Saturday, December 29, 2012

Quote about Goals, New Year coming and all that!

The reason that ‘a good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving’ is simply that to focus on the destination is to focus on an illusion. There is no destination, only a journey, and to become fixated on a point in the future which never arrives is to miss the journey itself.

From  http://changeyourlife.net/living-without-goals/

The article lays out what is wrong with goals and then gives some great ideas for a better way to live.  I think I will be re-reading this one a few times.  Very thought provoking!

Best wishes
Jen

Friday, December 21, 2012

Home to Public School - 41 days to go

If the count seems off it is because I thought they would start school on Tuesday 29 January but I found out the other day they start on the Wednesday.  I also found out that they are putting Jackson in to year 5 (he turns 11 at the beginning of the year) and Harrison into year 3 (he turns 8 at the beginning of the year).  I hope that doesn't cause issues for Harrison.  He is bright but his maturity may not match the others in his class with him having a February birthday, although... he is possibly more mature as he has older brothers to play with.  Hmm, don't know, will keep an eye on it all.

This a sort of out of order list of things that would bother me if they changed too drastically due to the boys being at school.  Again some things have more weight in my mind than others.

  • They need to still be able spend valuable family time together eg dinner together as much as possible and free time on the weekends, not overtaken by school projects/homework.
  • They need to be willing to play with each other and to still be understanding when their siblings are at different levels of skill and understanding.
  • I won't tolerate name calling, or derogatory remarks about other's achievements or lack of skills.  I will be very firm on this as it is something that I have always had a zero tolerance for and if the school influence is so strong that I am constantly battling this issue it will be a big deal.
  • I would like to hear that the boys treat each other well at school and do not get so influenced by peer pressure that they won't "play" with a sibling if they are lonely or struggling.
  • I would like them to have friends that are willing to visit for playdates outside school hours.  If friendships are only at school I really don't see much difference to how our homeschooling experience in this small town is working out and I will re-evaluate the "value" of school for socialising.
  • The boys need to be "allowed" to work at their own level with a bit of encouragement for improving.  I don't want to see them held back and getting bored or pushed so hard that they are not able to overcome the stress of working a little harder to achieve a better result.
  • Our health has always been pretty good and I value it.  If more than 2 weeks are lost each term due to viruses going through the family then I will not be pleased.  Of course I know the first term could be rough, new environment and all that, and second not so good with change of season stuff, but by halfway through the year I would hope they are not coming home with a new bug every few weeks.  It would really be hard to be "sick" all the time, very tiring.
Love to hear your comments,
Jen

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Home School to Public School - 44 days to go

So here is my scratch list so far of the Pro's and Con's of School and Homeschool.

I know not everything is here but these are the ones that are important to me and keep me thinking (and worrying!).

School:
Pro's
  • packed lunch
  • see what others eat, may be more willing to try new things
  • exposure to other interests eg choir, sports
  • learn that not everything is easy
  • learn to push themselves instead of coasting
  • time for me to have a hobby
  • get help to get up to "grade" level
  • will get the chance to experience a "regular" schedule of work, meals and play
  • hopefully more friends for a birthday party or play dates
  • home will be tidier and cleaner due to no kids around
Con's
  • bullies but hopefully not
  • negative attitude from a teacher
  • unable to "fit in" when it is necessary
  • uniform costs
  • pushing of reading may lead to dislike of lifelong reading
  • disrespect of mum and dad, more respect for teachers
  • miss out on a more interesting education with bunny trails
  • miss out on using lots of resources I already have
  • "system" doesn't care about my values for my family
  • house may be "too quiet"
Homeschool:
Pro's
  • focused teacher attention so won't "fall through the cracks" if some area is not learnt well
  • hugs and support when work is hard
  • can learn at own pace with choice of curriculum to suit learning style
  • better breakfasts
Con's
  • too easy to slow down too much too often
  • distraction of TV and PCs
  • Mum gets distracted by "projects"
  • Mum's health can be up and down and days, even weeks, can be missed until she is better
  • messy and noisy house nearly all the time
  • can't keep up with household chores on my own in the time available
 Well, at least now I can "lose" the piece of paper I was writing it all down on.  And not everything is equally weighted in it's impact, so the decision is still not easy.  Ah well!

Best wishes
Jen

Monday, November 26, 2012

Home to Public School - 64 days to go

So in the most part I am actually accepting the idea of school now.  I am even at peace with it.

Today I read this post from a dad about kids who don't learn how to deal with pain and how it doesn't necessarily make their life as an adult easier.  The rest of the blog is also great.  In fact bought the book and read it over the weekend.  :-)

This is a big factor in the decision to put some of my kids in school.  While it hurts my heart that they may not make friends easily, may get rejected at times (as we all do) and will have to cope with being behind/ahead in some subjects, I do also know that my kids have been protected by our homeschooling.  With everything else in our lives being fairly stable at the moment and likely to be for the next 12 months this is the ideal time to take on the big Public School Experiment. 

In the 4 years before we settled here we had moved from Brisbane to Hobart to Launceston to Dorrigo in NSW, to the Hunter Valley.  We were not in any of those places (except Brisbane) for more than 12 months.  Now we have been here almost 6 years.  I couldn't put my kids in school during that time of upheaval.  I didn't think it was fair on them when we had so many other stresses going on but now... not so bad.

I still have my boundaries in place.  There are certain lines that if crossed will mean the end of the PSE.  I will post those another day.

Best wishes
Jen


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Home to Public School - 70 days to go

Someone I was talking to today who works in the special ed part of a high school said they have to be insistent, persistent and consistent with kids with Aspergers.

I googled it (as you do) and came up with this article which was very relateable to how I have mismanaged things so far and gave me a much clearer idea of how to manage my children.

Today the middle boys, 10 and 7, went to their school for the morning.  They went well although my 10 year old, late reader, only reads at level 14 whereas the 7 year old reads at level 18 (don't know what scale they are using).  This will likely mean remedial work for the 10 year old and maybe a grade jump for the 7 year old.  They are thinking of putting DS3 (now 7, 8 in February) into Grade 3 instead of 2 as he would normally be expected to be.  I am not sure how that will go, just hope they keep him challenged.  (Nice to know for me as mum/teacher that they can't say I didn't teach my kids if one can do so well while another not so well!)

The 10 year old just wants to make friends and have kids his own age to play with.  I hope they don't dump on him for his lack of skill in some areas and that he can have a good school experience.

In discussing it all, sometimes at high volume and speed I must admit, dh and I have decided to make a check list of the things that we will not tolerate happening in school for our kids.  If too many criteria get "bad marks" then we will pull them out.  I don't want school to be a damaging experience.  I guess though my perspective of school may be coloured by my experiences of 13 primary schools over 4 states in 7 years.  Not fun being the new kid all the time!  May be they will have a great time, learn lots and make some good friends.  I have to let them travel their own journey, no matter my fears.

It may not be so easy for the 14 year old Aspie.  He may struggle and I am not so sure I want to throw him to the sharks in a system that is reducing its funding for special needs across the state.  From stories I read of those kids pulled out due to "uniqueness" to do homeschool I think putting him in school may be a risky gamble I don't want to take.

Ahh, well!!  Lots to consider.

Best wishes
Jen

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Home to Public School - 73 days to go

I had a funny dream the other night.  I always "ask" my dreams what they mean.  In other words I think of my dreams as my subconscious trying to tell me something.  If I am still in that dopey post sleep state and I am reviewing the dream I ask myself what it means and take the quickest reply without thinking as my subconscious expressing itself more clearly.

So this one answered me that essentially I am the one responsible for making my dreams of long term home schooling get taken away due to my inaction and lack of gumption.  Hmm, don't like that!  Is it fair that your own subconscious kicks you when you are down?

