Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Secret Birthday Present

My mother-in-law is currently on vacation, which meant I had the perfect opportunity to work on her birthday present. A month or so ago I picked up a few embroidery patterns from Twinstichers with the intention to use one in particular for my mother-in-laws birthday present.

The idea wasn't to actually embroider it, all though I'm sure it would look beautiful done that way, but to color it! The idea isn't new as I've seen it done this way before, and the results are always beautiful.  Plus, much less time to complete the project in, and considering I only had six weeks to pull it off in less time was better for me!

It's really simple to do too! I just traced the pattern onto a piece of white quilting cotton. I cut it to the size recommended in the pattern.  I used a fine point permanent black marker for the job. You could ask at your local quilting shop or you could just pick one up from a scrapbooking store, either way it'll do the trick.

After I traced it, then I grabbed the huge bucket of crayons we had. I've mentioned I'm a Crayola fan and that's what brand of crayons we had, thus what I used. I colored heavily on the lines to leave a dark mark and then lightly colored in the rest of each area.

I did adjust the pattern a little bit to fit all the people in our family in. For instance, I found I needed to adjust the length between the stairs on the tree in order to keep heads from hitting legs and such. I also extended the basket that our family of four is in at the top of the tree. I reduced the size the family of two on the left are in, and I also reduced {slightly} the size of the basket in the middle/lower area of the tree.

After that the hardest part was choosing hair and clothes and colors. Of course, Jayden wanted me to draw motorcycles on his shirt which I promptly declined the effort of. It was a lot of fun to work on too! All though, I was worried about spelling names wrong because I had to work on some of them backwards! I also ended up adding the line Est. 1962. I just felt like we needed to add something there, and putting a pet in wouldn't have worked because we all have at least one dog!

I'll confess I had a trial run on this project which flopped terribly because of the need to adjust the size of baskets and placement of stairs on the tree. I wasn't too distraught about that, and traced a second one only to mislabel a family member! I couldn't actually fix it for a variety of reason and thus found myself tracing a third one. On this final result I meant to label my boys opposite of what I did as Jayden's the one with messy hair not Morgan, but I refused to do this a fourth time!

I absolutely love the end result! We've all ready framed it in a beautiful black frame, but apparently I haven't uploaded that final photo yet. It looks amazing, and I'm honestly really glad my mother-in-law doesn't come back until three days before her birthday because otherwise I'd probably be really tempted to give it to her early!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Poetry & Laughter

We read poetry around here on a daily basis. It's part of our morning routine when we start school. Generally I read one page from Cheerio's Book Of Days. It's not specifically written for children so some days the poems can go over the boys heads, and some days they find one they really love. I decided it would be really fun to get a couple of Australian poetry books from the library {because I missed out on a few from the local shop that closed up} and read a page or two from one of them each day as well.

The boys have enjoyed a few of the books we've read, and today after a dental appointment we decided to pop into the library. Mostly, because we'd popped in the day before and got there a tad late and within a matter of minutes they were turning off the lights and locking doors. 

After finishing some math and spelling in the library {cause yes I made the kids do a little school in the waiting room of the dentist's office!} the boys were picking out books and I decided to peruse the children's poetry section and see what selections they had on loan today. I spotted Goey Chewy & other Junior Giggles & Dreams on the shelf and flipped through. When I stumbled upon a poem about sauce/ketchup and read it to the boys and heard sniggers I knew they'd have fun with the book.

I was right. In fact, we read a few over dinner and they kept asking for more and more. There was a whole lot of laughter happening over many of the poems. I have to admit the authors knew exactly which poems would tickle funny bones in my boys! There were also a few selections that will make great copywork for their nature notebooks.

However, there were two poems they asked me to read several times over! One of which was called The Marching Song and was pretty ordinary until the very last stanza which even had a few adults sniggering. The one poem that sent Jayden over the deep end with hysteria and nearly had us testing our first-aid skills when we realized his mouth was full while he was laughing was Icky-Sticky. In fact, he loved it so much he's decided he wants to memorize it, which will be cute if he can do it without laughing himself crazy!

by David Campbell

I love to get icky
and yicky and sticky
and mucky and gucky
and ever-so yucky
and sloppy and slimy
and grubby and grimy
and gritty and grotty
and perfectly snotty
and murky and muddy
and terribly cruddy
and then..
have a bath!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Colorful Omelettes

My family goes nuts for omelettes! In fact I have an eight year old who asks for them far more often then I make them, but when we have leftover meats or veggies in the fridge, or I really want to clean out the veggie bin I'm usually up for whipping some up.

