Monday, February 11, 2013

Blackberries and cows in the backyard... almost

It is really quite cool having a farm almost next door. The kids have discovered much to their delight, that the field is full of wild blackberry bushes. They want to go on an almost daily visit to pick the newly blackened blackberries. We could hear the cows mooing from the backyard so I took the kids over to see them, and they were not as close as I thought... a few paddocks over, but the kids still had fun looking at them through their binoculars. I love it because it reminds me of the trips to the woods we would take when I was younger growing up in Barnsley... and the blackberry picking and blackberry pies and blackberry jam my mum would make from the collection.
 The view from our front garden

 The girls looking at the cows

 Anna-Maria posing for the camera

 Ella-Rose following suit

 Little Lily trying to see whats going on too

 Four kids having fun

Picking and tasting blackberries... yum!

As for Narnia, we are 3 chapters away from finishing 'Voyage of the Dawn Treader'. I can't believe I didn't read these when I was a kid. There are some really great values in there - in addition to the awesome adventures of course.

The shopping trip - what a disaster. I had wanted to get a freezer before Tane went away so I could fill it up and not have to take all the kids shopping for a big shop... or even not at all. However we were pretty busy and that ended up not happening. So today we were running pretty short on supplies... we were down to our last carrot after morning tea... you know you're low when the kids have to have carrots for tutti fruiti time.
At first Joshua and Joseph decide to have some kind of crazy wrestling match in the supermarket. Talk about  embarrassing. However I managed to distract them by sending them on search and find missions to various regions of the supermarket looking for items on our list. Phew survived after an hour and a half... with poor Lily intact, but it is impossible to have her and Ella-Rose in the same shopping trolley. Ella just wants to bite, scratch and basically terrorise her sister.

In the evening after dinner, we had our family home evening and planted our winter garden. Joseph chose brussel sprouts (or little soccer balls - as he calls them), Anna-Maria chose cauliflower - her favourite thing for dinner, Josh chose broccoli and I got pak choy, spinach and leeks. Unfortunately as the older kids were transplanting their seedlings, Ella-Rose decided to pull all the leek seedling out... so only a very small fraction of them were planted in the garden. Also mental note to myself... to make this garden work we need to get a soak hose tomorrow - the gardern is so dry, even despite multiple trips to the tap with buckets, it remains as dry as ever.

Ella-Rose: Has been practising counting. We have a funny game she likes to play on the trampoline. She jumps and we count to 10 and then splat - she splats onto the trampoline, has a giggle and then gets back onto her feet to start again. She is learning her colours by gardening. She is learning not to pick the green tomatoes but to wait until they are orange. We have some strange orange tomato variety. They are simply delicious and taste almost a cross between a tomato and an apricot if that is even possible.

Joshua: Is reading 'Call of the Wild'. Although he only needed to read 1 chapter today... he of course became immersed and didn't come up for air until I suggested we go outside to look at the cows. He really likes animals, so is also reading a book all about horses, the different breeds, purposes and how to look after a horse.... He also likes to look at the horses available on Trademe... and is dropping hints to me such as 'we need a paddock to put a horse in'.

Joseph: Is enjoying practising the piano and committing his pieces to memory. He played 'Set' with Anna-Maria. It is a really great game for pattern spotting, he was teaching Anna-Maria how to identify a set. She was initially frustrated, but in the end she managed to put a few good sets together. His homeschool goals consisted of 'lots of PE every day'. So today that consisted of lots and lots of bouncing on the trampoline.

Anna-Maria: Is the most motivated child. She wrote in her journal, practised her spelling words and played 'Set". She also had a really unfortunate accident today :(  She was bouncing on the trampoline and moved back too far. As she came down she landed with each leg astride the bar and then fell onto the floor. Poor thing. She was beside herself, but after spending an hour in bed - doing paired reading with Joseph (Hansel and Gretel, & Bubbles) she was back to her normal self. She was happy because we put her new curtains up in her room. And I was happy to because they are much thicker and make the room much darker and hence it hopefully will be easier to convince the girls it really is bedtime even though the sun is still shining outside.

