A wife of noble character who can find?...She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue...Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Proverbs 31:10, 26 & 28

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Weekend Musings

Our first week of our new schedule worked out really well. Unfortunately I was sick on Thursday so we didn't have our first French Day. I was looking forward to that as well. Ds7 says that he doesn't want to learn French and won't speak it but I told him that I was going to speak it to him anyway so he would need to learn it to understand me. He's a funny boy. Dd9 knows the first stanza of My Country just from using it as our 'Poem of the Week' and copying it for copywork. I was very impressed.

I've had kids doing bookwork at 5:30 in the afternoon this week. I normally have them finishing up at around 2pm whether they've done their work or not but I've decided that it's not my problem if they muck around all day because they really only have a couple of hours of book work to do a day (if that).

Ds14 has cooked dinner a couple of times this week. He complained that he was sick of finding my hair in the food I've been cooking. It really is falling out at an alarming rate, probably because of the financial stress we've been under since the beginning of the year. So I told him that if it was such a problem then he could do the cooking and so that's the way it's been most of this week.

I made 'Surprise Golden Syrup Dumplings' for dessert last night. The surprise is a piece of chocolate in the middle of the dumplings, in this case white chocolate. Yum!!

Our little girl, who is 4 and a half months old, is starting to roll over, though she hasn't done it while I am around. She lifts her head off the ground all the time though, as though she's trying to sit up. She must have a strong neck. To all those soon to be mums that are contemplating a sling or wrap to carry their baby in I encourage you to do it. For Ds7 and Ds2 I wanted a sling but just never got around to getting one but for this dd I bought a ring sling off Ebay and it's great. I wish that I had gotten one right from the very first child I had. And the wrap is just a 5 metre piece of stretchy material cut in half lengthways. I love them both, they are both useful in different situations. I use the wrap when there's a lot of walking involved, like going shopping but the sling is good when there's a lot of standing or sitting, like dd9's netball game. I get so excited whenever someone tells me they're pregnant and I tell them that they've got to get one.

I'm thinking of putting dd4mths cot in with dd9 so she can sleep there during the day and early evening so I might actually be able to watch tv of a night in my room and have the portacot in my room for during the night. She's getting too big for the bassinet that she's in now. They grow so fast, but we wouldn't have it any other way. It's amazing how that even with a sixth baby everything they do is so new and you just never get over how much they grow and learn.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mid Week Catchup

Well we've started our History subject yesterday and it went well. I've had to scrap our reward system because the kids took advantage of it. I had initially said that for every subject that the kids did they got 15mins of computer or TV time and if they got everything on their timetable done then they could have unlimited time in the afternoon. But as usual it worked for a little while and then somehow two 5 minute subjects turned into half an hour of computer time and then the half and hour of computer turned into the rest of the day....so now they will work until they've finished.

As I've also cut down how much of a particular subject they're doing throughout the week it seem to have refreshed everyones outlook towards their book work. I'm still concerned about ds14 and the fact that he gets sidetracked so easily and ends up getting nothing done. I may have to put a desk in his room and make him stay in there to do his book work alone. I don't like doing that, I like the fact that we're around each other as a family. We'll see how he goes with the rearranging of him timetable this week.

I couldn't believe that yesterday I did read-alouds for about an hour and a half! Somehow Tuesdays have ended up being our reading day, with Astronomy, History, Family Reading and Nature Study all on the one day. Next week I'll need to remember to do half the reading before archery so I'm not doing it all in one hit. Not only is it a bit hard for the children to sit there that long but it's a bit much for my throat, to keep reading aloud.

I've bought a schedule organiser from CurrClick called 'Joyful Steward' and it has sheets to print up for the children that includes what subjects they are to do each day and what jobs and also their reading schedule for the week. It's our first week using it and I love it already. Now if only I could get myself more organised, though I must admit that if I was as organised as I am now when I only had one child life would have been so much easier then.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Our New Timetable


Well tomorrow we have our first sewing lesson with someone from the homeschool community. Sewing lessons were meant to start 2 weeks ago but I was sick and then last week we both forgot. The children couldn't wait for me to start lessons with other homeschoolers and have already made a few items. Dd9 has picked it up and run with it, as usual, she is such a joy to teach anything. She makes an honest effort at anything she tries, unlike the boys. But even my boys wanted to learn sewing and have made little pillows each. Next we'll try a small bag, if I can get my act together. Plus it's hard to sew with ds2 around, climbing on you or the chair you're sitting on. Actually it's hard to do anything with ds2 around, he's always after something, a cuddle, food, drink, drawing on the kids school books....

