Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Funnies

I did a Juicing workshop last week on one of the Papa's days off and was gone for most of the day.

This is what I came home to ...

Yes they are Agent Smelly's feet sticking out of my coffee table ... where there are supposed to be drawers!

This is from the other side ... she was watching TV! When I asked her why she had removed the drawers and was inside my coffee table she replied that she used to do it as a little girl and had wondered if she still could.

Of course, why hadn't I realised that. Just when you think they are growing up they go and do something like this!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Our First Poetry Teatime

Poetry teatime is a new term for me. I purloined it from Navigating By Joy's blog.

Basically you have a wee tea party and each person takes a turn to read a poem but click through to Lula's blog and the full explanation will be there.

We study poetry every week but this week, knowing how my girls love our tea parties, I decided to give Poetry Teatime a go.

Even though it's winter in NZ, as the day wasn't too bad I decided to set up on the deck. We had hot cacao (same as hot chocolate but made with cacao and sweetened with some organic blue agave), fruit (fresh and dried), some nut balls/truffles and mini Pavlova's with lemon yoghurt and cacao nibs. It was all pretty healthy but yummy!

The girls asked if they should get "dressed up" for the event. I suggested that as we were outside simply to make sure they were warm. Check out the hats they came back with! Seriously they are so theatrical at times.

We then ate, sipped hot cacao and took turns to read one of the three poems we had each chosen earlier in the day. Agent Smelly read her first poem with gusto. She chose one about winter, then a couple about animals.

The Fashionista, sporting a beret (who knows why) chose a Robert Louis Stevenson poem for her first and then her next two were more humourous by anonymous authors. We didn't read them all at once, but took it in turns to read one each.

I chose a Robbie Burns poem but was told that I had to read it in a Scottish brogue and being the dutiful mother I complied. They simply adore A Red, Red Rose which they were introduced to in the book, A Child's Introduction to Poetry, which we base our poetry lessons on. This book has all of the different kinds of poetry with explanations, and many famous poets from throughout history. It has an accompanying CD with professional actors reading the poems which you simply play when the "play track" symbol shows in the book.


It was a lovely way to spend an hour in the afternoon and my girls found it vaguely amusing when the country school buses started going past as we sat outside reading and eating.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Library Reading Challenge

Last month the local library put out a reading challenge which our children signed up for.

They received a passport and each time they read a book on one of the 6 different subjects they got a stamp in their "passport". They also received a booklet where they had to write a review, poem, draw a scene from the story, or a character or the book cover, etc. once they had finished the book.

The six adventures the children had to read about were snow, mountain/volcano, river, ocean, desert and jungle. The subjects were not easy for the older children unless they read non-fiction books or they were really quick readers who could rip through something like Tom Sawyer in a couple of days.

In our desperation to find some books that wouldn't take forever, we came across Graphic Novels. What a bonus! I will tell more about these in another post though.

Copy of a book cover

Volcano facts and a poem on a book pertaining to a river.

Agent Smelly's picture of Baloo from The Jungle Book - had me in fits of laughter!

As they completed their books their were rewards along the way. Here they are with their headlamps and diaries.

They finished with a little soiree at the library with some party food and the opportunity to make a fake snow man. Then each participant was awarded a book. The Fashionista received The War Horse so was pretty stoked!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Are there spaces between Liquid Particles?

Not sure Agent Smelly needed the plastic glasses but they do so like the theatrics of science!

Today for chemistry one of the things we did, after discussing what an atom was, was a quick experiment to determine whether there were spaces between liquid particles.

  • two 100ml glass beakers (or similar) - one needs to be seal able (we used one of those beakers with the thin neck and simply placed a thumb over the hole in the top
  • water
  • methylated spirits

  • Measure out EXACTLY 50ml water into one beaker and EXACTLY 50 mls methylated spirits into the other that can be sealed.
  • Add the water to the methylated spirits. Then place your hand/thumb over the top and give it a shake to mix the liquids.
  • Measure the combined volume. 50ml liquid plus 50 mls liquid = ?????

Well the girls were quite surprised to learn that it didn't add up to 100mls (I was a bit surprised at the volume difference too if I am honest) but what a great experiment to show that there must be space between those atoms ... it just differs dependent on whether it is solid, liquid or gas.

Best thing about this experiment, well I then used the mixture to clean down the windows right behind them ... hehe

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Funnies

We have been studying poetry this year and Agent Smelly, whilst not exactly a gifted poet, has taken to writing little poems in her spare time. She has, shall we say a rather unique style, which I thought I'd share with you cause they simply crack me up.

