Friday, April 30, 2010

Home-Grown Herbal Tea

A few weeks back, I planted 4 little plants for tea making in my garden: lemon balm, chamomile, peppermint and pineapple sage. The combination of cow manure and mulch and lots of rain has meant they have grown fast! So today we harvested some leaves and had cups of tea with our phonics and literacy lessons.

placing the leaves in the teacups

4 cups of leaves, ready for steeping

Peppermint for William and I, and pineapple sage for Saraya and Elijah. The children chose and picked their own leaves. The tea was refreshing, and the feeling of harvesting our own is always satisfying!

I'll be off for the weekend, which is destined to be full of adventures (a certain someone in the house is turning the big 3-0 next week; celebrations are beginning early!)........... be back next week!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Playdough Day

Some days, I just wake up and think "Let's make playdough today". So, we did!

I had a handsome helper, still in pyjamas

And three willing littlies to play with it for a good hour or more.

Nice and bright, the way we like it!

Aside from making / playing with playdough, our day has been fairly usual for a home day. I have washed and folded mountains of laundry, prepared snacks and washed dishes, grabbed a few moments to read my book here and there, read to the children (I'm sure learning a lot about explorers this week!), cleaned up William's many accidents..... and admired my new $9.99 bed cover every time I walk past the bedroom. :) Changes are so nice sometimes! Saraya and I have tackled her literacy and history (hooray for children who just want to know more and more and more.... instead of researching for a half hour it stretched into over an hour), reviewed some maths and I left her to do her maths test - 100%, hooray!! We have been doing some algebra which has had her in a muddle these past few days, so this was a great surprise. She understands it. Such a relief.

Still to come today.......... our walk, making soup for dinner, baths, maybe playing the computer -Mathletics for Saraya and Starfall for Elijah, as Stu will be home late tonight. Then when he gets home I'm outta here! Off to spend a few hours with a friend which I'm really looking forward to.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sally Clarkson and our Wednesday

I love, love, love Sally Clarkson's books. I have read and re-read "The Mission of Motherhood" and it always inspires me! I also enjoyed "Seasons of a Mother's Heart" which is an encouragement for homeschool Mums particularly. She has written other books and I would love to own them all.

Sally is running a giveaway on her blog I Take Joy (see my sidebar if you are interested) for a whole bundle of her books. Jump on over and take a look for yourself! Her latest book "Dancing with my Father" is all about finding the joy in the every day. I can't wait to get my hands on that one. :)

Ah, today. Half of it was spent at home, homeschooling and houseworking basically. The rest of the day was spent in town. One of the windows in our car went down last Friday afternoon, and wouldn't come up again! :( I had it booked in to be fixed today - and hence the children and I spent 3 and a half hours filling in time in town. We visited Lincraft (hello new ball of wool for crazy finger-knitting addicts, new $9.99 quilt cover for our bed, and watercolour pencils for Saraya), the library (hello books on Captain Cook - next unit in our Australian history curriculum), lunch (hello paninis and freshly squeezed juice) and the park. It was a good time, but good to get home again!!

After all that activity I just made some wraps for dinner. Nice and simple. There were a few things catching my eye to photograph while I was working late this afternoon and thought I'd share. :)

my hen Jasmine scratching away on our front lawn

stunning sun setting over the land

new bright yellow gerberas from a friend

my sweet daughter trying out her watercolour pencils

and a gorgeous toddler with his beanie and handbag!

When I asked William what he had in his bag, he said "mower!" Hardly surprising. And yes, there really was a small purple forklift toy in there - and he calls every type of vehicle a mower.

Time for bed I think! A big day, a good day, looking forward very very much to a home day tomorrow. :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Our Elijah Samuel

Our Elijah Samuel is on my heart tonight.

What do you have in mind for him, Lord? What grand plans do you have in store?

What will you do with his musical talents? His creativity? His imagination? His love of performance?!

