Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Frugal Fun No. 19

Hey friends, here are the things I've done to save money lately.

I bought a box of (delicious) apple seconds for $5 from an orchard in Oratia. L eats several apples a day, so we'll go through most of these fresh, but I might also make dried apple slices in the dehumidifier with them.

I've been making lots of green smoothies for myself, using the abundant kale and spinach growing in my garden. I collected kale seeds from spent plants earlier this year and sprinkled them around in several of my raised beds. Now I've got loads of new plants popping up all over the place.

My kids have been really enjoying blender oat pancakes for breakfast lately. It's an old recipe on the blog, but a good one. I got a good deal on rolled oats at Pak'N'Save, so bought a couple of bags to make this recipe. I've been making a new batch of milk kefir out of milk powder every couple of days to keep the quantities we need for these pancakes.

I found a good deal on free range eggs at a local fruit and vege store, so I bought four cartons. These will come in handy for our blender oat pancakes. I also love poached eggs on toast, and I'm planning to make this Shaksuka recipe for dinner one night this week, which will use a few eggs.

L has been enjoying eating frozen blueberries mixed into homemade yoghurt as a snack lately. I took the advice left for me in one of your comments and started making my yoghurt using 2T of Easiyo powder and 1 cup of milk powder. It means that a packet of Easiyo powder makes about eight litres of yoghurt, instead of one.

Our family visited Maungauika / North Head in Devonport on Saturday and spent a good couple of hours exploring the mountain and its various tunnels. I had been waiting for a sunny weekend day to go, and Saturday dawned bright and glorious. The views of Auckland Harbour were stunning. I'm planning to do another post about this trip, so look out for that.

I've started giving myself facials each night before bed, using some of the delicious World Organics products that I sell. I'm really enjoying this Everyday Carefree Cleansing Milk, which feels so gentle and hydrating on my dry skin. I love teaming it with the Everyday Bamboo and Shea Face Exfoliant, which leaves my skin feeling incredibly smooth and vibrant.

And that's all my frugal news. What have you done to save money lately?

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Seeking after health

My wee family has been through the ringer over the past fortnight, with various health issues plaguing us. Colds and vomiting bugs have run through most of the family and I was starting to despair about us ever being healthy again.

Despite loading up on vitamin C tablets and even eating raw garlic several times, my cold lingered, and all my kids came down with vomiting bugs. In desperation, I turned to my homeschool mum friends to find out their tried and true sickness remedies.

Vitamin C + D3
The first mum I spoke to recommended Vitamin C + D3 in a Micron-Particle Delivery System. I found this in the refrigerated section of Out West Organics in Glen Eden. It comes in gel form, in individual sachets. I've discovered it's best to tip the gel into a glass of water, where it will clump together, and drink it with my nose blocked, because it tastes disgusting and has an unpleasant consistency, like snot. I didn't see any major improvement in my cold by taking these vitamins, but I'm sure my body would have been making use of them all the same, and they possibly prevented me from getting the vomiting bug that went through the rest of the family.

Frankincense essential oil

Another mum swears by Francincense Essential Oil as it is antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. I found it at Pure Nature in Henderson and bought fractionated coconut oil to use as a carrier oil with it. I bought the small roller ball jar to mix the two oils together for applying topically on the kids, but I have been taking one drop of the Frankincense oil under my tongue for the past three days (internal use is not recommended by Pure Nature), and noticed an immediate improvement in my sore throat and cough when I did this. It will sound strange, but I could feel the Frankincense attacking the bad cells in my throat. It was such a relief. Once my cold is completely gone, which it nearly is, I will change to taking the Frankincense oil under my tongue once a week to keep sickness at bay.

Iodine and Activated Charcoal. 

The same mum also recommended iodine as an all-round health tonic, and sold me a spare bottle she had at home. In talking to her, I realised I am severely deficient in iodine. I show most of the symptoms of iodine deficiency, especially the multi-nodular goitres I have on my thyroid. It's crazy that I've seen several doctors and throat surgeons over the past two years about my thyroid, and none of them have ever mentioned iodine deficiency could be a cause. Our medical system is so clueless about nutrition, it's really quite worrying. I've also been giving a drop of iodine to the kids in milk (you can't see or taste it in when it's in the milk), to flush out any toxins from their system. I gave Paul three drops in milk yesterday, the same day L came down with her vomiting bug, and I think it was just in time because today he got diarrhoea, which I'm picking was the vomiting bug flushing out of his system without him actually having to vomit.

