Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wednesday Weigh-In - Wk 4

Weight loss from last week: 0.5 kg - yay me!
Total weight loss overall: 1 kg

The exercise I've started doing has obviously helped! This week I've been for 2 x 15-20 min walks (one up a steep hill!), I did a 20 min yoga session and I've picked up Billy's skipping rope and done a few minutes on it a couple of times (boy is it tough after 30 years lol!). Eating has been healthy but not extreme.

So 1 kg loss in a month - not lightning fast - but I have lost 3cm off my waist, so something is happening!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Our week of Learning - 26th April

English: Copywork on the Stars & Planets. We learnt about the word "tri" - what it means and some of the words that are derived from it. Lots of reading each night.

Maths: MEP lessons, and practising 2 times tables.

Science & Technology: We've started a unit on Australian animals - their habitat, lifecycle, diet, classification etc. We read a couple of books about Koalas, and then he started a Powerpoint presentation summarising what he knew about them.

He's also been busy making animations with free software I downloaded for him. Check out what he created using it, Windows Movie Maker to do the narration and then posted on his blog - he did it all by himself!

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): My plans to start on our Aboriginal unit went astray after he begged me to learn about Anzac Day. How could I refuse??! So I taught him a little bit about Anzac Day, the Gallipoli landing, Simpson & his donkey, and some of the Anzac Day symbols like the poppy & the slouch hat. We looked for Turkey, Britain, France, Germany & Russia on the globe. Oh, and I almost forgot - of course, we made Anzac biscuits!

Creative & Practical Arts: He went to an Art workshop at the Newcastle Art Gallery, and made a model & collage of a bird. (He's now driving me mad asking me to sew a nest, blankets & a doona for the "bird"!) Apologies for the quality of the photo - it was taken with my phone.

We also went to a performance by Bronwyn Vaughan, a storyteller who told stories from Macedonia, Vietnam and Russia - with the help of her Afghani camel!

LOTE (Languages other than English): Review on the Spanish greetings, and completed a worksheet matching the English & Spanish equivalents.

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): We went for a 20 min walk together around the oval while waiting to pick Pete up on Sunday. He's also learning to skip rope.

We visited friends through the week and he spent a lot of time running around and jumping on their trampoline. Why is someone else's trampoline so much more fun? - he almost never uses ours!

Life skills (cooking, gardening, housekeeping): He helped me in the garden, and planted some seeds in his own patch. He did the majority of the measuring when we made Anzac biscuits.

Garden update

Thanks everyone for your wonderful advice.

I spent Saturday morning out in the garden and got a functioning garden bed again.

Before - looking very sad and dead.

The layer of hay that was in the garden already was very compacted, so I broke it up with a garden fork, and then spread half a bag of mushroom compost over it.

I topped the bed up with 2 bags of garden soil.

And then covered it all with sugar cane mulch - much of which blew away in the strong winds :(

Looks much better now!

I planted a whole heap of seeds directly into the new bed (plus another couple of styrofoam boxes I replenished as well) - will try raising seedlings when I get to it in a couple of weeks, but I thought I'd just try it and see in the meantime..

Saturday, April 25, 2009

It's the little leaks that are the problem..

I'm getting pretty good at saving up for the more expensive (say $100+) purchases, but boy the little amounts add up quickly..

I just added up the unbudgeted expenses I know we have coming up next month. It's mainly $10 here, $20 there (mostly for homeschooling activities), but all up there's $100 that's just not budgeted for.

No wonder I'm having trouble balancing the budget!

I've made a list of the amounts I know about, worked out where I can cut to get the money and stuck the list to the fridge to remind me to not spend anything other than that!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pay it forward - book giveaways

Over the last little while (ok, more like 6 months!), I was very lucky to win a couple of "pay it forward" book give-aways.

The one from Molly at Cross Roads was Sharon Astyk's "Depletion and Abundance". I really enjoyed this book - I wasn't previously a reader of Sharon's blog, but I am now. She talks about peak oil / climate change, gardening, living within your means and lots of other stuff that resonated with me.

The other one I got from Belinda at Belinda's Place called "The Party's Over" by Richard Heinberg. (I think this book originally came from Molly as well). I have to admit I found this one very hard going, it's pretty dry & factual, but it does have lots of thought-provoking things to say about Peak Oil.

Anyway, embarrassed at the delay, I'm finally organised enough to pass them on!

