Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Home happenings

We have been going all out to try and get our school work done by the end of next week so we can break for the holidays a week early. Sadly my mum is not coming to visit as planned, as her husband has had an op. Even though we know it is not a good idea for him to travel now, we are saddened that they are not coming.

J has been knuckling down to finish the unit he is busy with and the younger two have been making leaps and bounds towards the end of their work too.We have had fun with lots of hands on experiments....

Checking whether ants will wade through toothpaste and conditioner to get to some jelly....

Trying to make a needle float on water to demonstrate surface tension and how a water strider can walk on water......
Checking whether more bugs live in the sand under the trees amongst the leaf litter or in a sunny spot in the garden....

Taking a mid morning swim break so we can carry on.....it has been well into the 30s!

As I declared it a no TV week, the children have become rather creative. K spent some time baking some delicious cheese muffins for the ever hungry kids to snack on.....

Z decided it was time to learn to sew and fixed a hole in one of his teddies ears....

He also decided his sword needed to be revamped and began sanding it in preparation for re spraying it.

Just had to show you my harvest of baby tomatoes which went into last nights tuna salad!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

We did it!

This morning we were up early and eager to get to the tae bo marathon on time. It started at 7am and there was a buzz of excitement in the air. There must have been about 50 people kicking and punching to the thumping music. J and K joined me in the marathon . We all made the first 2 and half hours and then could do no more..... I was proud of them as they have not done tae bo before. I think J would have stayed on the floor but all the younger people were cleared off the floor for the last half hour.

The finalists had to kick a target non stop for 2 minutes as we cheered them on. I was so proud of one of the girls I train with as she went all out in those last few minutes.

We all came away with T shirts sponsored by Ferrari, Maserati and Jion, a goodie bag with all sorts of interesting bits and pieces and very sore feet! Now for some rest......

Friday, November 20, 2009

A busy week

Well, the week seems have flown by again and it has been a busy one. The weather has warmed up significantly and summer seems to be here! The children have all been swimming and enjoying the pool.
Last Sunday evening we had the pleasure of going to the opening of the Western Cape Doctors Art Group Annual Exhibition. The venue was jam packed it wasn't too easy to view the art with so many people there. My dad had some of his new art on exhibition and I loved the one of some elephants and a baobab. It was great to see him too. I hope to get back to view the art properly tomorrow before the exhibition is over.
Monday saw J and I at a meeting with the pillar mom for Oikos. I had been feeling apprehensive about the last 4 years of high school, but came away feeling totally refreshed and assured that it is just another step in the journey we began all those years ago, when he was just 3 years old and we made the decision to educate him at home. I believe that the years to come will be exciting as he enters his young adult studies. It seems that he was just learning to read and write the other day.....the time flys!
Tuesday I took the children to see the 3D version of "A Christmas Carol". Oma joined us and we had plenty of fun. The movie was rather scary but the children knew the story as we had read it last year. J thoroughly enjoyed the movie but the younger two were a little scared. Z said "mom, this is a thriller for kids!"
In the evening, a long time friend and I went out for a long overdue dinner together. It was lovely to catch up with this special friend.
Wednesday we celebrated a good friends birthday with a fantastic braai . Last night we continued celebrating her birthday with a sunset picnic at Kirstenbosh and the Chris De Burgh concert. It was a truly amazing evening with not a breath of wind. The lawns were packed with people enjoying their picnics and the sounds of this talented artist.

He sang a mix of old and new songs and really entertained the crowds. When he sang "Lady in Red" he came off the stage and moved about among the crowd. It was a magnificent evening!

On the school side, we made some good progress with our Zoology and we are getting ready to wrap up our studies for the year. We hope to be done in two weeks time. I am really looking forward to the break.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Butterfly World

Today we headed out of town to Butterfly World. It was an amazing experience to walk into the humid butterfly enclosure and see these magnificently created creatures fluttering around and drinking nectar from the flowers. The colours were just awesome! I thought much of my mum who just loves butterflies and wished she was there to share the experience with us.
Butterfly World imports the pupas on a weekly basis. Up to 500 per week! The butterflies emerge from the chrysalis and once their wings are dry they take off into the safety of their enclosure. Apparently they live longer in this environment that in their natural habitat as there is plenty of food provided for them and there are no predators. Their life span is a couple of weeks.
This one was resting on the ground .We had to watch our step so we didn't tread on any of them.

This ones wings were totally transparent except for the edges and the kids called it the transparent butterfly.

Only the underside of this ones wings have this striking red colour.

Awesomely created!

The chrysalis are pinned to these racks until the butterfly emerges. These two have recently emerged and the wings are unfolding and drying.

This little fellow was hanging around in the butterfly enclosure and seemed rather tame. It is the first time I have observed a bat so up close and personal. It was amazing to see so many of the creatures we have been studying over the last few weeks.

There were many reptiles on display too.

This cheeky marmoset climbed onto Eric's back and decided to wee on him! Z tried to stroke him and got a little nip on his hand!