The cheeky genius 
There was a genius,
 He was quite cheeky,
 He was a rascal,
 And he was sneaky.   
White Fluffy Feet
There once was a little hamster with white fluffy feet,
And a poodle ran down the plain old street,
And the hamster looked at it for a while
and then the poodle said to it
"Who you lookin' at?"
and one of my faves ... cause what goes through this kids mind????
Love of Another
Love of another, that love is for you,
I am your lover, and how about you?
I gave my heart to thee,
and you looked at me and gave me a kiss ...
but then I realised it was only to make me shut-up!
This week I received an email from her, asking if I'd like be added to her mailing list and she'd send me two new poems every Friday. Of course I jumped at the chance ... goodness knows what gems of wisdom I'll receive!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Bar Charts

Bar charts now have a very good name in our house and this is why...

I handed each of the girls a small container of Smarties (they were on sale) and had them sort them into colours and provide me with a bar chart. They really got stuck into this and quite enjoyed what they were doing.

After they had completed their bar charts, they compared their totals, there was only 1 Smartie different, so of course I generously helped them even them out.

I then told them that they could each remove 1/4 of their stock (see what I did there ... clever ey!) and eat them whenever they wished to. Surprisingly The Fashionista ate hers straight away (this kid still has lollies that she has been given over 12 months ago from party bags she has received!) unsurprisingly Agent Smelly inhaled hers immediately!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday Funnies

Last weekend we attended a beautiful wedding in Auckland City. The bride had some relatives come all the way from the UK for the wedding.

One of them was a 12 year old girl, so The Fashionista was introduced to her and they struck up a conversation for much of the evening, which was rather nice.

The Papa and I were vastly amused when not long after she met the young lass, from Stratford upon Avon, she came running over to tell us that the lass had actually been too the church where Shakespeare was buried.  She couldn't have been more excited. 

Hello ... NERD ALERT!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Decision Tree

I recently introduced the girls to decision trees in one of our living math sessions. Decision trees are used to sort and classify things, so the simplest way to learn about one seemed to be to perform an experiment which we did.

From the book; Understanding Math - Graphs and Charts

You will need:
  • 3 tsp flour, 3 tsp salt, 3 tsp bicarbonate of soda and 3 tsp icing sugar in four identical containers and not marked so you don't know which container contains which.
  • vinegar
  • water
  • ice cube tray
  • plate to mix substances on
  • tsp to measure

Then follow the decision tree (pictured above) to work out what each substance is.

First of all mix one teaspoon of each of the four powders with some vinegar.

Secondly, you need to mix 1 teaspoon of the remaining three substances with some water,

Thirdly you will need to dissolve one teaspoonful of the last two substances in five teaspoonfuls of water. Pour the two mixtures into separate ice cube trays (we simply used one end for each in one tray)  and put them in the freezer for one hour.

The girls had a ball and declared it their best math class ever!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Friday Funnies

I told Agent Smelly that her Brownie Leader had told me how pleased she had been with her this week. Apparently she had done the dishes and cleared up before even being asked.

When I told her what had been said to me, she replied in her earnest little voice "oh that's so good to hear mum. I really was trying to be good and helpful. I am the oldest Brownie there now, so I am trying to be more mature".

All of nine and trying "to be more mature" ... I hid my smile and simply nodded understandingly.

She's just so pleased to be the oldest and most senior in the group now.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Decorating Gumboots

The girls were so very excited and proud of the "decorated" gumboots that they made at the Church School Holiday Program this term.
The Fashionista's boot, she had two little helpers.


Agent Smelly's Gumboot is on the left

The boots are all lined up outside the entrance to my mother-in-laws church. She was so chuffed when she saw them the following Sunday.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Raw Chocolate ... hard to believe it is good for you!

Recently I attended a Raw Chocolate workshop. It's not that I am obsessed with chocolate (no really I am not), although every so often I do get a huge craving for it. This Raw workshop simply was the only workshop that fit into my schedule.

I am so glad that I attended it though because although I had used cacao (it looks like cocoa) before I had never truly realised just how good this stuff is for you. It is in fact what they call a superfood. For a start it has the best natural food source of antioxidants of any food in the world and is huge in magnesium. I won't bother going into all it's health benefits, but if you are interested, google cacao and you will be blown away!

