More New Babies!

We have been watching our cat Princess getting larger and larger over the past few weeks, and yesterday the long-awaited event happened! She settle down on Mr. Diligence’s lap yesterday morning, and after awhile we noticed she was very restless, so we fixed her a box in the living room. Sure enough, after a couple of hours she produced a kitten, and a couple of hours later, one more. We’re rather glad there were only two! Both are tortoiseshells; one is mostly black and the other tabby. They’ll be beautiful cats!


Mr. Imagination has been desperately wanting a pet. He has tried to save a number of baby birds from the cats, but all have died. He tried to save a skink one day, but we didn’t know what to feed it. A few days ago, he rescued a duckling from the cat. We told him to give it back to its family, but a few minutes later the cat had it again. I told him he could put it in the brooder with the baby turkeys, but within a couple of hours it had died. He was heartbroken. I realized, then, how badly he wanted a pet, so I told him he could choose one of the kittens when Princess has them. He was thrilled, and spent a lot of time spoiling her after that! He was very excited yesterday, as you can imagine, and he has chosen the tabby kitten for his own. He can’t wait till she’s big enough to play with.

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Nelson Creek

After we visited the gold dredge, we drove to Nelson Creek to explore a bit in an old goldfield. Simon was very happy to drive some of us in his car. He was careful, and never scared his mom! 15-IMG_3478


To get to the swing bridge, we first went through this tunnel.


If you don’t like walking on bridges that bounce, this one is not for you! Even with noone trying to bounce it, it still did a lot. I crossed it, but I really didn’t like it.


Looking upstream from the bridge—yes, it was drizzly.


I thought it was appropriate that the water was somewhat gold-colored!


After we crossed that little side creek, we started up this trail. I couldn’t possibly capture the scenery here; there were steep banks going up both sides of the trail. We were walking at the bottom of a deep ravine. It was amazing to walk through this area!


When we reached this cave, of course everyone had to explore it. It was a mining tunnel dug by the Chinese gold miners in the late 1800s. A creek runs through the bottom of it, into Nelson Creek. We enjoyed seeing glowworms in the ceiling—but our feet got cold! The water was frigid.


This is Simon, in a part of the tunnel some 20 feet above where Esther and Little Miss were standing in the picture above! He was pointing out the marks left by the mining picks in the ceiling around him. It was very dark, and my flash wouldn’t reach to where he was, so that’s why it’s blurry.


Going back through the ravine. The boys explored another tunnel they found, but some of us stayed on the path.


It lightened up a little as we crossed the bridge again going back to the car!


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Product Review—Innovators Tribe

I had never heard of Innovators Tribe before, but when the opportunity arose to use and review the course Thinking Like an Engineer, I knew Mr. Intellectual would be interested. Sure enough, when I showed it to him and we watched the introductory video together, he was immediately excited about the possibility of getting to do it. He was absolutely thrilled when we got the word that we had been assigned this review, and he has been working very fast with his regular school work so he will get to work on this course. It’s what he looks forward to most, each school day. Thinking Like an Engineer

This course alternates between video lessons and hands-on projects. After watching the introduction, What is Engineering, the assignment is given to build a tower out of only paper and tape—and strictly limited amounts of both. It took awhile, but Mr. Intellectual figured out how to do it, and had great fun in the process.


Lesson 2 talked about different types of engineers, and then the students were given another challenge assignment, to stack books one inch off the floor, using only one sheet of paper and some tape. I thought this was impossible; I couldn’t figure out how to do it at all. No hints or tips of any kind were given, just the assignment. My boy was stumped for awhile, but he eventually figured out what to do and made this impressive tower of books! (And no, I’m not going to tell you how he did it, because if your child does the course he or she needs to figure it out, too! However, if Grandma wants to know, we’ll tell her.) 


The second unit focuses on 3D design, using special software you can download to your computer. That’s what Mr. Intellectual has been using for a few weeks now. He loves the excuse to play around with designs on the computer. I asked what he was working on a couple of days ago, and the assignment was to take a piece of household furniture and improve the design. He was working on a kitchen table. I’ll be quite interested to see what he ends up with!

This course isn’t quite what I was envisioning; it’s actually much better. I thought the students would be walked through designing specific items, but actually they are taught how to figure out problems themselves. An engineer takes a need and figures out how to meet that need using the materials available. This course teaches students how to do that, which is why the tower and the stack of books were assigned with no hints.

