Today we christened our family gift by going to Movie World and getting our seasons passes made :)  It's about a 40minute drive from us and by the time we arrived the boys were beside themselves!   It was not too bad, crowd-wise, in the morning, but got a bit much after lunch time.  We arrived and took a wander down Main Street around 10am to find THIS coming up behind us!   Some evil villains were up to no good, attempting to wrangle a young lady into their clutches when the Caped Crusader himself rocked up on his very spiffy looking Batmobile to save the day.  There was a mock battle, just like in the movies, and in the end the damsel was saved by Batman and he rode off  into the sunset.

Frodo did not care for the rather loud Batman music playing, but thought the scene was cool... while Merry lost the plot and burst out in tears.   I think he actually thought it was a real fight and that someone got hurt.  So we sat down outside the Harry Potter shop (which looks JUST like a shop out of Diagon Alley) and explained to him that it was all pretend, just like watching a movie.... took him a few minutes but he perked up.
The boys thought this car was just awesome... it was full of 'bullet holes' :)

 On our way to the Kids Zone we passed THIS very evil shop!   Thankfully it was NOT open yet! lol
 On arrival in Kids Zone, Merry & Sam went on the Tijuana Taxi's, who's patron was Speedy Gonzales.  These taxi's were not terribly speedy though lol... but once he got the hang of it, Merry did quite well.  Sam sped past  before I could snap a pic of him (he must've gotten the fast car :P)
 While waiting for Dad & Merry to come back from the Yosemite Sam train ride, Frodo & Sam hung out with Taz for a bit and we had some fruit & cold drinks in the shade.  The boys all had a go on the bumper cars and thought it was great fun.  I noticed a pattern... Merry cops the poops about getting on every single thing, there are tears, he rides and has a blast... then wants to go again after LOL.
 Then we went back to Main Street to watch the Looney Toons Rock n Roll show, which included Bugs, some 'girl rabbit', Daffy, and Tweety...  Good fun!

 Hubby went off with the Teen, who was unable to ride the Superman Escape roller coaster without someone to hold his hat,glasses,wallet etc... and took Frodo with him.  This left Sam, Merry & I to our own devices.  We checked out the Kids Zone, but it was 1230 at this point and omg where did all these PEOPLE come from??  The lines were absurd so we went exploring the rest of the park.  We wandered down the little replica China Town, and then meandered over to the Wild West part of the park.  This was SO cool :)  There is a little old west style main street with decked walkways and fake shop fronts (nice shady spots to sit for a cold drink & a rest).   Sam & Merry thought Boot Hill cemetary was entertaining... I have weird kids ;)
They also thought the small 'Custom Coffins' shop, complete with deceased in coffin leaning against the wall, was great.  In the interest of brevity and bandwidth, I have graciously left that photo out... dude in the box looked a little ripe lol.

We wandered through the rest of the area and found a great spot to sit & eat in a 'barn' filled with picnic tables.  Perfect... shady, cool breezes, and off my FEET for a bit!  Eventually the Hubby, Frodo & Teen joined us where we noshed on some chips (fat french fries for my American friends ;) and had a look at this most awesome ride.  

Sadly we did NOT get to ride the Wild West Adventure, because while we waited for the rest of the crew, the line went from fairly short, to positively ginormous!  We did watch a half dozen logs full 'o people go splashing down though, and Sam is adamant that he MUST ride this next time :)

Such is the beauty of season passes,  from now until June 30 we shall regularly darken the doorsteps of the theme parks.  We are testing out Wet n Wild on New Years eve, as they have a special evening for littlies.  Free activities included with admission, and a movie at 7pm (Smurfs.. but I shall persevere) and they bump the clock at 5pm so the kids can enjoy ringing in the New Year at 9pm :D
With this bloggin' thing?!?   I popped on to put a few holiday pics up, only to realize I haven't posted in December at all *sheepish*  SO, with considering that a brief update is in order.  Sam finished school for the year a couple of weeks ago, he got a special award and was so stoked!  He had no idea it was coming, which made it even more fun.   Here he is with the principal presenting him with his certificate AND a special gold pin.  He loves things like pins, so he wore it constantly and has made a special box for it hehe.

Aside from that, Merry & Frodo and I went on a special park day with some home school friends, both old and new :) and had a blast.  Merry was incredibly water logged by the time we were done!  Frodo was rather shy & reserved most of the day, but given the crap treatment he's recieved from kids at school, me & the other mums were very understanding of his reticence!  We've signed on for classes starting in February with them though, so hopefully he relaxes and enjoys it :)
 The first week of holidays we went to the Ipswich Nature Centre, which is an animal park :D   The boys love it, but Merry was quite young last time we went so he really got into it this time!  The first critters we saw were some rather LARGE Goana's... they were about as long as Frodo is tall ( and he's nearing 1.5metres!).  I would have taken photos.. but Mr. Goana was feeling VERY friendly to Mrs. Goana (who didn't seem interested lol) and yeah.. that just doesn't make for blog friendly photography! Next up were the wallaby's and they were much more photogenic :)
Sam met an interesting Emu... it followed us up and down the fence for a bit, I'm fairly sure it was after food.
 But when Sam stopped, the Emu stopped and stared him straight in the face!  I was pretty glad for that nice tall fence between them.
There were also some domestic animals... Merry found this Silky Bantam chicken to be just the most curious thing.  He kept going back to have a closer look at the funny chook.  

