A Field Trip—On Sunday?!

I’ll try again with this one, too; it is one that vanished in the past week. Rather frustrating!

This story really starts back in January. We were on our way south and passed a big yellow railroad track fixing machine. We’ve seen those a lot of times, since we drive along the railway so much (it parallels Highway 1, which is the main highway on this island and we drive on it practically every time we go anywhere; the railway is visible from the highway probably half the distance from Christchurch to Kaikoura). That day, my 8-year-old asked me how those machines work. I told him I didn’t know, but that if we saw one sometime that was at a place we could pull off, and if there were workmen there who seemed to have time to talk, and if we had extra time, we would stop and ask. Well, one Sunday morning soon after we moved, all those things came together. As we were driving to church, we reached the coast after coming down out of the hills, and approached the first tunnel that the highway goes through. Ahead on the other side of the tunnel, we saw one of those track-fixing machines, and I told Gayle what I had told our son. As we came out of the tunnel, we saw that the machine was right at the end of a short passing lane, with a pull-off right there beside it, and there were two men standing behind it on the track, talking; one was obviously the operator of the machine! We had a rare extra 15 minutes, so Gayle pulled off and asked the man if he would tell us how it worked. Sure, he was glad to! He explained it all, and then took us up into the cab to show us the computerized controls. That machine clamped onto the rails and pulled them in or pushed them out to make them exactly the right distance apart. There were two or three other machines that traveled in a unit with that one, which did other jobs, leveling the track and I’m not sure what else, but they were ahead, through another tunnel. We thanked him and went back to the van as he started moving ahead again. When he came out of the next tunnel, we got to watch as they coupled that machine to the next one. What a great field trip! It was especially meaningful to me because a man in the church I grew up in, someone I knew all my life and who died just about six months ago, had spent a lot of his life building that type of machines. He didn’t build this one; it’s Austrian-built; but it was the same basic idea.



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Kaikoura Peninsula

One Sunday afternoon, when we had visitors from America at church, we went with them to the Peninsula. It was a gorgeous fall afternoon. We really enjoyed visiting with our new friends and showing them around.DSCF2235

Mountain climbers.

Mountain climbers.

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Very tired and ready to go home--Daddy is still talking!

Very tired and ready to go home–Daddy is still talking!

A bed of bull kelp.

A bed of bull kelp.

Gazing out to sea from the overlook at the top of the Peninsula.

Gazing out to sea from the overlook at the top of the Peninsula.

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More March Pictures

Some of you may have seen a post like this a week or so ago, because I did post it, but it disappeared. I did six posts one evening, and scheduled them so they would appear every two days, but three vanished—one before it was posted and two after. Why does that happen? So frustrating. Anyway, here are these pictures again.


When you finish your chicken, use the bones for a telephone.DSCF2071


Playing in the rain!



He found a bag of carrots in the fridge and helped himself to a snack.

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Passport Photos

We had to get passport photos taken recently, because the older six children all needed their passports renewed and we need to apply for permanent residency within the next week or two. Taking those photos is quite a challenge! Here are the best we came up with; they will work for the residency application, but we had to get professional ones for the passports.DSCF2215


Fail! What a character.

Fail! What a character.


This isn't a passport photo--just a cutie!

This isn’t a passport photo–just a cutie!

He doesn't need a new passport, nor does he need to be included in the residency application, but he wanted his picture taken when everyone else got theirs taken.

He doesn’t need a new passport, nor does he need to be included in the residency application, but he wanted his picture taken when everyone else got theirs taken.

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March Pictures

And here is the assortment of pictures from March that didn’t make it into their own posts!DSCF2219 DSCF2123

A beautiful fall day–Esther enjoyed watching these steers out her bedroom window.

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One night, we ran out of hot water, so my oldest son fired up the coal range. He stuffed it full of pine cones–and soon this is what the oven thermometer registered! I made him quit feeding it at that point. We had hot water!


Bigger brother reading to littlest brother!




This is the way to do math!

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Cows and Corn

Finally, I have this post ready. I started it two weeks ago! I’ve been having computer problems; I bought a new laptop to replace my Windows XP desktop, since after this coming Tuesday it won’t be safe to use it online, and the new laptop was not working right. We sent it back to get fixed, and haven’t gotten it back yet; hopefully sometime in the next week! Anyway, that, plus the fact that for four days this past week our power was turned off for seven hours a day made it hard to do anything online–besides just daily busyness!DSCF2079.jpg “Apples—I said, ‘Give me apples!’” This is Chessie, the cow we’ve had for nearly four years now. She’s rather spoiled.


Mrs. Moo, the cow we’ve been boarding and milking since I dried our cow off the end of January. She moves back with her owners when they move to their new farm the end of April.


The neighbor’s bull, who was with our herd for two weeks so Mrs. Moo will have a calf next year. We’ll probably see him again when it’s time to think about that for our cow.


Chessie again, two weeks before calving.


We went to the garden at the other place and filled the bed of the truck half full of onions, half full of ears of corn, and then the corn stalks on top!DSCF2095 DSCF2094 I liked the expressions on their faces in this one! They had fun throwing corn stalks out for the cows to eat! DSCF2106 Look how dry the hills were! That was a month ago; now the hills are green again, since we’ve had rain a couple of times. DSCF2104

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Science This Year

I’m excited about what we’re using for Science this year for the boys. Until now, we’ve always used Sonlight Curriculum’s Science, which is a variety of subjects each year and mostly Usborne books. They have activity sheets to go along with the books, and the curriculum is all right as far as it goes. I was starting to feel, though, that we were just scratching the surface of all the different subjects and never digging in deeper, and the boys were getting very bored with it, groaning when it was time to do science. That’s not what we want! Well, sometime around the first of the year I noticed some science books come up on an email list I get, on which homeschoolers around New Zealand can buy and sell books they don’t need anymore. These books were published by Apologia Press, and I knew how much my Mom liked the high school level books they put out. Esther used one last year, and loved it–I never heard her talk so much about what she was learning as with that book! So, I took a closer look on the Apologia website at these books, for elementary students. I liked what I saw! They have six books for younger children, covering Astronomy, Botany, Zoology (three years: birds, fish, land animals), and Human Anatomy. There is a hard cover textbook for each level/subjects, and a notebooking journal to go along with it, with lesson plans. There are actually two notebooks for each textbook, one for older children and one for younger. I was able to get a couple of the textbooks, and notebooks for the Human Anatomy book, from the email list, so we could take a good look. Wow! I liked them immediately! The boys picked up the one about fish right away and were fascinated; one boy even started doing a project from it. I decided, though, that since we had the notebooks for Human Anatomy that we’d do that one this year, and ordered more notebooks so each boy will have one. One of the boys is still proclaiming loudly that the book is boring, and one is ambivalent, but the other two are enthusiastic–and I love it, too! This book glorifies God as Creator and designer all the way through, and shows clearly how wonderfully we are designed. So far, we’ve studied cells, and the boys each got to draw a diagram of a cell (not a simple thing, by the way!). Now, we’re studying bones and the skeleton, and when we happened to eat chicken the day we learned about growth plates we actually found a growth plate on a chicken bone! The notebooking journals provide a great way to write down what they’ve learned, and draw pictures. Some pages have questions to answer or activities to do; we’ll be building a “personal person” for each boy as we go, with overlays to glue onto a picture, showing the skeleton, muscular system, nervous system, etc. I am so thankful to have stumbled onto this book!

This is how we do science--all of us sit on the floor. I read aloud from the textbook, and then we work on filling in the notebooks.

This is how we do science–all of us sit on the floor. I read aloud from the textbook, and then we work on filling in the notebooks.


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