Saturday, June 30, 2012

Only one life.....

I have been grieving since yesterday morning.....I've lost a beautiful friend, taken so suddenly from us.
How can it be that I am enjoying a cuppa with her one afternoon, chatting about the kids, homeschool, life etc and then just over twelve hours later find out she's gone!
Death is so sudden and final.

The closing of one chapter and the beginning of a new.

She touched my life in such a great way and I will sorely miss her.

I can't begin to imagine the pain and turmoil being felt by her family.

I remind myself of that and have been praying for them. Yet my heart aches too.

She was such a beautiful friend, so graceful, generous, loving and accepting, full of wisdom and advice for when I needed it, a ear to listen when I needed it, a really kind person who always opened her home up to me and Rebekah. I will miss her so much!

Her kids and Rebekah are such close friends and I hope that friendship will continue yet I know that things will change for them as a family and I find myself grieving for the inevitable changes.

Rebekah burst into tears when I broke the news yesterday morning to her. We cancelled our outing and stayed home. We were in shock and also grief stricken at the same time. We had a great (for lack of a better word) time chatting about life, death, Jesus, faith and hope. We know we'll see her again but as Rebekah so maturely said to me, "I know that but I'm still sad and I'll miss her". I told her it was ok to feel sad and talked to her about how God can comfort us. Actually, I was amazed at the maturity and level of understanding of death and life through the words coming out of Rebekah yesterday, little did I know an 8 year old understood so much!

Amidst the shock, grief and sadness came over us in waves (as reality sunk in) through the day when we'd pause, hug, talk, cry and reminisce. Needless to say we both didn't eat much yesterday. Even Rebekah said she didn't feel like eating because she was sad.

My heart felt like it was ripping inside of me when I played with Rebekah during the day, with her toys. My dear friends children will not have their mum to play with them anymore. No mum to take care of them, hug them and nurture and love them.

At one point during the day, Rebekah said to me that she was like another mum to her and began crying.
You see, we saw each other weekly for almost a year and our kids played together in each other's homes, in the park and we babysat for each other. She was always so kind and loving to Rebekah which is why she said she was like another mum! What a compliment for her coming from a child's lips.

Ron cut short his day at work and came home in the afternoon. It was good to have him to talk to and process what had happened.
We all hugged each other much more than we normally do!

Some of the things I've learned from my friend were true kindness, grace, generosity and patience. I never once saw her lose her temper with her kids and as Ron reminds me, that is an oustanding compliment! I did tell her that when she was still with us. I'm so glad I did and didn't waste the opportunity to encourage her in that grace she had. Yet there are so many other things I could have told her and planned on telling her but didn't get the chance to!

We will miss her! It will take us time to get over the loss of such a dear friend.

When I left school we were all given a plaque with the quote:
"Only one life, t'will soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last"

I lost that plaque in the move from India to Australia but those words have been etched in my heart and mind and have guided my life and help me focus on the most important: to always live from an eternal perspective. My dear friend exemplified this with her life. This was on my heart all day yesterday.
She didn't care for possessions or a newer or bigger home. Jesus and her family were the most important. She poured her life into her children. Even though some of her kids are too young to potentially remember her when they are grown up, the deposit she has placed in all of them will stand them in good stead I believe.

I am blessed that she came into my life and though I will miss her, I know I'll see her again. I will attempt to remind her children of the wonderful mother they had as they grow up.

Only one life, t'will soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last!

p.s. I've withheld my friend's name for privacy reasons.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Narrating upside down and other things!

We had a very productive week this week after a couple of weeks of being sick and having relatives visit from interstate!

I always feel great being able to tick off all my boxes in a week. This week was one such week, we even fit nature study in, hooray!

I've got a great friend Pam and we've been attempting to do a monthly nature walk day together with our girls.

We didn't let the weather beat us today; it was freezing and blowing a gale but we got out there and did a small nature walk and had fun! We even got to draw some wattle in our journals! The girls had fun with plastic bag kites - another one of Pam's very clever ideas!

Earlier this week, Rebekah decided to do her narrations up side down again - I'm not sure what type of a learner she is (I haven't spent too much time reading up on this) but she does enjoy being read to and narrating with her feet in the air or doing something with her hands! I say, go for it, if it works for you! I am not good at multi-tasking even though women are supposed to be good at this, sorry ladies, it's just not one of those things I'm good at; actually there are other things women are supposed to be good at/ like to do that I'm not, but that's another story:)

These are Rebekah's best friends and companions. She reads with them in bed, sleeps with them next to her, takes them on car trips and to visit her friends. Jacob (though I insist he's more like Jackie not Jacob) is on the left in green and Sparkle on the right is her 'dog'. Rebekah has wanted a dog so badly, ever since she could talk, but we've repeatedly told her we'll consider it when she's 10. In the meantime, Sparkle will have to do!

Rebekah decided that she would now be their teacher and teach them how to read and write, maths, history and other things. Jacob is doing Year 3 reading, Year 1 writing and preschool maths; Sparkle is doing Year 1 history, Year 1 writing and pre-school maths or something like that! I got last after the Year 3 reading bit lol!
Any of you doing/ have done AO will know we've been reading "Understood Betsy" this week where Betsy realises she can be in Year 7 for reading and Year 2 in math and that it's all ok:) Much like most homeschooled kids (which I haven't divulged to Rebekah yet).

Enjoy your weekend!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Our Year 3 (AO2)

Some of you asked / may be interested in this:

Ambleside Online is a rigorous curriculum and includes a few American books (which is understandable having been put together so generously by some wonderful American women who volunteered a LOT of their time to make this great free curriculum)
So, some aspects need to be modified to include Australian content and some I've modified to suit our home.

