Saturday, May 28, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal 28 May (a long one)

The Homeschool Mother's Journal


In my life this week…
This week was still dragging due to my allergies but I have been picking up my attitude to the work that needs to be done.  I really don't know how those mums with severe illnesses do it.  I find it way too easy to make excuses and it is Not Good.

In our homeschool this week…
I have still been doing computer school but I am really over it.  I think the kids are learning but I don't think I am showing the right attitude to the work that needs to be done no matter how we all Feel.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
Woodwork lessons are going well.  The boys are getting down to the end bits of softening edges etc on their swords.   My youngest goes to gymnastics on Wednesday morning and he is enjoying it.  I like all my boys to do gymnastics for their first activity.  It is a great all round exercise.  I do wonder though that if we still had the playgrounds around from my childhood that it wouldn't be necessary to do gymnastics.

My favorite thing this week was…
I made some bread by hand this last week and I think that it will be a good habit to continue.  An upper body workout without the gym fees.  I also loved getting myself 2 "new to me" lounges for only $120.  They are my favourite dark blue and have good strong arms for boys to sit on.  The 3 seater replaces our old lounge in our TV/school room that had a cover that was needing fixing and the 2 seater has been put in the room where our fireplace is so those of us who don't want to watch TV have somewhere to sit and read.  My 9 and 6 year olds will love that.

What’s working/not working for us…
What is not working is Mama just getting over it and getting on with it.  What is working is getting the boys more involved in doing some of the chores that I let slide when I am too tired to notice.  Also on looking through my eldest's Singapore Maths book we realised he really already knows the stuff in this book.  We have shortened 31 lessons down to just 8 practice and review exercises.  If he makes mistakes in those then he will have to go back to do the whole lot.  He likes this deal.  Hmm, better order the next book now!

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…
I have been thinking through how my boys learned to read.

My eldest really struggled to learn phonics.  I started teaching him (remember teaching does not always equal learning) when he was about 6 years old.  He could not retain what was taught to him even for the short time a lesson took.  And definitely not until the next day.  I read Better Late than Early by the Moores and accepted begrudgingly that he may be a late reader but I still didn't feel comfortable with it especially as other little friends were reading and moving on with their skills.

Despite me trying again and again, sometimes for a week, sometimes resting it for a few weeks, just trying again and again, he still hadn't learnt to read by the time he was 8.5 years old.  I was getting very embarrassed by it, afraid that others would think I was a fraud as a homeschooler when I couldn't teach my child to read,  and he hated writing too.  We didn't go out much, I didn't join any homeschooling groups and I definitely wouldn't take the kids anywhere where they might be expected to read, like Sunday School.

Finally, on his own, he started reading when he was about 9.5 years old.  I was just glad he had finally got it.  But I still feel like a fraud as a homeschool mum who is supposed to be able to teach her children.

To avoid the frustrations on both the part of me and my student I have not taught my next 2 children to read.  I put them in front of games like Starfall and any other phonic based sites I came across.  They learned their sounds in a fun way, no pressure from me if they weren't "getting it".  Now they can read 3 letter words and know how to sound out new words we are getting on with reading lessons together.   Sure, I missed that moment when it clicked for them, but I also avoided many painful lessons where it just wasn't "clicking".

My method may not be the most talked about in forums or in real life groups.  I am partly embarrassed to admit I didn't teach my kids to read, but you know what?  It doesn't mean I am a failure as a homeschool mum, I just knew where my weaknesses lay and found other resources to teach my children.  After all I will probably have to do that later on for the heavier sciences or higher level maths.  What is wrong with doing it earlier on?

And my eldest, well, he has since been diagnosed with mild Asperger's, which explains an awful lot.  I wish I had known earlier and not beaten myself up so much.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
From one of my favourite songs:  Mama by Nana Mouskouri  This song is why I wanted to be called Mama instead of Mum.  Grab your tissues before you read the lyrics.

This is the tale of a little boy
Wandering far from his home
Most of his family were with him then
And nothing but life did they own
 
Tortured by war in their native land
Their only recourse was to flight
Tracing the path of the sun by day
And led by the north star at night
 
Onward they pressed to the promised land
Not knowing if that was the way
And none of the children could understand
And this little boy used to say
Hey, hey, hey

Mama , where do we go from here
Mama, why can' t we stay
Mama, is daddy very near
Mama, why do you pray

Down came the winter, the food was scarce
The people were falling like flies
Disease helped starvation make matters worse
And parents resorted to lies
 
Hush, your mama will soon be well
Though all they can do is to wait
And one little boy hears the doctor tell
The others he thinks it' s too late
It' s too late

Mama, he whispers quietly
Mama, you' re looking old
Mama, why don' t you answer me
Mama, your hands feel cold

He rushes out into the chilly night
He can' t believe what he has been told
The tears in his eyes start to blur his sight
And freeze on his face with the cold
 
But in the next camp, there is a mother mild
Who's mourning a son passed away
And fate brings the cries of the little child
To her just as he starts to say
Hey, hey, hey

Mama, she knows what she must do
Mama, she thinks of her
Mama, I must take the place of you
And take him into my care

Mama, oh oh...

