Raising Bottle-Fed Animals...

Friday, March 27, 2015

Raising bottle fed animals on your homestead is fun for all involved.  There is no animal quite as affectionate as one that thinks it is part of the family.  There are many reasons why you may choose to raise a baby animal on the bottle.  Often the mother is unable to care for the baby herself.  In some circumstances the baby is taken from the mother to allow the mother to do another duty.  In every case it takes time & effort to raise an animal on the bottle, but the rewards are definitely worth it.

We have raised calves, kittens & many lambs successfully on a bottle.  While every type of animal is different, there are some generalities that apply no matter what kind of animal you choose to bottle feed.

(And see some cute pictures of some of our babies)

An Online HomeSchool Planning Program (Review)

Planning is one of the most tedious parts of homeschooling your children.  Yet planning is essential no matter what style of homeschooler you are. Anyone who knows me would not be surprised to know that  I am an avid planner of our homeschool.  I love to be prepared & know we are achieving our goals (maybe it's because I am a firstborn).   I've tried various methods of planning over the years to keep my children on track with their schooling & to keep myself organised.  While I was very happy with the method I used, I was excited to be asked to review an online program that is dedicated to helping homeschooling parents with their planning & record keeping: HomeSchool Office by Lord Heritage.
HomeSchool Office Review

HomeSchool Office is an online program that guides you through the planning of your student's academic goals all the way to recording your student's homeschool achievements.  It guides users using the acronym 'power'. This stands for:
Plan; Order; Work; Evaluate; Report 
( Each term is a tab heading & as has their own role to play in the planning process.)

Here is an example of the report screen which shows the variety of information able to be included in the  reports.

This tab includes your budget, master plan, subjects & other important planning areas

Shows your master schedule for whatever time period you choose.  It is where you are able to easily edit it depending upon your personal requirements for the week. It is also where you are able to print a list off should you choose to.

Here is where the finalised to-do lists & schedule are displayed. 

This is where grades & attendance are recorded.

This is where you choose the sort of report you want.  There are a variety of options depending upon your personal requirements. HomeSchool Office also has the ability to generate a complete high school transcript.  

Once the user is familiar with the different functions, navigation to the area of need is easy. 

HomeSchool Office  includes a tab for Team which is where you enter your generalised homeschool information, students & resources that you use. 
The tabs work together in sequence to provide an easy flow to the overall Homeschool planning process.  As you progress throughout the HomeSchool Office program you are able to include a large variety of  information.  It is possible to utilise this for all your planning needs. 

  I've used HomeSchool Office over the past few weeks for some of my generalised homeschool planning. I used it on our PC.  While I was rather unprepared for the large amount of time required to set up our specific program within HomeSchool Office, I found once set up was completed, that it was very easy to use.   
I began by entering my students & their subjects.  I ended up entering 48 subjects in total due to the way I juggle our homeschool schedule.  I did find that the subject list did not include some of our Australian subjects.  I mentioned this on their forum & they replied that it was already on their list of enhancements for the future.  They also noted that the reports are able to be downloaded to Word where you can then edit the subject names. 

Due to personal time restraints I ended up scheduling just Zai on the master schedule.  Once this was set up I was highly amazed at how easily I could edit the schedule depending upon our daily requirements.  Any homeschooling mother will tell you that each week is unique & so having the ability to easily edit your schedule is a bonus. 
Entering your students marks (grades) is simple in the Evaluate Tab.  As Zai is only in early high school (year 7) I did not feel the need to utilise the Report tab.  This would be excellent as he progresses, particularly when he enters the later years of high school when what he studies count towards his university entry.
Overall I found HomeSchool Office an easy program to navigate around & use.  While initially there is some time commitments to set up for your particular homeschool, once it is done, it is easy to utilise. 

I must also note that I was particularly impressed with the customer service of Lord Heritage.  Every time I emailed with a question or comment, they were very quick in replying.  They were a great help in addressing my queries.  

HomeSchool Office is a neat package that uses a logical & conclusive sequence to make good planning possible in any homeschool family.
  HomeSchool Office is available as a 12 month subscription per family (there are no size restrictions) from Lord Heritage

HomeSchool Office Review

Crew Disclaimer

In Gratitude...

Friday, March 20, 2015

For puppy eyes...
And fuzzy peaches...

And children picking peach deliciousness from wild peach trees...

For homegrown tomatoes...

And beautiful butterflies...

For fluffy little chicks freshly hatched...

For eggs with the chance of producing more new life...

For new lego figures....and children who enjoy them!

For pretty flowers planted with a sweet little girl who declared they were her favourites, but I think it was more because I was taking the time to do something with her....

For farm fresh eggs being made into pies to share with friends...
... and for my old-fashioned kitchen tools!

For my nightly walk to the chicken coop and the first star of the evening!

