Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Unintentional Math

ignore the overgrown garden, our gardner was a no show while we were out of the country
This weekend the boys decided to invent a game with those nifty air filled outdoor balls. I was going to refer to them as beach balls, but they aren't really. Anyway, what the balls are called isn't the point! I'm not entirely sure what the game was all about because I was busy making mad dashes between the washer & the laundry line, assisting getting the garden back in shape, & attempting to conquer the bug issue we've been battling since we got back from the US.

What I do now is that during one of my trips to the laundry line I discovered a giant target drawn on the side of the house with chalk. It's only chalk so I didn't really care about it, I just made a mental note to have the boys wash it off when they were done. On my next trip outside I found all these numbers all over outside on the back sidewalk! My first response was, "good grief, they'll need to wash this up too!"

Then on a bit of a closer inspection I had myself a bit of a laugh. We have one child who's all about math. If it involves numbers & working out a problem he's all for it. The more the merrier, the more complex the happier he is. The sight of parentheses in his math work excites him, I'm not joking around here, he's actually squealed with delight about it before!

Then we have another child who'd be a much happier person if I'd agree to let him skip math for the rest of his educational years. He has no idea that when he's playing card games & counts up his points at the end he's using math. Or that when he counts his money to see if he's saved enough that he's using math. He hasn't put it together yet that when he's helping cook in the kitchen, or keeping an eye on the clock for computer time, or, or, or.. that he's doing math.

So when I found this long string of numbers outback it cracked me up. I could easily tell that out math lover had written the numbers down. Most likely to keep track of scores at first, but from the excess circled & rearranged numbers, I'm pretty sure our math hater was pointing out a few things himself.

Just wait until they play their newest card game, the one where the object of the game is to calculate an exact number to free the queens in order to win.. I mean, that's not math or anything either, is it?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Week In Review: Week 30

It's hard to imagine, but with the completion of this school week we are down to our final 8-9 weeks of school! We will be taking the entirety of the month of January off to have a whole lot of summer fun, all though I'm creating our own little Summer Reading Plan for the boys, complete with prizes. I was worried it might be a little rough for us getting back into the swing of things after our international travel, but aside from a rocky Monday we had a great week.

We wrapped up 3 books we had intended to wrap up during our travels. Turbulance, air sickness, & one tired Mamma kept that from happening. We read our Harry Potter book during a delay in Nashville & wishing we could have been hanging out with Gram instead, not because our story was lame but because hanging out in airport for a delayed flight is lame. Anyway, we wrapped up War Horse, which as our own added in book for World War I as we couldn't obtain the book we were suppose to read. The boys really enjoyed the story, & for an animal book the ending wasn't sad in those regards. The movie is M rated in Australia so I'm not sure our children will be viewing it, but they hold out hope. We also read Rose's Journal this week which is a book about a little girl living during The Great Depression. Her family owns a failing farm, & she talks about her concerns, the changes in her parents, & the unending dust storms. We also finished off Roll Of Thunder Hear My Cry which was very eye opening for my boys. They presumed that after the Civil War things were fine for all the freed slaves, they were a little taken aback by some of the persecution of the characters in the book. There were a few sniffles at the end, but no complaints about the story itself. When we wrapped that book up it dawned on me that every single one of our books this week had been rather emotional!

We started listening to Rascal this week which takes place during WWI as well, but in the US where the biggest hardships were the restrictions of food & the loves ones who were sent off to fight. Not that I mock these lesser hardships by any means, we know how hard it can be to have loved ones off fighting, it's just a much more laid back story, thus far, after reading of the hardships in War Horse.

Jayden started his new spelling programme & seems to enjoy it. It has a bit of a learning curve for me as it has more teacher involvement then his former curriculum did. This is a good thing, honestly, because it's easy to get caught up in the swing of handing them the books while I busy myself with something else. I like knowing what they are doing & correcting or catching problems straight away. I find that it helps nip problems in the bud before they have time to blossom out of control.

We all took the the dog for a walk which quickly turned into a nature exploration when we found hordes of stinging caterpillar attempting to cross the walk track, along the edge of the walk track, & even trying to creep under someone's fence. Our silly dog decided to give them what-for by encouraging them along with their nose & was quickly rewarded with a bit of a sting.

Jayden was back at his math again as we replaced the broken cd while in the US. Math is not his forte, but he doesn't mind it. I'm not so sure he realises exactly how often he uses math, but that's okay I don't mind not letting him on that little secret quite yet. He was delighted he had a bonus round this week, until he discovered it wasn't multiplication. He's much quicker with multiplication then he is with subtraction. I need to work with him on that.

