Friday, 11 April 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol 190)

Princess and I are pretty excited, we're off on a mother/daughter morning out tomorrow, first we are attending a book sale!!!! and then indulging in a milkshake and girl time.  We asked Jelly Bean if she would like to join us for "a mother/daughter morning" ? She asked in a very suspicious, horrified voice, "Does it involve shopping?!" Obviously JB does not enjoy shopping.  When we outlined the plan she tentatively agreed to give it a go, though we know the milkshake is the draw card not the book sale.

Finally took the plunge, opened the bag of gluten free flour sitting on my pantry shelf and baked a gluten free cake, banana to be specific. It was a huge success! For some reason I was nervous about baking 'a flop', but when my friend Deanne assured me it was a simple matter of substituting; 1 cup of Wheat Flour for 1 cup of Gluten Free, I baked and it was a huge success.  The verdict is, gluten free flour tastes nicer than wheat flour.

Bella loves to be in the 'midst of living', if she can see what is happening, what we're all up to all is well with her world.  Currently she hates to be in her rocker on the ground whilst we are all eating meals, on the job card this weekend is to pull the highchair out of storage so she can sit up and watch us during mealtime.

School holidays begin today, as our girls are really keen to learn a few sewing skills I'm thinking this would be a great time to begin.  Circle skirts and nighties are on the create list, any other suggestions for beginner projects for tween girls?

I've been happily engaged in a project of my own; Easter seasonal cleaning and massive de-clutter. Going along at a great pace, have moved along so many clothes, linen and other odds and ends, 8 huge garbage bags in fact.  Furniture too is being moved along and last weekend PC and girls built a linen press in one day!  Looking foward to tackling the learning areas next; library, study and learning room. So much 'stuff' we don't use, it's all going.

Talking about beautifying homes, when I watch shows like The Block, I'm always totally amazed and impressed at the visualisation skills of some people.  Might have missed that gene but sure wish I had it.  And were you totally surprised at the winners? We were.

Our Brand New Library continues to be a huge success!! Princess visited the library four days running! And our other children have been repeat visitors too, it has become the local teen hangout!  Chatting to mums at soccer training we're all re-congregating at the library after training to pick up our tweens and teens.  Pretty cool I think that they're all wanting to visit the library.  The place is just rocking with young people whenever we are there and they are not all playing the Xbox/playstation, they are borrowing books. Our librarians tell me that there has been a huge increase in membership, including whole families.

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Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Dress Up Storage Solution

Often when one project is completed another is created, thus it was when PC and the girls built our incredible linen press.  Project created was, The Dress Ups, they now needed to be moved from the linen press alcove, and it was time to find a better storage solution.  For months they have been stored in one very long box, the length and depth of our new linen press, this however meant a messy search for most items.  Consequently the Dress Up storage wasn't inviting to play.  As I now had empty shelving of two sections, I considered making some more boxes and storing like the toys, but would the dress ups fit in the boxes? More importantly would they be returned to boxes by children? I didn't want it to be a job I would find myself doing. 

 Googling 'dress up storage' I found plenty of pretty pictures of hanging dresses accompanied by a couple of pretty storage boxes.  Nothing that would address my particular need, and that I quickly realised was the issue, our needs were different to most.  We don't have only little girls with dress ups, we have dress ups for little girls and big girls, little boys and big boys.  We have an extensive collection of 20 years worth, spanning all ages, as dress ups are popular with all our children, even at times the older ones.  

In the past I've tried the hanging rod storage idea, it didn't work, I was the one re-hanging outfits, of which there were plenty, it seemed rather ridiculous to have created myself another job.  So all the pretty picture solutions were ruled out for a couple of reasons.  So what to do?

Staring at the now empty shelving it hit me.  The long storage box sort of worked, it just needed to be divided somehow.  Now if I was to turn the shelving onto its back I would have a 'box' divided into 6 sections.  We now have the dress up storage sorted into; left front to back - accessories (masks, hats, gloves, handbags, scarves, play cloths etc), big girls, little girls.  Right front to back - little boys, big boys, cloaks and capes.  The box is sitting away from the side wall to allow access to the back sections, not that we currently have any little girls dressing up.