So, here it is, I've crossed out what AO recommends for their year 2 and put in our substitutes next to it. (A lot of these books are free online and I've linked to the free online sites where applicable)


There is no formal AO Bible curriculum.

We are doing a mixture of things here.

We will be continuing with "Leading Little Ones to God" (which we began a few years ago I might add! but it's such a nice book that I don't want it to end, so we go through it very slowly) I blogged about this book here.

(I just love, love, love this book and can't recommend it enough as a devotional for the younger kids. Not only are the topics great, covering a lot of christian doctrine but the best part for me are all the conversations we have after we read a chapter. They are absolutely priceless. Rebekah and I have had the deepest and some of the best conversations about God, life, faith, issues she's going through etc. after these readings. Anyway, back to our curriculum....)

Egermeier's Bible Story book - reading through the stories and doing the questions for each chapter. They are not what Charlotte Mason would recommend but I think Rebekah enjoys these 'comprehension' type questions as they are a nice change from 'narration' and a novelty!

Charlotte Mason's Schools (PNEU) Bible Curriculum - we use this as a guide for memorisation passages at the moment.

Language Arts:


Italics Beautiful Handwriting for children by Penny Gardner (our choice)


Finishing off from year 2 "A book for kids" by C J Dennis (Aussie poetry we added)
Poetry of Walter De la Mare, Eugene Field, James Whitcombe Riley and Christina Rossetti


Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan Pilgrims Progress Told to the Children by Mary Macgregor (I chose a simpler version for this year and will tackle the original next year. I want Rebekah to enjoy this book and learn from it so I opted for this easier version rather than diving into the original for fear that the more difficult language might be a turn off!)

Parables from Nature by Margaret Gatty
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Robin Hood by Howard Pyle / The Way of the Whirlwind by Mary Durack (I haven't decided yet on whether we will substitute this last one or just add Mary Durack's book as a free read)

Maths: (no formal recommendation, it's our choice)

Continuing with Singapore Maths, we will finish 2A from year 2 and continue with 2B and on.

Science and Natural History:

Charlotte Mason emphasised nature study as a foundation for higher level sciences so we will be continuing our focus on nature study and using our own field guides and other nature books we've accumulated.

In addition to this we will be doing (as outlined in AO):

The Burgess Animal Book for Children by Thornton Burgess
Pagoo by Holling C Holling

and our additions to include some hands on experiments:

Usborne Science Activities – Volume One (Science with Water, Magnets, Light and Mirrors) along with many other science books we have in our home library (including the fun and educational Magic School Bus books) and other books on loan from friends:)

History: 1000 A.D. to Middle Ages

Our/An Island Story by H E Marshall
A Child’s History of the World by V Hillyer
This Country of Ours by H E Marshall (American history)

History tales and/or biography:

Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula We are substituting with missionary stories instead.

The Little Duke by Charlotte Yonge
Joanne of Arc by Diane Stanley

We are substituting the following for Australian history:

The Australia Book by Eve Pownall
John of the Sirius by Doris Chadwick (an out of print book by so generously loaned to me by my friend Pam) (On a side note, Pam has recently re-commenced blogging, she is an experienced homeschooler and I'm so blessed to know her. If you click on her name it will take you to her blog or she is also on my blog list to the right under 'everything we need')


Tree in the Trail by Holling C Holling
Seabird by Holling C Holling

We are not doing both of the above because they are about American geography, though I believe Seabird covers world geography. I may get them as free reads if I find reasonably priced copies!

Elementary Geography by Charlotte Mason (This is free online and covers the basics of geography which I want Rebekah to learn)
Children Just Like Me (a celebration of children from around the world) Unicef book by Dorling Kindersley (we have since ditched this one as it was adding too much to our workload. Instead, Ron will read it as a free read to Rebekah from time to time)

Foreign language:

This will remain an ideal for me but Rebekah has lost interest in learning Spanish, so the jury is out at present as to what we will do in this area!


Drawing with children by Mona Brookes (we continue to use this at a slow but steady pace)

Picture Study:

Art works of Fragonard, Bierstadt and Norman Rockwell

Artistic Pursuits (k-3 book 1) and other art books we have in our home library.

Craft: (no formal recommendation for this but we do this to satisfy my craft loving daughter)

Various books we have at home.


we will continue learning to knit and hopefully begin some hand sewing this year.


We will be following AO for this and listening to the music of Mozart, Mendelssohn, Bartok and Hindemith

Music and dance:

Rebekah will continue her study of the recorder and her ballet lessons

Hymns and folksongs:

We are only this year beginning to officially implement this in our homeschool!
I have decided to pick my own from a variety of hymns and folksongs suggested on the AO website. So even though we are doing this, it will not follow the AO schedule closely.

In addition to these modifications, our 'tweaking' involves not doing a straight 'narration' for every reading. But that's a topic for another post!

Besides the above 'school' books, Rebekah will be reading these in her free time (as recommended by AO) along with other books we might come across to buy her / borrow through the year:

Heidi by Joanna Spyri
A Wonder Book by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney
Hans Christian Anderson Fairy tales
Pied Piper of Hamlin by Robert Browning
Abraham Lincoln by Ingri D'Aulaire
Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
Mary Poppins by P L Travers
Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry
Mr Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater
Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle
Chanticleer and the Fox - Barbara Cooney
Along Came A Dog by Meindert De Jong
The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli

Additional Aussie literature for free reading (if our library has them or if I can get my hands on some reasonably priced copies!)

Thiele Tales - Three Long Tales for Children by Colin Thiele
Scottie in Gumnutland by May Gibbs

As always, I couldn't do all of this myself, no way! As mentioned, Ambleside Online is run by a group of homeschooling mums, who give so generously of their time and support. In addition to them, I have a lot of generous blog and real life friends who help me along the way with book recommendations etc. Thank you to all of you!