There was a fair bit of this as well... 

 And some cool scaly critters! This is a blue tongued lizard (left) and a frill necked lizard (right).  There were also Wombats, which I couldn't get a good pic of due to glare off the glass of their posh air conditioned sleeping dens.... and Bilby's, which are housed in a semi darkened enclosure since they are nocturnal critters.  

 Which catches us up to yesterday, Christmas Eve :)  The grandparents came out as always, for our traditional seafood feast, which was delish.  Frodo was Very pleased with himself as he got to decorate the Pavlova.
 After the boys went to bed, and the grandparents wandered off home, the stockings were .. well, not hung lol but filled at least ;)  We don't do a massive gift fest like so many do these days but the boys were thrilled with their loot.
 A couple of much anticipated wii games were received so there was a little bit of this :)
 And a lot of this (hangin out on the patio)-
 To play with this!  A totally cool little pirate ship water play table.  We don't have a big yard so no pool, and our trampoline is bundled up in the garage.. but this and a slip n slide we can accomodate!   Frodo has had a 2nd bout of tonsillitis, poor kid... and a bad reaction to some penicillin (not allergy, just puky!) he's finally on the road to recovery.
Which is a good thing because the one thing we really did splash out on (pun intended lol) was locals passes to the big 3 amusement parks until June 30, 2012... and we're making the first trip in a few days.  I was a tad worried but I think he'll be through with the first antibiotics and good to go have some fun!

Until then, I'll be spending my time relaxing on the veranda reading my fave book, The Mists of Avalon, on my new Kindle!  Merry Christmas to me :D  And a super wonderful holiday season to you and yours, whatever holiday your family celebrates at this time of year!
So last week was our 2nd week of home schooling, and Frodo is still happier than the proverbial pig in poo lol.  He's been working very hard at it, but he's clearly still getting used to the situation.  Friday morning when I told Sam his uniform was on my bed, he asked what about MY uniform... before going "OH, yeah right!" hehehe  Sam doesnt' seem too bothered that Frodo isn't going to school with him now... although in my eyes he's a little sad walking up the path to his classroom all alone.   He is already telling me how next year he wants to walk Merry to HIS classroom and pick him up to meet me at the gate in the afternoon.  So clearly he misses even that little walk in with his brother. 

Frodo was a bit under the weather most of last week, and I had full intentions of just letting him veg till he felt better.  But he was having none of it... as I got Sam ready for school he asked 'MUM, when you take Sam to school can you log me onto T4L before you go?' (the school is 200m away, and while normally we'd walk.. if I have to pop over to the shop or something we will drive) I dropped Sam off, hit woolies for milk & bread and was back 30mins later (relax his teenage brother was here :P  and Frodo rang me twice in that time anyway lol). 

That day he spent ages learning about the Olmecs (and I think moved on to the Phoenicians), doing multiplication, learning about the layers of the earth, and doing a whole unit worth of the language arts lol.  So much for a sick day!   The rest of the week was much the same, except Thursday, when we had to drop off the hubbies van at the shop and then go into the CBD.  Frodo riding into the city is a stretch any time, but after having spent a couple of nights with queasy tummy we got the teen to supervise him.  When we returned (with a posh iced chocolate for the teen as payment ;) Frodo had QUITE the temperature!  Our doctors are awesome and had a spot for him in 10minutes if we could get there.. SOLD I replied :)    It turns out the boy has quite a case of tonsillitis *sigh*   And seeing his history with NOT getting better on his own, the doc opted to offer us antibiotics straight away. 

A few days of gatorade and E-mycin he's perked right up thankfully!  Just in time for the homeschool group park day tomorrow morning at a very cool park about 5minutes away from us.   He's very much looking forward to the morning and meeting (or re-meeting) some other home schooled kids.    This is going to be a pretty light week for him, we've got park day tomorrow  and then Thursday is a christmas ceramics workshop which should be excellent fun! 

For Sam, it's the last 2 weeks of school (which he loves, so I can see him being a pain in the backside during holidays lol).  I'm a bit miffed as I didn't realize today was the deadline for buying the pass for the term4 disco... hubby rang the school and asked if she could write us in for a hand deal and we'd come fill out a form and pay in the morning.  Her answer was NO it is already closed... this was 5minutes past 3pm, so it's not like they had ordered the bloody food since the end of school?!?  So, because he lost the form (I think his waterbottle leaked in his bag and he tossed it out) and I didn't realize the deadline, he gets to miss out on something he was excited about.  And the cranky cow at the school desk doesn't really care.  /rant  Ok, Sam isn't heartbroken or anything... he will dress up at home, we'll bbq sausages & have ice cream after and play dance music at home for him :)   I'm just annoyed.

Then in the last week of school there is an awards day... and his teacher emailed to say he will be getting an award (that he doesn't know about!) and asking if we'd like to come.  So of course, I'll pop down for that.. he will be so surprised and excited :)   

In other news... I've gotten really BAD about remembering to take pics to put up with my posts (which sorta happens when one doesn't post for months I guess? lol)  so my project for the week is to have at least a couple of photos to add to my weekly wrap!  Remind me in comments if I do not  :P
A day or so ago I notice that my blogger background was deceased.  It was a freebie from delightfuldots, and I had JUST put it up for summer (Not sure if y'all noticed, I like to change my template for the seasons hehe)  and I guess the way she has you install them links to HER  photo sharing site (whereever they are stored) and doesn't have you download the file to your computer.  Big problem because her traffic is clearly enormous due to the links and it has exceeded bandwith :(  So I had a blanky blog.

