Friday, May 18, 2018

A Bit of Friday Fun

This post BTW, has come about due to the number of times I've just 'had 'to snap a picture of how cute my kitty is. They say you are either a cat or a dog person. I'm definitely a cat person. I love their unique mostly aloof characters, and their little antics. 

The only antics I'm not a great fan of is when they bring in garden birds - that just makes me sad. Mice...sad and glad, depending on where they live.

We have mice in our roof and apart from them being annoying to listen to scampering about as you are trying to fall asleep, the thought of their trail of pee and poops in my roof is quite revolting.

However, I refuse to put down rat poison because I think it's cruel, ditto with traps, although I could do humane traps I suppose and release them to frolic in the fields ;) 

I briefly thought of allowing my cats free run of that area but conservation tendencies surfaced again and the thought of them playing 'cat and mouse' up there is a little traumatic. So while I'm no closer to a solution for the mice in the roof I am definitely certain that I probably would have made the most awful farmer. The Lord clearly knew what He was doing when He decided not to grant my desire to live off the land and grow my own food and meat!

Have a wonderful weekend all...enjoy watching the royal wedding, I know I will.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

May's Beauty

I'm into my third week of my temp job and slowly adjusting to working life. I haven't felt overwhelmed by the juggling of work and home life and I have to say that is largely due to the support of my husband and daughters. They have all been marvellous, pulling together and offering to cook dinner on days they are home and popping a load of washing in every so often.

Pictured above is the view from my office. Once a week, every Thursday in fact, Brittany Ferries arrives and docks right outside my office window. His reversing skills are incredible! 😊

The garden is looking amazing at the moment. Every day something new pops up. What I love about the planting of this garden is that there was clearly thought behind the planting. Every plant is highly attractive to pollinating insects which brings the garden to life.

It's wild and beautiful. Forget-me-knots climb their way through summer flowering plants waiting to come into their own. Azaleas and Rhododendrons in hot pinks and reds are in bloom and abuzz with visiting pollinators. I have a garden bench placed in this garden and it is so peaceful and calming to sit here. Watching the birds visit the feeder, butterflies gently fluttering from flower to flower and the bees gently buzzing - bliss!

All this colour is inspirational. In fact, I've been thinking of dying up some yarn but not using acid dyes. When I first thought about dying yarn I wanted to use natural dyes so I think that I may actually do a bit of experimenting with that. Because it's a much slower, drawn-out process I would never be able to dye on the scale that I can with acid dyes, but I have a feeling I might enjoy the process more. So when my temp assignment is finished I think I will look into that. 

Can you believe that next month ushers in summer!?  We've had some beautiful weather already this month and we have taken every advantage of it. Long coastal walks....

and BBQ's of course. We managed 3 this season already! We might actually celebrate the Royal Wedding BBQ and bunting style 😁. Are you celebrating the Royal wedding in any way? Would love to hear.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Little Update

Spring is well underway in Devon, in fact, there are some days that feel positively summery. Each day I notice something new in the garden. I LOVE this time of year. The change I see in the garden seems to be reflecting the change in our own family's life.

As regular readers know, we have reached the end of our homeschooling journey and I have been wondering what the ushering in of this new season of life would look like and how it would play out. Just like the new surprises that show themselves in the garden so too are the new opportunities in our life. 

For the past month, I've been scanning the online job boards and applying for one or two things that looked interesting. Well...on Friday last week, I noticed a position with a law firm that I had earmarked as my 'dream' firm to work for so I thought I would apply. Amazingly within two hours, I was contacted and an interview was set for Monday (just past).

Fast Forward to Monday, the interview went amazingly well and I got the job! It's a 2-month temp position as a Paralegal which is just what I was looking for to...

a) get experience working in a law firm and
b) a temp position is (for me) the perfect way to ease back into the working world. 

There is also the possibility of a permanent position with them so there are potential options!

Another thing I've done is signed up to begin a Law Degree with The Open University in October. My legal secretarial studies really sparked off a passion for law and made me realise that I actually quite enjoy studying. Crazy? Perhaps, but I didn't go to university after school as I was just not interested, however, in later life, it's something I have been wanting to do for a few years now. I just needed to find a subject I was passionate about.