What do I do?  Well, I am making plans and continuing on as though the boys are going to go to school.  I will change the way we do things to fit in with the timetable of school.  If I struggle to get the boys on track with school then I will have to hand the job over and just cry at home on my own.  Really, if I can't go for my dreams (that are totally possible) then I just don't have it.  If I can guide our days onto a better path with the 'threat' of my boys going to school for a big chunk of the day (and eroding relationships we have built, taking away our choice of free time, bringing home attitudes I may not agree with, dictating what happens on our weekends due to assignments or homework) then I get to keep them home but I need to work at this lot harder.  I need to do everything I can to make this homeschool experience something that my boys will not regret.

I am looking into work potentials that will work around either option as I really feel that part of our struggles are a single income that pays the bills and keeps our heads above water but not much extra.  It doesn't help with doing the fun stuff like art or music classes, or going to live performances, or getting sport equipment for more activity as a family.  I also really need a home with furniture that means the clutter can be cleared away or I get overwhelmed and depressed at the mess.  After all, no point trying to clean up if items don't have a place to go.

I also really need to get a backbone too.  Either way!  If they are at school and bringing home attitudes I don't want in my home then I need to make sure they know what will not be tolerated.  If they are at home I need to make sure my kids understand that when I say do I mean do now, and quickly.  I need them to understand that I am in charge and that while I will allow a certain amount of freedom that I will expect respect in return.

Hmm, will keep you in the loop as I try to cope with these upcoming changes in my life.

Best wishes
Jen

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Home to Public School - 76 days to go

So I have since seen the principal and the kindergarten teacher of the local primary school and called the local high school.

The kindergarten teacher said that Griffin, with a June birthday for turning 5, is just a bit too young for Kindy.  Did you know that they expect them to be able to write a sentence by the end of the year?  Wow, that is so quick!  What I would like to know is why are there so many high school students who can not be get by at Uni standard of writing if they started so young?  Some thing is wrong there!

Jackson (10) and Harry (7) will be going for a visit next week from 9 to 12. 

I hated sitting in with all the boys while I pointed out where their weaknesses lay.  That should have been done out of their earshot.  Anyway, Jackson was "great".  When asked what his favourite subject was he said xBox at the beginnng and end of his list.  And when asked if he liked history or science he didn't reply.  Funnily enough back home when asked he could give me a very good definition of history.  And only yesterday on a cartoon a character said he would fly to the moon or Mars.  Both my 10 and 14 year old said go to the Moon and they both explained different aspects of why such as weather and temperature.  Not so bad!

I am talking school up a lot.  I don't want to jeopardise their experience.  I may have all these fears inside but I need to be strong for them.  Jackson is not bursting into tears at every mention of it now, but I do wonder how he is coping when we had a wet bed this morning.  He did sleep in compared to his usual early bird wake up so that may have been why.  He usually only has about 1 accident a year because we figured out what his triggers are and how he needs to dress in each season.  I hope this was just a one-off and not a sign of stress.

Anyway this blog is becoming my journal of how we go on this journey.  It will hopefully help me to see whether this is a good or bad idea.

Best wishes
Jen

Monday, November 12, 2012

Home to Public School - 78 days to go

Hubby and I are strongly considering putting all our boys in public school next year.  As I consider this I want to "nut out" all my fears and thoughts on this idea.

So far my biggest concerns are that my 10 year old is likely to be "behind" so he will have some struggles with work until he catches up, my 14 year old is a typical teenager thinking he knows everything and he will be in for a severe shock, and I am worried that my little 4.5 year old may cope with being away from me. Sob!

I am going to call the schools today and find out the procedure.  Bit scary having to deal with public servants who will likely think they are better than me, and with regards to education do know a lot more than me, but I know my boys and I would say I have done better than they would have with regards to shaping their character and morals.

Best wishes
Jen

Friday, November 9, 2012

So, how do you eat vegetables?

I come from a family where vegetables were eaten either of 2 ways.  And a limited variety!  My dad wasn't so big on different things.

For dinner we would have peas, corn, carrots and potato, boiled and mashed where appropriate.  I think we had broccoli every so often and cauliflower.  Pumpkin too. I do remember a little zucchini on occasion.  The other way we had vegetables was to have a salad which consisted of iceberg lettuce, tomato, grated carrot, corn kernels and beetroot.  No dressing, not tossed, just in piles on a plate with your barbecue meat or whatever.

When I left high school I was studying at a Natural Therapies college and I got introduced to vegetarian food.  I loved it although lentils and chickpeas were a bit hard to handle at first.  I still like vegetables now. 

If I have been having a big junk food run I just love steaming up carrots, broccoli, zuchini, sweet potato/pumpkin, peas, corn and cauliflower and eating them plain, maybe white sauce if I have the energy.  Always fixes the dragging tiredness of not eating well.

My family now are not as big on vegetables.  I can serve them more variety than I had as a kid but I would love to know how you eat vegetables.

Best wishes
Jen

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Keeping busy with my Avon

I have done Avon a few times over the years.  The first time was when my eldest was about 2 years old and I remember putting him into the backpack and delivering books.  It was much harder with him on my back to pick up books but I think my customers must have noticed because I would often find my books on window sills or on top of wheelie bins. :-)  I made President's Club in my first 15 months that time.

The second time I did a very small territory in a small town with 3 children, 1 in a pram, and no footpaths.  That was certainly "fun".  It was a great way to meet people though.

Now, my 4th time, I am doing essentially 3 suburbs.  It is harder and easier with 4 children.  With my oldest being 14 years old I can leave the kids at home together (easier) and go out in the afternoon or early evening to do my Avon.   At home though I now have the responsibility and care of 6 people and the education of 3 (harder).  That takes some juggling and time management.

I am glad of those previous years of experience though.  I have a method that it has been easy enough to re-implement and things are going well.

My first campaign was good, over $800 sales, but a lot of profit went on purchasing enough catalogues to cover at least 2 suburbs well so only $60 in my bank account.  My second campaign looks like having sales of $1400 but again in this busy lead up to Christmas I need to make sure I have catalogues.  I think I could end up with about $300 profit for 3 weeks work. 

I am quite pleased with that amount of earnings.  Avon is much more flexible than working at a supermarket so I am glad to have this option.  And it looks like I will make President's Club again, which means free lunch some time down the track and presentations of awards.  I like that bit!  lol

Best wishes
Jen


Monday, October 22, 2012

Peek a Boo!

Yup, it's me!  I am still here.  Just not posting much as life has been much busier.

As if being a homeschooling mum of 4 and dropping junk mail twice weekly wasn't enough I have also taken on a few Avon territories.  It isn't easy juggling the needs and wants of a family this size on an average single income.  I am very grateful for the extra money the Australian government gives to families but still I want to do more for my family.

I used to do Avon years ago and did very well with it.  Even though I have definitely had to improve my time management skills and it can be a lot of work I am very happy to be back selling their great products.  And I am getting more exercise.  Yay!

With my extra work load it seems I am getting better at prioritising and we have "found" time to go camping.  We found a great National Park just an hour away on a large lake that is safely shallow for the kids to play.  It isn't very costly, about $25/ night.  The costly part is gradually buying all the bits of equipment that are needed because the esky you use for picnics doesn't cut it for a 3 day camping trip and 6 people need a bigger barbecue than the one we bought back when our family was only 3.5 people.  I am also needing to cook ahead as I am really not a barbecue all week kind of girl.

On the school front things are improving.  I still need to get a bit more gumption in making sure the boys are not slacking off in their work but we are definitely doing better than a year ago.

So that is my update, hope to back again soon.

Best wishes
Jen


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Things are looking up!

I know I had a bit of whinge last post but it seems that just being aware of potential problems is enough to make you think of solutions and to be proactive in your attitude.

For this being my "worst" time of year I seem to be doing a whole lot better than last year.  I track our school days in Homeschool Tracker Plus.  Only the more formal type of school days get entered there.  I just don't have much interest or time to do journal type entries when more natural learning is happening.  And in review I can see that my 7 year old has done 3 times as many school days this term as compared to late last year, the 10 year old has doubled his school days and the 13 year old has gone down by 50%. 

Why does this look good overall?  After all the teenager is doing less.  But it is good, because the 7yo and 10yo have me work with them for everything whereas the 13yo is supposed to be working independently.  Just shows I am getting better but he still needs a lot more nudging (nagging?!).

