Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Running in Circles.

Yesterday I finally managed to catch up with what Ditz has actually been doing. When we've been home I've been madly scrambling to catch up on chores & prepare the house for my next absence. This would be less of an issue if we didn't spend so much time travelling. It is the travelling that is the real time waster.

It is shocking how unbalanced things quickly become if I lose my grip. Ditz has been plodding along faithfully with her reading so her reading is up to par with English, ahead with history & for some strange reason behind with science. I think I thought we were ahead & haven't been setting it so now we are behind. Math..., well lets just say I think some revision work is in order. However Ditz has totally ignored all the experiments for science. Can't say I blame her. Not my thing either. I think we will just ignore them. After all she understands the principle, which is why the experiments are done, & frankly I just don't have the time to waste on something I personally see as another time waster. True scientists will be appalled I know but I'm not a scientist & neither is my daughter & at this late date I don't think that's going to change! I want Ditz to do some type of notebooking so she can show what she has learnt about history. I said drawings, cartoons, diagrams, writing or a mixture ~ her choice. She doesn't want to do any of it so I have that battle to be fought. Unfortunately I have to be able to show something.

Do I sound like I'm hitting panic buttons? The thing is I've very deliberately been moving to a literature rich program knowing that books will stuff the information in even if I don't have much time to retrieve it & I do think it's working as I did 2 dictations with Ditz yesterday (yes, we were behind on those too!) & her spelling & punctuation are really improving just from all the extra reading she is being made to do. When I chat with her about her science I can see she understands though she often struggles with words to express herself properly. For a child who has a very big vocabulary, writes well, reads the thesaurus for fun & never stops talking she can be strangely inarticulate. I am feeling inadequate in the homeschool arena. Life is really getting in the way at present.

Ditz was working really well yesterday but we had to finish early because I had Liddy's car to deal with before choir. I'd gone on~line & downloaded all the forms for new plates. I'd taken said forms up to Liddy during her lunch hour so they could be filled out & signed by her. I'd nabbed her learner's license & a permission note saying I could accept new plates on her behalf. I'd collected a variety of different sized screwdrivers so I could put on the new plates & timed my departure for when I expected the least amount of traffic & difficulty because this time I was driving past the cop station in broad daylight with no plates front or back!

God really looked after me. He is sooo good! I only had light traffic going into town. I got a drive through parking space bang in front of Queensland Transport. The place was almost empty & I didn't even have time to pull out my book before my number was called. It took all of 5 minutes! I was worried about getting the plates on. Having looked I needed to get my hand up behind the metal & twisted at a funny angle to do it. I walked over to the garage to buy some screws & they said if I brought the car over they'd do it for A$10~. Believe me, it was worth every cent!

I then lugged Ditz up to the Fruit Barn for supplies; why do my kids insist on eating?! Down to Woolies to get essentials like noodles & Vegemite (yes, that disgusting black stuff in the jar) by which point Ditz was making *I'm going to faint from hunger here* noises. I figured we'd left home just after lunch & weren't getting home again till after 8pm, so I fed her & we went on to choir.

This was an extended rehearsal. Four hours of non~stop singing, blocking, moves, with all choir members coming together for the first time. Ditz, who thought she would be singing her 3 little words from her usual spot safely in the back row of the choir has found to her shock & horror she has to storm to the front of the stage, thrust her hands on her hips, glower at the audience & bellow out, 'That's too expensive!' for all the world to see. Yikes. She has to time it just right as there is a lot happening on~stage though it should all flow smoothly. Ditz was incredibly hyped by the end of the night & every week I have to take that home. I was exhausted & I come home to Iss!

Iss knows my routine & he hates like poison when it changes. He won't come in the house for anyone else so I invariably meet him as he races to beat the car home, sits in a prominent place where the headlights are bound to pick him up, & then tries to kill me by tangling round my feet as I stagger towards the house. Invariably it is easier to pick him up, whereupon the purring like heavy machinery promptly begins. He can make me feel so guilty ~ like I need another guilt trip! Having slobbered all over me he showed his disapproval by taking himself to bed with Liddy. Good luck, Iss. She kicks!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Another God moment.

Liddy is trialing for the District soccer team; first step towards state then Nationals. We missed last year thanks to the broken collar bone so it's been about 4 years since she last competed at this level. Naturally she was pretty nervous.

So yet again I was on my way to the mainland! I hate the place & I am starting to hate it more & more. Anyway we left straight after Liddy finished work & drove into Tingalpa where out of the 50 expected players just 18 rocked up. Four of them were goalies so Liddy's chances of making the team skyrocketed. That so cracks me up!

Anyway we were meandering back to the car when Liddy goes, 'Is that...? Are we...? Oh, no! The back number plate's missing!' Walked round to the front & yep, the front one's gone too! I went into meltdown. I had no problem driving the car in when I thought I had number plates back & front (even though I actually didn't); different matter entirely when I had to drive knowing I was illegal! I have authority issues. I hate getting in trouble even though this wasn't really our fault & I would happily have driven home in complete ignorance! Knowing I didn't have number plates on when I should have just completely did my head in.

