Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Homemade Sausage Rolls

It's traditional around here to buzz around the house on the day of the Footy Final so that we can spend the afternoon uninterrupted and completely enjoying the game. It's also our tradition to make sausage rolls to eat during the game; which is much more traditional the Papa John's pizza we use to order to eat while watching the SuperBowl.  Anyway, I'm just not an Aussie Sausage fan, really, I'm not. I eat them on very rare occasions, but I'm just not that keen on them. It's not just Aussie sausages though, I honestly can't stand much of any sausage; the exception is Emril Laggasse's chicken apple sausages. Something I've yet to be capable of replicating.

However, a few years ago I stumbled upon a recipe for sausage rolls that only use beef mince (ground beef) and we've been making them ever since. The guys in this house go nutters for them, and I'm lucky if I can make a single batch spread into a lunch too anymore. Considering I haven't posted a recipe in a while I thought I'd share this one

Homemade Sausage Rolls

450 - 500g beef mince (we use organic)
1 carrot, finely grated
1 red capsicum (sweet pepper), finely chopped
1/4 - 1/2 c frozen green peas
2 T dried chives OR 1/4 c finely chopped onion (we use leek)
2 slices of wholemeal (whole wheat) bread, ground to bread crumbs
2 T tomato sauce (ketchup; homemade works, but I was out so we used the tore bought organic I had on hand)
1 - 1/2 t Italian seasoning
1 egg (not pictured)
Puff Pastry Sheets

Pull your puff pastry sheets out of the freezer and let them thaw for about 15-20 minutes before you start mixing this all up, trust me you'll thank me later on that one! I use the finest grater on my shredded to shred up our carrot, but I must admit that carrot pictured above was huge and I only used about half of it. I'm sure you could use a larger grater, but this is the size I use. I also had a little boy jumping up and down waiting to eat the last bit of carrot that I didn't shred in an attempt not to shred my fingers too.. 

Chop the pepper and onion finely, I use my Vidalia Onion Chopper. My parents gave it to me for my birthday while I was in America and that little thing has been used so much it's broken. Yes, truly broken and I can't wait for a new one! As it, I have to ask Mr S to help me chop with it now because it's quite difficult to use while broken. BUT, I love that I can get a big or small chop and that it can all happen in one swift movement. See the backend of the chopper where it looks like a chunk of plastic is missing? It is! After 3.5 years of constant use in my kitchen the little parts that connect to the lid snapped off. I cried, really I did. The upside is, when I get a new one I'll get the fancy new slicing blade, I can't wait!!

Put the carrot, onion, pepper, peas, and Italian seasonings in the bowl. I don't normally put them all in their own little piles, but wow it sure was colorful wasn't it? You could also add fresh/frozen/canned corn, but I can't eat corn so I don't. Jayden is often disappointed by this, but it's never truly stopped him from devouring his fair share of sausage rolls to be honest.

Add the mince, ketchup and bread crumbs. You can just throw two slices of bread in your blender or food processor if you want. I usually keep the ends of the bread, or that which has gone slightly stale due to helpful children leaving bread bags open, into my freezer. Then, as I need it I grind it up into bread crumbs or bake the bread slices and turn those into dry bread crumbs. The bread in the top photo, was just for the picture. I had fresh bread crumbs in the freezer that I pulled out. 

Add an egg as well, I was doing this recipe from memory and totally forgot the egg! I have a habit of doing that and don't remember it until my mixture is a bit dry and not sticking together. So, add an egg and them mix it all up until it's well incorporated, like the picture above.

Take a puff pastry sheet and cut it in half, I usually do this with a pizza cutter. I keep my pastry on the blue sheets that separate them because once they start thawing they can get quite sticky.  Take a handful of mixture and spread it in a line on one of the longsides of the pastry. Not too much of you'll have a hard time closing your sausage roll! I thought I snapped a photo of this step, but apparently I didn't. I kinda got into my groove and had a kitchen helper here so we were on a good roll!

Once you have it rolled up press the pastry down firmly. You can also brush milk on it to seal it, but I find that it usually sticks just fine on it's own. Cut the long log in half and place the two rolls on a baking sheet. In the above picture they are sitting on a cooling rack on a baking sheet, but they were baked on the pan itself and not on the cooling rack. You can also brush the whole roll with milk and sprinkle poppy seeds on top if you desire. We were out of poppy seeds so we had them as is.

Bake at 180-200 (350-400F) for 12 minutes per side. Mr S usually takes on the duty of cooking these for us. He swears by 12 minutes per side, not any more and not any less. He also says that sometimes his baking sheet is wet and he finds the need to change the baking paper to remove the excess moisture. So if it happens to you don't panic. You'll have to excuse the random messiness and insanity of the above picture.. we were two minutes away from game time and we tossed them on a plate, grabbed the ketchup and ran for it! 

