Monday, March 31, 2008

Still hanging in there.

Well, I am glad I made the goal to exercise four times a week rather than every day! I started out great guns this week and was really enjoying it. Then I was unwell and seemed to hit a wall for a few days. I had a big energy drain and the focus fell to getting the bare minimum done! But I still managed to loose a bit more weight and I am looking forward to getting back into it tomorrow.

I had wonderful plans of getting back on top of things completely yesterday. I was going to do a full Crisis Clean and get the washing moving through while also doing some tidying up in the garden as we will have a house full next weekend for Christopher's dedication. Well, we got started slow and I was about to make breakfast when a little voice inside me said "go on, make a proper Sunday Brunch like you used to. Jon has been hinting for nearly a month that he'd like it. Go on, do it!" After arguing with said voice for a while I lost the argument and made Brunch while the kids looked at things on the computer with Jon. After we ate Jon wanted to show me something on the computer which ended up with us putting everyone in the car and going for a drive. As I was beating myself up that night about not getting in and cleaning up etc. Jon said to me "I know today wasn't really that productive, but I really needed it! Thanks honey!"

It made me kinda glad I lost the argument with that little voice!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Teaching Erin to Read

Reading has been an adventure with Erin so far. This is a general run down of what we have done. I have read to her from day one - and I do mean day one. "It's Time For Bed" by Mem Fox was her first bedtime story when she was 6 hours old. And we have read almost every day since, several times a day most days. For the joy of it, for the snuggle time, for the conversation, for the quiet closeness and because it is a natural extension of our lives. She sees books spilling off our bedside tables, bookshelves overflowing with makeshift bookshelves made from cardboard boxes all around the house. She sees Beloved and I reading together and to each other. She sees reading as recreation, as fact finding, as worship as we partake of The Word together as a family. It sparks conversation - sometimes passionate - with her and around her. She has spent hours flipping through books on her own.

One day, she just started pointing out letters to me.

I don't know if it was the alphabet books or the educational programs or what. So I started telling her about letters. What their names are and what sound they make. We started talking about "what starts with 'S' Mummy?" and soon it became a few times a day we'd have those conversations as she hounded me to let her in on this secret of reading.

So I bought some "Get Ready For The Code" text books by Nancy Hill.

They aren't bad, Erin has learned from them but I'd probably not use them with Billy if he wants to learn to read at such a young age because there is an equal focus on writing - which Erin is only 'almost' ready for, not champing at the bit to do.

Then we ran out of text book and I have just ordered more. Erin starts recognising names on our 'prayer cards'. The index cards that have names on them of people or things we need to pray for as a family. We draw out one each meal time and include it in out Grace time. She is obviously ready for words!

So I draw out my alphabet 'memory' game and we use the cards to make words. Words that are meaningful to Erin (Mummy, Daddy, Erin, Christopher) and words that follow the consonant-vowel-consonant pattern (cat, bat, pig, pen, jig).

Then we get out the index cards and I write down words that she knows and some conjunctions (on, in, the, at) and we make sentences (The cat sat on the mat. Mummy sat on Erin. Christopher sat on the fat cat on the mat.) Gradually they grow and grow as we add more words. I make nonsense sentences to encourage her to read the actual words rather than just supply words out of her head that she thinks should be there. We draw pictures and make the sentences to match encouraging comprehension rather than just "got that one right, next sentence now!"

And we're still reading! She is starting to pick out words in context as we find print in our environment and I have some easy read books on order from Amazon at the moment. I plan to fill a shelf or two with books she can read on her own and let her experience the deliciousness of choosing a book and READING it all on her own or sharing a story with someone she loves. But always, always, we will continue to read together.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Art of the Crisis Clean

A crisis clean is what you do when the house is in crisis and you have no idea where to start. There is an art to doing this and not getting sidetracked polishing light bulbs (hyper focusing) or yelling at the kids all day because they are under your feet. As this is an art I am continually tweaking and perfecting, but this is how I do it at the moment.

!. Get dressed (PJs are embarrassing when you're sprung at 5pm even if you have worked hard all day in them - take it from one who knows!)

2. Don an apron (it'll bring out your inner Suzie Homemaker, I promise!), start up some suitable music, light a scented candle (putting it out of reach of the children!) and take a big drink of water. Preparation and atmosphere are key! We will get to the cleaning soon.

3. Set the children doing a task or activity. I can only have one shadow or assistant when on a crisis clean so at least two need to be occupied. It is much easier to say "go back to XXXX now, I will be with you later" than just "go and play, I'm busy!!" My activity short list is: mat time, table activity (drawing, puzzles etc), reading, resting, DVD.

Now for the cleaning! Trust me, the ten minutes prep time will be worth it.

