Thursday, October 30, 2008

What to do with 30 children... what??

Let's count that again: 30 children and 9 adults squeezed into my house today! It was a Homeschool meeting day. The girls did their craft outside on a table in the shade, and the boys were inside learning how to sew. Well... not all of them were able to have a turn in the end, but 8 boys made themselves tote bags. (Note to self for next sewing day: allow 1/2 an hour per child) We had a great time! My little sewing machine and overlocker (that's a Serger for you overseas folks) have done a lot of work today! Boy, did they loooooove the overlocker (I did explain to them that it was basically a power tool). I suspect there might be a few mums going home to make themselves a bag too.

More photos to follow... hopefully.

So to relax after a busy day today, I did a bit of sewing. Yes, you did read that right. Don may have been heard to mutter "You'd think you'd had enough sewing for the day.." But there were all these lovely strips of material just begging to be made into a teddy bear quilt!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Busy little bees

One of the lovely things about having the children at home all day is that they can concentrate on whatever task has their attention for hours and hours at a time. At the beginning of the year chicken no.1 spent weeks, almost continuously, on her Lego. A few months later chicken no.2 spent 3 days in a row almost exclusively colouring in. Chicken no.3 seems to have caught the bug today, and the textas have barely left her hand all afternoon.

If I had taken photos of the other children I would have captured them in the following poses:

Chicken no.1 running her own ballet class with her siblings (you wouldn't know that she hated going to ballet classes!).

Chicken no.2 is his music class, playing musical statues... except... well... he was always a statue!

I've been very busy sewing lately, but I can't show you the results - Christmas presents and all that! So instead I'll show you this lovely quilt my sister-in-law made for chicken no.1. I'm amazed by quilts (and I think I'm catching the bug, unfortunately!) - so many little pieces all so beautifully put together. I'm scratching my head over simple squares at the moment - I can't imagine working out all these complicated triangles.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A full veggie patch

We've been hard at work this morning. Good, honest work I call it. Getting your hands dirty in the veggie patch. I might have planted a few too many tomato plants.... umm... like 22 of them. Don thought I was a bit mad to plant so many, but it's only half the seedlings I have waiting in pots.... Tomato plants, anyone?? I'm looking forward to the carrots too - I bought heirloom varieties this time, so we should have white, orange, purple and yellow.

Now, to set the fruit fly traps...

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Day in the life of homeschool in Spring.. and fish saliva

It's funny the reaction I get when I tell people that we do our school at home. There's still the odd person who gives me a strange look, or asks me if it's legal (!), but the most common reaction is along the lines of "Wow. That's amazing. I could never do that!" I fell acutely uncomfortable being put in the 'supermum' category, as I'm certainly not! So, let me tell you what the average day looks like for us. Actually, 'average' is a bit misleading. Perhaps I should say 'ideal', as this is what happens about half the time. We swing between going-out-and-having-activities-and-doing-pretty-much-nothing-at-home days (which results in cranky children at 5 o'clock) and having these 'ideal' days (resulting in children busy with their own thing at 5 o'clock and not pestering me at all - you can draw your own conclusions from that). And keep in mind this is for a girl who is about year/grade 1 level.

We start the day with the usual breakfast and sprinkling of chores.

We then sit together and do some bible reading and the children give me their thoughts on that. They generally want to act it out.

Then we try to do something a bit interactive - at the moment we're learning a poem about an emu, so we'll practice that together for a while. It can often lead into discussion about other things. Or we might read a book together (generally the same book all week, and use it to lead into discussion about other things).

The the oldest chicken sits down and does a page of English, then Maths, then maybe some drawing or science, or some topic we're interested in. It doesn't take a great deal of time, but we try and take any new concepts and keep using them during the day. Say, for instance, she just learnt about similies in English - then we keep using the word constantly during the day.

Then the rest of the day is play, reading, anything that catches our interest. I'm available, but not directing their play much at all. They also have a 'rest time' after lunch which is an hour of playing by themselves in their room. I generally do a bit of sewing or reading or something nice during this time. (Littlest chicken is fairly new to the 'rest time' idea, so she generally only lasts about 1/2 an hour before she starts making a racket/mischief).

