Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cake Decorating and Mum's Tum.

At Girls Rally this week the girls decorated those pretty cupcakes (I blogged about it earlier in the week) well in order to complete their Cake Decorating badge they also are required to "Ice and decorate a cake with butter icing".

As I was really peckish today and simply felt like some cake I casually suggested that The Fashionista may want to complete her cake decorating badge ... evil Mama mind at word I know.

Of course she naively thought this a great idea, not realising what was the real purpose behind my suggestion.

She made quite a bit of butter icing and decorated it the shape of, do I really need to say it, a volcano. She told me she was a bit sick of flowers and girl stuff so wanted to try something different.

Hey it was a win, win situation. She gets her badge and I got a happy and content tummy!

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Tonight we held an end of term campfire night with our GirlGuide unit.

We were extremelly lucky as rain had been predicted so, up until the last moment, we weren't sure as to whether we'd have to hold it indoors with a fake flame or could go ahead and hold it outdoors. The rain held off although it was a little breezy at times. We made sure the girls were well wrapped in jackets and camp blankets and headed down to one of the paddocks down beside out den.

We only had a small fire as we didn't want to be waiting around for ages while it died away as we had supper prepared inside. 

Many years back I spent a night out with the Navajo Indians, in Monument Valley, I think it was. We had a campfire and singalong with the Native Americans and they jokingly said that they called big fires "white man fires" as white men tended to have huge campfires when all that was needed was a small amount of wood. I think those Navajo would have been very proud of our fire tonight.

We sang quite a few songs and considering many of the songs were new to most of the girls they did really well. We also had Pippins (ages 5 and 6) join us, so keeping up with reading any songs is nigh on impossible due to the speed so we endeavoured to keep the songs simple. We sang "Campfires Burning", "Bumblebee", "There was a Crocodile", "My Bonnie", "Edelweiss", "Cuddly Koalas", "On Top of Spaghetti" and "I met a Bear", I'm a little hunk of tin", just to name a few. My personal favourite is Ging Gang Gooley.  Do you have a favourite camp song? My girls and I often find ourselves just singing a camp song throughout the day. One will start and then before we know it the three of us are singing away. The Papa finds it very amusing when he walks in on us singing away.

It was a really good night, it went really smoothly and I am pretty sure the girls all enjoyed the experience.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Card and Yet Not Card Making

Last night a special card making session was held. Our teacher had some items out on loan that she was dying to share with us before they went back ... isn't she just the sweetest?  I was pretty stoked as I had to miss this month's because of another event.

It was a little different last night, as we made three items rather than our normal two and two of them weren't cards.

One of the tables had an easy to make christmas card which we could do without a teacher. I managed to put the main stamp on the cream paper a little crooked so ended up placing the piece on the card on an angle so it wasn't so noticeable. It was supposed to be straight ... oops!
We made this little butterfly that stands up which could be used for name tags at a table.
These are little note pads on a key ring ... is so darn cute and was really easy to make. I may pop it in someone special's christmas present.
Best of all our next session is now only a fortnight away ... yeah!

Monday, September 24, 2012

"C" Night

Girl's Rally has a theme night on the last night of each term. Last term, which we missed as we were in Melbourne, was a hat night. Tonight's was come dressed in something starting with "C".

As we had a clown costume, I took the easy way out and suggested one go as a clown which they agreed with as the clown costume is a relatively new addition to the dress up box. So Agent Smelly was to go as our clown (frankly between us she can be a bit of one so it was perfect for her). The Fashionista wanted to go as a caterpillar and as this tired, worn out mama could simply not be bothered making up a costume, she talked her into going as a cheerleader (again another costume we already had). The Fashionista was not impressed with my idea, until I suggested she wear the shimmer tights that she had wore for her recital last year, then she was totally sold on the idea. I seriously had no idea the power that shimmer tights held and must keep them in mind for future coercions incentives.

I know I could possibly be biased but seriously how cute are they?

Amongst other activities at Rally, they decorated cupcakes. Whilst they were at Rally I was out at a card making class and had arranged for the Papa to pick them up. This is what I came home to ...

In case you can't read it, it says "Don't eat these under any circumstances! That includes Mum". Seriously despite me being impressed that The Fashionista could actually spell circumstances, I was like totally offended that they thought I would break into their container and eat their cupcakes. Granted I found the note when I was scouting around for a wee bedtime snack but seriously the lack of trust is wounding ... hehehe

How good am I to have resisted these yummy cupcakes?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Reading with a little help from the Goatlings

As it was such a lovely day here today I sent the girls out onto the deck to have their lunch and do their reading.

