Saturday, December 28, 2013

House Pictures

We've spent so much time packing, hauling, & unpacking that I've only taken a few quick photos that I shared, mostly, on Facebook. I thought it was time I updated here & took a few more quick photos of the other rooms before family members go crazy waiting to see the interior of our new house! I just have to warn you though, some of the rooms are trashed in the photos because they've only had boxes dumped in them. Other rooms were in need of a tidy up, but since everyone but myself was in a shower somewhere they were left messy for the sake of getting the photos taken before the timer on my pressure cooker went off. I'm pretty sure if I hadn't been there when it beeped Mr S might have cried, he was absolutely ravenous!

So let's start at the beginning, shall we? Kind of. This is the hall that leads to the front door, thus the sun shinning in the door despite it being 7pm. Yes, it's a lovely wooden floored entryway, I love wood floors, Mr S not so much. We have a few of both here so we're both happy. I had some shelves here under the photos on the left, but I needed them to get a child's room organised so they were moved. The hall is huge in both directions. The former owner had an old fashioned sewing machine sitting there, amongst other things. This is also the hallway people get lost in because it goes in 4 directions. It's the inner maze of the house. We've had several people call out, "I'm lost now, where on earth am I!" And one of the boys has gone to fetch them.

On the right are 2 doorways, both of which go into the library. It's not quite unpacked completely yet, but none of those boxes have books in them & none of them actually go in there. They've just not been hauled to their final destination spots yet. There's a fire place on the front half of the room, which was used. I hauled the wood out of the room because it's currently far too warm to be bothered having a box of wood next to the stove. The shelf there is built in, & that's actually my sewing table, but we had the guinea pig on it when we first moved in. Our current yard is missing a gate over the driveway & Morgan was terrified to have Nutmeg outside. I can't blame him after the last time his guinea pigs were outside of the gated yard. Anyway, back to the room. The only big downer about that particular room is that those front windows you're staring at don't open.

This is the other half of the room! Yes, it has a reverse heat pump hanging on the wall there. None of those boxes have books in them either, they just have a few bits here & there that need to be emptied & put on the correct shelf or room so I can officially haul them out. Not sure we'll actually school in that room, but then again if it's a cold day & there's a lovely fire going..

 Excuse the mess, but that's actually rather clean! If you go the opposite way down that long hall you'll find Morgan's room. He decided he wanted a single bed instead of bunks, so the top bunk will go in the library for a "day bed" for now until we find a couch to put in there. His room is smaller then the last one he had, but wait until you see where all the lego is..

And that's where my shelves went from the hall. I stacked them up to make a nifty little shelf in his room to store all his building stuff on. I'm pretty sure he owns just about every possible building toy out there. In fact when I asked him to give me the box of K'nex we this long confusiong conversation about the Meccana that's in the red & green box on the shelf. I kept thinking it was more K'nex! The brown cabinet on the floor came with us too & holds more building toys like Snap Circuits. Behind the door is a built in closet. Across the hall from his room is one of our bathrooms, it's the original bathroom to the house, but it was also occupied by someone enjoying a luxurious bath. We need to fix the door to that bathroom, someone put it on backwards so you have to go into a very dark room & go behind the door to find the light switch.

Down the hall from Morgan's room is Jayden's mess er room. Seriously, I'm pretty sure everything he was suppose to put neatly on top of the boxes is on the floor & clearly no one made beds this morning. Don't ask about the semi dead looking giraffe in front of the window, it's best not to ask questions you don't wanna know answers too.. Jayden actually picked this room out well before we were certain we were getting this home. Not because it was bigger but because it has blue walls, maroon curtains, & red & white stripes on the wall. He's rather smitten with the Union Jack & all things British. Thus he really wanted the room!

There's another room after Jayden's, but I have no photos of it & a huge hall cupboards with lots of games loaded in it & stuff. It's at that point if you make the wrong turn people get confused. If you keep going straight you end up by the master bedroom. Which is enormous. We've never had a master bedroom where we haven't had to worry about hitting shins or knees on the bed as we walked from one side to the other.

I love the french doors in there, but they have no screen door attached so we can't actually open them when we're not in the room. And I'm certainly not game to sleep with them open as I don't fancy a possum waking me up in the middle of the night. There's also a wardrobe that runs the entire length of the room at the foot of the bed. It's amazing to have that much space to put clothing, not that we can even fill more then a quarter of it. Yes, in the first picture that was a bathroom that was off the side of the room. Our last master bedroom had one too, but it was triangular & very tiny. We're rather spoiled with the size of this one though!

Next up, bypassing the side door & another entry way, is the laundry room. It's extraordinarily large compared to my last one. I couldn't have the door open & access most of the room, but it worked for what we needed. This one has a bathroom in it {door on the right} complete with shower. Excuse the blur in the photo there..

Not the best photo, but that counter top is big enough to hold laundry for everyone, plus the bathroom & kitchen piles. Then there's cupboards both up high & down low. We're not lacking for storage in this house. I forgot to take a photo of it, but there's a funny cupboard under our stairs, which the boys love for a variety of reasons, which is huge too. And yes, there is a hole in the wall above my washer {first photo}, the former owner had a dryer & that's the vent. I haven't owned a dryer in 7 years, all though we debated one this past winter, so we need to cover the vent.

Across from the laundry room are stairs that take us to our Rumpus Room. It's a lovely big room that needs some privacy curtains hung because I'm pretty sure if I can see into other people's yards & homes they can probably do the same... The big white table, which doesn't look huge in the photo, against that wall is a lego table that came with the home. The two big drawers are full of lego & there are shelves on the side. The boxes on top have lego that Morgan needs to put in the drawers. The table is so big that it had to be taken apart to get back upstairs! The white "closet" in the corner also came with the house.

