Sunday, January 31, 2010

Our week of learning - 31st Jan - out and about

We had a lot of running around this week - I think we were in the car more than we were at home! So not much to report this week.

Current Readaloud: The Secrets of Droon - The mysterious Island

The Mysterious Island (Secrets of Droon S.)

I downloaded some Shakespeare stories for Kids from the My Audio School website and he listened to some of those a couple of nights before bed. Thanks to Katie over at Katie's Homeschool Cottage for reminding me about that website!

We finished watching "Tin Man" - a futuristic version of "Wizard of Oz". It's amazing how many references to the book & movie Billy is now finding in other shows, books & art works!

Maths: We played the Fractions & Decimals board game.

Science & Technology: We played a science board game that he loves called 'Totally Gross'.

I found out that Mars was quite bright in our skies this week so we went out before bed one night and had a look see! We convinced ourselves we saw it anyway! I also found that the Sydney Observatory site has a monthly sky chart that you can print out (for the Australian skies) so we'll be using that next month to find some constellations - hopefully!

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): We made lamingtons for Australia Day.

Creative & Practical Arts: At the homeschoolers social day, Billy and a group of friends were making up little plays and acting them out together. It was cute to see :)

We also went to the Newcastle Art Gallery today for their free 'art cart' workshop. After a look around the gallery, they were told to make something on the theme of "monsters". Billy made the winged monkey and spider monsters from 'Tin Man'.

He's started practising "Happy Birthday" on the keyboard and made up his own tune.

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): Little Dragons martial arts class (twice), fishing, swimming and running around / scootering at the playground.

Life skills (cooking, gardening, housekeeping): Just general contributing to the household.

School shows: Not on yet.

Other fun stuff:
We went to see 'Alvin & the Chipmunks 2' today.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fish and Lamingtons...

No, not a bizarre new diet, but a summary of a couple of our days this week!

On Australia Day (Tuesday), we made lamingtons. It was my first attempt at a sponge cake - let's just say it needs a lot of work, but it didn't seem to affect the lamingtons too much!

For those unfamiliar with the delicacy, you take a sponge cake, cut it into squares, layer with jam, roll in a chocolate mixture and then coat in coconut... Nice & messy :)

And then, eat :)

You can read more about lamingtons - including a link to the official lamington website (who knew??!) - and see the recipe we used at the BTN website.


On Wednesday we went with my family down to a park on Lake Macquarie to go fishing. The kids had a swim, and a fish, our parents fished and I sat and chatted with my sister and watched the local wildlife..

And Billy caught his first fish! And then his second! It was a very exciting day!! (even though they were both under-sized and had to be thrown back...)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Our week of learning - 24th Jan - Webkinz World

Billy saved up his pocket money and bought himself a new Webkinz (for the uninitiated, they're a cute, cuddly toy that has a unique code to get into their website and play games). He was given one by a friend a couple of years ago and played on the website a bit, but after 12 months it expired and locked him out of the website. He decided he wanted to get back in, so searched on ebay until he found the one he wanted! He was hanging out until it arrived on Wednesday and has been on the website every day since.

Current Readaloud: The Secrets of Droon - The mysterious Island

The Mysterious Island (Secrets of Droon S.)

He spent time on Spellodrome and earnt a certificate for the week. We played a game of Rainbow Scrabble (an easier scoring version of proper Scrabble). He answered a 50 question Language Arts quiz at Quizzy's Corner (on the Webkinz site) - he learnt terms like 'synonym' and 'antonym'.

Maths: He spent about an hour on Mathletics over the week and earnt his weekly certificate. This was his first time on it since moving up to the Yr 3 level. He came across a couple of new concepts like rounding to the nearest hundred, as well as some pretty tough 2-digit mental addition.

He also answered a 50 question Maths quiz at Quizzy's Corner - its quite an odd feeling to be asked at 9pm "Can I answer 50 maths questions now Mummy?"!

Science & Technology: We did a couple of science experiments this week as blogged previously - making marbled paper with chalk and the baking soda / vinegar & peanuts experiment.

