Friday, December 16, 2011

Pulled between the urgent and the important

or rather the urgent/important and the important

11 days to go, minus the 2 days taken up by family gatherings over the Christmas weekend, and Pete, the kids and I are catering for a group of 17 over 12 days on a Blue Moose summer mission.

9 days left to get everything sorted

Over 700 individual serves of food

I laugh at that number because it's a whole lot easier than 700 looks or sounds

I promise it is

Much to do of course, many lists to be made

but all up, easy done

I just need to be and stay organised

Keep a steady pace

Focus on the urgent/important things

Trust that things that are 'just' in the important list will wait

LOADS of shopping to be done

Groceries for the trip. Clothes enough for us to all be away that long with minimal washing

Cat food, chook food, baby food

Systems to have in place for milk deliveries, mail, chooks, cat, bins etc before we go

A garden that needs to be planted out this weekend so it can be at least a little bit established before we go away, or we won't be having our usual summer bounty of vegies over the coming months

Preparing the house for a potential house sitter

Hoping we get the house sitter

The back up plans of friends and neighbours if we don't

Family needs, hubby time, playgroup break up, thank you gifts, optometrist appointments, resting

People needing to hear back from me

Me not doing so because it's yet to hit the urgent/important list... it's only on the important list

At least I haven't put them on the not important and not urgent list :o)

Hindered by health, the increase of MS symptoms that has come with finishing pregnancy & breast feeding, the arrival of summer, and whatever progression might happen otherwise.

Fatigue. Brain fuzz. Visual disturbances. Bumping & falling.



Just aware

All enjoyed

Awesome opportunity for self development, training the hearts of my children

For serving Him

Taking the time to blog about it using up precious energy and focus?


It gets that out of my head, which has been going around and around all day

Freeing that thought space instead for the processing of the next packing list

Shopping list actually


Monday, December 12, 2011

VERY Naughty Cake

What's left of the Naughty Cake

I made this cake yesterday on a whim, just to see what would happen and 'would it work?' It did. And it tastes sooo good it can't be good for you... so it's been named 'Naughty Cake'

I had some mixed frozen berries that needed using up, white chocolate in the fridge and wanted to try cooking with almond meal... I might be able to come back with a recipe - but will need to make it again to get the recipe, as it was random amounts of each ingredient. I'll need to weigh the ingredients as I go next time... actually I will make it again for sure... I have my bible study girl friends coming over this week for a games night and I think they would LOVE this! The white chocolate caramelises and goes oh sooo yummy. Pete had *3* pieces in one sitting!!! Yes, Pete!!!


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Summer fun

It's our annual weekend to have my sister's boys here - we have them more often, but always this weekend in December for their wedding anniversary. Sadly nap time is no longer needed for most of the kids... so I'm keeping them busy and the house quiet another way

(leftover face paint involved!!)


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Home Ed Camp

Last week we went to Karnkendi Camp in Nelson, near the South Australian border. I have no idea how many there were all up, maybe 50-60?? Anyway the kids had a ball. NO photo's were taken of anything camp - ARGH - but Pete did take a few pics of the day he took our kids to Mt Gambier(ish). I don't know exactly where they went but I know they had fun!

I LOVE this photo of our 3 eldest

While on camp I got to know a few of the other mums. No other dad's stayed the whole time but 3 others were in and out as work allowed. It was an absolute blessing for me to have Pete there as my MS fatigue hit BAD and I spent much of the time sleeping... only doing bare minimums by cooking meals (self catering camp) and feeeding Charlotte... and then off to bed whenever she went!

The kids spent hours playing outside in the bushy areas that were on the property - easily making friends with the other home ed children. Melinda also managed to read a couple of books - it would be more of a surprise if she didn't, really. Pete took the kids on the canoeing excursion - older children went on a 4km paddle, which I think M & Nj will be ready for in another year or two. Our guys just played around with the canoes in a 'safe spot', learning the ins and outs of going straight ahead and turning.

We saw quite a few wild emu while driving which was really cool. Especially the mum or dad emu with 4 (large) chicks tagging along. Pete and the kids happened upon this echidna which hid as they got close but then peeked out to see if they were gone.... this is the peeking photo

Pete also took the kids on a tour in the Princess Margaret Rose caves. I haven't spent much time looking at those photo's... they all thought it was really really cool... but all I could think of after seeing this first pic, was those GROSS anti smoking ads

see what I mean?!!

They were trying to tell me the cave was BEAUTIFUL! Ha!!


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Spelt Bread

First mix together
1.5tb dry yeast
1.5c warm water
1.5c warm milk
1/2 cup honey
1tb Celtic sea salt
5tb oil - I use 3tb coconut oil/2tb olive oil

Then stir in 8 and 1/4 cups of freshly milled spelt flour (if you are not milling your own flour, you will only need about 6 and 1/3 cups of spelt flour as it is more tightly packed.)

It makes a sticky wet dough and is not something you could knead.

Make sure the mix is in a large container as it will rise to 3-4 times it's size, cover with a damp tea towel and allow to rise and then flatten (2-3 hours). Once it has flattened, keep it covered and place in the fridge. Use it in the next 5 days for 2-3 loaves depending on the size of your bread tins.

On baking day, scoop out enough dough to fill your tin 1/3-1/2 full. Keep your hands wet while handling dough so that you don't get too covered in it. Pull dough from the top and tuck it underneath, rotating as you go, forming a loosly shaped loaf and place it in your tin.

Cover with a damp tea towel and allow to come to room temperature for about 2 hours if your tin size uses half the dough and about 1 hour 40 mins if you'll get 3 loaves from the dough.

20 minutes before baking, heat the oven to 170 degrees.

JUST before baking, make sure your middle shelf is clear for the bread and place another oven shelf under it with a tray on it that you have poured 1.5 cups of HOT water into. If you'll get 3 loaves from the dough, you only need about 1 cup of hot water.

Bake in the oven for 45mins to an hour, it will be a nice dark brown. Cool completely before slicing.