The other side of the room, a little neater, but boxes that still need to be unpacked. It's quite noisy up there thanks to the uncarpeted floor, I'm thinking we need a few throw rugs up there to help reduce the noise! And no, I have no idea why that shelf is laying on it's back, probably because I debated taking it downstairs to a child's room, but then moved on to something else..

There's also a built in workspace for the computer desks. It looks a little crowded due to the angle I took it in, but it's actually easily spacious enough for two people over there at once. Another window that needs some curtains in it, not that we can see much out that one.. mostly the trees that line our property.

The kitchen is beside the laundry & the stairs are out there too. Nothing quite like walking through the kitchen & finding someone sailing down the stairs on a mattress. Good thing we have a spare one, huh? Excuse the mess sin the kitchen, I really was making dinner! We found two boxes for the kitchen upstairs earlier today & clearly I never unpacked them.

Again, ignore my mess I was making cheater burritos. I'm loving the double ovens, all though I've only had need to use one thus far! The pantry is walk in & currently a lovely mess. There's a nifty light that senses you moving & pops on, which seems all grand & wonderful until a child leaves the pantry wide open & the thing goes nutters when you walk in the kitchen. Yes, I have more drawers then cupboards, but they hold heaps as each drawer has another drawer inside it except for the ones under the microwave which was wonderfully deep for cups & stacks of plates.

The window over the kitchen counter has a lovely view. I should have opened the blind before snapping the photo! Those wooden boxes there are flower boxes with things growing in them & there's a lovely wall covered in ivy. It blocks the neighbor's house from view & gives us our own private oasis there.

Our lovely new spacious dining room, which I'd like to note does not have pink carpet upon the floor. Who does that kinda weird thing?! Apparently the same kinda person who builds triangular bathrooms. The doors there go out back to a patio, & that window has a lovely view too..

Not the greatest picture, & it needs a little tidying up, but tada. There's some amazing aloe growing out there, ferns, grapes, etc. It's more of the wall covered in ivy which gives us a much better view then the neighbors backyard, which is full of rusty old cars. And yes, the hose was on, Mr S was out on the patio watering the dog.

The other side of our dining room, I told you it was big! We could probably fit another 3 tables in there. The cupboard with the 3 tall doors will hold all our craft supplies that were formerly housed in our school room. The cupboards on the other corner has a built in ironing board. Yes, really, along with a timed outlet incase you forget to turn off your iron after putting it away. Which is unlikely because the only thing I tend to iron is material for quilting. Mr S doesn't wear permanent press to work unless it's a really special occasion, he really hates dress clothes.

Ignore the dirty guinea pig cage, she still comes inside at night until we gate the driveway. This is the covered patio that is outside those sliding doors. It's also huge, that table use to take up most of the space in our former dining room! And yes, we put our deep freeze outside.

The other side of the patio, can you tell the piggie cage was in the middle?! Yeah, I should have moved it, but I'm allergic to the guinea pig so I avoid touching her stuff when I can. And no, I don't generally hang empty eskies from plant hangers, but it rained on that one & when I hung it up to dry it got rained on again! So it remains hanging up. The lovely potted flowers were left behind by the former owner, one needs a good bit of weeding/cleaning up around it.

And that's the best picture I got of the back yard before the timer on my pressure cooker went off. What you can't see are a couple of fruit trees by the back fence, a lovely sand pit with half a clubhouse build over it, a garden shed, a chicken coop, a raspberry patch, & a garage. Now, to finish unpacking & mow the lawn!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold,an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”  And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

From Us To You

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.”

Therefore He shall give them up,
Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth;
Then the remnant of His brethren
Shall return to the children of Israel.

And He shall stand and feed His flock
In the strength of the Lord,
In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God;
And they shall abide,
For now He shall be great
To the ends of the earth;

Friday, December 20, 2013


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Moving Day Ahead

We went by the new house yesterday to do a final walk through & make sure everything was as we'd seen it when we'd signed up to purchase it. We spoke with the owner as well as she showed us a few lovely little secrets, all good I promise, about the house. She also gave us a lovely, huge, beautiful lego table her husband made for their kids. Seriously, amazing but as it hadn't sold at their recent yard sale it was going to the tip if we didn't want it, & oh how my lego lover wanted it & barely contained his squeal of joy when I said, "Oh yes, of course I'll take it & I'll pay you for it if you'd like." She did not like, but was happy to give.

It's not the greatest photo, but after we left we zipped back around to double check where the meter box was incase we needed to let the electric company know we were wrong. Power should be switched to us on Friday & we start moving in then too. That leaves me with 2 days to finish packing in, 1 if you count the fact that we collect the keys tomorrow. The boys mentioned sticking wheels on the bunk bed we haven't taken apart yet so they can just "ride" it over to the new house to sleep on Thursday. They are seriously excited after our visit last night.

Needless to say we'll be busy over the next few days as we move & unpack. It's all very exciting for us & we've been blessed in immeasurable ways through this entire process. Each time we think, "Wow, God is just so amazing it can't get any better then this!" He blesses us yet again. We have been seriously humbled, astounded, & amazed by the grace bestowed on us through this very long process.

While we've mentioned very little about it here, or even to friends & family, this has been a process we've been going through since July of this year when we took the first tentative moves to start house shopping. To know we're on the final stretch & will be all moved into our new home by the end of the year is just incredible.

I'll be back to blogging regularly once the new house has internet & I have some lovely photos of our new abode to share. The kids are eager to do a video tour of the place for their Gram. They've been practicing all sorts of funny little quibs with the video camera I dug out & charged. Little do they know it was pulled out & charging for the Christmas due to the gifts she blessed them with. But it's kinda hard not to giggle when they practice infomercial style nonsense with a can of sparkling cranberry juice.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

End Of Year Certificate

Along with the swimming certificates I made for the kids I also wanted to make a certificate for finishing up their work with our Winter Promise theme this year. The boys are really into certificates of late thanks to their math & spelling books. While the Sonlight Core we tied into our Winter Promise theme came with a certificate it was pretty simple & I really wanted something a bit more. Plus, we didn't truly do Core F as much as we really did our Children Around The World Theme.