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): We went and did our monthly Waterwatch testing and picked up some rubbish along the river bank while we were there.

Creative & Practical Arts: I bought a canvas and some acrylic paints for him (at his request) and he had a great time painting a portrait of his 2 Webkinz animals as King & prince! (They're the black and white figuers down towards the bottom - the yellow is the castle).

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): Little Dragons martial arts class. He also answered yet another 50 question quiz on Webkinz about Health - questions about nutrition, the body, road safety etc.

Life skills (cooking, gardening, housekeeping): He made a cake by himself (with me supervising and getting it out of the oven) and iced & decorated it all on his own.

School shows: Not on yet.

Other fun stuff:
His cousin had a b'day party on today so he had fun playing with his cousins and some of their friends.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fun Science

We did a couple of cool science experiments this week.

The first, called Streaky Paper, came from the book "Giant book of cool stuff".

Giant Book of Cool Stuff
(experiment 13 in the Science section)

You begin by placing bits of chalk into ziplock bags (one colour per bag) and use the rolling pin to crush it up into a fine powder.

Tip each colour into a separate plastic cup and mix with 1 tablespoon of cooking oil.

In a large plastic bowl (as you can see, we used a baking tray instead), fill with water and add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar.

Pour the contents of each cup into the bowl. The chalky coloured oil should form large coloured pools on top of the water.

Lay a sheet of white paper on the surface of the water.

Lift out and place on sheets of newspaper to dry. Once dry, carefully wipe off any surface chalk grains with a paper towel.

We experimented with different amounts of oil - too much left it very pale and light-coloured, too little and the chalk mixture sank to the bottom.

The scientific explanation behind it - the molecules of chalk (calcium carbonate) and vinegar (acetic acid) and water and the surface of the paper all chemically mix together to make a chemical bond. This causes the streaky colours to stick to the paper.

Suggestions for use - wrapping paper, writing paper etc.

Our other experiment came from reading 'The Magic School Bus gets baked in a cake: A book about Kitchen chemistry'.

Scholastic's the Magic School Bus Gets Baked in a Cake: A Book about Kitchen Chemistry

It's a simple one but it amused us for a while :)

Put some water in a jug and add 2 teaspoons of bicarb soda (baking soda) and 3 teaspoons of vinegar.

Throw in 5 or 6 peanuts and watch what happens!

The bubbles from the carbon dioxide will form on the surface of the peanuts and cause them to float to the top. The bubbles will then slowly pop and the nut will fall back down again. Repeat :)

We used cashews because that's all we had - they were probably a bit large as they were quite slow to rise - it did eventually happen though. We also added some sultanas later on and they were much quicker to rise and fall.

So there you go, some simple but fun science for the week!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Me join a gym? When pigs fly!

Guess what, did anyone else see little piggies in the air above their heads today?!

I went to a BodyBalance class at our local gym last week - it's a combination of Pilates, Tai-chi and Yoga. I loved it! My abs hurt for a couple of days afterwards, but in a good way!

So I went back tonight and I actually joined up to the gym for 6 months. It works out cheaper to go to the class that way than as a casual member plus I can use the equipment and if I'm brave enough, go to any other class I want to as well. I might turn into a gym junkie :)

Now to convince myself that nobody is looking at me and sniggering :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Our week of learning - 17th Jan - holidays over?

Back into the recording..

Current Readaloud: Famous Five - Five on a Secret Trail, Artemis Fowl

Five on a Secret Trail (Famous Five) Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl)

Not much reading on his own this week.

Maths: Lots of 'Living Maths' - adding prices at the supermarket, measuring while cooking etc. We also played a few games of Monopoly.

Science & Technology: He made slime using a kit he got for Xmas. He's also been working on making a new website.

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): Reading the 'Famous Five' book introduced him to Romain ruins, coins and pottery so I pulled out a kit called 'The Roman Child' which had cardboard 'replicas' of pottery & coins. He had a brief read through the book.

Creative & Practical Arts: He moved his keyboard into his room and has been practising 'When the Saints go Marching in' some nights. I must find something other sheet music for him!

