Friday, July 31, 2009

A New Bump In The Road

We've discovered a new allergy for Jayden, and perhaps it isn't so much new for Jayden as much as it finally came to heads for him. You see, Jayden has always fought eczema, and as a baby it was determined that it was mainly coming from his excessive need to drool, and man did that kid drool! He doesn't drool now, he just sweats like crazy and when he does he'd get an eczema type rash. I always presumed (falsely) that it was more prickly heat rash then eczema as he never complained too much about itching and a shower often "fixed" things for him. However, over the past couple of months I've noticed that showers haven't helped his eczema, and that it was so bad behind his knees he'd managed to scratch himself raw. Then he woke up with it on his tummy, and while I battled it, I wasn't seeing any connections as to what was causing it.

His bedding and clothes are washed regularly, I swear if he stinks it's not cause his clothes are dirty! I don't use smelly or strong soaps because I have severe skin allergies and just smelling perfumes gives me headaches and makes my skin crawl! We replaced the doona on his bed and we carefully watched what he ate, yet it wasn't making any difference to his rash.

Things finally came to a head when his entire back was covered with it, as was his tummy, arm pits, behind his knees and down his thighs. I managed to turn the tables and play 20 questions with the local chemist and have him answer my questions for a change. We came home, loaded Jayden up with zyrtec and heavily applied an eczema cream to his body (MediHoney, which I'd highly recommend!)

Then I had one of those dawning moments. You know, a total epiphany where the light bulbs spring on and are shinning brightly at 100 watts. As I sat there watching Jayden drink his umpteenth glass of milk it dawned on me that not only was he guzzling way more then the dairy could supply, but his itches were worse each time he consumed a mug full. So, I did the unthinkable and banned him from milk.

He took one look at me smiled and said, "Funny Mom.." he was quite for a few minutes and then said, "Is it a joke?" Boy was he upset when I said no. He didn't quite cry, but his eyes were big and shinny. Milk is Jayden's weak point. Even when he was little he always wanted milk in his cup opposed to juice.

So for 5 days he was totally milk free, then he asked for a glass of it. I decided we might as well see what happens, and while he wasn't gagging his guts out he was quite uncomfortable. The poor kid was curled up on the floor with a tummy ache, and once that let up he was one stinky little fellow! His itches were also much worse by the following day. Oddly enough his "itchies", as we've dubbed them, seem to be worse 24 hours later (or slightly less) then they do a few hours later.

This is one of those frustrating new bumps, kinda like the time he broke out in hives after having amoxicillin after all ready having been on the stuff twice previously! So now on top of no sugar he can't have milk, which has pretty much eliminated eating anywhere but at home for him. Eating at home is kinda tricky for us too..

I noticed that lots of our recipes contain milk or butter or both. Which means Jayden has enjoyed (Uncle D, you'll love this one!) juice sweetened corn flakes with chocolate soy milk for breakfast this week. Not exactly normal and not entirely healthy since the soy milk had sugar in it. He wouldn't touch the plain soy milk. He didn't like the fresh goats milk we obtained, and I can't seem to get my hot little hands on raw milk.

Due to his reactions I suspect he has more of a lactose problem then a true allergy. If that's so then the problems could be eliminated by using raw milk, but that's a long story and best saved for another day.. For now we're subbing apple juice for milk in most of our recipes (works as a sweetener too..), we replace half the butter with coconut oil and the other half with applesauce and add 2 T oil or we use a nut/seed based margarine for him.

We've successfully converted our Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookie recipe (we've been using dairy free chocolate for a while because it's the only way I can get it sugar-free), in fact he can't keep his hands out of them! I've got an applesauce cake cooling in the kitchen for his breakfast tomorrow, and surely that will be great because who doesn't like being told they can have cake for breakfast?! Pancakes (a normal breakfast food around here) are another story. While I made them with water, I wasn't very impressed with the results. Jayden on the other hand didn't seem to care and ate them anyway. I need to come up with a new salad dressing too because he loves Ranch and that's clearly out.

While the road is a tad bumpy as we work on converting and changing recipes I'm also a tad grateful for it. Things haven't been quite right with Jayden and it's nice to see him feeling better and acting "normal" again. Having mega allergies myself I know how miserable one can feel when they run amuck, and I'm grateful we've found his problems (for now) and they are reasonably easy to deal with. I also suspect poor Susan and Gracie down at the dairy might be relieved too, Jayden demands an awful lot of milk from them on a pretty regular basis..

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Math Carnivals..