It mightn't be pretty, in fact the bottom/back board needs replacing, but I think we just might have hit upon the solution.  I'll know soon enough if the children begin using the dress ups more regularly.  Hopefully I'll soon be back to share just what costumes they do have.  

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Library Opening Day Finally Arrives!

Finally "No more sleeps", the long awaited day arrived yesterday.  Our town's brand new library is open.  Jelly Bean and Jem had the distinction of being the first members of the public through the doors too! With the other children following closely.

We immediately headed to the children's section.  Light, spacious and inviting.  No longer will I have to whisper a story, concerned that noise will carry downstairs like it did in the old library, for a few years now I've been reserving online as visiting the library was too stressful with little boys and their noise.  I can easily see us relaxing in this space, so excited!

At the other end of the library is an area most inviting for older children.  X-box and playstation screens, and Young Adults books are in this area. 

Rows and rows of non-fiction.  For the first time forever our library is able to house all the non-fiction together instead of being stashed in various spots.  Our librarians are really excited about this and I'm looking forward to making new discoveries.

These incredible windows run for the entire side of the library, letting in plenty of light, and adding to the sense of spaciousness.  Sprinkled throughout the library are inviting chairs, which I can guarantee are comfortable indeed.  

 Somehow in this space we seem to have more children's fiction than before.  Some of our children loved their visit to the library yesterday so much, that they headed back in today to spend longer familiarising themselves with the new layout.  Searching for some good reads. I never say no to a library trip.

I haven't even had a chance to browse in the adult fiction section, but it sure looks inviting and I can't wait to have an opportunity to do so.

 So many new screens and access to wi-fi, the computers were in hot demand yesterday.  Hopefully with 16 screens these will meet the demand.

Aren't these book trolleys the cutest things you've seen?  Actually even cuter is Princess pushing one as she fills it with books.  Alas I forgot to take the camera in today to catch that moment.

See this, a self scanner for borrowing books! The children think this just the greatest, lots of fun:)

So many things still to see;there are sound proof rooms I haven't even seen yet, catalogue touch screens for each section, an interactive mat with projected images.  Most exciting though is as the library is on one level, there is accessibility to all, including wheelchair access and prams.  Even better though is we now have a toilet!!  Yeah I image you could be snorting with laughter over that, but just think for 18 years my nightmare has always been taking children to the library and then having to do a toilet run for half a block with a baby tucked under one arm, dragging a desperate toddler with a pre-schooler or two running behind most reluctantly. Current toddler has already availed himself of the new feature;)

A Dream Of A Linen Press

Twelve months is long enough for any girl to have her linen shelves highly visible in her dining hall don't you think?

Embarrassingly it's not even as if I kept it neat all the time, the messy truth is, it often looked like this! Before visitors were due that is, the visitors at least got to look at tidy shelves.

When I uttered the words on Saturday to my darling Prince Charming, "I've reached my limit, I want the linen cupboard out of the dining hall" He immediately responded with, "Let's plan how to design the linen press and I'll build it tomorrow."  That's all it took! He stopped tiling the bathrooms to build our linen press:)

With Princess and Jelly Bean helping, they began and completed the linen press all in one day!! The girls were really enthused about building and were a big help.

PC decided on pine framing, screwed to the wall.  The shelves are actually floor sheeting cause these babies are going to have to take alot of weight!  We do plan on adding a pine strip to the front to pretty them up.  

Broom handles through the boards with dowel under each board to give extra support, solved the problem of the span.  Cause this is a big span.

A huge linen press, large enough to make any girl's heart go pitter patter, don't you think?

As I said, they'll need to take alot of weight.  Not only the linen itself but climbing children, let's be realistic, it's going to happen.

I couldn't wait a second longer, the shelves were filled by Sunday night! Mmm no room for the towels, which will need to be here once the bathrooms are functioning.  Next job, cull excess linen.

Anyhow just want to say to my PC and girls, you're awesome! Thank you!!!!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

My Daybook: April 3rd, 2014

Outside my window...
silence, it is still dark out and I'm the only one yet awake.  I admit I do love early mornings all to myself.