So lovelies...if I am a little quiet here over the next little while you know why. I suspect that my posting will be sporadic at best over the next 2 months but I know that everyone's schooling year is coming to an end and you will have lots of exciting summery things to be getting on with. I think that my blog is going to morph into something a little different in the future to what it has been over these homeschooling, child-rearing years. But sometimes change is good 😉 
Blessings to you all...

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Ultimate List of Free & Affordable Homeschool Resources

As many of you know I write for The Curriculum Choice, a wonderful website run by homeschoolers and for homeschoolers. It is full of reviews and wisdom from seasoned homeschooling mums. Recently I received an email from a reader who had read one of my reviews asking for help and advice on curriculum for her young children. She and her husband are missionary's which makes money tight and their children are all small - which is wonderful news because do not need expensive resources to educate your children.

There is a wealth of resources out there and since we started homeschooling 12 years ago that treasure trove has been enriched as generous and creative homeschooling mums from all over the world offer wonderful homespun resources to all. I've put together a list of homeschool resources we have used over the years. Hopefully, you will find them useful in your own homeschools.

Complete Curriculum Plans

I'm going to start with complete curriculum plans. These are places where plans and links to resources from 1st grade all the way through to 12th grade can be found. An immense amount of work has gone into these sites. What a blessing that not only is all the work and research done for you but that because of the hard work of dedicated and passionate homeschooling mums like you and I, you can educate your children right the way through their school careers on a shoestring whilst still providing a rigorous academic education!

Ambleside Online is very popular amongst those homeschoolers who follow a Charlotte Mason method to teaching their children. It is well worth exploring and investing time to peruse the wealth of information on this site if you are wanting to follow a Charlotte Mason approach to education. Each year has a complete booklist, plan and schedule for the years study. The Ambleside Online Library hosts a large collection of original Charlotte Mason material and a support forum to dip into when you need help or advice. 

Old Fashioned Education utilizes free public domain books and curricula organized conveniently by subject and let me tell you, the author of An Old Fashioned Education has covered every possible subject you may want to look at in your homeschooling career. We have all the usual suspects such as History, Geography, Maths and so on; but also a wealth of other subjects that are more interest based such as Drama, Emergency Preparedness, and even Helps for Mom & Dad! If you click on the 'Full Curriculum' option in the sidebar you have a 40-week schedule plan for each grade, a student weekly assignment booklet, a full grade 1 - 12 curriculum overview, booklist and a handy information tab on the curriculum.

The last full curriculum I am mentioning in this post is Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool for Pre-K to Grade 8 and the sister site, Easy Peasy All-in-One Highschool. There is a handy 'How to' page and video which helps you get to grips with how the author of the curriculum has intended this curriculum to be used which would be a good place to start. This is not one we have utilised but some of my friends have and enjoyed dipping into it. 

Khan Academy, whilst not a complete curriculum is a valuable free online learning resource covering math, science, computer programming, history, art history, economics and more. Bookmark this site because you will find it very useful. We have utilised it for high school math help as well as for the SAT test prep.

Public Domain Resources = Free!

If you choose to pull your own learning plans together as we did, you might want to bookmark these free resources to use. The Baldwin Project was started in 1999 with the idea of making all the classic works of literature available to children everywhere. A good chunk of the books mentioned in our complete curriculum providers section utilize books that are available here. 

Librivox is another fabulous resource we used a lot. Let's face it, there is only so much time in the day and so much 'reading voice' to be expended. Librivox has lots of public domain classics available to listen to as audio books. I would download them and play them in the car whilst travelling between activities or on road trips. Or if we were stuck indoors for whatever reason and boredom struck, out would come a lovely audiobook to enjoy. 

Lapbooks, Notebooking Pages and Unit Studies

Lapbooks are popular for younger children and Homeschoolshare has a catalogue of 350 free lapbooks covering all sorts of things. If you are new to lapbooking and have no clue what I'm talking about don't despair...this site has lots of handy YouTube videos and tutorials on how to lapbook with your children.

CurrClickCurrClick is the place to go if you are wanting to instantly download complete unit studies and curriculum. I have used this extensively in our homeschooling and have written quite a few reviews on certain products we have used on The Curriculum Choice. Most of the products on this site are really affordable costing a few dollars for some great unit studies. Amongst our favourite are the Hands of a Child unit studies which have complete study plans and all the information and templates needed to successfully complete a lapbook or study using notebooking pages for older children.

