Evening Walk

We don’t have enough grass here for our animals, so we graze the cow on the roadside during the day. We bring her home every evening before dark, to milk her and keep her in our paddock overnight. Seth always used to bring her home, and after he died Mr. Intellectual took over the job. One day around the first of February, though, I went to get her when everyone else was away and decided it would be a good way to get my daily walk in. I do it when I have time in the evening. Usually I take Little Miss in her stroller, but one evening in April I invited Mr. Imagination to go along instead. He was thrilled to get to go, and rode his bicycle ahead of me. One treat was seeing the moon rising over the hills to our east, the other side of Cheviot.


There’s our cow, waiting for us!


Posted in Activities at Home | Leave a comment

Product Review—The Typing Coach

I have been trying to teach my boys touch typing for a long time now. Esther learned when we still lived in America, using an old typing book I had picked up somewhere. It was very similar to the way I had learned, and really worked. The boys have been using a variety of computer programs, and none of them was working as well as I thought they should. I had been thinking about finding something else, so when The Typing Coach Online Typing Course, from The Typing Coach, was offered for review, I jumped at the chance. Mr. Intellectual has been using it for five or six weeks now, and he is really happy that he got to. The Typing Coach The Typing Coach

This program is quite different from the other online typing programs I’ve seen. It took awhile for Mr. Intellectual to get started with it, because there is a lot of introductory material to get through. To start out, you read a brief introduction, then watch a video introducing the method used in The Typing Coach. After that, you are asked to print several documents, which contain the passages you’ll be typing for practice, and then watch another, much longer video explaining how the course works. It took my boy several days to get through all that! The last step before actually learning to type is to do the Before and After Snapshot—type the Gettysburg Address for three minutes and take a screenshot of your results.

Finally, you’re ready to start the first lesson. That covers good posture while typing (mine isn’t very good all the time, to be honest). The second lesson covers the home row. It begins with an audio in which the instructor tells you where to have each finger and what letters to type. Then, you practice, using the student packet you printed out earlier, until you can get through several lines without a mistake. When you feel ready, take a test. You will not pass the test until you have 100% accuracy! The big difference I’m seeing between The Typing Coach and the other programs we’ve tried is that you are not to look at the screen. You are to keep your eyes on the paper you’re copying from. While you listen to the audio, of course, you won’t see anything on the screen, either. You are to type in a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs. That makes it work much like real life.

Does it work? Yes, at least for Mr. Intellectual! He already knew how to touch type, but was very slow and not accurate. He had been averaging 6-10 words per minute, with several errors. Today, when he did the Top Row Learning Check in The Typing  Coach, he typed 11 words in 40 seconds, with no errors. He’s pretty happy to be able to type faster. In fact, when he writes stories, he is now typing them rather than using a speech-to-text program! I will probably be using this program for some of my other children in the future (you don’t want to use it with children much younger than about sixth grade, unless you have time to help them through it). One thing I really appreciated is that Mr. Intellectual was able to do this program pretty much on his own.

We did have some frustrations with this course. At first, the website seemed pretty clunky and hard to navigate. After playing around with it and looking closer at everything, we found what we needed, though. We did notice that things were changed as we used it, and it’s actually much better than it was before. Another frustration was that you have to wait two days, to the minute, before retaking a test that you have failed. That is especially aggravating when you’ve left Caps Lock on accidentally! We did find a way around that, though; if you enter a different name you can retake it immediately, so my boy used his middle name a couple of times. However—remember that the purpose of this course is to teach mastery and accuracy! That is why the rule about not doing the test again immediately. You are to practice and practice until you are absolutely accurate. 1-IMG_2369

The suggested pace is a lesson a week for ten weeks. Mr. Intellectual hasn’t quite held to that pace, because life is pretty crazy around here; he’s finishing lesson 3 right now. We’ve had a lot of days we had to take off school to go to Christchurch for appointments, or other life happenings, including our upcoming trip to America. He has learned a lot, though, and plans to finish the course after we get home. I highly recommend this course for anyone who wants to improve their typing speed or accuracy, but you will have to have the patience to figure out the course.

To read what 100 reviewers think about The Typing Coach, click here: The Typing Coach Online Typing Course {The Typing Coach Reviews} Crew Disclaimer

Posted in Activities at Home | Leave a comment


I love the connections we sometimes get to make. We’ve been reading aloud a book titled The Broken Blade, a story about voyageurs who traveled from Montreal to Grand Portage in 1800. The main character is a young boy whose father got injured just before signing up with a crew for the summer’s trip, so Pierre went in his father’s place. In the chapters we read this morning, the five canoes reached Lake Superior, and as they crossed a large bay a fierce storm came up. They barely reached the shore of an island before the canoe sank.