So I finally took a few minutes to go searching for a new one.  I found THIS beauty and had to have it!  Alas there was a problem with the site and it would not download!  A scroll down the comments underneath showed it has been a problem for a while.  SO, I managed to find it at another site and downloaded it!  It required a fair bit of tweaking to fix all the widgets that were in all SORTS Of bizarre places, and the date was UNDEFINED... but once I sorted that out I was giddy lol.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I live for a nice posh coffee.. and if I am sitting at this laptop blogging, there is probably a cuppa riding shotgun on my left LOL.  I have (almost) never met a coffee I didn't like, so this blog template is SO me that it's just not funny!

So, does anyone know if it stuffs up subscriptions/follows if you change the name of the blog ONLY in the header?  I've been tossing around the idea of a new name for a little while now... not really settled on anything yet, but just not feeling this one anymore if you know what I mean?   The new theme kinda begs for something caffienated, don't you think???
Is going along rather swimmingly, if I do say so myself :)  We did not get to go to the bowling/art gallery outings today unfortunately.  Strider was supposed to be off work today to stay with Merry & be here for the rental inspection.. but his boss decided they'd just start late instead.  I'm not complaining about the money of course ;) but we were looking forward to it.  Instead we picked up a nice bakery snack and popped into the bookstore and picked up some fun reading material.  And I do believe we're going to go to the office supply store & pick up a few bits like a binder for his subject notebooks, and a zippered pencil case that has binder holes in it (IF I can find one) so Frodo can always find a pencil etc if he has his binder handy. 

Frodo is using Time4Learning to fill the last 4 weeks of the 'school year' .. I figure it'd be a pain to start our actual planned curriculum and then stop for summer break!  We may go somewhat through breaks during the year, but after the year this poor boy has had, he deserves a nice long break!  So far, he seems to be enjoying the program.  He happily logs on and does at least one activity of each section ... today he did an antonyms lesson + quiz, some multiplication review, an activity about the layers of the earth (and wrote notes in his science notebook & did a diagram & pasted it in) and did the quiz on that too.  We did the section of social studies on the Olmecs and wrote some of the important bits in his notebook yesterday, and today we grabbed out the Usborne IL Encyclopedia  and read a little more about them and cruised a few links.

I am liking the T4L for the fact that he is enthusiastic about ANYthiNG on the computer, the activities are relatively brief (a god/dess send with his attention span), and we can then add to it with other resources!  I may end up having to add Samwise to the account because I can see Frodo wanting to continue over summer with it since it's only an hour or so worth of 'work'... and Sam will get quite jealous! 

And I have just been told I have the most beautiful gift coming from a lovely friend!  I adore the artwork in Barefoot Books, but they are not available widely in Australia (you find a *few* here and there on Aussie book sites, and the odd one in Borders.. is Borders still Borders here?? lol).  I soooooo wish the company would get on opening an Aussie distributorship, I would sign on to sell them in a split second!  (if just for the discount LOL)  So to my wonderful friend, thank you!  It will be a lovely holiday gift for the boys..and *sheepish* me lol, because I love a gorgeous book :)  
Bite me blogger for eating my post!
This is what we did today!
This is Frodo mailing off his registration packet to the Home Ed. Unit!  He was very excited to put that in the post box, that's for sure!

Then we followed up with a celebratory iced chocolate and doughnut :) 

There was a bit of multiplication practice thrown in this morning, but overall it was a day of destressing & relaxing.  The boy needed it and so did I.  Tomorrow I'll have a bit more for him to do as I've signed him up for Time4Learning so that I don't have to start our chosen programs only to pause for holidays after 4 weeks!  I think he'll enjoy it as he's all about the computer.  I'll be adding some writing and such in there, and he's going to write a letter to his new Pen Pal  over the next few days as well. 

I'm SO looking forward to some positive social time for him ... this week we're going bowling & to the art gallery workshop with a great home ed group!  And I've signed him up for a Christmas ceramics workshop in a couple of weeks too :)  Looking forward to it, AND to having a full year of fun next year!

Ps.  I did email the principal last night letting her know he wasn't returning with a brief, non accusatory (mostly) blurb about the fact that after nearly a full year it is clear to me that he just is NOT intended for the school environment etc... and as of yet I have had no reply.  I guess that shouldn't surprise me, she hasn't been overly kind /caring to him while he was THERE, so why would she care when he is gone?

My son is NOT the type of kid that would walk up to a girl with a visibly broken & bandaged toe and then stomp & twist his foot on hers.  Yet, that is what the school expects me to believe.  He brought home a BRO, which is a form the children have to fill out when they did something wrong.  In it they must detail what the incident was, and what they should do instead next time.  On it he stated he wasn't paying attention when he walked up to the student to ask her for something, and that he didn't intend to step on her foot.  He did write that some of the other kids say he did stomp but that he did not.  A teacher, or the principal, actually wrote that it happened the way everyone else said.    I'm fed up, and I've emailed & called the principal but no reply yet.

