*apologies in advance, blogger is being a fascist about formatting with pictures again *sigh*

Yesterday we visited the In Laws, and MIL and her sister (up visiting from Victoria) whisked the boys away to their swim class.  They returned with roast chooks (that's chickens for you non aussies lol) and rolls for lunch, and with the announcement that Tuesday lunch time or so, they would be arrived to abscond with all three of my little guys until sometime Wednesday afternoon!   We knew they planned on having the older two for the night, but they are taking Merry along for the fun as well it seems.  So... for the first time in a very VERY long time... dh and I shall be without children for a FULL 24hours! 

This brings up a very important question... what on earth will we do with ourselves??   I barely know how to even plan a day that doesn't include some child centred activities, a poopy bottom or two, and a whole lotta whinging! LOL   So, to see that I don't waste this rare as hens teeth opportunity, I have started organizing my plan of attack in advance ;)

 I think that this 24hour period shall find me doing a bit of cleaning, oddly enough, so that I can enjoy a nearly 2 full day period where my house stays clean longer then 15minutes after I finish cleaning it!   With 3 small boys, this never, ever, happens *sigh*.

And maybe I shall do a bit of this, as well.    And I will not feel bad that I'm not paying attention to anyway, nor will I be reading aloud anything that children would be interested in.  As a matter of fact... I may go out to the shops, and have a....


... posh iced coffee, from my very favourite place.  Then I might head to the nearby book shop and pick up a copy of Diana Gabaldon's new book.  It's historical 'lite' smut.. I love her books :)  And certain parts of them, at least, are most definitely the opposite of read alouds for boys lol! 

Then Tuesday night, hubby and I are going to avail ourselves of a Sizzler gift card that he very cleverly won from a local radio station a while back ;) It's not 'fancy', but it's a dinner out, sans kids... and FREE!  We wont' be out late of course, because hubby has to get up at 430am to head out for work.


 While *I*, on the other hand, will be doing THIS.  I plan to sleep just absurdly late on Wednesday morning... as there will be no boys bickering over who gets the first toast, or what goes on it.  There will be no racing up and down the hall squeeling and giggling, nor watching abc kids WAY too loud.  And there will be no toddler sticking to me in the too warm early morning hours, and then weeing our bed (thank the gods for waterproof sheets!).  

For just one morning,  this will be ok.  Then I'll lay in bed, wondering what to do? Probably hang out some laundry.. maybe have a cuppa on the veranda if it's not stinkin hot out.. and wonder.. when are they coming home?  

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So I know at least one blogger who's going to make assertions about my mental health being questionable for this... but we have put up our holiday tree!   The day before Thanksgiving I just couldnt' resist any more... that will give me 30 days of enjoyment (insanity?) before the big day arrives.  

I have a huge soft spot in my heart for my christmas tree ... it was a lifelong tradition of my mama's.  The family made a trip to the tree farm and spent ages picking the perfect tree, then step dad spent an absurd amount of time putting the lights on just so, then mama did garlands and bows before we were turned loose to hang our special ornaments on the tree.   It was always great... we often strung popcorn too, eating as much as we strung of course lol.

These days, I'm not quite so traditional ;)  But I still love my tree.  Our tree is rather unusual in that it's black.  I saw it last year and HAD to have it... and then ended up having my family emergency and was in the US the entire holiday season and never saw the tree lol.  Ah well, there were more important things to tend to!   This year I'm making up for lost time.. 

Frodo and Sam were very excited about the whole thing, as kids always are.   We have jewel toned decorations, including things like snowflakes and cut 'crystals' that the boys love.  And up high, there is a butterfly for Susan... who was my oldest sons love, and died in the accident they were in this time last year.  She had a huge love of butterfly's and had been decorating their tree at home full of them.  I saw them at the shop and had to hold back tears as I gave them to hubby to put in the trolley.  I never met her, but she was a beautiful girl and I really wanted to do something to remember her.

 We used to have a star on top of our tree, then a santa for a few years... this year I found a Faery tree topper and just fell in love with her.  She's adorable, and nigh impossible to get a decent photo of it appears *grumble*  So here is a slightly blurry one, which is the best I can do!  