Milly, who is now around six weeks old, thought it would be fun to try and nibble on her mistresses hair whilst she lay there reading. 

I am not sure why Agent Smelly had her dresser stool outside but anyway here she is reading her book (I hope) whilst her beloved boy Molly eats around her. She popped a couple of temporary standards in so that she could pop his lead over it so that he could be close to her.

I must say that I have been really and truly impressed with how well the girls have done taking care of their "kids" or goatlings as we joking call them here.  I had wondered if the excitement would wear off but so far it hasn't. They feed them every morning and night, take them out of their house each morning, put them away each evening all without ever complaining or being asked to and they even take them for walks during the day on their leads. Sometimes they'll just go out and have a chat with them and give them a cuddle. 

The funniest thing about our goatlings is that they both have personalities like their owners. The Papa and I often laugh at how much they are like them. Milly is a little more delicate but very noisy especially if her milk is running late and Milly is a right little terror and when off his lead he's straight off to destroy the few plants that we do have, jump on the garden furniture, barrel poor Scruffie and to top it off he's a bit of a piggy just like someone else who shall remain nameless. Who knew goats were so darn cute and personable?

Friday Funnies

I was out at a Guide meeting last night and the girls were looking for the blocks of chocolate, that they got last week for International Chocolate Day.

They weren't sure where I had put them and so whilst rummaging through the pantry, Agent Smelly said "hmmm, now where would I be if I were a block of chocolate?"

Much to the Papa's amusement, The Fashionista replied "probably in mum's tummy!"

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hola, it's Spanish with Speekee

For the past year we've been using a Spanish program that just hasn't really been working for us. You know I don't think it's anything to do with the program, I just think my girls are too young for it. I think 's it's more of a high school program so have been thinking of putting away til they are a little older.

In the meantime we've been bumbling along with it whilst I've been searching for something else that would suit us better. I don't speak Spanish so I really needed a program that was easy to use.

Over the past couple of years a Spanish curriculum called Speekee has often been mentioned through various homeschooling groups. As they offer a two week free trial I decided I had nothing to lose by giving it a go with the girls. Speekee is video-based immersion program, filmed on location in Spain, that teaches Spanish through a series of sketches, songs and puppets. It's aimed at young children, from 2 - 10 years.

Left to right: Speekee, Dino and Lupi

I made sure the girls tried it every day to get a good idea of how well it worked before committing to the purchase. They have been doing it online but you can apparently get Cd's to watch. Despite the jingly music and funny voices the characters, or should I say because of them, the girls simply are loving this curriculum. Sadly I find myself singing along in the background on occasion, which really is sad of me but you just can't help yourself.

We have signed up for Speekee FastTrack which is a one-year curriculum which has been designed particularly with homeschoolers in mind.  Each week we receive an email with advice on what to do each day. There are only 4 activities which works out well, as we can have a "rest day".

During the first week one of the activities was to make Dino and Lupi sock puppets. I mentioned it to my girls but said we could do something different thinking that they might be too old for this ... well bite my tongue as they were super keen and had the Papa's old socks and accessories out before I could finish my sentence!

They now use the puppets to re-act and in turn reinforce some of the lessons. It's quite hysterical with The Fashionista trying to speak in a baritone and Agent Smelly in an alto, similar to the characters on screen. But guess what ... it works!

If you are interested in giving Speekee a try with your children, just click through to their website.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Old and The New

In our music class we have been studying the composer George Handel. Now between you and I, I don't find baroque music all that exciting and the girls were starting to look a little stale. So I thought I would spice things up ... pardon the pun which you will get in a minute. 
So I snuck into my study and secretly printed out the lyrics to STOP sung by The Spice Girls. I told them that we were going to sing a wee song to celebrate finally finishing Handel. By the looks on their faces I think they thought I was going to pop one of his operas on. I then popped the lyrics onto their music stand and turned on the CD player. Oh dear did I just admit to owning a CD with The Spice Girls on it? In  my defence it is a best of compilation and it's the only song of theirs on it ... no really!

Anyway they had a ball and really got into it, playing it over and over and over and over and did I mention over again.  They took turns singing different parts and after a few times almost had the entire song memorised. By the end Agent Smelly was even dancing in time and doing a few dance moves which had the Papa and I in giggles watching from the kitchen.

Although you know the Papa didn't really appreciate it, the fifth or sixth time and ran for his garage ... how rude!

Now if you promise not to tell anyone else I will admit that I actually quite like some of The Spice Girls music and I did pop over to sing along with them once the Papa head for the hills ... ssshhh don't tell anyone else though.  Now come on admit it, you like them too.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Operation Christmas Child

A few years back a fellow Guide leader introduced me to Operation Christmas Child which is run by "Samaritan's Purse" in both Australia and New Zealand.

