Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Funny

Conversation just had at the dinner table over roast vegetable medley ... 

 "Yuk parsnip is disgusting"

"Agreed, next time just leave it out"

"Mum, Dad, stop whining and just eat your parsnip, it's yummy and is good for you!"

Thank you Miss 11 ... you know there's something not quite right in this house.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Smoothie Heaven

These are a couple of smoothies that we have tried so far this week. I received these recipes from the Nature's Nutrition Workshop  that I attended last week. We have been having one each afternoon (just before the afternoon munchies set in) and they have been lovely. I have to say the kids have been especially mad about them!
Blend together the following ingredients:
  • 1 cup frozen berries
  • 1 banana
  • 1 TBSP LSA (Blended Linseed, Sunflower Seeds and Almonds; good source of protein)
  • 1 tsp Hawaiian Spirulina
  • 1 cup water
"So yum. Can we have that one every day. And look it matches my outfit!" The Fashionista


Blend together the following ingredients:
  • 2 slices pineapple
  • 1/2 paw paw (we substituted for 1/2 mango cause the Mama grabbed the wrong item at the grocers)
  • 1 TBSP organic coconut oil
  • 1 TBSP Pro Fibre (I used Spirulina instead on another day and it tasted the same; it, just went green)
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup yoghurt or 1/2 avocado (we used raw almond milk as I was out of avocado and yoghurt and I used a bit more than 1/2 cup as the mixture was very thick)
  • 1 cup ice (we didn't use ice as the pineapple and mango had been frozen so they didn't go off.)

"Tastes really lovely. Pineappley, (sic) like the beach." Agent Smelly

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Studying Michelangelo

We continued with our study on the very great Michelangelo today.

Part of our study usually includes trying to copy one of the artists pieces of art but sadly for us there is simply too much involved in trying to emulate a painting of Michelangelo's (so much detail and work) and as for copying his sculptures ... hm mm, I think not. We hope to give sculpting a go but as for producing a copy of one his pieces we aren't even going to bother going down that road.

So today I had the girls have a go at painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (I glues some canvas onto a piece of newspaper which I then taped under my old play table that the girls now use). They used some watercolours as I was concerned over the acrylic dropping all over them and my carpet, and their challenge was simply too paint something from the bible like Michelangelo would have.

Picture taken lying on the floor alongside the artist

Agent Smelly had a go at painting the Garden of Eden. She found it very hard to hold the paint brush still with one hand and ended up having to use two. Her painting was also very wobbly so she said she has no idea how he managed to paint so well upside down!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Agent Smelly goes Solo at the Fonterra Science Roadshow

Last month we had the option to join some other homeschoolers in attending the Fonterra Science Roadshow.

For those of though who don't know The Fonterra Science Roadshow is a nationally travelling programme to schools and their communities. Approximately every week they set up at a "host" school and groups from other schools (and homeschoolers are welcomed too; yes there is even an option to select homeschool as name of school which always makes one feel welcome) come along and watch presentations, there's a 10 minute one at the beginning and also at the end and the rest of the time they are given the opportunity to explore various science and technology concepts by ‘touch and feel’.

Agent Smelly does not have good photography skills!

Unfortunately The Fashionista, who simply loves science was struck down by a stomach bug and had spent the night with her head in the toilet (or decorating the walls!) so wasn't going to be able to attend. Fortunately it was one of the Papa's days off so he stayed with her and I set off with Agent Smelly.

She chatted constantly the whole way there (over 30 mins each way) and admitted to me that she was really excited to be going somewhere without The Fashionista. Sometimes The Fashionista attends things without her because she is not quite old (or mature) enough for them but rarely is it the other way around. I think she felt really special and grown up going somewhere by herself.

Another smashing example of AS's photography!

Now parents are more than welcome to stay (even school children's parents are welcomed along) but as we already had 4 parents attending with our little group I had thought I would take the opportunity to let the girls go it alone and so hadn't planned to stay. I confess I was a little worried about Agent Smelly, who is the shyer of my girls being left alone, but she reassured me that she would be fine and didn't need me to stay so when I got there I placed her in the tender care of a couple of slightly older girls that she has done art and swimming classes with. Later she told me that she stayed with them throughout the 90 minute session.