And last but not least.. one very cozy rat!  This is 'Bitty' (his litter mate is, of course, Itty), FINALLY testing out the very comfy pocket hammock we got for the boys.  He seemed pretty comfy in there, but being summer here, he won't be getting much use out of it for several months yet.  Pardon the extraneous ratty 'raisin' or two in the pic, SOMEONE was being lazy about using the litter box that day apparently LOL.  


We have gotten zero done this week and I'd like a do over, thank you.  Sunday night Frodo was up with a fever & nausea completely out of the blue.  Made for a long day Monday that's for sure.  Oh I lied, he wanted to do a review page of his math so he did that on his own while mum was a zombie.

Tuesday... had grand plans for the day, until Frodo had a lapse of judgement and caused his head to make contact with ceiling fan blades (that were, as Murphy would have it, on HIGH speed).  This caused an urgent trip to the GP's office where the very nice doc checked him over, steri stripped the 2inch long gash in his forehead closed and gave me the requisite head injury 'to watch for' list detailing what would require an ER trip in the coming hours.  Luckily enough, none of those things eventuated and all was well in the end.  But for the better part of the morning we were both panicking.  

The fever from Sunday/Monday is long gone now... but Merry seems to have an awfully gravelly voice *insert suspicious look from me*  And as the evening went on it occurred to me that I had a bit of a sore throat.  Then a headache... O.M.G. I'm getting sick *splat*  Suffice it to say that upon waking this morning I had a headache that wouldn't quit no matter how much nurofen I took, a sore throat that was annoying as hell, and I felt like I'd run a marathon before being hit by a very large truck!    Frodo did another sysematic review page in his MUS, which I checked over, and he seems to be really grasping the round to the nearest 100 concept :)     The boys also dug into a couple of  'school project' kits I caught on clearance a while back, on The Planets and Ancient Egypt and did  a project page using the stencils, stickers and information they read in the booklet.  So I guess saying 'nothing' was accomplished isn't exactly true.

My MAIN reason for posting was to share this with anyone that might be interested!  This is the printing readiness program that Sam has used to help with his fine motor skills and writing, he enjoyed it and it really helped a lot for a brief program.    It's from Donna Young and even has a cool certificate of completion you can print out for yout little one.  We all know how kids love those :D

I am just about fed up with illness though, and am doing some research on wtf is going on with my immune system which I will discuss with my doc because it looks promising (and very common & overlooked even  ... how did my doc not notice that I've had numerous severe respiratory illnesses this year AS WELL AS a borderline low thyroid test and put those two together?)   

For now though, I shall go have a brief lay down as hubby is home to supervise the boys. Tomorrow will be a better day.  


Today was an extra curricular day with our distance ed unit.  We have them every fortnight, but we haven't been as much as I'd like this year due to my ridiculous stretches of illness and my holiday overseas.  These days were the reason Sir Merry started attending kindy on Fridays, as he was just too much to manage when added to the king of distractability and disruption and the Lord of Poutiness (aka Frodo and Sam).  

Here's a run down of a typical EC day.  

1030am   Start time, morning 'class' of intro to Japanese ... boys giggle, get rowdy & silly and Sam wants to go to the playground.  Whines excessively when told after class is done.

1100am   Switch to dance class with George.  Frodo loves this, but gets rowdy as he & one of his little mates egg each other one.  Sam on the other hand, refuses to participate at all and sits up under me sulking since we haven't gone to the playground yet.  For goodness sake, they're doing robot dancing and it looks like great fun.. but he scowls and refuses on principle.

1130   FINALLY I send the little grumble bum to the playground (just outside the scout hut we have our classes in) Where he happily plays and comes over for a snack every 2.5 minutes.

1200   Next group activity.  Rinse & repeat previous descriptions of boys behavior as some things never change.

1300   Joyously send the little beasts off to the playground, snacking accelerates to constant levels.  You'd think they are never fed except these days?

1330   Last groups for the day!  Met with exuberance from Frodo and sulking from Sam.  And requests for even MORE food.  

1430    Time to battle the traffic and head home. 

Usually by the time I arrive home, I've txt'd hubby to have an adult beverage ready and a padded room if possible.  

