Unfortunately I have not been able to finish the A-Z challenge.
As I went along I had to wonder if the Gods (well the one I have) were conspiring against me.
Both my daughters suffered severe tummy bugs, one after the other. In fact one vomited so much over a week that she burst the blood vessels in her eyes.
Thankfully after she got over the initial shock she saw the funny side of things and delighted in trying to scare her friends last Wednesday at the school holiday by lifting her lids and showing everyone the bloody remains. All class kid!
But whilst sleep deprived (why do they vomit through the night?) I was able to struggle along with the blog, just missing a couple here and there.
Then on Friday my older half-brother died suddenly in Melbourne and so of course it has been impossible to continue. I have been too shocked and upset to even think but I did want to do some of you the courtesy, that I know have been following along, of why I haven't and wont be finishing.
I would love to honour my half-brother and tell you all about him but right now I can't, and I know you will all understand that.
Thank you to those who dropped by, I appreciated your comments more than you know and I really enjoyed checking out your blogs in return.
Maybe I will see some of you back again - I certainly hope so.
God bless, Lisa
Monday, April 29, 2013
Friday, April 26, 2013
Yesterday was ANZAC Day here (and in Australia). Our town held it's annual service in town and once again the girls participated with their GirlGuides unit.
This year Agent Smelly finally got to lay the wreath (she has been complaining for years that she never gets a turn at doing anything on ANZAC Day) at the cenotaph. (That's her on the left in the pink shirt and sash).
Here's the wreath the Brownies helped make. We used a glue gun to place a layer of poppies around the top, outside and also inside of the foam wreath. (Photo courtesy of a friend)
I was mucking about with some our handmade poppies and put one in Agent Smelly's hair and had one of those "Aha" moments. I ran off and was off with an old headband and glue gun in hand and Voila, a headband perfect for ANZAC Day. Is there nothing that a glue gun can't do? I wonder if they make cordless one's? I can see me now walking around with glue gun in holster, gluing things around the place left, right and centre ... "such fun!"
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Many of you may not realise this but I love VEGEMITE! We are talking love with a capital, L, O, V and E. I eat it, nay savour it nearly every single day.
For those of you poor folk who don't live in NZ or Australia and therefore aren't familiar with it's delights, Vegemite is a black spread that tastes salty and savoury and slightly yeast or malty flavoured. Apparently it is rather strong (not by my standards) but ever so delicious thickly spread on toast or crumpets or with an egg on the Vegemite and toast, or with avocado and toast. For school lunches I used to have a Vegemite sandwich, sometimes with cheese and even sometimes also with lettuce. I still love those sandwiches.
Best ever is when you spread it on crackers that have holes and you squeeze them together and little dark worms appear which you lick off ... oh the Papa just said only kids do that ... oh yes that's right, certainly middle aged women would never be caught doing that. As if!
It has magical powers and can unite Aussies around the world. On a trip around the States many years back there were 3 other Aussies on my tour and on the first morning of our trip we all pulled out a jar of Vegemite! It's a don't leave home without it kinda condiment.
If I was at all poetic I would right an ode to Vegemite but because I cannot wax lyrical about the magic that is Vegemite I will just
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Anyone with girls knows that an important part of a their growing up is holding tea parties. When they are little you drink pretend tea and eat pretend goodies that are served on their cute little tea sets. Is there anything more heart melting than watching a male pretend to enjoy a cup of tea whilst a tiny little girls watches and makes sure they finish every little drop and respond with the appropriate comments?
It appears some little girls don't grow out of it but just progress to making real ones.
Today The Fashionista whipped up some ANZAC bickies (biscuits/cookies) made all by herself whilst Agent Smelly taught herself how to iron ... with an anxious Mama watching her in the background. The "look Mama I can iron standing on one leg" didn't help appease any fears! The pair then sat down to enjoy their afternoon tea that The Fashionista had set out just like any good 1940's housewives would!
Monday, April 22, 2013
I have been meaning to get back into teaching the girls some sewing this year but it kept getting put back further and further as I never seemed to have the time.
Last year when we tried to do it ,my sewing machine broke down and after two trips to the sewing machine Dr, and bills that probably cost more than the sewing machine did in the first place, I gave up.