I have been almost gobbling my sinus tissue salts and have drunk Coke before a headache gets really bad.  And I am talking to myself nicely too.  Amazing the difference in life when we treat ourselves better.

I am looking forward to even more improvement as I get the hang of being successful.  :-)

Best wishes
Jen

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pirate themed day

Of course you all know International Talk Like a Pirate Day is coming up, don't you?  Oh, you don't!  Well it is on 19 September and I would hate for you to miss the fun so I am sharing what I am hoping to do for the day so you have time to prepare.

We will start the day with a craft project, making eyepatches and pirate hats from black cardboard.  Treasure maps will then be handed out with each child having a map to help them find their treasure.  Treasures will include little wooden doll pirates to match our pirate ship, chocolate, gold coins, candy jewellery, a wooden initial letter with a pirate on it and a toy.  The toys include a sticker book of pirates, a snap card game with pirates, a wallet with a boy pirate on it, a box of pirate puzzles and a nest of pirates (a manoushka doll style toy). 

After finding our treasures we will be playing outside on the treehouse pirate ship which will have a pirate flag on it and sharks circling between it and the "beach" between the mango trees.

When the pirates need some down time we will be viewing Pirates of Penzance, with Jon English and Simon Gallagher.  Or they can play with the new pirates and the pirate ship on a play mat I am going to make out of blue, green and yellow fabric.  Maybe they can make palm trees and hide a small treasure?!  Or play a pirate game that we already own?!

Are you planning anything?

Best wishes
Jen

Free pirate lapbook pieces here for preschoolers.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

That Time of Year Again!

Can I please be different to everyone else and say I would prefer the dreariness of Winter over the springing of Spring?  This is the time of year I hate as the winds whip up, blowing dust and pollen everywhere and the weather warms up making grass happy and my sinuses block up quickly so that I can't breathe and am too tired to think.

Well, I guess there is one "good" thing about this season this year over past years.  I am aware that I will be totally useless unless I keep on top of my symptoms.  I am well stocked on sinus tissue salts and Coke.  Coke?! you may ask.  For some reason I haven't been able to figure out Coke, the brand name stuff (drat it!), kicks a sinus headache within a few mouthfuls and clears phlegm if I have it.  I have tried the cheaper brands but they just don't do it. 

I am not a soft drink drinker at all.  Even as a kid I preferred juice or mineral water with juice.  Now I have a fridge with Coke in it and a bulk box of them ready to go.  I hate the bubbles but I hate the headaches even more.  At least it is safer than most over the counter remedies for a breastfeeding mother.

School has been going well otherwise.  The house... not so well.   But most homeschooling mothers would understand that.  :-)

I hope your spring is doing you more good than mine.

Best wishes
Jen


Monday, August 13, 2012

Self Discipline

I am learning what self discipline is... it's the habit of making choices in each and every moment of taking actions that are in line with your goals. 

I always thought self discipline was more about grit/determination/something hard, but I am realising that making choices is easy.  I am always making choices, just sometimes it might be to stay up late even though I know it will make the next day hard to manage, or to eat the leftovers just because they are there even though it means my weight will continue to be in the overweight zone instead of the healthy zone.  I can choose to mull over something so much it causes me a huge amount of anguish or I can choose to let it go and do what I can now, in this moment.

Self discipline is not about gritting my teeth, it is about having a clear vision of what I want my life to be and then picking the choices in every moment that make it easier to be what I want.  If  I "made a bad choice" in the last moment it doesn't have to dictate the choice I make in the next moment.  I can put myself back on track towards my goals at any moment because I have the power to choose how I act and react to my world.

Over time I am hoping that making choices in alignment with my bigger picture of my life and the lives I am involved in becomes easier, a habit if you like.  Right now I am not going to kick myself over the choices I have made in the past.  I choose to move on, to make a different choice.

I choose a better life, one of my vision, not of blah!

Best wishes
Jen


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Socialising Mum

After many years of whinging about having no friends, and staying home an awful lot, I started a homeschool activity at my local PCYC.  I live in a small town in a big region, and while it seems others can travel further for activities I have found it too disruptive to both my time and my budget to attend many of these activities.

It has been scary in a way as a mum who has been kid focused for so many years to stick my neck out and arrange this activity, but you know what, it has been worth  it!  I am meeting new people, my kids are getting to play with kids their own ages (yup, an activity that suits all my boys from 4 to almost 14), it isn't costing me the earth in fuel or time or activity costs, and I think we may just be creating a new vibe in this town of just how many homeschoolers are out there and that we are a pretty nice group of people, not members of some weird hippy commune.

I am very grateful to the homeschoolers who have supported "my" activity so far and I am also grateful to my local PCYC for their acceptance of our group for an activity in a way that has made it easy to organise and keep going for a second term.  I really hope we can do this for quite some time as our town really needs it's homeschooling voice to be heard and we all need some local support ourselves in this very different adventure of life.

Best wishes
Jen

Monday, July 30, 2012

Homeschooling Fashion

So what does a homeschooling, usually frumpy, definitely over 40 and bigger than I used to be in places I don't see (or want to know about), busy woman wear to Kindergym with her 4 year old on a Monday?

Why? Pearls of course!

Well, it was either that or the red bowler hat and I am saving that for Wednesday when I go to my local homeschool activity at my PCYC. :-)



Thank you to dh for his photography skills.  Check out his website for his other great shots.  I love his landscapes, and have quite a few printed and hanging around the house.

Best wishes
Jen

Fashion and Food Recipes

So I have been playing more with both fashion and food recipes.

On the food front I had to get creative the other day for breakfast.  My favourite breakfast is Dutch Apple Baby but I didn't have any apples that day.  I only had tinned peach slices.  I put the sugar and butter in the frying pan to bubble but left out the peaches until the last minute as I didn't want them to disintegrate.

I made up the rest of the recipe as per my post, just putting the peach slices in just before I poured the egg mixture over.  It came out great.  I may have made a little toffee mixture as I had little crunchy bits of toffee around the edges.  All good!

On the fashion front I have been shopping again.  I now own some black leggings that fit inside my boots and a black blouse with a little white flower print tied with a satin ribbon.  I also got a red scarf and a red hat (see below).

All this black sounds boring so I decided to see just how much I could brighten it up.  This black skirt is one I picked up at Kmart the other day.


So, was that too many colours?  

Best wishes
Jen
who is deciding that I don't agree with being frumpy at 40.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Some days I should stay in bed...

I was looking through the little movies my kids make on my Samsung Galaxy tablet and came up with this one that I made.



Ooops!


Best wishes
Jen

Fashion and Furniture

I am in the lucky position of having a huge injection of funds into my clothing budget.

Just as an idea of huge, last year we had almost $2000 for 6 people and I got maybe $100.  This year I have divided a very similar amount into separate accounts and I am getting $700.  After all I am very close to being done with breastfeeding and pregnancies for the first time in 14 years.  It is about time my wardrobe got an overhaul.

Purchases so far have been a lovely black and white spot dress that looks like it will fit me if I gain a little (depressing thought :-( ) and will still look good as I go down in weight.  It wasn't cheap (hmm, $150 from Noni B, a Liz Jordan design) but I think it could be a definite wear for quite some time, bit like a classic little black dress.  I have also spent $100 on a very nice pair of good black leather knee high boots and a black skirt with a lovely length and swirl to it (now that was a good price, $18 at Kmart).

I have always wanted to have a co-ordinated wardrobe, you know, those ones where you start with a capsule of some core basic pieces and then dress them up or down with accessories like scarves and jewellery.  It looks like I am on my way with these black items.

Funnily enough my house seems to be going through the same transition from old mismatched furniture to pieces that I like the shape of and are painted in a creamy white called Napkin White.

I am viewing my big pieces of furniture in the same way as I view my core pieces of my wardrobe.  They are simple, plain but can be dressed up with pops of colour and accessories to suit the season and fashion.  Now, it doesn't look like my furniture will be as cheap as some of my clothes but then again they will probably last a lot longer.  

