Sunday, January 27, 2013

"Cleaning your Bedroom"; Instructions for Kids

Following on from my post Cleaning the bathroom with kids I have now finished the next step in teaching the girls how to clean a room properly. This time I have produced a weekly and monthly bedroom checklist.

We are using all pinks accessories for the bedrooms, lounge rooms and other dry areas in the house.

I have printed the instructions onto A5 sheets, laminated them and placed them on a ring and into the relevant cleaning box.


  Gather supplies in their pink plastic tub:
·      cleaning / dusting cloths (pink)
·      one sheet of newspaper
·      a natural spray cleaner for mirrors, sills, walls and trims
·      vacuum Cleaner

  Pick up everything up off of the floor and put it away
  Hang or put in drawers any clean clothes lying about
  Empty dirty clothes hamper into the laundry hampers
  Knock down any cobwebs around the ceiling
  Change sheets, place dirty ones in the laundry, and then remake bed with clean sheets from the linen cupboard
To clean each piece of furniture, firstly you must remove every item from it, spray it with a cleaner if required and wipe with a cleaning cloth or simply dust the item with a fluffy cloth. Remember to dust or wipe the items before replacing them back onto the piece of furniture.

  Clean bedside table
  Clean bookshelf, always starting from the top shelf and then making your way down
  Clean any sets of drawers
  Clean your dresser
  Spray dresser mirror
  Wipe mirror clean with newspaper
  Organize and tidy wardrobe

With a new cleaning cloth
  Lightly spray and wipe the window sill
  Clean any marks on the walls or doors
  Spray and wipe around the skirting boards
  Wipe around any light switches and electrical sockets with the damp cloth. DO NOT SPRAY AROUND ELECTRICALS!

  Vacuum the carpet. Pay special attention to the edges near the walls (you will need to use the vacuum pipe to do this), and under any furniture.

  Empty your bin

  Put away supplies; dirty cloths into the laundry tub and the pink plastic tub with supplies into the laundry cupboard. Vacuum goes back in the laundry closet.


Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.  Saint Francis of Assisi


  Flip your mattress (with help from someone) after you remove your sheeting and before you remake it

  Change any duvets covers, quilts, blankets, etc that may require washing
  Spray window cleaner onto windows

  Wipe clean with newspaper or paper toweling

  Wipe light shades – Dad may be required to do the main light overhead.

  Let Mum or Dad know of anything that may not be working or is broken, so they can have it replaced or repaired.

The girls are actually quite enjoying grabbing the relevant cleaning tub and checking off the list as they clean their room.

If you'd care for a copy of any of the instructions emailed to you just leave your email address in the comments and I will email them to you. You can modify them to your own individual room requirements.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Summer Break at the Bach

Well we girls have just returned from a lovely, very HOT few days at our bach by the sea.

The girls really enjoyed the surf each day. Agent Smelly was in her element (she LOVES mermaids - she has one on the rashy she is wearing) and I was hard pressed to get her out of the water. The Fashionista enjoyed it but the water could be quite chilly sometimes, especially in the mornings, and because there's barely any fat on her, she had to emerge every so often with blue lips and her teeth chattering away. Just a few minutes in the HOT, HOT, HOT sun and she'd be right again.

They finally got the hang of their boogie boards and I got many smiles and thumbs up from them when they caught a wave in.

Each night, once it cooled down we took Scruffie for a walk along the nearby estuary and mariner. We took Grandma J along with us to the bach. She loves the bach and fondly remembers many happy days down there with her husband and The Pig when he was a young boy. So for her to get a chance to spend time down there with the Fashionista and Agent Smelly makes her so darn happy. She's nearly 85, so she's slowed down a bit but she managed to have a good rest and catch up on some reading.

We even managed to go out to one of the many cafes for lunch.
It's a shame the Papa had to work as he would have enjoyed getting away with us. Hopefully, if this warm weather continues, we'll be able to visit there again this summer.
Highhill Homeschool

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"Where Arrows Fly" Book Review

Our first read aloud for 2013 was "Where Arrows Fly". It's the second book in the Barn Chronicles and is written by New Zealand author and homeschool parent, Rosie Boom. This series is based on Rosie's own families adventures and life in the rural far north of New Zealand. It is a charming book not unlike a modern day Little House series, with the family living in an old barn whilst they build their dream home. The story main character is her fourth child, eleven year old feisty and likable daughter Milly. I really love that because it's a true story there are no cliched homeschooled kids like some that tend to appear in books and so her family are wonderfully positive role models for my own girls.