 Morgan tackled all sorts of nifty stuff in math this week. He's delighted to be learning more, slightly, complex things in math these days. We took a month off to focus only on division in a variety of ways. It was good for us, but I feel a little crunched for time in getting everything else I had planned with him for the year. Of course, if it doesn't happen the world will keep spinning, I just need to remind myself of that now & again.

We also wrapped up our Industrial Revolution lapbook by finishing off the last bits & bobs which were mainly from the Great Depression time frame:

Did you know for a while the US had laws to make it free of alcoholic beverages? Not exactly sure how I missed that one before this point!

This nifty little piece is really just a timeline, but goodness it was cute with the film strips! There was an option to make it on plastic to look like a real strip of film, but the paper version was much easier & far more simple to fit in our timeline notebooks.

Notebooking papers with booklets that show the rise & fall of the stock market leading up to the great depression.

This nifty little booklet was perfect to wrap up the Rose's Journal with. The front has a dust storm happening on it with some black pepper sandwiched between two sheets of plastic. Lots of sneezing was happening while we finished that little booklet up!

We also had a day at the park with our local Home Ed group {Hi Mel!}, a trip to the library where we had to hunt down books we'd returned & ask them to remove them from our cards, a lunch date with Mr S, & a variety of other errands that ate up our science & art time on Friday. We were a little saddened by the later so we'll be working those in during the earlier part of next week, you know mixed with a full week of school & another Irlens appointment. Never dull around here!

Monday, October 29, 2012

More Curriculum!

One of the things I wanted to do while we were in the US was pick up school curriculum for next year. While I can have most of it shipped to me with little to no trouble, the cost can sometimes be great enough that I could have purchased more curriculum. Taking advantage of our geographical location seemed a wise, & economical, choice. Of course, coming home & trying to put it all on the book cases has proved another thing all together! Wondering what we got?

1. Sonlight Core F -- this will be Morgan's main school for next year. It should be a lot of fun, & I know he'll enjoy it as it's all based on geography. This kid is a map freak!

2. Children Around The World -- I actually owned the instructors guide to this so I picked up the other bits & bobs we'd need to use the curriculum. Morgan may use a few pieces here & there with his Sonlight next year as Sonlight doesn't cover as many different countries as Winter Promise does.

3. Animal Worlds -- We've reached that bitter sweet moment with the boys were separating them for learning has come. I don't want to put Jayden in Core F because of his age & grade level. Basically it would mean he'd be finished with the Sonlight Curriculum a few years before he'd be done with school. Knowing his passions I discussed with him what he'd like to do & gave him some options. Winter Promise's Animal Worlds was top notch on his list, & we were blessed to have it passed on to us so we only had to purchase all the wonderful bits & bobs that go with it. I'm really excited to start this next year too!

4. Story Starters -- Morgan has always loved to play with words, & with his increasingly better vision he's itching at the seams to do much more with writing! Only problem is getting started with the story can be the hardest part for him, boy do I know that feeling. He often brings me his notebook & asks me to write something to get him started. He's so excited to dig into the Andreola's Story Starters, I'm excited to see what kind of endings he'll come up with. He really is very good at it!

5. Writing With Skill -- I hadn't intended to put the boys into any formal writing curriculum, but Morgan is just so much more eager then I feel capable. I know my mother would fully disagree with that, because she has so much more faith in some of my abilities then I do, aren't I blessed? After much debating & looking & thinking I decided to pick up Writing With Skill for Morgan in regards to writing non-fiction next year.

6. Writing With Ease -- If Jayden was asked to name the one subject he hates the most it would be copywork. He despises the time it takes to sit still & form perfectly neat & legible letters when there are so many better things in life he could be doing. While looking at Writing With Skill {WWS} for Morgan, I spotted Writing With Ease {WWE} & after even more pondering & looking knew it would be a really good fit for Jayden. I can't say he's jumping up & down with excitement over it, but I am!

7. A Reason For Spelling -- Morgan is still doing awesome with his Sequential Spelling, but it's not a good fit for our Jayden. The boys learn on different levels, & this is one area where that difference requires different curriculum. I was content to keep Jayden going in Spellwell, but he lodged the complaint that he felt the books were babyish. I disagreed, but because I want him to actually apply himself & do the work once he finished his current spelling book I researched other spelling programmes. While I wasn't jumping up & down to purchase a new spelling curriculum, I am extremely grateful for the extra character training this book will give him. He's all ready enjoying using it!

8. Saxon 7/6 -- Morgan is seriously in love with the Saxon math curriculum, & because he is so am I. I have to admit though that the middle grade books are nothing like the younger grade books & I really do love the way they choose to approach each new topic. He loves the "mathiness" of them & has no complaints when asked to do his math. So we picked up his book for next year.

9. Teaching Textbook 4 -- Remember the minor accident one of the discs we were using had? We picked up a replacement for just that disc while in the US.