I've been doing some reading and have decided that I need to keep a journal of what the kids do each day, including incidental learning, to practice educationalese. We're not currently registered, but just in case I need to get registered in a hurry I need to be able to say what we learn each day besides our subject checklist. My problem is that I'm just not consistent and with 4 children to write about it's not a quick thing to do. I'm also cutting down the amount of work that we do each day, because there's so much I want to do and I just don't have the time to do it with the workload we already have. So instead of Rod and Staff English everyday it will be 3 days a week, Apologia Science will be cut down to 2 days a week. Maths will be 3 days a week but 2 sheets each day instead of one. This will open up some room for our 'Poem of the Week' and copywork. So our timetable will look something like this:

Everyday

Family reading (Terrestria Chronicles)
Individual reading (1 chapter of individual book)
Music practice
Copywork of 'Poem of the Week'

Monday, Wednesday, Friday
English (Rod and Staff)
Maths (Math u See, 2 pages a day)

Tuesday, Thursday
Science (Apologia, Exploring Creation with Astronomy)
History (Our Sunburnt Country)

Monday
Poem of the Week (Banjo Patterson)

Tuesday
Nature Study (Wonderland of Nature)

Wednesday
Arts and Craft (sewing)

Thursday
French Day (We try to say what we know in French)

Friday
Music Lesson

I still need to incorporate a writing program, at the moment I'm favouring 'Writing Strands' though I haven't bought anything yet, and I'm thinking about adding 'Wordly Wise' to my ds14's timetable. The above timetable doesn't include him as I'm still trying to sort out his workload.

P.S. I forgot to include that we've been doing a Language program for French but I'm not happy with how we've been learning, or not learning it so I'm thinking of having a 'French Day' with which the children learn some of their favourite questions, like "Can I have something to eat?" and "What time is it", and use them throughout the day. I'll need to remember what the answers are, it's been a long time since I learnt French, but they'll also learn things like please, thankyou, their numbers, yes, no as well as how to tell someone their name and ask how they are.

Orange means it's been amended

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Funny Story

2 weeks ago we discovered the duck pond that's just up the road from us. We took our lunch and our sketch books (sounds really educational doesn't it) and had a picnic. My boys don't do a lot of drawing and colouring in but I thought they might get inspired if I joined in. Ds7 got out his sketch book and instead of drawing wanted to write down as many words that went with Ducks and ponds as we could think of. I was amazed because he absolutely hates writing anything and was so proud when he was telling me that he knew how to spell the words we were coming up with. I think we came up with about 30 words and he was studiously writing them down, but we weren't allowed to look until he'd finished. As we kept thinking of words and he kept writing them I was thinking how impressed I was and then we finally couldn't think of any more so I got to see what he'd written.

Ducks! Duck, ducks, ducks, ducks. The only word he'd written was ducks! The page was filled with ducks. He'd gotten me. I had the best laugh that I'd had in a long time.

Poetry Recital and High Tea

Yesterday we went to a poetry recital and High Tea luncheon. It was great. Even the littlies had a go a reciting something, even just a nursery rhyme. I didn't really push my children to recite anything as they haven't really done much poetry, at least not at home (I don't know what they've done at school), but if we have another one I will be encouraging them very strongly to press through the barrier and get up there. I know how hard it is because I'm very shy as well and it's hard getting up in front of a lot of people you don't know, but you don't get past it by sitting in the background, you need to make a decision not to let it hold you back.

I was worried that our family wouldn't be posh enough for the company we were going to be keeping (I have a real inferiority complex) but everyone is so accepting of each other and the children fit in quite well with the other children. I left ds2 at home, because he's getting a little bit hard to control. He's nearly 2 1/2 but doesn't have hardly any language skills, we're a little worried that he may have some issues. Because of this I didn't have to worry about where he was every second and was able to enjoy myself and get to know some of the other homeschool mums.

Going to the Poetry Recital has inspired me to read more poetry to the kids. I loved poetry when I was younger and wrote a few myself. I still have my favourites:
* The Lady of Challotte - Tennyson
*Halfway Down - A.A. Milne

Actually A.A. Milne is one of my favourite poets. I love just about all his poems and am starting to read them to ds7 and dd9.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What we're doing with our education

Lately I've been thinking how stressful it is to try and do a lot of book work with a 2 year old and a baby. Since ds2 burnt his fingers on hot toffee we haven't done much bookwork at all. So I've been adjusting my expectations for what they learn. I don't know if it's because we haven't gotten to the best part or not but I'm not too happy with the Rod and Staff English books I've bought. It just doesn't seem to be the direction I want to head in, and yet I did a lot of research before I bought them. I don't want to be one of those mums that buys all these resources and constantly changes her mind what to use. With ds7 I've decided not to use the Rod and Staff English book at all but we're using the free resources from Learning Page. He reads one book a week, that we print up and he does the free sheets that come with it.