Let's Play Math is a fun little math blog full of ideas, games, and a conglomeration of many math teacher's ideas. I've used some of the games listed over there, and have ideas for a few more they've listed. Every month or so they round up math ideas for a Math Carnival which is hosted on a variety of different blogs, but can always be found over on Let's Play Math. The Aussie Pumpkin Patch has been featured in the past two math carnivals! How fun is that? If you're interested you can check out Math Teachers At Play #11 & Math Teachers At Play #12. Super Math Bear is wondering if he'll end up featured on a Math Teachers At Play, he's been warming up his paw for autographs. That silly old bear!

Help Name Mr Lid Man

Meet Mr. Lid man. He is made of lots of recycled lids, and he's very colorful. Mr. Lidman has no name, and he's quite sad about that. In fact he was so disappointed to learn he didn't have a name he became quite inconsolable!

He searched high

and he searched low..

He tried an infomercial to get people to call in with suggestions

but no one called..

So he decided to just hang around and wait for us to come up with a solution.

Will you help name the poor fellow??


To enter our Lid man give-away you just need to leave a comment with a name for him! He'll pick his favorite name on Sunday, August 9, and announce the winner. The winner will receive one very colorful Lidman (pictured above) hand crafted by the folks from the Aussie Pumpkin Patch. Contest is open to anyone, anywhere.

Monday, July 27, 2009


In the Fun Filled Weekly Workbox Meme I posted a link for the Ni Hao Kai Lan puppets and the silly link got you there, but the links provided by Nick Jr to download the puppets don't work. Sorry about that. You have to go the long way around and use the puppets theme link.

Another Note 7/28: The link for Rintoo is here. He's the tiger looking puppet, Morgan was most put out the second link didn't provide him, so I had to monkey around, but I found it.

We're having some slight internet issues here, but once they clear up the Aussie Pumpkin Patch will be hosting another give-away. I'll give you one small hint. Other than that you'll just have to wait it out.

Hopefully we'll have some photos to post of some really adorable masked lapwing chicks. They are crazy cute, but their parents, not so much. They are pretty territorial birds (think Killdeer for those of you in America..) and weren't to keen when we walked by with the dog. It was amazing to watch the chicks scrunch down and hide like rocks when the parents took to the air. Yes, the parents took to the air to dive bomb Buster. No joke! All the masked lapwings have it in for him, I'd say "Poor dog.." but I'm pretty sure he asks for it ...

And yes, for anyone who clicked on the above link, those little stinkers really have wing spurs! I spent many hours after we first moved here chasing some down with my book and binoculars just to verify that fact myself. Not so smart chasing down birds with spurs, but one has to know, right? I'm fairy certain the birds were saying the same things my neighbors were, "Crazy American..." but hey, it's not every day one spies a bird with spurs, unless of course your yard is often invaded with masked lapwings (like ours..)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

100 Push-Up Challenge

Have you heard about the 100 Push-Up Challenge? Well I did, and quite by mistake, and I should have run the other way when I saw it, but I mean come on, let's be honest, I'd love to be able to do 100 push ups in a row. My upper body strength totally stinks. Now you know. Seriously, it does though! I can do push ups, but not 100, and I'm thinking if I can do 100 push ups by the end of the winter I'll have some nice shapely arms for the summer, or then again I might be totally armless! It's true, my arms could seriously fall off, and the bad news is so could Lawrence's because I talked him into joining me! So if in our next Christmas photo we're armless you'll know why!

Not sure if you're doing a real push-up or not? Check out the video above for information and instructions. It will also show you what lovely muscles you'll be working on while you're arms are screaming that they are about to fall off. Or, in my case my arms and my sternum scream!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Weekly Workboxes: Vacation Boxes

This week our workboxes are going to be a bit different. See, we've been schooling for 5 solid weeks, and we normally only school for 3 weeks on with 1 week off. However, Nana is on the mainland, and we knew when she came back (hopefully she's not reading this!) we'd be a bit busy visiting amongst a few other things (which I can't mention at the moment..) However, the longer we keep going without a break the slower we become. The more scatterbrained our weekly plans are, and the less we seem to accomplish. Which means, the principle and the teacher had a chat and decided that next week we'd officially be on break! However, I don't want the kids going nuts thinking they'll be on the Wii all day. They are far more into playing on the Wii then they are with watching tv. In the summer when we have breaks they play hard all day long outside, but remember we're in the Southern Hemisphere and that makes it winter here. A wet and wild winter at that.

I've been tossing an idea around for quite some time now about how I'd handle workboxes during our off weeks. The idea of an off week is to be off so we can regroup, clean, cook, etc. Yet, I want the kids occupied. So, after much debating with myself and weighing out my options I decided they'd find three items in their workboxes each day for the week we're off. Rather then filling 3 workboxes each and every day, I'll fill them all up at the start of the week and use the cute labels I made (with the graphic help of PcCrafter again) to stick on the front of 5 workboxes so they know which workbox to do when.