At lunch, we often watch some educational videos online. One we watched today was from an article I came across this morning, about a shipwreck recently discovered in Lake Superior.

We watched the video, and then read a bit of the article. As we were reading, I wondered where the wreck was, so then we went to Google Maps to find Michipicoten Harbour. As we looked at the map, we started thinking it looked like the map in The Broken Blade that we had been studying this morning. We grabbed the book, and sure enough, it was the same bay! What fun.

By the way, The Broken Blade is quite a gripping story about the voyageurs and the hard life they lived. We are really enjoying it, although there are some very graphic places, such as when they killed a deer or when one man was killed. It’s so real, you feel like you were there. We are rather upset with how the author made the one man die, and wondering why it had to be him. We’re hoping there is a good reason later on. What I loved about all this was the connections some of the children made, between the book and real life, and what’s happening today! I also loved that it was totally unplanned!

This is the map we were looking at in our book; the yellow arrow shows where the canoes got caught in the storm. As far as we can tell, they landed on the island.


Here is the Google Maps page we looked at:


And I just realized, we actually did a bit of geography today! That doesn’t happen every day.

Posted in Activities at Home | 2 Comments

MacKintosh Beach

One Tuesday in April, our homeschool group went out to MacKintosh Beach, near Amberley, for a picnic and to explore after reading the stories the children wrote, which gives us our excuse for getting together. We had never been out there before, so we enjoyed the spectacular scenery. Even though it drizzled a bit, it was a fun afternoon!


Posted in Activities at Home | Leave a comment

Strange People

We had some very strange-looking people in our house this evening. First, this apparition appeared:


He wouldn’t tell us his name, but we think maybe it was Mr. Imagination. Sure sounded like his giggle, anyway! Then, a little while later, this one showed up in the kitchen:


Later, after we ate, we were treated to a sword-swallowing show. I’ll let you catch a brief glimpse of Mr. Inventor’s skills.

Posted in Activities at Home | Tagged | Leave a comment

Happy Days

This is just a collection of random pictures of happy times over the past couple of months—pictures I never found a spot for before. Mr. Imagination was so happy to have puddles to splash in! This was one of our first rains in March, and was some of the first puddles he had the opportunity to play in for a couple of years. 07-20170313_113735

All these lovely people, plus a few more, slept and ate at our house for a day and a half! We really enjoyed that weekend. One family had lived with us for two and a half months; they had to fly back to America a couple of days after the picture was taken, and the other family had come to say goodbye to them.


Mr. Intellectual was doing a science experiment, with help from Mr. Inventor and Esther. It had something to do with how pulleys work.


A friend came one day to say goodbye before she goes to America for a year. She loves children, and spent a lot of the day with the little ones. You can see how Little Miss loved her!01-IMG_2145

I believe this is a cup of hot chocolate from the friend in the picture above. Think Little Miss likes it?


We were given a big box of clothes, and Mr. Inventor had great fun dressing up and trying to look as ridiculous as possible! (And now I notice a cat enjoying the box!)


I came out of the bedroom after praying with Gayle at bedtime one night, and found that, not only had the boys not gone to bed, Mr. Inventor was busy tying Mr. Diligence up!


When we happen to have a Sunday afternoon at home, Daddy sometimes plays a game with the children. They love it!


Posted in Activities at Home | 1 Comment

NASA Super Balloon

Yesterday evening when I was on my way home with the cow from where she grazes on the roadside during the day, I noticed a bright object in the sky off to the southwest of us. I thought that was an odd shape for a plane, and it didn’t seem to be moving, but I didn’t think much of it and soon forgot it. After I got home, I put the cow in the area where I milk, picked a few things from the garden, and headed for the house. The turkeys started fussing about then and ran for cover under the macrocarpa hedge. They were acting like there was a hawk, so I looked around, and saw a large flock of Canada geese coming toward us. Several of the boys ran out into the paddock to see them, and soon yelled that they saw a planet—maybe Venus or Mercury? I knew it wasn’t Venus, because I’ve been seeing it to the east in the morning shortly before sunrise, so I told them it must be Mercury, but went to see what they were seeing, because it didn’t seem likely that we’d actually see that small planet! They pointed out the same bright object I had seen a little bit earlier, and it was definitely not a planet. It was much brighter and larger than any heavenly body I’ve ever seen, except of course the Sun and the Moon. It was round, or oval, but we couldn’t make out what it was. Mr. Intellectual and Mr. Diligence ran for their binoculars, but that didn’t help much, so Mr. Inventor got the telescope. I went inside to look online and try to figure it out. First I looked  for the International Space Station, but that was obviously not what we were seeing. I tried one or two other fruitless searches, and then thought of the NASA weather balloon we had heard was to be launched several weeks ago. I searched for that, and after one or two more dead ends, found an article that said the balloon had finally been launched today, after seven failed attempts. The accompanying video showed an object exactly like what we were able to see with the telescope!