So with a basic idea in mind I whipped up a quick certificate for the kids. They know I'm up to something & have been trying to snoop, but I honestly have no idea if they are fully aware of what I'm doing. They most likely suspect it's Christmas themed secrecy. We're still planning for an "end of theme" Around The World dinner. The idea being to make a many coursed meal with the various courses representing at least one or two countries. We'll close off our evening with watching Around The World in 80 Days {the newer version} & hand out the certificates to the boys. Or so goes the plan.

I'm really pleased with how they turned out & that I had room to mention each aspect of the programme that I felt gave us such a lovely journey around the world. Some of them, praying for different countries/nations around the world, are habits we'd like to keep & incorporate into our more day-to-day living. It's really opened the boys eyes to how truly blessed they are. During a commercial recently where they were asking for funds to help children in a war torn country Jayden lamented that sending money was a foolish idea, his theory was that if the country was at war the wrong people would likely get the money & those that were struggling would still be in poor shape. At which point he sighed deeply & said, "Which means there's really nothing we can do to help them." Morgan looked up & said, "Yes, we can! We can pray for them." We spent 30 days praying for people living in War Torn Countries, & clearly that was not lost on him.

I'm hoping that after they get over the excitement of receiving their certificates they'll let me bind them up with the photos & other tidbits I'm trying to put together that summarises our 2013 school year. Of course, there might be squibbles over who gets to look in the book most often, so perhaps printing out 2 copies, one for them to hang up & one to go in the book would be wiser..

If you'd like your own fun certificate to signify a journey around the world you can download it here. Where I've written my boys name I've left blank but the words Children Around The World are still upon the certificate as it was written to go with our time using that particular Winter Promise theme.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Swimming Certificates

As our school year draws to a close I'm trying to close it out with a few fun things for the kids. One such thing is certificates to mark achievements that they've made this year. The boys have participated, all four terms, in swim classes this year. We started out a little slow & hesitant, but have quickly excelled to the top of the class.

We had one Mum who took a bit of time off for health reasons become quite nervous during diving one day, but when Jayden asked to go first & then demonstrated what was asked she grabbed me & said, "What?! When did this happen? I've missed it! I'm so happy for him!" Yep, Jayden overcame the monster task of diving into the pool, he's still got a bit to go on his form there, but he's no longer intimidated by the idea of it. In fact we're pretty sure he might be part fish.

Morgan has made progress this year in swimming too, & while most of his struggles resolved around the fact that Jayden not only caught up but surpassed him he has nothing at all to be ashamed about. Jayden makes all of our breast strokes look more like strange limp dances happening. Morgan's delighted he's gone from being back of the pack to joining Jayden in lapping the rest of the class when during lap time & Morgan's diving form is very nearly spot-on.

With only one more swim lesson for the year to go I really wanted to encourage & congratulate them on their efforts for this year as they decide if it's something they want to continue with next year or not. So I spent some time this afternoon making up a couple of certificates for them. We'll present them to the boys after their final swim lesson. If you need a blank swim certificate you can find one here.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Things They Do..

Our boys have reached a new milestone in life. That one where they can, on occasion, stay home while I dash to the shop for something, collect Mr S from work, run to the post office to collect a package, you know what I mean.. Every weekend we have one day dedicated to family & laziness. Or at least we aim for that. Sunday afternoon was our down time. We watched a movie, pulled out leftovers, & enjoyed ourselves. Leftovers was some left over corned beef that I was spreading hot mustard on.

Yep, well around 530 the guys decided they didn't want burgers for dinner they'd rather have tacos. So I said I'd run to the shop & get the taco shells & veggies while they tided up the lounge & put the dishes away. The boys agreed & Mr S & I dashed off to the shop.

While driving I heard my phone go off signifying the kids had sent me a message. Our boys don't have their own mobile phones or even their own ipods for that matter. What they have is an ipod touch that use to be mine, became Mr S' {who broke the screen}, & is now used for school purposes mostly. However, they use it to play Minecraft together on, stop motion videos, FaceTime Gram, & to text me while I'm out. It only works if they are connected to the WiFi in the house for that matter.

I don't touch my phone while I'm driving, all though I generally have it mounted so I can at least see who sent what through incase it's an emergency. Or you know, that random moment when the footy club you've been calling for 3 days finally gets back in touch with you & you have to renew your season tickets while driving down one of the craziest streets in town at the same moment school is out. Yeah, anyway.. the point is my phone was in my pocket.

We get to the shop & my phone goes off again before I can pull it out of my pocket. It reads:

Mom, reed your missages. {You know that says Read Your Messages, right? My children never spell read right, most likely because one of them sports the middle name of Reed, but I digress..}

So I start scrolling up wondering what on earth could have happened in the 5 minutes it took me to get to the shop & what do I see?! That lovely picture of the hot mustard smashed on the floor.

I ring the house & they don't answer, because no one ever answers the phone we always let the answer machine get it so I scream out, "Did anyone get hurt?" Morgan picks up, "Get hurt on what?" "The mustard!" "No, but you might want to buy more." "Have you cleaned it up?" "No, it's far too dangerous for us to mess with, we're leaving it for you." We part ways.

Mr S asks what's going on & I show him the photo & tell him what Morgan said. Mr S replies with, "Good thinking, he's right they shouldn't clean it up!" To which I simply smile & say, "Ahh, so you're planning to clean it up when we get home then?"

