Wednesday, 27 August 2014

My Daybook: August 27th, 2014

Outside my window...
it's an overcast day, hoping for more rain, the water tanks need filling

I am thankful...
  • to be living in freedom 
  • to be able to tuck our children into a warm bed at night with full bellies
  • to be able to worship my God 
I am thinking...
about the atrocities in Iraq and Israel/Palestine, my heart is heavy, so heavy, God is weeping

First time slashing the paddocks:)
Learning all the time...
  • interest and ability in reading for Jelly Bean and Jack Jack is coming along at a great pace:)
  • steady progress in all areas for the children. Totally astounded that despite all the stresses of our life at present, learning is the one area that is booming! God's Grace.
Celebrating the liturgical year......
um, not really, just surviving at this stage

From the kitchen...
healthy salads, lots of salads, minimising sugars and grains

I am creating...
excel and word documents for our upcoming homeschool camp next week

I am working on...
  • achieving all on my 'to do' list for said camp, including a plan to 'fit it all in'
  • finalising menu plans for camp, Anna Maria(21) and Einstein (17) are catering this year for the first time

I am going...
shopping with the children this week to finish buying presents for our Anna Maria's 21st in 5 days!!

I am hoping...
camp brings many Graces to all

I am praying...
  • for our College boy, far from home and extremely ill with the flu
  • for our adult daughter who turns 21 this week!
  • for the success of our annual Catholic homeschool camp next week
  • for our brothers and sisters in Iraq

I am pondering....
egos and pettiness

I am reading...
Alvin Fernald, Foreign Trader to the children, and um Enid Blyton to myself, blush. I am completely stressed and only capable of total fluff

I am listening to......
nothing really Sarah's podcasts are still on my 'to do' list

I am hearing...
silence, the children are sleeping in, love it when the house is quiet:)

I am struggling...
with staying calm, to savour the moment

Clicking around...
Back to School - "This is your season of life, your time to be with your young children, or not so young children. They will grow up and need you less (though, in my experience, they will never NOT need you at all, thankfully).   Try if you can to live in the moment, savouring this precious time with your children making the boring sameness of the moments count. Try not to waste the time you will never be granted again. Try to savour it."

Tepee building with old trampoline mats
Around the house...
  • PC has just completed tiling and grouting the bathroom:):):)
  • The laundry is being waterproofed this week:)
  • We moved all the tools out of the laundry in preparation. Huge shelving of tools now resides in the toyroom opposite the children's toys, 'cause everyone has tools in their toyroom don't they? Big boys and little boys toys together;) 
One of my favorite things...
Teaching Jem(5) to ride a bike yesterday!  He picked it up so quickly!!

A few plans for this week...
  • Dance lessons for Princess
  • Soccer 'break up' party for Jem and Jelly Bean
  • Grandma staying for an overnight visit 
  • Physics teacher coming for a lesson
  • Shopping for Anna Maria's birthday 
  • Shopping for camp catering (an epic and daunting undertaking)
  • Packing for camp (for 10 people this is epic too) 
  • Celebrating Anna Maria's 21st!!!!!!!
A little peek at my day...
Dance, soccer and Grandma today, the lull before the storm.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Families of Four Children

I'm really enjoying writing about larger than average families, so many books I'm adding to my 'go back and re-read with the younger children' pile.  Thanks also to your comments I'm hearing of new titles too:) keep the suggestions coming and at the conclusion of this series I'll gather all your suggestions into one post.

Not wanting to leave 'average' nor 'smaller than average' families (still haven't a definition of average;) out of the fun I'm going to broaden my family series to include families of three, two and one child/ren. Though finding books with one child could be another challenge luckily I love book challenges.

Chatting today about families with four children, some of our absolute favourites here.