Not that it matters... the school has labeled Frodo as a 'problem' despite him having diagnosed special needs.  And as my DH says, the minute we tried medication for him, the school gave up on him.  The communication book that was started to help him & us with feedback on how he did each day has not been seen for the entirety of this term (5 weeks).  No matter what the problem is, it is ALWAYS Frodo's fault and there are ALWAYS other students willing to attest to the fact that he did X, Y or Z.    Coincidentally, these are all the same kids that exclude, ostracize and bully him both inside & outside of school hours... but the principal doesn't, or won't, see this.    I guess the problem doesn't exist if you put blinders on and look the other way?

As I said, I've called (left a msg) as well as emailed the principal and have gotten no response.  I also wrote a long reply to the stupid letter that I was required to sign :)  and I have emailed his teacher asking if HE was there and could he please enlighten me about the situation since the principal isn't bothering to do so.  I am almost done with his learning program, so I guess that is priority #1, since I can't see him remaining there even the last 5 weeks if he is not even going to be listened to. 

In the remotest possibility that it IS true that he did what he is accused of, I would sort of have to blame the school for allowing the other kids to continue to mistreat him for the entire year... who WOULDN'T be angry and act out at that point?  They have known of the situation all year, yet really not done enough.  Can't wait to get this kid home again, so he can start to heal from the year of misery he has been through :(   I feel guilty for not seeing exactly how much it was affecting him sooner (I did know he was struggling, and pushed for help and got some but I had no idea he was so angry inside)
For every.single.child in their class! They would have no hair left if they did! ;)

I must write a plan that:
a. has regard to the age, ability, aptitude and development of the child concerned;
b. takes account and promotes continuity of the learning experiences of the child concerned;
c. is responsive to the changing needs of the child concerned; 
d. reflects and takes into account current understandings related to educational and other development of children;  
e. is responsive to the child’s need for social development;
f. is supported by sufficient and suitable resources;
g. is conducted in an environment conducive to learning.

Wow... they don't want much do they?  lol  I suppose it really isn't that difficult for just one child though.
A. clearly I won't write a plan for high school, since Frodo is 10. 
B. well that's just edubabble that I'm assuming means we'll have 'regular' learning activities.
C. is easily enough met by saying 'doing x and moving on as he is ready'.
D. Got that covered with the whole cross curricular learning thing :D
E. Well, since he has been miserable with the 'social development' school offered for the last 9months, I don't see how I can fail?  I think I'm being responsive to this particular need by removing him from school :)
F.  I'm a curriculum whore... there I said it!  I LOVE scouring the web for, and usually buying lol, great books and other learning material.  I did even when the boys all at school even *hides*
G. As Merry would say, easy easy lemon squeezy!  Our house has books, computers, the internet, space... oh, and NO 34 other children....we'll be just fine.
The Home Education Unit wants a 'term by term' breakdown (more to show that we have an understanding of how long things will take to work through I think). I am currently writing Frodo's learning plan for the next year, I've gotten into term 2 now with my 'general' plan of what we'll be studying.  I'm not getting OVERLY specific.... it's a lot of  'We'll cover approx. the first 1/4 of the History Odyssey lessons, allowing extra time as needed if he becomes interested in a topic!'  then c&p in the next term changing the numbers ;)  and adding in a visit to the museum when this exhibit is on, and a trip to the local theatre as an arts excursion. 
I have decided on most of what we'll be using this year (links to come in the sidebar!) although I'm loving two science programs and don't want to give either up LOL. 
Math U See (delta & gamma, then moving on as he is ready)
Mathletics subscription
Timez Attack (multiplication computer game)
History Odyssey Ancients level 2 (encompasses history/sose, as well as literature, geography, composition,
      and Vocabulary
Typing Tournament (touch typing instructional computer program)
Real Science 4 Kids
Real Science Odyssey (we will be using these programs to complement one another as one has more 
      information and the other has more fun experiments!)
Reading a-z membership (comprehension)
Writing a-z membership (additional composition activities)
Youtube, the internet, and the library!

There will undoubtedly be more, and that doesn't include the great Home Education group we're rejoining!  They run some terrific weekly classes in everything from sign language, to spanish, to art & drama. 

I'm hoping to be done with this by the end of next week, as I have to have it recieved at the HEU before we can withdraw him.  I don't know if the school will give him his report for the 2nd half of the year or not, but apparently it doesn't matter as he will automatically be registered at the grade of his agemates ;)

Ok, I have procrastinated enough.. back to work!
Well, the boys have just entered term 4 of their school year.  Sam is still thriving and loving it, Merry is looking forward to going to prep next year... and Frodo is still keeping his head above water so to spreak.  Academically, he's doing well enough, and his behaviour has improved steadily through the year.. but socially, he is still struggling.  He doesn't HATE school, but he doesn't LOVE it either. 

