The Road to Kaikoura on New Year’s Day

We had not been to church in Kaikoura since the earthquake, on November 14, so it was an exciting day when we were finally able to go on New Year’s Day. Unfortunately, I had a severe migraine, so had to stay home, but the rest of the family went. Esther took my camera and got a lot of pictures of the condition of the road. It’s much better than it was immediately after the quake! There has been an enormous amount of work done already. Compared to what it used to be, though, the roads are pretty rough. I couldn’t believe the way the guardrails were twisted. In this first picture, though you can’t see it very well, a bridge on the main highway is completely gone. Traffic has been rerouted around a narrow back road.


See the new hill crossing the tracks and the road?


Many hillsides slid away.


Because the seafloor rose, low tide is much lower than it used to be.


Obviously, this bridge is not safe to drive on!


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End of December 2016 Pictures

Here are the rest of our pictures from December.

Mr. Inventor dropped a piece he needed to work on a pump into our underground cistern, so he put on his swimming trunks and went down into that cold water to retrieve it. He was glad to be able to pick it up with his toes, so he didn’t have to go all the way under. Mr. Diligence took the picture.


Mr. Diligence also took this one. He and Mr. Inventor were perched in an oak tree. Mr. Diligence has a new camera, which he keeps in a case on his belt, so he gets some interesting pictures. I’m glad he lets me look at his memory card sometimes!


Mr. Sweetie, piling up long grass that Mr. Inventor had just mowed, to mulch the garden.


Mr. Diligence was pretty impressed with this egg, about twice the size of a normal hen’s egg! The poor chicken who laid it.


Gayle took Mr. Intellectual and Mr. Diligence on a picnic one Saturday. They walked around a new trail in the Domain, and came across a family of ferrets.


Esther is tying the tomatoes up this year. That should make them easier to pick!


I was pleased to harvest all this the week before Christmas! We’ve gotten a lot more since then.


Little Miss was determined to go help Esther feed the calf!


All dressed up for the Christmas Eve service! Mr. Inventor was a scribe, Mr. Intellectual was Herod, and the other three boys were the Wise Men.


Charades one evening. This was a symphony. The kitten was a violin.


Parallel. No one could guess this one.


A bit of earthquake damage we observed on our way to our picnic on the day after Christmas.


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Little Miss is Busy!

Our little girl is a very busy little person. She is on the go from when she wakes up in the morning till she reluctantly goes to sleep at night. Here are a few more pictures in which we’ve tried to capture her lovely personality! This first picture shows her sweet side—she does love to cuddle, when there isn’t something else more pressing to investigate!


When Esther arrived home from America, she brought some preschool books that I had bought for Mr. Imagination. He immediately started coloring pictures—so Little Miss wanted to color, too! I gave her an old school book, and she very diligently colored for a few days. The morning I took this picture, she had just delightedly told me, “Mommy, see me picture!”


This was a game of kickball. She loved running bases, although she couldn’t understand the rules.


Picking peas. I love this picture—looks like she’s telling off one of her brothers; he probably offended her in some way. She is very bossy, and does her best to keep her big brothers in line. This morning, she found a wet rag in the house and took it outside to wash the top of the little picnic table. She informed me that it was “Mess! Mess! Da boys.”


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Christmas Day—Beach and Railroad Tracks

We actually had our Christmas Day picnic the next day, since Christmas was on Sunday. We went to church that day and visited the family from whom we acquired the kittens. On Monday, then, we went to the beach for a picnic. We ate lunch in a grove of pine trees; the needles make a lovely floor to sit on. The boys played in the water, and then buried each other in the tiny rocks that covered the beach there. We had two extras that day, our nephew and a friend of our boys.


Mr. Inventor stepped on a bee as soon as he reached the beach. He put plantain on the sting and kept in on for a long time. He was quite pleased that it didn’t swell and itch like normal.32-IMG_1508

After the sting stopped bothering him, he did some beachcombing. I was quite pleased with some of his finds. The starfish washed up just as he was walking past! The orange thing is some sort of sea slug. There were also a couple of nice sponges.


