Sunday, November 30, 2008

Jesse Tree Ornaments

I know I promised I'd post this picture ages ago, but the truth is it's taken me forever to get these done! These are my THIRD attempt. The first seven ornaments were made FOUR times. The first set didn't work, and the decal peeled off. Add to it the glazing effect didn't work (thus the peeling problem). Batch two, came out okay, but were large, batch three burned. So here is batch four, perfect sized, not peeling, and all strung up. Yes, some buttons are empty as I've still got a few more to make. Someone, who's initials are Lawrence Q. C. has lost the rest of my transfer paper. Once it's located (hopefully today) I will finish making the ornaments. The boys were delighted to get to hang those on the base of our Jesse Tree last night. They commented over each one and how shiny it was and which ones were their favorite. They tried to guess what some of the pictures were for, and others they all ready knew. They look forward to putting the first one on the tree properly this afternoon/evening. So do I, to be honest.

You can't see it very well, but one of my favorites is the Noah's Ark one as well as the Alter of Fire from Elija. I'll have to get some close-ups of the ornaments and post them as well, because while you get the gist of it with this view, you can't miss some of the beauty of them. For the record, I did roll the clay and use cutters for most of the shapes, however I did NOT do the graphic. I purchased it from The Old SchoolHouse online store, and downloaded them with the devotional The Glorious Coming. ($7.95 USD No shipping, instant PDF download.) Click here for more Jesse Tree Information.

Daddy, I want lipstick..

Morgan suffers from chapped lips quite often. He has the horrible habit of licking his lips while jumping on the trampoline, riding his skateboard, biking, whatever. Funny thing is we never actually see him licking his lips. Perhaps with the loss of so many teeth the spit just runs out of his mouth, I've really no idea. All I know is that he's always got chapped lips, and the area around his lips can often be chapped as well. When he was younger this would lead to much crying and even a few occasional screaming fits in the store when his lips would sting. Since then I've learned to keep some form of chapstick on hand. OMy old faithful tube of tea tree oil chapstick seems to have gone awal. So yesterday, when Morgan asked for some I directed him to a menthol form in the bathroom. He was more then happy with it considering his nose was stuffed up as well. Jayden, not wanting to be left out asked for "lipstick". I directed him to the bathroom as well, but the menthol stuff made him cry, saying it stung.

When we dashed to the store for eggs Daddy promised to look for lipstick, and he found some cherry flavored chapstick. Jayden happily doused his lips, face, cheeks, and fingers in the sticky red goo. Once inside he turned to Daddy and said, "Daddy, let me put some lipstick on you!" Daddy obliged him, Mommy laughed.

Key Lime Pie

It all started with the discussion of limes and how tasty they are. I pointed out you can make lime pie. This cause much excitement with the lime lovers, and of course I was reminded how my Great-Grandmother use to go to Red Lobster and bring back a lime pie for the family. They were awesomely delicious (is that possible) pies. I haven't had one in years, but that didn't mean we couldn't make one. Besides homemade is always better. Only, considering the Lime Lovers (Lawrence and Chris) had been discussing them and one of them (Chris) had a birthday coming up, Lawrence decided to make the pie himself, with just a bit of help.

Here's the recipe he used:

4 tsp lime peel

1/2 c lime juice

4 eggs, separated

1 can condensed milk

Mix peel, juice, and egg yolks together

add condensed milk, and mix until well combined, let sit 15 minutes

While waiting, make a graham cracker crust:

11 graham crackers, rocket shape optional

4 tablespoons butter, melted & 3 tablespoons sugar

whirl them in the food processor until well blended (Ignore my price tag.. I got the shelf model and didn't pay anywhere near that price!)

pour crumbs into lightly greased pie plate

spread evenly on the bottom and sides of pie plate & bake for 15 minutes

pour pie mixture into crust and bake for additional 15 minutes, or until set, but still "wiggly" (you are just killing off any possibility of salmonella)

top with meringue if desired
(4 egg whites, 1/2 tsp cream tartar, 6 tbsp sugar)

bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown; chill before serving

Notes: You are suppose to mix egg whites and peel for 2 minutes to turn green, Lawrence forgot that part. Instead, we used 2 drops yellow, and 1 drop blue of food coloring. This is suppose to work in a 9-inch pie plate (I don't own one.. shameful but true..) Oven temperatures are 350 F or 180 C.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

We've Been Elfed!