Then again, sometimes just to surprise the gang I put them on the menu. They make a nice quick and semi light meal. In fact, I recall having pizza or omelettes just about every Friday or Saturday night growing up.  I haven't told the boys yet because they'd probably expect exactly that next time they visit their grandparents..

This was the selection for the day. Generally we use cheese too, but we were out plus two of us are avoiding dairy temporarily so we wouldn't have it anyway. The broccoli above was steamed, but the peppers and leeks are still raw. I usually throw them in the pan with a bit of olive oil before I start making the omelettes.

Whip up the eggs with or without water {or milk}. I usually do two eggs per person, or three eggs for two people and split the omelette in half. This works especially well for the boys. All though if they are really hungry they can eat an adult sized omelette with no problems! Once your eggs are whipped up pour them in the lightly oiled pan and sprinkle vegetables & other fillings on half the egg mixture.

When the egg starts looking solid {no runny uncooked egg} I fold the egg over and let it finish cooking for a minute or two. Then we just slide them on plates and eat. Or sometimes we top them with salsa and then we eat them. Even if they rip when being folded or moved out of the pan no one really cares because it all tastes good anyway.. See the rip in the one above? No one complained because they were too busy eating it!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Shop Open: Back To School Sale

Just in time for you to start your back to school planning.... From now until August 1st we're having a Back to School Sale on all our Planner modules!  Stock up at 50% off the normal price! Happy Planning!

It's finally here, The long awaited planner!! At least some of you have long been awaiting this planner. I've gotten several emails about it after first sharing pictures of the project I was working on. It took me longer to get this one polished then most because I was working on making it to fit standard US letter paper as well as A4.  Did you know paper around the world was different sized? It is.. and if you thought keeping up with different time zones was bad, keeping up with different sized papers can make my head spin!  This planner is quite large and comprises of 5 different modules. I'm offering each module on it's own or 4 of them combined together. 

      Module 1: The Main Planner 

      This module is the main part of the planner with a total of 28 pages inside!
      • 2 different covers to chose from, but I'm going to be honest and say there's not much difference between them. When I took the vote around the house I was the only one who could tell the difference and I just couldn't decide which one I liked most. 
      • A year long calendar page
      • 4 Weekly planning pages; I created 4 identical pages with a different image on each one so that it would be easier to tell which week we were on in a month while flipping through our planner
      • Library list
      • Resource list
      • Curriculum Wish List Page
      • 10 Different note taking pages with a total of 5 different images {I created some with less images for more economical printing}

      Buy Module One: The Main Planner now  at Currclick.

      Module Two: The Monthly Calendar Pages

      This module holds the monthly calendar pages and consists of 24 different pages!
      • A perpetual Calendar page for each month. You fill in the calendar with numerals, holidays, and other bits.
      • Monthly Holiday & more planning page. This might be, by far, one of my favorite pages! I use it to record upcoming birthdays, anniversaries, holidays {serious, funny, Australian, US, etc.} Nature/Science ideas for the month, and craft ideas I'd like to do with the kids for the month. On the bottom of each of these pages is a different educational quote as well. 
      Buy Module Two: The Calendar Pages now at Currclick.

      Module Three: Deeper Planning Pages

      This module has 8 pages to help you plan your own unit studies, living math lessons, lapbooks & notebooks! 
      • One Math planning page to help you keep track of your resources, manipulatives, and the topic or your lesson
      • One Math Class Note taking page where you can write out more in depth plans or jot down whatever you need in order to help your lessons go off smoothly
      • Three unit study planning pages to help you keep track of your plans for each subject {math, science, Language Arts, history, geography, social studies} as well as your resources & field trip ideas 
      • One unit study note page to keep track of your plans and goals for the unit study as you plan it out, teach it, and enjoy it.
      • One Lapbook/Notebook planning page complete with a large and roomy doodle box! I think the doodle box addition this year is one of my favorite features! You can plan out what you want your page to look like before you even sit down at the computer.
      Buy Module Three: Deeper Planning now at Currclick.

      Module Four: Home Helpers

      This module has 21 pages to help you plan the weekly happenings around your home.
      • 8 weekly planning pages; 4 different images some with lines for writing on, some without for those who like to color "outside the box". There's room to jot down appointments or things to do for each day of the week, a daily chore checklist, space to jot down a Bible verse for the week, and more.
      • 4 weekly menu plans; different images for different weeks of the month! {If you chose to bind these you can perforate them first and just pull them right out on the week they are needed.}
      • 4 different shopping lists; I like to print these right on the back of my menu perforate the whole thing and pull it out as needed to hang on my fridge!
      • 4 different recipe cards {2 per page} to keep track of those tasty recipes you find while reading magazines, flipping through books, reading blogs, etc. You can print on front and back of the page to use less paper, or print only on the front of these and cut them out to slip in your recipe box if the recipe turns out to be a winner!
      • 2 pages to keep track of the important people in your life and their personal details {telephone, email, address, etc.}
      Buy Module Four: Home Helpers now at Currclick.