Thanks for hanging in until the end.

Best wishes
Jen

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal 22 May

The Homeschool Mother's Journal


In my life this week…
The week started out well but later in the week I found myself not feeling so great.  I am allergic to the most common grasses here in Australia and it seems my sinuses were on overdrive.  So annoying as it all happens "behind the scenery" so I don't really realise there is an issue until I fall in a heap, tired and dragging.  And being a breastfeeding mama I can't take many anti-histamines, not that I have found one that is effective anyway.

In our homeschool this week…
We did get some school done this week but by Thursday I realised I was letting the side down so nominated some websites for some school learning at the PC.  My eldest worked on this one for some geography and world lessons and also tried his hand at Hangman (which he is not very good at so will be doing more of) for some spelling.  All the kids used this site for some logic and maths games.  My 9 year old had a lot of fun with a game called Wooden Paths 2.  Even I liked it.  The 6 year old used Starfall for some phonics but is now bored with it.  It looks like I need to find another free phonics site.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
There wasn't much out and about stuff this week due to bubba being sick but we did get to our woodworking lesson.  It is always a nice break for me from little voices.  I love them but sometimes it is nice to have just an hour conversation with only an adult.  The woodworking teacher's wife is lovely and we are having some great talks.

My favorite thing this week was…
Somewhere in my surfing this week I found this site and I had a great time reading all the posts on creating habits, ditching bad habits and just getting on with what we want to do.  I really think that I am starting to get a handle on why my weight loss and exercise goals are not working.  I like to know that there is hope and to know how to get my groove going.

What’s working/not working for us…
Ironically what worked well for us this last week was me finding a solution to those times when my allergies flare up and school is not working.  Nice to have a Plan B, don't you think?

Computer school is not my most favourite solution but then with over 4 computers in this house it isn't hard to implement and it gets me off my PC so I can rest like I should when not feeling well, instead of sitting here feeling guilty for not having enough energy to do anything.  (Oops, sorry for the run on sentence!)

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…
I wonder what others have for their Plan B days.  For when there are lots of appointments, or housework has become a mountain of yuk, or even just those once a month moments.  How do you handle these down times?

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
A screen shot of the Wooden Paths game mentioned above.


Best wishes
Jen

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Country Breakfast Casserole Recipe

This post disappeared in the Big Blogger Botch Up of 2011.

In a large shallow casserole dish lay out 8 hash browns in a single layer.  Cover with 150 g of mince cooked with a diced onion and 150 g of browned diced bacon.  Sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups of grated cheese.

Mix together 6 eggs and 2 cups  of milk and pour over cheese.  The dish can be put in the fridge overnight.  In the morning bring out to warm up as the oven heats to 180 deg C.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the mixture is set in the middle.  Serves 8


I have varied this by using cooked potato slices instead of the hash browns, and have another time flavoured the mince with Mexican seasoning.   It still disappeared.  Of course, that could be due to having 5 males in this house!  :)

Best wishes
Jen

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Grocery breakdown 14 May

This week's grocery breakdown relates to Week 4 minus the roast.  Thankfully dh could see my stress levels rising as I got to the end of the supermarket for meat and produce.  He let his favourite meal go and we have substituted a soup or two.  Pumpkins were less than $1/kg so pumpkin soup will definitely be on the menu this week.

Fresh Produce $55.48
Dairy Products $28.79
Frozen Goods $7.98
Meat $24.55
Bread $5.00
Pantry Items $67.16
Bath and Baby $0
Dog $0
Treats $0

Spent at supermarket $188.96

I also did an early morning trip to my local Steggles outlet and bought 6 kg of thigh fillets for $36.80, 10 twin packs of Sweet Chilli Chicken wraps at $2 each (normal supermarket price approx. $8) and 2 1 kg bags of chicken bites similar to KFC chicken for $8.50 each.  Total $73.80

Total spend: $262.76

The chicken will last quite a while which is good, but the freezer is still very low.  It is not normally as empty as it is now but I would like to defrost it soon.

