Friday, 24 October 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol 208)

Needing some foodie blog inspiration, do you have any to recommend? Specifically whole foods/fermenting/grain free food blogs. Particularly love to find Australian blogs

Listening to people talk to their children in public makes me cringe at times.  I know we can all have bad days, I know many of us have been guilty at times of not talking to our children with respect, but really we need to stop and think.  Not doubting their love for their children, but they wouldn't talk to their peers like that, why talk to your children in such a manner?

Bass has become rather territorial about a yellow bowl, he insists on having this bowl for his breakfast every morning and whoa betide if else uses his bowl, said bowl then has to be rewashed for his use. His quirk is annoying his siblings, doesn't really bother me as I've been done this path a time or two before.

Life has certainly been different with only the Under 10s home this week. We'd forgotten how hard it is to take younger children shopping without extra older ones along to help keep children from wandering. Also needed to make time adjustments to allow extra time for preparations before heading to town.  Conversations at tea time are more juvenile too, we've had a few burping contests a couple of nights this week, not amused.

As much as I'm enjoying time with the younger set, I admit to missing conversations with my teens too.  Just missing them really but excited to know they are having a wonderful experience on the Pilgrimage.

Spotlight opened in our town this week! Sadly I haven't got there yet as the children refused to go, waiting until I have babysitters home so I can have the opportunity to browse. The girls are keen to make skirts, hoping Spotlight will have a range of lovely fabrics suitable.

Would really like to track my blog traffic; how many views, how my visitors find me etc  Does anyone have any good recommendations/advice as to how to do this on blogger?

Visit Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes

Leaping into Literature: A Few Keepers

Last week we launched our 'traditional' 4th Term venture, Leaping into Literature with a bang. Readers commented on the 'low marks' the children assigned to some of the books, and I confess to surprise myself, they were tough critics.  Keep in mind though that the children rating the picture books are 10, 8 & 6, so they are going to be a harder sell than younger children, actually several books our 6 year old rates higher than his siblings, thus the star rating is sometimes an average score.

This week there were more Keepers than Duds, whilst many of the books I reserved via the online catalogue, I picked up many gems by a personal visit to the library to browse the shelves myself. It was an interrupted learning week with more dentist appointments and a day out with our local homeschool group, however we still managed to read our way through a good pile.

Fly, Kite, Fly! A Story of Leonardo and a Bird Catcher - John Winch 3 Star

Big Red Kangaroo - Claire Saxby 3 Star
The Little Crooked House - Margaret Wild 2.5 Star
Tobias Blow - Zacharey Jane 1 Star
There's a Sea in My Bedroom - Margaret Wild 1 Star
Lucy Goosey - Margaret Wild 1 Star

Amelia Bedelia's First Library Card - Herman Parish 3.5 Star
Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore - William Joyce 3 Star
Library Lily - Gillian Shields 2 Star
Can I Bring Woolly to the Library Ms Reeder? - Lois G Grambling 1 Star
Look, A Book! - Libby Gleeson 0 Star

Eddie's Toolbox and How to Make and Mend Things - Sarah Garland 2.5 Star
The Boy Who Built the Boat - Ross Mueller 2 Star

The Drummer Boy - Soo-hyeon Min 4 Star (Rwanda)
Paper Lanterns - Stefan Czernecki 4 Star (China)
Rebel - Allan Baillie 3 Star (Korea)
the boy and the crocodile - Legend of East Timor 0 Star (East Timor)

Nightsong - Ari Berk 3.5 Star (bats)
Ingenious Jean - Susan Chandler 2.5 Star
Dinosaur Rocks - Lachlan Creagh 2 Star
What Color is Camouflage? - Carolyn Otto 2 Star
Arabella Miller's Tiny Caterpillar - Clare Jarrett 1 Star

The Circus Ship - Chris Van Dusen 4 Star
Fandango Stew - David Davis 3.5 Star
Randy Riley's Really Big Hit - Chris Van Dusen 3 Star
Slow Days, Fast Friends - Erik Brooks 3 Star
The Box Boy - Mal Webster 3 Star
Circus Caps for Sale - Esphyr Slobodkina 3 Star
Mia's Story - Michael Foreman 3 Star
The Dog Who Belonged to No One - Amy Hest 3 Star
Sam's Duck - Michael Morpurgo 3 Star
Cherry Time - Daniela Bunge 3 Star
Herbert the Brave Sea Dog - Robyn Belton 3 Star
The Tale of Two Mice - Ruth Brown 2.5 Star
Alfie Weather - Shirley Hughes 2.5 Star
The Very Busy Spider - Eric Carle 2 Star
Come Down Cat! - Sonya Hartnett 1.5 Star
My Uncle is a Hunkle - Lauren Child 1.5 Star
Two by Two - David Melling 1.5 Star
Peedie- Olivier Dunrea 1 Star

Sharing at Wine Dark Sea's Guilt Free Learning Notes

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Main Bathroom Thus Far

Whilst it's been ages since I've updated you with our extensions, be assured that work has been happening, albeit slowly. We had intended to tile over Christmas, however PC spent the first three months of Bella's life gazing, goo-ing and gushing about how beautiful she was, as besotted as any first time Dad. So our unplanned babymoon delayed the bathrooms/laundry project. 