      Modules 1 - 4 Combined

      82 pages from all of the above Modules!

      • Module One: The Main Planner 28 pages
      • Module Two: Calendar Pages 25 pages
      • Module Three: Deeper Planning Pages 8 pages
      • Module Four: Home Helper Pages 21 pages

      Buy Combined Modules 1 - 4 now at Currclick.

      Module Five: Homeschool Book Of Days

      The, 18 page, stand alone module which works as a journal of your homeschool journey.

      Inside this module you'll find 4 different weeks worth of papers to record the happenings in your own little homeschool. There are places to jot down history, reading, math, life skills, games, computer work, language arts, sport, art, & music. It also sports it's own cover {exactly the same as the one from the planner} for those who'd prefer to only use the journal.

      This module is similar to the one I've shared before, but I did change this one up a bit. I rearranged the boxes and adjusted the sizes of some compared to how often I found myself writing in one verse another. I also added a Weekly Doodle Box so my kids could take turn making me a doodle each week. They both love to draw and this is a fun way to have a special drawing in a safe place for special keeping. I don't ask them to draw about anything specific, it's completely up to them. I also added an Our picture Fun page where I can slip two pictures from the week in that might remind us of our studies from that week. My kids adore looking at photos, don't yours?

      I prefer to print this module double sided so that it only takes up 2 fully printed pages {front & back} in my journal. While I keep these pages in our main planner, I remove them and put them in their own book once I've completed them. This way I'll have a record of everything we've done in one easy location. 

      The fun part about the Homeschool Book Of Days is that when we're having a very unschooling kinda day, week, month it's still easy to jot down the educational things we've done! The science video we watched, the math game we played, the read alouds we enjoyed, and so on. 

      Even on weeks when we might use something that's all ready planned out for us, and we don't need our regular planner, I fill in our journal. It's so fun at the end of the year to look back over all the things we've done! 

      Buy Module Five: Homeschool Book Of Days now at Currclick.


      Why only 4 and not all 5?  Not everyone needs or uses a planner. There are weeks when I don't use my own planner but always use my journal. It's a great resource for keeping track of what you're doing on a daily basis, even those fun little conversations that can spark lots of research.

      Are the Modules & Journal dated? No, despite the dates in the above pictures all
      the date
      {d} places within the modules are blank so you can fill them in as needed. We homeschool year round and I'm aware our dates will not match up with others who school differently. 

      Do I need to print this on special paper? Not if you don't want. I prefer to print on both sides of my paper to take up less room in my binder & to save on the amount of paper I use. Because of this I prefer a slightly thicker paper so I don't get bleed through on the other side. I've used 100g paper for my binder and feel quite happy with the results. I printed the cover on this and it did just fine.

      How do I print the cover so it takes fills the whole page? Simply make sure your printer is set for borderless printing and it should fill the whole page up! 

      I've purchased the planner, printed it out, now what? You can choose to have your planner bound, store it in a three-ring notebook, or use a home binding machine on it. Personally, I really love using my ProClick Binder. It gives me the ease of spiral binding with the capability of a three-ring notebook. The choice is completely up to you! After you've got your binder/journal contained simply fill it in! It's your's, so make it personal and fill it in with all the goodies you'll want to remember while using it. I like to add pockets to mine to store bits and pieces in. 

      Why are you selling through Currclick now instead of off your blog? Convenience. It's that simple. It can be a bit harder for me to offer sale prices and remember to set them up and take them down in a timely fashion. By selling through Currclick I can still share them with others while attending to the needs of my own family.

      Please Note: All files are PDF format and you can use Adobe Reader to view them with, which is free. Unless otherwise specified all files can be printed on A4 or US sized paper.

      Crazy Quilt Pillow

      We're still here, but I'm suffering one humdinger of a cold which is making life rather interesting at the moment.

      However, I finally finished the crazy quilt pillow I was working on. It's lovely and big and all fluffy and squishy. I debated making the next one smaller, but there were many negative cries about that. I xo need to make a few changes to what & how I did things, which shouldn't be too hard.