It's easy for us in New Zealand to be deficient in iodine, because it's not in the soil here, and every time we drink water containing fluoride and/or chlorine, the iodine we do have in our system gets flushed out. For many years I've used a Brita water filter, which filters the chlorine out of our water, but doesn't filter out the fluoride. Knowing that I'm iodine deficient, I've decided to upgrade to a Fill2Pure jug, which also filters out fluoride.

For flushing out vomiting bugs, another mum recommended activated charcoal. I bought a bottle of Red Seal Activated Charcoal from my local pharmacy today and gave one to Paul when he had diarrhoea and one to L after she had finished vomiting (since she wouldn't have been able to keep it down when she was vomiting). You can't take activated charcoal and iodine together, because the activated charcoal will absorb the iodine, but according to my mum friends, taking either the iodine or the activated charcoal would be good to prevent catching gastric bugs.

From now on, I plan to always keep activated charcoal, iodine and frankincense in my house. I will also continue to give vitamin C tablets to the kids too, since our bodies can't make vitamin C on their own. I'm not sure if I'll get the Vitamin C and D3 Micron-Particle gel again, as it's very expensive and pretty disgusting to take. I can't imagine the kids would ever take it willingly. I'll keep using what I already bought though, as needed, until it runs out.

To help us recover from all our various ailments, yesterday I made us a small batch of Revive Cafe tomato soup (using homegrown tomatoes I had frozen during the summer) and a huge batch of pumpkin soup. Both soups used homemade chicken stock as their base, as it has good gut-healing properties. I froze the leftovers in several portions, to pull out for easy dinners on busy sports' nights.

While I was at my friend's house yesterday, picking up the iodine I had bought from her, she showed me how she plans her weekly dinner menus. I was so inspired by her system, I went home and typed up a similar document and planned out this week's menu. My menus run from Friday to Thursday, because I do my grocery shopping on a Thursday. For my menu, I tried to think of vegetables I have growing in the garden, as well as other items I want to use up from the fridge, freezer and pantry.

This same friend also lent me her DVDs of The Truth About Cancer documentary, which is where she learned a lot of beneficial health information. I couldn't get the DVDs to work properly in my laptop, but fortunately she had also lent me the complete transcript of the documentary, so I've been reading it instead. Very enlightening! It has given me hope for my health again, where before I had been feeling like I was on a downward spiral.

With rain forecast for today and the next few days, I spent this morning cleaning our car, cleaning toilets, washing all our cushion covers, washing L's bedding, washing the dining room chair covers, mopping downstairs with Dettol and wiping all the lounge furniture with Dettol. I still need to tackle the upstairs bathroom with Dettol, to really feel like I've killed whatever vomiting bug germs are lingering in the house, but hopefully with everything clean at home and with all the healthy supplements we're taking, we will start to be a family of health again.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Getting three hours of outdoor time a day

This week I stumbled across an article about a family who committed to spending three hours outdoors every day for a year. As you can imagine, they noticed loads of positive benefits for their family, like better health, easier sleep, and pleasanter play between their kids.

It got me thinking about how I can get our family outdoors more this winter. We've had so much sickness already, and winter hasn't even started.

Last week it really wouldn't have been possible to get outdoors much, what with all the crazy storms passing through, bringing heavy rain, hail and lightning with them. The weather has been stunning this week though, so I've been trying to make the most of it while it lasts.

S has been off school for the past three days recovering from a vomiting bug that saw her hunched over a bowl most of Sunday night. Her temperature finally dropped today so she'll be going back to school tomorrow. I know that vitamin D is really good for boosting the immune system, so I've even been encouraging her to get outdoors as much as possible, even while she's been recuperating.

When she didn't have the energy to move around, we set her up with cozy blankets and pillows on the trampoline. She and L have been out there every day, sometimes reading books, sometimes playing imaginary games. It's been sunny, without being too hot, which makes the trampoline the perfect little nook to hang out in.

The girls biked to a local park and played on the playground there. That took a bit more energy than S had in her, post-vomiting bug, so I had to help her get home by pushing the bike while she sat on it.

