Today was a day of absolute silliness! We had an errand to run at the shops, hung out on the playground for a while.. and then when making the required stop for bread we saw it. A circus skills workshop right in the middle of the mall... and free no less! Apparently you were to sign up ahead of time but I never saw anything about it... so I asked if they had a couple of free spaces and the very lovely ladies were happy to have Frodo & Sam join the group!
There was tiny clown bike riding .. only one little girl got more than a few feet lol.
Plate spinning.. both guys got up to 2 plates, but the third sent it all pear shaped.

Sam showing his mad hula hooping skills. Two hoops!
More plate spinning. Sam was ecstatic and having a ball as you can see.

This contraption is called the "diablo" apparently. They had a good time, but I was a bit worried they were going to launch the thing and crack someone on the head with it. Luckily everyone made it out in one peice ;) Below is Sam having a go, and looking very serious about it!

As you can see, a good was definitely had by all :D

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I thought I'd update on how the garden is going, since I managed to eek out enough time to post ;) It's going very well thus far, these pics were taken on the 18th or so, so a week ago (and 2weeks after the last pics from a few posts ago). Currently the bed with the silverbeet in it is enormous, and the beans have hit the top of the (admittedly too small) climbing cages. The cucumbers are finally starting to grow a bit, I started them as seeds so they ave been very slow! I don't think they are a bush variety after all, as they are sending out tendrils to grab something to climb... so this weekend we'll get on frames for them to climb.
The carrots are strange, according to dh, who pulled up 'one' and reports that it's a cluster of little carrots that have twined around each other LOL. I didn't get a chance to check that oddness out, maybe tomorrow.
The other bed has monstrously huge yellow button squash plants... they must be 75cm tall now. They have a few little squash on board, pollinated and growing nicely :D The peas are climbing, albiet a bit sloooowly. We've already pulled the bok choi and lettuces and eaten them *NOM* The new tomatos are going well, although the squash keep shading them and I have had to lop few leaves off them to prevent tomato plants growing at a 45 degree angle lol. One of the tomatos (the biggest of course) 'accidentally' got lopped off whilst snipping squash leaves that were overcome with powdery mildew *sigh*
We have already had a couple of meals of things like bok choi for stir fry, our fave cheesy silverbeet bake, and a few skinny spring onions for fried rice :D The tower of strawberries is giving at least half a dozen daily, much to Sam's glee... and although ALL of the tomato plants in pots (black russian AND cherry) are now dying of some unknown evil... the last tomatos on the plants are ripening as if in some attempt by the plants to survive in some small way :) They are nibbled by humans and cuddly rodents alike (the really tiny cherry toms are their favourites)
There are still 4 capsicum plants in amonst those two jungles, they are not getting big yet as I don't think the sun can find them in there! lol I'm hoping the summer heat will invigorate them... despite the fact that it will sap us of the will to move!

It's been a hell of a month... and honestly I'll be glad to see October. DH has started a new job that he seems to love, he txt'd me earlier this week saying " loving it so far, it's just like questing in WOW" (for those of you that don't know it, we are serious World of Warcraft players LOL) He likes that it's something different every day ... once this week he went to both coasts for work.. in one day! lol

With all the stress in the house (new family member, dh losing his job, etc) things have been rather hit & miss in the realm of schoolwork, but we're getting back on track. Our co op activities on Monday are finished for the year, but the group has other great things planned and we're looking forward to it. The boys will be finishing up their swimming in November, and in a week or so we'll start tennis lessons with the home ed group. The hobbits are VERY excited about that! I really considered the ice skating lessons they have planned, but Frodo is not overly coordinated ;), and Merry would not be tolerant of hanging out for an hour. Maybe next year I guess!

At our last co-op, I purchased the next TWO levels of Math U See for Frodo (gamma & delta) and he pestered me for days to start Gamma instead of finishing boring old Beta hehehe. I've never seen a kid so excited about multiplying ;) The Teen is sure I've ruined them, no kid should ASK to do math! lol Sam is just finishing Primer now, and will start Alpha this coming week.