After the show and during the trip home she chatted about the event with comments here and there about how she hoped she could go back again and this time with her sister (which was sweet I thought) as she just knew how much she'd love it too.

I can't really explain what she saw and learnt as she was very excited and not making a whole lot of sense, well that I could understand anyway. All I picked up was how much she had enjoyed all the things she had gotten to do and see.

She did say that at one station they could have their blood pressure tested and she was told that she had the most perfect blood pressure of all the children tested that week. The other homeschooled girl was the next closest. My mother and I discussed this later and wondered if homeshooling had anything to do with the kids having such a relaxed blood pressure ... lol I will definitely take her and her sister to another one.

She must have really had an exciting day, as this was her about an hour before her bedtime ... out like a light!

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Early Greeks

Chapter 19 - The Early Greeks, Story of the World

After reading our chapter in the Story of the World, we put together a very basic lap book piece on the Mycenaeans and the Barbarians.

We then watch a part of some documentary on You Tube which made the girls threaten to kill themselves if they had to watch anymore of. I looked at a couple of others and they were all VERY dry and didn't appeal to the girls at all. So sorry no recommendations.

I was racking my brain to think of something that would appeal to them that coincided with the early Greeks so I prepared a meal like I thought the Greeks might eat. Dried fruit, gherkins, olives, cheese with some wine (OK it was simply blackcurrant and cranberry syrup with some sparkling water) served in wine glasses. Whilst they finished their book work I dragged one of the sofa's over to the other and set up the table. The girls were stoked!


Should I be worried that the first thing they tried was the "wine" ... I think they take after their Papa!

Whilst the "patriots" ate the Mama read the book, "I Wonder Why Greeks Built Temples" that I picked up at the library as one of their sale items for 50 cents. It covered lots of different areas but they were especially surprised (or should that read horrified) to hear that Greek brides were only 13 or 14 when they got married to their husbands who were 30 years or more. Agent Smelly then told her sister she only had a couple of years to go and started to try and marry off her sister, much to her sister's abject horror!

The Fashionista was impressed with Greek's democratic process and we spent some time discussing how it works (or doesn't) these days.

Really getting into the spirit of things!
At one stage they called the "slave girl", (namely me - so what's new!) for some more wine and Agent Smelly said "thank you". The Fashionista then asked whether they would have said "thank you" to their slaves. After some discussion (and giggles) the consensus was "probably not".

The Greeks ate a lot of olives ... apparently the Greeks can keep their stuffed green olives!

Both girls enjoyed the lesson immensely, which for some reason always seem to be the case when food is involved!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Children of Fire Mountain - DVD Series Review

During the recent school holidays it rained, rained, and oh yes rained, so we borrowed the DVDs "Children of Fire Mountain" from our local library. COFM is a 13 part mini-series that was made in New Zealand in 1979. Apparently this was shown after school and adults today recall rushing home from school to watch the next episode. It also won some awards.

It's about a group of children living in a thermal area in New Zealand and is a period piece set around 1900.

Sir Charles Pemberton who has crippling arthritis and on the advice of his doctor comes over from the UK with his Grand-daughter, Sarah Jane to take the baths. The baths cures his ailment so he has the idea to build a huge hotel (health spa) on some Maori land which greatly displeases the local Maori as the land is tapu (sacred).

Local children, Tom (the son of the hotel owner where the Pembertons are staying), Davie, Hemi and Kiri iinitially do not like prim and proper Sarah Jane. Tom says not long after meeting her, "What I have I done to deserve all this - I’ve had better days at school!" but once they scare off her governess (and tutor) young Tom starts to feel a little sorry for Sarah Jane and they end up great friends and she is admitted to their wee gang once she takes on an initiation test to test her bravery.

There's an Irish villain, Doomey Dwyer (who runs illegal stills) that the children are trying to catch, some local Maori foretell of a catastrophe due to Sir Charles intentions and a volcanic eruption.

Sarah Jane has some eerie experiences, she sees a waka taua (war canoe) travelling across the lake which no-one else see and she starts to realises that her grandfather needs to return the deed to the land before a major catastrophe takes place.

My girls LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this series.They could not get enough of it. I personally thought it was really sweet and an excellent representation of this period and the people in thermal NZ during this period. I would highly recommend this series for any young person wanting to learn more about NZ's history. Although I wouldn't limit it to young children as this old Mama enjoyed it just as much as the kids.