After I've removed it from the fridge

One portion in the tin ready for it's rising time
2 hours later it's ready for the oven

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Huffin' and puffin'

We got one of these at my request. Once upon a time (literally half a life time ago) I enjoyed running. Then I stopped. Starting again is HARD work!! Using this will apparently help lengthen my life, yeah? At the moment it feels a bit more like death. Trusting that will change :o)

The kids are not allowed to get on it or even touch it.... so teddy will instead... got to love a 3yo's thinking!


Monday, November 28, 2011

 Sadly not a duplicate; I've just heard another precious friend is grieving

The joy and expectation of a baby on the way

The tears and sadness at learning of that precious baby's passing

The peace of knowing that in all things God works together for the good of those who love Him

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away ~ May the name of the Lord be praised!

Love you too my dear friend, thank you for sharing xo


The joy of a newly announced pregnancy

The tears and sadness at learning of that precious baby's passing

The peace of knowing that in all things God works together for the good of those who love Him

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away ~ May the name of the Lord be praised!

Love you my dear friend xo


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Planning details #2

The next pile of importance... Education in The House of Bogwitz is about a whole lot more than academics. This pile is a lot about 'the way we do things'

The top book which is hard to read in the picture is A Charlotte Mason Education ~ A Home Schooling How-To Manual
There is at least one other book that follows on from this, but this in itself has been a helpful tool for me. Great as an introduction to CM styles, beliefs etc or for use as a summary that is easy to go back to for refreshing one's memory of the longer CM writings.

A Life That Says Welcome is a book about hospitality through all areas of life... developing a 'let nothing stop you' attitude. That's a part of our family's education foundation; without love, we are nothing.

Joyfully at Home is a part of the deliberate direction in which we are raising our daughters

Maltesers - YUM! I will say no more other than I have heard they are not sold in the US (sorry peoples!)

Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit - oh so helpful for someone like myself who does NOT have a meek and quiet spirit by default. A few 'ouch!' moments when reading but it's only by 'ouch!' moments that we grow, right?

Raising Godly Tomatoes is a SUPER helpful book about raising godly children... children that ARE the blessing they're meant to be. If any Aussies are interested in getting a copy of this book, let me know. I'm looking at a bulk order if there's enough interest. Buying direct costs about $42AUD for one book, I can get a bulk order for about $25/book delivered to your door.

and that's the end of that pile!


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Organized Simplicity

(I must say that it feels rather odd to be using a 'z' in the word organised!)

I bought this book sight unseen, other than the cover, when someone I asked told me it was a book on their family's wishlist. Having similar values to the family AND it being a book on *organising* it became a *must buy*

Letting you know right away though, that it's not a book I'm done with. Not even through it the first time yet. So my thought's here about the book are by default, incomplete :o)

The books tag line is "The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living"

The book starts out at the "Intentional Living" end of things. It helps you work through perceptions vs realities of needs and wants. With check lists along the way. I LOVE check lists! I LOVE intentional living too - everything is a choice and getting the clutter  of 'doing' down to a minimum has to be just as good as getting the clutter of 'stuff' down to a minimum too, right? For me, that = sanity

The book covers sooo many things, so if there's a chapter you 'know already', there will be another chapter that gets you thinking again over things. The book takes you through efficient folding of sheets, with pictures to match; discusses the rewards of simple living, having a home that embraces little things (little people!) and includes a bunch of great tools like a 10 step plan to decluttering each room of your house, templates for a home management notebook and a few non-toxic recipes for things like toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo and household cleaners.

...and to top all that off, it's a VERY cute book. Pretty colouring, cute size and a hidden spiral that makes using the book nice and easy.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Planning details

In my recent 2 days of Home Ed Planning time (bliss hey?!) I got sooo much done. Still more to do. Focus was hard at times, but yes, lot's of good things achieved. I LOVE when I get time home alone. That which I was not able to get done is all good because I at least now know what that is, and sometimes that's the worst bit of the battle of organisation in anything - knowing what to do and where to begin.

Here's a bunch of books from my original picture, to give you a better idea of how I go about planning

On top are my 2 diaries for the next year. I photocopy a few pages out of them so I can start them early. The small one I've been using since the Start of October and the large one with 2012 noted on the spine, I have just started in the last few weeks.

Why diaries and not an app? I'm a paper gal. My brain functions better when I can see it all laid out.
Why 2 diaries? The small one means I can always take it with me - important for managing a life of bits and pieces. Saves me much thinking time as I don't have to remember to 'get back to people'
The larger one allows me to see a week to an opening which means each week when I sit down to plan, I have the space to do it. Book work times, outings, errands and meal plans can all go in the one place.
Both these diaries are from Kikki K and I'm loving them because asides from the cute designs, the monthly view in them is as a calendar view, not a long list of dates which is what I've found elsewhere since ditching my Franklin Covey. A calendar layout for a month is MUCH easier for me to visualise our coming's and goings.

Next in the pile are 2 of my 1c exercise books (I think I have a 10 year supply?)
I use these for project planning. One of these is for the home ed family camp we're going on next week. Here all info goes... costs & budget, packing lists, meals for the road trip and meals once we're there (it's a self catering camp which is great because it keeps the costs down in a MAJOR way)

The other orange book was empty and is now filled with notes.
As it came to mind I noted WHAT I wanted to plan on my weekend, What has WORKED in the past and what has NOT, notes of possible read -alouds and shared-chapter books, the workings out of how long it would take Melinda to get through her LLATL and Nathaniel his Explode the Code, The workings out of our term dates for the rest of this year and all of 2012, MY reading list for the next however long it takes me to get through it and notes on the developing weekly schedule.

Most importantly was the IMPORTANT page at the front of the book which helped me keep things in perspective.

Next in the pile is my bible. This one is about a year old now after I had a light bulb moment that I needed a bible that was easy to hold and use if I was going to achieve my goal of reading it more. A heavy hard cover study bible is not helpful when wanting to curl up in a chair and read or do bible time with the kids while holding or feeding a baby. This one solved that - a nice soft flexi cover and not too heavy. Don't do anything serious without your bible near by. If you get me you get me. If you don't then explaining won't help :o)

Organized Simplicity  is a GREAT book in which I'm still finding gems.... I'll share more on it tomorrow (I promise!) It's NOT what I expected in an organising book and it's a keeper :o)

Large family Logistics is a book that is great for anyone with kids, I'd say especially for those who are at home with their kids. It makes a great gift - I've bought 3 copies already! I keep it handy when planning because if I'm stuck on something a quick flick through this and I usually have a new idea that will usually work for us - Got to love that! Plenty of room in it to make notes too (though some hate marking books, I know)

Well, that's the end of pile #1... there's 3 more to come... hopefully I'll get to them soon.