I've gotten some really funny messages from the kids. Like the time Jayden stayed home with Nana & Daddy while Morgan I made an emergency run for tea. We seem to make a lot of those when Nana visits, which I don't totally get because I'm not a tea or coffee drinker. While out we'd decided to stop off at the library. We were hunting for a book for Jayden, who wouldn't stop pestering us.

Mom can I FaceTime with Morgan?
Mom Why are you ignoring me?
I know you are reading these but not paying attention to me.
I'm bored, Dad's working & Nana's snoring.
Can I watch the cricket
I'll take that as a yes.
I'm watching the cricket.
Now everyone is watching the cricket
Oops, Mom I just told Gram we need loo paper & I meant to tell you
Mom, why haven't you let Morgan Facetime me yet
Mom, did you find my book?

At which point I finally called the house & ratted him out to Mr S who said, "What?! No he's not sending you messages he's laying in the recliner looking at a Tintin book." Yep, Nana & Mr S thought he was the picture of innocents laying there watching cricket & reading a book...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

New Year's Traditions

For many years for New Year's Eve we've celebrated by having Nana over & opening bags each hour around the clock from about 1 or 2 onward. It's always been a fun way to spend some time together as a family & of course the kids really look forward to it. I'm pretty sure Nana does too, which makes it all that much more fun for those of us coming up with fun things to do.

Our bags are pretty much the same each year with swimming, cherry ice cream, pizzas, a board game, a movie, calendars for the new year, & a devotional for the new year. Sometimes we throw a few other things in like noise makers & a banner to hang up. Or a video game for the whole family to play. We still keep it pretty simple though.

This year instead of a separate devotional each I decided to pick the kids up matching Bible Studies we could do over the summer. These are more of Kay Arthur's Inductive Bible Studies which we've done some of this year. After looking at the various ones on offer I just really felt Jesus -- Awesome Power, Awesome Love was the one for us. Our books arrived the other day in the mail & got all excited. I often forget to order their devotionals until after Christmas & then play hot potato hoping they get here in time.

Each year we also give the kids, & Nana, a new calendar. I also pick one up for myself as well, all though Mr S gets as much enjoyment out of it as I do. We always give Jayden the Veggie Tales Calendar & Morgan gets the lovely Bible Society Calendar both of which I can pick up locally at Koorong if I'm in the city. We have a local shop that sells the Bible Society one too, & no matter where you get it they aren't more then $3 For ourselves we get the every awesome & funny Bible Tails calendar which is also available via Koorong. While down at the other end of the island a few weeks ago we stopped into the local Koorong down there & they had all 3 calendars on display so I snagged them up on the spot much to my delight & the shop keepers shock at my squeal followed by uncontrollable giggling. The one rule we all have is not peeking ahead in our calendars to keep the giggles fresh when we flip them over. So I've buried the new calendars in the closet & have to attempt not to lose them in our move. If you're interested in purchasing any just a quick heads up that Koorong is on the tail end of a 5 day sale where everything is on special!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Chicken Soup

We have had an unrealistic amount of colds this year. I don't know if there's some super cold bug floating around determine to attack us at every term, the mould issue we've been fighting in the house, or the fact that we swim in a heavily chlorinated pool, all I know is I'm so over colds! There's been a lot of chicken soup on our menu because of it too. Nothing quite says "feel good" like a hot bowl of chicken soup on a scratchy throat & a stuffed up nose. Not that I recommend shoving soup up your nose, of course.

I have two versions of chicken soup that I make. One is called Cheaters Chicken Soup & the other is totally from scratch. They only differ slightly. In Cheater's soup you pick up a roasted deli chicken to use, but in the From Scratch version you just use a whole raw chicken. I'm not utterly convinced the deli chickens are safe for me anymore {wheat & dairy}, so the version we made this week when Jayden started getting snuffly was From Scratch. I make mine in an electric pressure cooker Mr S gave me a year or two ago for Christmas. It's amazing. I love it. The man & the pressure cooker. Seriously. The Pressure cooker can do so much, like make this soup in 30-60 minutes. Truth!

From Scratch Chicken Soup

1 Whole Chicken
4 Garlic Cloves
Bay leaves
2-4 Carrots
2 Onions
Various veggies

My chickens come in a plastic bag I just cut the bag open, rinse the chicken off if I need to {all though there are claims that rinsing chicken before cooking raises the risk of food poisoning} & drop the whole thing right into the cooking pot of my pressure cooker. I peel the onions & chop them up to throw in, I chop the carrots {don't peel them} & chuck them in, I throw in the garlic {peel it}, I sprinkle in a teaspoon or 3 of basil, toss in 2-4 bay leaves & a lovely dash of ground black pepper. 

Then I turn my electric kettle on & boil up 8 cups of water. I put that in there as well. I know it's 8 cups because that's the max fill line. Ha! Slap the lid on our pressure cooker, make sure it's set to high pressure & the pressure valve is in the right direction. I turn it on for 60 minutes. You can use water straight from the tap if you want as well, but cold water will take longer for your machine to come to pressure then boiled water.

When it beeps to signify it's done you can either let the steam off naturally or use the release switch. It depends on how close it is to dinner time as to which way I go. Either way, let off the steam & remove the lid. I put a giant colander in a larger bowl & plop the chicken in then pour the broth in as well to strain it. Pour the strained broth back in your pot. Smash the now cooked garlic & throw the back in. You can throw the onions back in if you want. I have a child who will pick them out if he sees them utterly convinced they will be too spicy. You could also just throw the broth {veggies & all} in your blender. I've done that many times too.

If you're going to use potatoes, I did in the pot above because we had some that needed using, turn your pressure cooker over to saute for about 10-12 minutes. While it comes to a boil peel & chop your potato, I go for smaller bite sized pieces because they cook quicker & you can get more then just potato in a bite. I also peeled 3 more small carrots & chopped them up into small bits. Added it all to the pot & let it do it's thing. I had Mr S stir it every now & again while he was chatting to me so I could remove all the meat from the chicken & chop it up into bite sized bits. 