I am thankful...
  • for the new child dental benefits schedule.  Free $1000 worth of dental work over two years!
  • discovering what has been causing my wrist agony.  Book strain. Yep, excessive reading, holding those hardcovers has done them in.
  • to live in this land of peace and plenty.  I've just read Kisses from Katie, set in Uganda, we have so much in this country we take for granted.
  • our College kids, so proud of them, learning and growing. They'll be home for Easter, counting down:)
  • our children at home, love 'em all to bits and their Daddy, my Prince Charming indeed.

I am thinking...
oh lots of thoughts stimulated by a couple of dear friends, Ruth & Margaret.  We've been enjoying a great email marathon, sharing lots of deep thoughts about all sorts of ideas, inspired by the links shared below.

Learning all the time...
  • about the benefits of memorisation.  Poetry and catechism are big around here at present, wanting to add multiplication next term. 
  • Reading Our Island Story by HE Marshall with Jelly Bean and Jack Jack. Our first introduction to Marshall and we're firm fans now. 

Celebrating the liturgical year......
  • went to Mass for St Patrick's Day, baked some green iced cupcakes and read our books for Sts Patrick and Joseph last month. Rather happy with that as it's more than we've managed for a long time.
  • I've researched and written a list of all family nameday dates, baptismal, FHC & Confirmation dates.  Next job is to create a perpetual calendar of these dates and that's where we'll start with Celebrations.  By celebrating the namedays we'll probably hit all the Saints we want to Celebrate anyhow.

Brand new soccer player

From the kitchen...
banana cake.  Yep I know it sounds like it's the only cake I ever bake, and actually it pretty much is. Have finally found a cake that everyone loves! with icing too.  Have made two already this week. Considering that my family do not like cake this is major, I feel on top of the world.  I'm going to try my hand at gluten free next. Oh and slices, PC likes slices so I'll see what skill I can develop there.

I am creating...
chaos, organised chaos.  Massive de-clutter going on here in preparation for Easter and those College kids coming home.  Nothing I enjoy more than a deep de-clutter:) nothing designed more to make our kids moan and groan, they fall in line though and do their share, they're good like that.  Though they have got sidetracked with an old toy that hasn't been used in years.  They've been busy setting up car tracks and researching where to buy slot cars to put the tracks to reuse.

I am working on...
finalising co-ordination plans for our local homeschool group.
Our local group has been in hiatus for a couple of years, so it's wonderful to see movement happening.

I am going...
to visit our new $8 million dollar library, which opens next week!!!
Oh how we've longed for this new library; lots of light, space, new books, new furniture.  Most needed it has access for wheelchairs/prams and a toilet!
My sneaky husband heard a rumour this week that 'there were people inside', he snuck down at lunch, drove underneath and tried the doors, he couldn't get in.  Aha, foiled in his attempts to get a jump on his wife and claim boasting rights over me! Oh I can't wait!! Though I might be kind and go with PC;)

I am hoping...
my filling next week will not result in a further tooth being pulled.  I lost another tooth this week and I really can't afford to lose too many more.  I highly recommend regular dental checks.  Though my grandmother always said, "have a baby, lose a tooth" pretty true that.

I am praying...
  • for our College kids and their needs
  • for wisdom as a parent to nurture and guide.  They grow all too quick, not enough time before they're running out the door
  • for anyone with suicidal thoughts, for the soul of L who did commit suicide and for her family left to mourn
  • for a young man who lost his wife and was left with a newborn, and for the repose of her soul 

I am pondering....
communication and mediation.

I am reading...
well this is a problem.  Actual books are out for some time so I can give my wrists and thumbs time to heal from book strain.  However for a girl who reads the back of cereal packets this is a major hardship, so I'm going to see if I prop my ereader on my legs and manage to read something, anything... Actually I'm planning on downloading some GK Chesterton, I'm just hoping I can read these kindle books on my kobo, the files aren't always compatible.

I am listening to......
Sarah's line up of audio lectures, well that's the plan.  I'm just not too sure who to start with, they all look promising. Suggestions?

I am hearing...
our three youngest boys and Jelly Bean, they've now awake and the day is beginning.  They're in the study with me, on their computers watching an art youtube on Minecraft papercrafts.  I'm envisaging today will be all things paper.

I am struggling...
with just the usual, consistency with implementing some routines, namely anything outside of lessons. Lesson routines though are going fantastically:)

Clicking around...

