This week all our studies are coming from this handy little book. The boys have throughly enjoyed everything we've done this week, which hasn't been a great deal as they've both been suffering from some basic colds. We did, however, learn a little about Spain. They were impressed to see that olive trees (all though they've no idea what an olive is..) and cork trees grow there. I think they were even more impressed by the cork trees and loved the pictures we found. After all they use their cork guns on a regular basis around here.. especially when "girly" cousins come and join in the fun! They learned about inches, centimeters (timely lesson too as we were learning about inches in our math book), feet, and yards. We discussed interjections and fantasy stories. Morgan even wrote one about a zebra named Stripey who lives in China.
Now, before you criticizes his idea of putting a zebra in China instead of Africa, I will point out that I mentioned this to him. I asked him if he was sure about that because zebras weren't roaming around China. You see, he has two great passions.. China & zebras. He simply pointed out that since his story was starting with "Once upon a time" it wasn't real, and if it wasn't real ANYTHING could happen. I wasn't about to argue with his theory, because after all it was very sound reasoning. Not to mention, if he wants to write, who cares how real it is!
We also enjoyed a book entitled, I Sailed With Columbus. The book is written from the view of a gromet on the boat. It's amazingly well detailed and informative. Not just about Spain and the Canary Islands, but also about the "adventure" that Columbus and his crew had. Plus, we were highly impressed to learn a LOT about boats. How the term 'knots' came to be, how they kept track of time on boats, how they pottied on boats, and so much more. The author wrote the book and used all her details and information from details written in Columbus' diaries. Very interesting stuff!
The boys also made lapbooks:
Notice the vulture (we learned about those as well, and Jayden enjoyed counting as many as he could find in the book..) Morgan likes to "trick" people into thinking his lapbooks can't open by glueing something over the opening and then cutting it.
His full lapbook
His art lesson.. the idea was to show how an artist can make one thing in a picture look large and another small. Morgan chose to duplicate a picture in the story. His house came out bigger then he meant for it to, but he was still very pleased with his end result. So were we! (If you click on the picture to see a bigger version, please note you may need to turn your monitors upside down as he's glued his work on his lapbok UPSIDE DOWN and proceeded to hold the lapbook wrong way around for the photo!)
Jayden's book, he doesn't have an art to show yet as our printer is broken.. alas..
1 cup oat flour (I just grind up oats in the food processor)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of pure stevia extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups fat-free milk (or yogurt, vanilla is great!)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or apple sauce)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Combine the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; stir into dry ingredients just until combined. Pour batter by 1/2 cupfuls into a preheated waffle iron; bake according to manufacturer's directions until golden brown.
Note: if you use applesauce you might not get crispy waffles unless you re-toast in the toaster. If you use yogurt the batter will be thicker, so you might need to help it spread on the hot iron. I like to use our homemade vanilla yogurt in them.
We've been using the book The Story Of Ferdinand for school this week. The boys have really enjoyed the story, and if you've read the book then the picture below should make sense to you. I gave the boys some blocks, might worlds, and plastic animals and told them to make something about Ferdinand with it.
a view from uptop, Ferdinand is the one under the red cork tree. ;)
a view from the back.. can you see the "men with funny hats" (all though only one is wearing a hat..) The cart is that "truck" thing in the background..
Here's Ferdinand up close.. Ignore his defects, the dog had to get in on the fun ya know.. I was told to "pretend he has two ears and his foot isn't broken!"
It always starts out normal, but it never fails that dinner topics turn odd in our home. They are never completely normal, perhaps I should just feed everyone chocolate for dinner. They'd be so busy consuming it they wouldn't bother to have odd conversations... However, tonight it was oodles of veggies and fruit with homemade macaroni and cheese. Only, Lawrence can't stand if there's no meat present, and he opted to fry up sausages to mix in his helping of mac n cheese. He got them started a bit late and we were all at the table while his snags were frying away. Jayden was telling us all about peninsulas (yes he really knows..) when he sniffs the air and says:
"What's that smell?"