I am pondering these things and marveling at the very nature of my boy. He is artistic. He is an actor. He is a dancer. These things are undeniable about him. I look forward 10 years and I can honestly see him on So You Think You Can Dance!! I can see him on the stage. I can see him behind a camera. I can see him writing music, playing music, video editing, taking photographs, and dancing. So so different from his younger brother. Introspective. Thoughtful. Musical genius. :) And not at all interested in mowers and machinery!!!

This week he asked me to teach him to finger knit, like Saraya. So I did! And he did quite well. He is loving learning his letters and sounds. He loves to be read to. He loves to draw. He loves cuddles and kisses and time with Mama. He is precious. :)

And here, for your viewing pleasure, is his first film! He wrote the script, directed the camera work (by Stuart), came up with his own 'special effects' and decided on the music during the editing process. I think it's wonderful! Click here to see "Jack's Adventure"!

And if you would like to leave a comment letting him know what you think of his movie, I'll pass them on to him! :) Enjoy.

I sure adore my Elijah. :) He is one of a kind and I love him just the way he is.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Glimpses of our Walk

We've had a full day! So nice to have a public holiday and have Stuart around for an extra day. :)

Mowing this morning for him and William, lots of playing for the older children, some reading and cooking and bits and pieces for me. Fried rice for lunch (YUM! I need to make this more...), rests and then a big walk this afternoon. It's truly wonderful to be able to walk down our driveway and down our road and see the country sights that we see. Up hill and down dale and surrounded by beauty. I haven't always had this, and I don't take it for granted! God is so good. Here are some glimpses.....

Stuart is part of a mixed indoor netball team which plays on Monday nights. Tonight we decided to all go along and watch. The children loved it! There were a few other kids there and they had the best time playing. We've just tucked them into bed. It's 8:30 and I need to go do dishes now. :(

But onwards and upwards into a new week after a refreshing and long weekend!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Winner and Other Bits!

Well, today is the day to announce the 500th Post giveaway winner! The random number generator popped up number 6 - Christy! Well done Christy! Leave me your email address so I can get in touch, and your seeds will be on their way. :)

Ah, long weekends. Love them. :) I actually keep forgetting this is a long weekend, then getting all happy again when I remember! I don't what our plans are for tomorrow. Quiet stuff at home I guess. I think Stu has some school work to do so maybe we'll stick to our normal routine in the morning too.

Well, Saraya has a new passion following yesterday's little lesson on finger knitting.

She made this dolly scarf yesterday afternoon, and was up and into it again first thing this morning. She made a little gift for a birthday girl which she tells me is interchangeable as a bracelet or a bookmark! This is a great craft for children as they can do it completely independently and leaves plenty of room for their imaginations to take hold.

Stuart took the children to town this morning and they marched in the Anzac Day Parade. A new experience for the children; all the Anzac Day remembrances have sparked lots of interesting discussion on the two World Wars. So hard to explain to them.

Here are Saraya and Will on their way to the car for the memorial service and parade. Will looked really dapper! :)

After doing a bit of housework I spent some time singing and playing the piano while they were gone. What a blessing to me! I seriously need to do more of this, it just fills my spirit so so much. No more excuses, I just need to do it!

What else....... Ah, we had a really foggy morning today!!

I've honestly never seen fog this thick. The children went walking on the property and I couldn't see them through the fog! It was amazing. We brightened up the morning with pancakes which has become our Sunday breakfast tradition. We've also started having a walk as a family on Sunday afternoons. It's nice to do something together and chat before beginning a new week. I'm loving it! Sundays in our family have become a very relaxing Sabbath - there is always music, reading, chatting, opening of the Word, sharing meals, resting, planning and dreaming...... and now walking - it's becoming my favourite family day of the week. It is a peaceful day spiritually too.

The little boys are needing me so I'd better go. Happy Sunday friends, and congrats Christy!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Finger Knitting

So what have I been up to on this rainy Saturday morn? After some lounging around and drinking coffee and reading and chatting with my darling husband, I decided to pull out a project I tried recently and hadn't quite "got".

Well today, I got it!