We've Been Elfed and it was so funny Lawrence had to purchase it. Yes, we all have REALLY silly faces, these are typical photos when you get tired of someone snapping your photo.. Yes, Morgan has a grape in his mouth... Laugh yourself silly and Enjoy.. Oh yes, Lawrence and Fred got in on the action too..

Mission Completion..

That's right, I hit 50,000 plus words. It's after midnight, and I'm totally zonkered, but I'm done, and it's not midnight on the 30th yet! Can you hear the Little Einstein's screaming Mission Completion? I can. Oh, and for the record, no, it's not done yet. I've still got a bit of work ahead of me, but the goal was to reach 50,000 words by November 30th. I even got a snazy little certificate to hang on the wall. How's that for fancy pants? And with that, I bid you all a good-night...

Friday, November 28, 2008

An Australian Thanksgiving

The question of the month has been, do you celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia? Yes, and No. We, as a family do celebrate Thanksgiving in November, but Australia, as a nation, does not. We celebrate, because it's part of our heritage, and our history.

Celebrating our American Thanksgiving in Australia is an interesting thing. First off, there's no annual Turkey Trot, which I sorely miss. I did 10k anyway, all though I saw no passing scenery, heard none of the Japanese immigrants discussing Thanksgiving with their children (I really enjoyed those conversations!), saw no signs encouraging me on, and missed out entirely on all the comments while pushing a stroller uphill (I don't miss pushing the stroller uphill!!)

We did not have Turkey. Turkeys are overpriced here, by a more then a mile. As in when I saw them in the local grocery they were marked at $62.95 for half a turkey. That's AUD, which means in USD it's roughly 32 dollars or so. Considering the boys don't know the difference between, and Lawrence doesn't like it, I cooked chicken instead.

We had many of the dishes we would normally enjoy at Thanksgiving. All though, much to Lawrnece's disappointment there was no fruit salad with mini marshmallows. Aussie mallows wouldn't have cut it in that particular salad, maybe next year Dear.. We did have cranberries, I found a jar of them and doctored them up with oranges, we had our traditional cornpudding (it's just not Thanksgiving without it!), mashed potatoes, and steamed veggies. Did you notice the boys inspecting the food on the table? They were trying to determine if they were brave enough to taste the cranberries!

Because, as a nation, Australia doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving, it was a pretty typical day here. No parade, unless you count the funny man in the kitchen doing silly jigs, and pushing trucks along for us (we enjoyed it). The mail ran (thanks for the package Mom & Dad!), and we did school.

The boys worked, during the week on their history pockets, and on Thanksgiving we finally got the first entire pocket constructed and filled. They've really enjoyed this, thus far. All though they've completely renamed the Pilgrims boats to "The Speedboat" (Speedwell), and "Some Kinda Flower" (MayFlower), much to Lawrence's great amusement. After reading the dimensions of the Mayflower we went out to the driveway and marked it out. The kids were impressed with how easy races were, until we pointed out all the other people who'd have been on the boat.

We had our dinner, and then washed it all down with homemade no sugar apple crumble with homemade vanilla ice cream on top, all while playing Duck Duck Bruce. Below are a few more pictures from the day..

Pouring Milk For dinner..

Front cover of Jayden's book, he ran out of room on the end for his N and put it at the front!

First pocket, full of all their goodies..

A closer view of the first pocket goodies..

Sugar-Free Apple Crumble with honey ice cream.

Monday, November 24, 2008

By The Great Horn Spoon!!