A week or so ago I got a discount voucher in the mail from Learning a-z for their writing program and checked it out. It looked really great, and for 20bucks even if it wasn't it still wouldn't be much of a waste. So far I really like it, I think it will help Frodo with his 'creative' writing a great deal. He is good with the mechanics of writing, and can write sentences with no problem, but grouping those sentences together into an organized, related, collection of thoughts... not so much! They have some neat exercises, and good printables, like a 'graphic organizer' for writing a personal narrative. They have them for various levels, from a beginnging/grade 1 writer (generally expected to be able to write one paragraph with 5 sentences) to a more advanced student (grade 3ish, where they 'should' write 3 paragraphs with more developed sentences) We're going to give slot that into our days this week and see how the hobbits like it. They DO have a free intro lesson as well, that includes some of these things, available for download from the site :D

I also got sucked in by the raz-kids reading site (also on learning a-z) and we're doing their 7 day free trial membership. I'm thinking we may pick it up (well, once dh gets regular pay! 80bucks is not in the budget at the moment!) The boys are really enjoying it. There are tons of levels (all the way up to about age 9-10) .. Sam is doing aa for the second time, his choice.. and Frodo is doing level Q which is a lot more involved and even has web based 'quizzes'. Bonus is that it is paid for by the 'classrom' so I have one classroom, and my two students at their own levels.... so no purchasing the program twice :D

There's a noticable lack of photos today, sorry 'bout that. A couple of garden ones to come, but I haven't been great about keeping the camera handy lately! Sam on the other hand, is becoming quite the shutterbug according to the memory card heh... maybe I'll share some of those in the near future.
It seems to have flown by without my consent! We are well on our way to adapting to having 4 boys in the house (5 if you count Strider lol) and boy #4 is on his way to getting used to having 3 little brothers drive him bonkers ;) As usual, Frodo is moving constantly so he's blurry lol.

Spring has also well & truly sprung here! In the last two weeks of August (while the nights were still very chilly, at least for us) I noticed the trees over the back fence going from bare twigs to having tiny tufts of that pale, springy green on their tips... to just the day before Spring arrived completely exploding into green! The next day it was 26C lol, welcome Spring!!

We spent a lot of time in the garden, Sam is stoked that the strawberries are ripening at the rate of several a day! They are often small, and some are alpine berries which are long skinny things instead of fat ones... but they taste amazing. We've installed our raised garden beds, and on Aug 3 we planted them up and they looked SO empty... but just a month later the change is amazing! In the last 2 days actually, several things doubled in size... totally not kidding! This is what the beds look like now.

The top pic has peas (in the wire cage/towers), lettuce and bok choi, 4 new tomato plants, basil seeds, 2 capsicum and 4 button squash which have gone crazy. The bottom one is full of silverbeet/chard (which I love), 'magic' purple king beans (grow purple, turn green when cooked!), baby carrots, 2 more capsicum and a square of spring onions. In pots we still have tomatos, and the kids snack on the few ripe cherry tomatos they find ;)

We've had our regular Monday co-ops and they draw to a close for the year after next week. For term 4 we're having more theme activities and excursions, which should be great fun. We'll miss our Mondays, but we'll see our friends at Park days, tennis lessons and other outings!

We've also had a bit of stress, as DH was suddenly, inexplicably, and immediately FIRED from his courier job. No fault of his own, as he's the most awarded driver at the company (or was) but hard economic times have hit the company and he's out the door. But that's ok, we pooled our strength and helped each other keep our heads together. Within 4hours of being unemployed he had an interview set up. Within 24 hours of being unemployed he had been offered a new job. It's not perfect, but it's steady and pays almost as well.. so he's starting next week. When the universe closes a door, it opens another they say.. and in the last 6yrs our new doors have always been for the better. Let's hope that trend continues!