We walked across the railroad track to reach the beach, and on the way back investigated the unusual curves and twists that resulted from the earthquake. I couldn’t get a picture of what we saw in the gravel under the track, but it looked like the earthquake had shoved the track back and forth, pushing the rocks out of place, and the track ended up about half a foot or more to the side of where it started out. We could tell by the rust on the rocks. It was quite interesting. We spent a little time picking cherries on our way home, beside a railway bridge. The bridge either rose, or the tracks on both ends of it sank, because they obviously drop at both ends. The gravel was gone under the end on which we were standing; it had fallen down the hill under the bridge. Kiwirail has a big job to do, repairing the tracks from here to Picton! These pictures show some very minimal damage compared to where the track follows the coast on both sides of Kaikoura.  31-IMG_150752-IMG_1533

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Product Review—

I’m trying something new this year. I’ve been reading reviews for over a year now from people on the Homeschool Review Crew, and decided it sounded like an interesting thing to do. Throughout this next year, I’ll have the chance to get free curriculum or other things to use with the children, and then write an honest review of my opinion of the product and how we used it. The first product I was asked to review was a Yearly Membership at

Apparently, I had a free membership a few years ago, when I subscribed to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. I enjoyed that magazine, by the way, but when they changed from print to digital it no longer worked for me because I don’t have a phone or tablet to read it on. Anyway, at that time I never even investigated, but in the past month I’ve spent a fair amount of time exploring the site. It’s great!

One of the things I used the most was Everyday Games. I printed out several math games to play with Mr. Sweetie. His favorite was one in which you throw a die to go around a game board. Most of the spaces have addition facts on them, but some have a penguin. If you land on a penguin, you go back to start; if you hit a fact that adds up to 11, you get an extra turn. He loved that game, and we played it over and over before we quit doing school for the summer. Another game I printed had circles all around the edge with numbers in them; you wanted to cover up two numbers that added up to 10, and get the longest string of tokens in order to win. There was another that required adding up to 13, and Mr. Inventor and Mr. Diligence got into that one the one day. They stole it from Mr. Sweetie and I, and spent a lot of time playing it! With that game, you could use either two or three numbers at once, which meant you had a better chance of getting the longest string. They loved the challenge. These are such simple games, but my imagination isn’t good enough to come up with something like that on my own. I look forward to trying more of the games as we need to reinforce different topics in reading and math.


Another course we used a lot was Drive Through History. Mr. Intellectual loved those videos. He’s been working his way through American history using them. Each video is about half an hour long, and follows the narrator as he goes to various historical buildings and tells the story of what happened there. I’ve heard a lot about what my boy has learned from them. There are worksheets to go along with each video, with two pages of simple questions and a page of more involved essay questions. Mr. Intellectual’s only gripe with the worksheets was that some of the questions were out of order, making it hard to answer as he went through the video.


We’ve also been enjoying the Videos tab. We don’t generally spend money on DVDs (I’d rather buy books), and we don’t watch very many, but occasionally we like to spend an evening together watching something. Actually, I should clarify. The rest of the family likes to do that; I don’t get into movies much. We discovered a gold mine on, though—the Torchlighters series of cartoon-style animated movies telling about the lives of famous Christians. We’ve watched several since we got access to them, including the ones about Corrie TenBoom, Amy Carmichael, Samuel Morris, and others. The favorite so far was John Wesley, especially the part where he was thrown out of the church! One thing I like about these movies is that they are only half an hour long.


There are so many courses available on that it’s almost overwhelming to look at it! There are over 300 courses covering all subjects, from Art and Bible to History, Geography and Science. Esther asked me recently about a bookkeeping course, and there it was. I thought she might be interested in the graphic design and photo editing courses, as well. I might have Mr. Diligence try out the course on photography; he loves taking pictures. There are even courses for parents. I read the articles included in “When Things Don’t Go as Planned”, and it really comforted me to know that other parents have had things go horribly wrong in their families as well, and to hear what another parent learned from God through hard times.

It’s easy to find exactly the courses you need, whether you are building a complete curriculum or just filling in gaps. If you click on the “Quick Links” tab, you’ll find a list of all the courses, sorted by topic. If you’re looking for courses in a particular subject or grade, there are tabs for those, too, and there is also a tab for planning. I just clicked on that one for the first time, and was excited to find some things I needed! Oh, and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine that I don’t read anymore because it’s too difficult for me, since all I have to read it on is my laptop and I hate staring at the computer screen that long? All the back issues since 2007 are available!

A Yearly Membership costs $90 for the next few days, but after January 15 that price goes up. Is it worth it? For me, no; I wouldn’t use the site enough to make it worthwhile. However, you could easily use the courses offered here for all your homeschool needs, and then it would be very worthwhile to buy the membership. Take a look at what is offered—it’s incredible!

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New Babies!