Lily: Had her first taste of solids today. She seemed to really enjoy it after the first 2 tsps of wondering what on earth is this new stuff. She had pear and banana with baby rice. She is also really enjoying trying to grab hanging toys and she is smiling and chuckling a lot.

L&P in Paeroa

Yesterday we went to Paeroa. Tane had to be dropped off with the army as he was going on an annual field exercise (which interpreted means 7 days of survival in the bush with not much to eat, no showers and sleeping under a tarpaulin which is  apparently called a hutchie, and then having to carry a 40kg pack and gun and ammo everywhere they trek, oh and dig their own toilets). Better him than me.

When we got to Paeroa I told the kids we had to buy some L&P. They were a little bewildered as they didn't know what this was and when we explained it stood for lemon and Paeroa, they wanted to know if it had actual dirt from Paeroa in it. Hopefully not! They all liked it and Josh stated "it is the only lemon soft drink that actually tastes like lemons".

Paeroa is where Tane's father Monty is from. I had never been before and it is such a magical little town, it would have been such a nice place to grow up. The kids had heaps of fun investigating all the antique shops... I have never seen so many antique shops along one little shopping strip... the kids loved looking at all the old-fashioned stuff - a mangle, a spindle, old fashioned sewing machines, record players, money, postcards, and best of all, old fashioned army relics like WWI metal helmets  and WWII German army berets, and a sword also caught their fancy.

We had lunch by the river, a beautiful spot. The kids collected drink cans for their scrap metal collection.
 If you are wondering what is wrong with Anna-Maria, she is enjoying being a tiger at the moment.

As we were sitting by the river having lunch, Ella-Rose says "stinky hot, stinky hot", her way of saying stinkin' hot. Her other funny thing she says is when she gets a prickle in her foot she complains, lifts her foot up saying 'spicy, spicy.'

We went to the cemetery to try and find Tane's grandparents grave. There is something sacred about walking through a cemetery  As I read the names of those who had passed on, it always makes me emotional to think of the pain on the passing of these loved ones. After searching for about half an hour we found the grave of Tane's grandparents Herbert Brunt and Lucy Brunt (nee Pakinga). We realised it was a week before the anniversary of his Grandfather's passing, and that he had passed away when Tane was 12 days old. What a sweet day it will be in the Resurrection when they will get to meet each other again.

We dropped Tane off to be taken down to Waiouru for another grueling week and drove back home. Joshua really made my day in the evening. We got home late, at twenty to eight. I fixed them dinner while the boys read, and the girls had their bath. We started eating dinner and Joshua was about to ask me something, then he said 'oh no you're feeding Lily". So I asked him what he wanted... a fork. I showed him I had already brought them to the table. Then he hugged me and said "oh mum you're a brick". It was so sweet.

If you're wondering why he would call me a brick... well after reading a number of classics with the kids... in particular 'The Railway Children' and 'Narnia', they have heard the word a few times, and now it seems it has worked it's way into his own vocabulary. The amazing thing to me is that they can remember the precise point in the story where and by whom this is said. I can't... must be showing my age.

A few other things that must be said. Thanks Mum and Dad (Grandma and Grandpa Key) for the trampoline. It is just the best present. I can't keep the kids off it.

Today I asked Josh to put the clean washing away... kids catch on quick..."I can't, it's Sunday'. Oh well will wait till Monday... its just 1 sleep away.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pikelets for breakfast... Thanks boys

Today I had a lovely surprise. Joshua and Joseph decided they wanted to make pikelets for breakfast. Normally Tane does this most Sunday mornings and we alternate a variety of favourite toppings.
As the boys were getting the pancakes ready, Ella-Rose decided to be helpful (of course!) and cut up all the bananas and place them on he plates in anticipation. Although she left the rotten banana excluded but managed to squish it up a bit.
 The other kids all enjoyed them.
Yum, yum. Thanks boys :)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Beach fun!