But isn't it funny how fashion and furniture can have the same philosophy - some good strong core pieces in a simple colour dressed up with cheaper accessories that match the season and fashion.

Best wishes
Jen

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lessons learned today

Well, today I learnt that my 10 year old is not very patient with himself when he can't recall what he has just heard.  And I learnt that my 4 year old is very determined to be included even though I tried my best to distract him.

We have done 4 pieces of our lapbook and I need to print out 2 more pages because the 4 year old just "had to" put some pieces in "his" folder.

Well, that's ok.  Tomorrow is a new day.  Now, where is the antacid?

Best wishes
Jen

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lapbooking Adventures Pt 1

Well, today I realised that there are only 11 days until the Olympics.  I have always wanted to do a lapbook with my boys, especially Jackson as he is my arty crafty one.  Harry would be pretty happy to do one too as he is very accepting of any of my efforts.

So this year we are doing it.  Jackson would be 14 when the next Olympics come around and I think he could be a bit old for lapbooking.  Also this year the head coach of his trampolining club has been invited to judge at the Olympics.  Wow!  So good to be involved with a group which has such great leadership and great students too.  Maybe thinking that he could see his head coach on TV will inspire him!

Anyway all that aside, I have spent a good chunk of today cutting out the bits for The Ancient Olympics book.  I now have bruises in places I didn't know bruises could form.  lol

My plan is to do this one before the Olympics start and then, depending on our enjoyment level (and my patience in cutting little things out), we will do the 2012 Olympics lapbook while the Olympics are on.  Of course we may just end up watching and using any of the other myriad of free resources available on line to track medal counts, learn about events, and the countries involved.  Yup, lots of fun to be had!

What are you doing for the Olympics?

Best wishes
Jen

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Recent owies!

I will accept any kiss betters, as long as they don't involve long hugs... not really a hugger!

My ankle - twisted just before Mother's Day.
My ankle with bruising that spread across the top too in a lovely shade of green.

My right arm, burnt by hot oil while making doughnuts on Tuesday.

Hot oil splashes up my arm when making doughnuts.

And the underside of my wrist where oil splashed up.

And doesn't that blister on the side of my wrist look gross!?

I am thinking I shouldn't do anything except surf for the next week.  lol  I don't think the kids and dh could handle having to do it all.  Love 'em but not housewife material yet.

Best wishes
Jen

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I wanna know...

how all the sheets in my front loader end up inside the single bed doona cover?  Just how does that happen?  Huh?!

I wanna know...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Twisted ankles, gaining weight and no school holidays

I twisted my ankle the day before Mother's Day (13 May) and it has taken quite some time to heal.  I have only just in the last week been able to walk on even surfaces without pain.  No fun!  It has really slowed me down, so much so that I gained 2.5kg while off my feet.  Yuk!  Like I wasn't already over weight!

So... after 4.5 weeks of sluggish mum we are now 2.5kg heavier (oops, that is just me), a huge pile of clean washing way bigger than 2.5kg is piled up on my bed and in baskets around my bedroom, we are about 2 weeks behind in school and there is a huge pile of toys spread from hither to yon and the floor looks more like the backyard with all the bits of wood (we have a wood fire place for heating) and dirt on it.  Thank goodness the carpet is old anyway (wool and threadbare in traffic areas) but I would still like to be able to see it instead of toys and dirt.

So... now what!?  Hmm, I think assigning jobs to little people to clean up their toys, dirty clothes, shoes and odd bits and pieces.  And a big vacuum, and then while I rest from that (ankle still gets wonky after a bit of walking and pivoting) I will reschedule school into our school holidays and just forgive myself for life happening.  Because after all I don't exactly have any control over that do I?

Off to rally the troops with bribes of lollies if it all gets done before lunch.

Best wishes
Jen


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Parenting and Sleep Deprivation

Someone said to me recently that with the last 13.5 years filled with pregnancies and extended co-sleeping breastfeeding that I have been basically been tortured with sleep deprivation.  Well, I thought that was a bit extreme so went googling as you do.  :-)

This article, published recently, did a study on sleep deprived new parents.  In the conclusions the researchers say that they found that the executive functions of the brains of sleep deprived parents (ie less than 6 hours of sleep per night and no day time napping) was impaired compared the new parents who were getting more than 7 hours of sleep a day.

"Executive function is an umbrella term for cognitive processes such as planning, working memory, attention, problem solving, verbal reasoning, inhibition, mental flexibility, multi-tasking, initiation and monitoring of actions.Wikipedia

So maybe she was right in a way.  I have been tortured, thinking myself a failure when I couldn't think very well.

I have been full on mothering for a long time.  First pregnancy, breastfeeding one while pregnant with second, then breastfeeding two, then breastfeeding one, then breastfeeding one while pregnant with third, breastfeeding two, breastfeeding two while pregnant with fourth, then very quickly breastfeeding one while pregnant with fourth, then breastfeeding two and finally now over 40 and only breastfeeding one.  And all that time I have co-slept a variety of children.

With all that drain on my body and brain it is no wonder I don't function so well some days and haven't done for a very long time.  I look forward to being able to function better soon when this last one weans over the next 3-4 months.

Mentally I have decided to be more forgiving of myself too.  I have been doing something that I really consider to be very important, growing and feeding babies.  It was for a season and things will change soon to allow me to do the things I have wanted to do but I have had Mummy Brain and it is ok.

Best wishes
Jen

PS Don't forget to read the comments, Rebecca had an awesome one. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Being Present and My Values

I have been thinking about my life (as you do when the grey hairs start to appear) and I have realised that I need to be present in my life a lot more. 


I am trying to act more in alignment with my values.  Years ago I wrote out my values and in reviewing them I don't think they have changed much at all.  But over the years due to tiredness, babies and just overall blahs I have dug myself a hole of guilt for the life I am not living.  I want to be more mindful of what I have and what I value in this life.

It has meant being much more conscious of how I spend my time.  My computer time has been reduced, but do you know what, it has increased the value of my "real life" and I still have enough time to keep up with friends' blogs when I do it regularly in short stints but after everything else in my day is over.   Best of both worlds!

So my values, just to remind me, and maybe remind you too if you are not being present in your real life right now. 

FAMILY: 
    I have a family which is happy to be together, who build each other and who we can feel totally safe with.  I give my children a secure feeling that I will accept them no matter what and that I will always be honest with them.  My relationship with my dh is strong with lasting ties, not just the flimsy one of a ring but a deep hearted commitment. 

FINANCIAL SECURITY: 
    I am able to pay bills on time and also live frugally so that we have funds to do the fun things like a holiday regularly and a big holiday overseas once every 3 years.  I manage our resources so that we have more than enough no matter how little or much comes into our household.

PERSONAL HEALTH: 
    I am healthy physically because I am going to live to 100 years old.  I am healthy mentally so that I live those 100 years contributing and making a difference, not just sitting around vegetating.  I am healthy spiritually so that I am more at peace as I get older, not grumpier with a life of regrets.

WISDOM: 
    I am able to teach others what I know and also am teachable.  I am a valued member of my family because I listen and have an accepting attitude.

EDUCATION: 
    I use my brain to its fullest extent.  I do not waste my potential with my education.

CONTRIBUTION: 
    I make a contribution to society, on a small scale in the groups and church I attend, and in my neighbourhood.

CHILDREN: 
    I pass on my values to my children.  I teach them by my example and my shared experiences to be responsible, community minded adults who know the value of hard work yet keep their lives balanced.

FRIENDS: 
    I develop friendships with like-minded people and work at being a supportive friend for my closer friends.  I am open to new friends and keep my current friendships strong.

Just something to think about,
Jen

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bulk buying is not always the best price

So I went shopping last week with great trepidation to a warehouse type grocery store.  I bought a large tin (1.4kg) of a nice brand hot chocolate mix and paid $1.30/100g.  At the supermarket I frequent it is $1.28/100g, not even on special, and then the store brand I actually prefer is $0.80/100g.  Boy it pays to keep track of prices.  Even toilet paper was not cheaper for 48 rolls than me buying my 6 pack of rolls at the supermarket.