10. Algebra 1/2 -- I purchased this used too. We've been using the homeschool editions of the middle grade saxon, I'm not certain if this one is, but it was a fantastic deal. Of course, as Mr S points out, "It's not a deal if you didn't need it!" We did need this book however, so prayerfully it's the right one!

11. Sonlight Science F -- This will be Morgan's science next year so we picked up the instructors guide & worksheets while we were there. In fact, we found all most all the books used as well which was a huge blessing too!

12. Better Binders -- Generally I don't purchase US binders for use in Australia. US paper is fatter & shorter then Australian paper. Thus using Aussie paper in a US binder is pretty much not gonna work. Not to mention the hole punchers here can't make big enough holes to use them either! However, our Sonlight Instructor Guides {IGs} come prepunched so having the Better Binders was perfect for them. I heard tell that these binders can stand up to the test which is great because these IGs aren't small, especially when you put the science in with them. Incase you're wondering, you'll need a 3-inch Better Binder to hole a Sonlight Core IG, mixed with a Sonlight Science IG, with the SL numbered tags, & the Sonlight Science Worksheets filed in the back. I did, however, pull out some of the "extra" stuff that's included every year in the SL IGs.

13. Misc. Books -- Mr S & I went through our shed while we were in the US & I snagged a few books that I'd been itching to read, books I wanted to read to the kids, etc. I couldn't resist snagging In Grandma's Attic, do you have any ideas how many times I've read that series of books? I want to share them with my boys now. Books for me included a few homeschooling books, Elizabeth George Bible Study books, & a perpetual Calendar of Bible verses.

14. Grandpa's Watch -- When Mr S's father died his mother divvied out a few of Grandpa's more precious belongings. Among them was his beloved watch. The one he was very meticulous about winding up each day. This is one of the items given to Mr S, except that he doesn't really wear a watch & so Grandpa's watch sat above my kitchen sink until we moved & I packed it up. It's a tradition in Mr S's family to give out a watch on a child's 10th birthday. Something like a right of passage. This was a big deal for Mr S to purchase Morgan a watch when he turned 10, all though it turned into a small disaster for the poor man. When I spotted Grandpa's watch Mr S lamented that he didn't know what to do with it stating that he wasn't likely to ever wear it. I smiled & said, "Let's give it to Morgan for his 18th birthday!"

15. Pencils!! -- When my local home education group asked me what, if anything, I was going to get while in the US, I told them pencils. I wasn't kidding either. I can't stand Aussie pencils. I'm sorry, but it's true! I want my pencils to have erasers on the end, the good kind. The kind that erase not scratch the paper. A few months ago we purchased some pencils from Amazon, they were a real treat. I had planned to pick up more while I was in the US, but came home with a bunch of mechanical Pencils {clutch pencils}. Normally I hate that type of pencil & find they scratch the page more then write, but I found a papermate brand that is just so smooth on the paper!

16. Prisma Colors -- On my school wishlist was the Prisma Color Coloured pencils. I've heard a lot of good things about them, but can't seem to find them locally to me. I hear tell I can buy them from the mainland, but when I discovered the price I nearly choked on my own idea. I had hoped to pick up a couple of packages of them at Hobby Lobby with a discount coupon. You know, a package for everyone. Only to my great shock, horror, & disappointment Hobby Lobby failed me. They didn't sell them!! I removed the plan from my list & carried on as normal, but when we were in Staples getting those better binders I couldn't resist a trip down the pen & pencil isle. I never can, nor the notebook isle. In fact, taking me into an office supply store is like taking most people into a chocolate store. Anyway, down the pencil Isle I spotted several tins of these awesome Prisma Color Pencils. I wanted to get the medium sized tin, but even in the US they are a tad pricey so I went with the smaller tin, the one with the little girl smiling on it. I decided if after use we think they are that awesome, I'll dedicate a bit of our education budget to buy each person their own packet.

17. US Flags -- I saved a space on my wall for a US flag, except I didn't have one. Crazy, huh? While there Mom gave the boys a largish stick flag. I'd actually meant to get a bigger one that I could hang on the wall too, but this one will do just fine. While at Hobby Lobby snatching up greeting cards, because seriously Hobby Lobby has awesome cards, I saw packets of little US flags & we decided to get some to share with our local Home Education group.

18. Remote Control Airplanes -- Okay, so these aren't curriculum for next year. They were my father's & Mom offered them to my boys who were absolutely delighted to have them. I was worried they'd be confiscated, but they made it through all the checks with no issues. The guys took them out to fly them this past weekend & have a bit of learning to do because first they couldn't get the crazy thing up & then they nearly lost it when they did get it up. It might have helped if I'd snatched the user's manual.