So this week the girls I finally got around to getting the girls up to finish some projects they'd started and yeah the machine behaved!
Agent Smelly finished her library / ditty bag.
Here it is again with The Fashionista's blue one that she managed to get finished last year. We did them differently The Fashionista's pulls on either sides but Agent Smelly's just has one side she pulls.
and The Fashionista finished her PJ pants.
For their next sewing projects Agent Smelly will complete a pair of PJ pants and The Fashionista is going to make a skirt.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Today we read The Red Poppy, written by David Hill and illustrated by Fifi Colston and song (yes there's a CD accompanying it) by Rob Kennedy.
It's a lovely picture book about a young Kiwi soldier (I am guessing by his friends Maori name) in France during World War 1 waiting to jump out of his trench and fight the Germans. He's scared and not looking forward to shooting at or killing anyone, although of course no mention is made of this in the letter he has just penned to his family.
Jim jumps out of the trenches with his comrades and makes his way towards the enemy, many of his comrades are falling around him and then he ends up wounded and lands in a deep hole cause by a shell explosion. In the hole he meets an enemy soldier, Karl, who he realises is seriously wounded and initially is as scared of him as he is of Karl. Together, Jim and Karl, with the aid of Kipper the dog, work together to get rescued.
My girls liked it and found the book a little sad (I confess I did a bit too ... constricting voice last page read) and although it is aimed at a young audience I would tend to keep it to older children as it deals with serious themes. The pictures are all dark and muted except for the splashes of the red poppy, the symbol of hope.
I would highly recommend it though, as I love the messages in this book. War wasn't pleasant and was scary but Jim still showed courage, compassion and humanity.
If you'd like to hear the lovely song, click here ... Little Red Poppy There are a few on You tube but I chose this one because it has the words with it.
Later we made our own Red Poppies to finish for our wreath to lay on ANZAC Day at the Cenotaph.
- We used a butterfly punch to cut out two butterflies from red card.
- We glued them across each other.
- Punched out a small black circle and then glued that on the top in the middle of the flower.
- We then cut out some random shaped green leaves (they were more realistic that way - OK we didn't have a leaf punch) and glued them on the back. Some have one, some have two leaves.
- We then slightly bent the petals and leaves a bit so they were rounded like a real flowers petals and leaves would be.
Quite simple but effective poppies, wouldn't you agree?
Friday, April 19, 2013
Every year on the 25th April, ANZAC Day, both the nations of New Zealand and Australia stops to remember those who served or are serving in our military.
Briefly for those who don't know what an ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) is, it is man who'd served with the Anzac forces at Gallipoli in 1915/16. Over 8,000 Anzac's were killed at Gallipoli and 18,000 wounded and another 8,000 missing (possibly blown up or captured).
This year it is in the middle of our school holidays in NZ so we wont be doing too many activities as we are pretty busy with trips planned away. I did manage to grab a few books from the library for us to read. Sadly they didn't have much choice for my girls age so we made do with what we could find.
The first book we have just read is "Le Quesnoy - The Story of the town New Zealand saved" written by Glyn Harper and illustrated by Jenny Cooper.
It's the true story of how a group of NZ soldiers saved a small town in France, Le Quesnoy (pronounced Ler Kay nwah) being occupied by the Germans, during the first World War. It's written as though the story is being told by a woman who was there when she was about 5 or 6.
The town of Le Quesnoy was an old fort, protected by high stone walls up to 20 metres high. There were around 2,000 Germans occupying the city, which they had done for about 4 years. It wasn't an easy time for the locals, they shipped any healthy men off to work for them in Germany and then took what they wanted, not leaving much to the towns people who were hungry and scared.
The New Zealand division was sent to Le Quesnoy to take back the town. In order to take back towns, in many cases they were destroyed and civilians killed. In this case, whilst around 130 Kiwi soldiers were killed and another 300 wounded, not one single civilian life was lost!
The book is basically a picture book, so there's not a lot of reading and it's probably best aimed at 5 - 8 year olds but my 11 year old found it a "cool story", although she more listened than looked at the sweet illustrations. At the back of the book is a map of the town and more "older aged" details which I was able to read out to my girls. We all thoroughly enjoyed the story and then spent a little more time online looking to find out further information. Agent Smelly was even inspired to go and make a poppy out of Hama beads.