So there you go. Hopefully the supermum hat has well and truly been discarded. I find that this sprinkling of routine in the morning, with a bit of sunshine, does wonders. It does look a bit glossy and simple when I look over it, but I guess you have to throw in the usual discipline issues and life with 2 other little ones. I think the biggest lesson I've learnt over the last year has been to relax and not 'push' a topic when there's obviously no interest in it, or if there's a resistance to learning the topic at that time. Then I just wait until their interest has naturally revived in that area or I've been able to capture it another way. Later I'll ask my sister to give you a run down on her average day (3 boys) for a different perspective...

Oh, the the fish saliva thing - well my oldest chicken stumped me the other night (at about 9pm - she seems to save her most curly questions for then) by asking me if fish have saliva! Not something I've ever particularly thought about before. That's one of those things I really appreciate having the internet for - to answer strange questions! The answer is no, by the way. Mucus glands, but no saliva. Just in case your 6 year old asks you one day.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rose & banana update

Well, believe it or not, I have some good news on the rose front. I tried the natural remedy of draping banana skins over the rose bush, and there has been a definite decrease in aphids. They haven't completely gone, but I'm adding more banana skins and we'll see how it goes. It makes me wonder if you could make a spray by blending banana skins with water and if that would also get rid of aphids. Hmmm.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Homeschooling link

When I was randomly browsing craft blogs the other day I came across this site for homeschoolers. It has some great articles, and ideas.

I have a scary number of links saved under favorites, actually. There's an overwhelming amount of resources on the net. Time for a clean up, me thinks!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A different kind of wall art... and a haircut.

Littlest chicken secretly had textas in her room during rest time. I wondered why she was so quiet.... She drew on almost every surface available.

Good thing they're 'washable'. (Off most things....)

I must say, to her defence, that she (and her siblings) did a great job cleaning it off again.

But then, not having had enough mischief for the day, she and her brother decided to dance on the dining table. Can't turn my back for a minute, I tell you! One of them fell off, of course, but thankfully avoided anything more than bruises.

And here's a picture for anyone who heard the rumour I was going to start cutting the girls hair myself... It turned out ok. I'm sure a hairdresser would be horrified, but to me it is functional, and looks ok! And if I could take a good picture, you would see just how glossy and beautiful and yummy her shampoo-free hair is!

A little note to those who are trying the shampoo-free/wash only with water thing, as I have had lots of questions: for children it seems to only take a couple of weeks of being shampoo-free before their hair 'stabilises' and starts looking nice again; for adults you're looking at a 6-week bad hair window before your head realises it can stop overproducing oil, and then it's a slow-ish process to feeling really nice again. For me it was about 9 months before my (long) hair returned to 'normal' (much less time for Don's hair). It looked alright, although, maybe not very shiny, but it felt a bit oiled. Definitely worth it though - think of how much money you save on shampoo, how much less chemicals go down the drain, and how much your scalp will thank you for it! You can also use bi-carb soda as a shampoo alternative (about 1 tablespoon in a cup of warm water) and apple cider vinegar as a conditioner alternative (about 1 tablespoon in a cup of water). Here endeth the hair rave.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sunny Thursdays

This is what this morning was like for us (ignoring the dining table mess of books and puzzles).

I planted my pumpkin seedlings. I love it when the garden bed is like this - new plants, lots of mulch, looking lovely and neat and full of promise.

The tomato seedlings are just about ready to go in. I tried a few different pots for my seeds, and compared the seeds I had collected and dried (just on paper towel on the window sill) to the 'professionally' collected seeds. Both types of seeds are growing equally as well, but the little 'jiffy' pots (flat packed, expand on watering) have had a much higher rate of success that the little peat pots (I think they dried out too much). So there you go - if I can do it, so can you. Grab yourself some seeds and a pot and go for it!