19. Cross -- that's also not part of school for next year, but our Jayden decided he had to buy Mommy & Daddy a surprise. So he picked out a funny US football with a santa cap on for Daddy, it's actually a Christmas ornament. He picked me out the metal cross that says Love on it. I was so relieved to see them in the bag because I'd honestly thought they'd been forgotten & Jayde was near tears over that thought!

20. Paracord -- equally not official school curriculum. Dad was making paracord bracelets & he'd just stocked up for another round, as I understand it. Mom asked if I wanted the supplies, & at first I was thinking, "I don't know how to do it!" but then I decided it'd be a nice distraction at times.

21. Beyond Five In A Row -- I was so excited to finally be able to snag up my BYFIAR manuals! We had opted not to move Morgan into this last year due to his vision issue. I didn't want to compound the problem by handing him books I knew he'd struggle with or ask him to do research I knew he'd be incapable of reading up on. However, we're debating using them with Jayden next year mixed in with his Animal Worlds.

22. American Art History -- Oh my, this is such an exciting blessing too. I've been writing for a homeschool review blog where I simply write reviews about curriculum we use. I rarely accept curriculum in exchange for a review, it's just one of those weird quirky things about me. However, the writer of this curriculum offered it up & no one else who writes for the blog seemed interested. Art is a place our little homeschool can often struggle with, so I decided to take a second look. I was so caught up in the sample that I couldn't put it down. Needless to say I offered to use it in exchange for a review. This company blessed our family beyond measure with the amount they sent to us! I've been so excited to start this since it all arrived at Mom's front door!!

23. Odds & Ends -- erasers, a few notebooks, bubble gum {Mr S bought some fancy flavors for a friend}, Easy Buttons {same as the last}, Sock Monkey Ornament {for a niece}, tiny metal tins {art project for the kids & the tins were all of $1}, etc.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I do

Not only did I grow up in the same house my parents have lived in for the past twenty something years {or more}, I was married there too. In the field pictures on the top left, all though it looked vastly different thirteen years & five days ago. There were a variety of fall flowers all over, a pond full of fish where the burn pile in the center is, & lots &  lots of Christmas/Fairy lights. No, I mean lots of lights. In fact, we had so many lights that until we moved here we never had to buy Christmas lights to decorate with.

My family, on all sides, has never let me forget that I got married on the coldest day of the year. Outside. With no shoes on, in a sleeveless dress. I wasn't cold, but there are many pictures of everyone else well bundled or shivering. The first thing Dad said to me after the ceremony was over was, "Would you please go put some shoes & a coat on now?" In my attempt to do so & retrieve something for a brother-in-law I managed to drop a bottle of Mom's perfume in the toilet. As in, the whole glass jar, not the contents. While my brother-in-law & I were arguing about who should remove it Dad came in & pulled it out himself. Sorry Mom, we probably should have told you, you know.. thirteen years ago before you finished that one up!

The flower on the top right were from my wedding too. A friend of Mom's did all the flower arrangements. We use to have the flowers all over our little apartment so it was so much fun to see Mom had them spread around the house. The flowers on the bottom left were from the wedding too. We had several of those pitchers of flowers on the tables & things. The girl who made the arrangements was extremely apologetic when she showed them to us & she couldn't work the full sized sunflowers into the boquete arrangement. She was convinced it looked awful, & was worried I'd be angry about it. I dunno, but all these years later I still think they are very pretty flower arrangements!

And the fish! Oh my goodness the fish! If I remember correctly we cashed in on one of those Walmart specials where you could buy 10 tiny little goldfish for all of $1. Dad moved them out of the first pond & dispersed them around bigger ponds he had going for a while. When we were in the US I was busy attempting not to slide on the apples that were in the yard when I caught sight of the fish. Seriously, & to think they use to be the size of my half my little finger. Or that they are still alive after thirteen years, & five days. I have to say the five days thing.. Mr S is keeping track.

Because, after thirteen years of marriage he finally forgot our anniversary, but it's okay because I did too! I know, weird, but totally true. I was sitting at the breakfast table thinking about how I needed to wish his sister a happy birthday & didn't even pause to remember that we got married on her birthday. Nope, it wasn't until my mother-in-law rang to say Happy Anniversary that I remembered. We're blaming jetlag.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Pretty View

My parents live in the same house that I grew up in. I should clarify that it's not the only house I grew up in. My family still jokes about the Blue House, as we often called it. No one ever forgets living in an electric blue home. Doubt if you will, but we never had to give out our house number, in fact I think Dad delighted in not handing it out & just telling people, "Trust me you'll know it when you see you it." The Blue House was such a part of our family that when we moved out of that home friends informed us that the new home owners actually painted the house.

We also lived in a less memorable brown house, not that I don't remember it, I do. It's just that my family never sat around commenting on the shade of brown. We also lived across the street from my Grandma for a while & there are plenty of stories that can be told about that home, including the fact that my name is, or was last time I checked, still etched in the sidewalk near that home.