He doesn't have 'friends' at school, although one or two boys will sometimes let him play with them at break... and a lot of kids exclude him, a few actively pick on him.  He has always preferred to sort of do his own thing anyway, so he hasn't gotten upset about any of this.  But in my opinion, he is receiving no real positives from school.. and picking up a few negatives.   I can't see much point in that really... and it really pushed the decision when I got an email from the behavioural specialist today that they are closing his case and he won't be recieving any help from her office any more and the plan they put in place will be tossed since he's so much improved.  So the entire goal was for him to be 'good' at school... not really for him to have a better experience at school :( 

SO, we are starting the process of bringing him back home  :)  We discussing how we want to go about it, distance ed, registered on our own, etc.   We haven't really made any of those decisions yet, but Frodo sort of wants to finish the year out, sort of doesn't.   More on all of that ... well... once I have more on it lol
Today was the end of two blissful and relaxing (mostly) weeks of school holidays. The boys have mostly enjoyed their time off... we've gone to a couple of awesome parks, they made their own band, spent some time with Nanny &  Grandpa, and their Uncles were over from New Zealand.  On Friday night, we rounded up the Uncles' visit by having dinner at the RSL club near the grandparents house... it was a huge hit with the boys as always.  Sam was quite stoked because we bought them tickets in the raffle of the night, and he won a $50 meat package from the local butcher hehe.  He has requested that Nan pick it up for him, and that she get stuff that would be good for a bbq so they can come help us eat it :)

 Sam was itching to get back to school to see his little mates,  Frodo seemed a bit excited too even!  Yesterday, we spent some sorting out the boys backpacks, finding lunchboxes etc, and getting uniforms set out for today. (An aside, must go buy Sam a zipper pull to put on his school hoodie... a $46 hoodie and he's had it a month... and the zipper pull rips off... awesome quality *scowl* )  Sam & Frodo didn't even complain when we told them that no, they cannot sleep together because it's a school night.  (these boys will happily sleep together, in a single bed, every night if we let them... except it takes them till 9pm to GO to sleep, so we only let them on weekends!) 

I also spent a good portion of the day baking :D   I made blueberry muffins for school snacks, and corn dog muffins for their lunches today.  A corn dog muffin, is just what it sounds like... a corn bread muffin, with chunks of cut up hot dog inside... a tasty treat in the boys' opinions!    I am, unfortunately for the budget, back on the hunt for lunchboxes... our easylunchboxes have not stood up well to Frodo's lack of impulse control *sigh*  He swings his lunch bag around and CRASH onto the concrete it goes... cracking whatever is inside... hopefully he's lucky enough that it has happened AFTER he ate whatever was inside? 

Merry is at his 2nd to last day of preschool today, Thursday is the last day for him.  I'm going to try to find something special for he & I to do together either Friday or Monday of next week  ... and I'm going to try to find some more preschool activities to make up for him, so he can have learning games and fun stuff for our days at home.   I need to give our days a loose structure, otherwise Merry will beg to play the wii ALL DAY LONG, which is not a viable option!   Any suggestions for activities, websites, or printables would be very welcome!! 

With that... I'm off to enjoy the few hours that I have on my own :) 

* my iphone isn't wanting to send pics so that I can post them dangit!  Might try to insert them later IF they come through!*
Life has been stressful my dear readers, and while I have logged in and contemplating posting... I just wasn't able to figure out what I wanted to say.    In a nutshell, the last few months have sucked for me.   Dh's work fan finally died to the tune of a repair that we could not afford to make (could up up to 4k) so we have purchased a new van (here's hoping the tax deduction/depreciation for that saves our ass at the accountants).  And just like everyone else, financial times are tough.  

Some of you may remember that Merry begged to go to preschool when his brothers went to school this year, and I obliged, and he seems to have enjoyed it.  (although there is a little separation anxiety at drop off time, he has a great time there and Miss Emma always has pics of him smiling and enjoying himself)  Well, my income is more than it was at the start, and our child care benefit has dropped significantly.... so the 300 a month for preschool has now become over 550$ a month for preschool.  I made the call that it's just TOO much, and starting in 2 weeks, Merry will be home with me every day.  I'm already on the net searching up some of my favourite blogs that have preschooler material (*waves* Hi Kylie!)  and saving things to a quickly growing folder of preschool activities in my bookmarks.   So, once again, what started out as a home schooling blog, will have a little taste of that original focus  :) 

How are Sam & Frodo doing at school?   Well Sam is the absolute Belle of the ball, so to speak!   He LOVES school, and daily during this 2 week holiday period he has said oh I can't wait to go back to school!  And he was quite upset that Monday is a pupil free day :(  His reading is coming along fabulously, and he & I still work on this at home and he's really enjoying it.  He's a mathematical whizz according to his teacher and he has NO shortage of friends in class. 

Frodo is improving :)   We are fairly sure that he does have ADD, and he has some Asperger's symptoms/behaviours as well but those are just idiosyncracies and not life impairing for the most part.   We go back to his Paediatrician this week to discuss behavioural interventions etc to help him cope better with frustrations etc.   Academic wise, he is on par with where he 'should' be... but I know that once we get plans in place to help him cope socially & attention wise, his grades will pop up to the above average range.    But he's doing pretty well these days and for now, he wants to stay in school.  I'm giving the school a term to show me some improvements and if he doesn't seem happier there at that point, I'll withdraw him and probably do distance ed for the last term before deciding what to do next year.  I will not keep him in school if he is miserable just because it is considered 'the norm'.  

Merry will be going to prep most likely next February, and at that point I'm considering University for myself.  Numerous ideas are in my head as to what I'd like to 'be when I grow up' but I'm not decided on anything at this point. 