In case you were wondering the difference between cacao and cocoa is ...
  • Cacao refers to the raw form of chocolate, including the tree and bean. Raw cacao powder is not roasted, relatively unprocessed, and contains no sugar or cocoa butter.
  • Cocoa is the Anglicized version of the word “cacao.” Cocoa powder has been roasted, ground, and sometimes mixed with a sweetener and cocoa butter.
During the workshop we watched the following being prepared and got to sample each of them (clever Debbie had some pre-prepared):
  1. Chocolate Cacao Protein Smoothie with Almond Milk
  2. Chocolate Mint Slice
  3. Raw Chocolate Fudge
  4. Raw Homemade Chocolates
It was a hard job but someone had to do it! They were all made from raw ingredients but I am pretty confident that if you served it to someone and didn't mention it, they wouldn't even be aware.

I came home rather inspired, as you do, and made my first batch of chocolates. I confess they didn't turn out as pretty as Debbie's, but still tasted delish. I just need to practice a bit more with the rubber moulds that I picked up at a cheap variety store, as there were a few little holes in my chocolates.

My First Batch of Cacao Chocolates

Homemade Chocolates

  • 100 gms cacao butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup organic maple syrup (substitute for raw agave if you want total raw, as maple syrup is not actually a raw food but make sure you use less as it much sweeter.)
  • 10 drops organic peppermint oil (food grade) *
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs (optional)

  1. Melt the cacao butter in the dehydrator (for raw purposes) or over a very low heat
  2. Add the maple syrup to the cooled cacao butter then stir in the cacao butter and mix to blend well
  3. Stir in the peppermint oil
  4. Spoon the mixture into chocolate moulds or ice cube trays and top with the optional cacao nibs.
  5. Freeze until set, then simply pop out and taste! (Store them in the freezer too)
* You could substitute crushed almonds, macadamias, strawberry oil, coconut, etc. The sky's the limit really.

Be warned that cacao and cacao butter is really expensive but I made my batch of chocolates nearly two weeks ago and am still eating them. They are not something you can gorge on, and so a little seems to satisfy any sweet craving I get. The added bonus is that eating cacao is actually good for you (apparently it can even help lower high blood pressure!) so really it is my best interest to eat a piece a day.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Friday Funny

The Fashionista was having a chat with me and said ... "Mum I just love Irish accents so much. You know I think I could marry a leprechaun!"

Agent Smelly, who walks in right on the last sentence, says "Don't worry Sis, I know your short but you wont need to marry a leprechaun".

The Fashionista ... splutter, splutter, splutter!

I love PINTEREST so much!

One of the most useful homeschooling tools that I use these days is PINTEREST (also great for hobbyists and crafters too).

Pinterest is a social bookmarking tool used to “pin” images found around the Web into categorized collections, or boards. It’s like an interactive, shareable scrapbook.

I am almost positive I am not alone when I put this website down as a great homeschoolers resource site. You can and will find ideas and inspiration for anything and everything you can ever imagine. It’s a way of keeping the stuff you find and want to refer back to another time. And if your memory is going like mine, (not sure whether that’s a mama or age thing … ) the fact that you “pin” things by images is great as it is usually a much easier and quicker way to remember which site you were looking for. You can also just sit and lose time searching through Pinterest for inspiration.


PINS - A pin is an image or video, either from a website or uploaded from the user. A description can (and should) be added to pins.
BOARDS - Pins can be organized by topic, called boards. By default, Pinterest starts users off with a bunch of boards, but these can be deleted or renamed to suit a user’s interests. Within my pin boards, I’ve created collections of everything from recipes I want to try and Home schooling boards broken down by subject. Ie Anatomy, history, math, music, crafts, natural cleaners, healthcare, and so on (and so and so on … oops).

FOLLOWING - You can follow anyone, even if they aren’t following you back. You have the option to follow all of another user’s boards, or you can just select certain boards to follow. I follow a number of homeschoolers and that way I get a feed of their latest pins. It is surprising how often a pin will show on my page when I go in for a look that is on the very subject that the girls are currently interested in.

REPINS - Repinning is sharing an image pinned by someone you follow or found while browsing Pinterest, and then adding it to one of your own boards. Repinning gives credit to the person who first pinned the image. You can also edit (or add to) the description when you repin something. Source links also stay on the pin no matter how many times it is repinned. You don’t need to be following someone to repin from them.

LIKES - Liking a pin just adds it to the “Likes” on your profile, but doesn’t add it to one of  your boards. Again, you don’t need to be following someone to like their pin.