Once the potatoes & carrots are done, I add the chicken back to the pot along with whatever veggies I have on hand to add that day. In the picture above I have 1.5 cups of chopped frozen green beans, 1/2 tin of corn, 3 potatoes, 3 small carrots, 2 cups of frozen peas. Add a teaspoon or so of salt & I also add a few heaped tablespoons of Chicken Stock Powder. I added a few shakes of onion powder because I was out of chives which I add sometimes. The green specks in the soup were basil. I turn it back on to Saute for 3-5 minutes so the frozen veggies can heat up.

Notes: I don't add rice usually or pasta. Gluten free pasta can get funny after it sits in a pot of soup for too long. Cooked rice can be added when you add the other veggies. If you're adding raw rice or pasta add it with the carrot & potato. You can even cook them on a high pressure for 5-8 minutes, but I find it's just as easy to switch my machine to saute while I debone the chicken & get things ready to go.

Cheater Chicken Soup: When I make the cheaters version I debone the deli chicken & throw all the skin & bones into a nut bag or tied up cheese cloth. Drop it in the cooking portion of the pressure cooker, add the water, onion, garlic, spices, etc. Turn the machine to high & cook for 20-30 minutes. While it's cooking get everything else ready. You can even cook the carrots & potatoes on the stove top of microwave if you're in a real hurry. When it goes strain it, because I promise people will complain if they get a big ol' bay leaf in their bowl & you tell them they won & the prize is washing the dishes. If you need to cook the carrots & potatoes start from there, otherwise just move on to adding the chicken, stock powder, salt, & frozen veggie. You can actually buy frozen veggies for soup complete with chopped potato & onion, but I don't normally buy them because they have corn in them. I know, I know, in the photo above I added corn but it's a rare occurrence in our home. Some of us can't handle corn very well so it makes a rare appearance in our soups.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Summer Hats

After our Sports Day earlier this year we all came rather sunburnt. Rather rosy cheeks in the summer tends to be a pretty regular thing for me & I walk around with the typical sunglasses tan to boot. It's a wee bit annoying, but the big problem is either a kid has robbed me of my sunhat, or the crazy thing won't fit on over my oodles of hair. Even if I chop all my hair off, which I've done in the summer before, to help my hat fit better my thick hair can often cause hat problems.

I spent the weekend searching for hats that would fit my needs & discovered a place called Hat Show which had a large assortments of hats. In fact they tend to cater to those who have no, or little hair, due to cancer, but their hats are all really nice & I loved that the women's hats were all rather wide brimmed! No more crazy face burn or neck burn, which I tend to get a fair amount of as well.

I picked out a few hats that I liked the looks of & then asked Mr S to help me choose. In the end he suggested I order 4 different ones which rather shocked me because while they are nice hats they aren't all super cheap.

Out of the 4 that came, my absolute favourite is the one in the picture above. See how wide the brim is, you can't even see my face, which kinda freaked the guys out but means I have my own personal shade everywhere I go. I won't say it's my favourite to look at because the whicker brim is kinda funny & I would have loved a more traditional brim, but the hat is so incredibly comfortable to wear that I could honestly care less about the whicker brim! I had wanted to go with the brown version, but they were sold out so I went with what they had.

The hat is pretied in the back & super stretchy & fits all my hair up in there without any issue. I can just shove my loose hair up in there, or if it's tied up on top of my head it still fits. It's even wide enough that my oversized sunglasses don't smooth the hat up off my forehead. It's a seriously cool hat! I'm not normally this excited by hats, in fact often I hate wearing them because constricting hats are known to give me a headache, but this one is not like that at all!

I know the look of it isn't for everyone, but the comfort & protection it gives me negates everything else about the crazy hat. I haven't even worn/used the other hats yet, which I confess to feeling a little guilty about, all though I don't think they'll go astray. Having said that I'm sorely tempted to send away for another hat identical to the one I love should the lady who runs the place choose to not make anymore of them! I've even flagged a few for winter, because my ears always tend to freeze in those lovely winter walks we take!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Just Wanted To Share..

Just wanted to share that the Homeschool Buyers Co-Op is offering up to a 45% discount on a MineCraft Computer Programming Class. We're not affiliated with them, but the class looks amazingly fun & your child will walk away with some knowledge of how to use Java.

We have, however purchased from HSBCO before & the discounts are always really nice. This particular class is currently at a 15% discount. You can purchase it outright at it's current price or sign up to purchase it when it reaches the discount you most prefer. The highest discount offered on this product is 45% which still makes it a hefty price for the class, but much more affordable too.

The offer is also only good until 16, December, 2013 in the USA. All though, to my knowledge you do not need to be a US anything in order to take advantage of the class. I even asked about it being a live class, because sometimes those don't match up with those living on the other side of the world. It's not. I was told it was a pretaped class you can access at your own preferred time & then follow the instructions there. Please note that I'm not speaking from experience, just the information I've gleamed as we've debated this class for Morgan.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Back in July we discussed moving out of the house we were in. It's not that we were keen to get up & start moving around. Moving is a long messy business that involves a whole lot of craziness. But the time had come, and the need to move was laid upon our hearts. Of course, our original thoughts on moving were to escape some crazy neighbors that we've put up with for the past two years. Our casual looking remained just that all though we put the word out that we might need to cancel out of our planned mid year escape to the mainland.

To make a long story short things turned out a wee bit different & our plans to seek out another, quieter, long term rental turned into we're purchasing a house plans. Which turned into a flurry of seeking out homes that fit the needs & desires we had. House hunting is a tiresome business & so I did what I've done every time we've previously had to house hunt. I make a list. I write down what we need & what we want, pray about it, & watch what happens. The house we found hit every single thing on our needs list, & all but one thing on our wants list.