I'm planning to get myself into the swing of blogging regularly again, so I'll see you here again soon :D
Lot's of things have been keeping me busy this past month, leaving not so much time to sit down and blog about how things are going!    I've been working about 20ish hours a week, which is always nice for the bank account lol, but not always so nice for my sanity or sleep!   I'm sitting here feeling a bit poorly (have had a GI disturbance going on most of the week... now a sore throat, just shoot me now?) and watching the Lord of the Rings (first movie tonight :)  so I figure it's a good, quiet time to update.

We're nearing the end of the boys first term as 'school kids' and I can see a lot of progress I'm happy to say.  Frodo has not complained that he doesn't want to go to school in 2 or 3 weeks now.  He had a brief issue with another kid in his class that was eventually brought to light & worked out.  The school & I went back and forth a bit, but I'm mostly okay with how it worked out in the end.  Frodo knows that if the issue occurrs again, exactly what he is to do... and at this point he and the other boy seem to be getting on better.  

Frodo's behaviour in class is still a challenge... he was making progress and then about a week ago he just went south big time.  His teacher and I are touching base every afternoon so I know exactly how he was that day... if it was a bad day, the Nintendo DS doesn't come down from it's shelf.  I hate to take it away, but that is the one thing I could come up with that might be enough motivation for him to try his best.  So far, it's working... this week he has done pretty well .. thank goodness his teacher doesn't expect perfection ;)

Sam made the move to the grade 1 class just after my last post I believe, and he is really thriving there.  His reading is coming along in leaps and bounds and he enjoys the things they do in class.  He has commented that he's 7 now, and he thought only 5 and 6year olds could be in grade 1... but I told him that was only a general rule otherwise schools would spend forever working out where each kid needed to be and never get anything done!  He doesn't seem stressed about it thankfully.

Merry is enjoying his 2 days of preschool a week, and I must admit... so am I lol.  He has a friend in the room next to his that he looks forward to playing with every time he goes :)  He happily races off onto the  playground at drop off time, and just as happily runs to give me a cuddle when he finally notices me at pick up time. 

In just over a week, we will be moving ... conveniently it's just up the road from the school.  The boys are looking forward to walking to school every day!  I'm looking forward to them living in the neighborhood with some of their schoolfriends and being able to hang out socially outside of school.  The house we are going to live in has very little in the way of a yard (pretty typical for the area sadly) but the neighborhood will make up for that we hope.  There are several great parks within a kilometre of where we will be living... one directly across the street even. 

Inconveniently enough, we visited that park and two of three kids got stung by wasps shortly after arrival.  While I recognize that we (as humans) are building into their (as bugs) territory... I will be much happier after the council makes it's visit and moves the wasps along into the nearby bush.  Ok... so they will nuke them I'm sure... but I hope the activity encourages their brethren to STAY the 50metres away in the woods ;)  Either way, once there is more human activity at the park and in the area, I think the critters will decide that they'd be happier elsewhere.

Work, well it's work.  There are to be big changes in our program, but they are slow coming unfortunately.  We had hoped to have it sorted by now, but it appears that I get to pull at least one more weekend of graveyard shifts *SIGH*   And this is that weekend.  *double sigh*   Ah well, I shall take the other LOTR movies, some popcorn and iced tea to keep me company while I wait for the phone to ring.

The hubby has had mostly 4day work weeks in the last month.. he is off tomorrow as well, as there is nothing in the warehouse to deliver except concrete slabs.  So, we've planned a trip to IKEA... it's only 40 minutes away so it's not a TRIP really... just a trip hehe.  We are ditching our sad, 50dollar ebay living room furniture as it's in awful condition, so we're going to have a peek at Ikea.  I've heard a lot of people say good things about their Ektorp range of sofas so we are going to have a test drive.   I've nearly every cent of my pay into saving to help with moving expenses and for just this purpose, so I'm pretty excited to go shopping for it.  And a few other odds & sods.. as one can't go into IKEA and come out with JUST what they went in for lol.. at least not THIS 'one' ;)

Happy spring my northern friends... and to those here with me in the southern hemisphere... bring on Autumn!
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It's been 4 weeks since we became a public schooled family, and while I wish I could say it was the PERFECT move for us... I can't :(   I'll get to why shortly.

Sam hasn't yet moved to the grade 1 classroom, but he's visited a couple of times and says he likes it :)  He says there is a lava lamp & legos in there, so what's not to like lol.  Emotionally he is settling in very well, he isn't bouncing with excitement to go in the morning, but he has not had any 'bad' days at school yet.   

Frodo on the other hand, is upset most mornings over going.  He tells me daily he'd like to go back to homeschooling and why.   He says he is having trouble with the 6hour days,  he feels bad that he tries hard to be as good as the other kids, but can't always do it.  The room is set up in groups, each group has 4 (I think) students at a table... and they earn points through behaviour & classwork, towards a prize at the end of the week.  Last week Frodo was at a table alone though, and I'm not sure if that's something that will rotate through other students being in a group of their own or what.  I'm really hoping that is the case, as I would hate to think he is being  singled out or made to feel bad because he isn't 'perfect'.  But in effort to not fly off half cocked about it, I'm waiting till Monday to see if he is in a different group. 

