Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ups and downs


I got back to BodyBalance tonight - I think its been 4 weeks since I've made it there.  I was quite pleased to find I hadn't lost as much core strength as I'd feared!  It's a new routine though so I was a bit lost a couple of times :)

I've started an online creative writing course through the Sydney Writer's Centre.  This week has been the first week, and I'm loving it!

On the downside, we've had some bad news about the health of a family member which has us all worried.  We're waiting on more tests before we know more.

So that's about all that's going on in my life atm..

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Our week of learning - 27th June - a week of "cultcha"

It's been a busy, varied and balanced week this week.


Current Readaloud: "Misery guts" by Morris Gleitzman, and "How the aliens from Alpha Centauri invaded my maths class and turned me into a writer and how you can be one too" by Jackie French.

How the Aliens from Alpha Cent  Misery Guts

Audio books: "Mirrorscape", "Sam Hawkins: Pirate Detective" by Ian Billings

Independent Reading: - "Catnapped" by Julie & Michael Ramsden

OtherBilly spent time on Spellodrome and earnt a weekly certificate.

Maths: He spent an hour on Mathletics and earnt a weekly certificate.  They worked on codes at Cubs.  We read together a book called "Elliot Finds a Clue and other Quicksolve mini-mysteries" by Jim Sukach - this improves his reasoning & logic skills.

Elliott Finds a Clue: And Other Quicksolve Mini-mysteries

Science & Technology: He did some basic handwriting analysis to find out who wrote the 'mystery' note.  He played the 'Become a Human Body Explorer' CD.  We watched the partial lunar eclipse and had lots of discussions about what was happening. 

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): He played 'Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?' (once we found a machine old enough to play it!).  We also had a discussion about treason!

Creative & Practical Arts: He had his drama performance this week - his class presented their mime acts alongside several other classes.  He certainly loves the stage!

We went to see a local amateur Jnr Rep performance of Roald Dahl's "The Witches".  It was brilliantly done and very enjoyable.

We also went to a performance of "Fox" - it was an opera for kids.  (I didn't know that at the time I booked the tickets - I thought it was just a play).  Let's just say it was a combination of modern dance and opera - neither of which are overly enjoyable to me!  It was a cultural experience anyway!! 

We finished it off by visiting the art gallery.

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): A big week of activity - I've been encouraging him to get outside and be active every day.  He went to martial arts, Auskick, played squash with his dad, and has also practised his Auskick and catching skills using the Crazy Catch.

Life skills (cooking, gardening, housekeeping): Meal prep.

Other fun stuff: Playing with friends, playing Dragon Fable on the computer.
I haven't been in the frame of mind to do any more research atm.  Found out on Friday that my MIL has had a minor stroke and there are other possible health problems as well. 

Course starts tomorrow.  I don't know how I'm going to be organised to do it.  We've had an introductory post about ourselves - sounds like an interesting bunch of people!  I'm really looking forward to it, but freaking out at the same time.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Short story

I swapped over today to do some research on a short story I'm planning on writing for the Catchfire Press 'Wood Brick & Stone: The Making of the Hunter' competition.  What I'm planning to write about is in the same geographical area as my book, but a slightly later time period, so I actually found information about both while I was trawling around the internet.  I need to go and spend some time at Maitland library by myself to delve into the local history books they've got there that can't be borrowed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Yay I now have a surname and a back story for the hero's friend!  Have been searching through the cemetery listings and immigration lists to find something that is historically possible and that appealed to me.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I can see the danger of adding in every little bit of historical fact you find out.  It's absolutely fascinating that Prince Alfred was due to visit Maitland at that time, but is it necessary to the story?

I love this ad from the paper at the time:

I WISH you would come and TAKE YOUR TWO
CHILDREN AWAY that you left with me some
eighteen months ago (as I do not intend to keep them
any longer), and PAY ME for keeping the same. And
unless you return in one month from this date I intend
to sell what property there is here belonging to you to
pay for the keep of your children.
Taree Creek.