"Operation Christmas Child is a unique project of Samaritan’s Purse that brings joy and hope to children in desperate situations around the world through gift-filled shoe boxes, It provides an opportunity for people of all ages to be involved in a simple but hands-on project that has the power to transform children’s lives.

In 2010, our teams in Australia and New Zealand delivered 305,976 gift-filled shoe boxes to South East Asia and the South Pacific. Over 8 million children around the world received shoe boxes last year. Over 130 countries have received shoe boxes since 1993. As each shoe box gift is delivered, it is treasured by the child that receives it, and is a lasting reminder that he or she is precious to God."
Quote taken directly from the Operation Christmas Child website.

Essentially what happens is that you pack a shoe box with items, like pencils, a toy to love, soap, toothbrush, hat, etc., for a child (you choose the sex and age group) and pay $9 towards the freight and it is delivered to them.

Today we started on our shoe boxes. In the past I have only packed one box but now that the girls are getting older I thought they could pack one each. My friend, Crafty K, is now packing five of them, one for each of her kids, so in comparison I have it easy!

Agent Smelly chose a girl aged between 5 - 9 and got wrapping her shoe box with some help from The Mama.

The Fashionista chose a girl aged between 10 -13 and did pretty well wrapping her shoe box all by herself.

I then let them grab some things out of my gift box that I had been putting away for the past few weeks without them knowing.

They have also written up a list of other things that they would like to include in their boxes and so we'll pop into town later in the week to get them. Last year I managed to find some $2 jandals (thongs / flip flops) so fingers crossed I can find some of them again to go in too.

Even though the girls have already spent a couple of hours putting this all together they have really gotten into the spirit of things and are still showing a continued interest.

What I personally really love about this project is not just that you are providing gifts to small children in need but that you can actually follow your box online to it's destination. How cool is that?

So how about instead of spending a fortune on your own children, or nieces or nephews, grandkids, etc you cut down just a wee bit and make up one of these boxes for a child who never gets anything. This could even be something you could do with your own child, (over the school break even), like we are doing here. You will be so glad that you did but, get in quickly as they need to be by the end of October which is national collection month.

Click through here Operation Christmas Child to find out more.  Do let me know if you decide to do one too, I'd love to hear all about your experience.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Kowhaiwhai Patterns

One of the clauses for the Girls Rally Maori patch is for them to draw a kowhaiwhai. I actually had to look up what one was, as I'll admit I was a bit clueless to what they were. Once I saw one, I realised immediately what they were. I have seen them loads of times in NZ but, I never knew what they were called. I wonder if I can earn a patch also now?

Kowhaiwhai (ko-figh-figh) are maori patterns that are not only decorative but also used to tell a story and are identifiable as to what tribe they are from. They are often inspired by nature and found on the rafters of the maori meeting houses / whare (far-rey). 

Please note that as I am an Aussie, the bracketed pronounciations may not be exactly how these words are actually pronounced by the Maori people. I do apologise if they aren't totally correct; no offence is meant.

To make it a little more fun the girls thought it would be fun to paint their designs onto canvas and turn them into bookmarks for their WWCS families.

With the aid of some designs off the net they pencilled their designs down onto the canvasses and then painted them in a traditional red, black and white.

Whilst the patterns look deceptively easy in fact they were quite difficult to do.

Both girls really, really enjoyed making these. In fact they were still painting them when I told them they had to go to bed. If I had of had some canvas left over I wouldn't have minded having a go at one myself. 

Sorry but I am not going to post a photo of the final products in order that they be a surprise for our recipients.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

All Roads Lead to Rome

The girls were very pleased to finish their lapbooks today. I did tell them that if they finished them today that they could watch the final episode of Roman Mysteries so I think that may have helped them along. Don't you just love bribes incentives.

I must say that I am really, really happy with how much they have learnt about Ancient Rome. I think the BBC series has really helped them learn and retain more than they would normally.

I ended up getting some more great things for our Ancient Rome Lapbook from Homeschool Share

They really put a lot of work into these lapbooks and they are so very informative. There are actually more printouts on the back of the far right page ... whew!  We have included famous ancient Romans, roman numerals, some Latin words, a map, legend of Rome, Roman gods and goddess', architecture, gladiators, wars, Mount Vesuvius and such.

I asked the girls if they had enjoyed doing this study and they both agreed it was "really good".

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pois and Popcorn

Today for our Worldwide Culture Swap, we made some mini pois to go to our recipients. As a bonus there is a Girls Rally patch that includes Maori Craft so the girls decided they could complete that badge and share the things on it with our WWCS families.