      For instance, Im not too happy with the way I put the zipper in the back, but I was limited by the biggest size I could find locally. I may need to make a trip to the bigger shop, such a shame.. not!

      Isn't it so big and lovely?! I'm thinking of making the boys each one of these and a fun mat to lay on when they are watching movies are for camping on the deck with during the summer. They love playing "camp out" on the deck all though they've yet to ask to sleep out there, but it's on our "things to do this summer" list. Yeah, we're all ready working on one of those!

      I used just about something from every scrap in the scrap bucket.  Can you tell where I had to hand sew or top stitch pieces down? I think it's because of the shape I cut certain pieces out in. Which is one of the hiccups I need to workout on the next pillow. The two sample ones I saw in the craft shop didn't have the need for any of that. When I mentioned my technique to the girl she said it all sounded right. So, my next step was to adjust the shapes I used when I sewed them down.

      Kinda makes you want to snuggle up on the couch with it yes? My mother-in-law made the other three pillows that are on my couch. My children, and their cousins and their cousins boyfriends, have all used those three little pillows for some massive pillow fights so the poor things need restuffing. Except I was debating making matching book style covers for them or holiday themed covers cause I'm nerdy like that.

      Monday, July 18, 2011

      One Man's Trash..

      No, he doesn't really wear glasses. See, the other day while we were making a mad dash into the grocery Jayden found a the smashed pair of glasses {lens excluded} laying on the path. He was quite delighted with his find and promptly picked them up and tried to straighten them out.

      Once he'd gotten them to his satisfaction he skipped off into the store with them proudly displayed on his face. He's easily embarrassed so I didn't say anything at all to him about them. In fact, at one point in the store I asked him to check how much watermelon was and when he reported back an insane price I suggested he clean his glasses and try again.

      Next thing I know I hear him making "squeak" noises, and there he is rubbing the empty frames on his shirt while making sound effects to go right along with it.

      He proceeded to wear the glasses into the health food store we frequent and one of the ladies he always chats with said, "Oh wow, did you get new glasses?" His response was so funny, "No, I don't actually wear glasses." She took it all in stride and proceeded to discuss pirate strategies with him while I located and purchased the needed flour.

      Later that afternoon I was making a sponge cake and heard quite the commotion in the lounge room. I turned around to see what was going on and Jayden was wrestling.. with himself.. again. I found him sprawled out on the floor like this complete with glasses askew! I asked what happened and he said, "That naughty Jimmie caught me off guard again!"

      Yep, One man's trash certainly is another man's treasure. And can I just add that when I asked if I could take a photo of him with the glasses on I worded it ever so carefully by saying, "Hey Jayder would you mind if I took your photo with the glasses on so that if you ever decide to get rid of them we can always remember how you looked with them on?" He laughed, smiled and said, "You can take a photo, but I'm never throwing these glasses away! How would I see?"

      Sunday, July 17, 2011

      Mom's Chore Box

      My kids aren't the only ones around here doing chores, and they aren't the only ones with fancy chore charts either. Nope, I have a chore box. We live in a fairly large house and keeping on top of everything can be tough if I don't jot down what I need to do or what I've all ready done. I use to use the wonderful calendar put out by Motivated Moms, and really enjoyed it. Then I decided I could actually just copy all those lovely chores down onto index cards and rotate them each year.

      I separate them with those funtastic index card dividers which I picked up on ebay and my parents forwarded on to me {Thanks guys!} & I simply label the cards with: Week 1  Monday, Week 1 Tuesday, etc. I also modified some of the chores as I wrote them down. For instance, I put Sunday & Saturday on the same card. The chores are always the same on those two days: Vacuum upstairs, make menu, catch up on missed chores. Easy peasy. One thing I will say is that writing them down on index cards helps because I can swap the chores into appropriate months/days.

      July is not exactly the best month for washing curtains, especially if you don't own a dryer. It's cold and wet and unless we have some fantastically warm days my curtains would take days to dry and valuable time on my clothes horses when I'd really need to be attending to people's clothings. Putting the chores in an index card box means I can just slip that in a spring or summer month for myself!

      Saturday, July 16, 2011

      Notebook Timelines Revisited

      We enjoy using a timeline, but they can be time and labor intensive. Our very first timeline was the Kono's Wall Timeline. It sets up in a triangular pyramid fashion and eats up a lot of wall space. Don't ever mention how many times I asked Mr S to move the silly thing either. In fact, the last time I said, "I really think we need to move the timeline.." the poor man nearly cried.

      Eventually we gave up our wall space for the timeline for a Word Wall; an accumulation of dolch & site words young readers knew as soon as they saw them. Which left us with notebook timelines.