So if you're interested in reading either of these books, and are willing to pay them forward with no costs, leave a comment and let me know which book you're interested in. I'll pass it on to the first name I pull out of each pile. Unfortunately due to the cost of postage, I have to say Aussie readers only, sorry :(

Just to give everyone lots of time - I'll close the draw in 2 weeks - 8th May at 8pm. Feel free to pass this post on to anyone else you think may be interested.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Gardening question

My garden has been pretty much non-existent since we came back from Xmas holidays and I've been putting off doing anything.

Mainly because the area around it looked like this (that is supposed to be a clear path area!):

Do you ever get paralysed in starting something because the first step just makes you feel overwhelmed? And the longer you leave it, the worse it gets?? That's how I was.

I spent a productive hour (that's all it took) over Easter and cleared a substantial part of it:

Now I'm feeling inspired again and am ready to start planting. I'm going to concentrate on what I know we'll eat rather than trying to be adventurous and spending a fortune on seeds this season! I still have most of the seeds I need (and quite a few that I don't!), so I'm not renewing my Diggers membership this year - will review the situation next year.

So now I'm ready to start planting, it brings me to my question..

The garden bed on the left desperately needs some nutrients. I think the season sucked all the goodness out of the soil, and by the end of the season everything was succumbing to diseases and pests. I had a lot of cutgrubs, and the tomatoes particularly were suffering from some sort of rot and a black sooty mould.

Given that they were so many problems / diseases with it, should I dig the existing dirt out and start fresh? Or will it be enough to get some manure / fertiliser etc to try and rebuild the soil, and maybe mix it with some fresh soil? If I do that, how long will it be until I can plant in there?

Wednesday Weigh-In - Wk 3

Weight loss from last week: 0 kg
Total weight loss overall: 0.5 kg

Obviously going away for the weekend and eating ice-creams & fried food, and drinking coke is not conducive to weight loss :< I was hoping the amount of walking we did would counteract some of that.. Funnily enough, while the scales aren't showing much loss, my jeans are starting to feel more comfortable.

So finetuning my babysteps to kick-start the weight loss again:

* Cut my daily sugar intake in half by turning my "white with 2" tea into "white with 1".. Done - not even missing the extra teaspoon now
* Eat 1 piece of fruit / day - Still doing, even while we were away. Will kick this up to 2 pieces / day.
* Get off my backside and be active!! (still to be determined exactly how!) This is where I need to focus. So more specifically, I'm going to start with 1 x 20 min yoga session per week, and 2 days exercising for 20 mins - most likely walking.

Once more into the fray, my friends..

Monday, April 20, 2009

Our week of Learning - 19th April

I'm trialing a 4 weeks on / 1 week off school schedule atm, and this week was our week off. Luckily, as it coincided quite nicely with a number of school-holiday activities that looked interesting.

Boy have we been busy!

On Tuesday he went to a school holiday workshop at the local library where he made an "African drum" (out of a carpet roll cardboard tube, twine, a plastic flower pot, and Resistance rubber). It sounds tacky, but it actually looks pretty good and works quite well!

On Thursday, we headed off down to Newcastle to see "The Grimstones: Hatched". It was awesome! If it's coming near you, go and check it out. It's a marionette puppet Gothic fairytale adventure - think Addams Family! The story is narrated entirely in sign language by Asphyxia, one of the puppeteers, and translated into speech by the other puppeteer, Paula. Basically the storyline: The young girl, Martha Grimstone, can read people's dreams. She knows that her mother, who is still mourning her long dead husband, wanted to have more children, so she sneaks into her grandfather's spell room, and casts a spell to make a baby. Unfortunately, Martha is not very magical, and the baby ends up with 3 legs! All is well though, they love the baby and it brings her mother back to reality.... Check out the trailer at the bottom of this page. Go and see it if you can!!

Friday saw us head up the road a bit to a local artist & homeschooling mum's studio for an art workshop using ink. Bernie taught them techniques such as wax resist and wet on wet, and gave them the opportunity to use various nibs, brushes & quill pens. (Do I sound like I know what I'm talking about? Cos I don't really!!)

Pete has a course on in Sydney this week, so we decided to make it a family weekend beforehand. We drove down on Saturday morning and then Pete & Billy did some male bonding at the Aussie Rules football match (Go Swans!). What a shame there were only 2 tickets and I was forced to stay back in the hotel room, read & nap!!!

