Saturday, 1 November 2014

Leaping into Literature: Excellent Finds

We seem to be 'enjoying a theme' of interrupted weeks this term.  Our challenges this week included days off to welcome home our teen Pilgrims (hooray they are home safe and sound:) and for our town's annual festival.  Both of course important events, nevertheless I'm happy that we've managed to continue with solid learning despite the many life events being thrown at us.

I was excited to discover a couple of picture biographies this week, Meet Douglas Mawson by Mike Dumbleton and Jubilee! One Man's BIG, BOLD, and VERY, VERY LOUD CELEBRATION of PEACE - Alicia Potter were excellent, as were some of our Art, Antarctica and Aboriginal finds, which I really do plan on reviewing soon.  It hadn't occurred to me to look in the biography section for picture books, fortunately they were on the display shelves and caught my attention, I've since reserved more biographies via the online catalogue so hoping for more 'wins'.

Whilst we didn't quantity as much this week we did have high quality. The children, 10, 8 & 6 have once again 'rated' the books, they are extremely tough, so you might like to 'up the marks' a little.  Still it does give you an idea of the more excellent.


Art
Ben & Gracie's Art Adventure - Mark Wilson 3.5 Star
Just Behave Pablo Picasso! - Jonah Winter 3.5 Star
Degas and the Little Dancer - Laurence Anholt 3 Star
The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse - Eric Carle 0.5 Star

Australian
Pigs and Honey - Jeanie Adams 4 Star
Remembering Lionsville - Bronwyn Bancroft 4 Star
Emu - Claire Saxby 3 Star
Only a Donkey - Celeste Walters 2.5 Star
Bittangabee Tribe - Beryl Cruse 2.5 Star

Books/Libraries
Library Lion - Michelle Knudsen 3 Star
Dewey's Christmas at the Library - Vicki Myron 1 Star

Antarctica

Sophie Scott Goes South - Alison Lester 4 Star
Meet Douglas Mawson - Mike Dumbleton 3.5 Star
Here is Antarctica - Madeleine Dunphy 3 Star

History
Jubilee! One Man's BIG, BOLD, and VERY, VERY LOUD CELEBRATION of PEACE - Alicia Potter 4 Star
When Jessie Came Across the Sea - Amy Hest 4 Star

Science
Oscar and the Snail: A Book About Things We Use - Geoff Waring 2.5 Star

Miscellaneous
The Three Questions - Leo Tolstoy 3 Star
Otis - Loren Long 2.5 Star
Michael - Tony Bradman 2 Star
The Sound of Colors A Journey of the Imagination - Jimmy Liao 1.5 Star
Looking for Loons - Jennifer Lloyd 1.5 Star
A Long Way from Home - Elizabeth Baguley 1.5 Star
The Mixed Up Chameleon - Eric Carle 1 Star
Too Many Elephants in This House - Ursula Dubosarsky 0.5 Star
Two Bad Teddies - Kilmeny Niland 0.5 Star

Friday, 31 October 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol 209)

1
As Jelly Bean is finally keen on reading:):) a lot of time this week was devoted to researching book lists for early chapter books, then searching our library's online catalogue.   It appears that books for this age is firmly divided into boy and girl titles, as several book reviewers have commented this is only a new phenomena, certainly in the 70s we all (boys and girls) read the same books.


2
Joined our local 'give away' group on facebook this week and was totally astounded at how fast the school cupboards I was offering went.  They were 'taken' within 30 minutes! It's a totally fascinating group, many contributors are very keen to not contribute to the landfill and everything is recycled, fan blades, tin cans, plastic bags, beds, lounges etc etc  These folks are taking being green seriously.

3
Our teens are home and we've noticed a huge difference in our internet speed.  I was spoilt for those eleven days whilst they were away with faster page loadings, it's an adjustment going back to slow responses, a lesson in patience.

4
Made my first beef broth this week, two batches in fact.  I'm pretty excited and keen to begin to learn more about fermenting and it's uses.  It's been awhile since I made my first sourdough bread, planning on getting back into sourdough baking too.

5
Theresa shared emotions and reactions that resonated with me,
"Right around the kids' bedtime I got it into my head that I have to organise my recipe box right now....it was organise that box or check myself into a mental institute.... "I'm organising my recipe box because it's the only thing I have control over in my life!!"
I get this! I really do.  Sometimes living with children I feel out of control, children's misbehaviour escalates and our emotions can escalate too!  This morning several children all wanted me at the same time, all, well most, had valid and important, immediate needs too, but I sure felt out of control trying to juggle all those needs at the same time.

6
Actually my emotions have been chaotic today and a teen child's has too.  I'm thinking the sugar and additives we consumed yesterday at our town's festival are the culprit, I had headaches last night and this morning.  Sadly I wasn't a gracious mummy last night, nor today either, time to focus on our food choices again.

7
Whilst in town at the festivities yesterday I popped into our newly opened Spotlight.  It has been a long time since I've perused fabric rolls and I was frankly shocked at the cost of material. It is cheaper to buy clothes already made than to sew your own.  The other option which I've dabbled a little is to upcycle clothes from the op-shop, enthused with the creativity this can offer.