We finally began tiling the wet areas in March, though as we have five areas to tile and a life to live, progress has been spasmodic. First the waterproofer came and waterproofed all the wet areas. Next PC layed the scree with a little help from the Team.

Then PC began tiling the floors, beginning with the main bathroom.  The shower area took time as several tiles needed to be cut but PC picked up speed once he had cut a few. 

Third task was grouting the floor tiles and then laying the wall tiles.  Whilst the large wall tiles were reasonably quick to lay the feature tiles took alot more time.  Some of PC's strengths are his patience and attention to detail, so he steadily worked away at the task.

The Team lent a steady hand inserting the spacers between the feature tiles.  

The completed room brought great satisfaction:) 

Next task, painting the bathroom, fell to Michelangelo and I.  

After the undercoat, we then rolled the ceiling coats and next the wall coats.

We are thrilled with how the bathroom turned out, and it's now ready for the next stage. 

The next stage includes; building the cabinet, ordering the bathroom hardware/shower screen/hot water system and laying and connecting the piping under the house. Similar tasks need to be done in all five wet areas. Then the big day arrives, the plumber comes to install and finish!! :):)

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Determined to Master: Sponge Cakes

As a child and teen I attended country 'do's' and dances, at each of these events the tables would groan with home baked goodies carried in by the farmer's wives. Caramel, chocolate and jam slices, scones with jam and cream, a variety of cakes, layered sponge cakes, goodies upon more goodies.  

My brother and I spent many holiday's at our Great Uncle and Aunty's dairy farm, Uncle would rise early to milk the cows and we'd help. We were back at the house by 8 o'clock eating breakfast on a pretty tablecloth, jam in glass dishes and creamy milk in pretty jugs, our Aunty certainly had the knack. Ah and the morning and afternoon teas, scones with jam and clotted cream, golden pikelets sprinkled with sugar, homemade biscuits and huge slabs of sponge cakes!  Our holidays were a wonderfully endless round of milking, horseback riding and eating, for two children whose mother believed fruit was healthier than baked goodies (she was correct) we were feasting royally indeed.

My Dad's family were farmers and farmer's wives can all bake, (at least that's how it appeared to a child, as a women I'm not so sure) my Grandmother baked mulberry pies and Christmas puddings and other goodies. As I come from a long line of farming women one would assume baking would just be something I'd know, sadly it is not so, perhaps one needs to grow up on a farm to imbibe this knowledge, or certainly to be hanging around farming women.  My friends and I do excitedly discuss all things cooking and baking but ours tends to be more of the nature of gluten free baking, sourdough breads, fermented foods, good fats, and healthy sugar options, all wonderful knowledge but deep down I would still love to be able to bake like the farming women of my childhood.

When we were first married I was determined to master bread making, I baked so many duds PC dubbed them bricks and joked I was rivaling our village's local brickworks.  Eventually after much perseverance I finally managed to master bread making.  I christened this 'The Year of the Bread'.

Fast forward to several years later and I was then determined to master scone making, my many duds this time became affectionately known as hockey pucks. I tried many 'no fail' recipes to no avail, eventually my friend Deanne took me step by step through the process and finally I had arrived!:) Instead of rolling my dough out I now just press and cut and always am successful. This became christened 'The Year of the Scone'.

Jelly Bean (10) has been expressing a desire to bake more and last week I suggested we try lamingtons.  First step for lamingtons involves making a sponge cake and that is were I met my 'Waterloo'.  Our first attempt resulted in a rubber 'cake', our second attempt was a slight improvement in texture but it certainly lacks height and tastes like a five day old cake. I'm sure the 'folding in' is where I'm going wrong but just what am I meant to be doing!? There are so many contradictory suggestions on just how to make the perfect sponge cake; some say the secret is the oven temperature, others say the order of ingredients, other recipes call for throwing all ingredients in together.  