Monday, November 21, 2011

George Washington Carver

This is the 3rd book in this series that we've read as a read-aloud. I have enjoyed them all, as have the children. Being a biography, they get a little tough for me to read towards the end because, well... the person always dies. Makes me teary every time!

ISBN: 9781883002787

We all learnt a lot... about racism, death, human cruelty, gardening, saving, choices, needs and more. A great way to glean a little bit of history. We just read along slowly, one chapter a day over maybe 4 days a week. This book had 16 chapters so it took us a bit under a month. I'd like to go a bit faster and am aiming for 5 days a week for our next few books. It's not the only reading that happens around here... bible reading, shared chapter read-alouds, personal reading in free time, quiet time reading... not to mention sneaky reading when something else is meant to be being done!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's that time again

The house is empty, all I hear are the birds. 
I have the rest of the weekend home alone to plan and prepare for the next season of home schooling. 
Time to pray and listen so I continue to know God's direction in my part of raising our children for Him, loose schedules so we can tick off bookwork completed, choose the next few read-aloud's, get a bunch of photocopying done, go over our bible lessons so I'm one step ahead of the kids, get memory verses written onto drill cards, flesh out some real life activities and experiences, fine tune family jobs and routines and then print print print and laminate laminate laminate :o) 
9.5 hours sleep for the first time in forever has hopefully prepared me well!
Let the planning begin

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Keeping that puzzle moving

Busy times here at the moment... much juggling and fine tuning happening here

  • This week we have bought bunks from Ebay and added them into 'the girls' room (was known as Melinda's room).
  • The photocopier has moved from the boys room to the girls room.
  • The tall boy with Timothy's clothes is now in the boys room where the copier was... but Melinda's underwear has gone with it so we have about 9 drawers to swap the contents of, around.
  • There is now a trundle under the bunk in the girls room (thank you Ebay again).
  • Melinda's room has been decluttered (again) and now today I have moved the change table in there... it being on wheels will make life easier as I'll need to move it to get to the photocopier every few weeks.
  • Melinda's needlework box is now to be kept in the passage on the bottom shelf of book shelves
  • We've sorted through the children's books (also today) and have 3 bags of them to donate to a fundraising garage sale.
  • We also found another bag and box of things we can give away. Ooh and just remembered a whole bunch of other things I can add to the car boot for that drop off.
  • I've figured out I will manage paper better if I can have a filing cabinet near me in the kitchen/dining/office room, so in the next few days the 3 drawer cabinet will be brought inside from the 'weird room out the back' and be placed next to my fridge, behind my desk
  • Only in that position at the moment.... is a set of 8 plastic drawers. So now I need to find another 'space' for them.
  • And because the change table is no longer in our room, we can bring the exercise bike back inside at long last (currently in the garage)

Still not looking like we will be able to move our bed away from the wall while living in this house though!

(oh - and we got chooks!!!)

(they live outside though ;o)


Monday, October 10, 2011

Training My Children

Not everyone 'gets' this... so I want to spell it out.

Children are always being trained 'to' OR 'not to'

That is: Whatever it is that they do frequently/most commonly with ANY given thing/task/event/etc is what they believe is right, and learn to do by habit.

So if my child is 'most commonly' getting away with being lazy in their given jobs, then I am training them to be lazy.

'Getting away with'... is exactly that. I might tell them to hurry up, get a move on, do it again and do it better (nag nag nag)


UNLESS I insist on the task being done well and with speed, then they are 'getting away with it' and I am training them in laziness

'Insist' = to remove ALL other options

so... I can't ever say I 'tried'... I either did what I needed to do train my child well or I chose not to and chose instead to train them to live in a way that is against our ideals

- - - -

Yes, sometimes I need to sit down and nut out what 'insist' looks like in a particular situation with a particular child... but in the end, the formula remains the same.

I am either training my children 'to' or 'not to'.

So is every other parent out there.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Living in a puzzle

The house we live in is so small, it's like living in one of these puzzles

Nothing can move where you want it unless something else is moved first


Monday, October 3, 2011

Homeschooling The Sparkly Pretty Bright Yellow Sunshine Way

A friend on FB asked me to explain what I meant by 'school at home' versus 'home education'... I wrote so much I figured I should post it here too!

Cut and paste from FB:

Remember - this is just a mix of my readings on the matter, my observations of others and the system and my own experiences. I am by no means an expert but I reckon I can't be too far off the mark. If anyone else wants to jump in and add, feel free!

Unschooling: Easiest to explain as it's so wide open. Strict unschooling involves no expectation of text books. So a student may NEVER use one. I read a few years back of a student who was educated with the 'unschooling' method, had never touched a text book in his life and was, after passing one entrance exam, accepted into university to study medicine! So it does work. Education via this method is all about real life experience and following the passions. Much can be learned through the actual building of a boat versus just studying about it in school, right? It would easily cover 'maths' and 'science' and probably much more that I can't even imagine at this minute.
Pro - if someone wants their children educated via 'unschooling' then it can work. I'm sure there are more pro's, like not correcting maths work LOL but with this not being something I'd ever choose to do, I'm not aware of them.

School at Home: is more like a prescription. Often a complete pre-packaged curriculum like the ACE materials you are using OR a variety of curriculum from different sources but still making up a complete curriculum structure like would be done at school, only it's done at home.
What I see/think (I'm sure there's more I don't know)
Pro's: Little or no planning involved - it's all done for you. The parents trust the source.
Con's: It can be unnecessarily expensive which in itself is not a problem if one has endless cash! If money is spent where it is NOT needed, then it can't be spent where it might be preferred i.e. excursions/experiences or just normal family household things.
There is more knowledge needed by the teaching parent OR you need to pay to have access to the providers telephone or online support program OR the child misses out.
There can be bigger holes in education that you're not aware of till too late - just as it happens in the 'go to school' system, anyway. This happens because "the work that is prescribed, just has to be done" and whatever the child is, or is NOT learning can get lost in just getting things done. It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because the child has finished workbook x that they are at that level. The school system experiences this same thing.... I've read that in Australia, 7% of students in the 'go to school' system are considered illiterate when they leave school at the end of year 10. I'd not expect the illiteracy in 'school at home' as the parent should at least be aware of that - but I can imagine it in other areas.