This picture shows what we were able to see with the naked eye (this is very zoomed in):IMG_2268

This is a screenshot from the video in the article; this is what we could see through the telescope:Fullscreen capture 4252017 81314 PM.bmp

We were pretty excited to get to see this!

Posted in Activities at Home | Leave a comment

Little Miss and Her Bicycle

Mr. Inventor and Mr. Diligence found a tiny bicycle with training wheels at the dump a few months ago. They brought it home and presented it to their favorite little sister; it was just the right size for her. She was thrilled to be able to ride it. I grabbed the chance to get this video one morning when she slipped out of the house still wearing her nightgown! She moves so fast it’s hard to capture a video like this.

Posted in Activities at Home | Leave a comment


Our little kittens aren’t so little anymore! They are nearly full-grown now, but we’re enjoying them just as much. One problem they are running into, though, is that they don’t both fit on the same lap at the same time anymore. This morning, I was sitting on the couch reading my Bible, and Princess jumped onto my lap from one side. A second later, Bandit jumped on from the other side. He was on the inside, though, so she had to jump off while he curled up for a cozy sleep! She had to spend a minute washing herself to get over the disappointment.

We find them sleeping in all sorts of funny places; here are just a few pictures from the past couple of months. This first picture was when they could still both fit on my lap.


This was one of the first days this fall that we lit the fire in the coal range. They loved the heat, and spent most of the morning in front of it.


We found Princess asleep on my laptop one evening.


She also loved sleeping on the coal range a few hours after the fire went out, while the cast-iron top was still warm. One day, however, she decided to take a nap there while I had the fire going. I suddenly heard frantic skittering and turned around to see her running away from the stove! She raced into the other room and stood there looking very scared and offended. Her paws were slightly scorched. She has stayed away from that stove ever since!22-IMG_2140

Just a few days ago, we found her here—apparently there wasn’t a human lap around that suited her!


They don’t always sleep, though. Until the past week or so, there would be fierce fights every morning. Bandit got sick last week, though, and for several days didn’t do anything. He wouldn’t even eat for a day or more. We were pretty concerned about him, and prayed for him. Soon, he started eating again, and now he’s back to normal.


This was the first time we saw Princess on top of the garage roof. She couldn’t figure out how to get down. She would look down, scratch her shoulder, run a little way, give herself a few licks, run a little way, lick herself again…. We just cracked up watching her; it looked for all the world like a person scratching his head while he tried to figure out a puzzle! And sure enough, within half an hour she was down.


I had the boys clean out the garage one afternoon. They threw out this pile of boxes to be burned. The cats had great fun stalking each other through the pile before it was loaded up and taken out to the paddock.


We bought a couple of suitcases one day, in preparation for our trip to America. The cats thought we got them just for their benefit!


Little Miss did the same thing!11-20170405_203021

“Aw, I’m too late. The lap is already occupied.” So he started scrubbing his sister.


Posted in Activities at Home | Leave a comment


I started a batch of salsa a few days ago. I had nearly a bushel of tomatoes that were going bad, so I trimmed them all and ground them with the stick blender. It filled this 20-litre pot about 2/3 full! I boiled it that evening. Yesterday, I got a few peppers chopped and put in, and boiled it again. Tonight, I picked a dishpanful of tomatillos and chopped them and put them in…and brought it to a boil again! Maybe tomorrow I can finish the job. Think the pot is full enough?! I’m planning to divide it into two pots tomorrow before adding more peppers, jalapenos, onions, and some tomato paste. This is the second batch of salsa for the year, but the other wasn’t this big. Yes, we go through a lot of salsa around here.


Posted in Activities at Home | 4 Comments