"Sausages," was Daddy's reply
"It's the smell of pig fat frying in a pan kiddo!" -- K
"What?!" -- J
"Yup, sausages can be pig, lamb, or even cow." -- K
"What's great fat?" -- M
"PIG FAT! Not GREAT fat. Who cares how fat the pig is you're only going to eat him right?" -- K
"Do I eat pig?" -- M
"You know bacon is pig, so of course you do?" -- K
"Is that why you don't eat sausages and stuff?" -- M
"WAIT A MINUTE!! You guys are so wrong!! If sausages were pigs they'd be pink, if they were cows they'd have big black spots, and if they were sheep they'd be white!" -- J
Just a side note, it won't deter my kids from eating meat to say these things. They know I have serious meat issues, as in mind over matter. So they enjoy gross detailed conversations of where our food came from, which usually results in Mom eating all the veggies while they scoff down all the meat. However, Jayden's theory was just beyond words, I liked his way of thinking! Let's just say I'm REALLY GLAD I don't like sausages, because if I did it'd be a looooooong time before I'd eat another.. ;)
We don't do the sugar thing in our house for a large variety of reasons. It started out because a couple of us have some seriously horrible reactions to sugar. While I've been aware of a variety of natural sweeteners, finding recipes, and learning to use them, is a whole different story. However, it's always a load of fun when we find a great recipe that everyone enjoys. Such was the case with our recent rendition of banana bread..
You see, Morgan had been begging for banana bread for a while. I have a recipe, somewhere, for making it with pure honey. He isn't particularly found of honey, and while he can't taste it in many baked goods I do believe he wasn't impressed with the banana bread recipe I'd used a year or so ago. (Yes, seriously it's been a year since I've made banana bread....)
I recently purchased the cookbook Sweet and SugarFree by Karen E. Barkie. Keep in mind that the cookbook was written by a women who hadn't had sugar in quite sometime. None of the recipes call for sugar. All recipes are made using fruit, fruit juice, fruit juice concentrate, or some combination of the aforementioned products. This was a tough one for me.
I can't go to my local grocery store and pick up a bottle, frozen can, or any other sort of fruit juice concentrate. However, I know I can make my own fruit juice concentrate (if I wanted) by boiling fruit juice until it's reduced in half. Again, not something I'm terribly interested in considering the fresh apple juice we buy is a bit pricey. However, I was game for the book..
We have since made 2.5 recipes. Yes, I did say half, trust me on this one.. Our first recipe was for a blueberry cake. Unfortunately the cake called for orange juice concentrate and coconut. I omitted the coconut (can't stand the stuff!), and just used regular orange juice. I ended up adding a half teaspoon of pure stevia to it because I knew my gang wouldn't like it. Between that and the blueberries you put in it they loved it.
I preferred the Apple Raisin Coffee Cake which was awesome! Super moist too. I will admit that I also added a half teaspoon of Stevia because I had no apple juice concentrate. I can obtain it here, but I have to pay a fortune (double the price of normal juice) and I can only get it at select health food stores. If I had used the concentrate instead of regular juice I think it would not have needed stevia.
Remember though, I haven't had sugar since before the first of the year, and the kids haven't had any since the first of February.. So we're not into anything mega sweet. This can cause problems when serving things to others, but so far most of our non-sugary treats have been okay with our guests. I'm not saying all treats with all guests, but at least some of the guests have liked whatever they've been given. Trying saying that one 10x fast!
Now for the half recipe. I have four recipes for banana bread in the house that I hadn't tried. Two were VERY close to each other. The other one was from our Stevia cookbook, and the third was an apple banana bread recipe. I opted to combine the two (and add a few things of our own) and the kids felt it was a total hit! Once I threw some leftover homemade vanilla ice cream on top they were 100% sold. (All though the following day they were just as happy to eat it without ice cream.) Here's what I ended up doing:
3/4 c mashed banana (don't skimp)
1/3 c veggie oil
1/2 c water
2 T pure maple syrup
1/2 t stevia
1/2 t cinnamon
1 heaping t baking soda
2 1/4 t powder
1 c white flour
1 c barley flour
1/2 c grain sweetened or mini chocolate chips
1/2 c currants
Mix the banana, oil, eggs, & water. Mix the dry ingredients together. Combine the wet and dry and mix until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and currants. Bake in a greased loaf pan for about 40-50 minutes, at 325 F (just under 180 C).