      Morgan really enjoyed them because it allowed him a lot of drawing time and honestly the process wasn't long or complicated. Over time, though, we became slack about adding things to the notebook and only remembered to do so on occasion.

      So, imagine our delight to know that Winter Promise also uses a notebook timeline! They use a slightly different concept which allows the notebook to be set up in a more organized manner than ours was. This was a big deal, because I'd been trying, for some time, to figure out how to better organize the timeline we were creating.

      The Winter Promise Timeline {which could honestly be used with any curriculum} is set up with a two page spread that spans various time frames. In the above photo it covers 100 AD - 1100 AD. Then you file notebooking pages, lapbook components, and other items you might have to remember your studies behind the appropriate pages.

      Last week we studied numerous explorers so we cut out pictures of them from our Homeschool In The Woods timeline pieces and pasted them on to the appropriate timeline page. The trick here is reminding your children to keep things neat and tidy. Not because I'm a neat freak, but because they'll be using this book for years to come and you'll want to leave enough space on the pages to add more timeline pieces!

      Then behind that page we slipped in a few notebooking pages. This page about columbus has a few fun mini books from a Christopher Columbus lapbook we own, but the reverse side of the paper was a simple notebooking page from homeschool share. I chose to have the kids use the minit books so they'd have record of a bit more information. I think you'll also be shocked to know who colored Columbus blue and who colored the King & Queen "normal".  We also filed some information about Leif Ericcson & explorers in general, all behind the correct pages.

      This is not a small notebooking project, check out the size of the notebook and we've hardly begun with it! I only purchased one set of these timeline pages this year despite having two children. This was one of those "on purpose" type choices, but I think next year I'll order a second set of the pages for Jayden. For now, they are content to share and we work on all our things together both contributing information to the final projects. In fact they do quite well deciding between themselves who will cover which mini books or notebooking pages and bouncing information off of each other. I'm quite impressed by it.

      Friday, July 15, 2011

      More Times Alive Fun

      We've still been watching our Times Alive! videos & stories. The boys absolutely love them and actually request to do this. If more then a day or two goes by then they'll point out they've not gotten to learn a new story and really want to.

      The other day I received an email from City Creek Press, where we purchased our Times Alive! programme. It was just an email to notify their customers that they now had a workbook to help keep kids busy this summer in an educational way.

      Clearly it's not summer here, but I was intrigued by what was included in the workbook, and found out there was a downloadable version.  I'm not really in need or wanting a workbook, but for $8.95 it included flashcards that match the stories the kids have been learning complete with picture cues from the stories!

      The download also included posters for each and every story in the programme! You have no idea how exciting this was. Think of it as a matching notebook page, I did. Considering the price was reasonable for what you were getting I took them up on the offer. Morgan and I worked together to assemble all the flashcards. {They also include cards for ones they told you shortcuts on finding the answers for, we're debating making up our own stories for those ones..} Then both boys and I sat down to color the posters. I was given strict instructions to color it "properly" and "nicely" coming from the kids who just made a notebooking page with Christopher Columbus colored blue... As a quick note the difference between the actual workbook & the download is that the full stories are included in the workbook. We didn't need that because we all ready have the programme.

      Thursday, July 14, 2011

      Do You Know..

      Do you know what this is {besides a blurry photo}? Wanna know what it is? Check it out here.

      Wednesday, July 13, 2011

      Picture Study

      One of the extra items I purchased with from Winter Promise was their Picture Study. It's not that I'm overly concerned about this particular area, but I thought it might be fun as art is a lacking area in our little homeschool.

      The WP picture study is only done once or twice a week, and my boys are really enjoying it.

      Our first artist was John Trumbull & we enjoyed checking out his painting Death of General Warren At The Battle Bunker Hill. I think the boys are enjoying this more because they know this time and place in history. They understand it's significance and it gives them a bit of insight. Jayden is especially very fond of this photo and requested to rewatch the Liberty Kid Episodes. In fact, we dug out the episode of Bunker Hill in which General Warren dies.

      While overall I really like the programme because it's very simple to use, I'm disappointed in some of the quality of it. First off the book comes with the many pictures bound in the front, but the instructions suggest you laminate the pictures. I'd have to rip them out of the spiral binding in order to do so. I did consider this, but was torn on the idea so for now I haven't. That's minor really though.

      The part that really upset me was that the quality of the picture was greatly lacking. Not only was it incredibly small, but it was dark. When we googled the actual painting for a larger picture there was a huge difference between the one in our book and the one on display in Boston right now. Compare the two pictures above; the top picture is from our book and the one directly below it is from Wikipedia.