The people of Le Quesnoy have never forgotten what the NZ troops did for them and many of the town's streets have New Zealand names and they even teach NZ culture and geography as part of their curriculum in their Primary schools. They have also erected a monument near where the the first New Zealander, Lieutenant Leslie Averill scaled the wall to take back the town. Apparently New Zealanders are very warmly welcomed still to this day.
The Fashionista was pretty right, it is a "cool story".
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Whilst at Guides recently my girls made a comment about doing something in the morning for PE. A nearby leader and (former teacher) overheard had a chuckle and said she had never imagined homeschoolers doing PE classes. If I am honest in the early days I didn't include PE as an actual subject but for the last couple of years I have made it a must. Sure the kids did sports at various clubs on days they were scheduled to attend but we didn't do anything at home except for some family games like badminton, volleyball and such.
I soon realised that teaching them about PE not only ensures they are fit but also helps with their co-ordination and fine motor skills. Regular activity is also strongly associated with higher concentration levels as well as more directed, composed behaviour. For those of you who are starting to homeschool their early learners, PE is as important to your schedule as teaching your child the ABC and 1,2,3.
I now ensure that the children do PE every day, even if it is just for 20 minutes and simply a jog down the paddocks and back. On the days that they play squash or have swimming lessons (The Fashionista tells me that swimming 26 laps of the pool is more than enough for one day, such a wuss!) I don't bother but I do make sure that every day we do some something active and make sure to incorporate lessons where a new skill or movement can be taught.
Recently I taught the children down ball (or four square) which the girls absolutely loved. Now the four of us get out and have competitions. The Papa and The Fashionista are highly competitive so Agent Smelly and I laugh while watching the determined pair trying to beat each other.
Agent Smelly who complains that she is not that good at sport took up squash this term and is doing SO well. Even a couple of other parents have commented to me on how well she has picked up the game. I am just so happy for her. She is also the youngest in the group and is hitting better than some of the older kids so she is thrilled with their comments and her progress. It has taken us a while but she has finally found something that she realises that she is better at than her sister, apparently an important thing when you are the baby sister! We have advised her time and time again that she cannot compare herself to someone older (or should compare herself to anyone for that matter) but I guess it's just a natural thing for the human race to always compare ourselves to someone else. A very, very unhealthy and bad habit.
Monday, April 15, 2013
Some of you may have noticed a set of Matryosha dolls (no they are not Babushkas but can be referred to as Russian nesting dolls) on The Fashionista's drawers in my "C is for Clutter" posting. She started collecting them a couple of years back but she is possibly more taken with the accessories that you can find these days than the actual dolls.
A dear friend who, despite having 5 children under the age of 10 that she homeschools, hand makes most of her gifts for people (I feel so inadequate!). Anyway for The Fashionista's birthday she decided to make her some Matryoshka dolls.
She chose this material to co-ordinate with TF's bedroom.
Then she sent me this picture of her cut outs ... already looking good aren't they.
Then another day later I get this. How cute are they? I was so impressed and a tad jealous cause I am thinking I want them to sit on my bed!
But wait there's more ... she sent me another photo (we live over 3 1/2 hours away from each other so chat online a lot) and I was in awe ...
The little dolls nest inside the big one. How darn clever is this!
Kat you are sooooo clever and thoughtful. We love you so much and I can't wait to see TF's face when you guys give them to her next week!
Saturday, April 13, 2013
My name is Lisa. Apparently on my parents first date, my father told my mother that they would one day have a daughter and call her Lisa Marie. Mum was taken aback as they were only 16 and 18 but 2 years later they were married and 45 years on and they are still married!
I was born when my parents where only 19 and 21. I have some funny stories surrounding my birth ... thanks Dad! And thankfully I grew out of that "looks like a monkey" stage that he proudly told his mum, my Nan, when she asked what I looked like after I was born.
I am the first born in our family and my full name ended up Lisa Rose, not Lisa Marie. Rose is my mother's middle name, and also my beloved Nana and great-grandmothers first names. One of my nieces also has the middle name Rose as has my first-born daughter, who is now the fifth in the line of "Roses".
