Wednesday, April 30, 2014

ANZAC Day 2014

The girls marched in yet another ANZAC Parade this year. Agent Smelly was particularly excited because it was her first time marching as an actual Guide. She so loves being in the older group.

Behind the girls are the wooden poppys that were made this year and placed in various public areas around town. Don't they look fabulous?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easter Craft Exchange

The girls were involved in another craft exchange this one was Easter themed.

They both chose to sew their crafts.
The Fashionista made some stuffed rabbits. Agent Smelly thought she'd be funny making rabbit ears behind her sister ... there's one in every family!

Here's AS with her stuffed felt Easter eggs.  Hope the families have Easter trees ... lol

These are "Bunny Tails" that the girls and I put together to go in with all the packs we sent out.

These are the Easter cards we three gals made.


And lastly here are some of the Easter crafts we received in exchange. There are more than 6 because unbeknownst to three boys I entered their group to make up a fourth and made rabbits similar to TF's but in black material with gold starts and big gold bows and I forgot to take photos of mine. Silly me!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Meet our latest addition, Miss Melody

When Agent Smelly got Rory (our totally mad dog!) as her very own pet, The Fashionista was pretty upset as she also wanted a pet too.

Her papa and I discussed it and said that as long as it wasn't another dog then we'd consider it. After much tossing ideas around and lots of investigation she settled on wanting an English Angora Rabbit.

Bad camera photo!
So as part of her birthday gift she received a beautiful lilac/blue (?) baby girl whom she name Melody but gets Melli most of the time. Melli arrived about a week before her birthday as we had to her transported from another district. And even though she is going to kill me for letting you all know this, there were tears when she opened her eyes and saw her on her lap for the first time. It was so cute!

This little monster spends her days outside in a big run and cage and her nights bouncing around her mistresses bedroom before being placed in her new big cage to spend the night. Her breed is very, very, very fluffy and she is groomed every morning or she will matt. One her adult hair comes in around 8-9 months we can start using it to spin for wool. How awesome will that be!

These rabbits are quite amazing and so very tame. She follows us around the house (when Rory is outside as he in love with her!) and even hops over to lay down beside Scruffie. She has recently learnt how to hop onto her mistresses bed for a snuggle in the mornings.

Why do all our animals seem to think they are human?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Laser Tag at the Waiakto Show

This past week we had the opportunity to attend our local Show (bit like a state fair) with one of the local homeschool groups. We had never been to this one before and as it was only $5 a ticket we decided to give it a try without really knowing what it was all about.

On arrival, each child in our "school group" was given a booklet and inside the booklet were different activities for them to complete in the different areas of the show.

There was an area with clubs and groups (scouts, tramping, doc, etc.), services (diabetes foundation, education dept, cancer group, etc)  a petting area for the kids, international area, safety and emergency services area, alpacas (babies above ... mwaw) and lots of vendors, etc.

Once they had answered the questions, or completed the activities in their book pertaining to that area, they had to find the person (in that area) in an orange vest, who gave them a sticker to say they'd completed that challenge. Once all their sections received stickers the children could place their completed back into a competition bin. We never got through it all but still they had lots of fun working on them.

Agent Smelly and Miss R
It transpired shortly after we arrived that we didn't need to stick with our own groups and could wander around on our own, so we ended up joining some dear homeschooling friends of ours who had come with another group (two of her lovely girls are great friends of mine)and we set off around the place together. Our tickets even included one free ride for the kids. Unfortunately the choices were limited to the smaller rides.

The laser tag course.
At 3pm, when the school groups had gone for the day, we wandered over to the exit, fully prepared to go home once the children had a go on the FREE laser tag course ... hmmm two hours later and we finally got away!!!! The last of the homeschooling families had congregated there and so all but one child was homeschooled ended up on the course. They all had a blast!

Mrs C and I were in fits of laughter watching our mostly delicate girls holding their "first" guns, especially as the gun was nearly bigger than her tiny little six year old. We were being rather silly making jokes about it being another magic moment in a mother's life seeing her wee girls holding their first guns etc. The lovely British guy who was taking the sessions yelled at them as though they were a new set of recruits in the army (he was quite awesome with the kids) whilst Mrs C and I heckled and cheered from the side lines, we assured him that they had heard worse yelling from their mums, much to his amusement. Mrs C even joined in towards the end but I was far too tired to bother. Well that's my excuse and I am sticking to it!

The Fashionista and Miss H

"It was an awesome day" in the words of one of my children.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Fashionista Turns 12

The Fashionista turned 12 this past week.
She just amazes, shocks and kind of scares me with how much she has grown in maturity recently. I feel like I am losing my little baby but fortunately I am gaining a really lovely young lady.