It took a while to get all the paperwork sorted out, & there's still a little waiting to come back in, but the plan is to sign the final papers on the 19th of this month, collect the keys & let the official moving in begin! All baring that the final piece of paperwork doesn't get hung up for any reason, which it shouldn't, but one can never tell about these things, can they?

In the mean time there's a huge flurry of activity around this house as we start emptying cupboards & bookshelves & packing like crazy. The idea of doing math & spelling until Christmas has been shelved in lieu of packing, sorting, & preparing for the move. Not that anyone is complaining. I've heard a lot of, "When we move into our own house can I.." So far the funniest of all these requests has been, "Can I dig up the backyard?" "Um, no you can't, but you can dig in the sandpit."

Our school room is quickly becoming a store room of boxes, packing labels, & tape. I'm pretty sure it's possible to hate the smell of packing tape while losing your fingerprints to the crazy stuff. We gave up, long ago, on the whole writing in marker on the boxes. All though I may miss seeing the kids funny messages on the boxes as they write, rewrite, & double guess themselves on spellings of things upon our boxes. Those who help us may appreciate the lack of, "Lose this box & you'll be sorry." or "Guard this box with your life!" labels. Instead we just print out sheet upon sheet of paper with basic content & room info on it, cut them up & slap them on boxes with a long piece of tape.

Really, it would be easier to print them on labels or basic sticker paper because then you could just peel & stick, but I seem to be out of sticker paper & either I've packed the printable labels or we're out of those too. It's anyones guess.

In the mean time, we're looking forward to settling into our newest abode, hopefully for a longer period then 2 years, which seems to be our current rate of moving. Mind you, I remember moving every 3 years as a child until I was 12. My parents still live in the home that I spent the remainder of my childhood in, which mean my kids think visiting Gram is doubly special because not only do they get to see her in person & spend all night giggling with cousins instead of sleeping, but they get to ask all sorts of nerdy questions about Mom's nerdy childhood.

All though I was pleased to hear they found the pictures of their aunt & uncle absolutely hilarious. And, if either of you are reading this, you know the ones, right? The ones above the piano, or formerly above the piano & one point and time. Don't ask me how on earth I got away without being laughed at in the photo expect that I don't think they realised the other person hanging on the wall was me. Aren't I lucky?! Here's hoping this home is one we stay put in for a while, because otherwise I might start taking out stock in cardboard boxes!

And yes, to all my family dying for photos, I'll share them.. after the current owners move out. I'd feel a little weird posting photos with other people's stuff in them..

Monday, December 9, 2013

2013 Week In Review: Week 39

This was a pretty short week academically for us considering all the math books & spelling books were put away until after the first of the year. We had a really full week with end of year outings {still one more of those to go}, reading, & the beginning of Christmas Traditions.

Our Fun Friday Group had a cooking event for our end of year wrap-up. The kids worked through several stations making candy or biscuits at each station. When they completed the task at a station they returned to the table in the picture to the left & placed their items on that plate. When everyone was done & things were tidied up a bit one of the Mum's read the Nativity story in a rhyming poem that gave the kids clues as to when they could eat each item made. They didn't eat the items on their plate, but rather extras from the cooking.

Afterwards everyone wrapped up their plate with some clear wrap & ribbon, attached a story a matching story to it, & was then able to take it home to devour or give away to friends or family. My boys had big plans to share a plate with Daddy & one with Nana, but they devoured enough that I don't think Nana will see anything more then photos.

We also had an outing with our Thursday group this week, but due to what started out as unfavourable weather it was small & quiet as we didn't go to the main event just the park afterwards. My kids brought games to play & they ended up rounding everyone up for a rather giggly game of Apples to Apples before we headed out to the grocery & home.

Swim lessons are still going, so we had those this week as well. No, Jayden is not waiving for help, he's swimming one armed. They were really run through the paces this week. They had to swim laps minus one arm, then minus a leg, then no arms, then no legs, then no arms or legs, etc. Needless to say they were good & tired when they were done this week with lessons!

All our maps & other goodies from the school walls came down this week, much to the horror of the kids. They were so unhappy when I took down the maps! I can't blame them really we spend an awful lot of time looking at them & chatting about what we've learned. We still refer to all our maps as we continue the last few books on our list for the year as well, so it was a wee bit sad to see them come down, but we didn't exactly want to leave them behind!

We listened to Call It Courage this week which both boys absolutely loved all though we've debated the end back & forth since finishing the book. We also finished up Star Of Light this week, a Patricia St John book. It was pretty hard to put down from chapter 16 forward so we spent an afternoon pretending it wasn't raining & finishing the book off.

We started our  Jesse Tree readings which is always fun. It's probably the only sign of Christmas around here, aside from the jar of candy canes I made the mistake of setting out. I say mistake because two certain little boys want to eat them non-stop..

I'd say a nice quiet week, but we were on the go non-stop this week. Looking forward to a calmer week this time around as we finish off our last 2 books for the year. Then that's it for us until Mr S goes back to work in January.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

WPD Student Planner

I don't make a general habit of posting full reviews here for a variety of reasons. The biggest one being is that is not the intention of our personal blog. Most of our reviews are published directly over at The Curriculum Choice & we may make mention of them here from time to time. However, I do, on rare occasion, post a full review here. In this case our family was offered a set of The Well Planned Day planners, student & teacher. I've reviewed the teacher/family planner over at The Curriculum Choice & have opted to review the student planner here. Keep in mind these planners were given to me in exchange for a review, this does not however alter our opinion on the product below.

Another student planner we were given this year to try out came was The Well Planned Day student planner. There's a few different ones to choose from, but I went with one that I thought was more neutral & guyish for Morgan. The idea being to help him get in the habit of making a plan for his school work & following it through.