Here's a link to an excerpt from the first series on You Tube. The quality of the DVDs isn't great due to when the series was made but I think it sort of adds to the authenticity of the time.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Wetsuit Wackiness

One of the things I brought back from Melbourne with me, was a couple of wetsuits for the girls. Imagine, the cost of a new wetsuit (from supermarket ALDI) cost me as much as a second-hand one here of comparable quality (but with short sleeves and shorts legs) would cost me off TradeMe (NZ's answer to EBay) not including the postage! 

Please bring ALDI's to New Zealand ... paaaallllleeeeaaaaasssseeee!

They are so darn camera shy!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Change in Dietary Habits?

I am not the best eater in the world, in fact far from it. If I had my way the only time I would eat salad would probably be in a burger. Whilst I make the kids eat fruit, sadly I do not practice what I preach. I eat vegetables, so the kids do, but give me meat, dairy and bread and I am one happy, if not overweight little duck. You get the picture.

Now that I am in my 40's heading swiftly towards 50 (sob, sob), I am noticing that parts of me are actually heading towards 60 and because I have young children I really do need to make changes towards my diet if I want to keep up with them, or perish the thought be around to see them grow up. I simply eat because I am hungry and will collapse if I don't but I must admit I don't give that much thought on what is going into my body. Food has so many medicinal qualities that it's time I looked at using them as they are supposed to be, as a healthy supplement which can benefit my body and mind rather than putting foods into it that could be causing damage.

Salads sampled at the workshop - 3 types, all delicious!

So yesterday I went off to a 3 hour Raw Energy Workshop at a company called Nature's Nutrition which included juicing, smoothies, wheatgrass, beans and sprouts and dehydrating, etc. 

This is how the workshop is described on their site:
"This is a great workshop and one that everyone should attend when thinking about making the change to include more "raw" in your diet.
Whats included
  • Comprehensive pack including recipes
  • juicing - what to juice, how to juice, why we juice
  • Wheatgrass - taste a wheatgrass shot and learn how to grow wheatgrass
  • Smoothies - the difference between smoothies and juicing, how to make a nutritious smoothie that can be a meal replacement
  • Sprouting - what to sprout, how to sprout and what meals to include sprout in
  • Taste fantastic raw energy salads with nutritious dressings, learn how to make your own hummus and pesto that is cost effective and preservative free
  • Learn how to make nutritious juices, smoothies, delicious salads and dressings and more.
  • Have you tried raw fish - you will in this workshop!
  • Finally learn how to make your own tasty crackers and satisfy those sweet cravings, naturally with dehydrating "
Now this workshop lived up to the description perfectly! It is taken by the very lovely Debbie Buddle who is a Juice Therapist, Clinical Nutritionist and and Naturopathy Student. Debbie was very easy to understand and what I liked about her is that she does not make you feel like a dill for not knowing about this kind of stuff, despite being a vegetarian herself, she does not make you feel bad about it if you aren't and never at any stage of the workshop does she force her opinions onto you about becoming Raw, etc and I found that she was quite open-minded and not militant about it. She promotes good, healthy eating and changes and if she is anything to go by, then it must work.

First Debbie started by introducing us to Juicing. We got a run down on the equipment to choose and also the benefits of juicing and then she made a few varieties for us to taste. Seriously yum!

We had a brief introduction to growing wheatgrass and were able to sample a shot. I was amazed that despite it being green (did I mention I am not big on greens!) it was really rather nice and the benefits of the stuff blew me away!

We then moved onto smoothies. Did I mention that in the handout you receive when you arrive that the recipes for the things you try are in there for you to use later. We got to sample the smoothies ... of course.  At this stage I was wishing I hadn't had breakfast as I couldn't refuse a shot of any of these they were so yum.

We received an introduction to growing your own sprouts and the benefits of those. I am not much of a sprout eater I confess and my girls haven't taken to them to well either but Debbie managed to even make these quite tasty added to the salads (pics above) that she had prepared earlier.

A raw fish salad, humus, healthy nut bread (baked) and some pesto sauce.

She made some lovely fresh salad dressings, which didn't take long at all and would have to be so much healthier than all the ones that we have sitting around in the fridge at home full of preservatives.