In between those two extremes it's all 'pick n choose' on a sliding scale. There's still a significant degree of 'what suits our family/lifestyle/children' as there is in unschooling but 'some to a reasonable amount' of book work is still a part of the education.
There is soooo much in this middle area that I can't possibly cover everything I know, let alone all that is out there that I do not know. I'll try and give a few examples.

Each 'subject' would be covered in a way that would typically be chosen 'subject. by. subject'. Bookwork for one, real life for another, a blend for most (in ours anyway) Bookwork may be like a packaged school looking curriculum such as Math U See for maths but not necessarily done in a 'school at home' fashion of just do the work because it's there. When we use MUS, the kids don't do more than they need to and they don't move ahead until the know what they need to know. This means that Melinda who is showing a talent for maths isn't going to be bored by having to keep doing work she already knows and if another child in our family struggles with maths, then we can take as long as we need for a concept to stick before moving on. For me maths is a subject I want as few holes in as possible because if you miss out on understanding even just one key concept, it can hold you back from learning others.
English (or as it is now known, Language Arts) can be covered by a variety of styles of text books; read alouds of books that are advanced beyond their own reading abilities; reading of all kinds of literature, conversations about all kinds of things.
Science can be purely text books and experiments etc or can involve gardening, animal raising/breeding, baking and a whole bunch of conversations and finding out about 'what if's' and 'how does' questions.

Cons - initial work can take quite a bit of thinking from the parents. It can take some time and effort to become aware of enough options to satisfy the conscientious parent who wants to know they've picked the best options for their family.

Pros - easy enough to change anything that is not working because you're already open to 'seeing what is out there'.
Those of us that were raised in the system of 99% bookwork + homework (minus the % of classroom shuffling, annoying students needing discipline, days absent by either teacher or student etc ;o) can still feel secure with some bookwork basics in the areas we feel they are best used.
There's no deadlines and there's no being held back. We can have as many terms in a year as we like and just come and go as we need to around real life.
Because kids are not doing much or any work 'just for the sake of getting it done' (aka 'busy work') there is a LOT of time left for learning other things. Real life skills that so many kids are now not taught, time for developing entrepreneurial skills and so on.

This is a way of home educating that can sound scary and overwhelming because there is just sooo much you can know about it. Most homeschoolers I know do it this way though. Must be a reason for that I'm thinking!
It's just about one foot in front of another. There's no pressure to get it all happening in one go.

To someone who had a prep aged child and was feeling they need to get started on doing 'Something!' but didn't know what, I'd say pick some great books and read to the child every day. Find some basic tracing and scissor work, and other activities to develop fine motor skills to help with handwriting down the track. Get a basic maths book or print off some pages from the internet - there are many available and then start to educate yourself on what is out there. google can be great for finding out what is available or better yet, find a bunch of home ed mums and ask ask ask about what they are doing, what they are not doing and WHY WHY WHY. Gradually you will find out all you need to know to give your kids an awesome academic education AND an awesome real life education at the same time.
To someone with older kids, coming out of the school system I'd say get the kids doing some maths and English that you KNOW they can do, while you educate yourself and make choices as above.

When I talk/think about home schooling... I group the 'grey area' and 'unschooling' as Home Education. It's not really about 'school' it's more about education in all areas of life, if that makes any sense. 'School at home' covers things like the whole prepackaged curriculum way of doing things or the gather and create your own complete curriculum. I'd also group with it the other things like 'school of the air' for students in remote locations.
For us and those I know, educating in the 'grey area' way, is actually more a 'sparkly pretty bright yellow sunshine' way of doing things

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

If you haven't yet taken the time

If you haven't yet taken the time to watch the 33 minute film I posted here yesterday, then please make the time soon - NOW even. (if you're reading blogs, you can probably fit this into your day okay!)

Lives are being saved by this film, of this I am certain. Please watch it :o)


Monday, September 26, 2011

The lollypop

A lollypop surfaced in our house about 2 weeks ago and it was quickly asked by every short person 'Whose is it? Can I please have it" to which I quickly answered (so as to end any discussion) "No you can't, it's mine"

Well Timothy (3) just can't handle it LOL

Every time he comes across it, an average of 2 x a day, he brings it to me "Here you go mum, I got it for you"!!!!!

Someone else is moving it too though, I don't know who... but it was placed by the computer today and now it's gone again... never mind, I'm sure Timothy will find it tomorrow.

Do you think I should stop the torment and let him have it?


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Someone has my 'bothereds'

Hand them back please??? All I have is my 'I can't be bothered's!

2nd day in a row GRR LOL

Dishes to do, floors to clean, optometrist appointment to attend, bookwork and reading to be done AND I want to get my seedlings planted! Some of them anyway... wonder-hubby needs to do more weeding before I can do them all :)

I pushed past it yesterday and got done what needed doing... including rearranging a couple of things in my kitchen. Which looks good now, so I am pleased. Melinda even said to me that it 'looks bigger'. If you know my kitchen, you'll know that that is bordering on being a modern day miracle!!

MUST find my 'bothereds'... I think they're hiding in the clouds so I hope the sunshine comes out soon :o)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Treasured Moments

It's been ages since I've taken one of the kids out for one on one Mummy Time so today I followed through with a promise to take Timothy out. I asked him what he wanted to do and he picked "Brown cake with brown icing pleeeease Mummyyyyyy".

After we found cafe #1 to be closed on a Sunday we headed to Zagame's and I let him pick from their cake fridge. He picked a cookies and cream cheese cake. We had a fun time chatting, eating, watching other people, eating, chatting and more eating. I really ought have taken an 'after' photo of that plate too! (and his face LOL)

I'm going to link this in to Treasured Moments because that's just what times like these are - treasured! Check out Erin's Blog to follow Treasured Moments and join in when you can.