I took this:

And after quite a few attempts, I made this!

Finger knitting is fun, and once you get the hang of it, it's quite easy too! I'm about to teach Saraya as now she wants to learn too. :) Tutorial found here.

My little dolly scarf isn't perfect......

...... but Ashley doesn't seem to mind one bit! :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Art of Narration

"One of the reasons Charlotte Mason's work is enjoying a renaissance among modern home educators is that she made children's desire to tell what they know one of the building blocks of her philosophy of education. Unlike other educators of her day, Charlotte believed strongly that this "amazing gift with which children are born should not lie fallow in their education." Recognising that narration (retelling what has just been read) is the best and most natural way for a young child to organize and demonstrate the knowledge he gains from books, she incorporated this natural gift into her school lessons and correspondence courses.
..... Since knowledge is not assimilated until it is reproduced, she felt children should tell back, after a single reading, what they had just heard. She called this process narration.
...... When children relate back a literary passage of a living book in their own words, they follow a train of thought. They pick up the "whys and hows" within the stories in science, history, and other studies. In their knowledge of it they find delight." A Charlotte Mason Companion.

I re-read this passage recently and thought "Yes! I need to do more of this." So, we have.

Saraya does so much writing as part of her literacy lessons, handwriting pages, science, and her own creative work. Rather than giving her more written work on top of all this, we are leaning towards narration, particularly for her history studies. It is wonderful. I mean, I cannot stress highly enough how much a child can share verbally - when they are not inhibited by thinking about the processes of writing, spelling and punctuation as they think, and so much more information comes forth!

Here is an example. Yesterday we learnt about William Dampier, one of the early English explorers who voyaged to Australia (then New Holland) before Captain Cook's arrival. We could have done a question / answer type worksheet, a fill in the blanks or a multiple choice. That would have shown me some of what Saraya had learnt from our reading. Instead, she narrated - told me back in her own words - what she had taken in. I am amazed at her comprehension and ability to express her understanding. I write as she narrates. This is what she came out with yesterday:

"William Dampier came from England and sailed around the western coast
of New Holland. he thought the land was dull and dry and uesless.
He made two voyages to New Holland from England.
His ships were the Cygnet and the Roebuck. (she did glance at the book for these names :))
He saw some strange flowers and now they are called Dampiera flowers.

Several of his men got a disease called scurvy.
Then WIlliam Dampier set sail for Timor to see if he could find any water.
On the way back to England, the boat started to leak really badly.
He was rescued by a passing ship and he and all his men were taken to England.
He told the king and all the people in England that it was useless and not a good country."

Wow! If I had passed her a notebook and pencil and asked her to write what she remembered, I think she would have produced a quarter of what she narrated to me. Verbal language flows much more quickly for early writers than written language, and I think it's important to give young children the opportunity to do this often. It helps cement knowledge for them, and of course shows us as educators what they understood of our teaching!

You could do this in any subject area - science, history, even chapters from read-aloud time. We are really enjoying adding the art of narration to our homeschool.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It Must Be Library Day!

When you see my girl sitting out on our verandah with a doll on one side and a whole basket of books on the other, you can be sure it's library day!

Yes, this morning we ventured into town and spent a nice hour or so in the library. We also bought some fruit and veg at the markets.

Saraya has done her handwriting. And aside from that, we have done little else.

A bit of vacuuming here. A bit of tv there. A bit of question-asking and some good conversation. A lovely chat on the phone with my Mum. Some shared meals. Playtime outside.

And lots and lots of reading.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It's All About the Balance

Lately I have been thinking a lot about how to balance structured and unstructured time throughout our days. There are so many things to fit in, including the homeschooling and times of rest and of course the housework, so how to make that happen? Balance. As I have mentioned before, my homeschooling technique / philosophy is quite eclectic - we do use curriculum and offer our children instruction and resources in many key learning areas....... but then I also try to be child-led in my approach, running on their interests and ideas and desires for learning, and certainly teaching at their pace. I also give / expect several hours of independent creative play for the children every day. This all requires a careful balance, and one which I am really working on!