How Do We Use It:

On Saturday or Sunday I sit down with Morgan & we go over the things he needs to do for the week. We start out by reviewing what he did accomplish last week, what he feels he might be behind on, & what he feels took more time then we'd anticipated. This allows us to adjust his planner & schedule for the upcoming week ahead. We go over whatever outings we have for our week ahead &  what time we'll need to leave home in order to be there on time. This allows him to know when he needs to break for lunch and/or be officially done for the day.

After we go over all of that information we write down what's ahead for the week in each of his subjects for the corresponding day of the week. We write down which day activities are happening on and make sure not to full those days with academic stuffs that would overwhelm him to accomplish & then cause him to be too stressed on our outings.

We also note which things in his planner should be done with Mom or Dad so that he doesn't attempt to tackle them on his own & then become upset that he needed help. This also shows him where to stop for breaks. Meaning, that if he accomplishes, say his science, math, & Bible to discover I'm busy he'd know he can take a break before moving forward with something else.

What We Like:

The planner is simple to use & easily laid out. There's no wondering what to do with each space or how to utilise it.

Morgan loves the calendar at a glance & marking off upcoming birthdays, holidays, & other outings or events we might have in a month.

There's some fun "cheat sheets" in the back which list things like parts of speech, presidents, conversion tables, etc.

I like the section in the front where I can write a schedule for the term/semester & that way we can refer to it in an effort to find the order for our day when making out his weekly planners.

The pages are colourful which we both love as we're both big on colour!

What I Don't Like:

It's really hard to find any student planner that gives enough space to write out lots of info each day. This one is no different, all though I do think it gives more room then a previous planner like it that we tried. You learn to use abbreviations to take up the least room & get the most bang for your buck.

I wish the cover were plasticy verses laminated cardboard. Mind you, what we've had has held up pretty well, but it does mean that they do bend & break down over time.

I also wish there was a small pocket on the inside cover {front or back} as it would be great for him to store extra post-its, a bookmark or two, library card, etc.

A few more notes:

The newest version is stated as having tabs for each month. These aren't traditional tabs that stick out from the side of our planner, but more like half circles cut into the pages of the planner so you can easily see the abbreviation of the month. There are no tabs for the weeks, but we just stick a post-it note tab in the correct place & move it around each week. Easy Peasy.

These planners run for the dates of a typical US School year. I did not include this in the don't like section because I knew this going into the review. What this means, in regards to the dates, is that the planner starts in July of one year {2013} & runs through until May of the following year {2014}. In order for someone who doesn't school in the nature to get a full year out of it you'd either need to ignore the dates or buy two planners to cover a full school year.

While not listed as such keep in mind that these planners are Christian in nature with Bible verses, catechism questions, & quotes from famous people about the Bible. We really enjoy some of these features, but I thought I'd mention it for those who aren't wishing to find such things in their planners.

The planners are available at many different places including:,, & Amazon to name a few. All of these places will ship internationally as well. Hedu is having a sale on TWPD planners right now as well!

Bottom Line:
All in all a lovely little planner with a few quirks for those of us living outside of the USA or schooling on a differing schedule.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Weird Thanksgiving Traditions

It took us a few years to fall into a proper tradition of Thanksgiving here in Australia. More because you have to learn to think outside of the box when it comes to carrying on traditions from one country in another. Things like fresh cranberries are non-existent in my town, turkeys cost a small fortune, & I'm pretty sure I've never laid eyes on the crazy fried onion thingies people top their green bean casseroles with. Which, in all fairness is okay, I've never really liked that funky casserole! There's also a decidedly huge lack of pumpkin this time of year because it's not exactly in season, & canned pumpkin? I gave up looking for that years ago! And so you learn to adapt..

Our first few Aussie Thanksgivings were just the fore of us where I managed to find bottled cranberry sauce to top chicken with. And then three of four years ago we did the traditional Pilgrim study with the boys & decided to have a great big Thanksgiving bash. We still had to pay a small fortune for turkey, but for a once year treat we figured it was worth it. There are still no fresh cranberries, but did you know you can make cranberry sauce super easy from dried cranberries? We've been doing it for years now. I've never made a green bean casserole, all though each year I steam green beans & 2013 marks the first year I've remembered to put them on the table. Yep, in years past it's become the running joke that their must be beans in the microwave upon which we'll have to eat for breakfast when we find them.

Our menu looks significantly different, which is only in part due to food allergies, but more so due to our location & learning to adapt. Turkey, green beans, & cranberries are present, & so is the traditional corn pudding. At least it's traditional in my family & has always been one of the top favourites on the table for me. Of course, I've had to majorly adapt the recipe considering it's loaded with everything I can't eat! There's also the fact that I lose the recipe every single year! In an effort to not repeat that I slipped it in my recipe binder last year, but then discovered there was no butter listed & I was certain there's suppose to be about 3T of butter in it. I was about 2 digits away from waking my mother at roughly 1 am her time to verify when I decided google might be less disturbing for her sleep.

There was the year I couldn't get through to Mom so I called a cousin, who took ages to stop laughing about the fact that I had no mayo in the house & would yogurt work instead? You know, I'm not at all sure what I was making, but it wasn't corn pudding. Perhaps it was cheesecake which is also a family recipe..

We have our traditional fruit salad, another family recipe all though due to it's content of whipped cream we now serve that on the side. We have mashed potatoes, made with coconut milk, nutellex, garlic salt, & chives. I was actually worried about those for people who are use to the milky version, but they were well raved about. Green beans, which I actually remembered to serve this year, most years they never make it out of their cooking pot because I forget to put them on the table! And a lovely Autumn Salad that we generally only make once or twice a year, but is so good we really should make it far more often! Of course their's pie for desert, never pumpkin & rarely cherry because they aren't in season for another month or so, but apple is always there.