Hubby and I had an at home date night on Saturday night - a movie and chinese takeaway...  and little Charlotte even settled for the night more easily than she had in ages. It was nice to enjoy that time together without tackling one of the many tasks on the ever growing To Do List. The evening did confirm for us though, that we are needing to purchase a new dvd player... why oh why don't they last!?!

How about some plans for more Treasured Moments? There's nothing quite as special as family but girl friends are nice to have too - so I've invited a handful to come over this Tuesday evening for a fun evening... very much looking forward to that. Planning such a thing isn't always easy, guest list wise. Especially in a tiny house. Maybe I just need to do more of them again.

I'm also starting to pencil out ideas for the coming summer... picnics with the children, raspberry picking again and so on. Plans must be made or things don't happen!

PS Yes, this is the same Timothy as pictured in my blog header on the far right... time for an update there I think. Hoping to get my head around that one soon :o)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Some Recent Happenings

Shared glee opening a favourite DVD on her 9th birthday at the start of August ~ Swiss Family Robinson

A little fuzzy because sitting in a rocking chair, holding a baby and taking a photo is NOT a still event!

Mid-chat... she's a girl for sure!
She's in there somewhere - the boys LOVE playing with her

One of Timothy's favourite things to do is wash dishes :o)

Just noticed the boys hair - they've both had hair cuts since these photo's were taken and now have a style that looks more like Charlotte ;o)


Cutting the grocery budget # 2

Another Idea...

Add in a couple of 'dollar meals' each week or even more often... depending on how much you want to save and for how long in balance with health.

Dollar meals for me, come in at about $5 for the meal. For the whole family.
A couple of examples: Tomato Pasta Bake: 2/3 bag of pasta 66c, cooked plus a jar of stir through tomato pasta sauce $1.60, 2/3c shredded cheese on top 80c. Additions to this can be a drained can of tuna in spring water and/or a cup of frozen corn kernels, or some gently fried onion & mushrooms or stir fried literally 'whatever vegies are leftover in your fridge'. How about a Vegie Fried Rice... a couple of cups of rice, steamed, a few eggs diced after being 'ommeletted' (my word LOL) and then some diced vegies - whatever you have in your fridge which for us seems to be capsicum, mushroom, broccoli, carrots along with some onion and frozen peas/corn/beans. A few splashes of worcestershire sauce or whatever you like to use and you're done!

Spend some time brainstorming low cost meals you can make for your family! Baked beans on toast is about $4 for our family - including 2 large cans of baked beans... and if your family won't eat what you feed them, then you've bigger issues on your hands than dollar saving!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Desk for ME!

At last! As of last night, I have a desk! Happy Happy Me :o)

What do you think?

 These last 14 months are the only time I've not had my own desk space in (brain ticking....) over 23 years!!! As you can imagine, I've really missed it. And now we live in a shoe box and have added 4 children there is not much space at all and I'd all but given up on it.

There was a corner of the kitchen that had the old desktop PC which is 'going somewhere other than continuing it's life with us' and I'd laid claim to that spot for my sewing machine. No, I am not what you could call a sewer by any stretch of the imagination but I want to learn and sew more.

We went to Ikea on the weekend and I had to wait for Pete and the kids for a few minutes and ended up drooling over the desk section. And would you know it? One spoke to me!!! It was saying "Pick me pick me, I can do the job!". Pete didn't take much persuading, and voila! I have a desk. No space for my sewing machine to be left out all the time, but hey, I have a desk :o) and I will learn to get the machine out from time to time. Now there will even be space on the dining table for it because my desk stuff won't be taking up one end of the table *blush*

You think it won't look so clean for long?

Wrong thankfully - the special lid means the desk surface is hidden whenever needed, how cool is that?

This is what it really looks like when in use!

Similar to the school desk I had in grade 4 with a container under the lid but different because the front of the space underneath also lifts up. It's the storage space that is the desk surface.

The inside of the lid has pockets and is a pinboard!! There will be menu plans etc there before the week is out When I want visual peace in the room - very important in a tiny house - I can just close the lid!

I. Have. A. Desk.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cutting the grocery budget

This is not always straight forward because you have to be able to live with yourself too! I could feed our family on about $100 a week long term if I wasn't so determined to go with the health benefits we've discovered of raw dairy, high protein and best practice preparations of grains and other foods.

However, sometimes I'm happy to switch to 'budget' of our dietary needs or 'super budget' and not do too badly in the health department. $100 a week for the 6 of us would be a 'super super tight budget' and wouldn't not have much room to consider our chosen food health. So something like that would only be a short term 'we need cash now' option. Usually I spend $200 a week on groceries for the 6 of us - yes, Miss Charlotte does count as nappies and formula are in there! $200 a week allows us things like smoked salmon, free range eggs and plenty of meat... so that's not too tight and gives me room to trim it down a bit if I want money for other things.

Here are some really easy ways to shave the grocery budget
-Toilet paper... I'm amazed at what people will spend on toilet paper. I use to go on the guage of 50c a roll being a good deal. Now with thicker fancier toilet papers it's not a good deal as you end up using more of those!! We use Aldi 16 rolls for $4.99 which is 31c a roll which saves us over $113 a year - on just one simple item. If I wanted to save more, I quite probably could. Because of different roll lengths and thicknesses, the best way to calculate cost & savings is to try different options for a week and see how many rolls your family goes through in a 7 day period and work out your costs from there.
-Dishwashing liquid... again, you need to test how long a bottle lasts you to figure this one out. We were using one skin friendly one (you can't get such a thing from a supermarket btw) and were going through it too fast. All this year I've been using a new one and have been dating my bottles. One bottle at $23 dollars lasts me 14 weeks, so $1.65 a week. I'm pretty happy with that, especially as it had been up around $3-$4 a week. I've used cheaper ones but they're loaded with chemicals I don't want on my dishes. We do a LOT of dishes here as we cook from scratch and I'm really happy with how this one is going. Again - you need to do your own testing/assessment based on how many chemicals you're happy to have on your plates and what you're willing to spend.
-Don't throw out food. Buy a capsicum at $6 a kilo? Half of it doesn't get used and goes in the bin? The capsicum you did use, just became $12 a kilo, which you'd have never paid in the first place! Dish small serves and allow for seconds instead of uneaten portions going in the bin. Cover a meal and make sure it DOES get eaten later.
-Home made 'takeaways' can save a fortune... Pizza from the shop is $17 for our family or about $10 with  frozen slightly topped bases and our goodies added... Fish n chips about $25-30 from the shop or about $13 oven baked. Choose to adjust your taste buds accordingly. One takeaway a week turned into a home done one can save over $500 a year! What would you do with that $500? Work out your own 'no time to cook'  meals that will help you save on takeaway, like frozen spaghetti sauce and shepherd's pies, and your own 'we want a treat for dinner' options like spring rolls, oven baked fish, dim sims, pizza etc. Put the thinking cap on, then remove these items from the regular menu plan so they become the treat or time saver you want them to be.
Just doing these things saves us $700 a year which means I can either a) buy higher quality foods like smoked salmon etc OR b) I can use the cash for other things... and that's not all the savings that are available either!