Both girls loved the story, as did I, but Agent Smelly won the toss to do the book review on this beautiful book.

Where Arrows Fly Book review by Agent Smelly aged 8 1/2
I love this book. They have a big family and are very nice. They have a good life and I like how they homeschool like I do and they have adventures. They are soooo lucky to have a river to play in.
When the Booms took the wrong sheep from a paddock and sheared them is was so hilarious. I laughed my head off.
Milly is funny and she loves animals, like me. She has loads but she is very good how she always takes care of them. I would love to do what Milly does. She gets to ride her horse and milk her cow.
I wish I could play spies with them all and go horse riding with Milly.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Our package from South Africa

I have been wondering what to do with the lovely items that we received from our World Wide Culture Swap families. I hit upon the idea of the girls adding some of the lovely items to their journals as a way of remembering these special packages.

We started on the package from our South African family first. It was also a great way to slowly ease the girls back into some school work as we took the opportunity to re-read and discuss the items and look up where they were from again.

Some of the lovely African items ... that balm now lives in my handbag and
the girls asked me to put the key ring onto my car keys.

Paper made from elephant dung ... a HUGE, I mean HUGE hit with the girls.

I love how this family thought to laminate some recipes and local words.
I must remember to do that myself if we participate in another exchange.

Amazingly we still hadn't eaten all the lollies so the girls ate these
whilst they put together their journal pages.


Eating the last remaining "Fizzer". Check out the expressions ...

Agent Smelly's pages
The Fashionista's pages.
These are the near finished pages. They just had to colour the flags and they also wrote some details of the family who sent this to us (names and area) onto a piece of paper which went into the blank area they left. There was talk of glitter ... of course!

They were really pleased with the results and being in their journal, they will always be remembered. Although the girls have started to correspond with this families two boys, that are of a similar age, so you never know they could end up with ever-lasting friendships. I have kept in touch with their mum via email and facebook too so I too have gained a lovely new friend from this venture.

Culture Swapper

Saturday, January 19, 2013

One Proud Mama

Earlier in 2012 I suggested to the girls that they set aside some of their pocket money each week to donate to a worthy cause. I explained the reasoning behind it, but I didn't force them into it as sometimes that doesn't really teach children anything, except maybe resentment. I simply explained the concept, we discussed it further, and I left it to them to run with it if they wanted to.
Last month, just before Christmas, I overheard both girls, who were sitting by the coffee table, counting their money discuss donating money. My ears pricked up and I looked over to see The Fashionista emptying the change out of a money box onto the coffee table. She told her younger sister, that she was giving that money to the SPCA. Agent Smelly replied that she was going to give her money "to the cancer people".

I tell you it was a pretty amazing moment for me. I kept doing what I was doing in the kitchen but a HUGE, warm, glow spread through me. I was so proud that rather than be tempted into spending the money in those containers they chose to donate it. I had in fact that I had suggested it to them earlier in the year.  Granted it was not a lot of money but it did work out to be a a few weeks of pocket money (imagine you donating 3 weeks of salary) and I think the act is more important at this stage of their young lives than the amount.

Today I could see Agent Smelly being rather industrious at the table but I didn't bother her, because she was being quiet and I could see that she was just making something with some craft supplies and causing no harm. Later that night I saw this sitting on the bench. She had popped a $2 coin in the bottom of the canister and plans on filling it for 2013. 

I am really chuffed with the way they have both taken on board the concept of giving money to others. Both the Papa and I donate regularly to causes and we feel that we have been so blessed morally and financially because we do.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Starting a Command Centre

As a big Pinterest fan I have seen a number of "Command  Centres" which look really useful. For those who haven't seen them, basically they are a section of wall that you arrange with notices boards, calenders, baskets (or similar) for bills, etc. Basically a central area for the family to refer to notices, dates, birthday's, bills and such.