They were fairly simple to make, and yes, once again I used my nifty scrapbooking program. I told you it gets a huge workout! I started out with the all dog one. We have a big dog lover who wants to grow up and own two dogs and 20 bunnies (heaven help us all with those bunnies!) The other one usually goes for cats, I've no idea if it's because the brother clings to dogs or if he truly has a "thing" for cats. Chances are that's a mystery I'll never solve! Either way I ended up making two cat sets, one with pink (left), one with orange and blue (right). Then, just because I was having so much fun, I made one with cats and dogs and a cute fire hydrant that Buster begged me to put on it.. So, the boys will find a set of tags on their boxes and inside they'll find:
  • Monday: 1 book to read ea.; dinosaur resistance art (do you know how hard it is to find plain white glue in Tasmania??), & turns playing BugBoats on BugCafe Live.
  • Tuesday: 1 book to read ea.; M - supplies to paint his salt dough island, J - Kai Lan puppets to use with the tv; Scrabble Jr.
  • Wednesday: 1 magazine ea for their browsing pleasure; supplies to interview Gram-Gram & Poppy about the Moon Landing (part of Space School); Backyardagain Mission To Mars Game tickets
  • Thursday: 1 book to read ea.; S'math (M) & Trouble (J); trip to their favorite park (unless we have rain, then it's a trip to the video store instead..)
  • Friday: 1 book to read ea; Nature Walk (if no rain; if rain play-dough); Bubble Painting
We may or may not do our Nim's Island class this week. Since they are prerecorded missing a week isn't a true miss, we can do it at another time, so we won't miss out. The boys are enjoying it so that's a good thing! Oh, and you can download your own set of tags here if you want. It's another pdf, and all four pages are in one!
What about you, what have you got planned for your Fun Filled Weekly Workboxes this week?Blog about it and come back and link up. If you don't have a blog and want to link up, just leave a comment and let us know what you've planned for your workboxes.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Keeping History Simple

History is important to me, perhaps because I've always enjoyed it. Or rather, I've enjoyed learning about people and places in times before me and hearing their stories. I'm not so much into memorizing dates and places and facts and times, but rather the how and why of it all. That to me is what makes history interesting, and, to be honest, fun. I don't want my kids to think history is boring, and since I find it important enough to teach/share with them, I like to keep it interesting.

The thing about history is, that no matter how much you know, you can always learn something new! For instance, I may spend my time explaining many American historical events to my family.. like the fact that the Boston Tea Party wasn't a fun flowery festival, but rather a stealth operation in the middle of the night. The boys were disappointed and amazed, all three of them. However, as I find myself embarking on the need to teach my children about their Australian heritage, I find that I lack knowledge in this area.

Yet, Australian history isn't so different from what I know. It takes place in a different land, with different people, but to some degree there are many things that are the same. Explorers, pioneers, gold rushes, racial segregation, war & peace, colonies, and on and on. Sure the land was different, and their outcomes and starts were different, but the stories are just as unique and amazing.

We keep history simple by selecting good quality books. I'm not picky about whether the book is a chapter book or a picture book. I'm picky about it's content. Is it factual and fun and captivating or is it dry and boring? We like feeling like we're a part of the events that have happened hundreds of years ago, and when that happens we remember far more then we would if we sat around drilling ourselves on facts.

When we learned about Christopher Columbus earlier this year, we read a delightful book I'd picked up for a meager 20 cents called I sailed With Columbus. The book was written from the point of view of one of the young gromet's on the Santa Maria. It's like peeking into his journal entries and it's filled with so much information it's amazing. We learned how and why ships travel in knots, and how that speed was determined. We learned how they kept track of time on ships, and how they slept, what they ate, and even, yes I'll admit it, how they pottied on the boats. The book was so fascinating the kids spent weeks playing Explorers using some of the Islands Columbus and his crew found. They built their ships and had maps and candles on board and were most displeased when I asked that they clean it all up so I could vacuum one day. They were so captivated by this book they wanted to relive it over and over.

We listened to By The Great Horn Spoon, and this had the same amazing effect on all of us. Not only was the book well written about the California Gold Rush, it was well read for us too. You felt yourself pulled into this "fortunately unfortunately" type story. You see the daily struggles and fears and joys of living in a gold dig. We were enthralled by the Butler, captivated by young Jack's plight to save Aunt Arabella and his constant letters home. With every page we were on the look out for "the man in the hipper hopper hat."