      Even still, the boys are enjoying it so we'll continue to use it! In fact, Jayden enjoyed it so much he asked if I could get the picture out shortly after Mr S. arrived home the day we did their first lesson. I agreed and located the picture for him. {See, now if I laminated them I could display the picture we are studying in our learning area for constant pondering until we were moving on to another photo...} Then Jayden proceeded to ask Mr S all the fun questions I'd asked him earlier. When Mr S. failed to notice the fear in the eyes of the fellow on the right hand side of the photo hiding behind the colonist Jayden was quick to ask him how he felt that particular man felt. It was very cute watching him "teach" the lesson, and was also a great indication of just how much he'd truly enjoyed the lesson.

      So, if you do picture study where do you get good quality reprints of the pictures you are studying?

      Tuesday, July 12, 2011

      Dictation & an iPad

      I'm not a fan of ebooks. There, I said it. I love real books; the turning of pages, the need for a bookmark, the smell of a brand new book. I might have a small addition to books, but it could be worse.
      I've always been opposed to an ipad. Kind of like musicians are opposed to people illegally downloading their cds. The way I see it is that with devices like the kindle and the ipad books will become extinct. 
      Go ahead, tell me I'm over reacting. I won't be offended, all though I might point out the US university library who disposed of all their books and replaced them with computer consoles where students could then read ebooks. 
      Ebooks are great, in their own place and way. I'll admit I own many. Generally I purchase them when the price for shipping the actual book will do me in, or if there's no other way I can obtain a book. I will also admit that I adore ebooks when it comes to consumable items or craft books. They are more ideal because you can just print off patterns of pages you need and then repeat for as many projects or student you have.
      So why do I own an ipad? Ahh, because my husband bought me one a while back. It has dual purposes, I can easily read through the ebooks I own without scrolling and setting off a migraine & he can use it to create and sell apps. The upside to the ipad is that I can use our dictation book on it. 
      Because we do studied dictation Morgan copies the passage twice a week and works on any words he’s worried he might struggle spelling correctly when not looking at the passage. Then, usually on Friday, I dictate the passage to him and he writes it all down from memory.

      I picked up SpellingWisdom and because it came in ebook form I put it on the ipad. When he’s ready to copy the passage I bring up the page in the book, stretch it to fill the screen and set it on the table for him to use. 
      Our ipad gets quite the workout during school times around here as the majority of our ebooks are all school related. Amazingly enough educational books seem to be the first books to make the big ebook plunge and many aren’t available in any other format! 

      Monday, July 11, 2011

      How The Finnegans Saved The Ship

      We've been plowing through books lately and they have all been so incredibly good, but this one was so fun I just wanted to share it incase someone is looking for a really good read.

      This year our schooling will cover American history, so to fill the cap with Australian history we've been reading lots of great Australian historical fiction. So far we've loved them all and have really enjoyed seeing Australia come to life in this manner.

      I picked up How The Finnegans Saved The Ship from a local used book shop. The story is about an Irish family that is choosing to migraine to Australia in the same year that the Titanic sunk.

      The only way, at that time, to get to Australia would have been by boat. We meet the Finnegans as they are boarding their own the Anna Maria. Mrs Finnegan is distraught from the moment they see the ship because she's certain it's leaking, and thus begins the adventures of the Finnegans.

      Mr Finnegan is all ready in Australia and has written them many times to tell them of the beautiful land he's found and how he's procured a home for them complete with an indoor toilet and running water! The family is amazed and the children are excited. Mrs Finnegan is willing to do whats best for her children.

      The story tells of the adventure the family has upon the boat as it sails first to Africa and then onward to Australia.  It must first drop cargo in Africa and pick up more cargo before it can make it's trip all the way to Australia. During the story we learn that Edward is quite the engineer in the making and that Mary, the eldest, tends to be the most level headed even over her own mother at times.

      Mrs Finnegan takes to prowling the ship deck at all times looking for an iceberg because she doesn't trust that the sailors and captains will spot one should they meet it. However, she's sound asleep the day Edward and the sailors spot one. A tiny one, all most completely melted without a penguin or polar bear in sight. Edward is quite disappointed but vows to Mary that he won't tell their Ma about it for fear she'll panic.

      The sailors warn, though, that if they saw one iceberg that far south there's a good chance there are more out there. And to there are! The alarm whistle goes off at the Finnegans, refusing to shirk their duty, all clamber to the deck to see what they can do and if they'll survive the journey.