But the house my family spent the most time in during my childhood is the place that they still call home now. When we first moved there I'll never forget that every single weekend Mom had no pans to cook in & very little tupperware in the cupboard. Not because we were busy making our own rock band, but because the rough had a few leaks. Just a few.. The first summer, or three, people kept stopping outside our house & asking to take photos. I think it took three people before Dad finally asked what on earth everyone was taking pictures of our house for. It was rumoured that Lester Flatt was born there.

Mind you, it's also rumoured that before there was more then one bedroom on that house that a family with 12 kids lived there. Considering the amount of names I've seen penciled on the attic walls, I'd be tempted to believe it too!

So when Jayden asked me if I was sure I was going in the right direction to get to Gram's house I assured him I knew the way. He wanted to know how I could be so sure. I pointed out that I'd driven, biked, & walked the road many times before. And because no good parent can resist it I also added that I walked uphill, both ways, anytime I wanted to get off that road. Funny thing is, it's not a lie, it's not an exaggerated joke, it's a fact. I know what you're thinking, but it's true! The year it snowed & it took the plow for ever to get to our road, I remember my siblings & I tramping to & from the barn in the snow saying stupid things like, "When I was a kid.." but seriously, we were tramping uphill both ways!

The boys had a grand time tromping around the various fields & barns. When they announced they'd been to the "back barn" {pictured above} my first response was, "Is the owl still out there?" Apparently not, but they told themselves enough scary stories they'd made a mad dash for the house. When they were in the first barn helping to feed goats they decided it would be fun to get in the loft. It was quite a shock to them to discover there is not, & never has been, a ladder to get up there. We just scaled the walls. They made it halfway up before deciding perhaps the loft wasn't as cool as they thought it might be.

Of course, now when I tell the tale of Mom getting locked in the old chicken coop {sorry Mom, but I still laugh hysterically when I tell that story} they'll know exactly what I mean. Or if I tell them about the time I found Dad in the old apple tree standing on the branch he was cutting.. Or the time their own father was suppose to be helping me remove a branch from the rumoured pear tree {not sure anyone ever saw a pear on it} & didn't jump at the right moment & twisted his ankle, they'll know what I mean.

They might never be the same after enduring another Tennessee thunder storm, in a valley where the thunder bounces off the mountains, but they won't forget it either. Mr S never quite got use to those either. Me? I left the guys to the bed & slept on the couch. The boys were gung-ho excited to know they might see & hear coyotes, but upon the first mournful howl one of them was ready to pack his bags & hide in the house for the rest of his visit. I shouldn't have, but it made me laugh & still does! The other one is still lamenting that he didn't see the wild turkeys, & lamenting even deeper I didn't tell him when they were visible. Never mind that I was half a mile up the road, in a car.. without him. There's always next time.

Friday, October 26, 2012


One Saturday afternoon while in the US, Mom mentioned she needed to go to a shop called Fred's. We don't have a Fred's in Tasmania, & when Mom said she needed to go to Fred's Mr S wanted to know who Fred was. It was all very amusing & funny, until we realized the boys really thought we were going to see someone named Fred.

They were a little confused when I pulled into a parking lot & told them that Gram needed to go inside to get a couple of camping chairs. So we walk in the shop & there's this cardboard cut out of a man holding up a sign stating the price of items. I walked up to him put my arm around him & said, "Oh hi Fred!" Mr S snapped a photo. I told Fred I'd make him famous, that's why he's laughing!

My kids are still utterly confused over the entire Fred thing, but that's okay. Our sense of humor generally does confuse them. And no, that's not a real person in the photo with me, it really was just a cardboard cutout inside the door of the local Fred's in Mom's town.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


One of the things Mr S & I did while we were in the US was go through the stuff we've had packed up in a shed on my parents property for years now. While we got rid of most of the stuff our children had outgrown there were a few things that we will never part with. This puppet theatre is just one of those things. In fact, as soon as the boys saw it they begged us to take inside so they could use it with the new puppets Gram had purchased for them.

Dad built this puppet theater for Morgan one year for Christmas back when Morgan was 3 or 4. That same year he built Jayden a train table with two huge drawers that fit under it. See, some people think their Dad's can build anything, mine really could! This puppet theatre can fold up nice & flat which was a life saver when we lived in a small 2 bedroom apartment.

Every day the boys would beg us to set up the theatre & every night we'd have to close it up so they could reach their beds. The pink blanket is actually hiding the big opening in the front. Mom made some really cool curtains with stars all over them that go there, but for the life of me I could not find them. So the kids were happy to improvise. The rounded window on the side opens up & there's a second on on the other side. Somewhere there's also a green "ledge" that fits in the front window so they can rest their arms on it while they use the puppets.