The first half of first term this year I ran a fairly structured morning and a free afternoon. The second half of the term was different.... more unstructured, no television on weekdays to inhibit the creative flow of my children's learning through play, etc.

The term I am trying something new again. I am bringing back the television in the mornings only - just a half hour for the boys to give me a concentrated block of time with Saraya where we're guaranteed no interruptions, and it is Playschool which I trust and appreciate for it's own educational value for the littlest ones. I am also incorporating a time of physical activity every day for us all as I am sick of just not fitting exercise into my routine! I am feeling stiff and old and with 30 right around the corner... well, I have to make it happen! ;) So now we all exercise together. Generally the kids do lots of running around / exploring outdoors anyway, and I'm on my feet most of the day ....... but now we are adding stretches first thing in the morning after chores and free time - gets the brain working and loosens us up! - and then a walk together after lunch. We did this for the first time today and it was great. I turned it into a nature walk for a project I'll share below. Great way to burn off the after-lunch boost my kids seem to get, before their rest and reading times.

So. Exercise every day. Start every day with prayer. A phonics lesson for Elijah each day, as he is begging me for them. Handwriting, Literacy, Math and one other subject for Saraya's formal lessons daily. Read aloud our chapter book (currently Little Men- almost finished!) every day through morning tea break. Saraya to do her independent work early in the morning while I am doing other chores. A craft activity on the afternoons we are not going out anywhere. Oh, and try to go to bed earlier (for me). They are the changes I have made for this term!!

Now, our walk. As we were getting our boots on it starting teeming down with rain. :(

So we waited on the verandah and watched the puddles form and the drains overflow, and soon the rain passed. Turned out it was a good thing, as our walk was suddenly much more interesting than it would have been on dry ground!

Saraya took a photo of me and my boys, all set to go

Saraya spotted a field of funny goats watching us and they had her in stitches!

our long country road

ankle-deep in a natural waterfall created by the heavy rainfall

and here is the craft project - Nature Suncatchers with their collections!

unfortunately the sun is being elusive this afternoon, so we may have to wait until tomorrow to see them light up.....

and a collage activity for fun

And after what I feel has been a pretty well balanced day, my kinder were happy to set off outside for some creative play in the fresh air. Which has given me time to blog. Which makes me happy. :)

Anyway, the balance is what we're all seeking I suppose! Nice to feel today that I'm stepping in the right direction for our family.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Big, Long Day

Today has been big. And long.

We were home all morning, which usually means we are happy and chirpy........ but today it didn't. We were cross and cranky! Crying toddler (who I discovered tonight is teething a big molar.. could explain it), preschooler needing attention and fun, and big girl needing cuddles and lessons. And of course, a dirty floor, crusty bathroom (trust me, it was bad..), lots of dirty dishes, snappy Mama....... I think you're getting a feel for our morning. :( It doesn't happen often, but sometimes it does.

I snapped at Saraya more than once .... then had to apologise, more than once. I sat William in his cot while he cried for me, just so I could scrub the bathroom. I mean, he could see me and I was reassuring him all the while...... but I just HAD to clean or I would go insane!!!! It just caught up with me and nothing was going to stop me.

I got the cleaning all done and felt ever so much better. I was sad because my littles ones had suffered through my crazy cleaning frenzy.......... but all's well that ends well. And as I say, it happens rarely that the cleaning builds up to the point of distraction. I've just been really tired and seem to be walking round in circles these past few days.

Anyway. We headed up to Hervey Bay this afternoon and I stopped into a little shop recommended by a friend of mine - it's called Nana's Pantry and it's precious!! Lots of little boxes with scoops, filled with all kinds of treasures........ from healthy treats to not so healthy treats. :) We are trying some new snacks which is like a little adventure for the children. We'll definitely be back,and on a nicer day will go to the beach as well!

I've been having a good look at some crafts on the net tonight. I must get organised to do more crafts with the children, they all love it and childhood is too short not to get creative every day.