Lisa Marie Presley was born one month after my birth, in the October, and my father pointed out that he obviously had good taste as the King had called his daughter Lisa Marie. Funnily enough I did end up a big Elvis fan too.
When we were blessed with a second daughter we gave her, her the Papa's mother's middle name, Jean, which also happened to be what my dear paternal Nana went by (she was officially Jeanette but I never found out this til many years later).
I was never impressed with my name growing up (I think I wanted something a bit fancier as I though Lisa a bit plain) but as I got older I really appreciated the history and the romantic story that went along with my name.
Some people choose a name simply because they love it. I did that with my children's first names but we chose their middle names to honour other people and to leave them with a bit of history and belonging.
Friday, April 12, 2013
Today my eldest child, The Fashionista, turned 11. There's nothing like having children to really understand the saying that "time flies when you are having fun". Seems like yesterday that you are celebrating their birth and the next thing they are little people. Chatty, boisterous, noisy little people!
The Fashionista was heading off on a Guide camp (that's her in uniform) for the weekend, so we didn't really have any time to do much. The morning was spent packing her and her little sister's camp boxes and then singing over a cupcake (I made her a birthday cake for camp) and then heading off in the afternoon to help set up the tents.
Even so normally in our family, we usually have simple family birthdays. We let the girls pick a family outing (movies, park, mini golf, etc), have a special meal and cake and that's about the extent of it. We make a fuss of that person and make the focus of the day all about them, but we do not hold a big birthday party every year.
We did (and do) hold birthday party's for what we consider to be special ages, i.e their first birthday, their fifth and their 10th (double figures). The next one will be when they are 13 and become teens.
Does anyone else think that children's birthdays may have a gone a little far these days? Kids seem to have special birthday parties each and every year, sometimes at McDonald's, bowling, swimming, climbing centres and so on. Mums (and possibly some Dad's) spend hours (and lots of money!) putting together matching and co-ordinating themes and it can even feel a bit competitive at times. I wonder what it is teaching our children about their birthdays? Are we setting standards for them that they will be forced into following?
Then again maybe it's just me being too lazy to bother putting together a big party every year. Oh well it will give my kids something else to complain about when they end up in therapy later on in life.
"Happy birthday Fashionista ... we love you 'round the world and back".
Thursday, April 11, 2013
I am not sure if I have told you all about our amazing dove Jo Jo.
Jo Jo is a Barbary dove who walked up to us one day when we were working in the garden. She didn't fly off as we got closer and we ended up picking her up. We think maybe she had a sore wing or was hungry as she was quite limp in our hands and didn't even try to escape.
We found a big old cage and popped her in there with the intention of bringing her back to health and setting her free. In the meantime the young 'uns decided that the bird simply MUST have a name of course. Jo was decided on as we couldn't determine it's sex, it then somehow progressed to Jo Jo.
Jo Jo lived with us for quite a while in the house in her big cage and we would all stop to chat with her and became fond of her cooing and that magnificent laughing sound that doves make.
Late last year I made the decision that unless we got an aviary then she had to move on as our cage didn't give her the room to spread her wings and fly. I even spoke to a rescue centre and they said to simply let her go in the wild but we were quite worried as she had become pretty domesticated.
In late spring I decided to release her as threatened. Of course we were all worried about her well-being, especially the Papa but a couple of days later he was delighted to see her fly around the corner and land on the ladder that was beside him whilst he was sitting out on the deck.
From then on she never left the property. She had shifted in with our chickens and then developed a bit if an identity problem. She would hop down off the gate or down from one of the trees and join the chooks at their feed each day. At one stage, much to our amusement, she even laid an egg and sat on it for a while. We ended up making her a dove house down there but she never used it, much preferring to roost with the chickens!
We would pop a wee container out when she popped around to see us every day.
If we left any of doors open in she would come inside and hop around til we noticed her and gently shooed her out again. Here she is on the couch and was watchcing TV!
And here she popped in to visit me in the kitchen whilst I was preparing a meal.
Earlier this year she thought she might even start helping the Papa with the BBQ.
Sadly we haven't seen Jo Jo in over a week or so and are hoping she is OK. We think she is just the most amazing bird and had even been discussing getting a mate for her. Fingers crossed she will return.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
I have gotten behind in my A-Z blog challenge. It is a lot harder than it sounds coming up with something pertaining to a certain letter on a certain day.