Today on the other hand *faints*.  Pardon that... took me a moment to come to.  WHO are these children I took with me today?  We got there, they went to, participated in, and ENJOYED!  They came out to the picnic area where the mums gathered and chatted, had lunch & snacks, got their water bottles refilled and played with their little friends.   

It was quite possibly the nicest day out with both boys that I have ever had.  And THEY thought so too.  They have talked about nothing else all evening and can't wait to go next fortnight!  The bummer is, next fortnight is the last one till February as it will be 'summer break' for us technically.   


As I admitted yesterday, I've been a slacker this week with the posts!   I blame this on trying to spend LESS time at the computer combined with spending more time getting into a routine here with the boys.  So here's a bit of what we have been up to 'school-wise' since my Bunnings workshop post!  Many pics!    

As part of our History Odyssey, the boys built a model ancient Egyptian garden.   Something very like this (only made of wood, twigs etc) was found in the tomb of a minor nobleman from several thousand years ago!  You can get a glimpse of the brightly coloured columns that flanked the door into the house and the long, narrow pool (aluminium foil painted with water colours) in the centre which was lined by two palm trees on either side.  The ancient Egyptians had a thing for symmetry it seems.  We discussed how when it was hot,  the family would relax in the shade around the pool and that the water would cool the air a bit.

We have no moved on from Ancient Egypt sadly, to the Hebrews and the Philistines.  This has been interesting as a lot of the 'history'  for this section is biblically related, so IMO not totally reliable.  The stories are interesting though, and we talked about how the Prince of Egypt (Disney) was one telling of the story of the ancient Hebrews making their way to Canaan.

Today the boys made replicas of Philistine warrior headdresses.  The originals were pictured in many carvings and would have been tall feathered things... ours are cardstock and construction paper ;)  And here's the littlest warrior modeling big bro's ...

Sam & Frodo also painted up their wooden treasure chests from the workshop last week.  Sam went with orange, which is his favourite colour at the moment... and yes, he is STILL wearing those Harry Potter glasses!  Here's Frodo painting his blue, with Merry 'assisting' (translation = making a complete nuisance of himself lol)

Both boys are powering through their Math U see, and are about 1/3 of the way through their respective programs (we've been working on it for about 6weeks, but if they really GET a lesson and it shows, we move on to the next one)  I'm hoping to have them through it by shortly after the start of our next school year, around the beginning of February, so that they can move onto the next levels (they are both just starting their current years math with this program, as we used other things earlier in the year.  This would get them up to grade 1 & 3 math.  Not that I'm really worried about it.. we take as long as we take! 

Sam is coming along brilliantly with his handwriting.  He's finished his printing readiness program, and got his certificate, which he was very proud of.  I wish I could link it, but none of the worksheets I printed from their have the url and I can't remember where I got them from!

 We've moved on to using Starfall alphabet tracers, which are great because they put a dot where you begin the letter and they have 'entries' and 'exits' like the Queensland font does.  Today he drew some love hearts for me and I wrote 'I love you' for him, and he did a great job of copying it all by himself.     Frodo has been doing more copy work with his First Language Lessons and is finally to the point where he doesn't COMPLAIN long & loud about writing :)  

In science, we're learning about our 5 senses right now.  I checked out a ton of library books on the senses and how the body works and the kids have dug right into them.  Frodo is quite annoyed that one book doesn't name the nerve that takes the messages from the tongue to the brain  lol.   He can tell you the one for smell is 'olfactory, and for vision is 'optic' and hearing is 'auditory'... and that there are a few different kinds for touch but they aren't ONE big nerve so they aren't named.     We're doing a tongue mapping activity / experiment later which should be fun!   

But for now... laundry calls and I best answer while it's NOT 37C outside!


  Isn't this little dude the cutest thing??   I was on the prowl for printable learning games on the web and ran across Learning Treasures  where I found the cutest set of stationery ever for little boys (and adventurous little girls!) featuring Whimsical Dragons (and conveniently enough, named this as well ;)   For the vast fortune that is 1.99USD,   I downloaded 22 pages of his cute self featured in writing papers, bookmarks, reading lists, assignment lists etc etc.  I am so hitting a copy shop in the next week!  