We LOVE, LOVE the Melendy Family Quartet by Elizabeth Enright. The series opens with The Saturdays, a family of four children, their father and housekeeper Cuffy who live in New York city. The children Mona is 13, Rush 12, Randy 10.5 and Oliver 6 are intelligent and extremely creative. In the second book The Four-Story Mistake the family moves to the country into an unusual architectural house. Then There Were Five and Spiderweb For Two are the last two books in the quartet, where Mark a close friend who becomes a brother joins in the tales. The children are totally likable and interesting and are very close knit, we enjoy not only reading about their adventures but reading about their interactions. We've read these a few times over the years. Highly recommended!

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall is another huge hit! A family of four girls, who like the Melendy family are raised by their widowed father, are an absolutely fascinating blend of personalities, we love these sisters. Who can resist a family with characters such as a four year old who always wears butterfly wings and is called Batty. Sequels are Penderwicks at Point Mouette and Penderwicks on Gardam Street. We always love sequels with our favourite friends, time to re-read with our younger children. Highly recommended.

The Bantry Bay series by Hilda Van Stockum is about the O'Sullivan family who live in country Ireland in the 1930s, the older children Brigid and Michael are responsible and warm and the twins Liam and Francie are adventurous and mischievous. The series opens with Cottage at Bantry Bay and continues the adventures of the O'Sullivan family with Francie On The Run and Pegeen, the illustrations are delightful. Interwoven throughout is the Catholic faith and Irish wisdom, history and culture.  We've read the Bantry Bay books a few times already, a huge family favourite:) Highly recommended.

Linnets and Valerians - Elizabeth Goudge
Set in England in 1912, four siblings are sent to live with their Grandmother after their mother dies, father is away in the army. Grandmother is too strict so they make their escape in a pony cart and set off, eventually ending up at their Uncle Ambrose's home.  Once there the children solve a mystery that 'hangs over' the local village through a series of adventures. Interwoven through the story are touches of 'pure magic', more detailed reviews to explain.  A new find which we enjoyed last year.

The Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
The most well known book of the chronicles is The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe in which 4 siblings are sent to the country for safety during the War.  They discover another world on the other side of the Wardrobe, a world in which Good vs Evil and they become Kings and Queens of Narnia. Lots of sibling interaction, children confronting their weaknesses and growing in their strengths. Some of Chronicles are about Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, others introduce different characters. Another I really must re-read to our younger children. Recommended.

Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
The story of the four March girls who live in American during and after the Civil War with their Mother, their Father is away at War.  The girls are pretty Meg, tomboy Jo, shy Beth and vain Amy. To be honest I'm not a Little Women fan, I find the 'girlishness' of most of the characters insipid and irritating, though I realise I mightn't be popular saying so. Next book in the series is Good Wives.  I am however a Jo fan, I relate to Jo which is probably why I like Little Men and in particular Jo's Boys.

The Moffats - Eleanor Estes
We actually haven't read the Moffats, they sit waiting on our shelves, however they sound delightful, similar in parts to Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, a widowed mother and her children, although the children sound rather adventurous and rambunctious.  Set in American during World War 1. Sequels are; The Middle MoffatRufus M and The Moffat Museum.

The Boxcar Children - Gertrude Chandler Warner
Four orphaned children appear in a town, frightened to live with their unknown Grandfather they make a home for themselves in an abandoned red boxcar.  We only have the first of this series, admittedly I haven't read it though the children have read it to themselves, there are hundreds in the series.

Bobbsey Twins - Laura Lee Hope
The Bobbsey's live in Lakeport, America, Father is a prosperous lumber merchant, Mother is home full time and the children are two sets of twins. Bert and Nan are 12 and Flossie and Freddie are 6, they have lots of adventures and often solve mysteries. Written for 8 year olds, I remember the series with fondness from my childhood, however re-visiting as an adult the formulaic plots becomes 'old' quick and the racial typecasting of that era is a concern. The children have read them, though they haven't held interest for too long.

Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
The four Walker children set sail in The Swallow for Wild Cat Island, however their plans are disturbed by the fierce Blackett sisters. A battle ensues, in which afterwards all six children join forces for a memorable summer. A marvelous series, 12 books in all, full of adventures, sailing, fishing, swimming, camping, secret codes and carrier pigeons.  Our older children were wildly keen on the Swallows and Amazon books, though the younger ones have yet to become fans. Recommended.

Friday, 22 August 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol 204)

Jem's (5) funny of the week: "Superman has two weaknesses, Kryptonite and Good Looking Girls" Um yeah...

One of the benefits of educating your children is furthering your own education along with them. Currently the younger four children and I are reading Our Island Story and for my own recreational reading I've been enjoying a few of the Brother Cadfael mysteries. This week I realised our history reading was background to my lighter reading, Brother Cadfael's Penance is set in England 1145 during the Civil War between King Stephen and Empress Maud. I became engrossed in the Civil War and wanted to know the outcome, I only needed to skip forward in our History book to know 'who won'.

Working my way solidly through my 'to do' list for the two upcoming Weddings we are all attending. This week I finalised ordering dresses (after hours of study on ebay) for all the ladies of the house, three dresses have arrived so far and oo la la. Though it has been declared Bella looks like a cupcake;) I have borrowed suits for the three youngest boys, and they look goood:) Only ones to take care of now are PC and two of the older boys, the boys are a little trickier, they have a man's length but a boy's slenderness. Oh yes there is still shoes, cardigans, jewellery, hair and makeup to consider for the girls but that's for another day.

I was finally successful in baking sourdough bread:) However Bella, Bass(3) and I were the only ones who liked it (all the more for me;).  Most excitedly I didn't have any negative reactions, no cramping at all. Normally we never give our babies grains under 12 months, but considering it was fermented I thought it would be save enough to give Bella (8 months) a taste.  She went absolutely crazy over the sourdough, she ended up having far more than at taste! Needing to do some research to see if fermented grains are okay to give to babies, have you read anything?

Honing my skills as a writer is something I'm always striving to do, listening to and implementing advice is one way to improve.  I was so pleased when a loved family member said to me this week, "Your writing has improved, you no longer use, 'very' and 'much'" True I don't, constructive criticism is helpful.  Another loved family member encourages me to stretch my skills by confessing sometimes my 7 Quick Takes are "pedestrian" the weeks I earn higher praise I'm ecstatic. (I acknowledge freely that sometimes they are pedestrian)

Theresa's series on Preschool focuses on the joy and wonder of small children as they discover the world around them.  She encourages us to see and enjoy the world from the viewpoint of our little people.  As I read Theresa's series I kept thinking how once upon a time, only a few decades ago, children didn't 'do preschool' instead they played and explored and baked and talked and listened to a few stories. In short they just enjoyed being small children, a precious time that can never be recaptured again.

Thinking it might be time to reinstate Handwriting Boot Camp, I might hold 'camp' in a few weeks time, the last week or two of Term.  Have you ever had older children struggle with handwriting? Any stories, tips to share?

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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Kitchen Chit-Chat

Over the weekend Princess and I spent time in the kitchen rearranging our workspace with heartening results.  PC had made a passing remark a few weeks previously, about the flow challenges of the kitchen, which had encouraged me to stop and evaluate how effective our kitchen was/or wasn't working for us. Once I began focusing on the kitchen's functionality I realised a number of areas in the kitchen irritated me and I'd just been working around problems instead of addressing them.

Thus we began our assessment by considering 'prime real estate space', firstly the overhead cupboards, they are the easiest to access yet of the four shelves only one shelf housed everyday items, the other three shelves housed items rarely used. Next we considered the cupboards underneath the bench and realised these were the items we used daily and needed much easier access to. The storage cupboard on the other side of the room, next to the pantry whilst suitable for lesser used items was being treated as a 'catch all' thus not maximising space potential. We have little bench space and with many appliances on the bench we lose half the footprint space we do have.  We have been storing some of the appliances when not in use, but the storage cupboard is difficult to access.