4. Put toilet cleaner in all the toilets and spray the bath, shower and vanity with cleaner and leave.

5. Set the washing machine(s) going. Try and put in towels etc which won't mind sitting wet for an hour.

6. Do the dishes, put tea in the crock pot and shine sink (just like Fly Lady!) and quickly wipe benches. Trust me, taking the time to put tea on is worth it.

7. Now get the kids involved. Do a 15 minute lounge room pick up together then vacuum while the kids dust (run about with dusters 'helping' Mummy)

8. Give them all big kisses and hugs for being SUCH great helps and give them another activity as a 'reward'

9. Wipe down the bathroom and finish cleaning the toilets

10. Clean the bathroom floor and take the bathroom rubbish out to the back door.

11. Reboot the washing machine(s) and leave the wet washing in baskets for now.

12. Clean the kitchen and dining room floors

13. Check the guest beds if you are expecting visitors

14. Do a quick vacuum of the rest of the house. We are talking middle of the room swipe, not a detailed clean.

15. Take the kids outside to play while you hang out the washing telling them how great they are to have played quietly while Mummy was busy! (or take a picnic rug out for those who DIDN'T play quietly to practice sitting quietly while the others play). Take out the rubbish and kitchen scrap bins when you go and don't forget to blow your candle out! You don't want to burn down your good work.

16. Walk in the house and look at it with new eyes. Don't focus on the mess that's left, mentally compare it to how it was before you started. Do the odd tweak if it's needed but don't get sidetracked yet.

17. Unload dishwasher

18. Put your feet up and read to your children

Cue Beloved walking in the door to a sparkling house (compared to when he left anyway!) that smells AMAZING thanks to the candle and the crock pot! The kids are calm and happy and want to tell him all about how they 'helped Mummy' and you are sitting down relaxed. He is so impressed he even offers to give you a back rub that night (OK, I made that last bit up, but it'd be nice hey?!). It won't be perfect, but the smell actually fools the brain into thinking it is and I am not above the odd illusion. Plus all the essentials are done. I know people who can do this in two hours, it usually takes me AT LEAST all day. In fact, last time I crisis cleaned, I had to leave out the quick vacuum. I think that is a mark of just how bad it got. But Beloved was VERY impressed when he got home anyway and I would have been happy to have visitors over for tea that night.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

From the mouth of Erin

This morning I said to Christopher "I'll just put a bib on you son. I don't want to have to rub chuckle (pet name for baby vomit) out of your nice wool jumper!"

Erin chimes in with "Yes, especially after those blue sheep worked so hard to make it Christopher!"

Yes, the jumper was blue LOL

May I recommend checking out the beautiful Pleasant View Schoolhouse blog. She had a lovely easter post this Monday with some brilliant photography of her children. It's one of the most artistic blogs I've seen!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Well I've been sticking with the exercise challenge and I have to admit, a ten pound baby wrecks havoc on your abdominal muscles from the inside!! I am really feeling the Pilates work out and I am DETERMINED to keep at it!

is talking NON-STOP. The other day, she tripped, fell head first into a garden bed, turned a somersault and stood up without even taking a breath or changing topic of conversation. The scary thing is, I have NO IDEA what she was talking about or who! A terrible case of the verbal runs me-thinks (otherwise known and 3.5-year-old-itis!!). There are times she simply asks silly questions to engage me in conversation (a trick she's been doing for a while now). I can be juggling 5 things all at once and dealing with a crisis and Erin will ask in a dreamy voice "what colour is the sky Mummy?" While looking out the window at the BLUE sky! More than once she has caught the sharp end of my tongue (I'm trying for slow, soft, scant, suitable speech but I ain't there yet!). I've been trying to take a breath and reply "Answer that question with your EYES Erin, not all questions have to come through your mouth." or "Look at my eyes and my hands. Do they look like the eyes and hands of someone who can answer that type of question, or the eyes and hands of a busy person? Keep that question for later." I am trying to teach HER the value of weighing her words before speaking (a skill her mother is still learning) and how to tell when someone can't listen to you right that minute. Limited success so far, but I'll let you know how it goes. Lucky she's adorable.

after briefly rallying at the start of last week, he got so sick we canceled our going away plans and took him to the Dr to be checked out for pneumonia (all clear and he perked up the minute we got to the waiting room after crying for three days before I took him!!). I've allotted some of the blame for the sleepless nights and crabby days to the two year old molar making it's way out of the top right back of his jaw. He's still quite clingy and loves his bed much more than a kid his age actually should, but I'm not sure how much of that is recovery, and how much personality! He's always been a bit of a mama's boy (yes, guilty, I cultivated it!) and he has been actively asking for bed at bed times for - oh - almost a year now! He has a love of order and today after I changed the boy's nappies (disposable seeing as it's been raining for days and I had no clean dry nappy covers) he went to the kitchen, got me a plastic bag to put the dirty nappies in, then waited at the door to direct me out to where they go. He also talks his way through the bed time routine (Teeth, nappy, curtains, BED!). The other day we were cleaning up the toys and I found myself sitting watching TV while he cleaned up the toys - guess where Erin gets her distract-ability from?