Around the house...
deep housecleaning happening.  Twice a year before Easter and Christmas we do a big clean. Washing windows and walls (please keep your feet off the walls children!), wiping door knobs and lights switches, removing cobwebs and wiping down every surface etc etc and of course along with that turning out every cupboard and doing the deep de-clutter.  Usually we do this in Holy Week but this year with a baby we're spreading it out over a few weeks. When it's all finished we are exhausted and the house sparkles.

Digging for diamonds

One of my favorite things...

  • watching our children at play.  Jem decided to go diamond digging, he was convinced he would find diamonds on our front lawn if he dug deep enough.  One of the best things about having younger siblings is they believe what you believe too, so Bass also went mining.
  • Also enjoying watching all the children, including the older three and PC setting up racing tracks and racing cars together.

A few plans for this week...
we're in the midst of Mini Birthday Week, Bass turned 3 last Saturday and Einstein turns 17 tomorrow! Some last minute shopping today and we'll be enjoying our boy's delight tomorrow, he has the wonderful ability to enjoy the moment:)

A little peek at my day...

  • well we're back into the soccer season, so practices a couple of days a week, games on the weekend, some weeks in different directions. Three playing this year, one refereeing.
  • Princess has begun ballet, and is loving it!:) Rather excited that she may have found her niche:)

Monday, 31 March 2014

Weekly Portraits and Simple Things - 31st March Edition

A portrait of our children, once a week, every week, in 2014

1. Each 'Portrait a Week' must begin with Bella, just a requisite deal:)  It continues to astound me at how much joy this darling brings to our life.  Then again I'm certain we've felt like this before, a time or two or ......

2. Now here's a scallywag.  We'll be celebrating Einstein's 17th birthday later this week and truly it's shocking to realise just how fast the years have flown by.  We're rather humbled to be his parents, truth to be told. 

3. Another larrikin.  Though really our Michelangelo has matured in many ways in the past year since his biggest bro left home.  He 'stepped up to the plate' and has been so dependable. Rather a bonus he is handsome too;)

4. Ah two pretty princesses, poetry recitation night with such a pretty audience.  Princess loves poetry night with a passion, she has been memorising huge chunks of poetry this year, last night's rendition from her was several verses of 'A Froggy went a Courtin'

5. Extension work has begun again, finally working on the bathrooms, hooray!! Jelly Bean has been PC's 'right hand man'.  She worked alongside of him the whole of one weekend helping mix the scree to lay on the base of the floors.  Now tiling work has begun. 

6. A birthday gift from Uncle and Auntie for last week's birthday boy, Bass (pictured below).  Jem playing with PC, the track has been hugely popular, constantly in use with all 'children' big and small.  Those cars can sure fly around the tracks!

7. Birthday boy Bass watching big bro Jack Jack reading. So exciting to see his reading progression, he is just flying through these books, he's ready to progress to the next level.

Friday, 28 March 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol 189)

Do you know how to easily add a drop down menu bar to blogspot blogs?  I've been googling for an answer but the only solution appears to be manually entering each link and category name.  I have a lot of categories for navigation ease, so manually adding would be quite time consuming.  I'd love find a simple solution.

Lisa alerted me to the A-Z blogging challenge for April, every day of April excluding Sundays, you write a blog post beginning with the letter for that day.   I've already written up a list of possible posts, for at least half of the alphabet. Over 1000 mad bloggers have signed up and I'm seriously considering joining in.  I might miss a day here or there (such as Good Friday) but I could give it a shot.

Last week I shared our re-commitment to Catechism Memorisation.  Yet memorising the Catechism isn't as easy as memorising poems, I suspect because it doesn't have that cadence.  Any tips or ideas to make it enjoyable?

Some of my favourite bloggers are currently writing posts full of inspirational wisdom. Pam wrote this week about Creating Homeschooling Goals for Growth, I'm pondering these words, .."But it all begins with a person".."Goals should be specific and measurable..focus on behaviour and not outcomes...on learning and not just completing"..  Lots of food for thought.

Sarah once again continues to amaze me with her insights this week.  In her first post First Thoughts on Next Year she says..."I'm assessing our school year in a way that blesses, rather than curses.  We aren't talking about products off a factory line here, we're talking about humans. As in, people. Made in the image and likeness of God and all that..."
In her next post of the week, How to Simplify the Schedule I'm nodding at, "Start with a time budget..Insist on Margin.." 'Cause folks that folks is simply true, allow time.  This year we've been having one of our most successful years, with a new baby and all because I allowed time.  I pared down to what was essential, and allowed time, time to ponder, time to live.

