos taken. We went for a quick trip up the ancient lift to have a peek at the bell through grimy perspex for a couple of minutes, Lily was a bit beside herself thinking that the bell would toll and make us all deaf. Our tour guide, whose name was Zoe too, assured us we would be out of there before it went off. She was right and as we were descending in the left, she made us aware of the far off sound of the bells. It seems the cement surrounding the lift well is an effective sound barrier.
Even though the children knew nothing about Marvel comics - not a single character or movie, we all loved the Marvel exhibition at GOMA. Lily created her own super hero, Pineapple Girl, who throws pineapples at her enemies. I wasn't sure which end first, so we had quite the discussion about which fruit or vegetable would make the best weapon. The rough end of the pineapple was decided to be the weapon of choice. The actual exhibit was excellent and the children spent much more time that I expected checking out each character and the movie sets and costumes. It was possibly one of the best exhibitions I have ever seen, and I didn't think I was that big a fan of super heroes! Then we went home and watched the Guardians of the Galaxy (I & II), which are now among our favourite films.
Movieworld and Wet N Wild became an almost weekly outing at the beginning of the year as our wonderful friend, Albie, gave us a yearly pass. The children loved both theme parks though swimming at Wet N Wild was some serious fun. I had to be careful about timing, as two hours is our limit or I am faced with three out of control exhausted monkeys who forget they have an awesome life. Another great excursion we had was at and old farm house that was turned into a museum, Wolston Farmhouse at Wacol. The children had a hands on experience about what life was like in the 1800s while the parents watched them being bossed around by the housekeeper. I found it lovely that my monkeys didn't really mind being told what to do and followed instructions well. I wanted to see if the housekeeper could come home with us because I would love it if the children always did as they were told!
Of course the biggest event of the year was the furry addition to our family, Basil the miniature schnauzer, in July. Basil came to us from a wonderful breeder north of Brisbane. Andrea & Georgina also run dog obedience classes and puppy classes came with Basil. A good thing too, as it turns out none of us really knew much about training a puppy! Check out the pics of our little guy, he really has been the highlight of the year and none of use can imagine life without him. Yes, we think he is the cutest puppy in the world!
Some days being with the children 24/7 can be... tough. Then some days they do this, and it reminds me why we have chosen this path. By the way, I have no idea what they were pestering me about before the video! And I understand the irony of the misspelled word before the #16 reason ;)
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