is going at full steam - backwards! This works well until he gets stuck under something (usually a couch or my sewing desk) when he yells until I get him out. He is also actively working on teeth - I think! Drool and lots of chewing anyway. He is still the happiest baby in the world. He spends about 60% of his awake time in my arms just because I love holding him! Fortunately, he doesn't seem to mind being squashed under his siblings or having food dropped on him (he has tasted it once or twice!). Billy is still his favourite person to look at of all time and he rarely fails to get a big, wide open mouth grin. Billy, however, gives a dummy spit if Christopher touches him unasked. If a foot touches Billy I get "MUUUUMMM!!! Kicked!! KICKED!!! Fa (Christopher) KICKED!!!" I have a sneaking suspicion that Christopher has made the link and does it on purpose because it rarely fails to bring peals of laughter from Christopher!!

The house:
was in need of a crisis clean which we did yesterday so now it is somewhere near in order. Much of the mess was because I have been completely A-motivated lately. It started off with the kids waking in the night, which meant I'd get my second wind and actually start doing things after they were asleep (not a good time to Vacuum). I'd then get stuck on the computer or doing something else completely un-housewife-y and stay up until 1 or 2 am then stumble through the next day, only to get my second wind after the kids were in bed....... Am trying to reset the internal clock now! I have sorted all the kids outgrown clothes into special tubs and organised them all according to size and gender. Yes, we were sticking to the kitchen floor but the clothes are ORGANISED!

The garden:
has been watered non stop for the last few days, but it is mostly weeded except for the green house and is reasonably tidy. I have dreams of getting in and doing millions of things, but we're looking at blocks of land and it's all together possible we could be only a few months away from moving - so we need to save every penny and I have to ask myself, is it worth the time and effort?

I have almost finished my satin PJ pants, I did the cuffs of a pair of Red cord pants for Billy today (they were for Erin, but I never finished them) and mended a nightie I have had on the mending pile for AGES! I found the pattern for a cross stitch that I've wanted to do for about 4 years and have plans of getting the thread I need very soon. I've also been taking a step back from some patch work I've been working on (my first ever) to re-evaluate what I wanted to do with it and occasionally picking up knitting.

Baby needs feeding now!!


preview image
Lilypie Baby Ticker

Lilypie Baby Ticker

Monday, March 24, 2008

First Exercise Post

Well, I have actually done surprisingly well (so far!). While I haven't exercised strictly every second day, I have exercised 3 out of the last 5. I dug out my Pilates video tapes (yes, video, that is how old they are!) and I am feeling the difference already. Plus Jon and I bought an exercise bike yesterday! I am going to alter my aim to exercise 30 minutes 4 times a week. I think that should be achievable. I was a little surprised to find 2kg gone when I got on the scales this morning - seems the exercise even managed to counter balance hot cross buns and easter eggs!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Christopher's Birth Day

I've got around to doing some Digi-scrapping! Here's one of Christopher cutting his "Birth Day " cake! We had a 0 shaped candle. Click to see the whole thing. It isn't my best, a quick slap together job, but I enjoyed remembering that day!


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sharpening the saw

Isn't she divine???? I found the pattern free on the "Lion Yarn" website and fell in love with her! Crochet is now in my "must learn to do" pile!! I figure I will get some free time to do that in about - ohhhhh - 18 years!!

Seriously though, sitting in my craft room actually accomplishing something that I can SEE has done wonders for my state of mind. So much of what I am working toward is unseen and there are days if I wonder if I am getting anywhere. I have found making something with my hands is good therapy and worth MAKING time for.

It is part of the whole "sharpening the saw" theory that Stephen Covey talks about in the "7 habits" books. In a nutshell, if you stop regularly to sharpen your saw, you will cut down the tree in half the time it would take you frantically working non-stop. If you take the time to take care of yourself you will work more efficiently.

For me, some of what sharpens my saw is Bible reading, taking a bit of time for a good book, a hot bath alone after the kids are in bed, gardening, making something with my hands, singing (for my pleasure or the children alone, my voice is such that the angels may rejoice at the sounds of praises, but I am sure they are looking forward to giving me a tune up in heaven!), kneading dough, taking a walk, spending time on the computer and prayer, lots of prayer! All of these things, except for the bath, can actually be done with one or more of the children around me.

Susanna Wesley would pray in her kitchen amongst her family (she had 19 children, 9 of whom survived to adulthood) with her apron thrown up over her head to indicate to the children "Do Not Disturb!". Women through the generations took the regular household chores of sewing, quilting, crochet, knitting and cooking and turned them into an art while still providing the family with warmth and care. I am perfecting the art of "me time" in a crowded room and blooming where I am planted. I am a lover of solitude and do enjoy (and crave!) alone time, but I do not restrict enjoying myself and refueling to those rare moments!

