Sunday, October 30, 2011

What a busy week!

It feels like a month has past since the last blog post I wrote - but when I looked, its only a bit over a week!  Admittedly it was a very busy week...

First up we dealt with a gastro / flu bug that slowly worked its way through the whole family.  I was the first to succumb and took a couple of days to recover, fortunately it then waited a day or two until it hit Billy...  Then Pete came down with it on Friday.

In the midst of that, I'd offered to help my FIL with the accounts of an organisation he's involved in, after their treasurer left them in the lurch and tax paperwork was due last week.  That took up way more time than I'd anticipated but its done now.

What else?  Oh, we got family photos taken for my Mum's b'day.  The last time we had a family photo taken, I was 18!  My eldest niece is now older than that :)  So my nieces, sister, parents, Billy & I had a photo shoot done by a friend of mine - the very talented Melissa at EWI photography!  I've had a sneak peek of some of the photos, and can't wait to see the rest.  (Pete was sick, so we have to get some more taken with just Billy, me and him - it was too hard to co-ordinate another time when all the families would be available!)

Pete and I went down to Sydney on Friday for a work exhibition show - seminars on the Internet and access via mobile devices etc.  We stayed overnight in a lovely room with Harbour "glimpses".

On Saturday, we went to watch Bell Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.  It wasn't the worst I've seen, but it certainly wasn't the best.  The acting was strong, but some of the stage direction left me a little bemused.  And at two hours without a lot of action, I had to fight the urge for a nanna nap a couple of times :)  It was quite a relaxing weekend on the whole.

There was also a trip to the chiropractor, and the usual cubs, drama and archery.  And it was my birthday last week as well.  This was my present from the boys - a Sony e-reader, complete with funky case and its own light!

So definitely a week of ups and downs..  I'm hoping for a less "full-on" week next week!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Splash park

We went to our local pool today with some friends.  The kids spent most of the time in the new Splash park.  One of the things they loved best was the big bucket - every 10 minutes or so it would fill up with water, tilt and spill over - to their great delight!

Click to see the animation..

Spill bucket


Time for an ice-block!

Exploring our local area: Camelot Lavender Farm

We went on a homeschool excursion on Monday to the Camelot Lavender Farm.  Which is actually a bit of a misnomer as its not a lavender farm anymore.  Apparently its being renamed to Camelot Heritage Gardens and Exotic animals or something.

So, no sweeping fields of lavender anymore.  But they did have some rare and endangered breeds of animals that we could see.

Anglo-nubian goats

Feeding the goats
The one on the left is an alpaca, the one on the right (the big one) is his baby - alpaca / llama cross!

Al the alpaca


More llamas - they've been shorn hence the scraggy look!
Not exotic - a rescue donkey - althought they did have several hinnies in another paddock (offspring of a male horse and female donkey)
There were also endangered breeds of sheep (whose names escape me) and I think they also have some endangered breeds of pigs.

And another rare breed:

The 'I don't want my photo taken' Billy  :)  Notice the lavender in the background!
We also found out that you can only eat the English lavender - the rest have camphor in them.  Most of us had to buy a lavender chocolate just to test it out :)

After the lavender place, we headed back down to the river where we went a few weeks ago.  Unfortunately this time the weather was overcast and a bit cool - didn't stop some of the kids going for a swim though!

My camera battery had died by then, so just use your imagination!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Region Scouting Day

Today Billy went along to a Region Scouting event called GAS (Gather All Sections) - a day for Joeys, Cubs, Scouts, Venturers and Rovers from around our region.  Some packs will be camping overnight, but our pack just went along for the day.  It was held at Glenrock Scout camp - an area of the Glenrock Conservation Area that the Scouts own.  Its in a beautiful setting - it opens onto the beach, with a tidal lagoon running beside it and surrounded by bush.

And what a full-on day it was.


Inflatable slides

Giant Jenga

Giant checkers
Giant shoes - How am I supposed to walk in these?
Flying fox

Rock-climbing wall

Tired but happy boy!

There was also a mud course (what a shame we hadn't taken a spare set of clothes!), a rope bridge, bungee trampolining (luckily he didn't want to wait for this one - the wait was over an hour!), catapults and a few other activities that I can't remember.

Well done and thank you to all the leaders and volunteers that work their bums off to provide such fun for the kids!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Day in my life - Oct 13

Its been years since I did a 'Day in the the life' post and I suddenly felt like it was time for another one.

Today was a fairly typical day.

I was up at 7, fed the cat & changed his litter, then sat down at the computer to read blogs, catch up on email etc.  I have a backlog of email to get through as I've been busy getting a client's website to her design.  I made myself some toast & a cup of tea and ate it at the computer.

Billy emerged about 8:30.  He's usually up before me, so a sleep-in was very unusual for him.  He's been having trouble falling asleep lately though and still getting up early, so I think he was catching up on missed sleep.  He headed for his computer and not long after was chatting to a friend on Skype while they both played on Minecraft.

Pete wandered out and headed for his computer to start work for the day.

I showered, tidied a bit around the house, made Billy some breakfast (bacon & cheese bun that we made yesterday), packed the dishwasher, washed up the remaining frypans etc and swept the kitchen floor. 