And for the record, we're still hoping the Saints pull out a victory next week! What's the chances of another draw?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Saturday Fun

Now that soccer season is over, Saturdays are a bit more lazy around here. Especially when they are wet and grey and a bit chilly. See the ocean? It wasn't very happy looking. Lots of big crashing waves!

Morgan also decorated the house for the Footy Final. Lots of red, white, and black around here. He even pulled out a few clothes to match his decorations. That balloon is a mere dent in the bucket compared to what he did upstairs where we watched the game. That room was even complete with the "finish" ribbon across a doorway, and Im pretty sure I spotted a sign that said, "Saint's Fans Only!"

There was filling up air mattresses for the boys camp out that evening, and of course popcorn as they tested out the beds. Notice the dog pretending not to notice the popcorn, the beds or the camera? Don't be fooled.. He's like the ocean, you never turn your back on him.. never. Trust me.

There was popsicle eating too, all though he claimed he doesn't like the purple ones. That smile says differently. He's also sporting his new jacket which he's hardly been without since he received it. He didn't mind that the Hawks weren't playing, so long as he was still allowed to wear the jacket. Apparently the "Saints Fans Only" and black and red rules don't apply to little brothers.

There was cookie making; it was as close to black and red as I could get them. I won't share the recipe, they weren't nice enough. Honest they weren't! But, since the game ended in a draw (And Holy Cats! That was an amazing game, and I've forgiven them all for costing me 4 fingernails and half my voice!) I'll be making them again next weekend with a better recipe. If it tastes better I'll share then.

There was poster making to match his flag. All though, honestly people, twenty-four hours later and I'm still unsure where he hung the poster! I've found a lot of really cute decorations, but I've yet to spot the poster. Maybe he's tucked it away until the rematch next week..

Jayden counter acted all the black and red in the house by giving us a dash of Gold and Brown! I so love his drawings. Check out the hands! He spends hours using the dry erase board to draw us all sorts of pictures. I love his Revolutionary War scenes on the board too, must snap a photo next time he draws them..

And just to be sure we didn't forget the Hawks weren't playing, Morgan drew us a picture of a St's player. Really though, I gotta say do you think this could be Nick Dal Santo? It's the smile that makes me think so, do you agree?

There was also some Sausage Roll making. A tradition no one would be happy if I forgot! They must have their sausage rolls on Grand Final day. And really, I agree with them. You know though, the kids only stuck around long enough to gorge themselves on sausage rolls then they departed and it was up to Mr S and I to ring the bell each time the Saints scored! And boy was it ever an edge of the seat kind game, pity it ended in a draw.. I suppose the upside is we can do it all over again next week!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bandana Quilt

Isn't it colorful? Oh how I love color. I can't stand white walls (yet I'm surrounded by them!) In fact, I love every room being a different color! I wanted to make a really colorful blanket for picnics and beach and soccer games and any other time we felt like using it! Then I remembered seeing a bandana quilt on a crafting blog and thought it would be perfect for our needs. I can't wait to put the backing on and check it out. The thing is huge! I had hoped to use a spare brown queen sized flat sheet I had on hand to back it with, but it turned out to be too small!

Im pretty sure that if we have any freak blizzards while we're out picnicking all four of us can roll up in the quilt together. Personally, I'm looking forward to curling up on it with a good book or telling silly stories while we eat. Giggles and sunshine, and cookouts. Summer is going to be very good indeed.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

More Seaglass

A couple of weeks ago the boys and I went down to a beach in town while waiting for Mr S who was busy in a meeting. While waiting the boys had a blast playing all sorts of games in the sand and on the rocks. I, however, noticed that the beach was a treasure trove for sea glass! So much so that I threw some back because it wasn't as buffed and "done" as other pieces.

We left the beach with pockets bulging full of sea glass! It was amazing. We also managed to overfill our sea glass jar which prompted much celebration around our house. We had hoped to fill it up over the summer, but we were so busy swimming we never quite accomplished that task.

We have a large variety of colors and sizes and even shapes. We have yet to find a piece of purple or even red sea glass. Both would be super neat to find, and Morgan asks each time I come back with a piece if it happens to be purple, he's desperate to see what it looks like.

On the beach we frequent most often we tend to find the seagreen color, another beach tends to turn up lots of the clear, and another beach turns up most of the brown glass. Either way it's all amazing to see and enjoy.