And I admired this lovely spray of rose buds - I can't believe how many can fit on a branch! I know, it's a teeny picture, but any closer and you'd see the masses of aphids. I'm doing an experiment with banana peel at the moment, to see if it will repel the aphids - I'll let you know how I go.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chocolate, a Rave and Recorders

I discovered Green & Black's Maya Gold chocolate in the supermarket last night. Oh.... my.... goodness.... it is good! And it's free trade, organic, and all that, so I am really helping the environment and farmers etc..... That's what I'm gonna keep telling myself.

And speaking of the supermarket, we (being, my sister and myself - we always do our shopping together one evening a week. Very exciting - you were about to ask, weren't you??) were noticing last night just how many products have canola oil in them! Wow. We're avoiding it because we don't want to develop macular degeneration, but I had never really looked at how many things have it in. We normally buy the Meadow Lea 'Free' margarine (dairy free, as chicken no.1 has severe dairy allergy) because it tastes the nicest out of the dairy-free options, but it has canola! So it's back to the olive oil Nuttelex. Sorry if this is boring you, but boy - nasty ingredients make their way into everything! Makes me want to set up my own free range farm and grind my own grain and churn my own butter! Well... except butter is dairy.... but you understand what I mean...

On a different note (ha ha) chicken no.1 is taking up the recorder. I'm trying to be very patient and encouraging.... How long does it take before the squeak becomes a nice note??

Right, and a pretty picture, because you can't have a post without one, right?

This is what we see from our dining room window: lovely gold bunny roses climbing over the shed. It looks like there will be masses of them this spring. :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

More bags...

I have been experimenting with plastic this weekend, as an outside layer for bags and purses. It's been fun, but let me warn you: plastic sticks to the sewing machine foot!! I'll have to use some thin paper between the foot and plastic next time, and hope it doesn't blunt the needle too much.

So here are the results of the sewing (Thanks to Nicole for the pyramid purse pattern):

And chicken no.2 felt a bit left out because the girls have handbags but he doesn't, so I made him a construction vehicle tote.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Guest Blog

Here is the bag my son made, inspired by his cousin (Chicken No.1) who loves her craft. He made it for his Aunty who is having her birthday soon. We've all had a lovely, happy week here, and all the cousins have had such fun playing together. Highlights have been: watching the kids race furiously around the house on skateboards/ scooters/ bicycles and even on foot; having fun sewing together and swapping project ideas; visiting the lavendar farm and having a lovely day despite rain, thunderstorms and swooping magpies; listening to the 6 year olds read stories to each other and to the younger children; spending time together.

-- Thanks, Nicki! It's been a great week. And for my nephew: not a bad first attempt at a bag, eh?? Lets hope there's many more bag-making, mahjong-playing weeks like this in the future. xx Kathy

Visitors & lots of sewing

It has been lovely to have visitors here this week. There was a lot of running around outside by children - in the lovely spring weather. The sewing machine had a good workout too. And the two oldest children were inspired to design their own handbags with the material scraps!

So here are some results of the sewing Nicki did (I have to show off for her, because she won't!). How cute are those beach bags, eh?

One of the bags I made for a friend:

And we found some really cute toadstool material, which was very hard to resist:

Then today we visited the lavender farm again. It poured with rain, but it was still lovely.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Rain, glorious rain!

The rain is pouring down, here. It's brilliant. Praise God!

We have a little river running around the house. Not quite as dramatic as the flash flood we had here when we first arrived (the mailbox and most of the driveway washed away!), but we enjoy every drop of rain around here.

Feb '07:

And, it might not look like much, but this is my first attempt at crochet. I cut up an old ripped sheet and re-made it into a bathmat. It's very nice underfoot. A lot of my old sheets seem to be coming to the end of their life, so we might have lots of bathmats soon!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Cream, cream, cream & felted soap

We tried the felted soap tutorial from The Crafty Crow - this site is wonderful for craft ideas (bit like a bottomless pit of goodies!). The chickens had a marvelous time in the soapy water making these.

And while no-one was looking this morning, littlest chicken found herself a stool, the high shelf, and a bottle of sunscreen. (Cream comes a close second behind cardboard in the delights of her heart...).

Friday, October 3, 2008

A frog in the bathroom

Temperatures hit 29 (deg C) today.

And look what we found in the bathroom. It's only a little thing. About 3cm long.