Hmm, this Galaxy Tab is starting to earn its keep as I keep records of my grocery shopping.

Best wishes
Jen

Snack schedule

Things used to be very relaxed around here for snacks.  I figured they could access the fridge when they were hungry or just eat whatever they liked of whatever had been baked.  Now though as our budget gets tighter and some of the kids are not always making wise choices on the quality or quantity of their snacks I have decided to make a snack schedule. 

Monday          1    Fruit and nuts
                     2   Crackers and sour cream dip

Tuesday         1    Fruit and yoghurt
                     2   Pita crackers and mini salad

Wednesday     1    Fruit and nuts
                     2   Baked treat, yoghurt

Thursday        1    Fruit and yoghurt
                     2   Pita crackers and mini salad

Friday            1    Fruit and nuts
                     2   Crackers and sour cream dip

Saturday        1    Fruit and yoghurt
                     2   Pita crackers and mini salad

Sunday           1    Fruit
                     2   Baked treat, yoghurt

Ironically I think it is time to start packing a lunch box like I had as a kid for school.  I want to raise children who eat healthily in both variety and quantity of food.  I would also like them to learn that sometimes you don't get to eat only the foods you like.  I think learning to eat at least a small portion of a food you don't love is a good practice towards being courteous when others serve you food different to that you usually eat.  It is part of being a good guest.

On a side note a benefit could be that my baking doesn't all get eaten in one day and the electricity bill may go down because the fridge is not being opened and closed all day long by 4 little people and me.  I can hope, can't I?

I will be getting a lunch box too.  I find myself not eating enough fresh fruit so having a portion in my lunch box each day certainly won't harm me.

I am going to use 4.0 litre Decor containers.  They slide perfectly down inside the cooler bags I have bought from either Woolies or Coles over the year.  I can then slip an ice sheet down each side of the bag and lunch and snacks are done.  We will also be a lot more portable.  If I need to go out I won't need to juggle around meals but just take them with us.  

Hot lunches are a favourite around here so I think I will just add the cutlery to the box as a hint of what is to come.  I don't always like sandwiches myself so I won't make my kids eat them every day either.  I can still be more flexible about that as a homeschooler. :-)

Well, off to make up some fresh ice sheets.  Now, where did I put them?

Best wishes
Jen

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Combining Franklin Covey and FlyLady

Reposting an old idea:
I need to revisit this now I am back to using an electronic organiser.

Over the years I have tried many ways of planning.  A paper binder worked well bk (before kids) and my Tungsten E Palm was good too, but I got to a stage as a homeschooling, stay at home mama that neither of these tools were working for me.

That is when I transferred all my planning pages to index cards and created a paper version of the Franklin Covey software I like to use. I was finding that 20 minutes of daily planning was taking 2 hours of also checking emails, surfing links set in said emails, etc, and then signing off with several games of Spider Solitaire. Not a good start to the day!

Here is how I have worked it so if you're really not into the whole idea of mission statements, goal setting, prioritising etc this could be over the top. It is sort of a combination of FlyLady's CJ and a Franklin Covey planner.

I have my routines written on index cards and inserted into a photo album. The cards are in this order...

1. Morning Routine for me
2. Morning Routine once kids are up (or need to be kick started lol)
3. Breakfast and post breakfast routines
4. Chore Time only written on card
5. An empty space that I put that zone's card into each day as I do my planning (I have my house broken into 6 zones Mon - Sat and then have 4 different weeks that I rotate through for monthly tasks)
6. Yard Time routines
7. School Time only written on card
8. Space for putting post it note with quick details of school to be done
9. Morning Tea and School Time
10. Space for putting post it note with quick details of school to be done
11. Lunch and post-lunch routines
12. Table Time space for Science/History activities, Art/Craft ideas, Preschool activities, again with post it notes with prompts
13. Project Time space for my personal project time, time for kids to use PC or watch pre-approved DVD, or work together on a bunny trail from our lessons
14. Afternoon routines
15. Dinner and after dinner routines
16. Bedtime routines
17. My personal time routines

How I do my day...

On card 1 I have personal planning time. In this time in the morning I look through some index cards from a file box. These are:

1. Mission Statement/Inspirational Quote for this period of my life
2. Values eg Family, Education, Service with a short statement of what each means to me
3. Roles eg Mum/Teacher, Homemaker, Individual, Church Member, Family Member, Wife, Community Member each again with short brief statements of areas that are important to me in each role eg as Mum/Teacher giving my children basic skills in personal hygeine, 3Rs, etc suitable for their age
4. Project/Long Range Goals with tasks/steps necessary
Eg Homemaker Project 1
Goal: Tidy and catalogue outgrown boys clothing
Tasks: - Sort clothes by size into boxes
- Make a list for each size noting item brand, style of clothing, colour, condition
- Type up lists in Excel for analysis
- Send lists to my mum
- Put list in HMB (Home Management Binder)
- Move boxes to garage

I have cards for all sorts of projects and regularly check through them, pencil in dates when I write a step on a post it note for in my photo album, then cross off as done or rub out pencil because it has dropped in priority and I must do some other Project task more urgently.

I also have a Misc project card for those things that I want to do that are only one task to complete, like posting a letter off or hemming a certain skirt for instance.

Next I insert the appropriate zone card and write up lessons from my Homeschool binder onto post-its in a very brief summary form, sticking them in the appropriate spots in the photo album.

A list like in Franklin Covey overwhelms me or makes me want to do it all now and my routines fly out the window. Having only routines with no place to record big goals/projects or one off tasks wasn't working either, so this is my way of combining the two. Now I know to leave projects till the afternoon, to not get caught up cataloguing clothes when school hasn't been done yet, and other similar dilemmas.

Ok, was that overwhelming?

For me I needed to put it all in one place and my to do lists kept clashing with my routines and I was running around stressed but not doing anything important. So far this seems to be working for me.

Ask away if you have any questions.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lost in Translation

I have just bought myself a new brain, which will be very useful (I hope?!) when this old brain figures out how to use it.  I used to have a Palm that was awesome.  It has been quite some years though since I could get it to work for more than a couple of days as a toy before it would become a mini brick again.

My new "brain"  is a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7.  It is a good size to carry in my hand for reading books or for using for my shopping list.  And I am lucky that it has the latest and greatest screen type too.  Just a little bonus!

Anyway, back to the title of this post.

I bought a screen protector straight away, as any good mummy should.  This is the back of the packaging. 


Sorry for the glare, but as you can see it takes a good photo.  The first few items were translated well.  When you get to Silicon Adhesive Coating... well, No residue leaves on your LCD display when you remove it.  Hmm, little bit off, but then you get to "flossy" finish. Hmmm!  It gets worse.

Check out Remarks and tell me if you can understand it.  In case it isn't readable for you here is what it says.

"If has any question to paste in the course, can carefully to take it out, paste it again.  Keep the PET backing and paste it back after you clean the screenward(????), can push out the bubbles and paste it again."

Something definitely got lost in translation.  Or is it that my old brain really needs to be reformatted?  :-)

Best wishes
Jen

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Poor Judd is dead....

No, it isn't that drastic!  No-one has died, just our old CRT TV.  It has been going for a while but died today.

So off to the Good Guys, my favourite electrical retailer.  They have always given us a good price and from what I have read online their extended warranties are very user friendly.

Today I got myself a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7.  It is one of the latest and greatest tablets out there (not that I really cared, but dh does).  As long as it was a comfortable size in my hand and was light enough to not cause hand ache, and was compatible with Office programs I was happy.  So it will become my portable brain. I just do not have the memory I used to have and I really need to keep track of a lot of things these days.

Dh got himself a 39" LED television.  Yup, his toy!! lol

So you may be hearing more from me as I get more mobile.  I hope so, as it has been a bit lonely here.

Best wishes
Jen

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Think, Plan, Act? Evaluate?