Notes: I didn't have enough white flour so I subbed with barley flour. The original recipe called for 2 cups of white flour. The original recipe(s) also called for 1 cup of nuts, but no one here much likes nuts. I mixed the stevia in with the dry ingredients. After about 20 minutes I covered my loaf with foil. It still browned, but not as quickly or as darkly. If baked goods get to "browned" around here the kids are certain they are burned.
Since our last piggie pictures weren't that great, we went on a mission to get a better picture to share. The only problem is our piggies are nosey and presume that when you lean over the cage you'll drop bits of veggies or fruit at them. This means they sniff and squeak and squawk and when you completely disappoint them by sticking only the rim of a camera lens in they run and hide in their house.
Cookie is the bigger of the two, and believe it or not is quite small and scrawny for her age. I won't be surprised if Peanut overtakes her at some point..
Cookie is a very personal piggie pie, and she wanted to know what we were doing. Her nose goes at about 200 mph when she's intrigued by what we're doing. Did you know guinea pigs sense of smell is nearly 100x greater then ours? That little piggie can smell the veggies when I walk in the door with them from the grocery! She's also great at begging for food with her perpetual "wheeeeeeks" for it.. Her favorite is cos (romaine) lettuce or sweet peppers (capsicums) She also happens to be Morgan's favorite piggie..
Peanut was oblivious to it all so long as she had hay to munch on. Cookie, however, was willing to come up to the lens and have a big sniff to see what was going on. I suspect if we hadn't backed up in fits of laughter she would have given it a nibble..
The happy friends. Peanut likes to climb a bit, so she wasn't happy to be in a position she couldn't climb out of, but Cookie didn't care. Ever hopeful and always nosey. She's really very funny. She's even befriended the dog. When she wants attention and no one will listen the dog will go nose to nose with her and they'll whimper back and forth. Kinda makes you wonder what on earth they are lamenting about.. These piggies, for the record, are probably about 9 or 10 months apart.
In our family, it's tradition to take the kids to see a movie for their birthday. This was far more doable in America when movies, especially for children, were released all year round. Because school holidays and summer fell during the December - February timeline a half dozen or more kids movies were brought out at the SAME TIME! We treated the boys to a movie in December, and then we treated them to another two in January, plus Nana treated them (and cousins) to yet another! We decided we were a bit movied out for Morgan's birthday and opted for something else.
We've been promising to take the boys camping, which was on the list, but we opted out until March so we could wait out the final days of the school holiday. Then we thought about a wildlife park we've been discussing going to for some time, and Morgan agreed he'd really like to go. So we opted for Wings Wildlife Park.
We ended up going after lunch and spent a considerable amount of time wandering amongst various animal enclosures. Something to keep in mind if you ever go, it's NOT a zoo. Many of the animals there will be released again at some point and time. Some of the animals there serve a purpose you probably don't want to think about (like the mice..) Some of the animals are there by choice, like the wallabies who could easily jump over their fence, but prefer for you to scratch their ears and give them grain..
Morgan was super excited about those crazy piggies, but he was also REALLY excited that they had live camels. Last year we studied camels when we rowed the book Miss Rumphius. For those of you who haven't read the book, Miss Rumphius travels the world and ends up hurting her back climbing off a camel. Morgan got to see his camels (no pictures, but possible video..) but only at a distance. Their paddock was large and they were all the way in the back, so were the bison (bummer I was holding out for them!). However, we had a blast enjoying some of the other animals present.
They had some very VERY large fish who were so eager for food they would jump OUT of the water. Jayden is convinced they are baby dolphins (he has an infatuation there) because he knows for sure that dolphins jump out of the water. (His theory was very sound to be honest with you..) There was one of the trouts that would sit there with his mouth hanging wide open. I attempted to video them jumping, but I haven't uploaded it yet.. In the mean time you can enjoy a few photos.