There's a whole lot more buzzing around in my brain but this is it for starters... remind me if I forget to come back to it!


A crispy start to the day

It was just 11.1 in here this morning at 5.45am! Almost half an hour later I've managed to get that up by 3 degrees so it's still chilly but feels warmer in here than the passage way. Makes me chuckle to think that in a few months it will be too warm for me on a regular basis :)

I'm nutting through how to best manage the summer heat, at the moment. Heat = stress on the body = an MS trigger. I know I can't solve it, but I sure can plan and work towards doing my best with it.

In the mean time, I need to work out how to best use TODAY! Normally I spend my Wednesday's at my sister's, caring for her 2 boys along with my own children. Today I'm not because my back still isn't good enough. It's quite a different feeling from last week when my sister and her family were away and I knew in advance that I was having the Wednesday off... it really was like a day off... but the last minute thing like this - not quite the same, is it?

I have a looong list of things I'd like to be doing here but I've been around long enough to know that in between caring for a baby, directing the children and resting & exercising my back, that I won't be getting a looong list done.

So instead my list for today looks like this:
1. The basics of food/clothing/sleep for the family
2. Back rest and exercises for me
3. Make and bake pasties

and that my friends, will make today a success :)

(ooh - it's 14.8 in here now!!)


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Blogging Sideways

Yep, seriously. I am bedridden with a sore back and so am looking at everything sideways AND typing one handed so this is a little slow. That's okay though as I can't DO anything else!!

Pete has been back at work for 3 weeks now and that has been a crazy time of adjustments. I feel like I am finally getting on top of it, only to be now out of action. I've done my back like this 3 times before. The first time I was in bed about 5 days after a trip to the hospital. The second time was only a day and the 3rd time... I can't remember!

So many things have been happening here - good things, photo worthy things, big decision things, cute things... and more. I'm going to have to wait till I'm upright again though before I can get to blogging about those. And find some blogging time. That's the big thing I've noticed with Pete being gone... there is NO time! Some would protest that though and mention my frequent Facebook status updates LOL... well what can I say other than FB is easy. A no-brainer. I play NO games on there, I won't even look at them. The laptop is open ALL day, with 20-40 different tabs in use including FB and status updates are just 'thinking out loud' :)

Time now to try walking again and do some back stretches...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Meal Plan for the next few days

Pete started work last Monday (Yippee!) and meals are now a whole lot more tricky because I can't hand him Charlotte at meal preparation time during the week and be guaranteed I can prepare a meal all in one go. Add to that the oven dying at the same time and we're still waiting on a replacement and meal planning is even more difficult. Muffins, quiches, egg & bacon pies, breakfast muffins etc are all great for plan ahead meals as are lasagne, shepherd's pie and more. Sigh.

So today, typing as I think... toasted cheese n tomato sandwiches for lunch
Dinner: chicken sticks on vegie rice
Sunday lunch: Ravioli
Sunday dinner: stir fry vegies n beef
Monday lunch: scrambled eggs on toast
Monday dinner: Honey & mustard chicken N vegies

I can't think much past that at the moment... probably a crockpot stew or something like that... thinking on Wednesday I might take baking ingredients to my sisters place and spend the day baking in her oven... if ours isn't replaced by then

Monday, July 18, 2011

Day One of Many

84 days actually; day one of 84...12 weeks, loooong weeks I suspect

For the next 12 weeks, starting today, I am deliberately working on the weight loss thing. The Homeschool Lounge has started a summer weight loss challenge so I thought I'd give it a go, even though we're in the middle of a cold wet winter.

I was going to start with everyone else on Friday but life was so hectic that I couldn't start as I wanted to, though some changes have begun... so today, Monday, is my day 1.

My starting point: I have lost 21.5kg since Charlotte was born, a total of 23.5 since I got pregnant. I ended pregnancy 2kg lighter than I began it and then all the rest has just dropped off. My understanding from what I've experienced is that I actually lost the whole lot while pregnant but all the fluid I was retaining was making up for it. So basically, while I was eating well during pregnancy I lost loads. My version of eating well is not what we have been fooled into thinking eating well, looks like though. My diet while pregnant was high in protein, animal fats like lard and butter, some coconut oil, plenty of raw milk, yummy cheese and of course a good supply of fruit & vegetables.
Since Charlotte was born - 11 weeks ago - bad habits have taken over and sugars have jumped back into my diet. Not not NOT good. They make me cranky, retain fluid AND prevent weightloss.

So... my food intake now includes home baking, smoked salmon, cream cheese, other cheeses (my mum regularly brings cheese back from her visits to King Island LOL), Coconut oil, yoghurt, eggs, lots of vegies, some fruit, plenty of meat and beans, soaked where I can.
In general I'm keeping carbs lower than the average Aussie, though not as low as the very low carb diets out there. Dinners will only have potato, rice, pasta a couple of times a week and the main focus of all meals will be the meat and low carb vegies. Carbs will be earlier in the day. Protein will be at all meals... things like eggs, sausages, smoked salmon, cheese etc. Coconut oil will be added in as a snack a couple of times a day.