You know the phrase, "Never judge a book by it's cover."? I'm sure you do because we've all heard it a MILLION times. Our family is big on audio books. We love popping them in on long car rides to make the time pass more quickly. We've listened to a large list of books in the car, and the kids will spend days acting the books out.
We were recently in need of a new book for the car, and I had the luxury of being in the library ALONE. Which meant no children asking me why the books on said subject were all checked out. Or "I know the Pigeon books are in the W area, but I can't find them."
I've seen this book sitting on the shelf many times over, but the cover is very misleading. I don't know what I expected from the cover, but certainly not what I got. The book is OUTSTANDING. Seriously. It captivated us from the minute we popped in that first disc.
The book is set during the California gold rush, and the two main characters Praiseworthy and Jack have set off to claim their fortune. Praiseworthy is a lowly butler who can get you in and out of any possible situation, much like a fortunately, unfortunately type situation. Jack is a young boy intent on getting himself lots of gold and a six-shooter.
Along the way they meet many other characters, some of them so funny you can't stop laughing, and others who are down right despicable. There is, as with all books, many twists and turns, and of course a nemesis for Jack and Praiseworthy. Sid Fleischman did an OUTSTANDING job writing the book, and his descriptions of things are truly amazing, if not at times downright funny.
The narrator does a wonderful job getting right into the story and keeping you completely transfixed! We finished this book up over a week ago and the kids are still quoting it and acting it out. They aren't the only ones either. I've heard a few exclamations of "By the great horn spoon!" around here lately, as well as "The man with the hippa hoppa hat.." All of which you'll simply have to read or listen to the book to understand.
With that said, we listened to the book by simply borrowing it from our library. It can also be purchased via or I think the kids will be delighted to do this book for school someday in the near future. I found a unit study guide all ready made for the book! After all, not only would we get to pan for gold, but we'd get the perfect excuse to listen to the book again!
For those of you in the Tennessee Area, if you hold a library card you have the most powerful tool in accessing HUNDREDS of FREE audio books. Seriously. This may be available in other areas, but as I still hold a vaild TN library card I only know about it for that area. Anyway, for those interested simply go to R.E.A.D.S. From there search through the books, pick one out you want and use your library card! It's really simple, and just for the record you can access and BURN for FREE By The Great Horn Spoon. Please note that not ALL books at READS are permitted to be burned to cd, however all books are permitted to be used on your portable music player (ie. mp3 player) during the time period you have them checked out.
It does require downloading their FREE software, and it is only compatible with Windows. However, downloading is simple, checking out books, putting books on holds, etc. It's all super simple. I promise if I can do it, you can too.

A few other Audio Books we've enjoyed:

Heidi (we heard the junior version which is quick and to the point, but not as good as the normal version. It was all our library had.) Morgan and I truly loved this book, and Morgan was able to guess what might happen (I was impressed by that.)

Goose Girl -- this book is AWESOME, I've read it and listened to it. The audio is done with many different people and just outstanding. While I didn't put it on for the kids (I listened while working out) the kids did hear it and it was suitable.

Harry Potter (all of them) -- they are all done by Jim Dale. He's an outstanding performer in the audio book world. He has a different voice for each character and has no problem going back and forth between them. He truly captivates his audience. The boys have only been permitted to listen to the first two books. If you want to listen for FREE check your local library, most have them, but look for the American version done by Jim Dale, we haven't listened to the BBC version yet.

The Secret Garden -- this was also a dramatized version. The only different between a full cast presentation (most of the time) is that you don't get word for word what the book says. I believe they call that Dramatized vs full cast presentation. Which means rather then saying "sally walked downstairs" you hear her walking down the stairs. The boys LOVED this book as well. In fact they asked to go rent the movie afterwards. (The link provided is not the version we listened to.. we borrowed a BBC production version from our local library..)

Dexperaux -- this was WONDERFULLY done. Some people found the book depressing to read, but while it has a LOT of downers in it, we found the book a delight to listen to. We're still often quoting poor Migory Sow. Stick with the book, you'll love the ending, I promise.

The Miraculous Journey Of Edward Tulane -- this book wasn't what I expected at first, but it was still a terrific book. We enjoyed listening to it on a long car trip and no matter what you think of Edward when the book starts, remember that in the end he'll have learned his lesson. I dare not say more for fear of giving the ending away!