Happy birthday my first born little treasure.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hard Work and Hounds

I happen to think that one of the best things we can do for our children is to introduce them to a bit of hard work rather than handing them everything on a platter. That is why when recently we were given a free pool the Papa and I told the girls if they wanted it set up quickly, then they would need to step in and give us a hand.

We decided to set it up where the trampoline which was slowly rusting away was, but the area was filled with stone which needed to be removed first. So the girls grabbed their small wheelbarrow and shovels and set to work. Both of them really worked like little Trojans, in fact by the time the Papa had joined us (he hadn't gotten home until 1am the night due before due to working a late shift so was having a sleep in) we three girls had cleared the whole area. It was a really hot day and it was quite a sizable area and took us a few hours with some little breaks here and there to catch our breath. He was in a bit of shock ... but we are talking real girl power here people!
The Papa sent us inside and took over putting a sand base down, etc. and then the three of us popped back out later to help him erect the pool.
We still have to finish tidying up the area but due to two very hard working little naggers we let them fill the pool straight away and they were in it the next day taking advantage of the lovely warm autumn we have been experiencing. No guess where they have spent just about every afternoon since we've had it.
Unfortunately young Rory (our 8 month old German Shepherd/Border Collie) thinks the pool was put there for him and that first afternoon when they were swimming, he jumped in and swam right along behind them. I was hanging out washing and saw the whole thing. They on the other hand didn't realise he was doing his paddle right behind them until I pointed it out. The poor Papa was called out to help him get out ... much to every one's amusement. Then a couple days later whilst I was cleaning the laundry I took a rug out the back door to shake and there he was again, this time all by himself in the pool doing some laps. I was gob-smacked and very happy that this time he managed to simply jump out all by himself as the Papa was at work!
Little Scruffie also enjoys swimming with the girls, and managed to get stuck on the ladder recently as he can't quite manage them but is quite desperate to join the girls swimming too. I often wander out and find him on a lilo in there with them. He does this very weird thing as he swims behind them, he tries to bite their feet ... he looks like a snapping turtle and it cracks everyone up. We aren't sure if he is trying to catch onto them or what but he does it at the beach too, where he simply loves body surfing. We have rather odd dogs!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Glamourous Glasses

We were warned a couple of years back that The Fashionista's would probably need glasses one day. It was suggested that we keep an eye on her and if she ever started to complain of headaches or rubbed her eyes etc. to take her back, otherwise we were to simply have her eyes checked every year or two.

I have been concerned that her eyes have been troubling her as she doesn't like reading for very long periods of time. She complains that it makes her tired. As I was due for a check up I booked her in to take with me. 

She was told that she needs glasses for concentrated work now. Our optometrist was ever so gentle saying how many different colours, types of fashionable glasses there were out there. Little did he know that she was rather looking forward to yet another fashion accessory! Despite being busy he also took the time to point out some diagrams and explain what was going on with her eyes and teach her the parts of the eye, etc. He wasn't talking to me but spoke directly to her explaining everything she needed to know about what was going on with her eyes. I confess I love it when doctors, dentists, etc speak to the children directly and explain to them what is going on.

She is slight shy wearing them but we think they look lovely on her.

When we left his room we were handed over to one of his technicians. My fussy girl took absolutely ages to pick the "right" pair. I ended up apologising to the technician helping us but she was quick to laugh and say she was rather impressed with her decision making and natural talent for knowing what shapes and colours suited her own face. She ended up with a pair that have some lovely fret work along the sides, frankly they are nicer than mine!

Tip: We were told many years ago by our optometrist, who we think is pretty wonderful, that as we are  homeschoolers we need to make sure that our children gets plenty of distance and close work. IE children in a school room setting look up at a board and then back to their work in front of them a lot. This helps strengthen their eyes. We use a white board in our school room to make sure the girls do get used to close and distance work.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Concerts for Kids

We were blessed today with the opportunity to attend a free concert for school aged children, put on by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO), which is NZ's national orchestra owned and funded by the NZ government.
Apologies, this was the best photo I could get with the kids camera.