SHARING - Anytime you pin something, you can easily share it on Twitter and Facebook but you don’t have to. I recommend unless you are wanting lots of people to follow you that you don’t do this as you may end up annoying some friends who get sick of seeing you pin stuff all the time!

PINNING FROM THE WEB - You can add a “Pin It” button right onto your browser to easily pin things you come across on the Internet. You’re given a choice of which image to use from the page you are pinning and you then select which board to add the pin to. Remember you can add or change a description.

How to Join (Come on you know you want to … )

1. Sign Up – You used to have to get an invite to join the site but this doesn’t have to happen anymore. When you do sign up, you’ll have the option to link either your facebook or twitter account with your Pinterest account if you have any of those. If you prefer to start with just your e-mail address, you can always connect your social accounts later if you want to (but there is no real need).

2. Create Your Profile - When you create your account, think about the other social accounts you have. Try to stick with a consistent username if you already have a blog name, or Twitter or Instagram account. That will make it easier for anyone who follows you to find you via searching on Pinterest. It also helps to use the same profile photo—that way people know it’s you. You can also remain completely anonymous. I even let my young daughters have their own accounts (using fun, false names of course) and they can now be found making boards on knitting, horses, origami, the latest musician or anything else that is currently taking their fancy. Say for instance they want to make some origiami, they can click through to the board and pin and it will link them straight through to the blog and instructions.

3. Check Your Settings - Once your account is active the first thing you should do is take a look at your e-mail settings. Luckily, Pinterest’s options are straightforward and easy to understand. When you first start pinning, keep all the e-mail notifications on. It’s a great way to find new people to follow by seeing who likes, comments, or repins ideas from your boards. You can turn them off later if they are clogging your inbox. 

WARNING -- Pinterest is extremely addictive and it can also cause feelings of inadequacy. Oh and husbands can get a little annoyed with it, when you keep showing them outdoor settings made out of pallets or other decorating and gardening ideas that “will just take like 5 minutes for you to make hun”! That will teach him for watching rugby and leaving me to amuse myself on Pinterest … hehehe.  Now must be off, am about to whip up a fail proof recipe off Pinterest that looks the bomb!  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The "Latest" study area!

I was reading the lovely Tina's Dynamic Homeschool Plus blog the other day on swoonworthy learning spaces / homeschool rooms and although we have had dedicated home school work spaces before somehow we've managed to end up back at the dining table. They haven't always worked for us. The study was too small and confined and the spare room, well it got very messy and cluttered as it was too big for just a school room for too so I ended up with crafts, toys name it in there. Needless to stay it ended up a mess and not a happy place!

Unfortunately Tina's "swoonworthy" pictures of homeschool rooms got me all motivated again and this time I decided to cut off part of my "parent's retreat" (obviously the architect who designed that room didn't have kids or hadn't met ours ... cause there's no retreating from them anywhere!) to make a little study area.

Things are on the move.
So I started pulling the shelves and other homeschooling things out of my study.

I then had to unload ALL the books (peeps there must be a cut off point for accumulating too many books!!!) so I could move some book shelves. This was exhausting! I had to take many a break to pop onto facebook to get some inspiration and motivation from my friend Kat. OK I was just sick of it after 15 minutes and decided to annoy her.

Now in it's new home in the retreat.

Once the new shelves are set up, I will redo these shelves as they are rather packed at the moment and not looking at all "swoonworthy"!

Looking from the lounge room (double doors) into the retreat.
Now what you can't see in this picture is on the left of me in the room are towers of books that wont fit back into the shelves. I had to bring some school books out of the study which has used up extra space. Fortunately I can purchase the same shelving unit as those other two and it will fit alongside them so I am rather pleased with that. Guess what I'll be doing Saturday .. shopping for my new unit ... yeah. That will be shelf set number 10 for our house! OK the one's in the girls rooms are filled with toys and ornaments so they don't count.

Two excited girls.
These two monkeys are loathe to leave the table, they love it so much ... they even asked to eat their lunch there! I said no, after all I had just vacuumed! This window and door leads to the back verandah. (It's was very foggy here this morning; OK the window / door does also really need a good cleaning!) Behind me are another set of windows and a door that lead to the direction of the lake so there's plenty of natural light in there. Teacher's lounge  (or should I say couch) is right behind me, once I can clear all those books out of the way to get to it.

Thanks for the inspiration (and very sore back) Tina xxx
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