Each unit has a printable journal to fill in as you go, which helps to cement the concepts you’ve learned, and keep a record of your accomplishments—how tall was your tower, how many pounds of books did you stack on top of your piece of paper, etc. If you run into difficulty, you can contact the author of the course and he’ll give you personal help. We haven’t needed any help, but some of the other people who did this course reported that they asked for some input and got quick, thorough answers.For children who can read at least some, Thinking Like an Engineer can be done totally by the student, without any help from Mom. In fact, I’ve had a little trouble writing this review because I was involved so little! I had to keep reminding myself to look over Mr. Intellectual’s shoulder and ask questions about what he was doing, so I’d have at least something to say! That makes it even more valuable to me, because I don’t have time for extras most days, so doing something that requires teacher input would have been difficult. I believe this would even work for people with dyslexia who have a lot of trouble reading, because most of it is in video format.

Mr. Intellectual says he would highly recommend this course for other people who are interested in building things and figuring out how they can be made to work better. We’re thankful to have had the chance to use Thinking Like an Engineer, and looking forward to the rest of the course! (It will be very interesting to see what he gets to do in the units about designing rollercoasters and bridges! Maybe that’s when we’ll use the packs of card stock we were told to buy?)

This is our last review for this year—hard to believe we’re at the end already! We have really enjoyed the chance to try out different products and read books we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. If you, too, homeschool and blog, and are interested in being on the Review Crew, they are taking applications right now for the 2018 crew. APPLY TODAY to The Homeschool Review Crew!

Thinking Like an Architect or Engineer {Innovators Tribe Reviews} Crew Disclaimer

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Gold Dredge

Simon has been telling us about a gold dredge that he likes to ride a motorbike to in the evenings after work, so we wanted to see it while we were there. It’s across the road and through some paddocks from where he lives, near the banks of the Grey River.

We drove as far as we could, then parked the vehicles and walked the rest of the way. It was drizzling, as it did the entire time we were over there—when it wasn’t pouring! There were a few five-minute times that the sun shone, but then the clouds would close in again.


This is the gold dredge, from a distance.


We crossed this bridge to get to it.


The water weeds were quite interesting under the bridge.


A close-up of the dredge. It is enormous!


Look closely; you can see buckets inside here that are used to dig 10 meters deep. They haven’t run this dredge for several years, but they would dig out gravel and sand, then separate the rocks from the small stuff. The rocks were pushed out the back; you can see a huge pile of them behind the machine. Then, they ran water through the sand and ran it over a series of riffles. The sand ran off, and the heavier gold dust stayed behind. This dredge would move back and forth to dig up all the ground, and it took the water with it—it’s always floating. They would level out the tailings behind it, and then gorse and broom would grow on the rocks. After several years, someone would spray the gorse and broom and the ground would grow grass for animals. We were told that this is the best way to make productive land in the area. Before the dredge went through, the land was swamp, good for nothing except growing sandflies; after, we saw herds of cattle grazing on it.


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October 2017 Pictures

Here are the rest of the pictures from October!

It’s hard to see in this picture, but one thing they’ve done to stabilize this cliff face is to put black netting over the loose rocks. You can see it on the left side of the top.


These are five-ton blocks of concrete—and a slip pushed them over!


Mr. Intellectual is doing a course called “Thinking Like an Engineer.” He’s loving it, especially the experiments. In this one, he had to pile books an inch above the floor, using one sheet of printer paper. You’ll have to wait till I write the review of the course to see how tall a stack he achieved!


Mr. Sweetie built this stack of animals, and then took 16 pictures of it!


This was the latest dump find. Mr. Intellectual is loving his “new” roll-top desk!


We got out the microscope one day to look at some algae. It was still out several days later when I was cutting up meat, so we looked at that, too.


The first picture is skeletal muscle; the second is cardiac muscle. Mr. Intellectual had just been studying about these muscles a few days before, so this was a timely opportunity.


Mr. Imagination and Little Miss spend most of the morning playing together while the bigger boys do school. They got out the rocking horse one day and had great fun on it for a long time.


Little Miss can spend hours playing with these tiny animals. She loves sorting them.


One day, Little Miss wanted to paint, so I gave her a brush and a bucket of water and told her to paint the house.