The Papa works odd hours and days because of his shift work and for this reason, and apparently not just because he doesn't pay attention to what I say, he tends to forget odd jobs, repairs and dates. He has told me on more than once occasion that I don't nag him, which apparently is part of my job description (who knew), so how is he supposed to remember anything. Seriously you just can't win sometimes ...

Anyway with these command centres in mind, which I decided we just simply have to have with our hectic lifestyle, I purchased my first cork board especially for him. We'll pop notes on it for things that he has to do. I thought we could colour code them, IE red for urgent attention, orange for has to be done but not urgent and green for those little jobs that we would like to do sometime. You know a new garden bed or such.

I explained to the girls what the board was for and left it on the table overnight. I thought I'd paint the frame as it's a bit cheap looking and had hoped to get onto the next day.

I was rather amused when I got up the next morning and saw that The Fashionista had added her own wee requests on it for The Papa.

They read "Make hit for goats", "Start looking for a friend for Scruffie" (Scruffs our dog and they desperately want another one, can you tell!) and lastly "Play with girls". I simply love their priorities!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Card Making Class with the Girls

A card making class was held this month despite it being holidays. Unfortunately the Papa was working and I was really keen to go. The girls were supposed to be going to Grannies  for a sleepover but because of the heat and her advanced age, I was hesitant to drop them off with her. Anyway the lovely lady who takes the class, knows my girls and said I was more than welcome to bring them along. It is a late night by kids standards but as it was school holidays I thought why not, they didn't have to get up early the next day.

They were really and I mean really keen to go, so after I read them the riot act asked them to remember their manners, listen to everything they were told, be on their best behaviour, etc and they assured me that they would, I agreed they could come along.

Here they are so very intently working on their first cards. They did really well and were actually onto things better than some of the adults. The Fashionista ended up changing her card somewhat as the paper we used was double sided so she ended up using different colours than the card we were following. I ended up liking her inside 'pop out' better than my own. Even Agent Smelly altered her card slightly. I like that about our card classes, we are shown how to make a card but we are more than welcome to try something a little different on them if we wish. So despite them all being basically the same they are all slightly different.

Here the girls are with Mrs S. who was showing them how to use "The Boss" which I subtly hinted would make a great mother's day present. Pastor L asked them to also run her card and her mum's through the machine and in the end our whole table had them do ours which they ever so obligingly did.

We then swapped tables to make our second card and I thought they would again sit on either side of me but no at Mrs S's daughter's table, who just happens to be one of Agent Smelly's Brownie leaders, they ran over to sit on either side of her and left me sitting down the end of the table. Humph!

They went on a great night as young Miss H, not only showed us how to make a small card but also a wee gift or lolly bag out of an envelope. How cool was that.

Agent Smelly's cards and bag.
The Fashionista's cards and bag.

This is the outside and inside of the card Mrs S. taught us how to make.
The girls had a great night and were so well behaved. Thankfully here were no "oh I wish you hadn't said that" moments or any misbehaviour. Agent Smelly did start yawning not so subtly later on in the night whilst Miss H was teaching us a card which had Pastor L and I laughing but in her defence it was a very late night for her. So I have to say I pretty pleased with them their cards. They really loved going despite there only being a room full of older ladies (except for Miss H who is only 17) and no kids their own ages.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

My Reluctant Reader

Today I had to take down the Christmas tree. I absolutely hate taking the tree down. I always seem to put it off as long as I possibly can. It is just so darn pretty and festive and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy when I turn the lights on each night. The heat around this time of the year doesn't help either.

Anyway I thought I'd better get a move on so I sent the girls outside in their bathers and a couple of water guns to enjoy some sun ... and I hate to admit it but also to get them out of my hair. Between us sometimes it's just easier and quicker to pack up without their "help", if you know what I mean.

At one stage I turned around and looked outside and noticed my "very reluctant reader" sitting out on the deck in her beanbag, with her mp3 player on and book in hands.

