Friday, August 31, 2012

Rome Wasn't Built In A Day.

Whilst in Melbourne, looking through a DVD store for a gift for my own dear father, I came across a BBC series called "Roman Mysteries". I thought it looked pretty interesting and so purchased Series 1 for my daughters. They weren't too thrilled with the idea of it ... there were no Disney stars or ponies you see.

Anyway on our return, about a week later on a particularly wintry afternoon, I popped the first DVD on and WOW, the girls were mesmerised. I had a hard time just restricting them to one episode at a time and each day were pleadings to watch more. Is there anything better to have than something like this to hold over a child's head ... all chores were done with a minimum of fuss and speed that week if they wanted to see the next episode.

The girls were so into the series that I googled it and found that the Roman Mysteries is actually a series of 17 historical novels for children by Caroline Lawrence. The stories take place in ancient Rome and it's about four teenage children (except for Lupus who is only 11) who solve mysteries and have adventures in Rome, Greece, and other places. The main characters are Flavia, a Roman girl; Nubia, a slave girl from Africa; Jonathan, a  Jewish boy; and Lupus, a mute beggar boy. The BBC has made 10 of the books into a series which whilst is entertaining is also a great way for a young person to learn something of ancient Rome.

My own girls were in stitches after seeing a scene with Lupus holding a sponge on a stick which is what ancient Romans used to use to wipe their bottoms after using the toilet.

The stories have sort of taken hold of them and since then we have read a few books on Ancient Rome. It's great when we read something and they get excited when they can relate it back to the series. It seems to make it more real to them.  We have also started compiling an Ancient Rome lapbook produced by Dynamic 2 Moms to which I'll add some things relating to the Roman Mysteries series.

Last week I went and purchased the second series and the girls are really enjoying it also. From what I can tell there is no Series 3 yet and I am not sure if the BBC are producing one. I am sure that Caroline Lawrence's books are much better than the series but sadly our local library doesn't have them so I will have to order them from the good old Book Depository.

Now if anyone can recommend a good DVD series on ancient Greece or Egypt that will be the rest of the year covered for history. Do your children prefer living books or non-fiction? Mine struggle with non-fiction unless it is a subject really close to their hearts. Maybe I need to write to Caroline Lawrence and suggest she start writing a series for children on these places too!

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Fashionista is officially a Girls Rally Member

Tonight The Fashonista recited the Rally promise and motto in order to be an official member.

I had no idea she was going to do it. I had suggested that both girls do it the following fortnight as I didn't think they had it quite down pat and I thought I'd pop along to watch and take some pictures like a proud mama. Unfortunately a friend lagged her in, saying that she knew it so she took it then.  Unfortunately Agent Smelly hadn't realised what was going on, as she's in a different team, so she didn't make hers and so came home extremelly upset that her sister had done hers and she hadn't. I felt a bit sorry for her, as the poor child was near in tears.

The Fashionista came home sporting her new sash and her Rally handbook and blogbook and was so thrilled.  I sat and had a good look through the book ad I must say, that even though I am a Guide leader, that I think that the activities that they need to do to earn their badges are pretty awesome! The Guides badges have changed so much over the years to keep up with the young girls. that I sometimes wonder if they haven't gone too far and lost some of the great learning experiences they used to teach the girls.

If you were sending your daughter to a youth group like, Brigade, Rally, Guides/Scouts, etc what would you want them to learn there?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Poor wee sick girls

Well we have our second bout of flu for the winter. This time the poor girls got it from moi. You know one of those that starts with a sore throat, moves to the ears and then you just feel exhausted. Then it kindly moves to your chest and presents itself in a deep chesty cough and a runny nose ... oh what joy!

Normally because we homeschool the girls can still do some of their bookwork even when they are slightly sick but as they just looked so poorly I let them have a couple of days off. Day 2 though I arranged for them to make some cards. We hadn't done any crafts in a while and I thought it might distract them a little. They were absolutely thrilled with the prospect as even TV and reading had been a bit much on their eyes the day before.

Agent Smelly displaying her very first card.

The Fashionista with her first card also.

Their cards were copies of one that I had made earlier in the month at my card making class. Best of all I had just received my embossing machine and embossing powder so the girls got to use that for the first time ... and fell in love with it just like their Mama did.

I had punched out some hearts the night before for them to use and here's a display of the cards they completed. They did a great job and it kept them busy til after lunch and then they just flopped onto the couch and I popped on a DVD to keep them amused. I could tell that they weren't that well as they had pulled out a My Little Pony DVD that they haven't watched in probably a year or so. It was obviously comforting and didn't take too much brain power to watch.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Grammar and The Fashionista

Well the little madam finally finished her First Language Lessons Level 3 today. She was thrilled. Maybe you can tell from her photo.

When we started on Level 1 and 2, I wasn't aware there was a Level 3 so we didn't continue with the series. Then I came across it online so decided to put her back onto it, as the girls had just loved Book 1 and 2. If there hadn't been a gap she would have completed it a year or two ago.  In fact Agent Smelly started it last term well ahead of her sister.