This puppet theatre has been used as just that for puppets & stuffed animals, but it's also hade many other uses. Morgan has always adored the opening & closing of the windows so he use to make Jayden scoot around on a little ride on train & place "orders" at the windows for a variety of things. When Jayden tired of the game Mommy & Daddy were begged to play it.

While we were there the kids put on a very cute show for all of us & provided us with popcorn & drinks. They gave us money so we could buy tickets from them & everything. They practice their little show until they felt it was absolutely perfect before we were able to view it. Unfortunately I have no photos of the show because our seats were so close to the "stage" I couldn't get any good photos!

The funniest part of the whole show was that while Jayden was a part of it he sat with us & ate popcorn. His job was to yell, "Technical Issues" whenever marionette strings got tangled & the puppeteers had to untangle them. Only, crazy Jayden couldn't remember the word Technical & kept yelling something else. It took us nearly the whole show to figure out what he was suppose to be saying!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


One evening the boys decided it would be a lot of fun to play with their cousins Littlest Pet Shop toys. So they pulled out a few of the bigger houses to play with. When they asked her where the little animals were she impressed them by hauling out a huge bucket full. Morgan was in such awe he brought the whole bucket out to show me & then wanted to know if I knew exactly how many were in the barrel. Because of course I'd know, right?

The best part was when she informed him that she had more then that & the last time she counted them, a year or more ago, she had 302. The look on Morgan's face was absolutely priceless, so of course I have no photo of it! Instead, I managed to snap a photo of the huge pile of animals they spread out on the den floor. There was also an entire Littlest Pet Shop type village set up too.

They had themselves a grand time until somebody broke the news to them that the den floor space was needed for a bed so people could sleep. While my boys don't collect Littlest Pet Shop, they absolutely love the animals. Jayden's just an animal freak, so anything animal related appeals to him, but Morgan just loves the big funny eyes.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Story Of A Sandwich

When Morgan was 4 or 5 his little soccer team had a Dress-up/Halloween party. We'd never celebrated Halloween, but Morgan was really keen to dress up. My kids still love dressing up. Morgan was looking at a Family Fun magazine way back then & spotted a Ham Sandwich costume that just struck his fancy. When his coach asked him what he was dressing up as, my child didn't miss a beat, "A ham sandwich, & I'm even wearing a pickle for a hat!'

His coach smiled, but cocked an eyebrow at us. At this point, he was totally use to our child being strange. After all our child was the one who screamed out, "look guys a caterpillar!" & had two teams of kids inspecting the creature while the ref & coaches were trying to get the game going again. When his coach was assigning positions one Saturday he asked if everyone remembered what to do, our child says, "Yeah, but mostly I think it's cool I can see my reflection in your sun glasses." I guess the ham sandwich thing really confused him, because after practice he asked if Morgan was really going to be a ham sandwich. We told him yes.

Morgan was indeed a ham sandwich that year. It was such a simple costume. Just foam all glued together. We spray painted the edge brown for a crust & took a circular piece of foam & painted it green like a pickle for a hat. It even had a thin dowel sticking out of it for the toothpick. Morgan was incredibly proud of his silly costume. He wore it to our MOM group one week too & they gave him a silly price for it because they loved it so much.

Needless to say Morgan has spoken about this crazy costume for years. On occasion my kids have asked Gram if she still has the costume. The first morning we were there Jayden asked for the costume, & out of the closet it came. The circle on the front is where the pickle hat was stored for a while. Not sure exactly whatever became of the hat, but no one really cared. They just thought it was fun to walk around for a little bit like a sandwich.

That's Jayden, when he was 3 wearing the same costume.. complete with pickle hat. I raided his scrapbook while I was in the US for photos.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Yellow Duct Tape

When my inlaws first came to the US, my father-in-law had all their luggage covered in bright yellow C's made from duct tape. The C's, of course, standing for their last name. We really picked on him about his crazy C's, mostly because we thought it was really very funny. But when we came to Australia in 2003 we had hideous yellow C's on our bags too.

When we went to the US a few years ago, once again, we had bright yellow C's on our bags. That time our baggage got lost on our way into Nashville. We stood at the baggage claim long after they turned it off & the lights out. An employee came up to ask what was wrong & I said that not one single bag of mine had been on the flight, or if it had I hadn't seen it come on the belt! She told me to come into her office & describe my luggage. I got as far as saying, "Well I had bright yellow C's on all our bags.." She was typing away madly when she said, "Found them!" They were stranded in Memphis, but arrived the following day to Mom's front door for us.