Escape From The Carnivale -- this book is also read by Jim Dale. If you've listened to the Harry Potter books first you'll notice some familiar voices, even if they are for different characters. Even still this book was really well done. Mermaids and pirates galore, both boys loved these. They also informed Nana they could see mermaids in the ocean.. (Nice one Jay!)

Olga Da Polga -- these are written by the famous Michael Bond, all you Paddington fans should know who he is! The book was MARVELOUSLY done. We were captivated from the first word, and I'll admit that we spent a bit of extra time sitting in the car just so we could listen to a "little bit more". Olga is a tale telling guinea pig with a wild imagination, and I strongly suspect if our piggies hadn't all ready been named one of them would have become an Olga! There's no link for an audio version of this book because it's an English book and hard to come by. We borrowed the first one in the series from our local library and were VERY disappointed to see that was the only audio version they had.

Animal Ark: Puppy In A Puddle -- this is another great one that the kids loved. It's about an animal rescue shelter and two children who help out. The two main characters uncover a ring of puppy smugglers and help return a lost dog to it's rightful home. The only downside was the the narrator used some thick accents and at times we had difficulty understanding her.

Chronicles Of Narnia -- There are two versions of these out. We personally own the BBC version which is a full cast presentation that has been dramatized as well. Meaning that these would not be unabridged versions of the book. They are well done and great to listen to. There is also an unabridged version of these books, as well as abridged, but non-dramatized versions. It's all depending on which version you'd prefer to listen to. Here's a couple of other links as READS only has two of the books: Audible has the whole set, and Amazon does too. This is the set we own, I'd purchased mine a few years ago at Abc Distributing. The boys enjoyed these as well.

Charlie Bone Series -- this is an interesting series of books. We found them at our local library and read them before we listened. They involve children who have super powers, each one's power more unique then another. There are good-guys and bad-guys with these powers. Each side fighting to return their side to power. There is, as expected, an antagonist in the books which include a grandmother, a few aunts, a school master, and the typical school bully, but there are more as well. Not all the children in the books have these unique abilities, and each book, while still about the same children focuses on a new problem. Through out each book you'll meet a trio of interesting cats, Charlie Bone, his best friend, his best friend's dog Runner Bean (too cute), and a smattering of other characters. Don't be fooled if your library (or other source) tries to tell you that the series ends with Book 5, it goes on for at least two more books!

We also have a large wish list over at including titles like The Penderwicks (awesome book, even for boys), The Penderwicks On Gardam Street, The Water Horse (yes the book the movie was based on!), Eragon (don't want to wait get them over at Audible), Ginger Pye (I remember this book from when I was a kid!). Our list is ever growing!

Thanksgiving On Thursday

I suppose the title of this post is kinda obvious, but this is the book the kids are doing for school this week. They really love reading the Jack and Annie books and traveling through time with them. We own several of these, and if you go to the Magic Tree House website you can actually collect passport stickers (all free as is the passport) for answering three questions correctly after reading the books. Last year we didn't actually celebrate Thanksgiving as we'd just returned from our American holiday. This year we're attempting it, we'll see how it goes.
As for school... we'll be reading one or two chapters a day (depending on time constraints and such) and then making a lapbook as well. CurrClick (awesome online store) is where we get our Thanksgiving on Thursday lapbook, where it is currently on special for $3.99 (USD).
There's lots of little tidbits in there for the kids to study about. Today we only had time for one chapter, plus the prologue. So we discussed how states in America have a two letter abbreviation. Morgan was excited by the prospect of not having to write out Pennsylvania. He was equally excited to notice that a piece of American mail today also only had two letters on it. We also learned about the parts of a tree (basic review) and days of the week (also basic review). However, it was nice to see him spell them out (you should see some of the spellings!)
We read a book entitled Gum Trees, which was all about the gum trees of Australia. The boys were excited to spot a few they knew very well, and to learn all about gum nuts (something they collect every time we walk to the beach.)
They'll also be learning about John Smith (which will be tricky since we have no books about him, and neither does our library..), the first Thanksgiving, Squanto, and of course the Pilgrims. I think this will also be a perfect opportunity to toss some corn into the garden. Just for the record, yes I seriously considered getting some fish and chucking their heads in with the corn seeds (if you don't know what I'm talking about then you need to read up on Squanto!), but I decided I so wasn't game for that.
I also purchased the ebook from Evan Moor (another great homeschooling resource place) entitled Life In Pymouth Colony. It's absolutely loaded with awesome stuff. I don't see us getting to all of it this week, but that's okay, after all the first Thanksgiving didn't last just one day did it?
I'm also considering an audio book for the kids to listen to The Legend of Squanto. (If you click on the little green arrow under the picture you can listen to a clip of it.) I think it would tie in nicely with our studies this week, it's just a matter of finding the time to listen to it. Either way though, I think the boys will really enjoy it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Another Rainy Weekend..