For all these things & the many more blessings of which we are abundantly gifted!
~Thank you~

Learning Maths Online (Review)

Maths is undoubtedly the subject I am most passionate about.  Just ask my children.  Knowing how important a good mathematics grounding is for future study, I try my best to ensure my children have a thorough knowledge of their basic maths concepts.  They can then build on these in the years ahead.   Since the beginning of this year our twins have been trialling an online maths program.  GPALOVEMATH from GPA LEARN is an engaging, online program which teaches mathematics to children in grades K-5.

Critical Thinking Company Review

GPA Learn is a mathematics program which is completed entirely online. GPA Learn makes maths fun with cute characters, fun themes & interesting lessons.   Each grade level  has over 150 lessons to give a thorough grounding to the student.  The student is guided through their lessons by a specific animated character which is unique to that grade. The lessons are animated & very engaging for the child, whilst still conveying the learning material in a thorough & logical way.  Within GPA Learn grade levels, there are various learning pathways that the student can take depending upon their learning requirements.  It is up to the parent to determine if the proposed pathway is suitable for their student.  If not, they are able to unlock lessons for that child which provides a more relevant learning pathway.
Once the child logs into their GPA Learn account, they are directed to the next lesson for them to complete.  Every lesson contains the relevant teaching, followed by some practice questions.  The child is guided throughout these by their animated character. Once these are finished, the child must complete a quiz.  This quiz is graded &  these grades are sent via email to the parent.   If the child has shown sufficient understanding, the next lesson is unlocked.  If not, they must complete the quiz again.  

 One of my favourite parts of this program is the motivational rewards which occur randomly as the student completes their lessons.  During the initial set up phase, the parent can choose which rewards they want their student to receive.  They can also choose the frequency these are given. These are able to be changed at any time.  I've found that rewards are a great motivation to my children, especially my easily distracted son.

We received a 12months subscription to GPA Learn for up to 5 different students. We used it on both our PC & Laptop. Eli & Jud have used GPA Learn as their primary maths curriculum over the past 6 weeks.  They completed a lesson daily with the aim of having the entire grade level finished in 10 months.  They found their third grade character (which is a robot) very engaging. Generally the boys were able to complete their maths lesson without any problems, although they certainly found some concepts challenging.  They always enjoyed their special time on the computer completing their maths lesson.    I did notice that there were a couple of lessons that both twins had troubles with (yes, the same ones). I found in these cases that if I took the time to sit with the boys & reteach the work, then they were able to pass their quiz and unlock the next lesson.  Generally, however, they had no troubles understanding the concepts taught to them. Both boys particularly loved the random rewards and greatly anticipated the next one's arrival.   I appreciated being able to see what my boys were learning & having the ability to choose the learning path I wished them to complete.

Australian Students:
As I was able to choose lessons for the boys, I could choose topics which complied with the learning outcomes in Australia's National Curriculum. 
While this is an American program & would require some supplemental work to be complete for the Australian student (such as it uses American money).  The majority of the content is much the same as that studied by the Australian student and can be utilised for teaching most of their mathematical concepts.


GPA Learn is easy to setup, easy to use & easy to navigate through.  It makes mathematics fun!  My boys are certainly enjoying their maths lessons using this program.

GPA Learn Review

This moment...

Friday, March 13, 2015

...In the tradition of SouleMama

A little boy playing lego at my feet...
2 medium boys, a medium girl & a big boy watching a movie for movie night...
2 medium girls giggling over endless girly things...trying to convince me that 11 is basically a teenager...
(as if !!!)

A crazy, busy, wonderful evening of 7 calling us Mum & Dad, 7 to tuck into bed.  A family of 9 for a couple of nights.

This moment...gone in a second, but forever captured!

An Egglo Easter Adventure ( Review)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Easter is an exciting celebration for every Christian.  Our children eagerly await Easter Sunday as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord with chocolate & Easter Eggs.  We feel it is so important to teach our children the truth behind the traditions.  It makes the celebration all the more meaningful and special.  Recently we were blessed to try a variety of products from  Egglo Entertainment.  This fun package is designed to bring the focus of Easter back to the truth that Jesus is the Light of the world. 
Our package from Egglo Entertainment contained:
* A dozen Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs
These Egglo eggs are refillable plastic eggs that glow in the dark making a fun night time Easter Egg hunt.  They do require charging in some kind of light.  They come in a variety of colour combinations and have a cross on them - this is designed to remind the children about the true meaning of Easter. They are reusable for many fun filled evenings.
* The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure Book:
This is a fun adventure story book for the whole family.  It is rather a long story for a picture book, but it is well written and keeps the reader ( & listeners) engrossed in the pages.   The illustrations are beautiful with lots of details.  The story teaches character traits through Bible verses and the adventures of the characters.  It also directs the children to the true meaning of Easter.
*A package of Egglo Treasures Scripture Scrolls:
These are designed to be used in conjunction with the other products.  Scrolls are a major part of the adventure story.  These particular scrolls fit well  into the Egglo Eggs.
* A package of Egglo Bible Verse Stickers:
These are stickers which have Bible verses printed on them.  These are designed to again turn the focus of the child towards the true meaning of Easter.  These can be used in a variety of ways including decorating the eggs.
*A download of the Egglo Glow in the Dark Egg Hunt Event Curriculum:
This curriculum gives detailed ideas of how to use the Egglo Entertainment products as well as activities that complement them.  It also includes recipes, colouring pages, prints of the scrolls & print outs of invitations should you decide to have a Glow in the Dark Easter event.  
Egglo Entertainment Review