At this level there was a fair bit of diagramming, you know, the subject goes on the left, the verb to the right, the direct object after the verb on the graph and so on. She didn't find it at all difficult and really loved it to begin with. By the end of the book she had started to get a little bored with it. I am still scratching my head as to the relevance of it to be perfectly frank with you. Thank goodness I had a teachers manual (which is really easy to use!) or I would have been a bit lost in places. I did love the fact that they had to learn some Robert Louis Stevenson and William Makepeace Thackery poems as these writers have been on our list to read.

Based on The Fashionista becoming so bored with this towards the end and my wondering how important diagramming is I decided not to continue with the final book in the series but to switch her to a writing course. Up until recently she has really struggled with writing stories, even long answers to questions for that matter, so I have been really wanting to get her onto a program for it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Helen Keller the end

Well we finished reading Helen Keller today and both girls really enjoyed it.

We had some fun signing into each others hands with our eyes closed, just as Helen had learnt, and we found it really difficult to do. We were OK with the vowels and from then on it was all downhill ... not to mention The Fashionista can't go five minutes without chatting (or giggling)!

I gave them a list of about 12 questions to answer to ensure that they had a good understanding of the book and also to see what they had gained from it.

Agent Smelly's answer to what she thought of Helen was, "I think she was brave. She didn't let her disabilites stop her". I think she fully summed up Helen Keller don't you think.

We are working our way through books on what I would call inspirational women. I want my daughters to be surrounded by these amazing ladies who have done incredible things with their lives. Next we'll take a look at Florence Nightingale. Who do you recommend that was or is an inspirational woman for us to take a look at?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Helen Keller, the beginning

Today we started reading Helen Keller, a scholastic biography, written by Margaret Davidson.

Although it is a really easy read, I want to read it out loud so that we have a chance to discuss it as we go through it. 

I stopped a couple of times, to have the girls close their eyes and to pop their hands over their ears to see if they could imagine how Helen felt and to give them an insight into her behaviour as a young girl before she met "teacher" and could communicate.

Both girls were absolutely captivated by the book and did not want me stop reading it and had to promise them that I would continue it again tomorrow, in order for them climb off my coffee table (where else does one laze in order to listen to their mum read to them?) and go and have their lunch.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hair today, gone tomorrow

Today I arranged for the girls to have a hair cut with their favourite hair dresser, Debbie. They haven't had their hair cut in absolutely ages so it really was needing a good cut. Especially as I am forever nagging them to do it and they get cross because it's all knotty and want me to do it. When it's shorter, it seems to be more manageable for them and there's less whining (and nagging by me!).

The Fashionista had a few inches taken off and her hair layered again which means that some of her natural curl has come out again. 

Debbie always does a little something with the girls hair once she has finished cutting it. Today she pinned The Fashionista's hair back and it looked just lovely.

Agent Smelly also had a few inches off, in fact she would have liked to have had her hair cut even shorter but, I wasn't sure about her getting a bob. Last year she pleaded for a fringe and then a month or so afterwards she wanted it all back to the same length as the rest of her hair again and so I really didn't want to go through that all over again. As you can see we are having to use bobby pins or headbands to keep it off her face and out of her eyes whilst it's growing out. Isn't that in between length really annoying? 

Debbie gave Agent Smelly a lovely side plait; she looked quite cute. She has such lovely thick hair and I didn't have it layered again as it looks beautiful and glossy when brushed.

The girls have a lot of hair ties and headbands, etc but they all end up in a big mess in their bathroom drawer so were hardly ever getting used. Every so often I would sort all the gear into little containers but in a few days it was all over the place again. A couple of months ago I came across one of those hanging shoe holders for just $5 so I grabbed it as I had seen someone using it on Pinterest (of course) for their craft items. After contemplating it's best use I ended up hanging it (temporarily) on the shower door and placed all their hair accessories, sortly mostly by colour, into the pockets.

Well I am happy to say it has been a resounding success. The girls find it easy to  find what they want but, better still it's easy for everyone to pop the hair ties that are constantly popping up around the house into a pocket. Now that I know it's worked so well, I am going to pop a towel rail across the wall behind the bathroom door and hang it there.

Those big, hard, headbands were a bit too big to sit comfortably in the pockets so we are going to make up some headband holders out of some of those giant Milo tins. We now just need to get through all the Milo!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dad's Cheesy Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf

I recently saw a recipe on Pinterest that I simply knew we had to try, Dad's Cheesy Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf. I made a couple of minor modifications, and it turned out to be absolutely delicious. It is not something I would make too often as I am sure I could feel my arteries clogging as we tucked into it!

Rather that follow Ashley's recipe you could simply make your own favoured meatloaf recipe and just add the cheese and bacon as per the directions in her recipe.