'It's been raining for days..' you have to hear that tune playing in your head, right? Well, it has been raining for days here, and it's starting to feel like months! So I've got that Jars Of Clay song running through my head like crazy! Mind you, we're all going a little crazy from all the rain.
Look at the dog, he's chosen to lay on the deck and beg through the window! So what do we do when it's yet another rainy day in Tasmania? An odd assortment of things.. We wanted to take the kids to a movie, but the only children's movie still playing wasn't showing today. Bummer! So we loaded them up and took them to Jungle Gyms for an hour or two instead. (It's basically an indoor run around playground for kids..)

The boys spent a good hour reenacting Peter Rabbit for us with their stick puppets. It was amusing to watch and listen to:

Is it just me, or does that look like an angry Momma bunny?

Peter's Mother telling him not to get cooked into a pie!

Peter, sneaking under the fence, after being implored by the sparrows

Flopsy and Mommy Bunny wishing it weren't raining..

Then it was time to watch Daddy play cricket on the computer:

Daddy discussing new projects for Bug Cafe..

Some big pondering going on there..

Next you pester Mommy about that wonderful smell (it was ketchup in the crock-pot), and ask her where she got those fuzzy pink slippers:

homemade ketchup simmering away

Mommy's gaudy slippers, but they're warm!

Next they moved on to coloring pictures of Peter Rabbit, eventually we'll write letters on the back of them and mail them off to family.. maybe on the next rainy weekend:

This kept them busy for about 20 minutes..

Then they all retired up to the rumpus room for a movie and a real cricket game, which left me with plenty of time to work on our reindeer:

It's difficult to take a picture when you're falling down the stairs..

Some are by hand (with antlers) and some are by machine (without antlers)

I was just about done with this project when the cricket ended and the guys came down asking for dinner.. Time really does fly when you're having fun! Upon realizing I hadn't started tea yet, they opted to make tacos for me:

Stare dreamily out the window while waiting on the mince to defrost

Stir in carrot puree and taco seasoning..

The tacos were yummy, the puppet show cute, the cricket was disappointing (from what I hear.. I didn't see any of it), the movie was good enough to reenact and quote, and the reindeer are completed!! For a rainy Saturday we certainly enjoyed ourselves..

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Christmas Basket

This is our Christmas Basket, okay it's really the hot wheel basket, but I snagged it for Christmas goodies. The idea is to keep the boys busy, constructively, and focused on the reason why we, as a family, choose to celebrate Christmas. Which means this basket is loaded with books, videos, crafts, and another assortment of things. I'm not done filling it yet, as we still have a few things on their way here from America, as well as a few things that i couldn't fit in. I'm thinking, due to the size of some things that we'll probably keep it loaded with books and videos (some of which will change each week), and then I'll put the items needed to go along with our Christmas Fun Reindeers. And, yes, those are real Christmas presents that we've all ready wrapped for this year. (The funny one on the right is a guitar for Morgan. He's been hinting about one for a while, all though I think he was hoping for electric, and we went acoustic.) Below are some of the contents in our basket..

Party in a bag!! We always have fun decorating the house at Christmastime. and that includes balloons since it's a birthday party, right? I found a whole bag of them this year, normally I can only find one or two and I stick them in the boys stockings and let them choose when and where to hang them up. They'll be delighted to cover the house with these balloons!