I want them to give it a fair go, and not make the choice to pull them before they have had a real chance to settle in to school because for right now, it is something I need.  I think it is doing wonders for my sanity honestly, I am calmer and more relaxed with the kids (and in general).  However, I'm obviously not ready to sacrifice THEIR happiness so I can be sane... but the converse of that really doesn't work for me either. 
Well, we now have 2 weeks as a school going family under our belts.  I wish it was all sweetness & light, but life doesn't work that way.  Frodo had major issues with the noise (construction still ongoing at the school, and too many kids talking he says!)  The noise seems to have settled down in week 2, as the construction right around the building they are in is mostly completed.. just a bit of turf to go down now.

His teacher says he really seems to be settling into the classroom routine well!  He is having absolutely NO problems with the work thus far, which I was never worried about anyway with him.  And every day as we walk onto the school grounds, he is saying hi to numerous kids in his class loving that aspect of it.

I've met with Sam's teacher, who is really great, twice.  Most of you know that I've decided that even IF I were still home educating, that I would be holding off on Prep for Merry for another year (he is only 4.5 which I think is just too young for formal education no matter the environment) and I have spent several months wondering if that might have been a better option for Sam as well.  He's doing great with the classroom routine, and his behaviour is lovely Mrs M. says.. but he just is not where the rest of his class are.  I knew that he wasn't, but when he was learning from home it wasn't so much of a concern.  SO, his teacher & I had the chat and I have decided that Sam would be better served making a move to the grade 1 classroom.  The class size is small, and ALL of his classmates would be learning the same things he needs to work on. 

The school has some sort of 'educational opportunity' specialist (or some such title) starting this coming week and she will work with him to ease into the new classroom.     I think once we get that done, he will be much happier (not that he's UNhappy.. but he gets a little distressed because he can't read the things that his classmtaes are reading)   He will only be about 6ish months older than most of the grade one kids in the new class which will be ok,  as he is currently in a mixed grade 2/3 class so a large portion of his classmates are much older.

One aspect of school they are both loving is taking their lunches :)  I ordered easy lunchboxes  ( )  which are quiet cool, if I haven't mentioned them before lol.  The kids enjoy helping pick out things for their lunches and I've found some great sites with neat ideas for creative lunches and look forward to trying out a few.  I'm figuring once  a week 'fancy' lunches might be a doable thing for me, since I enjoyed participating in muffin tin monday (even if I didn't post pics!).  So far, the number one lunch was 'snacky lunch' day... it had ritz crackers, sliced cheese kabana (a type of sausage that you eat cold), cheese cubes, grapes and sliced cucumber (with salt, of course says Sam)  Tomorrows lunch will be a big hit as well... I'm making corn dog muffins :D    I'll have to remember photos.

I would update on my work life... but last night was a hell night at work, so I would have nothing good to say lol (other than that I will get paid for it at least LMAO) so I'll just leave that alone!
For the first time in years, and indeed EVER for Sam, the boys went to school today.  They were up SUPER early and very excited.  They eagerly got dressed in their uniforms  as quickly as possible, including hat, shoes & socks lol.  We chose stuff for lunches and filled their cool new lunch boxes then added a snack for morning tea as well.  And there was still nearly an hour to go before we needed to leave!

So morning cartoons filled a bit of time.  We left early anyway, as we had to find out their classroom assignments and locate them as well.. not hard to do really since there are only 4 of the major buildings complete on campus yet!   We met their teachers, who seem lovely.  They are in composite classes.. so Sam is in with grades 2 & 3 and Frodo is in with 4 & 5.    Drop off went smoothly, and when Merry & I left, the boys were in their respective classes doing fun little activities chosen to keep them entertained while the teachers met the parents & the rest of the students.

Merry was quite put out about the whole thing... He wants his Sam back!  (he told me this through out the day)  so he & I went to the shops and got a ham & cheese danish from the baker and Merry got his very own blended iced chocolate ;)  He didn't drink half of it... but it was for medicinal purposes.. to wash away his woe and all that.  Then we eventually (after MUCH discussion on his part) managed to choose him some new shoes to replace his much loved Diego sneakers, which are sadly no longer available that we can find.  He changed his mind several times, and even decided at one point that NONE of them would do *sigh* but I finally got him to accept a pair in the end. 

Then we came home.. and it wasn't even 11am yet!  The house was quiet... freakishly, unnaturally quiet.  Merry wanted his brothers... I sorta did too :(  We snuggled on my bed for over an hour just having a cuddle & a chat.  I've been informed now that he wishes to go to kindy (preschool) ... what on EARTH am I gonna do with my time if he keeps that up and I actually have to LET him!?!?! ARGH!

Eventually the time to go pick them up rolled around :D  Merry was quite happy and impatient that they did not come out RIGHT NOW!   Finally they did though, and he gave Sam the biggest hug ever... it was so cute.  Frodo & Sam were all smiles at pick up, they said they had a GREAT day.  They made lots of friends and like their teachers so far. 