My 12 week goal is to lose 15+kg and along with cutting out a lot of sugars and processed foods, I'm going to be exercising... daily? and blogging it, to help keep me focused :)


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sausage Stew - A Family Favourite

This recipe is based on one I grew up with... any time we went on a camp with Youth Group, Dad would make up a pot of 'sausage stew' to take and share. Back then we were grossed out by it and it was an 'oh no, not Dad's stew again... so much so that when I mentioned to my sister that I was trying to re-create it, she was horrified LOL  I am thinking, as I think back, that we were grossed out because Dad left the skins on the sausages... which then softened and came off in the stew... which yeah, is pretty gross LOL

So here goes... random measurements okay - you pick depending on what you're cooking it in!

1 Kilo good sausages - boiled, slit the skins after a few minutes in the boiling water which will help you to remove the skins. Once the skins are off, allow the sausages to cool before chopping into 1 inch pieces and leave to the side/in the fridge till potatoes are cooked

Potatoes - I have a 6L crock pot and use enough large chunks of peeled potatoes to cover the bottom of the crock pot, maybe 1.5kg?

Carrots - Peel and chop carrots into chunks... I use about 700-800g (I think LOL)

Onions - 2 large onions sliced

Put all the vegies into the crock pot and pour over a couple of jars of tomato passata, throw in a couple of Massel chicken stock cubes and about 1 tsp of Celtic Sea Salt.

Cook on high for a few hours till the potatoes are soft but firm (not falling apart!!)

Add in the chopped sausages and about 3 cups of frozen chopped beans

Continue cooking till the beans are nicely soft. If it needs thickening, do so with a thick tomato paste - I like Aldi's tomato paste, lovely and thick.

This will serve our family of 5 for 2 meals... I see a day a few years from now when it will just be the one meal!


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Meal Planning for the week

Working this out as I go... so a fairly 'live' blog post for you

Tonight: Baked beans on toast (This one was decided a couple of hours ago!)
Why: Simple, easy and nutritious as we find order in the house after 5 days with my nephews here. There is much to catch up on so I don't want to spend too much time on dinner when that time is needed elsewhere

Sunday Breakfast: Porridge
Why: Cheap and nutritious. Don't want to take the time for pancakes or eggs.

Sunday Lunch: Hot dogs in bread
Why: it's fast! The ones who need to have an afternoon sleep tomorrow can get there faster as we'll be eating within 10 minutes of walking in the door from church

Sunday Dinner: Leftovers (soup, lasagne, spag bol) and cheesy muffins if needed
Why: To clear out the fridge ready for the new week without wasting food. Cheesy muffins are easy to make if extra food is needed

Monday Breakfast: Porridge
Why: Cheap and nutritious. Don't want to take the time for pancakes or eggs.

Monday Lunch: Cream cheese and smoked salmon open sandwiches
Why: Nutritious - haven't had smoked salmon in the diet since Charlotte was born so we're missing some fish oils. I'll have been to the supermarket before this meal is needed (if all goes according to plan)

Monday Dinner: Beef Casserole and mashed potato with steamed vegies
Why: Easy to do as we focus on home ed for the day... and time for some good meat at dinner. Casserole is already cooked, mashed potato is already cooked and in the freezer as a potato bake so just needs to go into the oven.

Tuesday Breakfast: Eggs and Sausages; tinned fruit
Why: Overdue for a high protein/lower carb breakfast. I also need sausages cooked for a recipe to make tomorrow's breakfast easier

Tuesday lunch: Salad sandwiches
Why: Healthy, protein, vegies etc Easy as kids can help to make lunch as well

Tuesday Dinner: Mustard and mayo chicken with  roast vegies: potato, pumpkin and steamed vegies: beans & corn
Why: It's a good day/night in our house to cook a meal at the last minute as no one is going out. We need to be home in the couple of hours before dinner for a meal like this one

Wednesday Breakfast: Egg & Sausage Pie
Why: Easy breakfast for 'on the go' as I can cook it the day before. High protein/animal fat so keeping to what works health-wise.

Wednesday lunch: Macaroni cheese
Why: I'm at my sisters for the day and this is easy; the kids love it

Wednesday Dinner:Takeaway Pizza
Why: We get home from my sisters at about 6.30/6.45 and need to be out the door by 7.15 for bible study, plus feed Charlotte in that time. Picking up pizza on our way home is a nice fast way to deal with dinner.

That's enough thinking for now LOL
It sure is easier to plan when I think about what is happening in the week and what meals work best with different types of days. Most of these things we have in the house - there's just a couple of things I need to add for this next bunch of days and all will be good :)


Friday, July 8, 2011


The fun kind thankfully :)

A couple of weekends ago, Nj and Pete went on the annual Father/Son Pyromaniacs Camp with Boys Brigade. It was the 3rd attempt to do this. 2 years ago we didn't have the money. Last year we had paid but it was on the weekend after our move and Pete and I spent the WHOLE Friday night cleaning the house we were vacating, so driving on unknown roads and having a big weekend was not a wise idea for a dad on little sleep, so the plug was pulled.

This year it was all systems go though - and it looks like to me that they had great fun.

Building the huts

Just to burn them down!!

Thankfully they have the CFA on hand every year!

On My Mind

Melinda enjoying being a big sister - loves giving the top up bottle any time she can

Click to find out more about 'On My Mind' and see what others have shared


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My new non stick saucepan

Don't freak - there's no Teflon coating or anything like it that can add toxins to the food we eat.

Since doing some serious reading on the topic some time ago, I've been wanting to move away from our non stick pots and pans and have for the most part - I now use a big stainless steel stock pot, a cast iron casserole for stove and oven cooking, and a cast iron grill plate for frying.

I'd been holding onto the porridge pot though.

Stainless steel and porridge didn't thrill me. Or stainless steel and white sauce. Or anything else that gets stuck easily.

Finally I decided it had to be done. And it had to be a good pot, with a nice heavy base to avoid 'hot spots' on the bottom which cause a lot of the sticking.

And then the light bulb went off.

Saucepans use to be like this!!