Yup, I can plan really well.  You should see the piles of plans I have made over the years.  I am just not so good at the act stage and what is there to evaluate then?

This morning while sitting on the exercise bike I asked one of the kids to bring me a book to read.  They handed me First Things First by Stephen Covey.  I have read this book several times over and it always gives me something new.  Chapter 10 is called Learning from Living.  There is a little diagram in there about evaluating our actions to see if they are in alignment with our values.

After some reading and reflecting I created my own little flow chart that speaks to me.


Funnily it helps me feel a little more confident that I can step out and do the action part, the bit that scares me, because I know I can evaluate, reflect and plan again, my favourite bit of planning life.

Best wishes
Jen

Friday, April 27, 2012

Morning Pages Books

I have been giving the boys some morning 'warm up' activities for a while now.  Back in October I mentioned that I was printing out pages for the boys to put on a clipboard.

Well, I would forget to do them sometimes and I would usually run out due to bad planning just when I was especially needing that morning quiet time to get myself together to make up for my bad planning.  Do you ever get caught in those cycles... run out of food, can't think properly to do a shopping list, get junk food to tide you over, can't think properly, get junk food again, manage to scrape together a shopping list to match a menu plan, but then don't have much money left to spend because you bought fast food?  No!  You don't?!  Then ignore that please.

Back to what I was saying... so I would run out of morning pages regularly.  This last break I decided to print out a whole 5 weeks worth and bind them into one big book with my new cheap binder.  I was going to try for 10 weeks worth but my binder won't go that thick and it wouldn't have been easy for the kids to handle.

What did I put in them?

Here's my rotation list:
Day 1
  • Maths sheet (printed out from Math Resource Studio) suiting each child at their level of skill
  • Fun Maths sheet (I would just google some thing that could be fun, I found great Subtraction mazes somewhere.  Thankfully I tried to keep the footers with the details on the page so I can find the good ones again.)
  • Handwriting (lines to suit their skill, will be a review of their handwriting lesson that they struggled with first time in their workbook)
Day 2
Day 3
  • Maths sheet
  • Literacy task (Again just googled various things, amazing the sheets you can find.  I went with simple grammar, alphabetizing, syllables, fill in the gaps...)
  • Handwriting
Day 4
  • Maths sheet
  • Maze according to their skill level (from Krazy Dad)
  • Handwriting
  • Review (I put in a blank page that I can write a review task up on, just anything I think they need to revisit from normal lesson time.)
Day 5
  • Maths sheet
  • Science task (Good old google helped again, animals and habitats, labelling body parts, food pyramid activities, senses, all good fun!)
  • Handwriting
It has been a lot  of fun, and I am extremely grateful to my in-laws for the printer they gifted us (laser jet) that didn't fit their publishing needs.  It came with extra ink, yay!!

I like that all the thinking for half the term has already been done.  Even if only the morning book got done each day I know they have done something 'schooly' if my brain has gone walkabout (as it can do sometimes!).

Hope that is helpful to someone, and big thanks to Tracey of Little Men in My Library for her inspiration.

Best wishes
Jen


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dieting Rules

I have noticed over the years that all diets out there to lose weight have "rules".  Some are ridiculous, some are very restrictive, and some are quite reasonable, so much so that you wonder why they even need to be worded as "rules".

In watching others and reading their success stories it seems to me that the most successful "rules" are those that we think are reasonable and achievable for ourselves. 

Some would drive me up the wall, like no baked goods.  Baking is a hobby of mine.  To take it away would be to take away part of my personality. 

Others seem quite reasonable, like instead of the very restrictive no chocolate, have a small set portion of very good quality or very emotionally nourishing chocolate (or whatever your treat is).  I was trying to have only one wrapped chocolate a day from a batch we got at Christmas.  I didn't like the flavour much so it was very easy to still indulge elsewhere in my day too.  It needs to be a treat I really like and can savour.   For me possibly Ferrero Rocher, or a very smooth milk chocolate similar to Kinder Surprise chocolate.  Then I would be willing to stop at only a small portion.  Having a small treat at set times and savouring it would be much better than no treats at all, or unlimited treats. :-)


Making a rule that I need to exercise for half an hour, or an hour, every morning would not work for me.  I co-sleep and trying to get out of bed without waking anyone else is an exercise in futility.  I could make a rule for myself to not sit still longer than an hour during the day, and no longer than one episode of a favourite show at night.  That might be more achievable.  After all as a mum of 4 I have plenty of reasons to get up and get moving, to hang out washing, to do dishes, to clean.  Plenty of exercise opportunities there.

I still need to think more about some other areas that I need to work on for my health, but this has at least given me some ideas.

Best wishes
Jen

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dutch Apple Baby

This recipe is the simplified version of a recipe from here.   It is rather like a thick eggy pancake with slices of lovely caramelised softened apple, great served with cream or a dollop of plain yoghurt.

Ingredients:
2 largish Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and sliced about 5mm thick
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon (although lately I have taken to adding mixed spice instead)
4 Tbsp butter
4 large eggs
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 210 deg C.  Melt butter in a pan with an oven safe handle.  Add the sugar, spice and apple slices.  Saute until the apples slice are nicely softened and the sugar mixture is a bit bubbly.

While the apple is cooking whiz the eggs, plain flour, cream and milk in a blender until smooth.  (I have done this by hand with a fork and it didn't fail.)

Make sure the mixture in the pan is still hot and pour the eggy mixture over the top.  Place the pan in the oven with plenty of room to the rack above.

The mixture puffs up really well and looks beautiful as it cooks.  I watch it carefully after about 20 minutes to make sure it doesn't burn.  The bottom, which will curl up to become edges will be brown and a little crispy when the egg is cooked.

As it cools it deflates so make sure you tell the kids you are getting it out so they can see how big it puffs up.  I love watching it deflate.

We have lots of protein breakfasts.  I don't cope well with carb based breakfasts so try to keep carbs to snacks or as only part of meals rather than all of the meal.

This recipe (as well as Breakfast Casserole) are why we have chickens.  Now you know what I will do with 8-10 eggs a day when they all start laying. :-)

Best wishes
Jen

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Menu plan for this week

I am having one of those week where you dive into the freezer and the pantry to look for bits and pieces that can make a meal. Amazing how well you can eat some times even when you don't go shopping.

SUNDAY DINNER
Butter Chicken with Rice - uses 1 tin tomato, curry paste, lump of chicken, serve with rice

MONDAY BREAKFAST
Breakfast wraps/Apple Muffins

MONDAY LUNCH
Baked potatoes with spam and baked beans, salad

MONDAY DINNER
Spaghetti - uses tomato paste, mince, pasta

TUESDAY BREAKFAST
Porridge with apple

TUESDAY LUNCH
Carbonara - uses frozen diced bacon, pasta (may have to make pasta?)

TUESDAY DINNER
Country Sausage Hot Pot - uses sausages, tinned tomatoes, carrots, onion, serve with mashed spud

WEDNESDAY BREAKFAST
Toast, yoghurt, fruit

WEDNESDAY LUNCH
Frozen pasta

WEDNESDAY DINNER
Pasties - uses 1 lump mince, grated carrots and potato, corn or peas

THURSDAY BREAKFAST
Dutch Apple Baby - uses green apples, buy 2 if kids have eaten the ones in fridge

THURSDAY LUNCH
Tinned Sausage and Vegie meal
Pasta with vegetables and creamy sauce

THURSDAY DINNER
Kate’s Tomato Casserole Pg 138 $21 Challenge book - uses 1 tin tomatoes, 2 tins chickpeas, 1 stick celery, 500g diced beef, serve with mashed spud

SPARE - Nachos - uses 1 mince, 1 or 2 pkts cornchips, cheese, wraps possibly

SNACKS
Yoghurt - 2 tubs
Bananas 10
Corn chips 2 pkts (see spare meal)
Crackers and sourcream or hummus
Grapes
Apples (hopefully kids forget about them)

Best wishes
Jen

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sorry for not posting

Hi,

Sorry it has been quite some time since I posted. I have had a lot of stuff going on in my head and I don't really want to dump my personal ponderings on a blog. I am a bit of a thinker, probably an over-thinker, and I have been trying to nut out where I have been and where I want to go next.