The boys spent weeks wearing the biggest hats they could find. They rode stick horses, pretended to find gold in the sandbox, and had some amazing western stand-offs. No one in this house can resist carrying their umbrella on their arm as Praiseworthy did, even if we don't own a bowler hat.

From these simple books we learned so much about the time frame in history, what people did, how they dressed, acted, what they saw, what they ate, and more. These are the things the boys will remember, those are the stories they'll pass on and tell someone on a cold or rainy afternoon. After our story is over, or sometimes while we're enjoying it we'll add special dates, events, or people to our timeline which is currently hanging in our dinning room. That big thing has hung in many rooms of many homes, and always lands back in one of our more commonly used rooms.

The boys will often color a picture while a book is being read to them, usually they color a picture relevant to the story. For little ones (as in Jayden) this is all they do for their history notebook. All though sometimes I'll ask him if he'd like me to write anything down for him, sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't. Morgan, on the other hand will color a picture, draw a picture, or ask me to find him specific ones on the computer that he can cut and paste into his notebook. Then he'll narrate back pivotal points of the story, or a saying he especially enjoyed. Then we punch holes in the paper, and stick it in their notebooks. We don't fuss over chronological order..

Here are a couple of living book lists for historical books; List One, List Two. I'm also in the process of making my own list of books we've read or will be reading, which I'll be adding to as I go along. Our home library is ever expanding, and my poor husband wasn't too horrified the day I said I wanted to buy one of those old fashioned homes with the library rooms that had a ladder in it that spun all the way around the room. (Yeah, I've watched Beauty & The Beast WAY too much...)

The point is, a good book can captivate it's audience and take them into a whole new world. That's the kind of books we like to read for history. We want to be transported back in time, and left there just long enough to want to come back and visit again and again.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A few Questions Answered

Where did you get the planner in your pictures?
I made it. I have a scrapbooking program, which my loving husband bought for me many moons ago as a Christmas gift. I've used it relentlessly since the day it arrived for making all sorts of fun things. Including this handy little planner for myself.

Where'd you get the graphics?
Some were ones I had stored away in my scrapbooking program, some I found on the internet through a simple google search. Remember when searching for images many are copyrighted, so choose wisely.

Where can I get a copy of the planner?
The planner links are posted here. Each section is slightly defined, so you hopefully know which links to click on to find what you're after. Each bit of the planner is saved as a pdf, and some are quite large (12 pages or more) and may take a minute or two to download!

What about the cover and calendar pages, are they available?
Yes! They are now. I had a few technical difficulties with one of the computers (I have to pass my pdfs through a couple of computers sometimes..) but I've got it all squared away now! The cover is here. It's three pages with three different wording options. The calendars are here. I left them blank for perpetual use, and because some of us celebrate different holidays then others, etc.

Will you ever make another?
Probably! I enjoy using the program very much, but right now I'm working on some notebooking pages, lapbooks, and other things for the boys upcoming studies. I'm sure I'll probably share whatever I make though.

Loving Earth Chocolate

Not too long ago I mentioned using some agave sweetened chocolate, but never got back to it... Finding sugar-free chocolate that isn't loaded with chemical sugars has been pretty difficult. While we could find sugar-free chocolate, it was often sweetened with malitol or sucrose, which wasn't something we really wanted. I can't get unsweetened chocolate here, which I would have melted down and added stevia to. In fact I was hoping to find some before Easter so that I could make the boys a few chocolates, but I was very unsuccessful in locating any. Many moons ago I was in town at one of the many health food shops I frequent getting my normal bread making supplies when I saw a bottle of agave nectar on the counter.

Now, this might not sound all that exciting, but truth be told I'd been trying to find some for a while and hadn't been having luck with that either! I could order it from the mainland, but it only came in large quantities and I wasn't willing to do that having not tried it yet. Anyway, when I found this small bottle of stuff I purchased it on the spot and nearly ran back to the car before anyone else could try to snag it from me!

The particular shop I was at, while it carries a reasonable range of stuff (most of the time), she has the reputation (with me) for always being out of what I most need when I especially need it. She's always willing to order it, but getting stuff delivered into Tasmania is kind of like throwing a dart at a board and hoping you hit exactly what you want when you want. Now, if you're a supplier to Tasmania, don't take it the wrong way.. it's just my experience! The fact is that it does eventually get here, but never when you expect it. So, after trying the agave syrup and finding that it worked quite well I looked the company up online!

I discovered that Loving Earth is an Australian based company out of Victoria and that I can buy directly from them should I ever want to. However, while looking around their webpage at all their offerings I noticed they also sold chocolate which they claimed to be sugar-free. I wasn't very excited, but opted to read the ingredient label anyway. People are beginning to think label reading is a big past time of mine..