Then she made some fresh preservative free humus (I am never going to buy pre-made humus ever again!!!!)  and some pesto sauce. She also served a raw fish (salmon) salad. So, so good, I am salivating just remembering how yummy they all were.

And then lastly she took out some raw food crackers from the dehydrator and some sweets made from raw foods. It's hard to believe they are simply dehydrated and not baked isn't it.

Best of all we all were handed plates and got to sample ALL of these foods!  I have got to say despite not being a lover of salad, vegetables, etc that there was not one food that I did not enjoy. It was so tasty and I could eat these foods ALL the time and not feel as though I was missing out on anything.

And do you know what, whilst I did not feel as though I had over eaten (don't get me wrong I felt quite full, just not stuffed or lethargic) I was still not hungry at dinner time! I wasn't tempted by any snacks in the afternoon and felt rather energetic all afternoon.

I would strongly recommend taking a course similar to this. Even if you change a few meals to this way of eating then it can only benefit you. I myself have laybyed (payment plan) a juicer so that my family and I can start to reap the benefits found in natural (and organic where possible) foods. Good one's are very expensive but really necessary if you want all the vitamins, etc that can be obtained from your produce.

Stay tuned and hopefully I will be able to share some recipes, etc that my family and I try as we try to improve our eating habits and introduce more smoothies, raw foods and further down the track when I get my juicer (big grin on my face right now!). By the way I have booked in for another one of Debbies classes (she offer's a 50% discount on your next workshop if you book and pay on the same day as your first one) and I just cannot wait.

(Sorry the pics don't do justice to the food served - I grabbed one of the kids camera's and the lens was greasy, which I only realised later when I downloaded all the pics and they were hazy.)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Life in Early Crete

Chapter 18 - Life in Early Crete, Story of The World

Today we read chapter 18 which was about the Minoans and included the story "King Minos and the Minotaur". The Fashionista commented that she was pretty glad that she didn't live back then as she is pretty flexible and "bouncy" so fears she would have been one of those children that were made to be trained as bull jumpers. The one's that didn't live past 20 years old.

The girls put together a paper maze for their history journal and then we listened to this song on You Tube by History Teachers, as Agent Smelly responds particularly well to music. It was a great little song, words set to the Radiohead song Creep. I suggest, unless you don't mind that sort of thing, that if your children ask to hear the original song, you say you can't find it as I had forgotten it has a rather strong expletive in it ... more than once. I confess I did find it rather amusing to see both of their little mouths drop open as they looked enquiringly at me, when they heard it. The Fashionista said "did he just say a bad word?" and I had to say "er yes". Needless to say we only listened to it once and headed back to the history version. Last thing I needed was for those original lyrics to stick in their heads! The Papa had a chuckle when I told him later and apparently if the girls turn out with foul mouths then I am now to blame. Details for his funeral service will be posted later!

We also watched some you tube documentaries which were a little dry and basically similar to what we had read in our history book.

The girls made some Lego mazes (as I was a tad unprepared today) like the mazes in the Minotaur fable and that was about it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Home for Mother's Day

After nearly a week in Melbourne I just made it back in time to spend the day with my lovely girls.

They rushed into the bedroom early in the morning wheeling a dolls pram with a basket on it, that had a dolls blanket thrown across it, filled with handmade goodies. Is there anything sweeter than when your young children proudly give you a present that they have made and solely put together for you. So very special.

They lovingly put in the basket handmade cards, pistachio fudge (made at GirlGuides by The Fashionista), biscuits (made at Rally by both girls ... Agent Smelly announced that she had eaten part of the one she had made which made me laugh), a homemade magnet (made at Brownies by Agent Smelly), handmade massage vouchers (The Fashionista knows how I love my shoulders being rubbed) and a lovely cork coaster. Agent Smelly made this a month or so ago doing poker work at Rally, left it in plain view on her beside table but apparently it was a surprise so I had to play dumb. She's one of a kind!

Later in the afternoon I was told I had to watch a DVD with Agent Smelly, so she put on Harry Potter (an old favourite) and drew all the drapes and lit some candles on the coffee table and I had to sit and watch it with her. I am not sure what the romantic candles were all about but they made her happy so I expressed my absolute delight with them which made her even more pleased with herself.