"POI" is the Maori word for "ball" on a cord. Maori people have their own unique genealogies in not only their lives but often with their implements and poi. I point this out because if you look on a few different websites you will find different histories and reasons for the traditional use of the poi. Some say they were used for strength and co-ordination, some say games and some say to help keep the hands flexible for weaving.

Pois are used by wahine (Maori females) in many of their traditional dances. The balls attached to flax string are swung and twirled rhythmically around to make patterns in the air in keeping with the song and also at times to create rhythm in songs, as they are tapped as they swirl. The graceful dancers make it look rather easy but try giving it a go; it is actually quite a lot harder than it looks!

The pois we made are not at all made in a traditional way or from traditional products.

First we cut three lengths of wool to braid. Actually the first thing we did was microwave a pack of popcorn to eat whilst making the pois. Then we cut some red, black and white (traditional colours) wool to around 15cm for each mini poi. We ended up cutting some off the ends when finished, but it's easier to tie and knot them with longer lengths and cut them later than try and work with little ends.

We then cut some circles out of a white shopping bag. Good way to recycle! I drew around an egg cup to get a sizing for the cover of the balls.

We then stuffed the wee circles with cotton wool. You can also use tissue paper or even more of the shopping bag.

We tied some rubber bands around them temporarily around the ends until we were able to tie the wool on. I suggest you have another set of hands to do this as it is a little difficult when they balls are so teeny.

Once they tied the wool around their wee balls they simply started plaiting away. I laughed to see that they found it easier to plait the wool by placing the balls between their toes to hold. I believe this may have also been so that they could continue to eat popcorn as they made these! Once they plaited as far as they wanted to, they tied a knot about a cm from the end and then popped a safety pin through so they can be worn as a wee brooch.

Voila! Some completed mini pois for our WWCS families.

Check out the Worldwide Culture Swap website if you'd like to participate in a swap of your own.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Agent Smelly officially joins Girls Rally

Tonight was Agent Smelly's turn to make her promise, etc. for Girl's rally and I was so pleased that I was able to pop into watch her do it.

That's her standing ramrod straight in the light grey top. They are called to attention before they recite it.

This is what they have to memorise and recite:

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth." Ecclesiastes 12 vs. 1

With God's help I will do my best To honour God, His Name, His day and His Holy Word;
To honour and obey my parents, and respect other people and their property.

John 3 vs. 16
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."

She did a great job, although had a wee mind blank there for a moment (her sister tells me she did the same thing the week before!) but she soldiered on and got through it. I am so glad as she has been reciting it to me all week without any problems at all so it would have been a shame had she missed out tonight.

She is absolutely over the moon at earning her sash and handbook. Well done baby girl!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Funny

The Fashionista asked if we would be eating dinner at 5pm from now on.

This is because her dad and I just turned 45 this week!

Apparently "old people like to eat their dinner early" ... then she giggled and ran off.

Lucky for her; she's faster than me!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Fashionista finally finishes Handwriting Level 4

Today The Fashionista completed her Targeting Handwriting Level 4 handwriting student book.

All done!

This is a recent page from her book.

I will be giving her a wee break from these books in order for her to put what she has learnt into practice. Then start her on level 5 next year in Term 1. The writing simply gets a bit smaller and she'll learn some fluency and speed joins at that level.

She only does a page a week (she does handwriting in other subjects too) as I don't like to rush them to complete the book. This book has taken her about 18months.

I would prefer their writing to be legible and easy for them to do.  Do you remember rushing as a kid and getting writers cramp? I used to write so quickly (and pretty messily!) and be constantly shaking my hand to relax it. The Pig on the other hand, presses really, really hard when he writes and so when I tear a page off the shopping list I can see what he wrote for about another 5 pages!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Dueling Guitars

Last year for terms 2, 3 and 4 the girls learnt the recorder with another homeschooled girl that lives nearby to us. I have to say that despite being 12 and a great little flutist (or flautist) she was a super little teacher and that both girls not only loved attending her classes but made sure they practiced and practiced. She even gave them homework sheets to go home and fill in and they would drop their regular schoolwork just to ensure Miss Music's work was completed. It used to make me laugh as they had never showed half as much enthusiasm when learning from a professional music teacher during term 1!

I had thought that Miss Music was going to be going off to High school this year so had the girls both chose a different instrument to learn to play. Sorry people but, I am not a fan of the recorder and really couldn't have handled another year of it! The Fashionista chose the guitar and Agent Smelly chose percussion. Thankfully they both had instruments that they could use.