I was delighted to see that the only form of sweetener in the bars was agave syrup! When I realized that the shop I'd just been in was suppose to carry the chocolate I was tempted to run back out at midnight to see if it was true. As it turned out, it was true, all though she quite often runs out so I normally buy it at my veggie shed instead..

The chocolate is quite nice and comes in a variety of flavors, all of which we've liked thus far. Jayden prefers the plain dark chocolate one, which is fine by me. The mint one has a nice mint flavor, but it also has nubs of cocoa bean in it which he's not especially fond of. They don't taste bad, and I don't mind them. The Goji berry one is also quite nice, and I find that Goji berries taste a bit like raspberries, except they have yellow seeds that look similar to a tomato seed. The purple corn and almond is also quite nice, and I don't taste much corn in it. In fact, we don't eat that one very often as a couple of us seem to have some intollerences with corn too.

Morgan and Lawrence can't stand the chocolate. Morgan isn't into dark chocolate and finds any form of dark chocolate disgusting. His favorite is white, so clearly he doesn't enjoy the Loving Earth stuff. Lawrence on the other hand doesn't like it because he thinks it's too bitter (he still eats a fair amount of sugar though.)

The thing is, the Loving Earth Chocolate is quite pricey. The big bars (100 g) range in price from 8.95 - 9.95 depending on which shop we pick them up at. The smaller bars (more like a single serve, but we get at least 3-4 out of them) range in price from 4.50-5.50, again depending on which store we purchase them at. Not exactly cheap stuff, but we don't eat much of it at one time either.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Our Solar System

Remember that solar system I was all gung-ho to make? Well, after many delays we finally got it assembled and painted up. Our biggest delay came in finding supplies, as our trips to the craft store were postponed a few times. Once we made it we were delighted to find a kit of foam balls prepackaged (at a decent price) that were all the right sizes for our project! Turned out to be a good thing too, because the shop was out of foam balls in varying size, dolly pegs (we needed those too), white glue, and a handful of other items I was looking for. All though I suspect they weren't as much out of stock as they were simply "in boxes" as they were rearranging..

Once we decided to work on it we pulled out the paints and newspaper and set to work. The idea was to cover up all the balls with foil first. This gave them some of those real looking craters and valleys and mountainous regions. Painting them was another story, the objects are round and that meant getting covered in paint.

I had fun painting earth, and made sure to include Australia. It came out pretty well since I had to freeform it over foil. It was the only one I painted as I was busy mixing paint and rolling the balls in glue sticks and aluminum foil. Lawrence and Morgan did the majority of the painting and despite the top picture enjoyed themselves while they were at it..

Jayden planted the big yellow sunshine, and he screamed a few times frightening all of us. Apparently the sun "burned him". Yeah we didn't exactly laugh when I squirted red paint across the table instead of onto the artist palette..

It was so cold in the house (and wet outside) that it took a while for these little fellows to dry. We eventually moved them closer to the heaters and then hung them up on the ceiling with our stars. I'll have to wait for the sun to properly shine in order to get a picture of them, but it looks quite nice. To hang them up we put small eyelets in the top of them that we had on hand. Then I used string and taped the string to the ceiling. They are holding up really well despite the occasional touch to the sun when someone screams out, "I've been burned!"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Container Gardening

While I'd love to have a great big giant vegetable patch in the yard, I don't. So, I've been playing here and there with container gardening, which has come up with iffy results. We had a few lettuces that we managed to enjoy some of after picking off snails. We also managed a cucumber or two and a bazillion tomatoes last year. So, despite it being a tad early I've all ready been doing plenty of reading and planning for our containers this year. Only, being a visual person, and one who likes to do far more research then can possibly be healthy, I scoured my library catalog system for a book that would help answer a few questions I had. Kitchen Harvest nearly leapt off the shelves into my lap, and I've all ready made plans to purchase the book. I'm really loving this little gem!

It also happened that a local store had strawberry plants, raspberry canes, and seed potatoes on sale. We stocked up! I all ready had plans for the potatoes, finding this handy little guide sometime ago. We also have a quarter sized strawberry pot, which we received for Christmas, I can't wait to see the pot brimming with green leaves and red berries. The upside of container gardening is that if I move things inside we can have home grown fruits and veggies during abnormal seasons.