The Fashionista then kindly made some very yummy schnitzels for dinner and did a great job. The Papa had planned to cook dinner but after all his rushing around working and cooking and tending to the girls whilst I have been away this past week, I really felt that he could do with a break. He did make me breakfast and lunch, and if I tell you a secret you wont tell will you, but he is ever so slow when he cooks and it is so very painful to watch and be asked every five minutes where something is or if it looks right. I told him that as he had played mum this past week, that I would cook diner and let him share a bit of mother's day. He was very appreciative let me tell you.

I hope you all enjoyed a happy Mother's Day with your loved ones too.

By the way ... that fudge, OMG sooooo good!

Friday, May 10, 2013

"Surviving the Applewhites" Book Review

Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie S. Tolan
I found this book whilst searching for some stories written about homeschoolers. It had been a New York Times Bestseller and from the brief description on the blurb I thought the girls might enjoy it. I confess it wasn't quite what I thought it would be.

It's about juvenile delinquent, Jake Semple, who has been placed with his Granddad after his parents are supposedly in jail for growing marijuana and if that's not enough Jake smokes, swears, and supposedly burned down a school. It doesn't go into those things in a big way but I confess because it was a read aloud I kind of skipped a few words or sentences here and there.
It basically starts with Jake having being placed at the home (farm like setting, Wit's End) of the Applewhites after being expelled from another school and Granddad not knowing what to do with him.

The Applewhites are a totally eccentric, artistic, yet mostly likable family (it's an extended family with a Grandad and aunt and uncle also) who run a "Creative Academy" for their children i.e. they appear to unschool.

As a last option Jake is going to live with the family and attend their "Creative Academy", it's either that or juvenile hall. Early on Jake isn't too sure that he made the right choice as the Applewhites unconventional ways really bother him but then he starts to change for the better. Frankly amongst this larger than life group, many of the things he thinks will cause some angst (only wearing black, piercings, spiked hair) just gets ignored so he gives up bothering. The Applewhites are pretty mad and can be a little self-absorbed and totally happy to let people express themselves (except for the smoking which they are anti) in any way they want, I can't imagine a lot shocks them.
There are a few other characters that come and go, like Govindaswami who stays with the family to help sweet, Aunt Lucille with her meditating. Even some of the families animals are super funny, like Paulie Parrot (who has a potty mouth), some mad goats (just like ours were!) and a family dog who adopts Jake and follows him everywhere.
One of the daughters, smart, sensible, E.D., who believes she's the black sheep of the family, along with Jake (who she clashes with) serve as two of the more "normal" members of the household yet after a while they both end up involved in one of the families theatre productions and thus themselves caught up with all the madness.
Both my daughters absolutely LOVED it. Really loved it! They hounded me daily for another chapter or two or three and despite my surprise over a few swear words (from memory they are mild ones, as the swearing is mostly inferred) and a couple a of things, like the teen smoking and Jake's parents being arrested (it just tells you this happened to you know why he's at his granddads), it actually turned out to be a funny and enjoyable book.

It is very light-hearted (well it is aimed at tweens) and whilst suggesting some deep concepts doesn't really go into much character depth and reasoning. This gave way for us to have some discussions. We were able to discuss why we thought Jake and even E.D. behaved like they did. What the girls did and didn't like about the "Creative Academy" and how their household ran or didn't, IE discipline, boundaries, etc. So whilst I personally felt the story a little unrealistic (and I hope kids reading it don't think all people home school like the Applewhites) it did open up some great discussions and for a fun read it was great.

There are 217 pages in the paperback and it says on the back it's for ages 10 and up which is probably about right.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Spot of Birdwatching Anyone?

There is nothing like a field trip that relates perfectly to a subject you have been working on. Team it with a lovely autumn day and a "sort of" picnic like lunch and you have for two very happy children.

So we took off to visit the Miranda shoreline which is not too far away from us. First stop was the Miranda Shorebird Centre where they have "stuffed" varieties of local birds (erk but helpful to see the types of birds in real ... not sure if life is the right word), souveneirs and lots of books and leaflets along with friendly voulnteers. Then we head off up the road to view some birdies armed with binoculars, camera and our bird books.