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Monday, 27 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!! :):)

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Cupboard Love


In March PC began tiling the bathrooms/laundry, with lots of life happening along the way, and by August he was ready for a break.  So he 'turned his hand' to projects that could be completed much quicker, such as the built in cupboards.

After researching a few options in regards to what materials to build the cupboards with, we settled upon sheet flooring.  The attractions were; cost, ease to work with and most importantly strength to withstand any climbing children, remember our linen press?


We splurged and bought a tablesaw, making the cutting far easier and precise. PC also designed a template which simplifies and aids accuracy when he routers the grooves. 



As Princess was the most eager (she's always keen on carpentry) and was Dad's 'right hand girl' he began by building her cupboard.


The plan is to create all the built ins as modules which can then be moved about if needed in the various cupboard spaces. Between each module are the hanging clothes made possible by thick pieces of dowel. 


Princess was rather ecstatic with her cupboard and moved her belongings in immediately. PC has completed the look of the cupboards with pine trimmings on the front.  


After working out 'the bugs' on Princess' cupboard, PC perfected his technique whilst building the younger boy's modules. Their built in space is larger so just perfect for three boys. 
Off now to dream about how my walk in robe will look.

Once again well done Prince Charming:)

Saturday, 25 October 2014

This Week in Learning: October 24th, 2014

With the older children still away I'd had high hopes for a wildly productive academic week after last week being a disrupted one. The week however evolved into an un-ordinary week again with yet another dental visit and our monthly get together with our local homeschool group.  Our focus this month was The Human Body in Sculpture.  Each month throughout the year a different family organises an activity, they have included; print art, felt making, science activities, orienteering, lawn bowls, library tour and our annual sports day. Our group started meeting again this year after a hiatus and has been quite successful with our numbers increasing and many wonderful friendships being formed.  

With Christmas approaching we are focusing on the Life of Jesus for our Faith readings. I'm reading Amy Steedman's A Little Child's Life of Jesus to the younger children.  Not dumbed down in any manner yet straight forward enough for the children to retain the whole story. My plan is to have completed the book by Advent.


Maths has evolved into a bit of a competition between Jelly Bean (10) and Jack Jack (8), they are both undertaking the Grade 3 work, revision for JB and an easy stretch for JJ, as Jelly Bean is determined to complete all the lessons before Jack Jack, and he is not giving her any ground.  Healthy competition here as both are understanding the work and motivated to work hard.  Jem (6) settled into working hard on his lessons, the work ethic spilling over to him too.

We are using Writing with Ease, to cover Writing and Grammar, with Jelly Bean and Jack Jack. They like the approach, scripted narration and copywork exercises, however we start on the Grade 2 work next week which includes dictation as well, not sure how it shall be received;) Whilst the work has been easy for them thus far I wanted to work our way systematically through the book as it is our first time using it.

Managed to do our All About Spelling lessons, though I am concerned we sometimes undertake the lesson with a 'must do our set lesson' approach, or at least on my behalf.  Not sure if it really matters as the children are certainly becoming solid spellers, PC was impressed the other night at dinner when JJ could spell a challenging word.  That's the beauty of the program, it makes you stop and decode a word.

Reading for JB and JJ revved up several notches this week, JB continued to put in a solid hour practice a day and JJ upped his time to 30 minutes a day.  Towards the end of the week it all seemed to click for Jelly Bean (happy, happy dance:):):) she declared several times to me, "I like reading" !!!!! and then proved it by reading several books in one sitting and then initiated a visit to the library! coming home with a bagful of books.  JB found several books she enjoyed (reviews to come) and a few she didn't but read anyway!  She realises at this stage she is judging books suitability on print size and amount of words on a page, as each day progresses she is happy with more and more print on a page:):) Jack Jack not to be out down insists on reading everyday, and in fact tonight was adamant he needed to read despite a blackout and so he read by candlelight.  Oh happy days.  Jem (6) has about ten more letters to learn with All About Reading, we are awaiting the next level to arrive. He managed to pin down another 3 letters this week, hopefully he'll still retain them next.


Our Leaping into Literature continues to be a popular hit with us managing to read another pile of books this week. We found more keepers than duds compared to last week, reading topics such as; Australian, Books/Libraries, Carpentry, Geography, Science and more.  By going to the library and selecting rather than just reserving online I was able to search for more 'meaty' story plots appropriate for older children.

Bass became engrossed in jigsaw puzzles and spent hours focused on them.  Today we went to a garage sale of preschool items and bought several items he has been working with all afternoon. A memory game, puzzles to compare small, bigger, biggest, letters, occupations and materials and a balancing board.  He's loving all the new items.

Bella (10 months) is crawling and more rapidly as each day passes, we're having to be conscious of keeping the floor clear of little items.  She is now pulling herself up and getting into things, today she pulled the dress ups out of the box and dumped them on the floor!

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

Friday, 24 October 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol 208)

1
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

2
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?

3
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.

4
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.

5
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.

6
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.

7
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?

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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.


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

Australian
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

Books/Libraries
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

Carpentry
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

Geography
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)

Science
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

Miscellaneous
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

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'.