We've also starting reading more books together. We've just started the Terrestria Chronicles this week. The kids thought it was going to be boring but I think they've been pleasantly surprised. It's an allegory so at the end we'll do the study that goes along with it, but to start with we're just reading it. We also have Our Sunburnt Country that we are going to read. I've been thinking about using this for Australian History for a while and mentioned this to a friend the other day and because she had 2 copies she gave one to me.

Having a Poetry and High Tea Luncheon today had given me the idea to incorporate a 'Poem of the Week' that we'll be doing copywork from and because we're doing Australian History we'll start with the Dorothea Mackellar poem My Country and then move on to Banjo Patterson's The Man From Snowy River.

But I feel like we're doing too much. I like our schooling to be finished before lunch but either we've got too much on our plate or they're just slow pokes. So I'm thinking of ditching English altogether, then I've wasted over $50 on postage.

One good thing is that I've cut down their TV and computer time. We get Austar, so I've started recording programs like Mythbusters and The Crocodile hunter and have told the dc that on their breaks they can watch TV but only the things I've recorded for them. LOL not much TV watching has been happening.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Our Peas are Growing


The kids are really excited because the pea seeds that we planted are growing really well, and fast too. They even took a photo. I think yesterday they almost filled the cameras card, they spent just about the whole day taking photos and movies. I'm hoping that we get the veggie garden set up before the seedlings die. We had so many seedlings die in spring, it was so disappointing.

I'm going to try to upload a photo of the seedlings. We've found that fizzy drink bottles cut in half are the best little greenhouses.

Pikelets with no eggs or milk!

I have just discovered that you can make pikelets with no eggs and no milk! It's amazing what you learn when the circumstances are right. I made these a little differently because I thought they might be bland without eggs and milk. I used self raising flour and when I ran out of that I used plain flour with baking powder, plus some sugar and enough water to make a batter. The first lot I added the last of the cocoa and the second lot I added a teaspoon or so of vanilla and some choc chips. They turned out great and you wouldn't even know the difference. Yum!

Note: I tried these later with wholemeal flour because I ran out of white flour and they tasted horrible.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Today's Revelation

It's so amazing the way God works in our lives. I've mentioned that lately I've been considering starting up a home business and have been praying for God to let me know if that's the direction my life should be taking. On Mother's Day the message at church included Proverbs 31 and this spoke volumes to me and my personal situation. Well early last year, not long after we started our homeschooling journey, a friend gave me a book called 'Easy Homeschooling Techniques' by Lorraine Curry and I read most of it, but around 3/4 of my way through the book I started to get bored. I found that it was a hard slog and gave up for the time being. For the last 12 months the book has been in the bottom of my baby bag waiting for me to pick it up again. I've taken it everywhere with me just in case I found myself in need of a book to read and didn't have one. Today I picked it up again and managed to make it through the parts where my mind kept wandering off and surprise, surprise the very next chapter is on starting a home business! Who would have thought it would be in a homeschooling book? If I had of read it earlier it wouldn't have meant anything to me but wow! I'm directed to reading it right when I need to.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Can't wait for Payday

I've discovered that if you have hungry children and all you have left in the cupboard is sugar you're going to feed them toffee. Never mind that it may make them go crazy or even give them cavities, if it's going to keep them from coming up to you every five minutes complaining, "I'm hungry," you're going to make toffee. In this case we also have gelatin and another sugar, icing sugar, so guess what I made this afternoon, marshmallows. And, as they won't be ready until after dinner, for afternoon tea they got a huge spoonful of marshmallow mixture dipped in milo.

Now I'm thinking about breakfast tomorrow because we don't have any eggs, milk or cereal, so what can you make with flour, sugar, water and maybe some yeast? Not a lot. But I have managed to find a crumpet recipe so it looks like I have to be up with the sun in the morning to get them ready for breaky.

