Thursday, 3 September 2015

My Daybook: September 3rd, 2015

Outside my window...
it's absolutely freezing, the third day of Spring but a wind is whistling about. This afternoon our crazy boys decided to go for a swim in the pool! It will be a few weeks before I'll join them

I am thankful...
that a conversation I was long dreading went exceptionally well.  Sometimes I worry, pray and agonise myself in knots about situations and then...all goes smoothly and I resolve to have more Faith and Trust in Him, to leave off worrying. PC however reminds me that all those prayers are the reason all went smoothly, prayers are never wasted.

I am thinking...
about Harry Potter and underlying themes. I've just finished reading the series again, it's been 6 year since I first and last read the books. This time round I'm finding many of Dumbledore's words full of wisdom, perhaps I did the first time too, but it's been awhile

Learning all the time...
extremely happy with our learning this term, we're making solid progress, most important however the children are nailing skills in consistency and completing tasks, so very important that.
We're drawing towards the end of Term 3, only 2.5 weeks to go and I'm considering what we might do to make the last week fun. Perhaps a quiz week, our children love quizzes, wish we had buzzers, maybe Michelangelo could make some....
and there was talk of me being the student. At the beginning of the Term our teens were moaning about the amount of work I was expecting and suggested I should be the student to experience the unreasonableness of it all. I offered to do so the last week of the Term and they were rather keen on the idea of making their Mum do 'all that work,' I was happy to be a student for a week and they could be 'Mum.' However when it was realised that in place of being students they would have to do all Mum's work, the idea rapidly lost appeal, they decided being a student wasn't so bad, so maybe I won't get to be a student after all;)

Celebrating the liturgical year......
next Tuesday is the BIG day!! Jack Jack will be making his Confirmation and Jem his First Holy Communion! Lots of excitement here!! A little present shopping, and washing and altering clothes are on my 'to do' list this week

From the kitchen...
planning our new kitchen! Very exciting though a little daunting, I want to get this 'just right' feel free to head on over and add to the suggestions of 'must haves' for a large family kitchen.
In the midst of kitchen planning our 90cm freestanding Smeg oven died, 20 hungry people for dinner and no pies, 16 disappointed children:( Thus followed a week of researching ovens, brain overload. Initially we were going to purchase another freestanding oven, though this time we wanted a dual oven, this quickly narrowed our choices down to 4 major brands, but we didn't really love any of them for various reasons. We then researched purchasing two wall ovens, which led to the discovery of double wall ovens. Finally choice made! Rang our electrician to double check that our power board could handle the amps, he said we'd be overloading, alternatively we could put a new cable in to the tune of $1000. Back to researching ovens, this time reading the amp specs first. Finally decided we'd have to compromise with a freestanding oven even though I didn't like the look nor the size or price, went in to purchase the oven only to return home with.... a "teeny tiny" plug in bench oven no larger than a microwave. Somehow we'll make this work until the new kitchen is built and a new cable is installed, cause really I think it better to be really happy with our choice, and the cost of those freestanding ovens... cheaper to put in the cable and buy a double wall oven and induction cook top.

I am creating...
a read aloud booklist for my teens, I'm facing a couple of challenges with this list, it's not as straight forward as you might think, stay tuned for my upcoming post on Teens and Read Alouds...

I am working on...
re-writing our monthly menu, reducing from an oven of 126 Litre to one of 34Ls impacts drastically. I can see us using the BBQ frequently over the upcoming Spring and Summer months.

I am going...
actually we are not going, nor organising our annual homeschool camp this year, although we are visiting on the Tuesday when the boys make their Sacraments. After 16 years of organising it was a major and difficult decision to make with several factors playing a part. It feels most odd yet a huge relief to be in September and not totally stretched and stressed, though as September is always full with two birthdays and Father's Day and life, I've been wondering, "how on earth did I manage all those years!?"

I am hoping...
to find time to understand the new instagram feature, apparently we are no longer restricted to displaying our photos in square format. However I haven't had time to understand how this all works, do I have to download a new app? Anyone know how to take advantage of the new format?

I am praying...
  • for our two lads making their Sacraments next week
  • various petitions involving the needs of our older children
  • for a local family only a couple of kms up the road. Tuesday night their 17 year old daughter ran off their country road, hit a tree and was killed. My heart is constantly heavy for them
I am pondering....
about how our lives are so different with ten children than when we had three, just saying...

I am reading...
to our teens, rather excited about this! We are enjoying time together just my older two and I, selections designed to capture their interest, most importantly time focusing on them. We've always enjoyed family read alouds but the books have long been aimed towards our younger set. Our older children will drift in, reminisce on how they loved that book when they were younger, listen for a bit, perhaps take the book to re-read but they don't stay for 'read aloud' entirety. I have a post in the making on the why's and wherefore's, my thoughts and experiences, so stay tuned...