This morning we stopped in at another playground on our way back from an activity, and I went for a walk around the track there while the girls played. Usually I would stay close to keep an eye on them, but I figured that they're old enough now to cope with me going for a walk, especially since I was in eye-sight of them the whole time. It was nice to stretch my legs in the sunshine.

Since we had the car with us, we also stopped in at a carpark where I had spied a fresh mulch pile earlier in the week. We had already visited the mulch pile several times the day before, to load up the car and bring mulch back to my gardens. The mulch must have come from a Eucalyptus tree, because it smells exactly like Eucalyptus essential oils.

After two days of trips back and forth from the mulch pile, my gardens are all topped up and looking fabulous. It smells divine out there now, and I love the contrast of the orange mulch with the green plants. Nothing freshens up my gardens up like new mulch.

Now, every time I open a window, I get a fresh whiff of Eucalyptus, which is the best thing since I'm recovering from a cold. I'm almost tempted to set a bowl of the stuff on my side table.

While I was in the gardening zone, I mowed the lawns. They were well overdue for a tidy up. Our property is clay based, so it gets really boggy in wet weather and the lawn mower just chops it up. I hadn't been able to cut the grass for a few weeks because of the rain. After all the sunshine we've had this week, I was able to mow it today without too much trouble. 

After mowing the lawns, I took one final trip to the mulch pile to top up this corner of the garden, which is quite a big space and takes a lot of mulch. All the gardens got weeded before I dumped the mulch on them, so at least I shouldn't have to weed them again for a while. 

Even my apple trees and nashi tree got a fresh dressing of mulch around their trunks, along with some sheep manure pellets for a hearty fertiliser fix.

The other gardening chore I tackled today was to clear one of my raised vegetable gardens. I pulled out a lot of spent plants and moved the rest so I can top up the soil with various ingredients and let it rot down over winter, ready for spring.

The girls wandered outside and soon got stuck into shifting strawberries out of the garden I was clearing and planting them in the one pictured above, which we'd already topped up with fresh soil recently.

The girls even put on their gumboots and turned all the soil in the freshly-cleared raised bed for me, with a large spade and a large pitch fork each. I told them to break up any clods of clay they found and mix them with the compost in the garden. We had ourselves a bit of an impromptu science/horticulture lesson on the difference between clay soils and sandy soils, and the best way to improve them both. (Hint: compost.)

The girls told me they felt like farmers, digging the soil over. In a way, that's exactly what we are. Vegetable farmers.

With the soil all nicely turned in our raised bed, we set out to a local beach to collect seaweed to top it up with. The girls went searching for treasures on the beach while while I filled up a couple of large containers with whatever seaweed I could find.

Back at home, I layered the seaweed on the garden (which is the top left-hand one in the photo above), mixed it with the soil, added a good sprinkling of sheep manure pellets and then covered the whole lot with grass clippings from my freshly mown lawns, which is why the garden looks green in the photo above. Next I'll empty one half of my rotating compost bin onto it and that should see it all the way full. I'd love to get my hands on some horse manure for the garden too. Veges go crazy for that stuff.

And that's all our outdoorsy stuff so far this week.

Do you think you could get outdoors for three hours every day? I'm not sure if we'll be able to do it consistently, but at least it's got me thinking about ways to fit more outdoor time into our days.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Frugal Fun No. 18 - Shopping the sales

Hey friends, I've been doing quite a bit of shopping over the past two weeks, trying to replace lost, broken or worn out items. I stretched my dollars by shopping the sales wherever I could.

First up, L lost her jandals, which was a tragedy because she loves having an easy pair of jandals to slide into whenever we're heading out for a quick trip. I tried finding her a replacement pair at The Warehouse, but seeing as it's nearly winter, didn't have any luck. I decided to make the drive out to DressSmart, since it sells out-of-season gear. Sure enough, we found the last two pairs of jandals selling for just $2 each at Cotton Kids. I bought both pairs, one for now and one for L to grow into. About two days after buying the jandals, L found her old ones at our neighbour's house. Typical.

With S playing netball this year, I wanted to get her decent sports shoes that will hopefully last more than one season. We found a fun pair of Asics at Dresssmart in all the colours she loves, marked down by 50%. Win! She's been bouncing around in them every since, and has even embellished them with smiley faces.  They're already super muddy after she ran her school cross country in them last week. I think they only looked brand new for about half a day.