Some pieces are obvious they've come from bottles. Do you see the two brown pieces that are the bottom of a bottle? There's also a clear white piece up there that has the ridges from a bottle in it too. There's debate if that lighter brown piece is orange or brown. One sea glass is buffed and smoothed in the sea it can have a slightly frosted look to it. For a long time we thought our seagreen color was actually blue until we found a beautiful piece of true blue glass.

See the different between the color of our sea marble (middle) and our blue piece (left)? That piece is a beautiful shade of blue, but we have some that are even darker and more amazing to look at. Our sea marble is still one of our most special pieces, the boys would love to find more! I can't give either of them the sea marble unless I have one for each of them, so between you and me I wouldn't mind finding another piece as well.

Here's a picture of just some of our favorite pieces. Isn't that green piece amazing? The white one was found on the beach in town that we explored. Check out the design still on the pottery, how cool is that?

This is one of Morgan's favorite pieces because he feels it's shaped very much like Tasmania. He's got an amazing way of looking at things and not one of us noticed it until he pointed it out to us!

This one looks heart shaped to us, all though not so much resting in ones hand as it does when it's laying amongst the other bits and pieces of seaglass.

So, not a piece of sea glass, but check out that shell! It looked so much like a foot I had to bring it home to show to Mr S. It now sits in my kitchen window next to my jar of sea glass. I still smile each time I see it because honestly I'm still in awe each time I see it.

And there ya go, my kitchen window (or half of it) that we can stare out while doing dishes. Morgan gave me the cute snowman who sits to the left for my birthday last year. His nose is downright adorable, and I mean the snowman.. all though Morgan now sports freckles on his nose and I think it's equally adorable! Both boys gave me the #1 Mum button for Mother's Day. It was part of a card Jayden picked out. The Faith word was part of a windchime my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas, but during a recent wind storm the wind chime was destroyed yet the word Faith remaind untouched. I had to smile at God's sense of humor and I brought it in and popped it up on my windowsill. The orange "blob" is a piece of glay with both boys finger prints on it. The glass bear is from a friend in America who saw it and thought of me, it was a sweet gift to find waiting for me one day. The wooden cross is part of Jayden's annual Easter Garden, and the Father Christmas is also from Jayden. He felt that since I liked snowmen so much I must like Christmas a lot and thus he bought me the Father Christmas. It was such cute reasoning, and I really love what's written across the man's tummy though (click the picture to read it yourself!) 

Ignore the dirty glass in the window (I can't reach them from the outside!) and check out that overflowing jar of sea glass! We're thinking of breaking it down by color and to keep on filling them up as we go.. Sounds like a fun graphing project for math, doesn't it?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Brotherly Love

Reading time around here usually consists of the boys each grabbing a book and reading some of it to the rest of us. Morgan has been slowly working his way through a variety of chapter books, favorite picture books, and a new easy reader set of mysteries he's discovered. All of which we completely enjoy and it has really helped build his confidence with reading, a big plus around here.

Jayden has been working his way through the Usborne Phonics Fat Cat On  A Mat & Other Stories. We own a few of the books that are part of this collection but they are scattered between Tasmania and America, so when Jayden said that he felt his reading books were repetitive and annoying we pulled out this particular book. Morgan also enjoyed a few of these stories when he was first learning to read, and he found it funny that they seemed so easy now.

One day last week it was quite late by the time we all curled up together on the couch to read. After listening to Morgan read to us about the case of the Missing Spaghetti there were complaints of hunger. So I left Jayden on the couch reading while I went to cook lunch. The instructions were simple, "Morgan would you please sit and listen incase he needs help."  I wasn't that far away, but with all my bustling about I couldn't completely hear everything Jayden was saying.

I turned around to check out the progress and found them curled up together reading through the story.  Despite what the pictures tell you, Jayden really was the one reading this story. (And yes, Jayden is the same size, if not a pinch bigger, then his older brother. Always has been.) Interestingly enough, I find words that might normally trigger a stumble with Morgan don't when he's the "teacher".  I found the scene quite sweet. I've heard many tales of how Morgan has helped Jayden read through books in the wee hours of the morning, but I've yet to witness how it unfolds.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mcdonalds & Heaven