Yesterday was a stunner of a day... and being a public holiday we went to the beach. We went to Raglan for a Stake activity. Anna-Maria was so surprised to see black sand "I have never seen back sand before!"
And she was full of questions about how it became black.

Ella-Rose was initially cold in the water so spent some of the afternoon snuggled up in my jacket.

Later on in the afternoon we couldn't pull her out of the water, she loved it.

The boys and Tane waited for high tide so they could jump off the bridge. Josh and Tane jumped a few times but Joseph thought he would wait till next time - (because by then he would be taller and the drop would therefore be less - according to him). But he still enjoyed hanging on the edge of the bridge with his Dad as and still felt pretty brave about that.

Joshua also had fun creating a sand dam on the beach to prevent water from high-tide returning back to the estuary.

I know it looks like they are playing in mud, but it is black sand honest!

I tried to keep little Lily in the shade as much as possible, but that didn't stop her from smiling a lot. But it is so difficult to catch her smiles on camera. She smiles, I point the camera, she thinks I've gone and stops smiling... and this just repeats itself over and over till I have about a hundred half smiling photos. So here are the best ones.

She is such a little cutie... and seems so much older than she was when she was born nearly 4 months ago.

After exhausting ourselves silly and working up a big appetite... we got wind of a rumour that there was a tsunami warning due to an earthquake in the Solomon Islands. Well, we had been at the beach for about 6 hours and our rumbling tummies were craving some junk food, so it was time to depart. But of course we had to take a detour to Manu Bay so Tane could goggle at the surf. After a while I asked him whether he wanted to come home with is or hitch a ride home... I think he got the message, as he was getting hungry too.

I think you could say, a good time was had by all.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Rockets, Trigonometry and Monkey Ella

Firstly a photo of Lily-Grace. What a little cutie. Holding herself up for tummy time and rolling over.

One of the many reasons why I love homeschool. Last night Joshua was reading on the New Zealand Rocketry Association website (NZRA). He was reading an account by a group of boys who were very successful at making and launching their model rockets. He is very interested in rockets and explosives and prior to me finding this site for him, he had found a recipe for solid rocket fuel. A comment captured his attention... the boys who were good at trigonometry were good at calculating the heights of their launched rockets.

This led him to comment to me. Remind me in the morning to do my mathsbuddy. This was exciting for me as he himself was becoming motivated to study in the area which a year ago was his weakest area of interest... and not because he couldn't do it, but because of the repetitive simple maths he was required to do over and over again.

So this morning (and on a Saturday too) I reminded him to do his mathsbuddy. I suggested he do his year 5 angles and progress from there through all the year levels till he reach trigonometry  Well he had other ideas. He picked the year 10 trigonometry lesson. After watching it for a few seconds he pressed pause. I was thinking ok... he wants to go back and do the more basic lessons, but he surprised me and said
"you'd better get me a pencil and paper so I can write all this stuff down." 
So there he was scribbling down pictures of right angled triangles and labelling with new words such as theta, hypotenuse, opposite and adjacent. Then he was introduced to the equations of SOHCAHTOA. Once again he eagerly wrote those down and then proceeded to complete the worksheet. He really enjoyed it and asked me why he hadn't learnt this at school, and then was very interested in real life examples of this. So his dad took him outside and they used trigonometry to find the height of a tree in the back-yard.

It was so cool to
a. be a part of the learning process
b. teach him something he has a real interest in

And after that he went up the hill to our friends house, who happens to be an engineer, to help them split wood, play in the water and eat pizza. So I was left wondering how much of that he had taken in... but when he came back he had more questions about what he had learnt... and he didn't do too badly either getting 83 percent for his first attempt.

A few funny comments by the kids...

Ella came walking in with a mouth full of something. I asked her "What's in your mouth?"
She opens her mouth wide and points inside and states matter-of-factly, "Grandma!".
I look surprised and ask her "Is grandma in your mouth?"
Ella answers "Yes!".

Ella climbs on the top bunk, laughs and chants "Monkey Ella, Monkey Ella", referring to herself.
My little monkey Ella

Ella loves movie night and goes round saying "Moome"