But 1.99 is a silly amount to put on one's credit card, don't you think? (actually debit :D)  So I was giddy when I saw the Early Learning pack  featuring my adorable, fire breathing friend!   There are matching letter and number matching activities,  flash cards that are beyond adorable (we don't really USE flashcards, but the kids love to play with them in various ways and I figure it will help Sam .. and later Merry, with their letter recognition) and just piles of stuff to make the cutest file folder games with.   Perfect for my little dudes who were just yesterday out on the veranda, practicing their dragon slaying skillz with their stuffed toys lol.  

I would stay and actually write a reasonable post, but it is 38C/100F at our house right now, and the air conditioned lounge room calls I'm afraid!  Maybe I'll return tonight when it's cooler to share what we've been up to the last week or so :)


Today was a massively full day.  The kids had a Bunnings (think Home depot type place) do it yourself kids workshop at 1130.  Kylie at LHEN  has set these up monthly and they are always good fun.  We haven't made it any in a LONG time due to my bubonic plague, but we'll try to get to more next year as the boys totally loved this one... despite a few glitches hehe.

Here are my two intrepid builders all geared up in their official bunnings work aprons, inspecting the tools of the trade and impatiently waiting to get started!

FINALLY!  They were doing a dry run to make sure all the parts were cut right and to see how the project went together.   The general idea was that we hold the pieces together, and the kids hammer nails in.  Several flaws in this plan were noted almost immediately lol.  One, it's very hard to hammer nails into two peices of thin wood held at a 90degree angle to each other *without* anything to support the free edge ;)   Two, the wood was so thin that the nails kept poking out the sides.  SO, we improvised by procuring a couple of hot glue guns and gluing the box together to start.  THEN the kids could nail into a nice sturdy box to help it stay together a bit better.  

Here are the boys working on their treasure boxes.  We discovered it was much easier to hammer on a hard concrete floor than on a table that just bounces!  Sam was very helpful and grabbed the pliers to hold the Nails for Frodo to hammer into his box.  What a sweet boy, when he wants to be ;)

And below is the finished product,  well mostly it's just my boys acting nutty lol, but their boxes ARE in the photo as well ;)   (note Frodo making a 'mouth' with his box hehehe)

Today was also supposed to contain a bit of math, some language lessons and a little History reading... But as I have just arrived home at 230pm, I somehow don't see that happening.  As a matter of fact I think I'll just open up my handy 'Homeschool Tracker' progam and do a speedy rescheduling of those to spread them over the week!   Mum is just BEAT.. dad is gone to get Merry from kindy.  I have also proclaimed it fish n chips night for dinner .. tofu stir fy shall live to be eaten another day!

The boys are thinking these boxes need some paint.  So I think that may be the order of business for the afternoon... Hmmmm... I think I might have some piratey stencils around here somewhere!  

Over -n- out maties!


Geez, nothing outta me for a week nearly then two posts in a few hours lol.   Feast or famine I guess? :)  If you had a read of my previous post this morning, you saw that I grow silverbeet in my little potted veggie garden.  I'm just in love with silverbeet lately, and pretty much any other leafy green goodness... but the same old steamed with a bit of butter & salt just gets boring after a while.  SO....I just had to share a recipe I found over at Disposable Aardvarks blog.  I found her blog because someone posted about her very cool bento lunches for her kiddo.. I think bento style lunches are just about the cutest damn things ever and have been experimenting with psuedo bentos with the boys lately.  

Anyway this post is not about bentos,  it's about her AWESOME recipes!!  Pop on over and have a look down the right side of her blog... that is the mother lode of tastiness I tell you.     Only there was one recipe, which was of course the one I was DYING to try, that had no link!  

So, unable to live without this recipe, I commented begging for alink hehehe.  The dutiful, and very nice, blog owner quickly fixed it up for me!  Baked Cheesy Chard is the recipe in question. (scroll down a bit at that link for the low down)  I baked this last night and it was a HUGE hit with the hubby.  THe kids?  not so much lol although Sam did at least taste it.  =)  I admit to being a slacker and forgetting to take a photo though.  Can't believe I did that because it looked very much as yummy as it tasted!   