Because we had planned to end up along the beach somewhere and I knew where two little shell gathering girls would end up, I proposed the wearing of jandals (flip flops, thongs) so excuse the footwear.

Whilst the Papa and the girls went off to the purpose built bird watching room I stayed back by the car because we had thought it might be nice to take the Scruffster along for a drive. We had not even thought as far as "oh yeah a barking dog and birds may not go hand in hand" ... der.  Yes people it was a spur of the moment outing. This old bird simply had one of those moments when she needed to get out and stretch her wings. 

This is the view from the bird watching area.
This is a "pied stilt".

This is a "heron" of sorts ... I think. I can't quite make it out and the Fashionista can't remember. She got excited so we have lots of unidentifiable bird photos' ... lol

They didn't take too long to watch the birds as they had hungry tummies and we had told them that we would come back for a proper look (without the Papa who declared to me on the quiet that whilst he loved the walk and being out and about in nature with us that he unfortunately found sitting and watching birds slighlty boring ... poor guy ... insert maniacal laugh). Now that we know where to go and when the best time for viewing is, which  happens to be 2 hours either side of high tide (we were right at the end) we'll be sure to pop over again. Although Jan - March is the best time for viewing with the highest numbers, you can see shorebirds all year long.

We then popped off to the beach, grabbed some fish and chips (fish freshly caught from neabry) and had a small picnic with our thermos and bickies that we had brought along, whilst the girls gathered some shells and rocks and other things they found of interest. They then played on a nearby park and lastly we headed off up the road further to a secluded bay where Agent Smelly found a mans wallet in the water near where the boats would enter the water. We managed to find his business cards inside but due to him being out on a boat our phones wouldn't connect properly but I managed to leave and also text through some messages to let him know and waited a while but in the end headed back home.

Later that evening he phoned me to say thanks, that he had received my message and asked if it would be OK to come along to grab his (very wet) wallet and cards. Thankfully about 25 minutes away. He said that he would bring us some fish that he'd caught which I excitedly told Agent Smelly about when I got off the phone. Her comment "Oh great just what every 8 year old wants ... dead fish".

A most grateful gentleman arrived at our door half an hour later with some freshly prepared snapper (yum!) and this chocolate bar for his little life saver. She was over the moon!!!

Friday, May 3, 2013

"The Hundred Dresses" Book Review

The Hundred Dress - Written by Eleanor Estes and Illustrated by Louis Slobodkin

The Hundred Dresses is about a little motherless girl, Wanda with the different sounding Polish surname, who wears the same faded, yet clean, blue dress each day to school. One day she quietly says she has one hundred dress at home, possibly as a way to try and fit in. The other girls obviously don't believe her and make fun of her by asking her about them each day. Maddie's best friend Peggy is the main instigator of it all, and so Maddie simply stands by and does nothing as she secretly worries that because she is also poor that the teasing could just as easily shift to her. Even so it all sits very uneasily on young Maddie's shoulders and conscience. She wants to ask her best friend to stop asking Wanda about her dresses but she simply lacks the courage.

Peggy by all accounts was not a cruel girl "she protected small children from bullies. And she cried for hours if she saw an animal mistreated". She never saw that she herself was being a bully, Wanda was the one who had told a lie, and Peggy never made her cry. I like that the characters have more to them as a bully is not always a full-time bully. Sometimes people do things that are bullying and this appears to be the case here.

Wanda suddenly disappears with her father and brother to a big city, where they hope to be happier and accepted. Her father rights in his letter to her school "Now we move away to big city. No more holler Polack. No more ask why funny name. Plenty of funny names in the big city."

The two girls, Maddie and Peggy, attempt to make amends but as she has gone already they don't really. The ending whilst not ideal, is perfect the way it is written, as sometimes in life we don't get the chance to say we are sorry and make amends or we simply don't come right out and say it properly (and push it away and pretend it never happened). These are lessons we have to learn from and also live with, and young Maddie learns a valuable and life long lesson.

Some stories are timeless ... this is one of them! It was first published in 1944 but nothing about it comes across as old fashioned or out-dated. I think this should be required reading by children, most especially girls as it has a subtle form or bullying which is often more used by girls.  Age wise I would say it is best read by children who can understand what was going on or as a read aloud where it can be pointed out and discussed. It has about about 80 pages so can easily be read in one sitting. It is also a slightly sad book (I am sure a few people may relate to a character or two)  and I could feel my throat tighten up in a few places towards the end.