Yesterday (Sunday), we battled the school holiday crowds to see the Star Wars exhibit at the Powerhouse Museum. Even for someone who's not really into the Star Wars thing, it was quite interesting. There were lots of displays in glass cases which didn't do much for Billy (a glance, "wow", then onto the next!), but because we were there just as it opened, he was able to get onto quite a few of the interactive things as well. He got to ride on a hovercraft and play with magnetic "vehicles" to demonstrate travelling by magnetic levitation. He played with robots that you could try different wheels on - eg normal wheels, tractor treads etc - and see how they went over various obstacles, and then program them by downloading instructions to have them negotiate a longer obstacle course. I'd bet that it would be almost impossible to get near those ones later in the day.

Remember the force, Billy!

After the Star Wars exhibition, we had lunch, a play on the really cool playground, and then back in to see some more of the Powerhouse Museum.

We saw some good exhibits on computers / robotics, transport through the ages and space, but by then we were all starting to lose it, so we called it a day.. Forunately, we bought a yearly membership so we can go back another (non-school-holiday) day and see the rest of it! (It cost us $65 for a family country membership for a year and free entry to the Star Wars exhibit vs $60 for the Star Wars exhibit alone - it was a no-brainer really when we're only 2 hours drive away or 3 hrs by train!)

We treated ourselves to a refreshing gelato before heading back to the hotel to rest our weary feet!

Today Pete stayed down there for his course, and Billy and I had the adventure of catching the train home by ourselves. Mum & Janelle (my sister) picked us up at the other end, and drove us to our door - great service!

So at the end of a very long week, I'm exhausted and not really organised for the week ahead! It's a fairly easy one though I think.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wednesday Weigh-In - Wk 2

Weight loss from last week: Big fat 0 (but at least no weight gain!)
Total weight loss overall: 0.5 kg

I'm disappointed, but not in the least surprised! I've had a bad head cold all week which has made anything more strenuous than getting off the lounge a chore. And it was Easter - and hot cross buns slathered with butter are too hard to resist (not to mention a mini choc egg or two!).

So begins a new week...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 13th April

Notes on last week's menu:

To use up this week:
* chicken
* roast beef
* pineapples

Menu Plan this week:

Monday - fried rice
Tuesday - tagliatelle with a tomato & bacon sauce
Wednesday - pineapple drumstick chicken with rice
Thursday - roast beef rolls
Friday - pizza
Saturday - not home
Sunday - not home

For more exciting menu plan ideas, see Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Our week of Learning - 12th April

English: Copywork for handwriting practice. He wrote a 4-step procedure for making chocolates as one of the "text types" to learn about. Lots of reading each night.

Maths: MEP lessons, and practising 2 times tables.

Science & Technology: We summarised the Push / Pull unit by discussing what he'd learnt; then he completed a worksheet on forces.

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): We read about and discussed the history of Easter (both secular and Christian) and symbols like eggs, rabbits & hot cross buns.

Creative & Practical Arts: He made a paper mache Easter basket & painted it. More chocolate making!

LOTE (Languages other than English): He learnt some of the Spanish greetings & questions such as "How are you?" "Muy bien, gracias!"

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): We went for a walk together around the neighbourhood one day, plus lots of scooting and running around.

Life skills (cooking, gardening, housekeeping): With the chocolate making, all I did was melt the chocolate for him, and he took it from there! Bed-making chore is doing really well - when he doesn't muck around he's doing a great job of it! He helped me vacuum the car today.

Inspired by this post over at Blue Yonder, I've been more mindful of letting him help out with cleaning and have allocated him a weekly chore to do that he'll enjoy (like clean the cupboard doors in the kitchen - he loves spray bottles, it's safe for him because I use my own non-toxic cleaner, and it saves me getting down on my hands & knees!)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Push / Pull Unit - Science

We wrapped up the science push / pull unit today by reviewing what we'd been doing and filling out a summary sheet on forces.

Here's what we covered:

This Push / Pull unit provides the opportunity for students to explore pushes and pulls. Through investigations, students observe and gather evidence about how these forces act in air and water, and on the ground. Students identify the effect of the pull of gravity and learn that both air and water can ‘push’.

1. Water, water everywhere
a. Push air-filled objects (balls) under water to experience the push of water
b. Feel the difference between a heavy object suspended in air and then in water

2. What sinks? What floats?

a. Make observations about objects that sink or float in water and record findings
a) big & light – empty plastic bottle
b) small & light – paper clip, elastic band, cork, bottle top
c) big & heavy – rock, plastic bottle filled with water, metal tool
d) small & heavy – sinker, nuts & bolts, plasticine ball
b. Identify ways to change an object that sinks into one that floats
c. Recognise that the shape of an object influences whether it will sink or float
a) Sailing the High Seas experiment – see how the shape of objects helps them float (501 Science Experiments – 369)

3. Floating on air
a. Explain that air pushes up against falling objects
b. Explain that gravity pulls things down
c. Recognise the shape and orientation of an object can influence how it falls
a) Which Parachute? How do different materials affect air resistance? (501 Science Experiments – 365)
b) Magic Floating Objects experiments – show how an object travels in the air (501 Science Experiments – 390)

Wednesday Weigh-In - Wk 1

Well I weighed myself this morning - down 0.5 kg! Yay me!! My body shape has started to change slightly too, just a bit less here and there..