      The book is fictitious but based on a story the author's StepGranny told the grandchildren. It's a beautiful little story about what life was like for those who chore to migrate on boats and the boys both know that their own Australian grandparents did just that, only they didn't come from Ireland. They did however, migraine on a boat with children in tow. Of course, not quite so long ago as the Finnegans came..

      Don't miss all the extra information packed into the back of this book! There's information about steam powered boats, Ireland, the potato famine, Hedge-Schools, Irish language, and more. There's a dictionary in the back as well for a few of the Gallic phrases said in the book, and there's also some fun irish recipes to try as well!

      There's a lot of information packed into this little book for sure. Not to mention the fun of attempting an Irish brogue while reading it! I wasn't sure I'd quite managed the later until the boys informed me that I sounded like a little character on their spelling lessons who happens to speak with quite the Irish accent. The real trick was then losing the Irish twang when we stopped reading!

      Sunday, July 10, 2011

      All American 1 {WP}

      We started our first week back after our winter break with our new curriculum! There was a lot of excitement, and a little trepidation; after all, our former curriculum served us so well for the past six years!

      However, we had a fantastic first week back and fully enjoyed using all of our new stuff. All though there were a few grumbles when we didn't dig into one of the most cherished new books right away, but it was a good lesson in patience for a couple of little boys I know!

      We've learning bout Early Explorers & Native Americans. These are both very exciting topics for my boys. What's not to love about adventures and Indians? 

      WP uses the Homeschool In The Woods Time Travellers, so we're enjoying using their Explorer pack for the next six weeks. This past week we learned about reasons explorers went on such amazing adventures and checked out some of the first maps made. I must say those maps caused a whole lot of laughter around the table too, not to mention disbelief.  We also made some spice cookies to try out some of the spices, and then the boys listened to me lament that I was out of Chinese 5 spice. Such a shame..

      We also tried our hand at more knot tying. This little book is one we gave Morgan for his birthday. In came in an adorable tin with several kinds of rope and 16 knots everyone should know how to tie. It came in very handy when the boys wanted to know how to tie even more knots after our lesson. Of course, we also learned that one should not try practicing knots on the dogs legs, or on their brothers wrists, or on their mother's chair...

      We also had an introduction to US geography this week with the two books above. There was a lot of excitement over getting started with their very own Atlas's {geography notebooks} and Jayden even asked if when he was done if he could give his copy to the library so other people could learn about it too, and if we did give his copy of his map book {geography notebook} to the library would it mean his name would be on it as the writer and picture maker? Yes, he was very serious! 

      We also colored our first map for these nifty atlases too. We were suppose to copy the map inside the front cover of Kids Learn America! but instead I printed out these fun maps! The boys loved them and spent a great deal of time coloring them. In fact they requested a few extra chapters of How The Finnegans Saved The Ship so they could keep on coloring. All though I suspect it might also have been because poor Mrs. Finnegan might have finally seen a real iceberg and we had to know the outcome of such a situation. {Say that in your best irish brogue!} All in all it was a delightfully peaceful and fun week back to school! 

      Friday, July 8, 2011

      Unexpected Visitor

      This past Saturday I was quietly {is that possible} slicing a loaf of bread while the rest of the family sat at the table eagerly anticipating French Toast. Next thing I know everyone is screaming and carrying on and I quite very nearly cut myself in the process of trying to figure out what the big deal was. 
      As it turned out the boys were squealing at us to come check out the bird on the veranda. It’s not abnormal for us to get birds here. We have quite a few who live in our yard and have nests in all sorts of areas. We don’t have a cat and that helps.
      We also get the visiting or traveling bird who’ll stop by.. Lapwings {plovers} from next door come over when the sheep scare them off, Galas will often visit, pigeons, the occasional magpie {which I would prefer didn’t come to visit}, Kookaburras, various honey eaters, and on and on.. 
      At our previous home we use to have a few Cockatoos who’d come and carry on to no end. It was always fun to watch them go crazy for pinecones, but man were they loud! We don’t see them as often here and they haven’t stayed in our yard, but we can always hear them when they are visiting. 
      We also use to get the occasional parrot who’d visit. And by parrot I don’t mean the red headed blue feathered one in the pet shop. I merely mean of the parrot family. I suspect the previous owners use to feed them and they wee a bit expectant of it.
      Here, however, we have more sea fairing birds and the occasional woodland bird. So when I looked out the window and saw a lorikeet I was shocked! So was the bird because it proceeded to fly right into the window! Thankfully he didn’t hurt himself, but instead flew to the winter laundry line out there and proceeded to put on quite the show for us.

