Friday, April 29, 2011

Tocal Field Day

We braved the weather and headed off to the first day of the Tocal Field Days today.  Its mainly an agricultural show with stands selling all sorts of farm equipment and agricultural talks & displays, but there is also a large art / craft section, food, and educational events.  Plus much more..

So the day was spent -

Admiring the homeschooler's Folk Art around the World exhibition

Taking part in Water testing

Being accosted by strange mascots...

Doing Art & craft workshops (Egyptian cartouche and book making)..

Visiting the historical Tocal Homestead (built in the 1840s)..

Bungee Trampolining..

and camel riding!

Is it any wonder that I'm exhausted??!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Goal, Motivation, Conflict - Deb Dixon

I had a splurge the other day on writing books.  The first of them arrived yesterday - Debra Dixon's GMC (Goal, Motivation and Conflict). 

Debra Dixon was a speaker at the last RWA conference but I joined the organisation too late to go.  From what I've read so far, the book is wonderful.  She talks about how your characters need to have a goal - something they are striving for, motivation - why do they want to reach that goal, and conflict - what's stopping them getting there.  That forms the basis of your character's growth and the plot.

I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Silver FitPiggy

One of the things I've discovered about the Wii is that it has cute ways of rewarding you for getting to different levels.  The FitPiggy is like a Piggy Bank, but holds a count of the number of minutes you train each day, the calories you've burnt off that day, and the total number of minutes you've trained.  (Photo grabbed from the internet somewhere).

When you reach 10 hours, the FitPiggy turns Bronze.

When you've trained 20 hours, the FitPiggy turns Silver.  I reached my Silver FitPiggy last week.  20 hours of training since we got it at the start of March (about 7 weeks ago).

I started off aiming for 20 minutes / day and have worked up to 40 minutes / day, probably on average 6 days / week.  I've set a calorie goal to burn off a glass of coke each day.  The great thing about that is I haven't touched the stuff for weeks - when you know you have to exercise hard for 40 minutes to burn off one glass of coke, it really loses its appeal!!!

I've lost 2.2kg so far and have another 2kg to go to get down to 'at risk of overweight' rather than 'overweight'.

I lost weight quite steadily for the first few weeks, then had a bad week or two and put most of it back on again.  I've been tracking what I'm eating since then and the weight's coming off again.  yay! 

Hopefully in a few weeks I'll be able to report that I've reached my first goal.

Monday, April 25, 2011

School holidays

NSW has been on school holidays for 2 weeks, so we've wound down as well.

Its been nice to have a break from most of the activities.  There's so much more time in the day when you're not running around getting ready for afternoon / evening activities!

We've relaxed the structure - its been nice for a break, but it will good to get back into a routine.

So there's been lots of lego play:

(this was a lego computer he made for the Lego Quest challenge),

Celebrating  - both his cousins and grandfather had birthdays.  He made and decorated the cake for his Pop.

Learning - we caught the train down to Sydney and visited Hyde Park Barracks and the Australia Museum.

Make your own fun - he wanted me to set up an activities course for him one day.  The apple bobbing was his idea :)

Did 'boy stuff' - we visited a friend of Billy's at the friend's grandparent's farm.  They got to do fun 'boy' stuff like trying to catch tadpoles in the creek.


He also went to dragons twice a week. 

We helped get most of the art work ready for the homeschool display. 

Our Scouts had a fundraising BBQ and we all worked on the stall. 

We went to an art exhibit opening (his grandmother's & cousin's works are included). 

There's been lots of reading.

And probably lots more that I can't remember.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bucket List

I mentioned something about my Bucket List a few weeks ago, and Vanessa asked if I wanted to share the whole list.  So in no particular order, here it is.

1.    Meet Helen
2.    Meet Suji - DONE and I hope its not the only time it happens!
3.    Travel back to England, Ireland, Scotland & Wales
4.    Travel back to Italy
5.    See the pyramids
6.    Travel around Australia
7.    See Ayers Rock again
8.    Pat the dolphins at Monkey Mia
9.    Write a book
10.    Go on an Alaskan cruise
11.    Have a short story published
12.    Have a book published
13.    Start martial arts again - I've done two classes so far and ordered my gi, so I can now mark this one off!
14.   Improve my photography skills
15.   Do something silly in public
16.  See the stairway to the moon

I keep adding to it as I think of things.  Its not as exciting as Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman's list but its mine.  :)

Do you have one you'd like to share?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Creating memorable characters

I'm half way through the Creating Memorable Characters course and am realising why I could never get past the first few chapters of a book before.  I just didn't know my characters enough.  I'm obviously not a 'pantser' (one who writes by the seat of her pants) - I have to know my characters well before the plot becomes clear, and I give up if I can't see my way to the end.  Going through these exercises is opening up so many avenues for the plot and making richer, more complex characters.  Or at least I hope that's what's happening :)

I've also realised that you need to treat the setting almost like a character.  I need to really be clear on where they live, work and play - even down to what the house looks like inside and out - before I can add enough detail into the scenes. 

I've been using Google images and Google maps a lot to try and get a feel for both the setting and the characters.  Visual images spark so many ideas for me.  A fellow writer mentioned that she uses collaging to work out plot problems.  Definitely something to try - it seems to be how my brain works.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hyde Park Barracks

Yesterday Billy & I caught the train down to Sydney to meet up with friends and visit the Hyde Park Barracks.  The barracks were built in 1819 to house the male convicts; now it's set up as a museum about convict life.  It's set up quite well for kids - it has a kid's trail with a booklet to fill in, and plenty of hands-on things to do.  Some of those include:

You can lie in a hammock -

Dress up in convict clothes -

and Try on the leg-irons -

There was a database of the convicts that had passed through the barracks, and much to our delight, we found Billy's ancestor listed.  It makes history far more personal.