Mr. Imagination was delivering quite a fiery sermon to his brother and sister! I enjoyed listening, while I picked lettuce nearby and pretended not to pay attention.


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Visit to Simon

Since Monday the 23rd of October was a holiday, we decided to go visit Simon. We were pleased to discover that, even with our somewhat weak van, it only took four hours to get there, since we weren’t towing anything this time. We got there at lunchtime Saturday, and left right after lunch on Monday.  We enjoyed getting to spend time with our boy and the family he lives with, and see where he lives and works. This room is his sleepout, on the deck attached to the house.


All five boys slept in the sleepout for the weekend.


This is Simon’s car, which he bought a few weeks ago. Apparently, it was completely covered with moss, which took a few hours to waterblast off.


The workshop where he spends his days.


This is the house, when you approach it from the workshop.


Simon’s sleepout is at the far right.


The front of the house. This was the Ngahere Hotel until the family Simon lives with bought it about a year and a half ago. It was in quite bad shape inside, having been very neglected even though it was still in use. They have done a lot of work and turned it into a large, nice house.


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New Babies

It’s spring! That means there are lots of new babies around.

We were given a lamb the last week of September. See the cat eyeing it? The other cat took one look and hid for the rest of the day!


The cows and ducks were pretty curious, too. This lamb is named Daisy. By now, she’s free in the paddock, but she spends a lot of the day crying at the gate for more food, or attention.


We were given two more lambs when Daisy was a few weeks old. They are named Dusty and Debbie. We have the beginning of a flock of sheep—three little ewe lambs!


We came home from a trip to the West Coast to find eight new goslings! I didn’t want to get close to them to take a picture, so this is really zoomed in and not the best. These particular geese have never attacked anyone, but I don’t trust geese too far.


The little boys are loving taking care of the lambs!


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September 2017 photos

Here are the last few photos from September, that didn’t fit into any other posts.

When everyone else works on cleaning the house on Saturdays, Little Miss wants to do her cleaning, too. She has decided that spraying the walls and scrubbing them is her job. She sure loves to spray water!


Licking the beaters is the best part of making pavlova!


The boys brought in four goose eggs one day. They decided to blow out the insides and paint the shells.14-IMG_3327

Mr. Imagination did this one.


Esther made herself a new dress, and used the leftover fabric to sew an apron for her little sister.


Princess doing what she does best.


On our way to the Dead Boring concert a few weeks ago, we got to see the Weka Pass train—it’s just a short excursion train from Waipara to Waikari. Fun to see a steam engine!


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Gore Bay

Simon came home for a few days a couple of weeks ago. We loved seeing him again, and spending time with the family he lives with, as well. We took them out to Gore Bay, since the weather was so lovely. I don’t think I had been out there since January! Everything was so clear and gorgeous.

One of the must-sees in Cheviot is Cathedral Lookout, above the south end of Gore Bay. I never tire of seeing this place. I couldn’t decide which perspective I liked better, so decided to use both pictures.


Gore Bay was so beautiful that day, too! This is the south end, looking toward Port Robinson. It was high tide, so we didn’t go down to the rocks at the point.


Mr. Intellectual kept busy a long time building this tower.



Does it look like Simon is happy to be with his family again?


We went to the playground, too. I felt dizzy just watching the merry-go-round!


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The Road to Kaikoura

Every time we go to Kaikoura for church, we see changes that have been made in the road since the last time. The road crews are working hard to make things safe! They are hoping to have the job finished by the end of the year. We’ll see—it looks like a lot still to be done.

This spot is where a hillside slipped into the sea in 2010. It took a week to reopen the road and railroad that time, and we called it the Big Slip. Little did we know…. See the bent and twisted posts along that wall? They used to hold up a net to catch rocks. During the earthquake in November 2016, a lot more came down and bent the posts. Those aren’t small posts, either. I took the picture, and the next few, though, because we were marveling at what was happening with the railroad. Large sections of rails and ties, fastened securely together, had been lifted aside, and diggers were smoothing the rocks in the roadbed. In the afternoon when we returned home, they were putting the sections of rails back in place.


The annual old car show in Kaikoura ended that morning, so we were enjoying watching vintage cars going south to Christchurch.


Stopping to wait our turn at the one-way stretches means we have more time to admire the beautiful scenery along the coast. This is the Kaikoura Peninsula from the south.


I don’t think I had ever seen Barney’s Rock so white as this time!


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