We had so much fun using the Egglo Entertainment products. I decided that I would prepare an Easter evening for our children.  They were so excited when I told them Easter was coming early this year!   I was pleasantly surprised at how little preparation was required to make a fun evening for the whole family.  I made sure I read through the Event Curriculum guide to ensure I was using the products correctly.  While I got some good ideas from it, I do feel it is particularly designed for a larger group such as a Sunday School or an actual party ( that would be fun!).  It was helpful at directing me in how to use the products and I appreciate the print outs of the scrolls which means that we can reuse the eggs with these in future years.  I did have to charge the eggs in light before use.  I did this by placing the halves on our bedroom windowsill for a day.  I also purchased some small chocolate Easter eggs to put inside the Egglo eggs.  Then I simply had to place the scroll, sticker & chocolates inside the eggs & snap them together.  I decided to hide them indoors in a dark room.
Once evening came, we sat down & I read the Adventure Book to all our children.  They thoroughly enjoyed it.  I appreciated the lessons being taught within the story & the children certainly enjoyed looking at the creative illustrations.  The adventure captures the imagination & kept us all involved.  After that it was time for the egg hunt.  I put them in the room & closed the door and in very little time they had found all the glowing eggs ( next time I will hide them in more difficult places...).  Because they want to reuse the eggs, they decided not to decorate them with the stickers. They all remarked how much fun it had been & begged to do it again at Easter!  
The Egglo Entertainment package brings fun to Easter, while also directing children to look to the truth.  It was very easy to use & there were many ideas that would make it an excellent activity to do with a Sunday School or Church Group .  They are fun to use as a family also!
While the story may be a little long for preschoolers, it certainly kept all my children interested.  
Although not all the products are necessary  for using the curriculum (such as the stickers) they certainly complement the program and make for a fun filled evening!
Egglo Entertainment Review

The Egglo Entertainment products have brought a new tradition to our family's Easter celebration and we look forward to using them again & again!

Egglo Entertainment Review
Crew Disclaimer

Tasmanian Treasures - Bruny Island

Friday, March 6, 2015

Looking back towards mainland Tas.

One of my favourite places that we visited while on our Tasmanian adventures last December was Bruny Island.  Bruny Island is a small island just off the southern Tasmanian mainland and is only accessible by car ferry.  It is a place which still holds much of the natural wilderness that the early adventurers found so fascinating.  Bruny Island holds an untouched wildness and we couldn't wait to visit.  In fact on our first day in Hobart we made the trip there!  We were quickly enchanted with this gorgeous piece of Australia.  It is certainly worth visiting. While the endless beaches call to you, it is the luscious farms that run right down to the beach that remind me of a dream. 

We felt quite the explorers as we embarked along a dirt laneway to the northern end of the island.  The brochure we had promised a café of sorts and as it was nearing lunch we decided to stop there.  Unfortunately we hadn't read the fineprint  that mentioned that the café is only open by appointment.  After many twists and turns on the dirt lane we were so  disappointed to find it closed (but the scenery we came across was worth the drive). 

We quickly decided to head south and find somewhere that was open and served food to hungry tourists.  Thankfully Hotel Bruny was open.  It is Australia's southern-most pub.  As it is well known for it's seafood, we decided to partake (as if we needed any excuse to eat good seafood).  After a luscious meal of fish and chips, the younger children  were eager for a swim and so we decided they could enjoy the water.  As we sat watching them we were able to witness a rain front moving across the island towards us.  We waited as long as possible and then quickly raced for the car as it caught up to us! 

We then went on our touristy way and visited many of the places Bruny had to offer.  Should you visit Bruny, you MUST stop at the fudge shop.  Their fudge is divine (make sure you purchase a lot - it disappears....;) !


Across the road from the Bruny Island Berry Farm (where the children enjoyed some homemade icecream), we found a beach where Captain Cook's ship used to stop to get water.  I was amazed that the stream right there on the beach held fresh water. It felt as if I was stepping back in time as I drank from the same place as those of yesteryear!

Fresh water right here...


We finished our day with a visit to the famous Bruny Island Cheese Company.   One of our favourite cookbooks is co-written by the owner of this Cheese company, Nick Haddow.    Anyone who reads here knows our addiction to good artisan food and this definitely did not disappoint!  I highly recommend trying their cheeses if you get the chance!

Bruny Island is a gorgeous part of Australia.  I am so glad we decide to make it part of our trip. Should we be blessed enough to ever travel there again, we would put this beautiful island high on our list of places to revisit!

Have a lovely day friends
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