Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Visit to Guides in Melbourne, Australia

Agent Smelly had to write an article for our local Guide magazine to earn one of her badges, so instead of me blogging about the same subject I decided to use her article ...


On the last week of last term my sister, The Fashionista, who is a Guide and I, were in Melbourne, Australia on holidays. Mum arranged for us to go visit a nearby Guide Unit. We met up with the Faulkner Junior Guides (Brownies are now called Junior Guides in Australia) for a campfire along with another Junior Guide group from Brunswick.

First we played a couple of games and then we sat around the campfire and sang some songs. We had to hold it indoors because it was really, really windy in Melbourne that night.

The leaders made us some hot chocolate and we toasted marshmallows over a candle.

Then we looked at each other’s uniforms and they asked us lots of questions about Guides in NZ. They also gave us some SWAPS to bring back to our Guides and we gave them some that my sister’s patrol had made.

We made lots of new friends and we hope to visit them again.  See if you can spot my sister (who blends in a bit in her blue Guide top) and me in my easy to find pink brownie top!
Agent Smelly
TK Brownies

Before we left for Guides I took a picture of the girls in their uniforms with their Gramps and Grandma.

Both girls had an enjoyable time with the Victorian Junior Guides and do hope to catch up with them again on another visit.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

LEGO in Australia

Both my girls absolutely love LEGO.  I mean what's not to love, I still enjoy getting in and making stuff too. I find there is something relaxing about building something with little plastic bricks that interlock. In fact some of the LEGO that my girls play with are mine from when I was a young girl.

In the last year or so LEGO brought out a girls series called LEGO Friends. This is so great because many of the LEGO sets are geared towards boys. They did bring out the Belville series a few years back and I did manage to purchase a few pieces of that but now that they are older they have been saving to get the whole Friends series.

Whilst in Melbourne many of the stores are having massive mid-year toy sales so the girls were able to use some of the Australian birthday money that they had been sent in the past year and saving. As they like to play with them together they often go halves in the bigger items. So today, together they purchased the LEGO house. Agent Smelly's birthday is in a couple of weeks so I was able to get some extra pieces to put away for her which she is so going to love!

Agent Smelly really enjoys building the pieces and enlisted her Gramps as her helper. She would tell him what part she needed and he would find it.  I am pretty sure they both had a great time putting the house together. He said to me that when we were younger he remembers mum spending a fortune on LEGO (yes they were even expensive back then!) and thinking she was mad but, considering how much my brothers and I and now all the grandkids have played with them that they would have had to have been the best value for money toy that we had possessed. My parents in fact still have a huge bucket of LEGO's at their house for the enjoyment of the grandkids.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Off to OZ

Today we left for Melbourne, Australia. We hadn't intended on going to Oz this year but one of my baby brothers, Mr Plod, asked me to be god-mother to his absolutely gorgeous 18 month old son although he offered to have a proxy, I just wanted to be there in person on this special day.

The girls outside a duty free store at the Auckland Airport before we boarded our Arab Emirates flight. This is the first time we have flown Emirates and we were really looking forward to it, especially after hearing such positive things from people we know who have flown with them.

Once we boarded and the captain started speaking he announced the languages that the attendants on board spoke in case anyone needed any help with translations, etc. I was blown away by the number of different languages he reeled off. I was wondering if he was every going to stop. In our section we were looked after by a beautiful Mediterranean lady, a stunning Irish lass and a very elegant British fella. Nothing was too much trouble and they were delightful with the children.

As soon as we were able to, we had our individual TV's on. I watched "They Bought A Zoo", with Matt Damon, which I highly recommend and the girls selected "Chipmunks Chipwrecked". Once they finished, we were able to select some TV shows to watch; they had the biggest choice of shows to choose from. Agent Smelly started to get a bit wriggly towards the end of the flight so I showed her the games section on her console pad and she was in heaven. The Fashionista soon noticed and started playing them too. All the choices made the flight go in the shortest of times. 

I really liked their chairs too. Not only do they recline but the base slides forward so they are sort of like a recliner. There is nothing like a comfy chair on a long flight.

The girls were so happy with their meals that they asked me to take a picture of it for them. The had spaghetti bolognese, salad, pudding, a bread roll in the shape of a mini loaf and a water. Added to the tray was a snack boxes, that could be removed and saved for later on. Inside the box was a bag of shapes, a plastic container full of mini M&M's (this Mama's fave!), a juice box, a muesli bar and a kit kat! It was a really impressive meal. I sort of wish I'd had the youth meal but, then I had the fish which came with prawns ... yes big juicy prawns ... Emirates I love you.