But.... Cheap ones with thin bases became common and so then it was pots with non stick surfaces that 'saved us'.
Guess what? Using a high quality saucepan with a THICK base is no more or less 'non stick' than a pot with a non stick surface!

We don't need the non stick surfaced saucepans. We just need GOOD saucepans that will last us a lifetime. Look after them well, and any white sauce or porridge can be made without sticking!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Remember the cake my brother made recently? Well this is his latest. Yep. It's a cake for a baby shower. Maybe MS isn't the reason my cake decorating skills have vanished over recent years... maybe all skill just went to live at his house?

Monday, July 4, 2011

I googled and googled

and discovered that google actually doesn't have ALL the answers... or it may, just not all easy to find, if that's the case!

Once I discovered that the HUGE vine on the back fence was actually Kiwi Fruit, I wanted to know when they would be ripe and ready to harvest here in Victoria.

I. Could. Not. Find. The. Answer.

The closest answer I got was "April to June".

Well, just so you know.... where we live, they are ready in June. Let me spell that out so the search engines can find it... In Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Kiwi Fruit are ready for harvest in JUNE.

and if you're not sure about when they will be ripe in your area... it's pretty easy to tell that they are ripe

coz ALL THE LEAVES FALL OFF AND YOU CAN EASILY SEE THE FRUIT, it is NO LONGER HIDDEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I would have thought google could have told me that when I asked it 'how can I tell when Kiwi fruit are ripe?)     At this point, they are YUMMY and READY TO EAT.

All 350+ of them.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Home Ed Support

It's so nice to gather with like minded home school families. That to encourage and be encouraged. To share the ups and downs with others that 'get it'.

Each Friday we get together with a few other families for a couple of hours play time for the children and a couple of hours chatter for us mums. It's lovely to see the children develop these friendships; good to be close by to help them develop in as healthy a way as possible.

Once a month I have the opportunity to meet of an evening with other home ed mums... we start by chatting curriculum and learning styles as they relate to us... and end up chatting about all other things... there has been a number of times when an innocent hubby has come into the room only to be soon blushing and on his way out again LOL

And from time to time we travel to Ballarat to visit with my lovely friend Marion and her children. There's much fun to be had with their family of 9, and I do miss our time there when there are some months between visits. We often stay overnight which is such a blessing - nothing quite like late night conversations with a girlfriend!!

There are other great links I have... a number of our 'family friends', such as our friends in Ballarat, home educate too and are just a part of normal family life now. It hasn't always been that way, it's a God-given answer to prayer

If you don't have support links like these in your life as you home educate, may I encourage you to keep looking, to reach out to others, to pray for the opportunity. To take hold of it when the opportunity arises.

Sometimes we don't need this support ourselves but we can forget that others need us as they journey the home education road themselves - don't deprive them of your encouragement and learned wisdom even if you think you have none to give. You could be just the answer to prayer that God wants to give them!


Friday, July 1, 2011

Much has been happening since Pete found himself without paid work... so much so that I'm still not getting on here as much as I would like. I'm reading blogs, commenting rarely and posting my own even less! I'd have thought not being gone to work 30 hours a week + transport of 10 hours a week would have shown up somewhere here at home but it seems not!

I must say though, I did manage to make pancakes for the first time in a couple of months, last week - Yum! the children had asked often as we usually have them once a week but breakfasts have been somewhat lacking these last couple of months.

Financially we are blessed - between the Australian governments 'baby bonus' payments, us being accustomed to living on little and the Newstart payments, financial life will change little here unless Pete still doesn't have work at the start of next year - How good is God's timing hey?!

It's been 4 weeks today since Pete finished work and probably one week of that (or the hours he would have been at work) has been taken up with job applications and interviews - he has a couple of promising leads at the moment but patience is required. We'll hear back by the end of next week - apparently.

The Kiwi fruit have ripened and so we've been harvesting them. We were able to send almost 200 to a food bank to bless the people requiring that service, through a mission organisation we support. There's still at least 50 on the vine after eating a few and having given at least 50 others away!! (Edited to add it's actually about 100 still on the vine)

I've attempted to get organised and back into bookwork with the children. It's almost working. Life revolving around Pete's job hunting as well as Charlotte's feeds makes it a tad more tricky to juggle than I'd like. And my expectations are low. Seriously low LOL. I must persist!!

We've spent a fortune these last few weeks too... maybe that's where the time has gone LOL We've needed a new second fridge for a while because of all the 'from scratch' cooking we do and so on. We planned to buy one brand new because they use so much less energy than older ones and we planned to wait till the end of the financial year to take advantage of the sales. Very happy to say we got a 240L, fridge only unit for 200 less than it's usual price of $600 and it has a 3 year warranty - bonus!! It even has glass shelves, something I love but was doubting I'd be able to insist on for this fridge, as price had to come first. Love it when God gives us the desires of our heart even for the mundane things :o) It's been serving us well for the last week... we just need to find time to unwrap all the shelves - looks rather odd inside, to be filled with food and milk but all the glass shelves covered in wrap and tape.

We bought Pete new glasses - he's been wearing an old pair from about 11-12 years ago even though he's had 2 other pairs in the mean time. One pair vanished while we were moving a few years ago and the other pair broke too many times. I don't know how he does that. Mine never come off my face long enough for either to happen to mine!

Also at long last, we got the lap top I'd been pleading for, for at least 12 months. The children need access to one, that is NOT MINE... so now Pete and the children share one and soon the desk top will go (when we figure out the best way to do this). I'll get that space for my sewing machine - can't wait!!! It was Pete needing to be able to use a computer away from us for job hunting, that finally convinced him that now was the time. And now it's been bought in time to take advantage of the education tax rebate. Love that.

I'm still spending about 50 hours a week with Charlotte, as a minimum... so time is still scarce. We've been buying bread since Charlotte was born but this week Melinda has asked me to teach her how to make bread so we don't have to 'buy the unhealthy shop bread anymore'... I'm keen to teach her while she's keen to learn, so that's something I'll have to add to my 'time for' wishlist.

Speaking of lists.... anyone else know/use Wunderlist? Check it out... I'm loving it. especially being able to 'share' any list I choose, with others.... like the 'honey do' list with Pete, as he can access it from any computer too :o)