We have a tradition in our home that the birthday person can pick a place to eat out for one meal on their special day. This is just one of few traditions we have, but one the boys look forward to each and every year.
Morgan will be 10 in February. I have to say that, a lot. He’s been reminding us since he turned 9 that next year he’d be 10. I’m pretty sure I’ll cry when it happens, but that’s not saying much because I get weepy when my kids birthdays creep nearer.
Anyway, this whole turning 10 business has Morgan up in arms. He’s delighted and excited. I’ve had a lot of, “Do you think when I’m 10 I can...” Once, I said, “I don’t know Honey, that seems an awful lot like...” but he cut me off and interjected with,  “but I’ll practically be a TEENAGER.” Teenagers are held in great awe in this house. That’s probably putting it mildly.
For the past few weeks I’ve been considering ways to make Morgan’s upcoming birthday extra special, after all he’ll be 10 and practically a teenager right? I’m apparently not the only one contemplating these thoughts.
Over dinner last night Morgan said, “Do you guys know which place I want to go to eat on my birthday?”
Now really I had great suspicion that he wanted to try out a place in town called The Three Amigos. Morgan loves Mexican, which is a good thing because when I was pregnant with that child I couldn’t get enough tacos. I actually went into labor in a Mexican restaurant! It’s just that, don’t laugh, I thought it was a tummy bug. Really. Okay, once you pick yourself up off the floor and stop laughing...
“Three Amigos,” I offer.
He smiles but has no chance to answer because Jayden says, “McDonalds!”
Morgan laughs, “No Jayden, I want to go to Subs or Three Amigos. Either one is okay.”
I’m not a fan of Subway, to be honest. Their processed meats give me a migraine (literally) and they skimp on the veggies, but I’m not about to rain on his birthday plans. Jayden, on the other hand is a huge fan of Subway and requests subs each year for his birthday.
“Oh, yeah Subway would be awesome!”
“Subway? I don’t want Subway!”
Everyone stares at Morgan in total confusion and it takes him a minute to realize what he said, “I mean SPUDS. You know, the place we went for Daddy’s birthday!”
“Oh, that’s a great place too!” Jayden is also a fan of potatoes. Any kind really, but baked are his all time special favorites.
Everyone goes back to eating their dinner when Morgan says, “Mom, where do you think Jesus would have wanted to eat on his birthday.. you know if he was allowed to eat out on it and wasn’t in heaven and stuffs.”
I didn’t see this coming, and I can’t think of anything that would totally satisfy him. As I continue to debate the question with myself Jayden smiles and says:
“Oh, I’m pretty sure he would have loved to eat at Heaven’s McDonalds or Heaven KFC.”
Morgan looks mortified, “Jesus would not eat at McDonalds!”
Jayden isn’t at all surprised by this and is ready with his own defense, “He would if it was in heaven. I’m pretty sure he has his own KFC or McDonalds up there to eat at.”

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Math Class Laughs..