Top Tips for Refueling through the day:

* Make a list of what soothes your soul (knitting? Jazzercise??? wearing funny hats???) and try and work one into your day or week (pick one out of a hat? have a rotating list?)

* make Grace at meal times a REAL prayer time, not just a muttered habit. Consult a family prayer list and make the prayers mean something.

* when teaching the children scripture or reading it to them, listen to it and let it work on your heart.

* Stash Bibles and good books and uplifting magazines around the house. Read a bit on the loo, in the laundry, in the kitchen etc.

* have a craft bag of some sort that you can put beside your chair in the lounge room or take with you outside. I've always done this with my knitting and I have never had a child injure themselves or damage a project.

* create a "refuel" basket with your Bible and Bible study materials or something else that nurtures your heart, mind or body so you can quickly grab it to use outside as you watch the kids play on the grass.

* Laugh a lot!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Please mute the music at the side bar.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Homeschooling and the pre-schooler

There are as many approaches to homeschooling and methods and styles as there are homes that school their children! Here are eight random points of our personal style of schooling the children. This will change and evolve as the children grow older and we learn more and try different things, but this is where we are at the moment.

We prioritize the children's learning.

Our first priority is teaching them to love the Lord. A great emphasis is placed on going forth out into the world to spread the gospel - but it has to start at home! We testify to our children, we pray with them, we read the Bible with them and we pray for them. We try to demonstrate God's love for them loving them to bits! And we try to demonstrate His justice by being fair and consistent. Our greatest desire for them is to know the Lord above all else.

Our second 'priority' is teaching them how to relate to others - that they may one day spread the gospel. This includes (for example) speaking clearly and politely (and loudly for the hard of hearing - like their parents!); using appropriate manners (saying please and thank-you, table manners etc.); asking politely and graciously accepting the answer (even if it's a no); respecting other people's possessions and homes; showing proper respect for elders and authority figures; obeying laws (house rules!). If this is not happening, we will suspend 'school' activities and concentrate on this!

Our third priority is teaching them to take care of self. This is getting dressed, cleaning the house, hygiene, chores, care and maintenance of their own and the family's possessions (stewardship) and later in life, money management and budgeting. In our opinion, it is cruel to raise an adult who can calculate pi to the 24562nd digit in their head - but can't run a washing machine!

Then it is school. Learning everything else the world has to offer!! How exciting!!!!! We are less rigid with our priorities from here. We want them to have the foundational skills to learning (reading, basic math etc) so that they have the tools to learn anything they want. From there, they sky is the limit!

Provide a rich learning environment and model a passion for Lord, love, learning and literature.

Our home is saturated with learning. We open the Bible daily as a family. We discuss and apply scripture, literature, current events etc. It is not uncommon for us to get the atlas out after tea and find on the map where pasta or burritos originate. Erin wanted to learn to read because she saw us reading and writing EVERY DAY and wanted to get in on the action. She wants to learn about cars and tools because Daddy is excited about it. She wants to learn about cooking because she 'helps' me and hears me talk about activating yeast, 1/2 cups, grams and milliliters. A lot of what we talk about is way over the kid's heads, but we don't talk in babble or two word sentences to a baby learning to talk - why should we discuss only what a child knows and understands in their presence?

Embrace teachable moments were possible.

When one of the kids shows an interest in something, we try to take a moment to teach them about it. It's not unusual to find Jon and Billy taking something apart to see how it works. When Erin started carrying around a book on anatomy we read it to her and made sure she got a Dr's kit (which still sees daily use over seven months later!). We don't wait to tell them about things when they are older or when the curriculum gets to it. We give them the tools to follow their passions and endeavor to cultivate a passion for the things we want to teach them.

Don't push "school" on a young child before they are ready.

Yes, Erin is learning to read at age 3 1/2. Yes, we use a fairly conventional method. I would have been quite happy, however, to wait until age six or seven if she hadn't displayed a desire to learn to read and "reading readyness".

"Reading readyness" includes:
- the ability to speak reasonably clearly so those outside the family can understand easily. A preschooler who cannot speak clearly is not, in my opinion, ready to sound out words.
- the ability to sit for a story of reasonable length and discuss the story with understanding
- able to interpret and discuss illustrations (eg. pointing to a picture and saying "that is a dog, it's chasing a ball")
- able to identify some, if not all, letters
- Shows an open curiosity and enthusiasm for words, reading, stories and books.

If you want your preschooler to learn to read and they aren't doing these things, read to them three books a day with enthusiasm and love. Choose books which will expand their minds and vocabularies. Beatrix Potter, Pamela Allen, Mem Fox, Shirley Hughes, Lynley Dodd, Dr. Seuss, Bruce Whatley, Jackie French, Dick Bruna.... are brilliant authors! If you are really stuck, read Dorothy Butler's book "Babies Need Books" for some fantastic suggestions! Even if all you read is the Bible, if you do it with love, passion and excitement DAILY, you will light their fire. If you sit them in front of a phonics program without that fire in their bellies, you are doing their learning the worst disservice you can imagine.