When I asked The Fashionista what she thought about the book, she said "it was OK but I wouldn't read it again. It was a bit sad and not really adventurous".

I confess I was a bit disappointed when she said that and then she said "you know it was sort of like this" and she showed me a poster that has to decorate that she received this week from the church school holiday program ... "Reach out. Accept each other. Jesus did it. Now you do it!" (Romans 15:7) 

Maybe I am not so disappointed after all!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Planning Term 2 with just a little bit of help!

I had only just started to plan the girl's school term on a big whiteboard, when I was called away to  answer the phone. I had gotten as far as writing Living Math on Wednesdays and that was about it.

On  my return I found The Fashionista had kindly taken over the planning.  I am not sure "no school, no school, no school, etc." is really what I had in mind.

Nice try kiddo!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Menu Planning Saves my Sanity ... well a bit of it!


For quite a while there I produced a monthly menu plan but I stopped doing it over summer whilst on our school break and just haven't bothered starting it again this year. "Big mistake! Big! Huge!" Yes I get mistaken for Julia Roberts a lot, it's that short, dumpy, blonde thing I have going on. I found last term a real struggle meal wise and we ate quite a few fast food meals (by our standards as we live in the sticks and any take aways are MILES away) because I wasn't at all prepared, therefore we have been eating far less healthily and spending way more than we need to also. Hello, whatever happened to Fish and Chips being a cheap family takeaway, or is that a dream I once had?

Although as a rule I enjoy cooking, coming up with an idea at the last minute drives me to despair. If you ask anyone here it's "I dunno" or something so ridiculous I end up just rolling my eyes in the back of my head and stomping off into the kitchen to open every pantry, fridge and freezer door in the hopes that inspiration jumps out at me!

So I have decided it is imperative that our family goes back to Menu planning, for like my sanity people.

When I menu plan I like to do it for a whole month at a time, cause I am special like that. Some people have asked me why I do it monthly and the main reason is that we have a mad, crazy schedule so it saves loads of time to do it just once a month rather than week by week. I also live in a rural town that doesn't have a large supermarket so it helps if I can cut down on trips to a nearby town, or at least just pop in quickly for a few of the essentials rather than do a big shop every week. Also I can look out for specials if I am aware of things I am after ahead of time.

It is not always quick and easy to plan our menus, as the Papa works shift work and I have to take his hours into consideration. I try to plan things, that he doesn't like as much, but the girls and I do, to have when he isn't around and of course food he loves (PIZZA, pizza and oh yeah pizza) on one of those nights he's home. It also means I can't always follow the previous years plan for the same month but generally I try and use that one to start with.

I have a few themes that I also follow which makes planning easier.  i.e. Meatless Mondays, Slow Cooker Thursdays (we get back late from dance classes so it's nice to come in to something ready), Fast food Fridays (it's homemade fast food),Saturday roasts and Simple Sundays where we often have leftovers or a toasted sandwich or soup but I do plan a yummy dessert to make up for it. If anyone is desperate for dessert any other night they are welcome to have some ice cream or fruit otherwise I only plan dessert for Sundays.

I also make a cooked breakfast on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. We aren't big cereal fans and I also find it is often cheaper to have a cook breakfast what with the price of cereal these days. So I plan cooked breakfasts for those days and everyone looks forward to them, except for me who'd prefer to be in bed with her head under the pillow drawing out those last few minutes of peace and quiet.

And as we homeschool, we eat at home most days, so I usually plan a few different things to have during the week. i.e., soup, wraps, etc to keep the menu interesting. I know great mum aren't I ... actually it's simply to stop us ALL whining that we are "bored" with sandwiches again.

Lastly I try and add some weekly baking as we all prefer home baking to any store bought. Did anyone else pick up on the "try" in that sentence.

Of course if I need or want to detour from the menu, then I do, it is not cast in stone (despite what my family thinks!) but it really does take some pressure off this Mama's shoulders.

I'd love to share my spreadsheet with you,  it's nothing fancy but who knows maybe there will be some new meal ideas for you to try, but I am clueless on how to do it. If  anyone knows how to, and wants me to then please let me know.

Happy planning.

Pin It