The girls have declared that we will never be flying with anyone else ever again and I am pretty sure they were serious!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ever so Sick of this Cold!

Well we're still getting over our colds and the girls have been watching a little too much TV. It has been difficult because their eyes have been sore, so reading tires them quickly and they don't much have the energy for games.

Last week I suggested they pull their knitting and crocheting out and do some of that. That kept them amused for a wee while. Then this morning I walked past the camp cot (currently set up in our lounge near the fireplace for them to lounge on) and there they were like a couple of old biddies, clacking away and chatting. Just cracked me up.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Amelia has flown her final flight ...

Another successful lapbook completed this week. The girls have had a great time working on Amelia Earhart. We didn't end up putting a lot into the book but then sometimes you can put stuff in them for the sake of it and I really didn't want to go down that road.

The fact that they did a lot of the preliminary work on their own on this lapbook (reading books and things on the web) made me very happy. So despite these ones not being as busy as some that we have done in the past I felt we covered the subject very well.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Olympic Lapbook

For once I actually got the girls to do a study on an event before it actually started (and sometimes even finished). So instead of rushing the subject through, they have actually completed their study and lapbook ahead of time. A great cause for celebration!

The Fashionista's front cover.

We studied the history, different sporting events and a small bit on where the games are being held this year. We have previously done a unit study on Great Britain so I didn't really think the girls needed to labour over this again.

Because there was so much to put into this lapbook,  we had to pop an extra insert (the green page) into the lapbook.


Here's Agent Smelly working on different sports. There was a list of descriptions and they had to work out which description went inside which mini sports booklet and glue it inside.

Most of the inserts we used were from
Just be aware than many of the Olympic downloadables that you will find online will be made by our American friends and therefore aimed towards them.

The girls also made their own mascots, on the London Olympics site which they really enjoyed doing. I couldn't print them off the site so The Fashionista took some photos of the PC screen and we printed them from that. I really thought it was great that one of the mascots that could be made up was geared towards the Paralympics.

Some of the little books still need to be filled in, like keeping a medal tally on their chosen team, etc. These we'll do whilst the games are actually on.

We may even hold a mini family games and have some of our own olive trees to make some wreaths from but can do these in the two weeks between the start of term 3 and the Olympics beginning. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Trip to MOTAT

As we have been working on Amelia Earhart this term, I thought it would be great to do a trip to MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology) in Auckland. Then MOTAT offered free entry to everyone for the month of June in celebration of the volunteers that help run the place. How nice is that! So after a trip into Auckland to pick up my passport, we headed over for look see.

The museum is house at Western Springs at an old pumping station.

One of the various displays.

I so need one of these at home!

Look familiar Melbournians? They even have the old signs on them - on the other end it reads St Kilda. These trams run outside MOTAT and take you to another area that homes the airplane display. There are other trams at the museum which also run but I think it just depends on the day, as to which trams you might catch. The girls were so excited at catching one of these and for me it was a trip down memory lane. I now know I am old when public transport that I used to take is displayed at a museum!

Inside a Melbourne tram in Auckland on our way around to the Aviation display.


Inside the big Aviation Display Hall.


The girls with Daddy checking out one of the steam trains on display.


This is part of their interactive area. You press the button and the booth starts shaking like you are in an earthquake. I nearly slipped off the seat and had to press stop and get off.

And lastly another tram, just because I love them.

Friday, June 8, 2012

What is Matter?

Last week we started our "Science at Home Awards".  The girls need to complete 10 experiments from the 15 that we were provided with from the 200 Super Science Investigations and they will receive an award, I assume a certificate, in chemistry.

There's no time limit, you just work your way through the experiments at your own pace, so this suits us perfectly.

The first experiment they tackled was "What is matter?"

In this activity, they looked at the properties of matter and then did comparisons between liquids, solids and gases.

Here they are weighing something before recording it on the table they drew up.