Keep lessons short.

If you keep going 'till they get bored, you create the habit of stopping when they are bored. If you keep going AFTER they are bored, you create the habit of being bored when doing school work. This habit has been well instilled in most children by high school, you can see it by the way their eyes glaze over when the school bell rings! Ten minutes, twenty at an ABSOLUTE most, is plenty on any given activity. This creates the habit of paying attention and working diligently. If they experience success, you can leave them wanting more (Erin hammers me almost daily to do more school work!). If the session does not turn out as you planned, you can pack up and do it another day without grinding associations of frustration, tears and disapproval into your young student. Teaching at this age is as much about teaching an attitude to learning and academics as it is about teaching ABC's. Your plans for teaching are there to serve your child and your teaching, NOT the other way around!

Teaching is about equipping our children for the world - not party tricks.

A five year old who can name every country in the world, or every prime minister, or say their ABC's backward without any understanding of what they are saying has not learned anything that equips them for the world. They aren't much more than performing monkeys! Now, that is not to say Party tricks are evil, Erin actually has a few of them. But they do not take up the bulk of our teaching time. Erin can't say the alphabet faultlessly. She can name all the letters, tell you their sounds and is reading some words - but only started learning the alphabet when she asked me to teach her. Why? Because the only time you use the alphabet in the world is when you are putting something in alphabetical order, something she is not cognitively able to do yet. Before spending time and energy teaching Erin something, I ask myself what REAL benefit it has to her life.

Memorizing something should be as much about writing on the heart of the child as teaching them to say the words - if not more so.

Their are children who can rattle off Psalm 119, but when you ask them "what is a 'statute'?" they look at you blankly. This is pointless jabbering in my opinion. Erin memorises scripture and can quote more scripture at 3 than I could at 13, but it is also used as a platform for discussing what scripture MEANS. For example, Erin memorised "The Lord is good! His love endures forever. His faithfulness lasts for all generations." When we first introduced this scripture, she and I ran on the spot until we got puffed out. I then told her that God's love endures forever, that means it NEVER gets puffed out, NEVER gets tired and NEVER gives up! We then talked about generations. We talked about great-grandparents, grandparents, parents and kids and how God is faithful to ALL of them. We talked about this every time we repeated the scripture and eventually she would put into her own words what it means to her. Genisis 1:1 led to discussions on "beginning " and "created", John 3:16 set us talking about "eternal" and added "whosoever" to our vocab. It has been prophisied that our children will ask questions (“When your children ask their fathers in the time to come, saying, ‘What…?’” Joshua 4:21), we need to encourage it, not quash it. Teaching Erin challenges my own understanding of the verses and so each one is chosen prayerfully and I ALWAYS learn something. This is one of my favourite parts of parenting! (There is a great Blog about kids asking questions on Holy Experience)

Don't underestimate a child's potential for understanding.

We do this all the time in this society. Let them have a go, explain it in real terms using the proper terms, read a book or article to them about it stopping to explain and define the terms used, ask THEIR opinion. I guarantee they'll surprise you! Billy sure did when he identified Russia on the map!! (yes, total party trick in terms of geography, BUT it showed he can memorise and recognise non-geometric shapes! Not something I thought he was ready for.) Take them seriously, kids are people too!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Exercise Challenge

I have joined an internet exercise challenge and will be posting updates on Mondays. I saw a photo of myself the other day and let's just say I am twice the woman I want to be! Most of all I need to get in shape to take care of my babies well.

So here we go, the goal I am setting is 30 minutes every second day (I want to say daily, but I need to be realistic here!)

Moms of Many Exercise Challenge

PS Thought for the day: Measure what you have by what the rich have, and you will be bitter. Measure what you have by what the poor have, and you will be arrogant. Measure what you have by what you honestly deserve - taking into account every sinful action and thought - and you will be humbled and blessed.