I find it funny (not ha ha) that ever since mothers day and we read the last chapter of Proverbs, about the wife of noble character, and I prayed that I could be more like her, that I have been unable to get to sleep after the sun is up. Proverbs 31:15 tells us that "She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls." And silly me made some comment about how I just couldn't get up that early and guess what? I think that every day this week bar one I have been up with the birds! I think that God is answering my prayer to be more like that wife. My mother-in-law told me this quote: Be careful what you pray for or you might get it. I think it's true in this case.

This part of Proverbs really meant something to me because lately I've been thinking about starting up a sewing class for kids after school. The one that I run for homeschoolers I don't make any money from, I just charge for the materials, but the after school one would be my business and I wasn't sure how it fit in with my husband being the head of the family, I don't want to usurp his God given authority. So this has been on my mind a lot lately, but the wife in Proverbs 31 works very hard and brings in an income, enough to buy a field and with her 'earnings' plants a vineyard. With our income really, REALLY tight at the moment, hungry mouths to feed and winter coming up it would benefit us to have some extra money. I'm in a catch 22 situation with my vegetable garden. It's made and sitting there but it needs soil. I've made it raised because our ground is clay and horrible to grow stuff in and we could really use some fresh fruits and vegetables yet I haven't got enough money for food for the fortnight so how can I spare some to put soil in the garden? Most peoples 'clean fill' that they advertise to give away is the same as our dirt and just clay so I have no option but to buy soil. Anyway I've gotten off the subject. God is good and answers our prayers in ways that He knows is best for us.

BTW dinner tonight is Risotto. I know it sounds fancy but it's basically rice, chicken stock (made with powder) and half a packet of frozen veggies. I actually have a packet of bacon in the freezer so it'll be especially nice tonight. I'm using plain long grain rice, not arborio. The first time I used long grain rice I washed it before I cooked it because I thought it might be too gluggy, but last time I forgot to and it turned out great. So much for risotto being hard to make.

Tuna Patties

I made these last night, for dinner. They're great because they go a real long way. Several weeks ago my husband and I could see what little work he got drying up and so when we went shopping we bought a huge 10 kilo bag of rice, we figured that if we ran out of everything else to eat at least we'd have rice so at the moment I use rice in just about everything to bulk it out and it surprisingly goes quite well with tuna patties, which up to this point I'd only had with mashed potatoes. Also we've run out of eggs so I was a bit worried about how well these would stay together while being cooked, but they turned out to be the best tuna patties I've made yet.

1 large tin of tuna, drained (or whatever fish you have on hand)
3 cups of cooked white rice
5 medium potatoes mashed with some butter and milk
1 tbsp of curry powder (optional)
1 tbsp of herbs (I used Thai Seasoning last night but I put whatever I feel in)
1/2 a bowl of bread crumbs with 2 tsp of chicken stock powder mixed in

Mix the Tuna, rice, mashed potatoes, curry powder and herbs together well. With wet hands roll large spoonful (or about 1/2 a cups worth) into a patty and roll in the bread crumbs. I first coat the flat sides and then roll the edge, it comes out quite professional looking. On a medium burner heat some oil and fry patties in batches until golden brown on both sides.

This is great for a large family like ours and is great served with a garden salad. We had a plateful left over which I will freeze for dh's lunches.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The value of a steam mop

This is just my first entry. I've been wanting to write a blog for a while but now that I've set it up I have no idea what to write about. Some idea's I have are of course writing about my limited homeschool experiences, my new sewing class, some books I've read and general large family stuff, like favourite cheap and easy recipes, money saving idea's, discipline and relationships with the kids etc.

Today we had a great afternoon with someone coming over for afternoon tea. My stupid mop, that is only a couple of weeks old, broke after I had only mopped the entry hall....I want my steam mop back!!! I loved my steam mop but it died a couple of months ago. I love the thought of not using harmful chemicals around the kids and you don't use as much elbow grease to get the floor cleaned, even the kids can use the steam mop easily (I, of course, refill the water so they don't burn themselves). But I had to go and buy some cheap mop and it has only been used 3 times before today and now it is broken beyond repair, and as I have a lot of tiles I need a mop. I had to get down on my hands and knees with a cloth and next week I have a house inspection too!! Mother's day has just passed and I think if I had gotten anything for it I would have asked for a steam mop.

Another reason I really need the steam mop is that ds2 feels his food belongs on the floor. We hear the spoon drop and if we're not quick enough the rest of his meal follows too, or it goes in his hair. I have photos of his head plastered with weet-bix, yuck! But he's such a little cutie that we can't stay mad with him and he cleans up most of his messes when I ask him to. It's great when they're this age and don't complain and are willing to be helpful.