I've all ready started my garden planning by picking out seeds from The Lost Seed Company. I love their seeds, and have used many in the past, and was reminded of them again recently. I'm delighted to see that my local nursery has a much wider selection this year! I'm looking forward to some beans now that they have the bush variety! We picked up some Capsicum (pepper) & Baby Cos (lettuce) today. What I love the most about this company is that their seeds are all non-gmo, non-hybrids, & completely chemical free. I dunno about you, but I feel totally freaked out when I open a packet of seeds and it says, "Not For Humane Consumption", what's the point in that?! The other nifty thing about The Lost Seed Company is that they are a Tasmanian based company. Tasmania has some very strict rules in place about what can and can't be sent into the state. Many gardening seeds can't be sent in, even if they are produced in another part of Australia!

The boys are on board as well. Morgan's holding out to grow some pumpkins, and I'm with him since we can get a few that will be awesome for pies. I also noticed they now have a New England variety which normally sell for $20 ea. in our local grocery. Oh yes, you read that right! When you Americans are carving up pumpkins for fall, our stores have them too, but at such unsightly prices I'm shocked anyone would buy them. If Morgan tends his seeds right he could have quite the pumpkin stand this year. Jayden is holding out for watermelon, and I'm with him ALL the way! I'm enjoying planning our container garden during this very gray and wet winter we're currently enduring. It's like that ray of sunshine on an otherwise very dreary day.

How To Build Your Own T.V.

Last week my wonderful husband bought me a new washer. Our old one wasn't ringing the clothes out much.. okay at all. I had to lug armfuls of dripping wet clothes outside into the wintery weather to wait for it to drip dry so I could bring it inside to dry properly. I was also beginning to doubt my EcoStore soap.. Turns out, whatever was up with the lack of spinning was also effecting the agitating mode. So when we came home with this wonderfully gigantic washer it didn't come in a box. Rather it came with styrofoam protecting the top and bottom and was completely wrapped up in plastic. When I was given the job of moving the styrofoam out of the hallway I couldn't help but feel all crafty about it. I thought, 'wow, that looks like a tv front, and I could so do something with it', and I did.

Start with a styrofoam frame, I'm betting you could even use a cardboard box or anything that you could make into this shape. Don't worry about the stickers, I just left them on there and pulled out a roll of wrapping paper. Probably one that we've had for years and I found while cleaning a closet this week..

Wrap the whole thing in whatever paper you opt for, or you could spray paint it. My K-mart doesn't sell spray paint, and I wasn't in the mood for battling traffic to cross the road to the hardware store. So I simply used what I had. For the rounded corners I "eased" my wrapping paper in. That means I cut it and then folded it over and taped it down. This project uses an unusually large amount of tape. Some areas of wrapping paper were "pieced" together. It doesn't have to be perfect, the kids won't care.

I used three bottle caps, because we have too many all saved up for lidmen (stay tuned for a give away). I used screws and hammered them through the middle of the lid, and pushed them into the styrofoam. Jayden is particularly found of those buttons. I also looked through my stash of material for a curtain, Jayden was feeling highly gloomy while I was working on it so I let him help pick. Then we raced upstairs and hemmed 3 of the four sides (one side was a finished edge all ready). I made a large rod pocket at the top (aka a larger then normal hem so I could slip a dowel in there). Jayden was particularly excited to get to help with the sewing (read, he cut all my threads and pushed the reverse button for me..)

While Daddy cut a pole to hold the curtain (we had no dowel and ended up using a tomato steak from the shed.) I let Morgan help me with the remote control. With a chunk of leftover paper I simply covered an empty Ritz box. We cut little squares of colored papers to match the buttons on the front. We double stick taped them to the remote control.

After which I was firmly kicked out so they could have fun. I hid in the dinning room and videoed their performances which were quite funny. I heard some unusual weather reports, a few comedies, and even a singing show. Last night we all took turns making up shows. The boys saw guest appearances by Cookie, Prof. H, a Zany Steve Irwin, a Master Chef (I particularly liked when he put the jam on the bread and then instructed us NOT to put it in the toaster like that..), and even a few newscasters informing us about the moon landing. I think this recycled toy will get a lot of use this very wet winter..

Monday, July 20, 2009

Celebrate Moon Day!

Did you know that 40 years ago today, July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong first stepped foot on the moon? In honor of such a momentous occasion we opted to celebrate "Moon Day". It was a really fun way to work some history into our Space study, and to teach the boys about a real astronaut. We read a book from the library called What Would You Ask Neil Armstrong? The book is written as though a child is truly asking Armstrong questions, and it's a very informative little book. You can choose to read the short answers, like "What do you do?" "I am an American astronaut and pilot." Or you can read the short and long answer which goes into great detail about the questions asked. We opted to read the long and short answers together and the boys were completely fascinated by the entire book. They each walked away with totally different things on their minds. For instance, Jayden couldn't get over the parts where things blew up (The Challenger (Armstrong was involved in investigating what went wrong) as well as the Eagle moon module.) Morgan on the other hand gave me quite a bit of detail back on how the rocket came apart to throw the crew higher into space, and discussed when Armstrong first became a pilot and so on. Oh, and my absolute favorite, "I know which one he is in the picture, because I can really see just how strong his arms are Mom!" (I'm so sorry Mr. Armstrong, but you will forever be remembered in this home as "the man with the strongest arms!"