Math today was simplistic. During our morning table time we played 2 rounds of Joey-Joey. We now play for 5 minutes to allow time to run between the hundreds chart for those trickier facts I’ve thrown in. This means we play one less round, but there’s less desperation and frustration on behalf of the boys. It’s really a win-win situation.
I’m content to be beaten in both rounds by them and am impressed by their ability to retain math facts in this fashion. I’m also hoping they didn’t count me double checking on my fingers a few math facts that I was responsible for answering.. 
After lunch we had another multiplication lesson. These are something Morgan and I normally do on our own, all though Jayden loved sitting in for the reading of Bunches & Bunches of Bunnies. Which, unfortunately, only reminded him that Mr S and I are stoutly against purchasing him any form of a rabbit as a pet. And no, I promise it has nothing to do with the nightmares I still have about my own pet bunny going totally nutters on me. But that story has nothing to do with any of our math classes today..
We’re sitting at the table and have just finished another enjoyable reading of Make Way For Ducklings when I say.. “Today we’re going to work on groups of. What’s another name for groups of?”
Morgan is quick to answer and this frustrates Jayden so we allow Jayden to answer to. He starts out on the right track, but ends with, “Multiplamystery!” We suppress laughter and correct him.
Once I explain to Jayden that multiplication is simple and we’ll have little bugs to count to help he’s determined to do this “very grown up” kind of math problem. 
“Mr Mallard has to get each of his 8 ducklings 5 grasshoppers to eat. So we need to figure out exactly how many he must go collect!”
Jayden’s mouth falls open and he’s not impressed with the math fact. Morgan, however, says, “Oh rats.” I’m surprised by this because he loves the 2, 10, and 5 family when it comes to multiplication. 
I simply look up from what I’m doing and he says, “It’s just that I don’t want the ducks to eat these cute little bugs!” 
“Just pretend they are rabid mad bugs destroying our veggie garden!”
“Cute bugs never do bad stuff like that, it’s only ugly mean bugs that do.”
“Just pretend Morgan!”
I set them to work cutting out groups of 5 grasshoppers, and this goes along quite well until Jayden starts giggling. Now you have to understand something about our Jayden. His giggles start out very small. He scrunches up his shoulders and puts his hands over his lips to try to suppress it. This is always to no avail.
Eventually his shoulders shake so hard his hand falls away from his face. This causes him great spasms of glee and his head will fall backwards and his mouth will suddenly pop open and great big gurgles of laughter will come rolling out. The very worst part? It is practically impossible to not laugh when Jayden laughs. His laughter catches and before long we’re all giggling but only Jayden knows why.
Apparently he’d snipped the legs off one grasshopper and he found that highly amusing. I’m glad we’re not working with real grasshoppers, and I attempt to get them back on track.
Before long we have all our grasshoppers cut out and I suggest they each fetch their own bottle of glue. This isn’t hard, I usually have 3 bottles of glue in our school basket and another two upstairs by the office desk. Morgan is picky and will only glue with blu glue. He swears that the non blu glue is tricky for him. Between you and me, my child has glue issues, which extend so deeply he often manages to glue the lid of the glue sticks ON and it takes us ten minutes to pry them off.
Such is the case with the glue stick Jayden has. There is much prying and smacking in an attempt to remove it. Morgan offers to hold one end of the glue stick while Jayden holds the other. I’m about to tell them this is a poor idea for fear one of them will tumble into a wall, and honestly I’m just not up to another hospital trip anytime soon!
I’m too late and the top finally comes off and the glue comes flying out of the plastic container and lands on the floor. Upside down. There’s much laughter about the whole thing, which is soon followed by laments. I ignore the laments and remind them that they should be gluing bugs to paper. 
Which sounds really bad and our windows are wide open. Thankfully our closest neighbors at home, right now, are sheep. Surely animals that permit birds to sit on their backs and peck bugs off won’t have a problem with me gluing bugs to paper. We carry on.
It takes us another twenty minutes, or more, to get our grasshopers on and then work the multiplication problem. Each child counting by 5’s silently. We write out the fact and then work another multiplication problem using snails this time. 
That unfolds pretty much the same way, all though instead of trimming off legs we trim off tails. Still, we succeed in working out this problem correctly until Jayden forgets that it goes 10, 12, 14 not 10, 12, 13. We let him try again and he comes to the right answer. Hooray!
Then I introduce division. This goes well until I show them how to set up a long division problem. You see if I don’t mention the two different ways right now, at the very beginning, Morgan will panic when I show him later. He will say things like, “MOM! You’re doing it wrong! You said...” Rather then cause headaches later I’ll cause them now.
He’s slightly bewildered and while he’s staring at what I’ve done Jayden says, “I don’t get it. You use a gun to figure out division? That’s just weird.” 
It’s the first time in my life I’ve ever felt that a division simple represented a gun, but now that he’s said it I can’t stop thinking about it. I tell them that they don’t need to worry about “the gun” way, that they won’t need that for a while.  We work out our division problem and the boys write it out. 
There is no more talk of guns or anything else non-math”ish” and we survive our lessons. I remind the boys they can not have any free time until we tidy up. They aren’t pleased, but begin working straight away. I leave them to their mess in the living room and work on tidying up the kitchen from their snack.
It’s then that I see how much of our lesson has sunk in, or not..
Jayden says, “Morgan how long is an hour?”
Now I have no idea why he asked this. I don’t. There’s any one of a million reasons he could have, and I really expected Morgan to tell him, because he normally does. Morgan is great at remembering small facts like days in a week, minutes in an hour.. Jayden balances the other side of the scale by remembering bigger facts and it works for them.
However, all Morgan says is, “I dunno, but I’m sure it’s a long time.” 
I wait to see if he’ll change his answer, but when he doesn’t I feel the need to set the story straight. “An hour is the same as 60 minutes.”
Jayden gasps, “Wow, that is a lot!” 
They continue picking up, and Morgan finally puts aside a lego book he was thumbing through long enough to say, “So how long is 2 groups of 60 then Mom?”
“What? How did you know that!”
“Well, it’s like this.. 6x2=12 so...” they don’t give me time to finish explaining. In fact, I’m pretty sure they never even heard me talking which makes me wonder if my migraine is really messing with me and I ever opened my mouth to start with. It’s this fact that I’m debating when I hear Jayden say, oh so matter of factly..
“Well you do know, Morgan, she did go to highschool!” 

Monday, September 20, 2010

2010 Blogging Awards

It's nearly that time of year again when you can vote for your favorite homeschooling blog in a variety of categories. It's also a great way to find some fun new blogs too.

Nominations begin on October 15 & end on October 30th. The voting starts on November 6 & ends on the 19th. Want more information? You can read about it here.

Please note that these are all American dates, for those of us living 15 hours ahead you'll have to wait an extra day. I always feel the need to work out the entire time difference when I see it written out.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Banana Split Cake

Recently I'd spotted a Banana Split cake over on Lynn's Kitchen blog. I filed the thought away for a rainy day and that was that. On Father's Day I thought I'd try it out, only I had one of those moments where I couldn't, for the life of me, remember where on earth i'd seen the recipe!