We have been planting out lots of seedlings and now that dh has shown a willingness to try more soups I can see our budget going down over the course of the year.  I also look forward to having chickens when spring comes around again.

Best wishes
Jen

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal 14 May

The Homeschool Mother's Journal


In my life this week…
We stayed home a lot and got lots of school done.  The kitchen did eventually get sorted after my sore shoulder of last week but I still need to tackle the mountain of clean laundry in my back room.  Menu planning went well despite a squashed smashed sort of squishy budget.

In our homeschool this week…
We had a fairly good school week.  While we didn't get everything done that I had planned we did get a lot done.  My two younger readers are doing very well.  Amazing how a little playing on phonics games over the Easter break can really help cement things.  We are waiting on new maths workbooks for 2 children though as I had to order them from NZ.  I really need to plan further ahead for these so I can order them from an Australian supplier.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
We didn't go anywhere much last week.  Wednesday was my day out with gymnastics for my 2 year old in the morning and woodworking for the 3 older kids in the afternoon.  They are making wooden swords and so far have used a handsaw, done some planing and used a chisel.  No loss of fingers TG so far!  Touch wood!

My favorite thing this week was…
I am very grateful to know that this year my hot water service will have enough hot water for dishes, baths and showers.  Yay!

What’s working/not working for us…
What isn't working is having my computer near our fire place.  I get too hot and drowsy and end up tired with a headache.  I will be moving it soon.

I am very pleased with the Fitzroy reading program my middles are using.

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…
I am starting to think about next year for my eldest.  At this stage I know he will be continuing Sonlight for his history but science has me totally flummoxed.  Looks like I need to visit a friend or two to see what else is out there.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…



My beautiful marigolds along my front fence before some yobbo last week decided to drive along the footpath and along my garden beds after a big music event in my town.   They are all in the compost heap now.  RIP

Best wishes
Jen

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal Tuesday 10 May

The Homeschool Mother's Journal


First of all apologies to The Homeschool Chick for being so late.  Now on to the interesting bit.

In my life this week…
I had a very busy beginning of the week.  Recovery was not quick for this easily tired Mama.   It really didn't help that on Friday I hurt my shoulder and was unable to raise my arm.  Just having the baby rest his head in my elbow hurt.  Needless to say I entered this week with lots of washing and washing up to do.

In our homeschool this week…
We kept ourselves busy this week by doing woodworking on Monday, a local gaol tour on Tuesday, dentist visits on Wednesday,... well, that tired me out and not much happened for the rest of the week.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
Last week's gaol tour was pretty good.  It was nice to see a lot of other homeschoolers.  I don't get out to meet up with them often as I am a bit of a homebody.

My favorite thing this week was…
I really managed to get my head around some things with regards to my role as Mama in this house.  I realised that firmness can be good.  Some of my children are taking longer to realise that Mama is in charge.  But I will not be run all over anymore.  At some stage you just have to take a stand, ya know?!

What’s working/not working for us…
I had a dream the other night that made me realise that me letting my children be in charge of how our days go is not working.  While it might sound more "peaceful" now it is not for their good in the long run.  They need me to lead and that is what I will be doing.  It sometimes take a bit of personal gumption but the results of that dream remind me of the potential harm by me not being a stronger backbone for this family.

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…
I think that one thing I have loved about homeschooling is that my Aspie kid has been able to learn at his own pace in his own peculiar style.  Better Late than Early helped encourage me along the way in this relaxed approach.  But in hindsight I have realised that I have wasted about 3 years of productive learning time with my other children who are neuro-typical.  They are thriving as I put more structure and higher expectations in place.  Just shows that you need to meet each child where they are at, and not expect one philosophy to fit all even inside one family.  In my opinion it is a good idea to know a little about all of them and implement the ones that suit each child best within the framework of your lifestyle.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
I found this calendar to suit my school calendar.  I was having a lot of trouble figuring what number day of the year it was without having to find some obscure calendar I hardly ever use.

Best wishes
Jen

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Jen's tips for money crises

You may want to know why I think I have any authority to give out tips on handling your finances while in crisis.  Well, in a nutshell here is my resume.

In 18 years of marriage my dh has had only 7 years of full time employment, and 2 of those have been the last 2 years.  The other 11 years have been part time or casual employment, no employment and studying.

Over that time we have had a personal loan, usually for a vehicle, almost all the time.  We have tried to not have credit cards but at times we have had them too.  Some times we have had Centrelink loans and some times student loans.  And at one time we had a mortgage.  All this to say... I know how to live with limited funds and large commitments.