The boys each colored a little paper of an astronaut and then told me what I should write on it for them about Armstrong. I still tend to write lots for Morgan because he likes to sound each letter of his words to make sure they are spelled right. That and his mind travels faster then his hand so it's easier if he just tells it to me and I lodge it onto paper for him. I asked Jayden a few questions for him to answer, because he was just too hung up about the "blowing up bits". Alas..

(Ignore the fact that we called the Apollo the Challenger..)

We also viewed a clip of the telecast from when the actual landing took place back in 1969. The boys were very quiet as they watched, but when it was over Morgan simply said, "Gosh, what kinda camera did they use anyway? I could barely see anything, and it was all black and white with no color!" (Uncle D, you have a comrade in arms for not watching black and white because it can't be understood!!)

For diner we had baked Moon Rocks (baked potatoes), Alien Fingers (steamed green beans), Out Of This World Melon (watermelon cut into rocket shapes), Asteroid Sandwiches (marinated lemon honey chicken sandwiches), with a big Happy Moon Day cake.

The boys have been playing astronauts all evening, zooming from one planet to the next. They've also taken the t.v. I made them and used it to act out many moon landing scenarios as well as give us tidbits and updates on their favorite planets.

Happy Moon Day especially to Mr Armstrong, Mr. Aldren, & Mr. Collins. How will you be celebrating?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

How to zip the Click

Do to popular request I've made a quick video of how you zip and unzip with the Click spines. It's just a quick video because it's really how quick it is to do. When you use a spine the first time it's not quite as well rounded as mine is, but it still zips just a quickly.

See how quick and simple it is? Rather addictive too if I might say.

Fun Filled Weekly Workboxes

This week we're still working on Nim's Island & Space with Prof. H, but due to time difference in when videos are being posted we've opted to safe these two fun classes for the end of our week. So for the first three days of the week we'll be having some manner's classes around here, I'll just let you guess why.. I am the only girl around here you know.. even the dog's a boy, and one of the guinea pigs.. So workboxes will reflect a bit of that as well as some history we've been working on. We tend to do history by reading a good quality book out loud and then adding historical figures and events to our timeline. We also add a few pages to our notebook based on the things we're learning, which means the boys will probably have a turn with our fun new toy. We also didn't get to a couple of things last week due to dental appointments, and a few other minor hiccups, so you may see a few repeats..

  • Salt Island of Nim's Island (our lack of getting to this turned out to be a blessing since it's on the activities for this week with Pro. H)
  • Felt Food Grocery Store Math
  • Lots of hands on coins math
  • Space Math Book
  • E-mailing relatives (I know you'll be looking forward to that!)
  • Man On The Moon Day (Neil Armstrong Walked on the Moon on the 20th of this month, so we'll be reading about him and adding it to our timeline, etc.)
  • Abel Tasman read aloud and some mapping to go with it
  • Star Gazing with our indoor gazer
  • Tickets for Ice Age 3 (shh, don't tell!)
  • T.V. craft (you might have to see this one to understand it better.. I'll post about it when we finish it!)
We will of course be plucking away with a few other things this week, but this is our fun stuff that I've planned. I'd also like to play a few word games with Morgan, but we'll see. We may save those for the evening as we're in for some drizzly days ahead this week/month.

What about you, what have you got planned for your Fun Filled Weekly Workboxes this week? Blog about it and come link up here! If you don't have a blog and want to join the fun just leave a comment and tell us all about your workboxes.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Super Math Bear Strikes Again

Remember how I said he needed a paw print stamp to mark the math journals? Well he found himself one and this nifty stamp bad that makes it look like a goldish bronze stamp. The kinds think it's very cool to find he's stamped their work and left them a remark or two. I picked them up inexpensively while I was at the craft store last week looking for felt for another math lesson. Only, because I forgot a few crucial pieces we didn't get to that lesson this week. Super Math Bear was forgiving considering I didn't forget his stamp and ink pad. We focused in a bit more on clocks this week, and will now move them to just playing games for review and journal questions. We'll most likely give them a good review look again in a couple of weeks, but we're moving on to money now.