I'm quite happy with that, I just want to take it slow & steady.

On the whole I'm starting to feel better - I'm guessing it's the bit of exercising and the amount of fruit I've been eating. Today though, I feel like crap with a head cold, so I'm sitting here wallowing in my own self-pity!!

Why oh why...

did I agree to make papier mache Easter baskets??!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 6th April

Notes on last week's menu:
* There is something jinxed about me deciding to make quiche. This time I couldn't make it because I had no milk in the house - fresh OR powdered! (Time to build the stocks back up!) We had omelettes instead.

To use up this week:

Menu Plan this week:

Monday - beef stir fry
Tuesday - crumbed chicken & mashed potato
Wednesday - tacos
Thursday - steak & veges
Friday - fish & chips
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - roast something - whatever is on sale when I go shopping!

For more exciting menu plan ideas, see Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Our week of learning - 5th April

English: We focused on handwriting a bit more this week - the letter 'k' in his handwriting book, plus copywork on two other days. As much as he complains about practising, it is improving his writing.

He learnt about adjectives and did an exercise on nouns, verbs & adjectives.

Lots of reading each night.

Maths: As well as the MEP lessons, we read about the history of numbers in a DK book called "Think of a Number", and Billy learnt the Roman numerals 1 - 10 (or I to X, I should say!)

Science & Technology: We attempted to look at the salt crystals under the microscope but didn't have a lot of success. I think my bargain a couple of weeks ago in picking up a cheap microscope may have been a waste of money..

He also used a software program called "Cartoon Maker" to create an animation on the computer.

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): We're between units atm, so he used the Become a World Explorer and Become a History Explorer CDs.

Creative & Practical Arts: In drama class, they were practising emotions again.

LOTE (Languages other than English): Reviewed Spanish colours by doing a Spanish colour-by-numbers.

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): Circus class - this was our last circus class with that particular place. I haven't been happy with it for at least half of the term, the format just hasn't suited Billy's abilities and learning style. I had planned to call it quits anyway after the term, but in the meantime I have found another circus class that's local to us that appears it may work better.

Life skills (cooking, gardening): Still focusing on making it a habit to make his bed.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Stone Age Man - history unit

We finished studying Stone Age Man in history last week. To begin with, we watched the fantastic BBC documentary 'Walking with Cavemen'. Then to make the learning more 'hands on', over the course of several weeks, Billy made a cave out of salt dough, then populated it with some clay cave men (and a fire, some rocks & a couple of pots). We read how they made tools and weapons, and made a miniature stone axe.

We also studied how they did cave painting and watched a video online of the cave paintings in France, then Billy made his own (on paper).

Main resources:

  • BBC documentary - Walking with Cavemen
  • 'Step into the Stone Age' by Charlotte Hurdman
  • Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia Of World History
  • "The Everyday life of an Ice Age Hunter" by Giovanni Caselli
  • Video of actual cave paintings in France -

Before and After photos

A couple of weeks ago I promised before and after photos of the "autumn" cleaning I was doing - as soon as I finished it...

Pete has a mate staying over tonight when they get home late from the football (it's AFL time of the year again...), so the spare room HAD to be finished today. Great incentive for me to finally get it done (and a good cardio warkout lol).

So here are the photos, while I hang my head in shame...

Spare bedroom

Billy's room

Well, at least a couple of rooms in the house are tidy at this present point in time!!

Friday, April 03, 2009

How are the babysteps going?

I had a surprising number of 'me too' responses in reply to my weight loss post. Several of you said you'd be joining me on my journey - fantastic! So - how's it going??!

I won't be weighing or measuring myself until Wednesday, but I've:

* been eating at least 1, often more, pieces of fuit each day
* cut down the sugar in my tea successfully
* been trying to make an effort to move more through the day - and have even done a few sit-ups (just a few, I don't want to rush things lol)
* generally been more aware of my food choices - apart from the first day when I had a complete pig-out :(

So babysteps are underway here. What about you?