Here are my tips:
  1. Have a budget, know where your money needs to go and where your money is going.
  2. While times are good pay ahead on all loans of any type.  This gives you a buffer when things hit the fan, and because of your good payment history can help if (or when) it comes time to negotiate with the lenders due to continuing tough times.
  3. Pay your bills in this order:
    1. Rent / Mortgage always; Car, Life and Contents Insurances; Utilities; Loans - minimum; Credit Cards - minimum
    2. Vehicles Expenses - Rego and Insurance, Petrol; Medicines; Groceries
    3. Savings for Car Maintenance; Clothing; School Expenses; Children's Activities; Extra on loans; Health Insurance
  4. Do Not Tweak this order.  The items in 3 should not come ahead of 1 for any reason.  (The only exception is Health Insurance if you already have a policy and can keep making payments.  My family has gotten by on the Australian public health system which is not ideal but has kept us alive and mostly healthy and can't afford health insurance at this time.)
  5. Set up automatic payments through your bank for all items in 1 so you don't have a chance to spend the money before these commitments are paid.
I have lived on such a tight budget that the items in 3 were not even a possibility unless I managed to save on groceries or on petrol.  It is not fun at first but after a while it just becomes one of those things you do.

I have added up my grocery trolley as I shop and I have ditched items at the checkout as I see the tally getting higher.  It is embarrassing but necessary.  One of the great things about life now is that I can do my shop online and tweak my list until it fits my budget before I even go near the shops.  I print the list to take to the store to make sure I am not paying more.  Thankfully my closest store is cheaper than the online shop so I have a buffer for mark downs or a treat.

Oh, and learn to bake.  It takes very little money to feed hungry boys with cocoa, flour, eggs and sugar in the house.

Best wishes
Jen

Groceries Breakdown 6 May

Well, after last week's shock of over spending I had to pay back Peter.  (As in Rob Peter to pay Paul!)

After 2 meals of fast food we had a minuscule budget.

Here is the grocery breakdown for this week.
Fresh Produce $31.40
Dairy Products $8.25
Frozen Goods $5.04
Meat $14.02
Bread $0
Pantry Items $19.61
Bath and Baby $3.98
Dog $0
Treats $6.00

Spent in total $88.30

We still have snacks for the next week, fresh fruit and plenty of vegetables and I will be cleaning out the freezer so I can defrost it.  It is very old and needs a good defrost anyway.

Do you want to know what we are going to be eating for that small shop?  Here is our menu for this next week.

Sunday
B - Country Breakfast Casserole
L - Chicken Enchiladas for Mum and Dad, and Fish for boys
D - Devilled Sausages (from scratch, hate packet mixes)

Monday
B - Apple muffins, Cornflakes
L - Chicken wraps
D - Spaghetti

Tuesday
B - Baked Oatmeal
L - Macaroni with spam and vegies
D - Roast chickens, picked and put in wraps with salad

Wednesday
B - Egg and Bacon Wraps
L - Vegetable soup (crisper soup)
D - Granny Own's Chicken Casserole (has potato, onion, mushrooms, allspice, fennel and bay leaves, sour cream too, yum)

Thursday (pay day)
B - Porridge
L - Homemade Sausage rolls

After a good few year's experience of living on very little I know what meals are frugal.  These meals are not as frugal as some but then my family won't eat beans.  And you have to know your limits.

Best wishes
Jen

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A conversation with a 12 year old

Me: Where are you?  You're supposed to be doing the dishes.

Him:  I am on the loo.

Me:  Why is it you always need to go to the loo when I ask you to do something?  You can watch TV for hours or play on the computer and not need to go but as soon as I ask you to do something you need to go.

Him:  (Raspberry)

Me:  (Raspberry)

Both:  Giggle

Well, I guess at least we are keeping the lines of communication open, if you can call blowing raspberries at each other communication.  lol

Best wishes
Jen

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Do you have any UFOs at your place?

I mean UFO in the quilting sense, UnFinished Objects.  Today while surfing I found a lady in Victoria who is co-ordinating the distribution of quilts, crocheted items and knitted items to people in Victoria and Queensland left homeless by the floods late last year and earlier this year.

I know I personally have some left over quilting fabrics from the one time I thought I would try sewing.  One cushion cover later I decided it was all too hard.  My mum and I have also been crocheting a rug for years but after a long time it isn't much bigger than 50 cm square.  This lady has said she will get UFOs finished and donated to people who really need them.