      He swayed one way and then the other, did a few dance moves and then tried to pull my clothes peg off the line. Mr S decided to go outside and see how close he could get, and as he went I suggested he look for a metal band on the birds leg because it seemed far too showy and friendly to be a wild bird.

      The boys and watched from the window, and sure enough that crazy bird did have a band on it’s leg. It was also quite pleased Mr S came out to play and hopped right on his hand, walked up his arm, and cuddled up around the collar of his shirt. 
      We brought the bird inside after being unable to convince it to go into the box we had prepared for it. Once inside it put on another funny show for us and when we laughed he screeched at us. Not being bird owners we had no cage and deposited the bird in an old store style guinea pig cage as we canvased our small neighborhood to see if anyone had lost their pet.

      As it turned out no one claimed to know who had such a bird and no one claimed to have lost it. We gave up and came home to finally have that breakfast we’d hoped to have hours earlier. The bird, however, was not content in his cage and decided to join us.. on the kitchen table. Seriously.
      Do you have any idea how much pottying a lorikeet does? Especially one who drinks it’s food rather then eats it? It’s a lot. I’m just gonna lay it out there and tell you that. It’s a whole lotta pottying and Im pretty sure if they wore nappies/diapers you’d be changing them more then a newborn baby!
      The bird was content to sit there and stare at the boys as they ate their breakfast, but when Mr S’s marmalade encrusted french toast was thrown on the table the bird actually bunny hopped across the table flapped it’s wings and squealed in glee! Then it proceeded to hop right up on the plate and start licking up marmalade as fast as it’s little tongue could lap. 

      I was lost somewhere between horror and delight. I mean, it’s not everyday you get to see such a show put on, but poor hungry Mr S was sitting there screaming, “Oie! Give-me me marmalade bird!” In an effort to keep the bird and the hubby happy I doled out more marmalade encrusted french toast and suggested no one eat the other piece.. bird flu and all that ya know.
      We ended up going into town and purchasing a bird cage and feed. Did you know lorikeets don’t eat seeds? Yeah, they drink nectar in the wild {thanks to their bottle brush tongue}, so at home you replicate this by feeding them nectar as well as fruits and veggies and a special mixture of protein loaded dry food. 
      Of course, when we got home the dog was insulted we’d been in the pet shop and didn’t bring him home a treat. It probably didn’t help that we added a “new pet” to the house and then proceeded to feed the guinea pigs there new sack of food. Poor dog, but I’m getting way off topic here..

      The point is, we came home and plopped the bird in his new cage and proceeded to feed him. He was grateful. He was not as grateful when he saw he had no marmalade and no nectar. Drat! 
      This bird is funny crazy, and despite running an add in the paper for him we’ve yet to have anyone claim the little fellow. He’s very personal and adores being held, spoken to, and spoon fed. Yes, you read that right, spoon fed. I’m going to warn all of you right now {Mom & Dad pay attention!} if you ever come to visit me and I serve you soup or cereal do not let the bird see your spoon. If you do, it’s your own problem. And if you touch a bottle of honey while holding a spoon, I’m leaving and you can deal with the screaming and crying until you give that crazy bird some! 
      Seriously though, this Bird-Bird as some of us have been calling him, is amazing. He loves to climb and if you laugh he’ll just keep right on doing it. Of course we call it a him, but as it turns out you can only determine that kinda status by dna testing of a veterinary surgery. All of which seems a tad extreme to know if we should say he or she. 

      Me, being me, did some research about these birds and it turns out they are not only the biggest in the Lorikeet family {he’s a red collared just for the record} they are also some of the most difficult to have as pets due to their need for special feed, mess making ability, and constant upkeep.
      Did I mention this bird likes to bathe everyday? Not in the normal quite clean way most birds bathe.. No, this bird will shove himself into the smallest bowl of water possible and throw the water everywhere. In fact, I’m convinced this bird could easily compete with the boys on biggest bath mess ever! 
      He also talks. Yep. First night in our home I walked past the cage and he said, “Hello!” Knocked my socks off. So I stood beside the cage and said, “hello” about a thousand times and he refused to answer me. A couple of days ago I tried again and got into a whistling game with him where he ended it by saying hello to me once.

      So, last night while he was hopping all over the couch I leaned over and said, “Hello there Bird-Bird!” he glared at me. I glared back and that dreadful little show off stood up, stretched out his neck and said, “HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO!” I kid you not! The guys laughed, and I gotta admit it was pretty amusing. 
      I answered back with my own barrage of hellos and that snarky little bird looked me square in the eye and said, “G’day!”