Here's Sam with a big cheesy grin as he finds his name tag and explores the classroom a bit!  When I last saw him this morning he was merrily building with some gadgety things :)
Frodo settled in quite nicely, he was chatting up his classmates and working on a word search puzzle when I left.  Funny, when I told his teacher that he would need some gentle guidance on classroom etiquette, as he was homeschooled for 3 years, he said OH but I went to school when I was 5.  As if to say 'don't worry, I got this covered!'  lol

The day was not without drama though,  as we loaded into the car to come home, DH was distracted and didn't notice my ARM sticking through the back door to give Frodo some papers to hold... I now have a nice purple line & raised welt across my tricep where it got crushed by the door *sigh*  Man does it suck to drive a stick shift at a time like this!

All is quiet here in the Hobbit household now... the boys are all sleeping, tomorrows lunches are made (and particularly epic ones at that... must take a photo & share) and all ready to do it again tomorrow!

I'm sure just about everyone that isn't living in a 3rd world country without television knows by now, that 75% of Queensland has had severe flooding.  It's been surreal, and emotional to watch.  In 1992, I lived in Homestead Florida and experienced Hurricane Andrew in all his glory.  I joked for years, that all my stuff now lived in the Everglades.  What little wasn't ruined by the storm, was destroyed by looters & vandals.  WTF is wrong with people, that they will destroy or take, the last few things that remain of a families LIFE, is just beyond me. 

Amazingly enough there have only been about 18 or so arrests for looting at this point. Kudos for most of the people of Queensland for being truly awesome people and helping out their fellow Queenslanders, instead of being heartless bastards.  There have been some amazing stories out of this tragedy, and I have been moved to tears by how amazing peple have been to each other. 

My new job was supposed to be getting underway in the last week, but the suburb where I am to be working, and where corporate HQ is at for the orientation... were in flood affected areas, so that was an obvious no go.  But this week I am getting stuck into training.  DH on the other hand, has nothing to do.  Here comes the awesomeness.  Last week, from Tuesday midday on, it was impossible to work due to massive, unbelievably widespread flooding.  For us, this was awful... dh is a contract driver.. no work = no pay for self employed folks.  He was told today by his boss, that every one of their 7 drivers would be getting paid at a rate of about 2/3 of their avg daily rate!  This is something they have no obligation to do whatsoever.  And dh has been there maybe 2months tops.   The company didn't want to financially disadvantage their drivers because mother nature pissed on our parade (pardon my french lol) 

So,  we will NOT have to hit the govt up for one of their income support payments, and I'm happy about that.  There are people out there with no homes, no electricity, no anything... I am happy to cop a few hundred dollars so that there is more for those that truly need it.
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A friend contacted me today to see how we are doing and I thought I'd best pop in and give an update.  I didn't realize it had been since the end of October that I posted here,  I guess discussing things home schooly was a bit upsetting for a while for me so I was avoiding the subject.   A lot has happened over the last few months...

On Jan 24 both Frodo & Sam will have their first days of school at a 'brick & mortar' school.  I found a brand new school in a suburb we like (and have lived in before) that we have enrolled them in.  I'm very pleased in that the school is starting the year with a total of 80 stufents!  I think that will go a long way towards easing the transition for the boys.  The principal is arranging for Frodo's hearing issues to be evaluated and possibly bringing in an OT if required.  She seems lovely and really loves what she does, and it shows.  Not at all like principals I remember from years past that's for sure.

 Merry is still not going to start school until next year, as he's just too 'young' emotionally.   The boys are actually quite looking forward to it and were very excited about trying on uniforms and checking out the school back pack.  They've got spiffy new lunchboxes that they love, bento type sort of, and are looking forward to a special first day of school lunch here (schools here do not provide meals, so all kids take their lunch.  They do have 'canteen' which has snacky foods available for purchase but they are more a treat thing for most).  We pick up their uniforms next week (very snazzy looking in Frodo's opinion... nice polo's with a school emblem and red microfibre shorts) and must get black sneakers for school shoes this week.  Haircuts were had this week as well :)   

In all honesty, they have taken this far better than I!  It has taken me the last couple of months to really get to a place of acceptance but I have put on a brave face for the kids.  Now I'm *almost* looking forward to it along with them.  I had been feeling very much like I have lost myself somewhere along this journey of learning, and was not coping well with that.  I have a new job, which as soon as mother nature stops throwing her fury around  in our river system, I will start training & orienting for.  It is a night job and I have to admit I really waffled when I got a night job.  I wondered if I'd done the right thing... if I should cancel their  enrollment etc.   But after a lot of talk with DH, we decided  that doing it all (or trying to) is doing me IN.  I had to admit my limitations... I can't work nights, even if it's only 3/4 nights a week, and still manage to educate the kids.  It wouldn't be fair to them, or to me.  So at least for now, we are staying the course we have chosen.   

We will also be moving house in a few months.  Our real estate agents are horrid, so we have decided we will move into the suburb where the kids school is so that we can walk to school and check out this whole school/ community thing.    And I have gotten a copy of my college transcript from the U.S. and plan to apply to go to nursing school when applications open later this year.  (would have applied in december, but the transcript was too slow to arrive *sigh*) 

If anyone still has this little blog of mine on follow, If you'd be interested in me continuing it and updating on our transition from home to school and life in general... please drop me a comment :)    Thank you for reading along on this amazing journey that we have been on.  Know that this is not the end of my children & I learning together...but at least for now, it's a big change in how we do it.  I will continue to be every bit as involved in their education as I can possibly be... and I'm sure the teachers will get sick of me volunteering on my days off LOL.