One thing that has been suggested to me is to enjoy and spend some time in the now too. I can spend too much time thinking of the past and future, and lose out on enjoying what I have now.

It has not been easy, but I am trying to be more mindful and present in my everyday life.

Best wishes
Jen

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sam Walton's 10 Rules of Success adapted for Mama

I don't often find articles written specifically for Mamas managing their homes.  I do find lots of articles though about how to make a business successful.  I have rewritten this article into terms that help me in my role as mum and wife, managing my family and home.  Maybe it will help you too.

Original Source:
Sam Walton’s Rules for Success by Harvey Mackay

Sam Walton, the legendary founder of Wal-Mart, had 10 rules for running a successful business. They are simple and straightforward, but guess what? I would bet the farm that a great many businesses don't follow them—and they'd be better off if they did.

Read these and see how they might fit into your business plan. Take note that even in this tough economy, Wal-Mart is prospering.

Commit to your business. Believe in it more than anyone does. Passion is at the top of the list of the skills you need to excel. When you have passion, you speak with conviction, act with authority and present with zeal. If you don't have an intense, burning desire for what you are doing, there's no way you'll be able to work the long, hard hours it takes to become successful.
Commit to your family and the business of being a homemaker.  Be passionate about the things you do, even they seem very everyday and ordinary.  Learn about how to do things better, be happy to do them better and help the other members of your family to be enthusiastic about being part of your family.

Share profits with your employees. If you treat them as partners, they will treat you as a partner, and together you will perform beyond your wildest dreams. Employees are the lifeblood of any good company. Many companies seem to have fancy incentive programs for the big wheels, but smart companies have bonuses and profit-sharing all the way down the line.
Reward your family for contributing to your household, even if they only have a cheerful attitude and listen to Mama because they are too small for any other tasks.  Of course, also train your children to participate in creating your home by doing chores and picking up after themselves.  Have fun movie nights, take a trip to the local art gallery, make them a treat or a special dessert and always give extra hugs.

Motivate your partners. Money and ownership are not enough. Set high goals, encourage competition and then keep score. Competition makes you better and stronger. You should not only welcome stiff competition, you should actively seek it. You'll never realize your full potential unless you're challenged. Similarly, if you don't set goals to determine where you're going, how will you know when you get there? You must stay focused on your goals above all else. Truly dedicated individuals won't let anything interfere with attaining their goals.
Set goals for your family, both large and small.  A large one may be a family holiday that you can save up for by avoiding fast food.  How can they help towards this goal?  By helping to keep the kitchen clean and ready to cook in, by avoiding making extra work for Mama that will interfere with her ability to cook a healthy dinner, especially around dinner prep time.  A small goal may be getting chores done quickly each day and school finished early so that a trip to the park or the pool can happen before the evening rush of activities. 

Communicate everything you possibly can to your employees. The more they know, the more they will understand. Information is power, but it must be used to empower your workforce. You will be amazed how a few snippets of information can transform a business into a powerhouse.
Explain to your children the choices you make, in how you run your days, in how you choose to spend your money.  Help them see that there are reasons for your choices. 

It might be that you expect jobs done quickly so that school can start on time, to then lead onto a successful school day and a smoothly running evening to everyone having a reasonable bed time with time for enough sleep and energy to have a good day the next day. 

Little people don’t always see how their one little chore done quickly or slowly can flow on to affect your day and theirs.  Teach them.  Show them that they are a small part in a large machine and that every little part is important.  Let them know that their contribution is needed and appreciated in your family.

Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. In addition to point #2, find ways to let your employees know that you value their contributions. Invite your customers to share their stories of great service and post them for all to see. Catch people doing a good job and let them know you notice. It keeps everyone motivated and does wonders for retention. Remember that your successes result from a group effort.
Keep a place in your home for a “success board”.  Write up their successes, both large and small, and post them in plain view.  You could use different coloured post it notes for each member of your family so that even if they can’t read they can see that they have had successes from the number of notes in their colour on the board.

Celebrate your successes. Find some humor in your failures. Don't take yourself so seriously. Maintain a positive tone, even when things don't go as planned. Although a failure may not be funny at the time, there's always a lesson to be learned. Often, the lesson learned is humility.
Don’t criticise mistakes.  Quickly work on solutions.  We have a rule here that we are not whinge about something more than once.  I expect both my children and myself to move on quickly to solutions.  If milk is spilt, which is more useful to your child’s future coping skills with failure - you giving them a hard time and being angry or even just terse, or you quickly showing them how to grab a cloth and how to clean up their spill?  If you can’t be cheerful you can at least be practical and not nasty.  Focusing on failure does not keep us moving forward.

Listen to everyone in your company, and figure out ways to get them talking. Many people think that communication means getting others to do what you want them to do. For them, good listening means, "I talk, you listen." These people have forgotten the basic truth about being a good listener: Listening is a two-way process. Yes, you need to be heard. You also need to hear the other person's ideas, questions and objections. If you talk at people instead of with them, they're not buying in—they're caving in.
This tip is pretty much self explanatory.  Remember you are a leader of your family but don’t lead your family as though you are a dictator.  Keep the lines of communication open.  You will still need to manage your family but that doesn’t mean ignoring the needs, wants and dreams of your children and dh in the process.  After all you want them to feel included, to feel as though they have been heard and that they matter to you and your family.

Exceed your customers' expectations. There's one thing no business has enough of: customers. Take care of the customers you have and they'll take care of you by coming back—and bringing their friends. On the flip side, disappoint customers, and they'll disappoint you—and then disappear.
In your role as Mama and wife try to exceed your children and husband’s expectations.  Take some care to every so often do something really special for each member of your family as individuals.  Give a kid a treat on a trip out with only you.  Give them a surprise day off chores.  Make your dh’s favourite dinner or dessert.  Wear an outfit that he likes you in and get the kids off to bed early so you can spend some time together.  Make it so your family is a place your family wants to be and to keep coming back to.

Control your expenses better than your competition. Wal-Mart tries to help its customers follow this rule. If you aren't already watching pennies, start now.
I am personally finding that if I don’t watch my expenses that I might find myself in the situation of needing to work outside the home to be able to cover those expenses.  My dh would prefer me to be at home, managing it, and my children would definitely prefer I was home.  I need to watch my pennies, starting right now.  Remember also that money and its mismanagement can lead to a lot of stress and the tension caused due to that stress will not be good for your family.

Swim upstream. If everyone else is doing it one way, there is a good chance you can find your niche by going in the opposite direction. Following the crowd leaves you with very little room to maneuver.
Make your family the weird ones.  Make sure they are only viewing tv shows that are appropriately rated, by you, not your national television watch dog.  Make sure they are eat healthily and exercise appropriately.  Expect respect and get it.  Make sure they participate in your family, no matter their age.   Do not let your teenagers isolate themselves.  Keep them involved in your family, while also allowing them some freedom as individuals.

Mackay's Moral: If a business can survive and thrive in these times, they must be playing by some smart rules.

Families that survive are those that do the tough things, the things that are different to those other families that are not so successful.  Remember, this is a lifelong venture in how you manage your home-life and your “company” will not go under in the next big disaster.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Science for homeschooling

Science: The Search by David Quine

A science curriculum I intend to check out for boys for fun learning.  From what I read about how it works I think it really fits in with the philosophies that Doug Stowe on his blog discusses about being hands on with our education, although that isn't exactly what he discusses but what I glean from his insightful posts about education and working with our hands.

We currently use God's Design for Life curriculum as it is quick and easy to pick up and go.  We could do with some more critical thinking here though and this could hit the spot.

Best wishes
Jen

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Bubble Routine for Term 1 2012

I don't like time limitations on how I organise my days.  I have learnt that having a toddler or baby almost constantly for the last 13.5 years means days do not run to a clock.  I do however want to have some routines in place, a flow to our day that means I can hopefully get my more important things done regularly.