In the meantime though, they do pretty well on limited resources. Last night while we waited for Stuart to get home from work, they had a big drawing session with the crayons while I prepared dinner. I love to see what they create!

even little Will is heavily into drawing at the moment!
here he was drawing a mower, with Papa on it :)

Elijah's awesome helicopter, flying through the rain

a gorgeous horse!

and a rabbit

who was given a colourful background.

My children each have a special place to store their favourite drawings. Others are given away (mostly to me - you should see inside my bedside table!) or used for cards or gifts.

They are busy little artists and I love them to bits.

And tomorrow is another day!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 1, Term 2

Well, it's Day 1, Term 2. 10 weeks of school and work before our winter break.

The day has gone well thus far. I spent a far bit of time over the weekend pulling out our curriculum to see which lesson we were up to in which subject, making notes in my notebook, photocopying Saraya's worksheets (I photocopy all our curriculum so I can reuse the books with the other children in years to come! - all her sheets go into a folder with plastic sleeves for storage), checking our reading material, and researching some ideas for teaching Elijah beginner phonics as he's very interested in learning to read. I also cleaned out the craft cupboard last night and the kids were very excited to see neat stationary again this morning!

This was Saraya early this morning. I had laid out her math sheets (review sheets from concepts studied last term) and her copywork on the dining table before I went to bed last night, and she was up and into it before breakfast this morning! Nothing like early-term enthusiasm. ;)

After chores and brekky and a play, I did a little lesson with Elijah which he loved, then followed up with Saraya's other subjects.

Now housework is (mostly) done, lunch is out of the way, and my kiddos are outside........

This is a zoomed-in photo from the front verandah. You can see Saraya and Elijah on the left, on a towel having some kind of game, and Will on the right putting his ride-on car and himself into the wagon! So they're all stretching their legs before rest time. Actually, I can hear them coming up now so I'd better go. Saraya is pulling both boys and the car in the wagon up the hill!!! I've been having fun just now looking at handmade toys and special things on the net, getting inspired for William's 2nd birthday coming up next month!

Loving all your comments on my last post, thanks everyone for entering and for your kind words. Don't forget to enter if you haven't already done so!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Giveaway For My 500th Post!!!!!!!

Yes, it truly is 500 posts!!! I can hardly believe it. I'm glad I noticed the counter actually. I think my 500th post deserves to be something special!

Firstly I want to say just how much I have enjoyed this blogging journey. It has been a wonderful creative outlet for me. I have learned a lot about myself, and have enjoyed recording the daily happenings of my life. Blogging is quick, it's easy, it's cheap, it's creative and it's fun! Not to mention a great way of keeping in touch with far-away family, and of making brand new like-minded friends. I appreciate all of you readers so much, I'd like to offer a little giveaway as a thank you for reading, writing, and for encouraging me!

As you know, I love to garden. I love to grow and pick and eat my own produce. I think everyone should grow something. Even if it's just a pot of herbs or a lavender bush. Maybe a fruit tree or two. Or maybe a veggie patch.

I pulled up these baby carrots this morning! Very tiny but they smell amazing. Thankfully there are more on the way. Lots is happening in my garden at the moment. Bunnings recently opened in my town and last week I bought a few punnets to plant into the veggie patch. Broccoli, herbs, lavender and a few plants for making herbal teas. The tomatoes and capsicums are doing well. I love to dig, to water, to watch plants bloom and grow. It's not always successful, but I always learn something new along the way.

So. I encourage you to leave a comment on my 500th post to let me know you're out there - any comment at all - and you will enter a gardening giveaway! I will draw a random winner next Sunday 25th April at 12pm. 3 packets of organic seed will be sent to the winner so you can start or add to your own growing adventure! :) If you are an Australian reader, the seeds will be ordered from Green Harvest; if you are overseas I will order from a distributor in your town.

I'm looking forward to sharing my love of gardening with you, and would love everyone to play along!!

Comment away!!


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