These were also my favorite.. they had two baby wombats inside. They had a friendly rabbit in with them (apparently wombats and rabbits like each other, because the older wombats outside also had rabbits to keep them company?!) When we were done these little fellows were waking up and rubbing all over the bunny. The door of the room they were in had screening on it so the boys squatted down to talk and the little fellows came running over to look at them.
These two were also inside. They are 7 months old and their diet was being watched to be sure they'd be okay out on their own. Again, dinner time must have been close to our leaving time because they woke up and had a great game of chase with each other and when they heard the boys laughing they, too, came up to the door to have a peak and see who was watching them.
This is the BIGGEST echidna I've yet to see, and we've seen several in the wild and in another wildlife park. This guy was HUGE. I'm talking as big as a full grown cat. It was unreal. The picture isn't so great because he was in a room and we had to take the picture through glass.
This is only a small portion of the managagre of guinea pigs they had! Notice the two very tiny ones in the picture? The blurred thing is the third little one. Those were the three the guys fell in love with and had hoped to bring at least one of them home, but they were a bit too young yet. Mind you, by three weeks you separate the boys because they are mature.. but the girl in charge was thinking they were only about two weeks..
This is a wedgetailed eagle, & are highly endangered and very rare to see in the wild. He kept a very close eye on us, and looked like he'd take flight a few times, we had hoped he would so we could get a picture of his wingspan which is amazing. There was no sign explaining why they had this fellow. At the last Rehabilitation park we visited they had a pair of them, each one had been shot in a wing, and both were incapable of flying. This one didn't appear to be injured, rather he looked pretty annoyed that we stopped to gawk at him. Very intimidating!
One of the many grey roos laying around inside a paddock with turkeys. They were more then happy to be fed and pet..
See what I mean! We had three of them eating out of our hands at once. The smaller of the two (on the left) kept putting it's paws on my hand while he ate.. Very cute.
This is a wallaby, they tend to be a lot more jittery then the roos. They are also smaller and their coloring is very different, can you tell the difference?
This is a Pademelon. They are smaller then a wallaby, but bigger then a potaroo. Either way, we didn't feed them, but admired them from afar. The signs clearly warned that they are known for biting and scratching. Yeah, we enjoyed watching them bounce around and nibble the grass in their field.
Aren't they cute hugging like that? Koalas aren't actually native to Tasmania, we have none here except in the occasional animal park. We don't sport the right kind of gum trees here for them!
Okay, this goat scared all of us! We heard him bleating on the other side of the fence and I walked over to say hello when he jumped up startling me. The kids took off running SCREAMING and I could NOT convince them to come back and let him eat out of their hands. Morgan did, eventually come back and pet it, Jayden kinda oogled from far enough back that it couldn't "sniff" him.
Everybody has a waterbuffalo, yours is fat but mine is slow... Okay, seriously we couldn't stop singing that silly song after we caught sight of these fellows. They were fun to see too, as we'd also studied about them this past school year.
Okay, so we do have a picture, but that's just how far away these fellows were!
There was three of these that were following us up and down the fencerows when they saw the food bag. Funnier yet, when I'd feed them (the boys wouldn't do it!) this turkey would come running up and wait patiently for me to drop him a handful of grain as well. These guys saw the food bag in Jayden's hand and leaned WAY over the fence to sniff it, it caught him off guard and we had a time convincing him to pat them anyway. When I mentioned how Mary and Joseph might have ridden on one he was amazed that the SAME donkey could POSSIBLY be in Australia.. Talk about losing something in translation!
Despite being frightened of these big fellows he fell in love with a VERY small white horse. He was most put out when I wouldn't give it anymore feed telling me, "He has a very sad look on his face because you won't give him more. Maybe you should now!"
You can't see it in this picture, but these little guys had speckled bums, I promise! They were deer, and it was neat to be able to feed them. They were highly skitterish (aren't all deer?) unlike the goats who are bull headed and willing to do whatever it takes to get some feed! Morgan was willing to scratch these guys, but they weren't keen on it, a second hand in the fence scared them. Jayden wouldn't do it because he was sure the fence was electric?! Yes, we stuck our hands through the fence, no it wasn't against the rules! Just thought I'd clarify that one for you..