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): He started a martial arts class which he really enjoyed. He also spent time at the playground when we went for a picnic with another group of homeschoolers.

Life skills (cooking, gardening, housekeeping): He's spent a fair bit of time in the kitchen this week - among his accomplishments were pasta and apple crumble.

He's been helping Pete out with painting some shelves for the office.

He sewed a door stopper (bag filled with rice) to go behind one of the doors.

School shows: Not on yet.

Other fun stuff:
He got a new xBox game for a late Xmas present and has been busy mastering that. He's scarily good at it! A friend of his came over through the week and taught him a few tricks on it as well.

Turning off the voices..

A friend asked me how I was going to go about "being me". I was emailing her, discussing a few things when I realised what the first step had to be. (Actually I'd written the email, hadn't yet sent it and was in the shower when I realised! - how's that for the naked truth lol)

My first step has been to start to "turn off the voices in my head". Does anyone else have a running commentary in their head of what other people think about what you're doing?? I'm now gone 'no-mail' or taken off my daily reading, the forums and websites that tell me "what to do" - I'm sure you all know the type - how to be a better parent, a better homeschooler / unschooler, a better housekeeper, a better money saver etc etc etc. I haven't completely unsubscribed, so I can go back to them if I need advice on something specific, but I'm not getting bombarded with other people's opinions on "how to".

I'm not going to read a self help book or go searching the internet for "how to be me". As silly as that sounds, I was going to...

I've turned off the voices so maybe now I can hear mine.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Naked Truth about Me...

Thanks for the lovely comments on my theme for the year - both on the post and via email (including Mr Spammer..). I'm glad a few people are joining me in trying to be a "yam" :)

Like Libby said in her comment, our blogs are often quite sanitised. I tell the truth in the posts, but maybe not the "whole truth"...

So some true confessions:

  • My house is a mess. It ranges from a bit messy (the type you can say "excuse the mess" if anyone drops over and only feel a bit embarrassed) to 'kick a path through the room' messy (where you feel mortified if anyone drops over). Anyone who knows me personally - please give me notice before you come over :) I've tried heaps of things including Flylady - I've been on Flylady lists from when there were only a couple of hundred people - and everything only works for a short time. Although I do remember a time in 2002 when it was tidy - that's when I was on maternity leave and nesting :)

    I've quite recently come to the conclusion that it's unlikely to change - at least in the near future. Housework is obviously not a priority with me or one of the schemes would have clicked. I have a good handle on the laundry, and the dishes get washed on a regular basis, my bed is made every day - as for the mess, well it gets tidied when I can't stand it anymore. It obviously doesn't bother anyone else in the family, and if it does, well, they're quite welcome to clean it themselves...

  • I'm not a "natural mother". I don't seem to have that mothering instinct that some women do. I don't get clucky around babies, or want to cuddle them when I see them. It's hard work for me. I need a lot of alone time. I don't know how I'd cope if I had another child.

  • I'm quite a serious person. I'm not the life of the party. I don't enjoy playing games or being silly. I'm very self-conscious when I do. I do like watching comedy (mainly British) but I'm not into 'Funniest Home video' style or American sitcom humour. I have a very dry sense of humour (almost black) that many people don't get so it stays hidden a lot.

  • I think I like reading about gardening and self-sufficiency far more than I like actually doing it. I'm not an outdoors person which kind of makes the gardening bit hard :) I'd prefer to sit down and read a book..

  • I've just realised for a blog called 'Kez's Blog' there's not really that much about me in it!
OK, that's enough soul baring for now! If anyone else wants to post their naked truths, let me know when you do.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Theme for the year

Last year I chose the word "Balance" to focus my year. To a large extent, it worked - by the end of the year I had a far better balance of the different areas of my life. There's still work to do though.

I've been thinking of what word I could use this year and had pretty much settled on "respect" - respect for family, friends & myself, but I had one of those blinding flashes that come on every now and then. Respect for myself was really the major part of what I was reaching for.