I also made some jelly for dessert and some more 'magic cordial' mix as we were running low.  While doing that, I also helped Billy with how he could add extra authors for a new blog he's setting up.

About 10:30 Billy switched the TV on for the school shows while I cut up some fruit & crackers for morning tea.  We caught the end of "Being Chinese", then watched "Behind the News" together.  Its a kid's current affairs show - discusses world events in easy to understand ways.  I learn heaps from it :)

I sat with Billy while he did some Khan Academy - today he chose to work on the number line lesson (using negative numbers) and reading tables.  Both were pretty easy for him - as long as he paid attention to what the question was actually asking!

Checked my email again while Billy went back to Minecraft.  He's busy designing a new 'skin' for his character - something that involves a lot of patience and a steady hand with a Paint type program.  You have to work at a pixel level to create the look you want.  He's checked out a library of skins that other people have uploaded to give him some ideas.

I gathered the books & CDs together to take back to the library later today. 

The weather was starting to look rather bleak, so I made toasted sandwiches for lunch - leftover roast pork, tomato & cheese for Pete and I, and plain cheese for Billy.  We watched an episode of 'Legend of the Seeker' while we ate - interrupted by a phone call from one of Pete's clients.  'Legend of the Seeker' is a fantasy series (with lots of sword fighting and nice chests!) based on a series of books by Terry Goodkind.

Billy worked on his blog, skyped friends, watched YouTube videos, played Minecraft and worked on a new website he's creating, while I put the finishing touches (I hope!) on a client's website.  Then I caught up on reading a couple of lectures I'd missed on the writing course I'm doing, sent in one assignment and thought about the other one while I did some ironing.

After a search through the house to find Billy's gi, we headed out to dragons with a stop at the library on the way.  Somehow we ended up borrowing more books than we returned! 

Dragons went well.  I help out teaching the little ones and white belts, so I'm not sure what Billy was doing during class.  I had a couple of little preschoolers that were a challenge to keep focused but we made it through!

We came home, I cooked dinner (sausages, mash & veges) and we watched Ramsey's Best Restaurant and started watching the new Grand Designs.  I did some stuff on my laptop while I was watching - made a few more changes for the client, read some blogs, typed up this post. 

Billy went off to bed about 8:45pm - Pete read some of a sci-fi book to him that they're reading together, then I read a chapter of the next Deltora Quest book to him and tucked him in.  Bedtime always takes a long time!

I made myself a cup of chai tea and sat down to watch the end of Grand Designs (we'd taped it when we put Billy to bed), and send some emails.  I helped Pete with an issue with one of his websites before calling it a night.

Its 11pm, I'm just about to pack up, turn the dishwasher on and head to bed.  Quite late to bed for me tonight.

And now I'll leave you with a random cute cat photo to finish :)


Monday, October 10, 2011

School holidays

We learn year round, so we don't really take holidays as such.  The school holidays though provide a nice break from the routine of external classes.

Billy has done some weather observations.  He made a rain gauge and a windsock, and is taking daily weather readings of temperature, cloud cover, wind speed & direction, and rainfall.

We went to see a local production of Roald Dahl's "Fantastic Mr Fox" that one of his friends was in. 

He had a couple of playdates with friends, as well as playing with the neighbourhood kids more.  Being school holidays, "schooled" kids had more time on their computers, so he spent a lot of time playing Minecraft and Portal 2 with them over the internet.

We had a b'day party for his cousins where he got to meet his newest baby cousin, eat cake, play soccer and rough-house with his boy cousins and uncle.

We also had another party where he discovered the "joy" of karaoke. 

 Dragons continued through the holidays - he earnt his 100 badge for 100 hours of training.

We've been watching Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone on DVD, listening to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on audio book, watching Legend of the Seeker, and reading Deltora Quest (just about to finish reading City of the Rats).  It's all pretty magical at the moment :)

So now holidays are over, and its back to routine. Inspired by the warmer weather and by some reading I've been doing, I'm planning to get out and do different things more this term rather than getting stuck in the day-to-day rut.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Still writing

I haven't posted about writing since the conference but I am still slowly working away at it.

I set up my netbook in the spare room, and for a few weeks got into a lovely habit of writing every morning, averaging around 500 words / day.  Then something happened.  I can't remember what, but I had a really busy week so the routine was broken.  I tried to start again, then we had a few weeks of really cold weather - and it was really cold in the spare room - so I stopped again.

So at the moment, I'm not writing every day, but instead grab a couple of hours each week to lock myself away and do some writing or editing.

I'm now up to 9,600 words on my women's fiction (working title "Sisters").

At our last face-to-face writer's group meeting, we brainstormed some possible plot paths for Sisters, and some fantastic ideas came out of it.  Now I have all these ideas swirling around in my head, and I'm not sure which way to go.  I've signed up to an online Plotting course for October - hopefully that will help me work out what to do!

I also now have 2 critique partners - one is a friend of mine in our face-to-face writer's group, and the other found me through the critique partner matching scheme run by RWA.  So far so good - even though we all write in different sub-genres, they've both had some valuable input into my wip, and hopefully I've managed to add some useful comments to theirs.

I'm giving Sisters one final edit and then entering it in the RWA STALI (Single Title and Loving It) competition this week.  Hopefully I'll get some valuable feedback - and even more hopefully it will do well in the scoring :)