Then life interrupts, the Papa has a weeks leave, a sick child, visitors, a camp, birthday, you name it and we've had it this week.
Today I have been playing catch up in between catching up on washing, preparing and taking Brownies for another leader and homeschooling. Thankfully I had a few drafts started so I have just been tidying them up and writing a couple that needed to be done.
Please forgive me for all my grammar and spelling mistakes but I have been in such a hurry to finish them that I may have made a few mistakes. I am sure I will be horrified if I take another look at what I have posted. How do some people post each and every day and have them looking so professional.
Next week is school holidays for two weeks (we take a break the same time as the schools do here due to us being involved in so many extra-curricular activities) so the girls and I are heading off to visit friends up North so I may have to think of pre writing some things ... hmmm, such planning to do.
I am simply determined to fully complete this challenge! Wish me luck.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
How do you feel about history books? I recall the ones I used at school, one or two (ahem) years back. Gosh they were dull. I couldn't stand history, it was so dull and boring.
Now I absolutely love history as do my two little girls. It can be made into such a fun and interesting subject. We cook, act, build things, dig things up, do artwork, dress up, watch things on YouTube and even sing songs to accompany our lessons.
We are using a book called The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer, which is very popular amongst homeschoolers, as the formal part of our history homeschooling. There are also activity books that you can purchase to accompany the novel as well as lap books that can be purchased and loads and loads of ideas on the Internet to accompany the books. We do different things for different chapters to keep it always interesting.
We have also started reading the above series of scholastic historical books (My Story and My Royal Story)aimed at older children. They are written in diary form of fictional (eg Factory Girl) and real (Mary Queen of Scots) characters in various parts of the world at various times throughout history. For example Catherine of Aragon is a diary kept by her childhood friend and seamstress.
These are strictly read alouds at this stage as some of the historical terminology is unknown to my pre-tween and tween age girls and I can explain things to them. Some of the things that happened are also a little too mature. Catherine was married off at 15 and there is the wedding and ritual of following the couple to the room, etc. These themes are a little old for my girls to understand without me explaining things. I admit I also have skipped a line or two that I really didn't want to explain yet (the sheets after the first night could have turned into a whole different conversation best saved for another time). When they are teens they'll be ready to read them again by themselves and will be able to comprehend things a little better.
Because of the way these are written, they are not at all boring or dull and the girls really seem to understand and have a better concept of the time period as they can relate more to living books. They were thrilled when they realised that Catherine was actually Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand's youngest and favoured daughter as they have come across these characters in their lessons before.
Those times are so extremelly different to what we are used to, that my girls are rather horrified at the way women were basically treated as chattels and to be blunt, morons who couldn't think for themselves and had no rights. I think think it would be a disservice to them if the harshness, brutality and crudeness of history was avoided. Princess did not have it easy ... any one married to King Henry VIII would know that and it silly for me to educate them thinking it was all sweetness and light living in a castle and having servants. Reading one chapter can take us a little while as sometimes that are mentioned can suddenly turn into a bit of a discussion about a subject (cooking, servants, fashion, etc) which we all enjoy. So whilst some people may think they can be a little too graphic on occasion for younger children, I think they are a perfect way to make history more real.
The only thing I would recommend is that you may want to read them first (I have actually enjoyed reading them) to be sure that there are no subjects or issues that you will need to discuss with your child. Older teens would be fine with them but they are written in such a way that they are easily read and digested by a younger child.
I understand there are also area specific books in these series, IE My Australian Story, My Story (New Zealand, Dear Canada and Dear America along with some written about boys but we haven't read any of those yet.
Monday, April 8, 2013
Some of you may remember that our girls adopted a couple of day old Saanen goats and hand-reared them. Milly our gentle doe and Molly our funny, bit of a dork of a buck.