I could remember the basic gyst of it and made a sugar-free yellow cake up. I simply used a basic yellow cake recipe and subbed out the sugar for coconut sugar. It worked beautifully. The cake also called for buttermilk, and because I had another plethora of kefir I subbed that instead.

Unfortunately, I didn't remember the cake was suppose to have a custard/pudding filling between it's layers. I'm not sure anyone here cared though because they all gobbled up the cake. I split our yellow cake into 3 layers and between each layer we put homemade carmel sauce, sliced bananas, homemade cherry sauce and whipped cream. The boys had a blast helping make this cake for Daddy, but I must say it doesn't look too scrumptious does it?

That, my friends, is what happens when you're working in a kitchen with two amazingly funny helpers and, brace yourselves, one light bulb. Yes, one. Not because I was a cheapskate and refused to buy more. Not because it was an Eco bulb. No, simply because our kitchen light fixture burns through bulbs like nothing. Seriously, we've even complained about it before but it seemed to test out okay. Which means we load it up with bulbs and in a weeks time one blows, and a week later another one blows. It makes cooking in the winter a real mystery. Ugly or not, Mr S was delighted with his cake!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nature Displays

Check out the size of that sea glass! It's hard to tell, but it's a beautiful blue/green color. Sitting upon it is a portion of an egg shell we found out back near our laundry line last spring. When we moved it a while back it crushed a bit more so we deposited it on the large chunk of sea glass so we could still move it to dust without demolishing the rest of the egg.

The rock behind it is one the boys found at the beach. It's beautifully smooth and grey except for the white lines that run around it and through it. The boys can spot interesting rocks a mile away and have quite a few collected up in a glass jar that sits in a window upstairs.

Here's the rest of the shelf in the hall. The cute little pinecone owls are something the boys made at family camp last year after our Owl Moon unit study. We found the shelves on the beach across the street from our house.

This shelf is directly below the one pictures above. It has another owl, Morgan loved making them! Two more shells from when we were learning about shells last year, can't wait to do that again! Another large chunk of sea glass, can you tell it came from a bottle? A silly Santa Clause, Jayden asked Mr S if he could get it for my birthday last year. Wanna know why? They know it goes Mommy's birthday, Thanksgiving, then Christmas. So Jayden figured I must really love Christmas. That scrapbook is pictures from Jayden's very first train ride, I'll have to share them some time because they are beautiful. I especially love the one of Jayden's glancing out the window in shock, excitement, and fear.

This one dosen't look as nice without seeing the whole shelf, but it's another very large chunk of sea glass leaning up against a beautifully large shell. We've also finally filled up our little glass jar of Sea Glass (pictures coming soon) when we visited a beach last week that was just littered with the stuff. My pocket was literally bulging when we got home.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lego Lapbook

Morgan thoroughly enjoyed the Lego Unit we worked on last week. Jayden wasn't sure he'd like it, but in the end he was equally eager each day to find out what we'd be learning and creating.

Honestly, I think their favorite part was really finding out what the challenge of the day was, but they were very good about doing the other bits and pieces first.

Morgan wrote an amazing letter to the Lego Company requesting information on working for them as a Lego designed in the future. It was a form he filled out online and then wrote his letter in the box provided. I know I saved what he wrote, but it seems to be lost in the depths of my computer. Which is a really pity, because it would have made a nice keepsake!

In short he told them how he'd learned about Christensen and who the man was to the Lego company. He explained that he'd also learned about friction and interference fit, and that he'd seen lego designers who work for the company and those who worked independently. Then he went on to tell them that he'd like to work as a designed for lego kits when he was old enough and what things would they require that he know & how old would he have to be before they hire him. Morgan also wanted to throw in that he once nearly choked on a Lego, but I strongly discouraged him from admitting that, because.. "after all you wouldn't want them to think you'll put Lego in your mouth when you work for them do you?"

We put all his booklets into a four page "mini" lapbook. Really loving the smaller size to be honest! The cover that we used was not included, so I simply printed out a picture of Clutch Powers and his gang and we pasted it on the front. The idea for doing that was based on the fact that on the last day of our studies I popped up some popcorn for the boys and we plugged in the Clutch Powers movie. Fun way to wrap it all up.

The boys also made Denmark flags in the same fashion we made the Russian Flags. It was their request and only took a minute to print out for them. I suspect they are now after collecting every flag they can think of in this fashion. We had an entire day of Lego Math, and the Lego Graph was just one small part of it.