While at DressSmart, we also visited Typo, where I bought three large scented candles in lidded jars. They were $5 each and I bought them specifically to use when we have power outagess. We've had a couple of outages lately thanks to big storms whizzing through and I found the candles in jars the most practical because they keep all the wax contained, so you can set them anywhere. These ones smell like vanilla, which is one of my favourite scents.

I also bought a three-pack of bags from Typo on a 50% sale. The outer zip bag I'm using to corral all the first aid gear and makeup I carry around in my handbag. I had previously been storing it in a plastic ziploc bag, but the bag kept on popping open and spilling bandaids throughout my handbag. The other two nylon drawstring bags that came in the three-pack are now being used as tog bags for the girls. Somehow L lost her tog bag recently. Gah.

The kids and I took pumpkin soup around to my dear friend, who'd had her wisdom teeth out and wasn't able to eat solid food. We ate the soup with her for lunch and then my friend sent us home with a bag of lemons from her tree and a toy for each of the kids. The lemons came in handy for me, as I've been dealing with a cold all week and been able to use them in hot lemon honey drinks.

I took L to Kathmandu to buy her a winter raincoat last week. All Kathmandu named gear was discounted by 30%, which saved us quite a bit. We managed to nab the last girls' raincoat for L, and I bought it a couple of sizes too big for her so she can wear it for years to come. Her old Kathmandu jacket (which was a hand-me-down from a cousin, but is still in excellent condition and really waterproof), has now been passed down to S, who didn't have a good waterproof jacket before. With the girls playing outdoor netball all winter, they needed good raincoats. I decided to invest in something of good quality that can be passed down from sibling to sibling.

You'll know from my recent post about homeschooling that our dining room was being taken over by homeschool books. It was stressing me out so I went looking for a piece of furniture to organise it all and found this beautiful wooden shelving unit from Bed Bath and Beyond marked down by 50%. It fits perfectly into the space between our dining table and kitchen, and I keep doing double takes whenever I see it, because it's so beautiful.

A few days ago S was adjusting the mirror in our bathroom, when it fell down and broke. I couldn't get used to not having a mirror in our bathroom, so this weekend I went mirror shopping. First I went to Bunnings to check out its bathroom mirror range, thinking I might get a mirrored cabinet, but I didn't see anything I fancied. Next I checked out The Warehouse and happened to hit it at the right time - all the mirrors were reduced to $49 or less. I picked out a beautiful circular mirror that was originally $139, so I saved $90 by getting it on sale. Noice.

J was having the same problem with his wardrobe doors as the girls had with theirs. Since his room is small, we'd put his chest of drawers in the wardrobe, but all the kids like to play Lego directly on the floor in J's room, which meant we had to keep moving it out of the way to get any of his clothes. I went for the easy solution and took his wardrobe doors off, just like I did in the girls room. It has opened his bedroom right up and made it feel so much bigger. Since we store a lot of J's toys in the bottom drawer of his chest of drawers, it also means he's able to play with them more easily now too.

I read several library books over the past fortnight and finished off Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, which has been sitting on our bookshelf for years, but which I'd never read. It was really good. It explained so much about Christianity that I hadn't considered before. Worth a read if you have questions.

The kids and I have been listening to Little Women in the car as we've driven around to various activities. I downloaded it for free from the library using the Overdrive app.
I took advantage of the free shipping offered by World Organics two weekends ago and ordered a new product, The Good Oil, which I've heard amazing things about. I also ordered the Everyday Evening Primrose Moisturizer, because my skin has started to get dry with the changing weather and I wanted something rich and nourishing to combat that. I made sure my order came to more than $99 so I would qualify for May's free gift of the Pomegranate and Shea Hand Cream, which will be a welcome relief on my dry hands. Note #1: I'm a sales consultant for World Organics, so if you order through my webstore: http://www.worldorganics.com/cravingfresh, I will earn a commission. Note #2: I'm only a sales consultant for World Organics because I love and use their products. I also respect the ethical and environmental approach of the company. I'd recommend World Organics even if I didn't earn anything by doing so.