Monday, March 17, 2008


It is HOT here today! Here's what we got up to:

And it is meant to be autumn!

is doing beautifully. She is thriving at the moment with a slight change to the way we've been homeschooling. I've included more of me sitting down and modeling a task. This gives her the confidence to have a go and try different techniques without me being overly directive about what she is doing. Erin has always been hesitant to try new things if she thinks there is a possibility of 'failure' or unless she understands blow-by-blow how to do it. I am trying to encourage her to take risks and sitting down and taking small risks in front of her seems to be working wonders (even if that risk is simply trying to draw a preying mantis and having it turn out....well, it looked kinda 'insect-y' I guess!). I've noticed it spilling over into her play with her trying new and different things with her own games rather than simply sub-contracting (i.e. getting Billy to try it first!)

is unbelievably grown up. He has been practicing his acrobatics on me of late. Often when I am changing Christopher's nappy he will climb up me and stand on my shoulders. There is the odd tumble but more often than not he is quite steady indeed! He made me laugh tonight when he put aside his not-quite-finished dessert and said "bed." and pulled off his bib. He loves the quiet and solitude of bed sometimes I think! He is making attempts at counting which is quite cute. He walks around saying "two, fwee, four, FIIIIIVE!" Try as we may, we cannot get him to say one!

is still excema free! Yay! We had colds last week (I think our immune systems were still down from all the illness we've been having) and Christopher got a slight cough. It kept him -and me - awake a few nights last week. It seems to be settling down though. He is now rolling quite well from back to tummy and tummy to back. It happened all at once last week. He seems to have lost interest again over the last few days and is very focussed on getting himself up and crawling! The baby moments pass so fast! Here's a quick pic of him outside on his rug. He does seem to be developing a habit of spitting the dummy and sucking his left index and middle fingers. We will see where that takes us!

The house:
is getting back on track after ANOTHER bout of illness. I am very close to putting us all on vegetables and water and herbal supplements just to cleanse us all out if this doesn't sort itself out soon. I have been a mad washer woman the last 48 hours taking advantage of the warm weather.

The garden:
yesterday I got stuck in to the horrible oyster plant growing near the garage door. It is an awful spiky thing and badly needed cutting back. I also weeded some of the front garden. I am planning on getting a truck load of mulch.

I did some! I made a skirt for Erin's doll with Erin and did some more on a pair of satan PJ pants for me. I have also been knitting and cross stitching. I have made a specific day for craft and it really gets the creative juices flowing for the rest of the week.


preview image
Lilypie Baby Ticker

Lilypie Baby Ticker

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Today's Art!

Today Erin and I drew together. We read a book that we both love (God's Wisdom For Little Girls by Elizabeth George) and she chose a specific page to look at together. The pictures are beautiful in this book and highly detailed so we chose one specific element to draw - the red teapot. So we drew together! My major aim was to encourage Erin to look at detail in illustrations and practise her pencil skills etc. I did the activity in order to model it to her. I had a ball! A few minutes in we were scribbling madly and chatting about colour, shading ('why are you scratching at the picture like that Mummy?'), teapots, shape, texture and showing Daddy our pictures!

Homeschooling at it's best, where I learn even more than she does!

The whole activity probably took about 20 minutes which is just right for a tired Mummy and a 3 1/2 year old girl's attention span. I do not really believe strapping children to chairs for hours makes them learn any better!

Here they are, the finished products:

This is actually Erin's second attempt. Her first was rather yellow and blue and zig zag shaped to be a red teapot but it was entirely her own decision to do over, part of the reason I was modeling the task. To be honest, even if she had stuck with the yellow and blue zig zag version it would have been a worth while activity. I am ridiculously proud of my teapot!

Oh, and while I am on the subject of homeschooling, I just want to recommend an article on Socialization that I just read. It articulates beautifully many of my beliefs on this subject!

Compassion in action

This morning I put a CD of nursery rhymes on for the kids to dance to while I put some clothes on (we were a bit slow to get moving and Mama's PJ's hang around for a while on those days!)

Billy came rushing to the bedroom obviously distressed repeating "Bed, bed!"

I followed him back to where the CD was playing to hear "There were ten in the bed..." playing.

He pointed to the CD player and said, in worried tones, "Fell OUT Mama!!"

Well, what was it I was saying about compassion?


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"If you could instill in your children just one quality/characteristic (i.e. compassion, honesty, integrity, etc.)what would it be, and why?"

This question was posed on the "larger families" blog that I read. I've been thinking about it today, trying to narrow it down. My strongest, daily (several times a day actually) prayer is that my children will come to know Jesus on a personal level, but I don't know if that can be described as a character trait - more a relationship. There is so much I want to instill into my children. Respect for others, work ethic and attention to detail top the list, as do honesty, contentment, love of learning and a joyful spirit.

However, I have to say that compassion does top the list as a trait I wish to instill into my children.

Why? Because all other positive character traits hinge on this one attribute.

A person with compassion will not lie, cheat or steal. To do so would be like committing those acts against self, for someone with true compassion.

A person with a truly compassionate heart will defend the weak - but they will also have a heart for the bullies and thugs of this world and seek true justice for the sake of those who abuse as much as for those they abuse. Imagine the impact on society if all had this attitude.

A compassionate heart seeks wisdom and knowledge in order to positively touch more lives and care better for those in their care.

We sometimes see compassion as this warm, fuzzy trait. An attribute to be painted in pastels, the domain of Mummies bandaging scraped knees.

In truth, compassion can be an intense heat - one that sets the world on fire.