The recipe itself is vegan, which we are not, so I used regular skim milk and colby cheese instead and it worked out fine :D  the seasoned buttery breadcrumb topping was just the icing on the cake...err.. the crumble on the casserole? lol   

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In the few days since I posted last, there have been lots of goings on.  We has amazing thunderstorms for several days.   I really wish I had one of those fancy many thousand dollar cameras, then I'd have photos of lightning flashing almost 180degrees on the horizon before it engulfed us.  Mother Nature put on a helluva show, several times :)    Our yard became Lake Hobbit.. luckily before the real storms hit I was able to rescue all my potted veggies onto the veranda.  Good thing too, because I've FINALLY got something that's growing worth a damn ;)   Tomatoes are lush and green, silverbeet is getting tall, squash has babies on it!  


 See, aren't they gorgeous?  Those were taken just on Halloween, give or take  a day, so about 10days ago.  That tomato plant is 6inches taller, and just lush.. and the tiny silverbeet to the right side are about 8inches tall now.. in just TEN DAYS!  The boys delight in coming in to tell me what's new in the garden after they inspect the plants :)   And Sam is still our daily water-er. Obviously he's doing a better job than *I* did, as the tomatoes leaves are not curling up from too much water!  That boy is going to be my vegetarian, sport playing gardener it seems lol.

The boys had their weekly swim lesson on Sunday, which Nana met us at and told us to get lost! lol  She was already watching the boys so we could go do a bit of Yuletide shopping, so we took advantage of the extra time to go have some lunch.  We found the most amazing little sushi place (it's in the middle of a major mall, so it's not like it's hidden lol) that was making the rolls fresh as we waited.  Then we wandered down to our favourite coffee shop and had a posh Iced Coffee before descending upon the  Early Learning Centre.   This is our favorite kids shop ever.  

They specialize in fun toys, lots of which have educational value ;), that are also ecologically friendly in their production.  (ie, the woods are rain forest friendly, usually farmed rubberwood)  Some ARE made in China, but I've done the dance with them and have been assured that their plant in China is above board in regards to child safety with the materials they use.   I don't LIKE that they are made in China, but our budget doesn't allow for buying fancy wooden toys from Europe that cost a fortune.  So I feel like I have done the best I can to satisfy both my need for my boys to have high quality toys, my need for those toys to be SAFE for them, and my conscience regarding their production.   Sometimes all we can do, is the best we can right? :)

Ok... *steps off soapbox* lol.. all in all we scored some great deals for the holidays, not that they are cheap.  I was sorta planning to keep it small, but a few things that were just irresistible were on too good a bargain NOT to get *hides face*  Ah well, they're only young once right?   


Ok... at least today does ;)  I'll admit that it is NOT always sweetness & light though...but today has been awesome.  I'm starting this post at 12:09pm,  and we have finished our planned schoolwork for the day.  Actually the boys started without me as I was enjoying a late morning cuppa! 

It is a kindy day today, so we got home around 9am from taking the wee Merry to preschool, and when we got home it was pikelets (sorta mini pancakes with jam & whipped cream) for morning tea.. with juice boxes, which were promptly squirted all over by squeezing.   Note to self: even 7 year olds can't resist doing that *sigh*   Then as I drank my coffee the boys dragged out Sam's big work book (ya know, the cute ones you get at Walmart etc) and Sam traced himself silly.  He loves those tracer alphabet pages, and they are really helping him with his fine motor skills.  

Frodo & I read about the daily life of ancient Egyptians, how did they laundry, what their houses were like and the types of jobs they had.  Frodo was a bit shocked that their children would often go without clothing, wearing only jewelry or amulets of protection! lol   Sam was still happily tracing away at the alphabet but was still able to whip out fast answers when I asked them about something we had read... my little multi-tasker!   

Both boys did their Math U see, and I'm stunned at how easily Frodo seems to be 'getting' addition with carrying/regrouping!  He wants to power ahead to the next lesson, but to me this ones a biggie, so we're going to work through the whole thing.    