I was SOOOOO envious! Oh to not have a pile of things that needed to be done, like washing, cooking, cleaning and to be able to just go and flop on the deck with a book (maybe not in my togs ... I don't want to scare any wildlife!) now that is my idea of bliss.  You know in my innocence, when I moved here nine years ago, I had visions of me spending my afternoons sitting on the deck, wine in one hand, a book in the other, lazing back with that beautiful view in front of me, whilst my little kiddies played quietly at my feet. HA ... reality hit and nine years later that still hasn't happened. Maybe I should have made that my 2013 resolution ... to finally spend a day doing that. Not the wine mind you, half a glass would put me under these days.

I was also very happy to see The Fashionista reading without any prompting, just for pleasure! My heart did that little wee flip flop thing they do when we mama's are happy with our offspring.

Later she told me that the headphones weren't on, she just was trying to get some peace from her chattering little sister ... mwah, bless their little cotton socks.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Indoor Camping

This week whilst the girls and I were out visiting the shops after the post Christmas sales they saw a wee three person tent on sale for $45. Out of the corner of my eye I could see them huddled together near the tents, pointing at them and animatedly whispering back and forth. Uh oh I thought, I know what they are  up to. So of course, next thing, they came over to me and asked if they could buy it with some of their Christmas money.

We brought it home and they have patiently been waiting to put it. Well sort of patiently as I told them if they asked me one more time, I'd throw it in the bin. The Papa's on night shift this week and don't ask me why, but I'd prefer for them to sleep outside in it when he's around.

Anyway tonight Agent Smelly had a wee fall in the garage whilst putting her bike away and was looking a little sad and sorry for herself. She kept saying over and over again, "I'm alright, I'm alright", whilst at the same time clutching her side and trying to hold back the tears that kept slipping out and running down her wee squirrel cheeks. She really is a brave, little, soldier when she hurts herself. I wanted to bring a smile to her face so I proposed that we try and put the tent up in her room.

In a nano-second two extremely, excited girls followed me up to Agent Smelly's bedroom, (LEGO land is currently sprawled across The Fashionista's bedroom floor) and helped assemble their very simple tent. Two poles, that's it ... two poles!  I kept getting hugs and told what a great mum I was ... they are so easy.

We didn't put the rain cover on ... as we don't seem to get much rain in their bedrooms at this time of year ...  you know it being summer and all.

As Agent Smelly was still experiencing some pain from her fall, I was a little worried about her sleeping on the floor so went out and grabbed our stretcher beds. They are just a little too long and wide for the tent but with the flaps open they were OK.

As you can see they soon fell asleep ... not!  But there is a a smile on both faces and that's what this Mama likes to see.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Reading List for 2103

Last year I realised that for many years that I hadn't been reading much fiction. I had read lots of homeschooling resources and learning books but no really good fiction.

So after reading about a few people who compile book lists at the beginning of the year I decided to give it a go. I keep the list in my planner and it is so much easier to pop into the library (or grab something for the kindle) if I know exactly what I wanted. It also meant that I was not wasting my limited reading time on trash.

Last years book list worked really well and I managed to read a couple of really good books. Some from the list and some not. I didn't manage to get through the whole list, our library doesn't have the best selection and was not prepared to pay $20 - $30 to read a book. Let's hope I have better luck in 2013, especially now that I have a kindle.

Here's my list for 2013 ... in no specific order ...



Girl in hyacinth blue by Susan Vreeland
What looks like crazy on an ordinary day by Pearl Cleage
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
I know this much is true by Wally Lamb
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
The Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simons
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
The Homeschool Experiment by Charity Hawkins
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Phryne (Fry-nee) Fisher Series by Kerry Greenwood (only 1 or 2 of them)
The Meg Langslow series by Donna Andrews (only 1 or 2 of them)

You Can Buy Happiness (And It's Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified her life and you can too by Tammy Strobel
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl by Ree Drummond The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan
Never have your dog stuffed by Alan Alda
The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry
Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living by Rachel Kaplan and K Riby Blume
Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too by Adele Fabe and Elaine Mazlish
The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain
Paleoista by Nell Stephenson

Thank you to those who recommend books. I wont hold it against you if they don't turn out to be very good ... although I may look at you a little differently .... haha

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy 2013

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year.

May all your resolutions, goals and / or missions for the year be realised.

The Fashionista made it to midnight. Agent Smelly went to sleep around 9.30pm and begged for us to wake her before midnight to see the new year in. She was still half asleep but happy that we woke her like we said we would.
Pin It