Got about 30 mins research done - I'm reading through an issue of the paper to get some background knowledge of the time.

Not sure how I'm going to get time by myself to do this course.  Billy is usually up not long after me and likes to talk and have some attention from the moment he gets up.  I try to block out time for work and put my headphones on so I don't get interrupted, but even that doesn't work.  If I'm trying to do 1hr work and 1hr writing each day, that's a lot of time for him to not interrupt!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Creative Writing Course

I'm so excited.  Today I signed up for a 5 week online creative writing course with the Sydney Writer's Centre.  It starts on Monday!  I'm hoping it will give me the kick in the butt I need and help me develop the habit of taking it seriously.
Got about half an hour of research done before the household woke up and disturbed me.  Have found a couple of dramatic incidences that I can use which narrows down the time to a specific year.  Is it ok to kill a very minor character off in a kid's book?

*sigh* Now back to the 21st century with a thud.

Just had an idea in the shower that adds more depth to the novel.  It gives Jamie a reason for behaving like such a spoilt brat in the first place.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

So what did I do today?  Nothing major on the book - we were out most of the day.  I did do a bit of research tonight though and have narrowed the time setting of the book down to about 30 years.  Now to do some further reading of the papers in those years and see if there is any event I could use to pinpoint it further.

Still musing over whether or not I need a bad guy?  All of my conflict seems to be internal or just circumstance like being poor & uneducated.

Just found an interesting website - http://austcemindex.com/.  It's a listing of Australian cemeteries, listing of names & photos of the graves..  That's the trouble with research - it can pull you down all sorts of labyrinths and keep you there forever :)

Our week of learning - 20th June - The Fairy and the Zombie...

It's been a short week with the Queen's B'day holiday on Monday.  That doesn't explain why I didn't take a single photo all week though - I guess you're stuck with my old saucepan for a bit longer!


Current Readaloud: "Misery guts" by Morris Gleitzman, and "How the aliens from Alpha Centauri invaded my maths class and turned me into a writer and how you can be one too" by Jackie French.

How the Aliens from Alpha Cent  Misery Guts

Audio books: Sam Hawkins, Pirate Detective.

Independent Reading: -

OtherHe's done some puzzles & riddles, and also wrote a letter to one of his favourite authors (Andy Griffiths).

Maths: Map reading and measuring.

Science & Technology: We played a game of Totally Gross together.

He created a Powerpoint presentation to showcase what he'd done for his Cubs cooking badge, and presented it at the Cubs meeting.
HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): We watched 2 episodes of Horrible Histories - Savage Stone Age and Awesome Egyptians.

He learnt about kitchen hygiene & safety as part of his cooking badge.

Creative & Practical Arts: Drama class, playing the keyboard and making up songs.  He also created and acted a 12 act play with his cousin "The Fairy and the Zombie" (they lived happily ever after - move over Stephanie Meyer!)

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): Auskick and he's discovered a relaxation CD that he likes so has done that a couple of times.

Life skills (cooking, gardening, housekeeping): Washing up, more meal prep.

Other fun stuff: Lots of Moshi Monsters, Club Penguin and Kameo (on the xBox).


OK well, here goes..

I want to write a book.  While I'd love for it to be published, I know the chances are slim.  I don't know if I'm good enough or not.  But I still want to prove to myself that I can do it.

After years of saying "I'd love to write a book", I've given myself a deadline of my 40th b'day in October.  I have a children's book in mind (or maybe YA - will see how it turns out).  At least I have the vague story line and the setting, but I don't have enough of a plot in mind as yet. 

I'm trying out some ideas from "Write your first draft in 30 days" by Karen Weisner and actually plotting the book first rather than just sitting down and writing.  It appeals to the left-brainer in me.  Its been incredibly helpful so far already - I have written one scene which I've already had to go and change a dozen times as my ideas have developed - imagine if I'd written more!

So this is my journal to keep me accountable - I'm going to post my journey here so that I don't slack off and let fear get in the way again...

Just going for it...