I am listening to......
nothing, I still have intentions to listen to more Read Aloud Revivals, but alas the MP3 player is still missing to cursory searching, and I haven't been motivated to do a deeper search yet

I am hearing...
our 20th month old regularly sing, "We Will Rock You," kind of creepy, I mean where do they pick these things up from? The weirdest was the other night, I was feeding her to sleep and she detaches to sing, "We Will Rock You." freaky, I said to PC it might well be time to wean her, I mean, really! Judging by her rockin' the drums, she certainly has the beat

I am struggling...
with life, juggling the needs of twelve individuals, ten children over a twenty year age span ensures life is indeed bursting rich. Actually I'm not struggling as I've put in place a few life skills I've learnt along the journey: the necessity of finding balance and inner peace, and the importance of nurturing myself and our marriage

Clicking around...
reading my favourite blogs regularly, sharing a couple with you
Ordinary Lovely - I just love Theresa, she shares glimpses of her life with us, the everyday and the insightful
Maxabella Loves - Bron is truly kind, genuinely interested in people and a thinker

Around the house...
we're making great progress on laying the final section of the verandah. We demolished the old laundry, laid the bearers and joists and have begun cutting and screwing in the verandah boards, looking good:)

One of my favorite things...
my husband, my children, I often wonder how did I get so lucky, livin' the dream

A few plans for this week...
  • It is Father's Day this weekend, one more gift to purchase and cards to be made, we want Daddy to know he is loved and appreciated.
  • conclude present purchasing and clothes preparation for the Big Day.
  • Helping my friend out at the markets on Saturday, watching her stall for a couple of hours so she can attend her son's soccer Grand Final match. I feel quite honoured and a little nervous, she is rather talented and her Gifts and Homewares are impressive 
A little peek at my day...
I took our younger ones to Story Time at the library, we went last week and they loved it! and were keen to go again, this time they took their older brother(9). Years ago I used to take our older children weekly, it was interesting to see how the dynamics have changed, 16 years ago the children were mostly 3-5 years old with younger siblings tagging along, now the children are nearly all under 3, I'm assuming the 3-5 year olds are in daycare and pre-school. Occasionally I feel a little sad that our younger children don't get to experience some of the activities that our older children did due to logistics, then again they do get to experience different opportunities the oldest didn't. Still I thought Story Time would be a time where I could focus on our youngest three

Saturday, 29 August 2015

This Week in Learning: August 29th, 2015

As the last fortnight drew to a close I realised with surprise that we have only three weeks of Term 3 left. It's been a solid term of learning and we're rather proud of how hard all the children have worked.

Speech Therapy
Yippee, we've graduated weekly lessons. Well we have a huge pile of homework but no regular lessons until next year.  Plan is: we were given three weeks of homework, we do it and return to show progress. Mmm already missed first week of homework, time to 'crack the books.'

  • Maths Online -  The older children and Jack Jack are working steadily and making solid progress. Jelly Bean has plateaued and is needing encouraging. Jem needs assistance with reading questions and I admit I struggle in this area to find the time, so maths for these two is a little patchy at present. 

Michelangelo still enjoying reading and pondering Critical Thinking 

Princess continues to apply herself to her Spanish studies several times a week with keenness. 

Completed cursive letters with the older children, and they are now ready to begin more challenging work however due to the age differences I'll be expecting a higher amount of written work from some than others. Jem has nearly completed all of his printed letters, though I admit he is still not a fan of writing;)

  • Princess continuing with 20 words weekly from 'Spelling for Secondary Students' still spelling well. 
  • Spelling Wisdom with our teens has not happened yet this I feel is vital for them. Resolving to amend this in the following fortnight!
  • JB and JJ have transitioned well to Spelling Wisdom for their dictation lessons, happy with their progress. 
  • JB and JJ - continuing with comprehension passages and pronouns.
  • Teens - synonyms and vocabulary. 
Composition/Creative Writing
  • JB and JJ have continued their weekly essays, at this stage my expectation is for a short essay but am slowly increasing the amount expected. They will always take the 'short' option in writing if allowed. 
  • Michelangelo and Princess - a couple of lessons on Precis Writing. 
  • Princess wrote an essay using Story Starters.
By reading A Child's Book of Verse daily to the younger children this term we've read nearly the entire collection! 
Princess and Michelangelo reading daily from Four Corners, a mix of Australian and English poetry.