So needless to say when we went to the US this time, once again, we put bright Yellow C's on our bags. After all, it was no longer just about tradition, but the fear that our bags might get lost. We also had other things on our bags to help make them stand out. For instance, the bag above had a spare footy bumper sticker on it. The bag above is very common around here, especially amongst Asian tourists. You can actually stand it up like it is now & roll it in any direction very easily, so I get whey they are common.

Our bags weren't lost or delayed this time, but I was really glad we had tell-tale stuff on them because apparently everyone has either blue hard suit cases or black duffle bags! I tripple checked our name tags after gathering up our luggage, which is a good thing, because at one point we actually had someone else's bag. Whoops!

If you travel, especially internationally, I'm telling you, yellow duct tape is a life saver! I not only make yellow C's on all sides of our bags, but I put a piece of it around the handles too. Which is how I ended up with that extra bag, someone else put yellow tape around their handle too in order to make it easier to see. Next time, maybe I should go with Neon Pink.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Flying on a Jet Plane

We spent 2 weeks in the US visiting with my Mom & other family members. The boys had an absolute blast & were very disappointed when it was time to come home. In fact, I was asked relentlessly if we could spend just "one more" day. It was sad to leave, it's always hard to leave the ones you love, but it was equally good to come back home. Next time, we'll just have to stuff Gram in the extra duffle. Ha! Could you imagine the look on the fellow when he scanned that bag!?

We had a slight change of flights when we left so we ended up on the second longest flight in the world: 17 hours. Seriously, it felt like an eternity. It was a long flight, compounded with sick children, people complaining of tummy upset, & a child who couldn't sleep. Stepping off a plane onto solid ground never ever felt so good! Last time we went to America via Japan cutting our plane time in half, & then some, giving us a break between long rides. We decided next time we'll get there via Fiji for the same reason, that & going to Fiji would just be so awesome, wouldn't it?

We enjoyed our time, but as normal it sped by so incredibly fast. Especially when someone informed me it was Wednesday & I thought it was Monday. I was utterly convinced they were trying to mess with my all ready wigged out brain that couldn't keep track of time & dates. Silly thing is, I did the same thing in reverse when we got back. Thought it was Wednesday when it was Friday. This time travel stuff does a number on you.

Yes, time travel. We arrived in the US on the same day, at the exact same time, that we left Tasmania. So we relived Tuesday twice! When we came back we left the US on a Tuesday & got into Tassie on a Thursday completely skipping Wednesday. Yeah, it was weird!

Driving on the other side of the road was unusual, & aside from one minor moment on the wrong side of the road was managed well. Mr S was convinced that when we got back home again I'd be absolutely confused, but actually it just seems normal. I don't find myself double checking that I'm where I belong, I just go.

The boys are all ready making plans for their next visit. I like their style!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


We've been sitting on a little secret here for a few weeks now. We're currently traveling overseas to go visit my mom & grab some closure on the loss of my dad. It took us a while to pinpoint some dates that worked with a crazy wild project Mr S has been working on at work, & by the time we finally pin pointed some dates we decided to keep right on sitting on the secret.

What's better then showing up to visit family when they are in desperate need of some extra love? Showing up totally unexpected! By the time you see this we should be safe & sound in the states sitting in the very living room I grew up in while my children are either lamenting about the amount of time it took to get to Gram's house or laughing their little behinds off at the photos of me hanging on the wall.

When I took the photo of that particular suitcase it was only filled with items we were taking with us to leave there. Goodies to give to friends & family, school curriculum we're done with & passing onwards. Birthday presents that we hadn't mailed yet, & so on. It'll come back filled up with school curriculum for next year, dirty clothes, & if Jayden has anything to do with it our former family dog who is now spoiled rotten at Mom's.

You may or may not see anything happening in this space over the next couple of weeks as we take the time to simply be, to love, to cry, & to remember.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ross In Pictures

Last week when Morgan had his eye appointment with the Irlens Specalist we decided to grab a cabin enroute back to our own town & spend the night. We didn't have much of a view that evening because it was very dark when we pulled in. We were simply grateful for a semi-warm place & blankets. I'd say pillows, but those weren't provided!

In the morning as I told the guys to grab breakfast Jayden couldn't resist peeking outside at the wildlife. He's an animal lover through & through & he knew there were ducks about because we'd heard a few of them when we'd pulled in the night before. He was not disappointed, & they were content to sit with him while he ate his breakfast. They were a little annoyed he only offered them the tops of the strawberries instead of the entire berry. That crazy white goose took a real liking to Jayden, it was absurd. I kept warning him that geese can be mean & he should be careful, but no matter where that child went there was the goose trailing behind him. It was funny. We had a beautiful view, was the sun was up, but we didn't stay long enough to take advantage of it. Mr S wanted to take the boys through a small town called Ross that is rich with Australian history from the Convict period.