Rather than pay for more music lessons only to find that they didn't want to keep up, I picked up some books from The Book Depository (my most favourite online shop in the world!) and off they went.

I highly recommend Alfred's Kid's Guitar Course. It comes with a CD and the kids practice right long with it. Even I have had a go and have been able to pick up a few chords again quite easily.

After a couple of weeks, they decided they preferred each others instrument (or course ... sigh) and so they swapped over. Then they both decided the guitar was the favoured instrument but because they were sharing one it all got a bit too hard and they lost some motivation. 

Well recently we were in Kmart and Agent Smelly saw a child's guitar for $25 so used her own pocket money to purchase one.

Both girls have since set up a little music corner in the lounge and here they are at practice. They seem to be more keen (there's less whining for a start) and not rushing through their practice as quickly when they play together. I try and have them practice the guitar three or four days a week for around 10 - 20 minutes but I still have them practice the recorder at least once a week. Long may it last!

There is a second book in the series and if they finish that and prove to me that they are still interested in learning the guitar then I will send them off for some "proper" lessons with a music teacher but until then Alfred's books will serve us well.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Spring is Sprung

Today I attended a Pippinic. A pippinic for those not in the know (how could one possibly not know though) is a picnic event held every two for Pippins and Pippins are GirlGuides aged between 5 and 6 and the cutest wee little girls ever. Their motto is Pippins care, Pippins share with other children everywhere and I am a Pippin Leader.

I started in GirlGuides over 5 years ago as a Pippin leader then somehow managed to get roped into taking Brownies (the 7-9 1/2 year olds) and then the next level up, the Guides. Thankfully we now have other leaders who have taken over those two section, so I am back to taking the sweet little Pippins, despite my own girls being in the older sections.

Anyway we set out for Paeroa today and my own girls had to come along because their dad was working. It worked out quite well as the three wee Pippins who went for the day were initially too scared to let go of their parents hands. My three pippins were split up into different groups (the sapphire, ruby and gold fairies,). Throughout the morning the girls in their respective groups move from activity to activity. I handed one pippin over to each of my daughters and I stayed with the third little poppet til she was settled and it worked out perfectly. They had a great day; it was a fairy theme and they got to make necklaces, wands, fairy skirts and so on. They sat at toadstool tables (I so want one!) with stools that had simply been cut from a log. After they ate the lunch that was provided, they were entertained by a magician. Then a couple of big group games before we finished for the day around 2.00pm.

After that  my girls and I popped into the Paeroa township. We did some shopping at their quaint supermarket (it's a big chain supermarket but they have gutted 3 shops and made one big supermarket so it's a bit of a laugh, as you feel like you keep entering different areas.

We then had a quick look along the main street of Paeroa. Paeroa is where the "World famous in New Zealand" drink L&P (Lemon and Paeroa) comes from. L&P was traditionally made by combining lemon juice with carbonated mineral water that was sourced from the local spring water.This soda drink is uniquely Kiwi but sadly these days is manufactured by Coca-cola on the same lines as the other beverages that they make. There is still a L&P cafe there as well as the giant L&P bottle.

The best thing about Paeroa is that it is the mecca of antique shops in New Zealand. Oh how I wish had been able to spend the day there. It's only 45 minutes away so I think I will venture out there again one day, and maybe just take The Fashionista (Agent Smelly would get a little bored after a while). The girls and I wandered through a few shops. I was shocked to see the prices on some of the items. I had just sold some educational games this past week for $10-$15 a box that they had retailing in the shop for $45. I was so horrified.

The Fashionista tried to talk me into getting her an old clerks desk, dream on princess, that's $300 I don't have!  It was a quick trip but I did manage to grab a couple of Enid Blyton books that had been missing from a series I had been collecting as a child. They were $6 each which I thought a little steep but, in the next shop I went into, the same books were $25 each ... so then I was a little happier. The girls really enjoyed pointing out some things that they recognised and we discussed how things worked in the "olden days". At nearly 45 I recognised far too many things from my own childhood. Agent Smelly was absolutely taken with those phone's that you had to dial by putting your finger in a hole and spinning the dial around to the number. She had to give it a go ringing our number and thought it hysterical ... I really did feel a bit antique then! Don't you think it's funny their reaction to things we grew up with as the norm?

I could have gone through more shops but Agent Smelly convinced me to leave. Yup she whined and whined and I finally admitted defeat. I must admit that in her defence it had been a really long and busy day and she was dead tired. She reclined her seat back in the car and had a wee cat nap on the way home. Even The Fashionista was quiet on the road home.

So a lovely Saturday spent with my beautiful girls and some of my sweet Pippins at the Pippinic.

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