  • Jelly Bean is reading so often for her various subjects, it's such a relief to no longer have reading on her list of 'to dos'
  • Jack Jack however lacks motivation and application. This is an area I need to insist on, he is so close to 'taking off,' but to 'find the key' we'll keep trying. 
  • Jem has been revising many of the cards from AAR 1, and can easily recognise 114 cards! So impressed and more importantly, he is too:)
Extra Curricula
  • Princess has three dance classes a week, including practice for their end of year concert. 
  • Soccer games for Jelly Bean, Jack Jack and Jem drew to a close last weekend, end of season, yippee!! 
Family Read Alouds
John of Sydney Cove - Doris Chadwick -  With JB and younger boys. Hooray we finished, what a fantastic book!! We have now begun its sequel John and Nanbaree
All The Green Year - Finished reading to our teens, we were sad to see the book draw to a close. We have now begun The Borrowed House - Hilda Van Stockum

Science Read Aloud
Under 11s
Egg to Chick - Millicent Selsam
Terry and the Caterpillars - Millicent Selsam

Geography Picture Books
Along the Luangwa: A Story of an African Floodplain 4 Star
Paper Chase: A Chase around the World by Land, Air and Sea 3 Star

History Picture Books
The King and the Seed - Eric Maddern - Light read with a strong message
Over at the Castle - Boni Ashburn - Catchy rhyme for the very young
Good Knight, Sleep Tight - David Melling - Fun, nonsense read
Small Knight and George and the Royal Chocolate Cake - Ronda Armitage - Very light read

Michelangelo Read:
The Red Badge of Courage - Stephen Cranen - finished
Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe
The Big Fisherman - Lloyd Douglas
The High Deeds of Finn Mac Cool - Rosemary Sutcliffe (finished)
Science Matters (a few chapters)
A Writer's World: Travels 19-50-2000 by Jan Morris (a few chapters)
Beginning Apologetics Set (a few sections)

Princess Read: 
Seven Little Australians - Ethel Turner
Crystal Snowstorm - Meriol Trevor
Calico Captive - Elizabeth George Speare (half)
Story of the World Vol 4  (a couple chapters)
Where is That in the Bible? - Patrick Madrid (a few chapters)

Jelly Bean Read:
Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories
Benny's Animals and How He Put Them in Order  - Millicent Selsam
Slinky, Scaly Snakes
Tiger Tales - DK Reader (1/2 book)
Minstrel in the Tower
The Wright Brothers - Quentin Reynolds (half)

Jack Jack Read:
26 Storey Treehouse - Andy Griffiths ( a few chapters)

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Experimenting in the Kitchen

I've been trying a few recipes in the kitchen adding a new favourite and discovering a few 'don't repeats.'

Seed & Nut Balls - A huge favourite that we are making just about daily are these Jewel Bliss Balls, full of goodness with almonds, chia seeds, pepitas and sunflower seeds as well as yummies of dates and dried apricots. I suspect the ultimate yummy is the choc chips we have substituted for cocoa nibs, perhaps not so healthy. Totally happy to know we are eating all the goodness of seeds and nuts. Thanks to Marijke for the pin

Seed & Nut Bars - Thinking more seeds I trialed a different seed recipe, a basic Homemade Kind Bar, the honey was too sweet and whilst it was eaten I won't repeat the recipe. 

Lemon Slices - With our lemon tree groaning under the weight of its fruit:) I went in search of gluten free lemon slices. 
I first made a creamy lemon slice, the base was so so, the top was yummy but a whole lot of work. This recipe took three major steps, the base, the filling and the top. I knew before I even ate it I wouldn't be making it again, I need something reasonably quick for my lifestyle. 
Searching for a two step recipe I next tried Healthier Lemon Bars, much easier to make, the base was okay and the top was quite gnawish. I decided it was so nice I scrapped the top off the base and ate alone, I', planning to make again and eliminate the base, I can't see why you can't just eat the lemon curd without a base. 

Grain Free Bread - I've been buying gluten free bread but it is expensive, I'd also prefer we were eating grain free so searching for a delicious grain free bread, which I thought I might have found it with this Almond and Linseed Bread. The texture was great, the loaf rose well and it tasted okay but there was an 'odd' taste that wasn't really appealing, perhaps the linseed, whilst we ate the first slice hot from the oven, the loaf still languishes in the fridge, not a repeat. 

Can you suggest a terrific grain free bread? 
Have you discovered any new family favourites lately?

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Designing My Kitchen - Wanna Help?

The pace is picking up once again on our building work, with the laundry now demolished and the last of the verandah work commencing in preparation for re-roofing the 'old house,' it's time to make several major decisions. Building is like that, there is always a flow on effect, one job leads to another, one decision means several others now have to be made.