So I hereby declare this year to be:

2010 - The Year of Being Me. "I yam what I yam"

Yeah, it's more than one word, but that's kind of the point. This year I want to focus on discovering myself. I'm basically insecure and have spent most of my life trying to fit in. I want to be able to do what feels right to me without worrying about what other people think, or what some 'expert' says to do, or what every else is doing. I want to do things I *want* to, not what I think I *should* do. I want to be able to read what other people are doing and think "wow, that really works for them, that's great" rather than beating myself up because they sound so much more fun / with it / caring / focused etc than me.

I have a long way to go - even while I'm typing this I'm thinking, "Gee that sounds selfish - what will people think??!"

In the long run though, I think if I'm more secure in myself, it will reflect favourably in my relationships with others. Or maybe that's just me making excuses so people will still like me :)

I have no idea how I'm going to achive this, but I'm putting it out there. And I'll just keep repeating to myself - like Popeye, I yam what I yam.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I hinted before Xmas about a fairly major lifestyle change we were contemplating and now that it's official, I can reveal the news..

Pete handed in his notice at work yesterday - as of mid-February, he's going to be working for himself from home. It'll be quite a change in many ways - all three of us will be home together most of the time (we're setting Pete up in a room as an office so he hopefully won't be too disturbed by us!). He currently commutes an hour each way to work, so he'll have an extra 2 hours each day. Plus his hours will be flexible, so he might be able to join in with us sometimes.

Financially will be interesting - going from a steady income to working for himself will have its own challenges. We're setting aside money as a buffer though to help insulate from the ups and downs of a small business.

It's all very exciting!

Monday, January 11, 2010

A week of no 'have-tos'...

Look at this!

I have a delicious week in front of us with no 'have-tos'. A few 'should dos', a list of 'want tos' but no 'have-tos'... I'll be pottering around the house catching up on tidying, installing my new computer, catching up on blogs and emails, maybe a trip to the library or the park, a fair chance of some grocery shopping but we'd survive if I didn't.

It feels good!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Almost time for home...

1 more day to go before we pack up and head home. We've had gorgeous weather this week, so there's been the opportunity for some:

swimming at the beach,

bushwalking in the Dorrigo National Park (Dangar Falls),

and some time on the biscuit & toboggan behind Uncle Linc's boat.

We also took a trip to Coffs Harbour to the Big Banana but it's a huge disappointment now. There used to be a train ride around the plantation while they showed you how they grew & harvested the bananas. That no longer exists - and they have very little of the banana plantation left either. It all seems to be a big tourist trap for the purposes of cashing in on the Big Banana name and getting kids in to the waterslides, toboggans and ice-skating rink that are on the premises. Very sad :(

We did however watch them make some awesome 'rock' lollies at the Lolly shop on-site! And then treated ourselves to a very nice lunch at a seafood cafe on the river at Urunga.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

A feast for the senses

  • the sound of the birds - chirping, carolling, calling to each other
  • the 'thwack-thwack' of people walking by in thongs (*), the crunch of their shoes on the gravel, the squelch of wet feet in crocs
  • the clang of the toilet door shutting a thousand times each day
  • the constant drone of cicadas
  • the sounds of kids playing - squeals, calls, laughter interspersed with the odd toddler tantrum and sibling squabble
  • the feel of the breeze and the sun on my face
  • the sound of the milko in the morning with his 'cow horn' and the seafood man later in the day 'fresh prawns, fresh prawns, other seafood available'
  • the click of bike tyres and the harder sound of the scooters, skateboards and rip-sticks
  • sounds of an impromptu cricket match or footy match or game of catch
  • the smell of bacon in the morning and steak, onion and sausages at night
  • the greetings 'morning' as people pass each other and the inevitable small talk about the weather or the cricket
  • happy sounds. holiday sounds.

* thongs - flip-flops, footwear, not the underwear kind :)

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

Finally some photos of what we've been up to - well Billy really. I've been sitting back reading my book as much as possible, and Pete has been working on the computer and playing computer games.

When the weather's been fine, there's been lots of:



more fishing

putting on a magic show

and when the weather was not so good, lots of this...