K was thrilled that they had snakes too and she went back to hold the corn snake numerous times. She is determined to get her own snake....

We saw some interesting birds too.

We had a delicious lunch at the restaurant and made our way back home. We all thoroughly enjoyed the experience! A great family outing.

SAblogsbutton100This post features on the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers where South African home schoolers share experiences, ideas, philosophies and much more. You can join the carnival too by heading to the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers sign up page. In the meantime, head to the Hayes family where the carnival is hosted this week. We hope you enjoy the carnival as much as we have!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Our week

The week seems to have flown by. It has rained all week as predicted. We have not complained though as it has given us a good chance to stay home and focus on our learning.
We have been learning about insects in our Zoology studies and our silkworms have been emerging from their cocoons as moths, and laying hundreds of eggs. It has been amazing to watch the complete metamorphosis of these fascinating creatures. It is so fantastic to have a real live example of what we are learning about right before our eyes. I think it really helps cement the learning for the children. It is not just a bunch of facts but something they can identify with as they have seen it.

They have had fun making these shrink art insects while I have been reading " The Voyage of Doctor Doolittle" aloud. We love our read aloud time together and often they beg for just one more chapter....

J had some fun making a working model of the lungs and diaphragm for his science module. As you pull the plastic down, the balloon inflates, resembling the action of the diaphragm and lungs.

Well , its weekend now and after his extra Karate training, J has gone off with some good friends and their dad to the airshow at Bredarsdorp. They will be staying in Hermanus overnight and should be back tomorrow evening.

Hubby will be playing cricket tomorrow , weather permitting. I will be at Tae Bo for the 5th time this week .... gearing up for the 3 hour Tae Bo marathon next Saturday morning. Sometimes I wonder why I put myself through it all BUT I still love it and keep going back for more!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Background

Thanks to my clever boy J, my blog has a great new background for the Christmas season. I have been wanting to change it for a while but did not know how to.... It is wonderful to have a teen who knows more than his mom in this area! He is always able to help me when I get stuck!

I love Christmas and love celebrating the real reason for the season. Our awesome God!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Team Equilibrium

The team found out today that they had come in 8Th place overall. There were a total of 19 teams taking part so I guess its not too bad. They had some positive feedback from the guys who are developing the new soft ware....
"you guys had one of the most professional robots I have ever seen, I have never seen a dual ackerman steering configuration before. Well done."
It was great to get this comment after the disappointment of Saturday. Watch this space, they will be back next year!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Indoor fun

Today the rain came down in buckets and it was cold. It seems as if we have been plunged right back into winter weather. Apparently we are set to have wet weather for the next four days. After visiting with E's parents we came home had some fun being creative...

K made more felt hearts.I love colours she has chosen for these two.

I made a huge pot of chicken curry. Enough for today and for a meal later in the week, giving me a night off. I decided to try my hand at some Lemon Chutney which complimented the curry perfectly.There was enough to keep a jar and give one to my brother who came to join us for dinner tonight. We still have enough lemons to make some lemon curd tomorrow.

As we had read about fish this week, the kids had some fun making these Khoi fish mobiles. Little did they know, they were doing some "school" today! Above is the one Z made. It looks so cute hanging in front of his window.

K decorated her notice board with her creation.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Team Equilibrium

Competition day dawned and J was up bright and early to leave for the MTN Science centre with his team mates. Yet again, they had stayed up until about 10.30 pm fine tuning their robot. We got there just before the opening ceremony. One of the team members did a spectacular ramp onto the stage on his bike. The tension mounted as they went into a side room to be judged on their robotics. The judges were highly impressed with their original robot that they ditched in favour of the robot the made this week. They came out feeling pretty confident and went into the pit area to practice on their runs. Tension was high and I think we were all running on adrenaline!

Team practice area.

J and J (in fact, all the team members initials are J.....so the should have been called the J team!) manned the table twice before lunch with the robot for their timed rounds.They had to do a total of three timed rounds for the competition. They did well and there were shouts of joy and much cheering as the robot performed the assigned tasks.

The real timed deal.

The team was approached for input by some guys who are developing software that will allow for more efficient programming of the robots. This was a real boost for the team. As we went off to feed the hungry team, spirits were high as they were tied in second place at lunch time.

Lunch break.

They had also done their presentation on their research project before lunch so the last task was another timed round at the tables. It was great to see so many other home-ed families there who came to support the team

The boys handled the whole task of manning the table with confidence and they worked well together under pressure.

The teams were finally called up for the award ceremony and they received medals .

We are not sure of how it all happened as they had been in such a good place before lunch, but the team did not get any trophies. They came away feeling disappointed after all the hard work they had put into this event.

One thing I am proud of is that they refuse to be defeated and they are determined to come back next year and give it a shot again!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fun School and Keepers

While J has been hard at work with the Lego league this week, we have been taking it a little easier at home. K was not too well for the first the first part of the week, feeling rather fluey and running a temperature.