Our cat disappeared a few weeks after the earthquake, so we decided to try again. Some friends of ours had new kittens, so we requested two of them. They had the mother spayed when the kittens were five weeks old, and the kittens learned to eat dry food then. We picked them up a few days later, on Christmas Day. We are sure enjoying having kittens again! They were tiny when we got them, but now, about two weeks later, have grown a lot. They are also changing fast in behavior. They have learned how to play much better, and are getting friendlier all the time, especially the little boy kitten. The girl has always been friendly. She’s a fighter, though, and unless she’s sleepy she’s playing—which often means chewing on the person she has chosen to bestow her favor on at that moment! We named the black girl Princess and the gray boy Bandit. These first two pictures are on the way home. Those poor traumatized kittens! They were terrified.


They fell asleep on a chair as soon as we got home, and slept for several hours.


Later that evening, they woke up and played some.


Once, early on, Princess fell asleep on my hand. She’s too big to fit like that now!


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First Trip to Kaikoura Since the Earthquake

It’s already been three weeks since Mr. Inventor went to Kaikoura with a couple of men from Cheviot. They took a load of food that had been donated. At that time, the only way into Kaikoura was the Inland Route from Waiau, and you could only go in convoy. A convoy departed from Waiau at 8:00 am to go to Kaikoura, and another left Kaikoura at 3:00 pm to go back. You had to sign up online a day or two ahead, and then wait for a text message late the evening before going, to confirm that the road would be open in the morning. Only a few days later, all restrictions on that road ended and it was open for two-way traffic. A week after Mr. Inventor’s trip, Highway One, the coastal route, was opened for daytime traffic. These pictures are from Mr. Inventor’s trip on the 15th of December, on the Inland Road in convoy.


There were a lot of spectacular slips into the Conway River.


Unloading the food in Kaikoura.


A Navy ship was anchored offshore in Kaikoura.


The banks of Lyell Creek sank; apparently all houses along it have been red-stickered, meaning they are not to be used. Thankfully, our friend who lives along this lane is just far enough away that her house is fine.


Lots of twisted guard rails.


Cracks across the hillside.


The convoy forming to leave Kaikoura in the afternoon. Mr. Inventor rode in the truck at the back of the line.


It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the bridge on the left is twisted one direction at one end and the other direction at the other end. The bridge to the right is a new one built since the quake to allow traffic to go through.


This is a bridge just south of Kaikoura. Again, it’s hard to tell in the picture, but the road drops six or eight inches coming off the bridge.



Another view of the twisted bridge with a temporary bridge beside it.


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Early December 2016 Pictures

There will be another post soon (I hope) with more pictures from December, but one of the children borrowed my camera today so I don’t have my memory card. These are the pictures I do have today, when I have time to post!

I was amused one day, when I looked out the door, to see Little Miss walking very carefully around and around the tree in the middle of the roundabout in our driveway. She kept it up for quite a few minutes.


I was not quite so amused the morning I looked out to see Mr. Inventor’s flock of 35-40 ducklings going across my yard! Thankfully, ducks are very easy to herd and he got them back in the paddock before too long.


The hills are drying out again. I don’t remember ever seeing it quite like this before, half green and half brown. Maybe we’ve just never gone south at the right time before. This picture shows so clearly how the hot, dry northwest winds suck the moisture out of the grass here in North Canterbury.


I’ve been puzzling over this field since May or June, when it was planted. It looked like they sowed rocks thickly in the rows, then didn’t cover them up. I couldn’t imagine what those things were. When the plants came up, I decided they must be elephant garlic, but now we can tell what they are. Apparently, someone is raising onions for seed! (Mom, this is the field we were discussing one day when we went past while you were here—probably the day you arrived.)


I’m not sure what the blue/purple is on those hills across the Hurunui River, but it was beautiful! I’m guessing it’s a noxious weed, though.


Coming home to Cheviot one afternoon, I was struck anew by the beauty of the mountains to the north of us. I love seeing the ranges, one behind the other!


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Painting the Sleepout

I have a son who is at his best when he has a big project underway. He thrives on working toward a goal, day after day. Right now, he’s building a moveable chicken pen out of lumber someone gave the boys. He’s been at it for several days, and has several more days of work on it. He can’t stand to be at loose ends.

While Esther was gone to America for two weeks, Mr. Diligence had a different project. He had actually wanted to do it last year while she was gone for six weeks, but didn’t get at it then. He’s now 11 years old, though, and able to do even more than he was last year. He set himself the goal of scraping and painting her entire sleepout before she got home this year! He didn’t quite meet the goal; the scraping turned out to be a lot harder than he thought. He got two walls done, though! Then, he ran out of paint. It’s going to be very hard to match those walls with what he finds at the dump for free, but at least those two look good.



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Videos of Little Miss

Little Miss learned how to turn “round and round” a few weeks ago. She had great fun practicing her new skill!

I love watching Little Miss run and jump! She rarely moves slowly; this is her normal pace of life. She’s a very busy little girl!

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