Afterwards, we headed to Hyde Park for a picnic lunch.

And then over to the Australian Museum for a couple of hours.  There's not much hands-on stuff to do, but the kids did find some :) 

It was an exhausting day but well worth the visit.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Heaven - for some...

I'm doing another writing course next month and as preparation for it, we've been given a couple of movies to watch.  One is a Richard Gere movie, Shall We Dance, the other is the BBC's Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth.  All 5 hours of it...

To some - this is heaven.  I've borrowed the DVDs from my niece who swears its the best thing ever.  For me - pure hell.  I studied Pride & Prejudice for the HSC back when I was at school.  Hated it.  Hated every single minute of it.  Sitting watching 5 hours of it??!  Arrrggghhhh!

Actually it will be interesting to see if my opinions of it have changed in the *ahem* 20-odd years since I read the book.  How much of my dislike of the book was influenced by my dislike of the teacher who loved anything Jane Austen?

But still - 5 hours??!

Oh, and I'm doing another writing course this month - which luckily does not involve watching Pride and Prejudice :)  Its on Creating Memorable Characters and I'm finding it very useful.  Now if only I could write without thinking 'this is crap'..

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Billy's week 10th April, 2011


Wrote a great story called The Power of Darkness


Learning about chance on Skwirk


Science experiments - rockets & cartesian diver

Made tea-bag rockets at cubs


Help out with cooking


A fun novelty event at Archery shooting rubber ducks and chickens

Martial Arts, AFL Training, AFL game (PDHPE)

Drama (Creative Arts)

Playing outdoor Lasertag


Backyard Science (Science)
Numbers Count, Cyberchase (Maths)

Behind The News (HSIE)
Real Chinese (HSIE)
Food for Thought (Science & Technology)
My Place (HSIE)

Playing with:

Wii Fit & Sports (PDHPE)
Various websites like Club Penguin & Webkinz

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Fun with science

We had some fun with science today.

First up was the cartesian diver.  This turned into quite a trial and error process getting it to work - trying different size water bottles, different pen lids, differing amounts of blu-tac.  Finally we got something to work though!

Not content with that, we then made Balloons rockets.  As you can see from the video, the cat enjoyed this one too!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

So damn proud of myself!

In 1994, I very nervously went along to a Self Defence class for women.  I loved it.  I loved the physicality of it, the camaraderie, everything.  It was run by the sensei from the Gojo Ryu karate dojo, so after the 6 week class finished, I joined up at karate.  I was at full time uni at the time, so I had plenty of time to go along to classes through the day.  I just loved that feeling after training of being so exhausted you could barely stand up, battered and bruised, but on such a high.  Yeah I'm weird :)

I continued it for about 18 months and earnt my yellow belt.  By that time though, I was back at full-time work, planning a wedding, getting a house built - you know, all those 'grown up' things.  I stopped karate.

When Billy started doing defendo martial arts 12 months ago, I'd watch the class and all those feelings came back.  I really, really, really felt the urge to try it.  In April last year, I wrote on my 'bucket list', "Start martial arts again".

Last night I did it (12 months later but still)!  I decided late last week that I was going to do it.  I told several of my friends so that I couldn't chicken out.  Which was fortunate because I came close a few times yesterday :)

Sitting there waiting for the class last night, I thought I was going to pass out, I was so nervous.  You know that feeling you get before you go on stage and give a speech..  That's how I was feeling.

Sensei introduced me to the class - several of whom I knew anyway as they are Billy's instructors and others I knew by sight - and he told them to be gentle with me lol.  We did some basic warm ups, blocking & parrying and then the rest of the time was spent doing "close quarters combat" - so rolling around on the ground, groin to groin with strange men, trying to gouge their eyes out :) 

There are only 2 other women in the class as far as I know - only one was there last night and she is uber-fit.  The rest are all big, strong, fit looking guys which is rather intimidating - but the 3 that I had as partners were all really great.

I'm definitely going again.  I'm feeling a bit bruised and stretched in places today but so proud of myself!!!  I think I'll try the Saturday morning class next week - Billy has to sit around waiting for my class to finish at 8pm on the Monday night, so it was a fairly late night for him by the time he got to bed.

Yay, I did it!!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Billy's week 3rd April, 2011

A very sporting week with both a karate grading and his first Under 10s AFL game, but still time for a variety of other fun stuff!


Non-Newtonian fluid (aka "cornflour goo") (Science)

Check out this cool video with cornflour goo on a larger scale:

Geometrical solid shapes using Klikko (Maths)

More geometrical shapes using paper cutting & folding (Maths & Art)

Geometric art (Islamic style) using a compass (Maths / Art)


Help with dinner - spag bol
He made a cake from scratch unsupervised!


Archery, AFL Training, first under 10s AFL game of the season (his team won!) (PDHPE)

Martial arts grading - he received his orange belt. (PDHPE)

Drama (Creative Arts)


Having friends over to play


Backyard Science (Science)
Numbers Count, Cyberchase (Maths)
Being Me (PDHPE)
Behind The News (HSIE)

Playing with:

Wii Fit & Sports (PDHPE)
Various websites like Club Penguin & Webkinz

Friday, April 01, 2011

I'm a dinosaur :(

I've been putting it off for as long as possible, but I need to upgrade my web programming skills.  Without getting technical, I've been programming in one web language for about 10 years - and well, the web has moved on..  I'm finding that I'm running into difficulties getting stuff to work on new servers.

Its hard to change though - I'm quite comfortable with what I know and its hard to step out of that comfort zone.  Its also hard to find the time to learn something new - when you work for yourself, nobody pays you to do training!

Regardless of my comfort levels, its time for me to hit the books.

Image from