The Lego Estimation was quite interesting, because Morgan mentioned that he's not good at guessing games like that. I liked that he remembered in some forms of estimation there's nothing to base our guesses on so there's truly no wrong answer for what we guess, but he was also nervous about being off by a lot! I asked him if he'd like to do an estimation project each week, just for fun. My idea is to fill a small jar with different objects each week and let people guess how many they think are inside each week. He's all for it, and hopes that everyone else in the house will place guesses too.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Quoting Poetry..

The boys have been dutifully working away on the Gingham Dog & The Calico Cat (The Duel) by Eugene Field. They finished off the last of the first stanza today and Jayden was immensely proud of himself so we videoed him. The quality is poor as our video camera's battery was flat so you'll have to settle for a mobile phone video... 

He realized after saying it that he'd left off part of a line (T'was half past 12) and so he wanted to be videoed a second time saying it all the way. He's a tad sillier in the second one, which is normal when a video camera is rolling around here, but he manages the missing piece quite well.

Of course we couldn't leave Morgan out, but as The Duel had all ready been said, he decided to say Prairie Flower. Prairie Flower is a poem they learned for Father's Day, which might make no sense to some, but made perfect sense to us. After all, Grandpa taught it to Mr S, thus Mr S has passed it on to our children. And yes, that's Jayden "Bravoing" his brother.. it lasted for an entire two minutes!

Notes: Oddly enough, when the boys say these during our Memory Box time I've had to ask them to slow down so I could hear them. The lines to both poems are:

The Duel

The gingham dog & the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
'Twas half past twelve and (what do you think?)
Nor one nor t' other had slept a wink.
The Old Dutch Clock and the Chinese Plate
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
(I wasn't there; I simply state
What was told to me by the Chinese Plate.)

Prairie Flower

I'm a little a prairie flower
growing wilder by the hour.
No one cares to cultivate me
Im as wild as wild can be!

Cheerio's Book Of Days

When I was homeschooled, each afternoon Mom read from a book called Cheerio's Book Of Days. Only, the copy she read from was orange, which is what color the book is without it's dust jacket on. Over the course of a year I've been on the lookout for a book similar to Cheerio.

In fact I've found some that aren't too bad, but none of them compared to the high pedestal I'd gone and placed good old Cheerio up on. Which meant, I was really on the look out for a copy of the real thing.

A week or two ago I spotted several copies in great shape on ebay, and I finally purchased my very own copy of this awesome book. When it arrived in the mail last week there was oohing and ahhing over it, and many confused looks from the boys.

I told them that Gram-Gram use to read the book to me when I was homeschooled, and before they got going on their "Mom's so cool because she's homeschooled too" tangent (think that will last forever?), I started reading to them.

Each day there's a selection of poems to be read, and there's a birthday cake next to an author who happens to have a birthday on that very day. I read through two poems before Jayden interrupted me, "Excuse me Mom, but do we have to repeat all that back to you at one time?" He was perfectly content to sit and listen, but he thought this was more poetry to memorize, which completely cracked me up. He was much relieved when I told him he was just suppose to enjoy hearing these ones, but if he found one he really liked we could work on learning it.

I have no idea who Melva Holmes is, but she was the proud owner of copy number 5, 626 personally signed by Cheerio himself. I'm equally unsure why on earth she'd part ways with her book too! I am, however grateful that I am now the owner of this amazing book, autographed of not!

The back of the dust jacket explains why the author put this book together. I'm not sure if you click on the picture if you can read it or not. In short, his mother owned a 'book of days' and she left it to her son. He turned the book into a radio program so that more people could hear it, and eventually the Cheerio Book Of Days was compiled. It really is a book worth searching for!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Craft Room

I've promised a few people a peek into my craft space, which you might recognize as one of our former "school" rooms. We seem to school at the kitchen table in the winter, and on the deck in the warmer months so I converted the room back into an office/craft area.

That's the desk I sit at when I'm sewing or scrapbooking, it butts up to a closet that's not in the picture. The closet houses my material and some of Mr S's numerous amounts of unlabelled cds. It also houses the ironing board and the heater we drag out when it's really cold in there.

The cube under the desk holds "stuffing" for pillows, stuffed toys, or whatever else we might need it for, as well as a few baggies of small material scraps.

The globe, you ask? Yeah, well I didn't rehouse it after the big rearranging efforts, but I suspect it will come down and be played with this summer by the boys. Which might be wise, because I'm pretty sure there's a layer of dust on the top of it where we can't reach too well. As for that pink blob on the carpet, I think it would be wiser if you just didn't ask.