A few months back, I did a big Trim Health Mama order and bought the Integral Collagen. I added a scoop of it to all my smoothies and noticed a massive improvement in my thumb joint, which had been getting stiff and giving me pain after multiple sports injuries over the years. It has been a few weeks since we ran out of the collagen, but it's pretty pricy so I waited to reorder until last weekend. This time I ordered through the Lenabosa Farm website, which ships directly from New Zealand. I also ordered one of the Trim Health Mama Hippy Stick deodorants, which works really well for me and has a lovely scent. Note #3: I don't earn a commission by recommending these THM products to you.

Our cat disappeared for more than 24 hours, in the middle of a huge storm last week. He has never disappeared before and I was so worried. I had pretty much given up hope of ever seeing him again, when he came wandering in. It was such a relief to have him back, but then I noticed one of his eyes wasn't closing properly. He was only using his inner lids, not his outer ones. Paul took him to the vet, who checked him over and said we didn't need to do anything for his eye. It should come right in time. Paul paid the consultancy fee and bought flea and worm tablets while he was there. Our cat has been getting lots of extra cuddles since he reappeared.

This weekend was dedicated to S's birthday. On Saturday, S invited a school friend over for a special birthday play date party. Paul face-painted the two girls before they sat down to a a yummy morning tea with L and J. I had baked a banana cake and decorated it with MnMs, mini Flakes and Freddos for an easy and fun look, since I'm no cake artist.

For her special birthday activity, I took S and her friend to Rainbow's End for the day. It had been stormy all week, so I was nervous about what the weather would be like, but we had a beautiful day and stayed right until closing time. I made use of our almost-expired Entertainment Guide to get one of the girls' tickets for free, saving us $49. In the photo above, you can just see S's feet disappearing up the Tower of Terror at Rainbow's End. She was the only one of us brave enough to go on it, and she absolutely loved it. No fear, that girl.

On Sunday afternoon, Paul took S out for her Daddy-Daughter Dressy Day, which is an annual tradition in our family where Paul takes the birthday girl dress shopping for her birthday. Sadly, S vomited on her way home from the expedition, having caught the vomiting bug her brother had the week before. She was up late into the night vomiting, and my wonderful husband took care of her so I could sleep, since I still haven't shaken the cold that's been plaguing me for a week.

For S's birthday presents, Paul and I have been slowly accumulating items we knew she wanted, as we've seen them go on sale. Paul bought S a Lego Elves set at a Toyworld sale and I managed to find the item she's been asking for for the past two Christmases and birthdays - a Hatchimal - on sale at Kmart for $60. I had been hesitant to get her one initially because it was so expensive and I thought it was just a popular craze item, but she's been dreaming of one for so long that I thought she must actually want to take care of one. I bought one for her and stashed it away in my wardrobe until this weekend. She was so delighted with it, and it really helped cheer her up in the midst of her vomiting bug.

Right now the sun is shining, so I've opened up most of the windows in the house to air it out while I can. It's been raining so much so lately that I haven't been able to do that, and it feels like all the sickness bugs are just circulating and recirculating through the house. I've been running the dehumidifier almost constantly to try and remove whatever moisture and germs I could that way. It helps to keep the house drier, which makes it easier to warm too, but nothing beats fresh air and sunshine.

And that's all my money-saving news for the past fortnight. Although, to be honest, it feels like all I've done for the past two weeks is spend money. Hopefully that's an end to all the spending for a while.  Nobody break or lose anything, please!

What have you done to save money lately?

Sunday, May 27, 2018

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Homeschool organisation and a decision

Hi friends!

I mentioned in my last post that we were seriously considering homeschooling S. (Previously, it had been a sort of vague notion that we might homeschool her one day, since we were already homeschooling L.)

Well, today I made the decision.

S had most of this week off school with a cold, so I used the time to test out homeschooling on her. It went much better than I'd expected, possibly because she was on her best behaviour in an attempt to convince me to let her homeschool. (She has been begging me to bring her home.)

Yesterday we had a lovely moment when all the kids were learning about physical and political maps in geography, and got the chance to create their own map for a country of their imagination. Normally it would have been L doing this task by herself, while S was at school and J played, but since S and L were both doing the activity, J joined in too. All three kids got so excited about their made-up countries, laughing and encouraging each other along.

It allowed me to see the advantage of teaching all three children together - how much more stimulating it has the potential to be for them.