Morgan didn't know what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday, but he kept going on and on about oreos. Morgan has a weakness. Enter, Oreos. His weakness is so great with these little cookies that he named his twin guinea pigs Oreo & Cookie. I'm not kidding.
I found a recipe for some delicious looking homemade oreo cookies. The problem was they were loaded with a variety of sugar. I couldn't do that for us. Which led to a lot of thinking and plotting. I had hoped to obtain Maple sugar, to be honest, but that was ruled out when I realized how much the company wanted to charge for shipping. I wasn't left with enough time to have it shipped to a US residence and then to me.
I ended up making the chocolate cookies with Stevia, and they tasted just fine, but were too weak to hold up to stuffing. I was going to make him a big pile of oreos and pile them up. He would have thought it was awesome. Instead, I piled up the oreo style wafers and stacked them with whipped cream. I heard a cry of, "AWESOME!" when he spotted it in the fridge.
The cake was enjoyed, which is what really counts. He loved the Madagascar characters on top, all though Jayden was quick to point out that Morgan was licking a zebra bum.. Boys! The candles were also a HUGE hit, thank you Gram-Gram & Poppy!
Morgan received a few things but his two two favorites would be his ipod, we now have to repeat everything a MILLION times because it's always turned on (with his favorite new cd), and his Harry Potter Lego (again thank you Gram-Gram & Poppy!)
Just ignore the library bag and computer cord in that picture, won't you?
This isn't the best picture, but have you ever tried to photograph two kids and two guinea pigs at the same time?! I'm telling you it's not easy! The little one in Morgan's lap is the newest addition to our home, and despite the fact that he has two hands on her she can easily fit in the palm of one of his little hands. Seriously.
For Morgan's birthday we took him to a Wildlife Park (more info coming later..) and while there he was very excited to hear they would have guinea pigs to view. That same morning he'd lost two guinea pigs, in a very unfortunate way.. So after saying his good-byes to the one we buried he was very excited about going to see guinea pigs.
When they said they had guinea pigs, they weren't kidding either! They had a stall, not normal horse sized, more like single sheep sized, full of these little critters. They were having a blast in there running around and being crazy. However, they foolishly had boys and girls in together which means they had babies in there too. They had three babies that were barely 3 weeks old. Needless to say they were small and tiny and cute and Daddy said he'd buy him one. The lady in charge said, "You can take one, but I don't know if it's safe."
Instead she called the Guinea Pig lady, or G. Pig lady as she called herself. She actually brought the little one we took from her own home. Apparently she has so many that need homes she keeps some at the park and some at her place. This little one is very placid and very tiny. She also has some funny fur thing going on. She looks short haired, but she's got fuzz. When our babies were born they didn't have that, so I'm guessing this has more to do with her breed.
Sadly, neither of our piggies are Rosettes, which is my personal favorite because that way they don't shed as much and it doesn't irritate my allergies. Good thing they are so cute and funny! Plus, we can tell a very funny story about how rosette piggies got their rosettes (totally not true a true story, but...)
After much debating Morgan was going to dub his new piggie Olga Da Polga (which is where the story comes from). If you haven't read Olga you really should. It's funny and cute! Anyway.. he decided that since Jayden was calling her Polga Da Olga he'd just call her peanut instead. I didn't completely follow his logic, but that's not really the point of this story..
So now we have Cookie and Peanut. Cookie has always been small and dainty compared to the rest of our brood. She was always lowest on the totem pole as well. Which, of course, made her very friendly because she relished the attention we gave her. She was one of the little ones that was born on Easter morning last year, much to our surprise.
For the first time in her life she looks BIG, and she's not. She can still curl up and fit in your hand too, but she much prefers to sniff you and beg for veggies. Cookie doesn't just smell fruits and veggies.. she knows that if the fridge opens and she squeaks you're likely to give her some small tidbit. I suspect she'll have Peanut trained in this fashion before too long...