Remember over 12 months ago when I wrote this?   I wrote for a week or so before the fear of failure & inadequacy raised its ugly head and I stopped. 

Well for the last month or so, I've been reading all sorts of books about writing.  I've resurrected my story and have decided to heed the advice of all the books - and just write!!!!  I've started plotting it out this time before I start writing.

I have about 4 months before my 40th b'day.  I want to have it written by then - no matter how bad it is and how much work it will need afterwards!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Our week of learning - 13th June - the Sherbet edition


Current Readaloud: "Misery guts" by Morris Gleitzman, and "How the aliens from Alpha Centauri invaded my maths class and turned me into a writer and how you can be one too" by Jackie French.

How the Aliens from Alpha Cent  Misery Guts

Audio books: Various "Horrid Henry".

Independent Reading: -

OtherCompetition entry typed up, spell checked, and submitted.  It's been a really good exercise for him to follow through.

Maths: Pyramid maths puzzles.

Science & Technology: We found a couple of interesting looking experiments in a book called "Crisp Packet Fireworks - Maverick Science to try at home" by Chris Smith & Dave Ansell.

Crisp Packet Fireworks: Maverick Science to Try at Home

We made sherbet out of bicarb, citric acid, icing sugar & jelly crystals (for a bit of added colour).

We also boiled up a yoghurt pot to shrink it and demonstrate how polymers can be rearranged & molded.

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): He came along on the couple of trips to the vets with the cat, saw the microchip scanner and watched the cat get blood taken.   

Creative & Practical Arts: Drama class, and he hand-sewed a blanket to make the cat feel better.

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): Martial arts, archery (the last for the term) and an Auskick gala day - he played 3 or 4 matches!

Life skills (cooking, gardening, housekeeping): He made honey joys & jelly slice for his Cubs cooking badge and has been my apprentice chef at dinner times - cutting vegetables & meats, and learning how to stir fry.

Other fun stuff: He was awarded the Joey's Promise Challenge Award at a special ceremony at Cubs.  He was the first in the group to achieve it so they made a big deal out of it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mad week...

I *will* reply in more depth to the questions on my last post - I'm not ignoring you all, honest!

This week has been one of those weeks that feel like they have far more than 7 days! 

Our cat has been sick - so that's been 2 trips to the vet, lots of disturbed nights getting up to the cat & then lying awake worrying the rest of the time.  Thankfully they've narrowed it down to a kidney infection, we started him on antibiotics yesterday and he's starting to get back to normal - yay!

We've had the normal activities for Billy, plus a playdate and an Auskick match in Newcastle.  On Thursday night at Cubs, they had a special presentation for Billy who earnt his Promise Challenge award while at Joeys.  He was the first in our district to be awarded it so they had a presentation by one of the district leaders.  We went out for dinner afterwards so it was quite a late night.

I gained an apprentice chef this week!  Billy's been working on his Cooking badge for the last couple of weeks, and its made me realise that most of the cooking we do together is baking and his skills in other cooking areas need work.  Then I saw a post over at Julie's site with her daughter's lovely looking pasta, and was intrigued at Linda's comment that her kids started cooking a meal once a week from about 8.  So I asked Billy if he'd like to do that - would he like to become my apprentice chef, help me cook the evening meal once a week (on a night that we have plenty of time!) and then eventually cook a meal himself?  His response was very enthusiastic!  "Cool!  Can I do it more than once a week?!"  So he's been my apprentice 2 nights this week - he's cooked chicken curry & rice (including cutting up some of the chicken) and sliced potatoes for chips.  Let's hope the enthusiasm stays around :)

I didn't get to the gym again this week.  My normal BodyBalance nights are Tuesdays - I take Billy to archery in the morning, hang around there and chat with the other mums, and then we go to the park with the group for a couple of hours.  We grab any grocery shopping that needs to be done on the way home, go home for about an hour and then I take Billy back out for drama.  I do a couple of things while I'm waiting and then pick him back up.  We come home again.  By that time, the last thing I feel like doing is going back out for a 3rd time - esp on the nights Pete has squash as well, so he takes Billy to squash and then I pick him up after my class.  So its easier to just skip it.  Archery is finished for the term now and next term Billy's not doing drama, so hopefully I'll get back into routine soon.  (Except next week when Pete's squash is in Newcastle on Tuesday night *sigh*)

So this week has been very long & exhausting.  At least we've had some sunshine and gorgeous weather though!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

But if you don't force them, they'll never want to learn anything..