Dad's Cheesy Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf

  • 500 gms beef mince (ground beef)
  • 500 gms sausage meat
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons tomato sauce (ketchup)
  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic (I used fresh but Ashley suggested garlic salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 225 gms (8 ounces) sliced cheese 
  • 1 tablespoon tomato sauce
  1. Preheat an oven to 190 degrees C (375 degrees F).
  2. Combine mince and sausage meat, eggs and 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce in a large bowl. Mix well, then add bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, oregano, basil, pepper, and onion. Set mixture aside.
  3. Line the bottom of a baking tray (approx 25 x 20cm) with the bacon. Place half of the meat mixture across the top of the bacon. I didn't end up completely filling the tray as I like my meatloaf to be a little higher than had I laid flat right across the tray. Lay enough cheese across the center of the meat but, not too much as it seeps out a bit as it melts and cooks. Cover the cheese with the second half of the meat mixture and mold the meat into a loaf shape. Pull the ends of the bacon up and around the loaf.
  4. Spread 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce thinly across the loaf.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until no longer pink in the center, about 60 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven. Then place some more cheese across the top and return the meat loaf to the oven and continue baking until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow the meat loaf to rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
Tip: I should have flipped my meatloaf about half way or 2/3's through cooking as the bacon started to burn on the top. I did do it about 5 mins before the end of the 60 mins when I noticed that the bacon had really started to crisp and go a bit black in areas but next time will do it earlier.

Friday, August 10, 2012

An update on "The Kids"

Well The Pig and the girls went down to give Milly and Molly their bottles this morning and low and behold Molly peed from underneath. The Pig took a closer look and yup Molly is in fact a wee boy.

The farmer that gave the kids to Kaka told her that the boys had an orange stripe down their backs and Molly definitely had no orange down his back. I think the farmer may need glasses, as one of Kaka's little girls has also turned out to be a little boy.

For a moment there Agent Smelly was worried she would have to rename Molly. Then I explained that although rare, some males were called Molly. She was also worried about him having a pink collar so I told all about the great, flamboyant, Molly (Ian) Meldrum, Australian popular music critic, journalist, record producer and musical entrepreneur and she had a good laugh and thought he could keep his pink collar afterall.

Molly is a really friendly wee fella and skips after his mistress like a puppy. I found this on my return from having a shower ... yes he was quite happy and settled watching TV with her on an armchair.

And I found the other pair comfortably sitting on the couch, Milly sound asleep beside her Mistress. Milly is a little bit smaller than Molly and a bit more timid.

The girls are very, very excited at the thought of breeding the pair but The Pig and I aren't sure we really want to go down this road.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Milly and Molly

Meet the girls new pets, Milly and Molly. They are 2 day old Saanan goats. 

The Pig and I are not sure what came over us but, a friend, Kaka, texted me last night to ask if we wanted to adopt a baby goat. I spoke to her today and apparently she had gone to pick to farm to get a goat for each for her kids and the man took her out the back to these day old kids and said basically told her to take her pick as they were just going to knock the rest on the head ... so being the hard-hearted farmer (yeah right!) that she is, of course came home with ALL 11 kids, cause she couldn't bear the thought of them being put down. Don't you just love her! Such a cool thing to do.

Milly's, the smaller of the two, and belongs to The Fashionista's; she's sporting the blue coat with white paw prints and a birght, green collar. Molly's who is Agent Smelly's, is wearing the navy with the light blue collar and star on the back and the bright pink collar. The little coats are actually my dog Scruffie's ...
Iain and I discussed it and thought that we might as well take two of them, as at least they'd have company  and it also meant that our girls would have one each. We're not silly, this way there won't be arguing over who gets to do the bottle feeds, etc!
Because the little goats are so young and little, they need to be kept out of the cold winter air, so they are in the shipping container for the night where we have made them a bed amongst the hay in there. We went to feed them at 8.00pm ... somehow the girls didn't make their normal bed time.
The girls have set their alarm clock for 7am and will be getting me up (I am so not a morning person!) to make "their kids" their warm milk formula, so they can give their babies their morning feed on time.
I really have my fingers crossed that all goes well with both of them, as at this age the little darlings are still very susceptible to illness, cold's etc. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Anne of Green Gables ... she wasn't a boy!

This term we are reading Anne of Green Gables aloud and then after every couple of chapters the girls have some questions ti answer for the lap book that they'll be compiling on it.

I was amused to read Agent Smelly's answer to one about Anne's disappointment when she realises there has been a mistake and The Cuthberts were wanting to adopt a boy not her and that she'd be going back to the orphanage.

The question reads: Shortly after entering the house Anne starts to cry. What would you have done in that situation?

Agent's Smelly's answer: I think that I would cry but I would like to say your (sic) no prize either.

It did make me laugh. What have your kids or students said lately that has made you laugh out loud?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Can you Change the State of Matter?

Experiment number two in our Science at Home Awards.

As the weather was so nice and we'd been having such horrid winter weather, I decided to take advantage of the sun and put the girls out on the deck to complete this activity.

In this experiment they placed a piece of ice in a shallow dish over a flame (I let them use my fondue sets ... about time they got used for something) and watched it change shape and evaporate amongst other things.

We discussed what caused it all, i.e. the molecules changing shape. We also discussed what vapour was and then condensation.

They also filled in a sheet with some questions that I had made up for them to complete pertaining to this activity.

Once they completed their task's they asked if they could continue to use the fondue sets which I said would be fine. Soooooo ....

they changed the matter of some chocolate drops and then ate it ...

Am liking their experimentation!

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