Have any of my readers mastered the sponge cake? Bring on your recipes, tips and suggestions. 
By golly I'm determined this will be 'The Year of the Sponge'.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

This Week in Learning: October 17th, 2014

Our second week back, though despite my plans it turned out not to be an ordinary week, but then is there such a thing as an ordinary week with a houseful of children and a homeschooling lifestyle, I think not. One morning I spent a couple of hours with one child as they talked and talked about D&M topics (remember D&M? - deep and meaningful, 80s code word), always a precious gift to share a child's heart and time must always be made to listen. Unexpectedly the School Dental Clinic rang with appointments (no cost!) for the younger children on Wednesday morning and the older children shopped and packed for their trip, so there went one day. On Thursday the four older children set off on their adventure South, ten days away, attending a Ball and then the Christus Rex pilgrimage, a 130km walk over three days.

Friday I settled down with just the younger children, determined to 'hit the books hard' when an unknown car drove up, with shock I realised I had mixed up my weeks and it must be our local AP, approved person Greg, from the Board of Studies coming to approve my study plans for Jem (who has just turned 6). Fortunately I had written up his plans back in January when I wrote plans for the older children and was able to settle Greg down in front of the computer where I had posted them, even more fortunately PC was home for the day so was able to entertain the children.  Thankfully the house was halfway decent as we had put in some solid time cleaning the afternoon before. An hour chat with Greg, he is a lovely chap who is sadly retiring next year, approval for Jem granted and we went back to lessons.

In amongst these interruptions Einstein spent time registering and applying to attend a Summer Study program at our local (80km away) University.  As a homeschooled student he doesn't have a HSC so we are looking at alternative pathways to gain entry to University.  The University of his choice won't consider the STAT test (some Uni's do) as he is under 20, however they have suggested he enroll in Tafe and undertake Certificate 4 (6 month course) which will be sufficient to gain entry. We'd decided on that path when the thought of entry through a Summer Study program occurred to us. This would mean an intensive study period of 13 weeks, but he could then enter university at the beginning of 2015 with his peers.  So we spent hours over a couple of days, filling out forms to only be knocked back on the grounds that he didn't have a HSC and was under 18. Grrr, whilst we could take it further and pursue it, a University that doesn't think 'outside the box' probably isn't a good fit and we're feeling Peace, He has it under control. Lots of learning occurring, just different to 'my plans'.

Due to the unexpected, the older children and I didn't do any writing/grammar together, and though I know they were busy working on their independent work, the truth is I don't know what they actually achieved as we didn't get to discuss it. However I do know they set off on their trip with a copy of Beowulf to read and a huge tome of The Count of Monte Cristo, plus untold they packed their lesson books. Even if they achieve none of their academic goals in the next week they'll be learning other lessons; not only Australian geography but cooperativeness, adaptability, social skills, spirituality and endurance to name some.

The younger children did achieve more this week than last despite the interruptions so that was heartening. Solid maths learning is continuing, it does work much better when I am in the Study with them whilst they work on the computer. Had an interesting chat with Greg regards Jem's ability with maths (Kindy toggling between Grades 1 & 2 Maths) he suggested to be certain Jem's knowledge it is not all theory but practical too, some children are brilliant but can't always apply their knowledge practically.  Tossing around plans to have a day away from the more formal and to be more hands on, which would be beneficial for all the younger children anyhow.

Fell in love with All About Spelling all over again, the children aren't always so thrilled but I can see the depth of learning in this program. Most of our learning this week centered around our Leaping into Literature time.  Hours and hours of reading towering piles of picture books, longer texts and shorter, books on art, libraries, upcycling, Venice, Australia and lots more. We found some keepers and duds, way too many duds, most had come from online reservations, so Friday I headed into the library and browsed the shelves in person, hoping next week will be more a keeper week.

Still focusing on strengthening reading skills for Jelly Bean and Jack Jack.  JB is consistent in reading an hour a day!! JJ manages 15-20 minutes a day. The biggest issue with JB is finding reading material for her, she has only one Mercy Watson book to finish, so what to read next? She has definite ideas of what she will read or rather won't read, sigh. So to find early chapter readers for a 'selective' child.  Currently she is reading a variety of picture books, some harder than others, so a good solution.  I've reserved several early chapter readers from the library and frankly 99% of them are utter rubbish with attitude! I'm very particular about allowing attitude in books.

Bass continues to astound us with his total focus, he has continued this week to be all consumed with scissor cutting for hours and hours, though broadened his horizon to include colouring and drawing. He is most particular about holding his pencil correctly and comes each time to ask me if he has it correctly, at the beginning of the week he didn't, but he more often than not he does now. Today he has progressed to a fascination with letters and puzzles.  He bought a letter puzzle piece to me and wanted to find the letters on the keyboard, he sat there and kept 'matching' the letters on the puzzle to the keyboard.  Contemplating whether I should begin to teach him sounds, whilst I've usually begun around five, I'm wondering about the benefits of teaching a younger child. Bass would possibly be rather quick to pick it up.

So not really an ordinary week but then again the unexpected is probably our ordinary these days/years.

Linking up at The Wine Dark Sea's Guilt Free Learning Notes.