Their findings were that:
1. Everything takes up space
2. You can touch solids and liquids but not gases
3. Everything has mass, even air
4. Liquids and gases can easily change shape but solids can't easily
5. Liquids and gases can spread to fill a container but a sold mass can't

For eight and ten year olds working on their first experiment solo (although I am not sure how much help Scruffie offered - see him there on the couch behind them overseeing their work), I thought they did pretty well coming up with the answers that they did, and best of all they really enjoyed doing it as you can see from their faces.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Rock Around the Clock Production

Today Grannie J and Great Aunty H took the girls to the local College's music production.

It was only $5 for a matinee session and from what the girls have told me, it was a really good show.

I think possibly they were more excited by the fact, that as it is a week day many of their friends from the local primary school were also attending with their classes, and some of their older friends were performing in the show.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Learning to Sort and Declutter

Today the little madams were rather disappointed to find that for Home Economics that they would be sorting out their junk drawers and those little "hidey spots" where they put all those little pieces of paper, letters and junk er ... special keepsakes.

The Fashionista is really the worst of the pair as she hoards every little note and thing she has ever received or made. Rather than throw some things out, she will happily pass them onto her little sister. In this photo Agent Smelly has been called into her sister's room to take some of her big sister's My Little Ponies if she wanted them.

In the end, with some nagging gentle nudging along, they both did really well and managed to get rid of some of their "treasures" and even repack the stuff they were keeping away where it was supposed to go.

Now I must remember to practice what I preach and go through mine soon. :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Witty in the City's Man-Pleasing Chicken

I found this recipe on Pinterest and seriously you need to make this!  Thank you Witty in the City ... this will definitely go on the monthly menu plan.

Don't be deterred if you don't like the sound of all that mustard as it really doesn't taste "mustardy" at all. The Pig loved it and not only does he not like mustard but he didn't like the idea of maple syrup on chicken so was surprised when I told him afterwards ... note after he told me how much he enjoyed it! Also this fed the four of us perfectly, if you have an extra mouth or older children, I would increase the measurements a bit. In fact I will probably do that next time anyway as I had some requests for seconds.
You can link through to for the recipe or if you are in New Zealand or Australia you may prefer to stay right here as I have converted the measurements and temperature.

Man Pleasing Chicken

  • 700 gms chicken thighs (but don't see why you couldn't use breasts)
  • 1/2 cup Dijon Mustard (I used Delmaines)
  • 1/4 cup of Maple Syrup (I used Steeves Canadian Maple as we can't stand the imitation stuff)
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar (I simply used some wine vinegar I already had in the pantry)
  • Fresh rosemary


1  Preheat oven to 230 degrees celcius
2  Line a baking dish with foil (a really good idea as it makes it so easy to clean - all the baked sticky syrup would be a pain to remove).

3.  Mix the mustard, maple syrup and wine vinegar together and pour over the chicken in the baking dish. Be sure to flip the chicken to make sure it's all coated.

4.  Pop in the oven for 35 - 40 minutes. Baste the tops again with more sauce halfway. I actually flipped mine and basted them a couple of times.
5.  Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.
6.  Plate the chicken, making sure to spoon some extra sauce over the top.
7.  Finish by sprinkling some fresh rosemary over the top


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Girl Guide Biscuits

Today we spent a couple of hours selling the last of our unit's GirlGuide biscuits, down at the local 4 Square (that's a general store in NZ for my international friends).

Both girls really enjoy selling them to people and the people in our wee town are really lovely so it's always a nice time for them.

The Fashionista has noted that the men are the best to sell to, as they are often generous and don't seem to be able to say "No" to little girls when they ask if they'd like to buy biscuits. Not silly that one!

Friday, June 1, 2012

I suppose it's Science ...

Today the girls started an experiment in their Chemistry session. Once they had completed all that they could do on it today, I told them they were finished for the day.

After having so much fun with the digiscope, they asked if they could continue using it, so I left them to their devices.

Firstly they started by pulling things out of the pantry to look at, you know regular stuff like sugar, spice, herbs, etc   Then they moved onto their faces, which was providing much mirth between them. The Fashionista was quite disgusted by her teeth when she took a look inside her mouth. Sort of glad about that as I am always reminding them to brush their teeth twice a day! 

Here they are checking out the taste buds on Agent Smelly's tongue.

The Fashionista checking out her eye ... see it displayed in the screen of the lap top.

This one cracked me up they were trying to see up A.S.'s nose! You can imagine the comments can't you?

Then of course they hunted down a dead fly to examine.

So there you have it, an afternoon spent happily with a digiscope.
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