So what to do? My friend Jen's favourite word 'intuitive' kept coming to mind, I knew we needed to make the flow of the kitchen intuitive. We began freeing up the 'prime real estate spaces', by moving rarely used items to the storage cupboard, first though we cleared it out, creating more space. Then we moved the casserole dishes, the glass mixing bowls and storage containers to the overhead cupboards where we can easily access. This then freed up space in the cupboards below the benches, which excitedly meant we are able to devote a whole section as an appliance cupboard, allowing easy access to remove or store.  We are now able to house most of the appliances here which in turn has freed up space on the bench!:) I'm a visual person and I didn't realise how much the appliance clutter bothered me but to now have the bench space nearly empty brings me much peace. The kitchen space flows far more effectively and intuitively now:) I'm really amazed that it has taken me so long to consider what was/and wasn't working and how to address the problems.

Inspired by our new space Jelly Bean and I enjoyed baking a cake together Sunday afternoon, then fired by our creativity I turned my hand to again trying to bake a sourdough loaf and this time was successful!! Thanks to Marijke for 'steering me right' with her sourdough starter.

We're also currently trialing a new 'kitchen duty roster', instead of each family member having an assigned task, we simply expect all to gather together in the kitchen immediately after dinner and collectively clean. All together in a small space, it's amazing how quickly and enjoyably clean up is.

Sometimes it is the 'little things' that bring a sense of Peace:)

Friday, 15 August 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol 203)

We heard some very exciting news this week, Spotlight is to open in our town in a couple of months.  I'm very excited, but the children were not so thrilled when I told them the news;) Years ago when I sewed more, I always used to pop into the store whenever we visited our neighbouring City.  It got to the point that when the car turned towards the carpark a howl would emit from the backseat, "No!! Not Spotlight!! No!!!"

Actually we still have howls of "No!" emitting from the back, but these days it is when we turn into the Bunnings carpark.  PC seems to disappear into the bowels of Bunnings for hours! I confess I add to those "No's!"  Last week PC took Bass (3) to Bunnings with him, apparently he had to drag Bass into the store as he was wailing, "Not Bunnin's, I don't want to go to Bunnin's"

Well it has been a month since I began working towards losing weight.  My goal was to lose 10kg (22lbs), to that end I eliminated sugar, grains and white potatoes from my diet, though admittedly I've occasionally eaten potatoes and a small amount of grains. This approach is very effective, in four weeks I've lost 4.7kg (10.36lbs)! Time now to also add exercise to the regime, in particular focusing on tummy tightening. Any great 'must do' exercises to recommend for tightening the tum?

What is the most effective method to remove clothing dyes that have bleed onto whites? I have a white shirt that is now sporting some pink dots, what to do?

Cindy sadly announced this week that she is closing down her blog, not only no longer writing but taking her blog down within the week:( She has written some real gems over the past 8 years and I wanted to copy a few posts for their wisdom. The thought of copying and pasting into Word exhausted me but a little research revealed my solution, all I needed was to install an Evernote web clipper.  Evernote web clipper, ah how I love thee:)

For several weeks now I've been reading The Hobbit to Jelly Bean(10), Jack Jack (8) and Jem (5), we're nearly finished. I originally read it to Anna Maria, Carpenter and Einstein years ago, then Carpenter read it to Michelangelo and Princess, hence why this is only my second 'go around' reading The Hobbit to our children.  It's been a long time, and as before it takes me a while to 'get into it', the chapters are so long, but then I fall under Tolkien's spell.  Sorry Sarah but I have to disagree with you here;)

Countdown now, only three more games until the soccer season is finished!:) Though I have to admit being rather spoilt the last couple of months, with more drivers in the house I've been able to stay home for a few trainings and games.

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