If you do sew please check out what you can do.  Winter is coming and it is going to be really rough for a lot of families.  Her address is in clear view at the top of her blog.

Best wishes
Jen

Watching my food Day 5 and 6

Yesterday was a complete write off.  I sadly now know that they have the kJ value beside each meal on a McDonald's drive thru menu.  Yup, McDonald's for lunch and I think I am going to just stick my head in the sand about how many kJ there are in an Angus with fries and juice.  And then to dinner!!!

My excuse - have been so busy that the dishes were not done from Monday fully before Tuesday afternoon arrived so my sink was overflowing.  Sadly it was also leaking and the maintenance guy came by to redo the seal around the drain... couldn't use sink for 24 hours at least.  So as all good well-prepared people do I "flexed" around my curve ball and ordered pizza.  Yum!!

So today I just moped.  And ate lollies, and fruit cake.  And not a single healthy thing yet while trying to do dishes in a basin.

Ok whinge over.  Tomorrow is a new day.  Portion counting and timing of meals will be my focus.  Well, after I get the dishes finished.  :)

Best wishes
Jen

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Breastfeeding and losing weight!

I have been wondering if my goal of 8000 kJ is too low.

After some looking around I have come up with this site.   For my activity levels which you can tell are pretty low I can eat about 11,100 kJ.

So maybe my weight gain is not due to eating too much but not eating my meals at regular spacings (I forget to eat in the busy-ness of mornings and then munch all afternoon) and from eating very little vegetables and too much protein.  On the two days I calculated my protein I had close to 100g protein.  I am supposed to have 70g due to breastfeeding.

It might be time to change my way of journalling.  I think I need to count my portions of foods to see that I am getting a good balance and try more to have evenly spaced meals during the day.

Wish me luck,
Jen

Monday, May 2, 2011

Watching my food Day 4

Overall intake: 9483 kJ

Overall exercise:  negligible

High point:  I found a site for calculating calories on my recipes.

Low point: I am getting to the point of getting sick of calculating every little kJ.  Going to try to stick to it for one complete week.

Total kJ for Monday: 9483 kJ

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Watching my food Day 3

Overall intake: 9020 kJ

Overall exercise:  676 kJ grocery shopping for an hour

High point:  I avoided high energy snacks today and discovered that 2 corn thins with creamed honey, no butter, is a nice emotional snack for me.  404 kJ

Low point: After shopping I ate my toddler's leftover finger bun.  Now that was over 1000 kJ I didn't need.

Total kJ for Saturday: 8344 kJ

Best wishes
Jen

Groceries breakdown 29 April

It was a shocker of a grocery shop due to needing a few big cost items like nappies, toilet paper, 2 lots of shampoo and conditioner, and toothbrushes bumping up the Baby and Bath section.  I also needed to refill a few pantry staples all at once making the pantry section explode.

This grocery shopping relates to Week 2 of my monthly menu plan and again the Frozen Goods category goes up due to having frozen fish.  I am going to have to change that somehow as we would prefer different varieties of fish anyway.

Fresh Produce $62.75
Dairy Products $28.88
Frozen Goods $21.13
Meat $26.69
Bread $30.02
Pantry Items $101.54
Bath and Baby $95.45
Dog $11.69
Treats $6.27

 Spent in total $384.42

Just a tip for those who go through lots of bread - consider making your own (trying that this week after a long break) or try wraps/tortillas.  The wraps keep very well in my bread box and hold up quite well for chicken and salad which is our usual way of eating them.

I asked dh if he wanted to know how much we spent this week.  H*ll no!  Hmmm, wonder who likes to bury his head in the sand about these budgetary matters.

Best wishes
Jen

How much snack for your dollar? - Potato chips vs Banana

Cavendish Bananas
 $12.98/kg
Serving size: 1 banana

Energy: one 100g banana has 250 kJ according to my Borushek's Calorie Counter.  That is one small banana by the way.  A larger banana would have 545 kJ.  Anyway on to the next bit.

Potato Chips
In this case Red Rock Deli Honey Soy Chicken Deli-style Potato Chips
$2.00 for 45g or $44.44/kg
Serving size: 45g

Energy: 926kJ

Banana $1.30 per 100g serve, 250 kJ per serve
Potato chips $2.00 per 45g serve, 926 kJ per serve

Gee, paying over $12 per kg for bananas due to the Queensland floods earlier this year doesn't look so bad now, does it?  On a $/kJ basis the potato chips are cheaper but if you are trying to eat healthily then the banana is quite good value.

Best wishes
Jen
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