Compassion motivated Ghandi to protest in a way the world had never seen.

Compassion spured on Mother Teresa to transform the way people saw the unloved.

Compassion pushed Florence Nightingale to defy the culture of her times and start a revolution in the care of the sick.

Amy Carmichael freed child prostitutes from the temples, David Livingston stood against slavery, William Booth feed and preached to the unwanted and unloved.... the list goes on, and all were motivated by compassion.

But perhaps the greatest reason I want my children to have compassion, is because from compassion comes love. And the only thing greater than being loved, is to love another.

This I learned from them.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Well it's been a rather full day today. In fact, it's been a rather full week!

was THRILLED today to ride on her favorite steam powered carousel at the Heritage Farm Machinery Expo. She also rode it last year at the craft fair. The horses are all hand painted with their own names across their necks. Erin is certainly her Father's daughter. The whole time we were riding she was examining the workings to see how it worked and when we got off she got down on her hands and knees to look underneath. She was also thrilled to ride on a vintage, restored, horse-drawn manure spreader! I was very surprised actually as she jumped up quite happily and went for a saunter around on it without so much as a backward glance. She even "drove" for a bit! The animal nursery was also a hit with the Springer Spaniel puppies being the favorite. Erin has also begun reading this week. I noticed that she has begun to recognise some words on her own so we wrote some words that she knows and a few others that would be easy to sound out (cat, sat, mat etc.) on index cards. We then made sentences and read them and drew a few pictures of them ("The bat sat on Mummy" being one of the funnier ones!). We had a ball! She is now recognising even more words and is loving being able to read herself.

is also florishing. The ducks were his personal favourite thing at the expo; closely followed by the tractors! He was quite distressed when he saw some rubber ducks being used in a display of a haritage pump. They were being swirled around in the tank and dunked under and he was quite concerned about their welfare! We had to explain to him that they liked the water LOL He was such a good boy spending most of his time in the pram being pushed around the different exhibits. He was pretty good for the most part. Yesterday when we went to church, Pauline, who teaches the children's Sabbath School, bought her new puppy with her. Billy was THRILLED! It took a bit of effort to teach him that squealing at the puppy would scare her, but he was getting there. We have made a bit of progress with the "grizzle" habit he'd picked up again. Jon has been making huge efforts to spend some "man-to-man" time with him and it really shows in Billy's behaviour overall.

is now excema free!! After a couple of months of putting off taking him to the doctor I finally took him last Tuesday. The cream she prescribed worked a charm and he was smooth and soft by Thursday! I now have a maintenance plan to keep it at bay and guess what? HE'S SLEEPING THROUGH AGAIN! Yay!! I have my happy baby back. He is determined to crawl rather than roll. He has proven he can roll from his tummy to his back but refuses to do it on a regular basis. He prefers to get Erin to roll him over. Don't ask me how he manages to get her to do it, but he does. We are having his dedication on the first Saturday in April at 11am. I will get around to calling everyone soon.

The house:
is pretty much on track after a weeks worth of throrough cleaning - although the laundry is still breeding a bit! I actually had time (made time?) to sew this week. Yay!

The garden:
WEEDS! I need to get out there.


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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

making time and taking time

It takes me twice as long to do anything with the children around.

Today, Billy and I were putting laundry away. As he passed each item out of the basket to me he managed to unfold most of what I had painstakingly folded the night before. I could have sent him away. I could have popped him on a blanket with a toy and told him to play quietly until I was done. He would have sat there, he would have gone away if I had asked him and he could have waited until I was finished the housework. I would have finished in half the time. But I would have achieved a tenth of what I did this morning.

You see, as my son handed me each item in his, bumbling, toddler way, as I put each item carefully away I was doing laundry but I was also building. I was building a relationship with my son. I was teaching him that I enjoy his company as we giggled together, I was teaching him that his efforts of help and kindness would be accepted and applauded, I was teaching him that he could get my attention without whinging and grizzling at me or breaking the rules. I was also building my boy into a man. He was learning work ethic. He was learning to care for, maintain and organise clothing. He was learning that work is simply a part of life and if we all pitch in it is a lot more fun! He didn't walk away a man, but that time built a little more foundation for his future manhood.

If I had sent him away, I would have finished in half the time and probably had time to catch up on the kitchen organisation or the laundry that slipped while we weren't well. Beloved could have come home to a spotless home if I had parked his children in front of a DVD (wholesome and educational of course). If I had sent him away, a visitor could have stopped by and I could have invited them to sit in my spotless kitchen and shooed the children away to their games while I basked in their praise of my stellar housekeeping.

But instead, I chose to keep him by me and involve him.

I chose to build my household, not tear it down in favour of a shiny house (prov. 14:1)

I chose to build something eternal rather than polish a house that will one day be dust (Luke 12:22-34)

I chose to do that which is better (Luke 10:38-42)

I chose to bend the twig that will one day be a mighty tree (Prov 22:6)

So, it takes me twice as long to do anything with the children around - but I achieve ten times as much.