I know it won't always be as easy or pleasant as it has been this week. S's personality has its challenges for sure, but I'm prepared to give it my best with her and have officially decided to homeschool her.

This afternoon I sent off an exemption form to the Ministry of Education for S, in order to get the bureaucratic cogs turning. My hope is that S will be formally exempt from school and able to start homeschooling by the beginning of next term.

Homeschooling one girl has been pretty straightforward and easy for me, but I realise I'll need to be far more organised once S starts homeschooling, if I'm to split my time well between both girls, and potentially J in the future too.

After just one week of having S at home, the corner of our dining room had become a crazy mess, piled up with homeschool curricula and stationary.

This afternoon I made it my mission to find a shelving unit that would fit this narrow corner and corral all our homeschooling gear for when we're working in the dining room, which is most of the time.

I had a pretty specific list of requirements for the unit. I wanted something made of real wood, preferably white as we have a lot of dark wooden furniture downstairs. I also didn't want it to be too invasive. It needed to allow us access to the dining room light switch and leave space for the curtains to be pulled back. I took measurements of where the light switch is, as well as how wide and deep the space for the unit was, so I would be sure to get something that fits.

The unit needed to have at least four shelves: one for stationary items, one for L's work, one for S's work and one for J's work in the future. I visited a few different shops and finally found the perfect piece of furniture at Bed Bath and Beyond.

This shelving unit was actually part of their bathroom range, but I think it will do nicely for our homeschool needs. It was the floor model, since they didn't have any more in stock, so I didn't even have to assemble it - just bring it home.

I cleared out the disaster zone that was and found a place for everything we're using this term on the new shelving unit.

Various stationary items are easy to access from the top of the unit, where I keep them organised in glass jars.

I'm ecstatic that the new homeschool shelving unit fits so perfectly into this little corner of our dining room. Living in a small home means every space needs to be custom fitted to get the most out of it.

The new unit is is low enough and narrow enough that we can still access our dining room light switch, read the calendar on the wall and pull back the curtains.

Its small size also means it isn't too intrusive into the dining room. We can easily walk around it to get to our seats at the table. It's actually about the same depth as the little piece of furniture that was here previously, just far more functional and pretty.

I really love those shuttered cupboards.

They tie in nicely with our white wooden Venetian blinds in the adjoining lounge.

You all know how much I love a bargain, so you'll be pleased to hear I nabbed this little beauty at a 50% off discount too.

I'm so happy with it. Now I just need to make sure it stays organised while I'm homeschooling not one, but two kids next term.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Why we've had to streamline homeschooling in term 2


Friends, I have to admit, I was completely burnt out by the time I got to the end of homeschooling L last term. As much as L and I loved everything we were doing, I just wasn't getting enough downtime throughout the week to decompress.

This term I made the decision to streamline wherever I could, so I could put some much-needed margin into my weeks.

Busyness as a way of life just doesn't work for me. I quickly burn out, and learnt a long time a go to give myself grace and space where I need to.

Now that we are more than two weeks into the new school term and have had a complete run through of all our activities, I can tell you that this term is going to be a lot easier for me to handle. Hooray!

No more gymnastics
S has given up her Saturday morning gymnastics class, so now Saturday is a free day for our family again. Sleep ins are back on the schedule!

Netball
This term S is doing club netball as her sport instead of gymnastics. I've managed to get her into the same team as L, so we only have to go to one set of practises and games each week instead of two. Win!

Swimming
We've also given up the kids' Dean Greenwood swimming lessons in favour of homeschool swimming lessons for L and J.

The homeschool lessons are a lot more affordable than the Dean Greenwood ones were. They also run during the school day and give the kids more socialisation and swim time, since L and J get to play in the splash pools before and after their lessons.

It does mean that S isn't doing swimming lessons this term - because she's at school during the day, so we'll need to make an effort to take her swimming in the weekends to give her a chance to practise.

Last term I was driving J half an hour away for his swimming lesson each week. I then had to drive the girls to their swimming lesson after school, which crowded into dinner time. Since netball trainings and games are going to take up two evenings a week, I was glad to drop the after-school swimming this term. 

Art
L is continuing with her after-school art class, and has the exact same group of girls in her class as last term.