We managed to get a fair amount of reading done and later in the week K did some baking for the Lego team. They enjoyed her choc chip cookies and vanilla muffins.The kids also had great fun seeing how many steps they could clock up on a pedometer this week. It was delivered free of charge through our medical aid company.

We had some making pterosaur fossils after completing that section in our Zoology.

The children also completed their frog lap books for their study on amphibians.

We had great fun on Friday afternoon when the Keepers group met again. My dear talented friend taught us how to make felt hearts. They can be used as Christmas decorations or just to pretty up a door or cupboard handle. They can be scented with essential oils too. I also thought they would make rather good pincushions!

The girls did a great job! Mine are the two red ones. I just love learning how to make something I have never made before.

K made another one last night to decorate her bedside table.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Team Equilibrium

As the countdown to Saturday has begun, I thought I should share some of the posts from the teams blog in case you have not been able to follow yourself....

The purpose of FLL is that kids will learn about environmental or community issues and use the Lego competition as a way to have a bit of fun while expanding their brains.When it comes to the robotics we learn a lot about mechanics and design. We learnt a lot this year about what doesn't work - it's like Tomas Edison who found 99 ways not to make a light bulb before he found the way to do it! Well we learnt many ways that our robot would not work until Tuesday night when we rebuilt it and now have a super robot that is breezing through the challenges.But with the project we had to find a problem related to transport in our community. We then had to find a solution to this problem. For the last 6 weeks we have been working on the solution. We identified the problem quite quickly for our age group - cycling in the road. We sent out a questionnaire to 200 parents and got 68 replies. only 1 person said they felt that the Cape Town roads were safe enough for their child (aged 14) to ride on. The rest said that because of cars and threats of robbery they wouldn't allow their children to ride on the road.Our solution is a "grass roots" solution, as my mom says. It is easy affordable and do-able for each parent. We don't have to rely on the City of Cape Town to make cycle lanes - although many lives could already have been saved if there were cycle lanes. (BTW plans for lanes are in the pipeline).We are just waiting for our "model" and then we will reveal our solution - so watch this space! We got the "little brothers" to make us a Lego city.

Lego city by the little brothers for the display table.

Here's the promised solution for kids who are reliant on bike transport or just want to get from A - Z on their bikes...to visit a friend, to get some exercise or to get to sport.We all know that the roads aren't a safe place for cyclists. In 2009 we personally know of two men who were killed in car-bike related accidents. Both of these men leave behind wives and young children.Of course parents are concerned about letting their kids bike around the suburbs. Besides cars being a hazard, we also know that South Africa isn't the safest place to live and even in our neighbourhood we hear of incidents where school kids are robbed of their cell phones.So our S.O.K Pack (SAVE OUR KIDS) is a grass roots solution for older children who are reliant in bikes to get around.

Included in the pack is:
~A cool camo reflective jacket (Cape Storm donated the fabric and Freeline printing did the printing, we designed and sewed it)
~A can of pepper spray
~A lego movie DVD
~Bike stickers
~Bike helmet
~2 flashing bike lights
Take a look at how it looks....

One of the team members kitted out in the S.O.K. Pack.
I am so proud of the way these kids have put the minds to the challenge set before them and have been determined to overcome all the obstacles they have faced. Today was another long day for them. J was gone at 08h30 and only home at 22h30! A tired but happy kid!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

At home

With the wind that blows in the Cape at this time of year, we needed to do some chopping of branches. This tree, near the back of the house, has been keeping me awake at night as the branches lash against the roof just above our bedroom! If I gave him the chance, E would chop the whole thing down but I love the shade it provides in the heat of summer, and I love to watch the children swing from or climb it. More recently we have enjoyed watching the birds that come and eat from our various feeders in the tree.

Z with one of the offending branches! Lets hope that solves the sleepless nights!

A late night...

J and his team are refusing to be defeated. Their robot had been giving them problems and with just a couple of days to go before the competition day, they decided to buy and build a new robot from scratch at about 7 pm last night!
He came home for a quick bite to eat and was back to work with the team until about 10pm last night. Up early and there all day again today. Thankfully they made fantastic progress and the robot is doing what they need it to do! Tonight they had the night off. The big count down to Saturday's competition has begun!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Team Equilibrium

Team Equilibrium

J is working long hours with his team for the upcoming competition on Saturday. He is doing minimal school work and leaving mid morning to go and work with his team on their robot. Last night he left for karate, home for a quick shower and supper and then back to work on the robot.
The team got their T-shirts and caps this week and they really look great!

The competition will be held in the MTN Science Centre on Saturday from 9.30 til 3.00pm. The entrance fee is R5 pp for the day.

If you are able, please come and support them. Look out for the black T-shirts and caps!

You can follow the last week countdown on their blog: http://fll-cape-town.blogspot.com/

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Greenpoint Stadium

Thought my mum and sisters would enjoy seeing the stadium all lit up as they're no longer in our much loved home town.