Monday, October 19, 2009

Homeschool School Photos

Well, it's that time of year when schools all over do the school photo thing (well, I think it's around now...). Despite the fact we're homeschoolers we're allowed to take part in the public school photo thing, but we thought why don't we just make our own?

A few years ago while I was on my training course to get my Class 1A drivers license Carla took some really good photos of the boys on a nice fall day. After lunch today she pulled out her fancy new camera and headed out with the boys to try to get some nice shots suitable for hanging up on the wall to replace those aging 2006 photos. The boys have grown up a little since then!

As you can see in the "class photo" above, there were a few other customers trying to steal the limelight. They were a bit of a help by distracting the boys from the camera. By the time everyone was starting to get cold they had quite a few nice shots, both as a group and individually. Thank goodness for digital cameras. It's not hard to shoot a lot of photos to get one good one when shooting kids.

To have a look at a few more shots of our boys head on over to Carla's Flickr page. Let her know what you think!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Letter writing as a homeschool activity

Last week Mitchell got a pleasant surprise. He got mail! His former school's secretary sent him a letter! She had asked our permission of course and realizing the value of letter writing we agreed. Mrs. Gleim was always a good friend to the kids of Chaplin School.

It was a nice little two or three page letter, printed so that a seven year old could read it talking about the usual things that a seven year old boy would talk about. Mitchell was very happy to get it and read it several times. I think he's excited to have a penpal. Remember those? I had a few when I was young, too. If I remember correctly I wrote to people from Singapore, Australia, Germany and England. I remember how happy I was to get real letters in the mail.

So today Carla helped Mitchell get started on his reply while I was out working. I think he's about half done. There are a number of important things he'll be learning and practicing when writing his letter. He'll be learning a bit about formatting a letter of course. He'll be practicing punctuation and sentence structure. He'll be learning how to compose his thoughts and how to put those thoughts down on paper. He'll also be practicing his printing skills. He's had a bit of trouble in that lately and have had him practicing that a bit more, too. I'm not sure he could even read his own writing sometimes.

I think it's important to learn how to write by hand. It's an exercise of the mind in so many ways. And practically, one doesn't need electicity to power a pen and paper. When the electromagnetic pulse comes and wipes out our electronic gadgets (which I will admit I'm addicted to as much as my kids are) that's what we'll be left with!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Front summer to winter in the blink of an eye

September is long gone and October is starting to show it's teeth in Saskatchewan. September was a very warm month for us. Many communities set record highs several days in a row in mid-month. I recall seeing a 32C the odd time and a couple of towns hit 34-35C. David Philips, senior climatologist at Environment Canada, said on the news at the end of the month that September could turn out to be the warmest month of the year for Saskatchewan, the first time that has ever happened. It's no surprise because most the year was much colder than normal. The grass really didn't start growing until about mid-May.

But now it's October and we're getting arctic weather pushing down. Last night we had our first real hard frost. When I got up at 7am it was -6C. When I went out at 8am to start the semi truck I had to give it a shot of ether (starting fluid) to get it started. She was a bit stiff! At least I didn't have to worry about muddy trails because the mud was all frozen!

At lunch time I had to take the boys into Moose Jaw as Mitchell had his first swimming lessons with fellow homeschoolers. The weather was cool, but not too bad. We did some shopping and then went to swimming lessons. After lessons we went to Dairy Queen for a snack. Blizzards are yummy but only if you eat them and not drive them. That's what we hit about halfway home.

Moose Jaw is about 60 miles away from our farm. We saw the odd little snow flurry in the first half of the trip home but I'd say around Mortlach we were well into the snow storm. We got past Parkbeg and headed down Secretan Hill and that's where I started to get nervous. It was starting to stick to the highway. As I went back up the other side I felt the van wiggle slightly. Now there are some ruts in the highway and it was quite windy out so it might not have been slippery but I backed off anyway, from about 100kph (which was down from the 110kph I was doing when I left Moose Jaw) to about 60 by the time I got through the twisties which weave through the hills around Secretan area. Once I was out of that I sped up a bit, maybe 80-90 until I got to Chaplin. It wasn't sticking on the highway quite as bad here, but we're lucky to have a gravel road from Chaplin to the farm which I took. Yeah, it's muddy but it's not going to be nearly as slippery as a slushy highway!

Anyway, we're home safe and sound and I'm curled up by the warm glow of my computer monitor with Rush pounding from the speakers. Life is good. :)