So down to the practical. All this is great in theory, but how do you do it?

Here are my top ten hints:

1. Where is your heart? If you are seeking other people's approval, measure that against the price you are paying. Is a spotless house worth palming your kids off and missing a million teaching opportunities? Is someone who would sniff at dirty dishes on the bench really someone you want to impress?

2. Is your relationship with your child(ren) priority? I read a great article about that earlier tonight actually I highly recommend you follow this link and download the first article in this list, 'Making Relationships with Your Children Priority' .

3 Do you have functional routines? It is a whole lot easier to put something off until later if there is actually an organised LATER! It is easier to make time for your children when the household is running smoothly.

4. Abolish the words "When I finish this I will...", "When the baby is sleeping through..", "Once we have finished this project...", "When they get older I will....", and all other excuses to put off building a relationship with your children. There is no excuse for neglecting the heart of a child (Matthew 18:6).

5. Are your expectations realistic? I always plan 48 hours worth of work for every day! I have had to learn to relax, let go and prioritise. If it does not directly affect the health, wellbeing and eternal welfare of my family, I can let it go!

6. Do you micro-manage? This is a very bad habit that is the downfall of many a homemaker! I have seen people re-fold socks because they weren't done right. Doing this to a child is like planting a seed then digging it up every day to see if it is growing! Teach a child to do a job (with CLEAR goals and requirements), set up their accountability (make an appointment to check it with them so they can show off to you or confess freely and ask for help - much more of a relationship builder than nagging and surprise inspections!), then let them do it THEIR WAY! This means biting your tongue and letting them make mistakes. Who knows, they may even find a better way to do it and YOU can learn something from THEM! And quit nagging the husband and telling him how to do his job of husband and Father (prov. 21:9,19) you'd be amazed how much time this frees up! LOL Godly submission is a real time saver.

7. Are you doing FOR or doing WITH? Many a tired Mama burns out doing a million things FOR their children and their sacrifice is barely noticed. Cupcakes baked WITH Mum are twice as sweet as those that appear on the plate! A child will appreciate your time and attention more than any other gift.

8. Reflect on your child's day from their point of view. What do you think they enjoyed? What do you think they learned? Kids do not need to be having a barrel of laughs every waking hour. This would give a rather skewed view of life! But the times they were sat down with a toy, was it a time for them to learn? Was it a time for them to enjoy peace, stay safe and/or learn obedience? Or were they just pushed aside so you could finish your task?

9. Have time assigned each day to sit with your children and let nothing encroach upon it. Don't be over ambitious. You are more likely to keep a ten minute commitment each day after breakfast than an hour of story reading after lunch each day. In our household, it doesn't matter WHAT needs cleaning, we find a clear spot to sit for songs and prayers each day. We rarely get up without a song, prayer, hug, smile and laugh to start the day.

10. Find your knees. Without a relationship with the Lord above, no relationship will flourish.

Invest in your children and it will be an eternal investment. Spend time teaching them in those vital early years and you will set them up for life. Trust them and adore them and be their biggest fan.

Remember, babies don't keep.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


It has taken me a while to get to this update as we have had a bit 0f sickness in the house and, well, I also had a big stack of novels that were crying out to be read!

fell ill the day after I wrote the post below. Couldn't even hold down water for 24 hours the poor love! She managed to bounce back by about Monday though. Today she is sporting a swollen, bruised lip from rapid contact made with a toy box when she was dancing this morning! She has been very patient and helpful over the past week or so. She has also done a bit of cooking. She is getting quite adept and loves spending the time with Mum doing such clever (and yummy!) stuff.

managed to avoid getting Erin's bug but he did have a nasty cold that lasted about a week. He had become addicted to the television and often plaintively pleads "D-D!! D-D!!" (DVD) so we are going cold turkey this week and not having any daytime tv. I'd much rather him hassle me to read to him!

is rolling over from his tummy to his back at times but seems far more interested in crawling. He has perfected the "plow" position (head down, bum up, peddle the legs like crazy in hope of getting somewhere!). I have my suspicions that once he gets his arms sorted out little if anything is going to be safe! He is in competition with his brother for title of "loudest in the house" now as he is singing, talking and yelling most of the time he is awake! He is going to the Dr. about his skin on Tuesday as he is still very itchy and it is spreading to his body. If he manages to de-mitten himself he ends up a bloody mess during the night.

The house:
is still recovering. I was out of commission this week a bit and the washing generated by a three year old with a tummy upset is rather huge! As a consequence I am behind in nearly everything, but still took the day off on Tuesday to play on the floor with the kids for most of it (OK, I also spent a lot of time reading by book, I confess!)

Tomatoes, apples and weeds in abundance.


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