We made silly paper clocks with moving hands on them this week for our final math day. Then we glued (okay double stick taped) them into their math journals so they wouldn't lose them. The boys had fun making up times for each other and setting their clocks.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Homemade Rain Gauge

This week we've been doing a few weather related things while we enjoy a unit study based on Nim's Island. The boys have been eager to make a weather station for a while and this seemed like a great opportunity. Mind you, this is only phase one of their weather station, but we've had such a huge amount of rain I thought I'd go ahead and get this one set up. Of course, it hasn't rained a wink since. Supposedly it's coming on Saturday, and I suspect I'll have two little boys running out the door in gumboots and umbrellas to check the stats. They've all ready checked them each morning when they wake up and were rather disappointed to "not see even a single drop!" These were very easy to make and all you need is a couple of rubber bands, a stake (we used a bamboo pole from our tomatoes), and a 2 liter bottle (ours were 1.5 liters). You'll also need a sharp pair of scissors or a craft knife, a marker (water proof), and a couple of very excited helpers who can't wait to go outside and use the bamboo stakes as kung-fu fighting sticks.

Take your 2 liter bottle and cut the top off about 1/3 of the way down. Ours had those nifty little ribs and we cut off two ribs:

Decide which form of measurement you'll be measuring your rain water in and mark it upon your bottle. We went for milliliters and marked them out. Then we noted the 5 & 10 marks on the bottle. Next place the top of the bottle upside down inside the bottom of the bottle:

Exactness won't matter, or so the science wizard told me.. I figure I'll give him the benefit of the doubt since he was nearly a meteorologist once upon a time. Plus, if his fancy pants weather machine can take "imperfection" so can our recycled one! Next take your two rubberbands and slip one around the top part of the bottle, and one around the bottom part of the bottle:

Then allow your overly excited helper to freak out all the neighbors, and yourself, and pound the former kung-fu fighting stick.. I mean the bamboo stake into the ground:

After it's firmly in the ground slip the rubber bands over the pole as well so that they can hold the bottle on. We made two of these, and opted to put them in different places in the yard to see if each area got as much rain:

The boys will most likely record their finding in their nature journals.. Needless to say the boys are eagerly anticipating rain for a change. I'm pretty sure some of you will get regular updates on exactly how much they collect!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Fun New Toy

Remember the planner I shared a while back? Yes, that's a cover I made for it, and may I just say it took me way too long to get all those dandelion seeds all over the place. The effects were worthwhile though, don'tcha think? Anyway, that's not the new toy, the new toy is how I got that nifty spine on the planner! Several months ago I was considering purchasing the Proclick Binder from Amazon. It was then that I discovered Amazon truly had it out for me, because they refused to post that particular item my way. I was frustrated by it and decided to think about how to get around this problem. It's possible for me to send things via an American address, but sometimes items are too big or heavy to fit in the boxes we typically used. This binder went on the back burner for a while, but it was never forgotten. Then last week I had to make a run by the local office supply store. While there we decided to wander through the area they'd recently remodeled.

While the boys were wandering around the desks I stopped to look at the binders. They've never had what I wanted, I'm strictly against the comb binding. Probably because I'm too picky, but I was against it. While the binder I wanted wasn't on the shelf I noticed they had some interesting spines and I took a look. The spines I needed for my binder were on the shelf! So when the guy with a nose ring came to ask if I needed help I was able to focus on a real question instead of that highly annoying ring.. I asked him if I could use the spines with any binder they sold or if I needed a specific one.

The nose ring man was very unhelpful because he was really convinced that any old binding machine would work. I wasn't willing to risk 149 dollars to find out. So I thanked him, rounded up my guys and walked up to the counter with the spines in my hand. When the clerk rang them up I asked her the same question. She firmly said no any old binding machine wouldn't do at all. She then stated that to her knowledge they'd never even had that binder in stock. Oh so not helpful! The weird thing is, I bought the spines and decided I'd come home and see what I could find out about the binder I wanted.

After about 5 minutes I actually located the binder I wanted IN Australia. I was shocked, but oh so happy. I managed to purchase mine for $19.95 AUD from Deals Direct. When it arrived today I was literally jumping up and down, which means it's probably a good thing my husband collected the package and not me. Chances are it would have been the final straw for our poor Postie and he would have made a mad dive back to the post office and quite on the spot. After all, there's only so much craziness you can take from the American on your route before you've had your fill.

As for me, I'm pretty sure I'll be binding a whole lot of e-books I've acquired. The Click (as we've dubbed it) is seriously easy to use. Slip the paper in, slide the rounded bit on top to the other end, and you're done. The spines are equally easy to use and we've popped it open and re closed it many times all ready. That was the main reason I wanted to go with the Click. I wanted to be able to add to my spiral bound planner or take away from it! I really love this little thing!