This is what houses many of the small scrapbooking supplies I own. They are actually suppose to be kitchen spice racks or something like that. I've really no idea, I picked them up for $2 several years ago at a local shop. They use to be inside a closet in another home we lived in when that's where my crafting area was. The jars on the top shelf house colored staples, ribbon scraps, and more ribbon scraps. The bottom shelf houses, various buttons, glues, glue removers, pens, scissors, and more. The laundry pegs are not on the dowels to keep them from slipping off, I actually use the pegs when making pocket lapbooks. That collection of scissors on the desk happens to be a Mother's Day present from Morgan. 

This is my favorite spot in the craft area, the collage wall. The boys have been giving me snippets of drawings since Morgan was 2, but we only save our favoritest ones. This wall houses some of them. That blue and red circle drawing? That was Jayden's impression of Morgan's guinea pigs, I think he was 3 or 4 when he drew it.  Under it is a picture of Little Miss Sunshine he drew once his drawings stopped looking so funny, which was sweet and sad all at the same time.

There's one of Jayden's very first people drawings. It was suppose to be me. I look grumpy in that picture don't I, but I really love those incredibly long legs which give the illusion I have no tummy or rump! 

Here's one of my favorite Morgan Drawings. It's more the sweet words across the top that he wrote when he was six. "This is a picture of my mom." Don't I have beautiful stand up hair? Apparently he wasn't exactly sure how to draw the pony tail I seem to sport the majority of the time. I'm also digging those striped shoes, I'd love a pair of striped boots!

Brace yourselves for this one! This is my all time favoritest drawing by Morgan. I think he was 4 or 5 when he did this one. That's a picture of his Nana. She has two traveling cases next to her (she was preparing to go away on holiday) and she's sporting earrings (I've never seen her wear earrings!), and that's rain falling behind her that she's going on holiday to get away from. He also drew the sweater and scarf she happened to be wearing the day. Don't you love the fingers on that hand?

Okay, I'll stop oogling at my kids drawings.. This is one of the projects laying on my desk right now. I went into the craft shop to get some black material and found this nature material and a free pattern. While I didn't pick up everything called for in the pattern I was happy to walk away with a few of the nature patterns which might work well for another quilt I had in mind.

This houses a few more of our bits and pieces. The three tier bit on the left holds computer related stuff while the other two hold sewing and scrapping stuff. There's a basket of stickers up top, a picture printed, and a sticker maker that needs a refill on sticker paper. Do my shelves normally look like this? Yes, unless my children invade the felt box or pull out a spool of thread for me. The large grey basket on the right holds projects that need working on or pieces for projects that need working on. Apparently that Sponge Bob lost a leg and I'm dutifully ignoring sewing it back on. The white door you see leads to a bathroom, and the door way on the other side leads to the rumpus room. The rumpus room is where the kids usually hang out when I'm busy in the craft room, but sometimes they join me and "help".

The other side of the room houses the office stuffs. It's a tad more crowded and messy, but trust me when I say that's quite tidy! This is where I sit when I'm working on lapbooks and other printables. All though that printer on the desk top has come very close to being chucked out the second story window! The one under the desk isn't hooked up. The calendar on the left if Mr S's annual Weather Calendar that his parents have been buying him for years. It's quite the tradition and there's always much fun over oogling it each year. The drawered contraption on the left holds scrapbooking paper (also used for lapbooks) and the top is used as extra desk space which is desperately needed since the keyboard tray fell off that silly desk! 

I also made Mr S a collage wall as well. His houses pictures the boys have given him. The one at the top with the funky long arms on the left, that was Jayden's welcome home picture for Daddy after he came back from the mainland last year. The white board is one of those, "don't ask don't tell" after the boys got done with it! 

This Welcome Home sign was made by Morgan and was proudly waved at the airport, much to the delight of the elderly women waiting next to us. However, the more cherished item on the wall is the index card that says, "I love my Dad." which was handed out on a day Mr S wasn't feeling too well a few years back. The boys also painted those canvases, the swirl of colors was the one Jayden did and it too had a spaceman of some kind on it, but when you're three who cares about coloring in the lines! Morgan is patting a kola in the little cropped photograph there.

You know the calendar I'm always laughing about? The one Mr S spotted one year in Koorong and I had to walk away from him because he was laughing so hard I was afraid they'd kick us out! His sister ended up purchasing it for us as Christmas present completely unaware of the whole infatuation with it, and now it's a tradition to have one each year because they are so funny! Well, this particular cartoon came from the first one we owned and Mr S would laugh so hard about it each time he saw it that I clipped it off and put it on his wall before disposing of the rest of the calendar.

So that pretty much sums up the little blue craft room around here. There's just enough room between the two desks for us to pretend we're very important and use our wheeling desk chairs to roll across the room. Of course we have to watch out for the speedbumps in the form of children who sprawl out and color (they have coloring supplies in the closet too) or scrapbook on their own.