From what L tells me, the girls are all becoming good friends and laugh a lot. L really looks forward to her lessons with them. She's also bringing home loads of beautiful creations, so the class is a wonderful artistic outlet for her. L is able to walk herself to and from her lessons with our neighbour, so it doesn't involve me driving her anywhere or waiting around while her lesson is on.

Kindy
Another change that has streamlined my week is that, instead of doing three half-days at Kindy this term, J is now doing two full-days. The change has been really beneficial for both of us, as he is much more settled going for the full day, and it gives me a longer stretch between drop-off and pick-up to tackle housework, run errands and get bookwork done with L.

Violin
On one of the days J is at Kindy, I take L to her Suzuki violin lessons. They are by far the most expensive activity she's doing, but her teacher is so wonderful and understands that the lessons are about building resilience and stamina in the child, not just violin technicality. Since it was a meltdown with her old violin teacher that caused me to embark on homeschooling, I'm happy to see such positive engagement between L and her new violin teacher.

Homeschool group one
L has also joined a Christian homeschool group this term, which offers one sports class and one arts class a week. We weren't able to get into this term's sports class, as it got booked up too quickly by existing families, but we did get L into the arts class, which is sign language this term.

There are several lovely things about this group. One is that we can walk to it from our house, which gives us a bit of fresh air and exercise. The second is that I can sit in on the class with L and learn sign language too. The third is that both L and I are getting to make lovely Christian friends through the group. Several of the people in the group also go to homeschool swimming, so we get to see them twice a week.

This particular homeschool group also offers two excursions a term. This term L, J and I will be going to the Stardome Observatory and to Kelly Tarltons, which we're all looking forward to.

Homeschool group two
L's favourite day of the week remains the same as last term. It's the one when she gets to go to a homeschool group that runs multiple elective classes every hour. This term L has again signed up for Dancefit and Creative Journaling, but she's given up Science and KiwiSports in favour of Brainplay Computer Coding and Jewellery Making.

J also comes to this homeschool group and is again doing Gymnastics and KiwiSports. I love watching his classes, not only because it's exciting seeing to his skills progress, but also because I get to chat with the lovely Mum-friends I made last term.

This homeschool group ran a sports day in lieu of classes on the first week of term. It was a beautiful, sunny day out, and L got to play a game of netball and a game of softball with other homeschool children. We didn't get to stay for the final sports game of the day (football/soccer) as we had to leave to pick up S from school. That's one of the downsides of having one homeschooled kid and one still in school - rushing back for the school pick-up.

Downtime and bookwork
Our new, streamlined timetable gives L and I two full weekdays at home (or out, if we want to go out), as well as a completely unscheduled weekend (apart from church). All the activities L, J and S are doing now fall into three days, which feels like a lot less hustle and bustle for me and gives me the space I need to breathe.

We fit bookwork into our home days, as well as into the mornings and afternoons before and after L's scheduled activities. L's curriculum hasn't changed much from last term, so you can refer back to this post to see what she's learning. However, we have added the computer game, Prodigy Maths, into the mix. This was recommended to us by my friend, Angela, and all the kids love it. Like, seriously love it. It keeps them engaged in maths like nothing else I've seen.

Questions you've asked
Will we continue homeschooling L? Yes, for the foreseeable future. L loves it, and it gives me the time to work with her on her specific struggles. With the streamlining we've done this term, I feel much more able to continue homeschooling her for the long haul.

Will we pull S out of school to homeschool her? I'm in the process of seriously considering it. There's every chance I'll be filling out an exemption form and sending it off to the Ministry of Education to get her ready to homeschool in term three. Watch this space.

Will we homeschool J? I don't know. I've given myself till the end of this year to decide whether I'll enrol him in school next year or not. If, by then, I have decided to homeschool S and it's going well, that will likely swing things in favour of homeschooling J too. Technically we don't need to make an official decision till he's six, so we've still got a year and a half before we would need to send in our exemption form. But I think that if I was enrolling him in school, I'd want to do it at the start of the year so he could get settled in with his classmates.

Do I enjoy homeschooling? Yes! Far more than I ever thought I would. It's so fun and interesting. I get to learn right alongside L. It also gives me the chance to meet other like-minded Mums, which has been a real blessing to me. I'm a bit weird, a bit alternative, but in the homeschooling community, I fit right in.