I have created what I call Bubble Routines, a flow to my day with expanding and shrinking bubbles of time that include certain tasks or events but do not have set times for them to happen.  For example I have my boys all do Language Arts together.  Some days it may mean the 6 year old needs more time and the others will get less, sometimes it is the 9 year old or the 13 year old.  And some days the 3.5 year old may be very demanding and I prune our Language Arts list down to the bare essentials that can be done with very little involvement from me.

Here is my ideal routines for the first term of 2012.  I am very hopeful that I will be able to act on this as I have created matching cards for myself as I find I can get very easily sidetracked.


Believe me, every day doesn't flow as well as my table does but it sure helps to see the map even if sometimes we have gone bush for a while.

Best wishes
Jen

Friday, January 27, 2012

My changing perspective on education!

I am realising that education shouldn't be about what we learn but how we learn.  I quite like my lists, checking them off and finishing a book/program.  It gives me an end goal that is measurable.

Checking off on a list the skills that dictate how we learn is not so easy.  I can make lists of experiences or follow a curriculum that "should" teach my children how to learn but it is really up to their innate nature if or when they "catch" the skills to learn.

I have been reading more about unschooling and found this wonderful post called "Some Thoughts on Unschooling" at Marvelous Kiddo.  Reading all the comments I have seen my questions and concerns voiced and answered.

My perspective has changed.  I am still wanting my kids to be educated in a structured way but I feel that I am doing them a disservice by having this as their only learning experience.  I am going to be negotiating with them on getting our structured school done quickly in the morning and allowing them the freedom to pursue their own interests in the afternoon.  I may even nominate a day for each child, ask them what interests them and drag everyone off to learn about that.  It could mean a visit to the library, the beach, a park, an art gallery, basically whatever rocks their boat.

I am also going to look into some curriculum ideas that are more hands on with no worksheets, that inspire them to think, to see how the world works.  I know of a science curriculum like this and I think I could really do with adding some more art and music too.

Best wishes
Jen

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lists are for using (take note Jen!)

I figured out some lists a long time ago for getting ready for each new school term. 

This last week I was meandering around feeling lost and not sure what to do to get ready for this term so I searched through my old files.  Guess what I found!  My old list that tells me what to do to get ready for each term.

Wonderful!  My brain can be so unfocused some days.  I really need to remember to look at my lists and use them on those days.  They could be my lifeline if I would only USE them!

Off to check off what is done and what still needs doing.

Best wishes
Jen

Friday, January 20, 2012

Life as we know it, Jen!

Does anyone else remember that song?  Star Trekkin' ... slowly going forward, things are getting worse!  lol

I definitely had to show my kids that YouTube, after all their cultural education would not be complete without Star Trek and Star Wars, would it?  Oh, and Grease, and Labyrinth, and The Never Ending Story.

Ahh, the good ol' days.  Can't even trust Disney movies these days.

Anyway back to our scheduled post.

The boys have been going to a morning holiday activity put on by a local church this week.  They love it each year.  Even my 13 year old has been enjoying it.  He is so quiet though that he finds it easier to relate to the girls than the boys.  The others are loving the craft and games.  Overall a good event for them all, and free.

We have also bought ourselves a pool, only 12 foot across and about 2 foot deep but quite good for getting cool and having a little exercise anytime we want.  Of course the security for it cost more than the pool itself but having a secure gate and back door are very important when you have little ones.

Rosie the chook is recovering well.  Her crop is not getting so stuck.  It seems I do still need to massage it at least 3 times a day to keep things moving along but I don't mind.  Chasing her around each time (why she can't just come like a dog when I call her I don't know!) gives me some exercise and amusement anyway.

We had to move a bookshelf to get to some Telstra wiring the other day so while one was empty I thought I may as well empty all my shelves and paint them white.  They are Billy bookcases from Ikea that I bought about 12 years and are still going strong.  Couldn't say the same for the Billy bookcase I got about 3 years ago.  They were a dark red brown but we needed to lighten up the room so white they will be.

It could take me a few more days to get them finished so there are boxes all over the place filled with books.  Bit messy but then you do have to break some eggs to make an omelet as they say.

Best wishes
Jen

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Garam Masala Chicken with Cranberries and Almonds

This is a made up recipe out of desperation for a change from creamy chicken.  Copy if you like, adapt if you please!

600g chicken thigh fillets, cubed
1 onion, diced
1/4 red capsicum, diced
1/4 green capsicum, diced
oil
1 Tbsp garam masala
1 400g tin of crushed tomatoes
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 zucchini, diced
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup dried cranberries


First chop the onion and capsicums and place in a fry pan on high with some oil.  Fry until onion is clear.  Add cubed chicken and brown it.  Sprinkle the garam masala over the hot meat and vegetables and stir to mix in thoroughly.  Add tin of tomatoes, 1 cup of water and the carrot.  Leave to simmer.  When carrot is cooked add the zucchini and cover.  Turn off the heat.  When the zucchini is tender add the almonds and cranberries and toss.  Serve with pasta or rice.


The almonds and cranberries were inspired.  I really think the crunch of the almonds and the tart-sweet taste of the cranberries offset all the sweet tastes very well.


Best wishes
Jen

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chooky affairs!

One of my bantam chooks has not been well.  She looked really good but after doing some research on why chooks have a lump on their breast we learnt a lot about chicken anatomy. 

Rosie had a lump on her chest about the size of a tennis ball each night.  We learnt that chickens fill their crop (the first stage of their digestive system) really well just before going to roost so they "last" the night without food.  Usually by morning the crop is empty and they happily go off and eat.  Rosie's crop was not empty in the morning.  After some extensive "natural learning" (lol) I started some simple therapy of massaging her crop in the morning and isolating her so she didn't get any food for 48 hours. 

It was not looking good.  After a visit to a not-so-local vet who was very good with chickens I found out that her nervous system had probably been affected by a virus similar to Herpes called Mareks and that her crop could not empty.

All of this, of course, had to happen over New Year's and all of its associated holidays.  I have since been very busy giving her anti-biotics morning and night, syringing 10mls of apple cider vinegar solution into her 4 times a day, giving her fennel tea once a day and massaging her crop every time I hold her for one of these events.  It has been very busy.

The good news (fingers crossed, prayers said) is that she has gained 65g in the last 5 days, her crop has gone down to about the size of a bantam egg and she is looking a bit chirpier.  She is also becoming quite tame and cuddly.  :)

I had intended to start "formal" school back last week but instead we have been doing a little formal school and a whole lot of natural learning about chickens and their digestive system and the responsibilities of owners towards their animals.

Ironic, isn't it, considering my rant a month or so ago?

Best wishes
Jen

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Planning, printing and praying

It seems to be a theme for me at this time of year to plan out the new one, do a lot of printing (I make my own calendar) and to pray a lot that I will focus on the right things and act on them.  It can be so easy to get caught up in other's New Year resolutions and to make my goals big to match theirs but as I get older I am getting more realistic.  I know I have some areas I want to work on in my personal life and my work (SAHM) life.  I will be setting reasonable goals in each, things I can work on in little steps, because life as a mother of 4 boys can sometimes (all of the time?!?) direct me in paths that I had not planned.

I know some people have been thinking of a theme word for 2012.  Last year my word was decisive.  I had a printout on my wardrobe of what it meant to me.  As I went past it blearily every morning and every evening I did glance at it.  Some days it had more influence than others.  This year I think I will do the same, have a word to focus on, but I am going to read it more deliberately.  Having a focus for a whole year is a good idea I think.

So my word for this year is Act.

The parts of the definition I like are these from Brainy Quote.

  • A state of reality or real existence as opposed to a possibility or possible existence.
  • To move to action; to actuate; to animate.
  • To perform actions; to fulfil functions; to put forth energy; to move, as opposed to remaining at rest; to carry into effect a determination of the will.
I particularly like the part of carrying into effect a determination of the will.  Isn't that exactly what goals are, a determination of the will?  I love it.

Have a great new year.  Please drive safely during this holiday season.

Best wishes
Jen
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