This beautiful bridge was built by convicts. The history behind it is quite amazing & there's a little plaque round the other side of it that Mr S read aloud to the boys, until they started uttering words like, "Mean." "Unfair." "I wouldn't have stood for that!"

Depending on which side of the bridge depends on what sign you see. We'd just come from Hobart, which is actually quite a large city now. Many of the Historical Fiction books we've read to the boys about convicts revolve around this area.

We live a good distance the other sie of this City, but we were headed in that direction! This is the sign if you're driving on the other side of the bridge, & these are etched right into the bridge itself.

It was a beautiful view after miles & miles of highway stretching before us. All though we had great fun spotting all the "shadow" decorations along the roadside & the various topiary that still liters the roadside.

Mr S said that the water level was high as we couldn't walk very far around the water's edge on the normal path. Morgan was delighted to see that if the river continued to flood & we lived there he'd still be able to walk on his feet without water being over his head.

Lover's are suppose to sit here & contemplate the road ahead. We found the whole thing quite funny, especially when the boys spotted that the path we were on was called Lover's Lane. 

Jayden was very eager to get down to the water. Jayden's relationship with water is a lot like that with animals. Im pretty sure if our property had a pool on it we'd never see him because he'd always be in it.

One of the bridge plaques, not the one that caused the unrest when Mr S read it aloud.

This is the plaque that caused irritation, or rather the information on it. The boys felt that if the stonemasons received emancipation {which they knew exactly what it meant thanks to the Emancipation Proclamation & were delighted to tell Mr S what it meant} that those convicts who also helped work on it should have equally received the same rewards.

Morgan & his uncle have the tradition of stopping to make little stick boats to float in any body of water they find. While his uncle wasn't with us Morgan still felt the need to make two boats, drop them in the water & race up on top of the bridge to see which one would float out the other side first. Neither one, they got caught in some lilly pads.

Mr S reading the offensive plaque to the boys while he's waiting for his GPS to kick in. He felt the GPS on his phone was better then the one on mine, but my pone was getting the decent reception while his phone's reception was extremely questionable. I found his GPS really annoying because the dreadful voice kept shouting at me.

We took the path from the bridge up to the church. While the adults were in awe of walking on this path that was most likely walked on a few hundred years ago, the kids were fighting over who would not be last through the gate. I'm betting that path has heard that argument a lot..

Stables you pass on the path by the church. There was a crazy dog, not in the photo, living in a house nearby. He was very curious as to what we were doing, & extremely noisy about his curiosity.

A boy on the roof? How did he do that!

Ahh, mystery solved.

The path wound around a hill & up through another gate, which I offered to go through last to avoid any bickering. 

The only thing cooler then the key hole were those beautiful hinges!

You're allowed in, but there's a sign asking you to please close the door to the sanctuary because the bees & birds enjoy visiting too.

Jayden thought it would be fun to give us a rousing rendition of the 10 Commandments. He was hoping for a few fist slamming pointers on them until Mr S told him he had to be quiet because there were people within the church working. 

There were several stain glassed windows within the church. The boys hadn't seen any before & were really smitten with them. 

We sat down in the pack pew & Morgan started tisking that someone had carved onto the pew in front of us. We all looked down & our mouths fell open when we started to read out the dates that were carved right along with a few little boys names. It's no wonder no one ever sanded over them!

I spotted the cornerstone when we went back outside & Mr S read it aloud to the boys. His second lesson of the day didn't go much better then his first lesson. It went something like this, "Boys this church was build in 1882, do you know how old that is?" Jayden's reply, "It's a lot older then Helen Keller, she was still alive in the 1900's, which means this church is extremely old!" Morgan's reply didn't help Mr S who was all ready scratching his head, "It's older then the Titanic too, which means this church is more then 100 years old!" They skipped off down the path towards the public toilets while Mr S started asking me what on earth Helen Keller or the Titanic had to do with Tasmania. Ahh yes, Sorry dear, welcome to the wonderful world of curious minds.

We walked back on a different path & found various metal arrows in the ground pointing out two things. The major bridge we'd all ready visited &

We decided to seek out the female factory, which proved a little bit harder on foot then we expected it to be.

We did eventually find it's remains. The major factory was removed & all that's left are a few signs to remind you of what was there, how the women were treated, & so on. You walk around a sheep paddock & read the signs. The scenery is beautiful, but the signs are so incredibly depressing & crushing to read. Women were forced to ween their children before the child was ready. Their children were sent away to orphanages at the age of 3 & most weren't promised a better life. The women could be restricted the right to see their children for a variety of punishments. Some women were imprisoned simply for being pregnant. The overseers cottage was still standing though so we walked through those. The stone steps were actually worn away in the middle to make a U shape from the ceaseless walking that must have once happened upon them. All in all it was a really interesting tour of the little town.