Notebooking Pages have both free and paid for options covering all sorts of topics from Bible, Artists, Composers to Copywork, nature and even generic pages to be used for any topic not covered. These are great for the child to write down everything they have learnt on a topic and keep a great looking record of their work.

Nature and Art

Nature Detectives is a fabulous place to download all sorts of activity ideas, field spotters guides, craft ideas and other seasonal downloads to use in your nature studies. 

Barb's (free) Outdoor Hour Challenges utilising the Handbook of Nature Study has been a staple in our homeschool. Each Friday we would participate in the weekly challenge set out and then spend some time in our nature journals. My blog has a well-stocked archive of all our nature study adventures over the years.

Not only does Barb run this popular Outdoor Hour program but she also has free and affordable Composer and Art Appreciation plans on her website Harmony Fine Arts. This year we purchased her Grade 11 Art and Music plans and have thoroughly enjoyed them.

Learning Online

There is no doubt that there are oodles and oodles of online resources that you can use to support your learning. I want to share one that we really loved and recommend. Settera Geography Quiz Program has made learning our cities, capitals, rivers, volcanoes and so much more the most enjoyable learning experience. My youngest daughter is off to college in September to study Travel and tourism and she recently was invited to attend a college prep day for her course. One of the things they were going to be doing was a geography quiz, so she hopped up onto Settera in the weeks running up to refresh her memory. After her prep day, she has mentioned on more than one occasion how glad she did that because not only did she excel in the quiz but it gave her the confidence she needed to complete the task with a group of people she didn't know. She felt equipped and well prepared.

High School and Beyond

When we reached our high school years we began exploring various career interests and options. It can be very daunting for those young adults who really don't have a clue what they want to do. Enter Future Learn and Open Learn. These sites offer students all over the world a way to explore subjects they are fascinated by as well as gain the skills needed for higher learning.

Perhaps they have a few things they are looking at studying at university but really have not made up their minds. They can take short modules of university courses on the subject they are interested in and see if it is something they are really passionate about and would like to study further. Future Learn offers short courses from universities all over the UK while Open Learn offers courses from The Open University.

**Please feel free to add any free or affordable resources that you know of or use in the comments below so others may benefit and be blessed in their homeschools. Thank you to all who do so 😉

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A Cornish Fishing Village Called Polperro

At the moment I am researching knitting from the British Isles, simply because I'm interested and would love to try my hand at some traditional knitwear. I thought I would focus my research on the Channel Islands and Cornwall because that's where we live...on the English channel and just across the river from Cornwall.

I found two beautiful books that have a detailed history of Cornish Guernseys and Knit-frocks and have many wonderful traditional knitting patterns to knit. The Cornish fishing village of Polperro featured strongly in both books. I really wanted to visit and as we are currently enjoying the Easter holidays and the girls have a friend visiting from London, we decided to make the 1-hour journey and explore Polperro.

Boy! We were not disappointed. I know that Cornwall has many such fishing villages, we have visited Port Isaac (where Doc Martin is filmed) and I am always totally enchanted by how picture perfect they are.

Polperro retains much of its quaintness. It has not been ruined by over commercialism nor has it been overtaken by the rich snapping up properties as holiday homes. According to one of the locals, there is a happy balance of local residents and holiday home owners which is how the village retains its authenticity.

Let me tell you, I could happily settle here and spend my days writing novels (crime of course 😉), basking in the sun and watching the world slowly walk by.

This village is surreal. The buildings are built close together and at all sorts of interesting angles. Not a modern bit of architecture anywhere. Just lovely rustic fishing cottages of old.

I loved this cottage (above). Its walls have been inset with a mosaic of seashells. It's whimsical, artistic and such fun to see. This village lends itself to the artistic spirit and inspires creativity.

Beyond the harbour walls, we spotted two caves. We wondered if they had been used by smugglers in bygone years. We would have loved to explore them but the tide was in and the route cut off. 

Apart from having my ice-cream stolen by those masters of crime that inhabit most coastal towns and villages...the seagulls, it was a perfect day, with perfect weather in a picture-perfect setting. Cornwall is full of such treasures. As we headed home I silently resolved to make 2018 the year to explore this beautiful county and its historic villages.