Yet, the crazies, sillies, funniest part of all our traditions doesn't revolve around any of this. It revolves around those crazy insane slips of paper in the photo above. Years ago when we had our first feast & the boys invited their aunts, uncles, & cousins one family chose to look Thanksgiving up. Then, in their normal fashion they decided that if one was meant to give thanks they'd take that literally. Our house was littered with pieces of paper that said "Thanks" or some variation all over it. One couldn't pass a napkin, offer pie, or walk down the hallway without getting a slip of paper for one reason or another.

And so, when our evening was over & they all went home I collected every single scrap of paper that said thanks on it. I found them stuck to the fridge, under the couch, & laying on empty pie plates. I put them all in a ziplock baggie & awaited the season to send out Christmas cards. I then covered every inch of their card by writing thanks on the outside of it & then filled the card with all the lovely slips of paper. We then covered the envelope in the words thanks, heaven knows what the postal system was thinking, & sent it on it's way a few towns over. The laughter that ensued from both homes is still spoken of today. How one little silly random "Oh, let's do.." has turned into a ridiculous tradition.

The following year the Thanks were returned, with new ones. They showed up a few days prior to Thanksgiving in our mailbox. What's the cost of a stamp for a bit of fun? And so we sprinkled them all over the table so fun could ensue, & collected them from all depths of the home afterwards to return in the annual Christmas card. You're seeing the pattern right?

This year the boys were determined to catch them in the act of hand delivering the Thanks as we now live in line with their travel path. The boys were on high alert for 2 days & then began to think that perhaps the tradition was no more as it took a small break last year in the hurry & flurry of things & was slightly forgotten. It's when they least expected it though, that this year's thanks arrived. While I was trying to master a gluten free pie crust the boys became anxious & wanted to go to town. I told them it would be years before we could go to town because I was terrified of the pie crust & until I overcame the fear no one was going anywhere & then sent them to check the mail.

They came running inside with much screaming & laughter to find 2 envelopes this year addressed specifically to themselves. The joy that ensued as they decided how their uncle must have snuck up & delivered the envelopes was quite interesting to listen to as I tackled the pie crust. Then we heard the real story behind it & it was a bit of a stealth mission, that the little girl next door became quite intent to watch.  Yep, well apparently he idea of stringing huge letters of Thanks across our front gate was given up & the envelopes were quickly deposited in the mailbox as he made a quick get-away.

Half the thanks were sprinkled across the tables again this year & the ideas of how to return them are thick & heavy. I have to say that the men I live with are pretty creative! I suspect there will be none in the Christmas card this year, but that the efforts of giving thanks might be upped next year. Time will tell I suppose..

Thursday, December 5, 2013

2013 Week In Review: Week 38

Last week we had some beautiful weather & a whole lot of scurry & flurry as we finished off the majority of our school year. In fact, as soon as the kids realised just how close they were to done it was heads done & pencils at the ready around here.

They wrapped up everything but math & a few read alouds for the year, all though there's talk of sticking with spelling for a while. Considering I'm a week late posting this I can tell you that very little of anything but read alouds has happened this week.

Our calendar is chock full of insanity for the week & then there's those little unexpected things that creep up. I'm really not fussed about it. If they put pencils & books away from now until next year they'd still have accomplished everything they set out to do this year, except maybe building a life sized lego house.. And, at least it leaves something to attempt to attend to next year.

More seriously though, they really have had a very full & fun year. I'm in the process of working on a yearbook of pictures & certificates for all their accomplishments which are always fun to look back over.

We wrapped up the remainder of our books for the year from this stack reading the last of Children of Many Lands, The Return Of The Word Spy, & The Kite Fighter. We also finished off Daughter Of The Mountains which was a lengthy audio book full of the description & life in India. Jayden was horribly disappointed with it as I think he was hoping for the action & suspense of a dog rescue much like 101 Dalmatians. He's much more pleased with the book we are listening to this week. We also finished up with Hungry Planet & Material world as well. It's always such a rewarding, if not odd, feeling to put books back on the shelf for the year.

They both wrapped up all their notebooking pages for the year. Check out that stack there in front of Morgan! We haven't bound them yet, but we've still snagged things here & there that can go in their books. Our final pages/country were about Thailand this year as we changed the order of study. There were also a few flags that needed to be glued down & some countries that needed labling.

We had two eye appointments last week with our beloved Dr F. I believe Jayden took this photo while I was trying to hunt down swim shirts for the kids. They were bored & decided to send Mr S pictures while he was at work, including one of Morgan in his new, all be it empty, frames.

Swim lessons, which have at least 2 more weeks to go, need to double check the schedule on that one. Don't ask me what Morgan is doing there. I'm not sure if he's praying pre-swim or if he's practicing breast stroke. It's anyone's guess. And yeah, I so know that hat is doing him little good like that.. They worked on diving last week as well as breast stroke. Jayden makes that particular stroke look way too easy!

Friday we had family over for Thanksgiving & we remembered our silly Turkey Day banner this year. We purchased this four or five years ago while in the US & I'm pretty sure we've only remembered to use it twice. Yes, our Grand Final balloons are still up, I'm impressed they still have such a reasonable amount of air in them. They get popped when they fall down because they end up getting tripped on otherwise. Mr S had Friday off so we had it off as well. We don't normally have a day officially off for the week of Thanksgiving, but it was Show Day in our town this year.

There was math this past week as well as spelling review to be sure the words that were currently keeping them from moving on to the next steps were firmly planted in their minds. Morgan, our biggest struggler, made up heaps of birthday cards this past weekend for various family members & was absolutely delighted that each of the words he asked if he was spelling right was spot on! He wasn't the only delighted person! All in all a lovely, all be it very busy, week around here.