A couple of our Nativities. We have the Fisher Price Little People Nativity, one that seems to be indestructible, yippie! All though I noticed, when collecting the pieces, that Joseph is missing. I'll have to find him. The other one pictures we picked up this year, and within ten minutes of using the boys snapped Mary in half. In all fairness, she was apparently scaling a mountain and tumbled down. I managed to tape her back together since I couldn't find the super glue! I'm considering a wooden one that is nice and big, our local Christian Book Shop sells it, but I'll have to find out the price first. Then Nana is knitting Jayden one (He saw it at a craft fair and requested it) and the boys have been watching the weekly progress!

These are our silliness showing. We've been collecting one each year for a couple of years. Somewhere we have a reindeer (he might still be in America). The sheep is a Grumpy Party Pooper, cute play on words. The boys haven't seen the pink one yet, they'll be amused! Excuse the glare here off the cds..

I pulled out our Christmas cds and put them in the basket. We usually pick a new one each year and I'm debating between a Veggie Tale one or one with Various artists on it. We shall see, we shall see.. I might need to purchase Lawrence a pair of ear plugs, he can only tolerate very small doses of Christmas Carols (long story....)

These are nothing more then the kid stockings. I thought they'd have a good laugh opening it up to find something they all ready owned. Plus, I couldn't find any more bags to hide them in.

A few fun things to do. The box is a set of ornaments to make, it's a Tommy Nelson kit that we picked up last year. Only we ended up getting involved in so many other things that we never utilized the whole kit! Which means it's back in the basket again this year. The big pows with the "don't peek" signs are going to go on our bedroom doors, which we'll cover with wrapping paper. This is a new idea. We'll be doing a countdown calendar, and one of the ideas I found was to remind our children that they are gifts from God to us. So, to remind our entire family that we are gifts to each other, and in the spirit of Christmas, we'll decorate our doors, and put giant bows on it. I suspect we'll break down into teams and see who can pull it off the best. Should be fun!

This is our Christmas Tree ornaments. One of the "papers" tucked in the reindeer instructs the boys to decorate the tree. So I've tucked all the ornaments in a small bag to put in our basket. I'll have to close it up with some tape or "something" so the kids don't "peek" and figure out what their doing for the week!

This is a countdown book, believe it or not. I picked it up at Goodwill before we left America, and it served as our Christmas Tree Ornaments for our first Christmas in Australia. It comes with a little book to read, and then each day you pull out the ornament and put it on the tree. The ornaments are a nice thick cardboard and have withstood two Christmas with my rough and tumble crew. I'm more amazed we haven't managed to loose any!

A few of the Christmas movies I've all ready tucked away. Many of our holiday videos are still in America, so we may have to borrow some to make up for it. There's a list around here somewhere of the Christmas videos I'd like to watch this year. The boys are holding out for Jingle All the Way and the Santa Clause (1-3). They've never seen either of them. The First Noel (pictured above) is a well loved movie around this house. Believe it or not Andy Griffith does one of the main voices on it. It's a quick short film and the boys love it. The Blue's Clues is a big favorite for them too, touching any many different celebrations in December (Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, etc.) The Legend Of The Candy Cane is new, can't wait for that one.

Check these out! They are shadow puppets. I actually got them free last year from Amy Pak's Christmas Study over at Homeschool in the woods. (They are currently offering a Free Christmas Unit Study over there!) It takes a LOT of effort to cut these things out, because the more you remove the better the shadow puppet will look. Needless to say I didn't get them all cut out last year, and I'd love to finish that up for this year. I think the boys would love seeing a shadow puppet show, and then attempting one themselves!

Here's a few of the crafts I all ready tossed in the basket. There's a puzzle in the background by The people who made the Candle Bible, the illustrations are usually whimsical for the little ones. I suspect the puzzle will be done daily. The papers on the floor with numbers on them are a countdown project for Jayden. The book pictures is a cling film book where the kids can act out the "story of Christmas". I strongly suspect they'll love this one too

This is a small pile of our Christmas themed books. As you can easily see most of them are Biblically based. We don't do Santa here, mostly because I don't want the kids focusing on what they will or won't get verse what they can give to others. The Felix book pictured does have Santa in it, but they love it based on the little letters included. I actually purchased it for the geographical fun involved in it.