We've hopped back into our First Language Lessons, revising it a little.  The book went on about nouns for about 23years so we were a bit over it and took a break lol.  I've started looking ahead and combining some of the very similar lessons into one for less repitition.  We love the poem memorizations, even though so of them aren't the originals, and today Frodo was able to recite 'The Months'  by Mother Goose (30 days hath September etc) today :) and was pretty pleased with himself!  He's plowing through pronouns right now, and has a good grasp of them so we will be on to action verbs next week.   

The boys have just had a 'feast' lunch, as they like to call it, of salami, a quesadilla, some olives (their choice), craisins and currants with coconut flakes, and a few choccie chips.  They love the muffin tin lunch idea so much that I've started using the little silicon cups to put their 'sides' in at lunch, which somehow makes the whole meal more exciting for them lol.

It's now 1:19pm, and I'm finally wrapping this up :)  All school work is done, veggie patch tended, lunch had... and now it's Miller time ... err.. coffee time!  


It's been positively glorious weather here lately, and even pretended to be summer last week by throwing a few little thunderstorms our way! (and filling up our rain water tank woot!)  So, in honour of that I thought I'd get ahead of myself and decorate my blog for summer :D     I'm a bit of a geek, I like to deck my blog out for the seasons as they come, and since December will be taken up by various holiday themes I wasn't about to miss out on summer themes until January!   

AND thanks to Delightful Dots awesome tutorials,  I was even able to tweak my template to 3 columns :D    I'm feeling all techy geeky and pleased with myself.. or was, until I realized that I'd accidentally summerified my sons blog by accident!  Without even asking him *sigh*  So now, if he doesn't like it, I get to try to do a mulligan lol.   

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 Mad catch up post alert!   I got a bit swamped last week so here are a few pics to show what we got up to.   In our History Odyssey, we are back in ancient Egypt... Frodo's favourite subject (historically speaking).   This time around it's Egpyt's Empire and every life in Ancient Egypt.   Fun project for the week was building Egyptian riverboats like the ones that would have been used for trading on the Nile.  Ok, so ours were made of paper towel tubes, pencils & felt scraps... but it was fun! 

Ta-da!  Frodo was very proud..  blogger has eaten the photo of Sam's golden river boat (as it is missing from this post grrr)  but you can see the tip (is that the bow/prow or stern? lol) of it following Frodo's as they went trading up the Nile... which was filled in for by our dark blue living room carpet hehe.  

Frodo also drew a gorgeous picture of what he learned about in this lesson, for his history notebook.  It is a boat very much like that one hauling money back up the Nile from selling gold (Frodo narrated it for me :) with big waves lapping at the hull and a bright desert sun riding high in the sky.  I really should frame that one for his wall I think.  (and should have taken a pic of it for this post but I had a brain cramp,  that's picture fail x2 for me today!)   

Among other things this past week, we bought & carved our pumpkin for Halloween.  The boys helped me pick out a very cute template to use.  Here's Frodo busy poking holes to outline the pattern (he's using a tiny screwdriver, so no panicked notes about knives please :)  

We also finished up the Halloween lapbook project.  As much as I try to like lapbooks, they annoy me lol.  I think we'll transition to notebooking pages that can be inserted into their various notebooks.  

HERE is the finished result of our hard work on said pumpkin!  The boys were QUITE pleased with him.  Don't ya love that playful wink?  Who'da thunk spiders could be so darn cute!?!

We also ventured out to a big Halloween street party and had an OK time.  I was a bit disappointed because the council apparently OVER advertised it and it was so crowded you couldn't turn around   :(    Traffic & parking were a nightmare and the tiny business district of Manly just is not big enough to support enough stalls, entertainment, rides etc to keep nearly 10k people happily amused for an evening.   We left after an hour at most.  But the kids had fun...  

 As evidenced by them hangin out with the chauffeur to the damned here, waiting for the parade to begin ;)   Note to self:  do NOT get Frodo a costume of a corpse next year,  he was not amused by the screenprinted ribcage on the front *sigh*   That kid is gonna be the death of me with his sensitive side ;)  Then there's Sam.. who was very put out that I did not have vampire teeth complete with bloody dripping from them to complete HIS costue @@.