Unfortunately our boy Molly became a bit of a handful. We had never had him "fixed" as we thought we'd use him to get Milly in kid but his testosterone was really kicking in and with those big horns of his I was concerned one of the girls was going to get hurt with them having to handle him every morning and evening to and from the goats hut. We were also struggling to find feed for him as he ate like a horse and found our lives revolving around the schedule of these two goats. We'd rush home from places so we could feed them in time or put them away if it rained and so on. We decided that the kindest thing for Molly would be to find him a new home with a few ladies for him to service. Agent Smelly didn't mind as he had gotten a bit rough with her a couple of times whilst they were playing and I think she realised he was getting a bit much for her. Frankly a buck is not really pet material but we never intended to get a buck some of you may recall, but our "she" turned out to be a "he" and a real character to boot.
We could have sold the fella (he's just a huge, majestic looking fella) but we really wanted a kind and loving family where we knew he would be well-cared for so I advertised him amongst the local homeschooling community as being for free as long as he went to the right home. We managed to find a home, not too far away from here, where he would live amongst three other does. Buck heaven people!
We then discussed the idea with The Fashionista of Milly going with him to his new home, as they were happy to take her too as they are going to milk their little herd of goats. TF was very emotional and initially not at all keen on parting with Milly as she absolutely adores that goat, we are talking love with a capital L! Sadly though Milly cannot be left on her own. Even if Molly was moved away from her for a short time, she would bleat and bleat and bleat. She was fine if The Fashionista was nearby her and anytime she heard her little mistresses voice we would hear her start bleating over and over again until TF went out to give her a hug. Milly loved her little mistress just as much as she loved her. She was also prone to escaping to find company. Sadly we had to explain that Milly would be much happier in a little herd and staying with Molly until she herself become a mother, when she would probably be more interested in her kid. We did not force TF but explained the reasons and left the decision to her. She bravely decided that it would be best for Milly too, at times she liked the idea of Milly being in a herd of fellow does, then other times she would worry whether she'd be OK without her to look after her and such. It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster for a couple of weeks til we could take them to their new home.
Anyway we took the goats off to their new home and just as I suspected TF broke down when we unloaded them. Unfortunately Milly wasn't at all happy either and escaped through their fence to get back to TF. I had to send TF to the car so Milly couldn't see or hear her. It was simply heartbreaking. TF in the car sobbing, Milly on the other side of the fence bleating. I was tempted to tell the Papa to load her back in the trailer cage to bring home. Even the family that took her were upset on seeing TF so distraught and the dad kindly came over to the car and promised her they would look after Milly.
That night TF came down to the lounge sobbing her heart out and fell asleep in my arms with tears still wet on her little face. I looked across at the Papa and he was wiping tears from his eyes as well from hearing her little heart break. We had a few days of tears, mostly at night when she was in bed, but thankfully she hasn't cried for a week now.
The Papa and I felt so guilty about Milly, mostly because of TF' heartbreak, although we were we quite fond of the goats, but we know deep down we did the right thing. Molly needed some girls to mate with and Milly hated being by herself and would have had to have lived on the end of a chain, as I am dead certain she would have found a way to escape her paddock to find someone. That is certainly no life for an animal as far as I am concerned. We are also planning on some big moves early next year and we would have had to find new homes for them then anyway, so this way it is better for them to move now whilst they are still relatively young enough to settle into their new home.
As for Molly he didn't give any of us a second look and was trying to mount their does within about 3 seconds ... seriously could have even been 2! It was actually a little embarrassing his haste, no how do you do, nothing. We all couldn't stop laughing about it on the way home, especially when one of the little boys at the new property asked what he was doing to their goats. To the end of his stay with us, Molly made us laugh.
Saturday, April 6, 2013
As part of the Flying Creatures programme we were supposed to make lap books. Unfortunately I find lap books for big curriculum quite awkward to use so I purchased a couple of journal like books for them to use.
I have them personalise their covers.
Then each week as we complete some lap booking activities they place them into their books.
They are also able to pop photo's in them of things that they do or make during the lesson.
They can paste things in that they find, like they did here when they were learning all about feathers they went out and collected some. You can really include anything as longs as it's pretty flat.
Agent Smelly's watercolour of a penguin.
The Fashionista's sketch of a Pipipi
They can even simply include artwork that they do on the subject.
Whilst I love lap books, I find that these journal like books are so much better suited to their needs as they get older and do more work on a subject. Do make sure to get the ones with rings to bind them as they are better suited to having things stuck inside them, scrap books tend to stick up and look untidy.