When Jen wrote a little while back about keeping a Commonplace Book, for the first time ever I was inspired to begin one myself but.. what to write about? Now though I know! I'm going to begin writing all these inspiring words of wisdom.

Thanks to Sarah's continual enthusiasm I finally listened to a little of Andrew Kearn and I'm now staunchly a fan.  I took Sarah's advice and listened to video 3 from 28:04 onwards. And as I certain that my excruciating wrist pain is indeed thanks to holding books whilst reading (how weird) I'm giving books a rest and am planning on checking out all these audio podcasts.

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Friday, 21 March 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol 188)

My wrists are continuing to ache, it's been four months now of sharp, intense pain.  Do you have any idea how often you move your wrists? Lots and lots! I'm a huge reader, this week PC suggested perhaps the weight of the book (many of the books I read are hardcover) and the still position of hands maintained whilst reading wouldn't be helping. He suggested I go back to my ereader which I'm endeavouring to do, however... I can't remember how to transfer the book from my computer to my ereader.  Perhaps I should give up reading any fiction for Lent.

Yesterday my friend Margaret and I were discussing memorisation, in particular the importance, or not of memorising catechism.  I was wavering, and Margaret was encouraging me to stay the course.  She was arguing a good case, then we sidetracked into another conversation, as we often do, about the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity.  That was when Princess(12) piped up with the Catechism answer about the Blessed Trinity and won the day! Catechism memorisation is firmly back 'on the books'.

My heart has been heavy this week, death sometimes comes too, too soon.  My sister attended a funeral this week of a young woman, K__ 29, who died 2 days after giving birth to a baby girl.  My sister's friend went shopping to buy a white dress for her infant niece to wear to her mother's funeral.  Sis wrote to our family about the funeral and these lines keeps running over in my mind, "A young man aged before his time, clutching a bundle of white, with no emotion on his face...The wailing of a newborn with no mother to feed her."  On the same day my brother shared about a young friend of his, L___24, who committed suicide and of another young woman he knows who attempted suicide both on the same day! L___ had so much promise, so much love but sadly there were other factors at play. Please join me in praying for the repose of the souls of these young women, and the young girl whose life was saved just in time, and for their family and friends, for the all the communities affected by these tragedies.

Sarah has been chatting about Teaching From a State of Rest, for someone so young she is so wise!  "We forget that we are dealing with a soul,....When you are performing mommy triage- that is, when you have a crisis moment and have to figure out which fire to put out first- always choose your child....But your child? He is God's. And the Almighty put him in your charge for relationship..."
This week I remembered her words and made a conscious decision to take heed.  A teen initiated a conversation that led to a D & M (I'm sure everyone my age remembers D&M's - Deep & Meaningful's) so we ditched the books for the morning and leisurely enjoyed a conversation together. Listening, guiding, making sense of the world, relationships, and God, encouraging tolerance, compassion etc, this precious time with our children, this is what it is all about.

My friend Margaret and I have started back with our Writing Club, meeting once a week to encourage and support out children in writing.  We've divided the hour into two parts, formal instruction and creative writing.  We're using Brandy's series on Progymnasmata as the basis of our formal instruction and 100 Writing Prompts which we discovered thanks to Multi-Tasking Mama's shout out. The prompts are so interesting, the children love them!

We found a physics teacher for Einstein and his friend C__!  Both boys intend on attending Science Universities next year with a Physics focus, so finding a teacher is a real blessing. B__ is a retired ex-deputy head with a passion for physics and the boys are so enjoying his teaching.  After each lesson they are beaming and literally bouncing with energy, yesterday after their physics teacher left they then headed to the computer for further research and I overheard them excitedly discussing the properties of iodine, potassium etc

If you have Leigh Bortins book, The Core:Teaching Your Child the Foundations of a Classical Education, you may be interested to know that Leigh Bortins has a previous book available online for free! Echo in Celebration: A Call to Home-Centered Education.
HT: To my friend R__ who is the Queen of free!!:):)

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