Once the verandah is completed, load bearing posts will be erected in preparation for the roof trusses. As the 'old house' walls are lower than the 'new house' we need to 'build up' the walls, while doing that we will replace old windows with new, thus we now need to make decisions regards the layout of the 'old house.' Once the new trusses and iron are on, none of the internal walls will be load bearing, essentially this means if we so desired we could gut the entire 'old house', rather exciting, yet it means it's crunch time decision time.

Our plans include enlarging the study, opening the library entrance and moving the 'position' of the learning room, we'll also add a huge window, translating to more light and warmth.
I now have to design my kitchen and I'd love your assistance!
Already we are making a major 'modification' to our original plans, ones that have been submitted and approved. A benefit of living in an incomplete house is you sometimes realise what looked feasible on paper doesn't work in reality.  Our error is our dining room is too small for our family size. Since we first planned our dining room we have welcomed new children and we've begun to experience the impact of grown children on our seating arrangements. Although our grown children have left home, they return for week long visits, when that occurs we need to butt two tables together, when our daughter moved home we added half a table permanently. Our foreseeable future includes further children leaving home, yet then returning with girlfriends and boyfriends, future spouses and grandchildren,  our needs will only continue to be ever changing, our priority is to provide a space that can be adaptable to the moment.  Fortunately we can 'grow' our dining room by encroaching on our planned kitchen area.  After adjusting my vision I realised I can still have a large kitchen if I move it 'sideways' though this means decreasing the size of our learning area, upon reflection I realised this would be okay, though I remain a tad concerned regards potential lack of windows.

The picture above shows you the current dining and potential kitchen area. The dining in the foreground will stay but continues till a little past the 'bend in the wall.' The kitchen will then begin and continue through to the 'chair in the distance. The study is beyond the open door in the far distance, it will come out to the chair. The pool table sits where the bench will go and there will be an open passage way between the bench and the glass doors. The wall beyond the pool table with the corkboard and blacking currently attached will be removed so the kitchen and walkway can continue through.

Last year Anna Maria (then 21) and Einstein (then 17) catered for 35 people at our annual homeschool camp.  After working in their industrial kitchen Anna Maria was keen for us to adapt several ideas into our plans, features that would make cooking for a large family easier, these are included in the list below.  PC has been toying with the idea of building the cabinets himself, I have every faith he is capable, however we're thinking the Bunning's flat packs will be an affordable possibility.

I'd love your assistance with designing my kitchen to meet the needs of a large, ever expanding family. The kitchen space is 7m by 3m (24ft by 9ft10),  I may decrease the length and  increase the width a little.

Thus far I have on my wish list:
  • A Deep Sink with possibly a second sink on the opposite bench
  • Flexible Swivel Sprayer Tap
  • Hot Plate - laid into the bench next to the stove top
  • Walk in Pantry
  • An Island Bench (I'm not sold on that yet as I don't think the space warrants it)
  • Plenty of Drawers - maybe all drawers? 
  • One Bench on Industrial Wheels - planning to move the bench against the wall when large crowds visit, making the dining room larger and using the bench as a servery. 
Any suggestions for layout? Bench top material?
If you could design the kitchen of your choice what are your must haves? 

ETA: Our oven has just died (right in the middle of baking dinner for 20 people!) We need to buy a new one asap.
Looking at 90cm freestanding electric oven with gas burners,
What would you suggest for a large family? 
Also as our appliances are white what colour would you buy? 

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Demolishing the Old Laundry

Finally the big day for which we'd been long working towards arrived, the day to pull down our old laundry, this will be replaced with a verandah, thus wrapping our verandah from one end of the house to the other.

There were many eager hands to help with the demolition

even the youngest two insisted on being given loads of timber to carry. 

We began ripping off strips and weather boards on the outside,

internally the linings and plumbing hardware were removed,

windows were gently taken out with the intent to recycle for another project.

Once the inside was gutted the pace picked up, 

impressed that the children were still going strong at the day's end

"Room with a View," it's very exciting imagining the light potential here, the back wall will eventually be removed and the sun will pour into these currently cold rooms

all the timber has been gathered into a pile, we're planning on a massive bonfire when our 'City boys' are next home. 

The verandah is to continue from the deck and conclude at the end of the house, narrowing at the final part. The large hot water tank will be replaced with a smaller one and moved flush against the bedroom which juts out a little. We've left the old roof overhanging for now to provide shade as we lay the decking. Once the verandah is laid and supporting beams erected, we can then begin plans to re-roof the 'old' section of the house. 

*Sharing over at The Builders Wife