I just emailed a variation on this to our natural learner's group...  This is how learning happens in our house without me "making him learn things".

Just to set the scene, I have a whiteboard / corkboard combination in our main living area that I use to write up word & maths puzzles, and sometimes I’ll pin stuff on that I’ve printed off that he might like to do.  There’s no coercion to do any of it, and Billy enjoys doing them.

Anyway 8:30 tonight when he was supposed to be getting ready for bed, he spotted a maths ‘worksheet’ I’d pinned on there a couple of days ago with pyramid puzzles on.   “Can I do those now?”  (Me thinking ‘I just want to get him to bed so I can have an early night, but he wants to do maths… hmmm…’) “OK, if you’re quick”

So he did the 4 on the sheet, got me to check them, awarded himself a red tick next to them (?!) and then went looking for the “Good work” type stickers I’d bought and used a few times when we were doing “school stuff”.  Lol, sometimes I wonder…  If I’d suggested he do the worksheets then and there,  he’d have dug his heels in, I hate to think what he’d have done if I suggested marking his sheet too?!

Speaking of maths, I came across this great post the other day that may interest some of you "But what about Math?"..

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Our week of learning - 6th June - sick bay edition!

We took it easy while Billy battled a heavy cold for most of this week.  I love the flexibility of homeschooling!  It meant he missed out on catching up with friends a couple of times, but we can catch them up another time.


Current Readaloud:
Robin Hood (abridged), and "How the aliens from Alpha Centauri invaded my maths class and turned me into a writer and how you can be one too" by Jackie French.

How the Aliens from Alpha Cent 

Audio books: "One Beastly Beast" by Garth Nix, and "Grim Gruesome Viking Villain: The Cursed Sword" by Rosalind Kerven.

Independent Reading: "Edwina, the dinosaur who didn't know she was extinct" by Mo Willems.

OtherHe did manage to attend the final 1hr writing workshop and complete his story.  Now he just has to type it up and submit it for the competition.

Maths: He completed another "What number am I?" puzzle - it dealt with the wording of "the sum of the digits" which was new to him.

He spent quite a while playing a computer CD called "ClueFinder's 3rd Grade Adventures" - he had to solve maths & english puzzles to move through the levels.

We made a Caesar Cipher code wheel - he decoded a message I left for him, and then left me one as well.

Science & Technology: He watched an episode of Scope.

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): We watched the final episode of James May's 20th century called "Big City, Bright Lights" about the growth of the city, skyscrapers and neon lights.  

Creative & Practical Arts: Drama class and drawing.

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): He got to Martial arts and archery before the cold kicked in, and then played an Auskick match today.

Life skills (cooking, gardening, housekeeping): He's been doing some odd jobs around the house to earn himself some spending money.  Things like emptying the dishwasher and taking the garbage out.  He does get $3 / week pocket money, but he wants a DS for his b'day so we've told him he has to save his pocket money and pay for some of it himself.  So at the moment, if he wants money he can spend, he has to work for it!

Other fun stuff: -

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Our turn to be germy..

We've been pretty healthy all year but somehow or other I picked up a cold on Saturday.  It was more than likely at the 10pin bowling alley - lots of people sharing the same enclosed air!  By Saturday night I was sniffly & sneezing, Sunday I had a sore throat, a head full of gunk and wanted to chop it off, Monday I had some energy back but still gunky and by yesterday I was just down to the occasional coughing fit and a hoarse sounding voice.  Hooray, we're germ free!

But no, wait...

Billy came out of his room this morning with a runny nose and sneezing..

So the cycle continues...