The concert was specifically tailored towards children. The theme was nature and seasons and there was an announcer, Nigel, who explained things to the group as we went along. He introduced the sections of the orchestra, had the members stand up to show everyone each instrument to the children when he mentioned them and in turn each section played a piece of music. It was very well done. He was dressed as some kind of green garden nymph and made a lot of bad jokes which the kids (and OK me) really enjoyed and at times had the kids yelling back in response, as though they were at a footy game rather than a concert.
I personally loved watching the conductor, Australian born, Jessica Cottis. She's a tiny slip of a girl who just bounced on her feet the whole time she conducted.
We heard works from Vivaldi, Beethoven, Strauss amongst others but one of my favourite parts of the concert was listening to Nigel read the wonderful novel by Margaret Mahy, The Lion in the Meadow, with the orchestra playing a composition by Christchurch composer, Phillip Norman, which he had written specifically to accompany the book.
This concert tied in perfectly with the work we have being doing with the book, The Story of the Orchestra by Robert Levine.
This is a great book for anyone who would like to educate their children on what makes an orchestra, some composers and musical instruments.
The first half of the book begins with types of music through the ages and has some famous composers in each section. You play the accompanying track on the CD (it says when to in the book) and you hear some of that composers music. The music alone is worth the purchase of the book. The second half of the books talks about the different types of instruments and once again has music to accompany that instrument. It's a very easy to read and an engaging book with appealing pictures.
I think working on this book helped my children enjoy their first orchestra experience so much more than they would have, as they recognised composers names, some of the music and all the instruments etc. They enjoyed it so much they have expressed an interest to go back and see one again, so a very successful introduction to classical orchestral music.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Beware - Blogs can cause feeling of inadequacy!

As a homeschooling Mama I often find myself trolling the Internet for ideas to make the girls learning experiences more fun and varied, rather than rely on boring textbooks (Not all are boring but some can be sooooo mind numbing dull). I follow quite a few blogs, probably too many but we shan't tell my hubby OK.

Now there are some fabulous homeschool blogs out there where you can get some great ideas and even free curriculum printouts and such, but peeps BEWARE! Some of these blogs cause feelings of inadequacy and awe at what these people are doing with their kids.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 working on a biology project

There are days when I can barely remember my kids name so I really don't need to keep reading these blogs on their "perfect homeschool lives".  Latin, geography, math, English, cooking, sewing and science and that's all before morning tea!  Their kids are sewing aprons and knitting blankets which they are donating to the next big cause in between speaking multiple languages ... sigh  When I start to do stuff like this frankly I end up burned out!

Do they not have days when they want to bash their heads against brick walls because they aren't getting through to their kids, or frankly their kids are being right little buggars? Sometimes I wonder if there is too much pressure for homeschoolers to appear perfect because many people think what we are doing is mad and so it gets hard to share frustrations and bad days. I am not sure why because I can promise you teachers and kids have bad days too. 

I find these days I tend to "follow" people who blog who are keeping it real. They share their ups and downs, without being negative Nellies, and they are generous with their knowledge and friendship. These are the blogs I can resonate with. They are not filled with "awards" or advertising or promoting this or that. They are just people going about their business and I love that they take the time to answer each and every comment, even it is simply to say thank you.

So thanks to my bloggy mates who don't make me feel inadequate (cause although I really would love to make my blog look more professional I just don't have the time right now to learn) and often pop over to read what I have been up to, in what I am sure is simply appreciation for me following their blogs cause frankly folks I am not always sure what the heck I am doing or writing about on my own blog!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Aotearoa Region GirlGuides

This term we had a lot of things planned, a month of holidays with the Papa, down the bach (where we can still homeschool early in the mornings or in the afternoons when it's too hot for the beach), and then a month over in Melbourne, Australia with my folks, whilst the poor Papa stayed behind to look after the livestock.

Sitting out on the bach deck playing cards in summer.
As the girls love their GirlGuides and I didn't fancy paying for a full term for the couple of weeks that they could attend, I transferred them to Aotearea Region GirlGuides (formerly Lones in NZ). Aotearoa Region is a section of Guiding for girls who cannot make a weekly unit meeting due to location, the unit currently being full, it's simply it's not on the right night, no transport and so on. Essentially it's like doing GirlGuides by correspondence.

By the way, the word Aotearoa means 'Land of the Long White Cloud' which is what the Maori's called New Zealand way before the before Pakeha (Europeans) settled here.

Working on some badge work

Making  "Biscuit (Ginger) bread Houses"


Making and blowing bubbles

The participants work on their badges at home, they receive either a pack at the beginning of the term, to work on throughout the term, as does the Guide age level, or if they were a Brownie they'd receive a badge to work on every fortnight from one of the Brownie AR leaders (I am one of AR Brownie Leader although on leave until May). The leaders touch base via email or sometimes phone the girls to see how they are doing.

Each AR GirlGuide is assigned to a nearby unit and whenever there is a camp, special activity, or special day, etc. they also receive invites to participate with that group so they are still having new experiences and participating with groups at special events.

Selling GirlGuide biscuits with the local GG unit, in 2014

Whilst they have enjoyed their AR packs, they have very much missed catching up with their friends at the local unit but, what a great opportunity for them to try something new and yet being able to continue working on their badges in their spare time. No "I'm bored, what can I do?" is ever heard around here!

Many other countries also offer a similar alternative to AR Guides (could still be called Lones in your country) so if your child simply can't make one more evening out, or there's no unit (troop) in your area, etc. look into it. The girls still get to go on camps and attend all kinds of fun stuff and earn badges at the same time.

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