So we are driving home with me quivering like a *Nervous Nellie* (to Liddy's absolute disgust!) when Liddy starts giggling. I was not impressed. 'But mum,' Liddy explained, 'it's such a God thing. If you'd noticed before we went in to trials you would never have driven me in & I would have been spewing because you wouldn't so God kept us both blind until it didn't matter because now you have to drive home. We can't stay here.' True, oh Solomon! What's more, as Liddy so thoughtfully pointed out, we need to be grateful that all the damage was a set of stolen number plates, which can be replaced. They didn't slash her tires or smash her windscreen or break into the car, or milk her petrol tank~ none of the things that would have made the car undrivable. So I guess today I'm dealing with the police & QLD transport. What fun!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

On cooking.

Ok, my American buddies, don't shoot me but something came up on my forum recently that both surprized & shocked me. A British lady was enquiring about the use of pre~mix cakes in the States & I was shocked at how many women, American women, said they couldn't cook a cake from scratch & that pre~mix cakes were so much easier. Truely?

It's not that I've never used a pre~mix but baking from scratch is not that difficult. If I can do it anyone can. In point of fact I would think I had failed in my duty to raise my children if I hadn't taught them all to cook from scratch ~ boys & girls.

Now I don't like to do pastry; I don't like the way it clings to my fingers & crawls under my nails but I can make pastry & I have taught the kids how to make pastry. After all there is a stage when they like nothing better than to play with the food! I don't like to cook either but I can put together a meal that includes all the basic food groups with my eyes shut. It might not be an interesting meal but it will be healthy & nutritious. Liddy, who enjoys food in all it's various shapes & forms, is even better informed nutritionally to accomodate her body's sporting needs & Ditz likes to bake & is a good little cook. The boys are very good cooks too & the trawlers rose up & called me blessed because my boys did not have to be taught how to put together a fast, filling, basic meal.

I didn't think I was that old~fashioned but being able to cook from scratch strikes me as being one of the fundamental necessities of life. Maybe I'm wrong? What I do know is that if they ever replace a solid meal with a pill I will be first in line!

Homeschool Highlights.

Being Down Under & a day ahead I'm posting early but we have a big week ahead so it's now or never. Click on the picture to link to Ellen & find out how to join in the fun.
We are so off~track at present it's not funny but that's how it goes sometimes when the kids are involved in performance activities. Everything gives way to pre~production week, including academic work. Oh, we are still plodding along, mostly reading, but science experiments, testing, workbooking ~ forget it. So you could be forgiven for thinking Ditz hasn't learnt anything much this week. On the contary Ditz learnt one of the most important lessons of her life this week.

Now Ditz is the youngest of 5 children which means everyone in this house is bigger & older & allowed to do more things than she is. She has been going on 18 forever. Very scarey. There are 6 whole years between Ditz & my next youngest. That is a huge age gap just now. Ditz is 12; Liddy is 18.

I do not believe I am a *helicopter mummy*. Just the same I wasn't allowing my 12 year old to travel into town on her own ~ at night, by train, unsupervised ~ for a music master class. David Kidd, one of the Ten Tenors, was running it & as Ditz is singing at the next Ten Tenors concert she was keen to attend. Fair enough. I abandoned the rest of the family to their own devices so I could take her into town. I bet you can hear the wails of, 'Muuuum!' from all the way over there.

So my beloved child didn't want to know me as we trotted down Brunswick street. Only the fact she had no idea of where we were or where we were going kept her in my orbit. I understand. She no longer wants to be thought of as little ~ & she's not. She's just not as big as she thinks she is or would like to be just yet either.

Coming home we were racing to make the last boat of the night home . One of the joys of island living. We were standing at the lights when it happened. An old man, & I do mean old, in his 60's or 70's at least, white haired, wrinkled, hit on my daughter. It would be fair to say I was nearly as freaked as my daughter. I gave him my best, 'One false move & you are so dead, mister' looks & he hurridly backed off. My child re~evaluated the blessing of having mummy by her side to ward of unwanted advances. Even better, she told me so. Reality check, Ditz. You are 12. Twelve is not big enough to handle some things. That is why you have adults in your life to handle these things for you. Somehow I think she now has that picture pretty clear in her head. I do hope so. It will make the next few years just that little bit easier.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Musings on Saturday.

Indulge a moment of madness here. My blog counter now says more than 1000 readers have passed through the Nest. Woo~eee!!! Yes. Well. Hm. Small things, small minds, you know. It tickled me.

Otherwise I am looking at more handholding. Liddy discovered yesterday area trials (which lead to state & National trials) begin at Tingalpa on Monday. Will she, won't she; should she, shouldn't she? These are the BIG questions consuming her at present & she is sharing with who else but little old me. I am such a lucky mummy!

Actually I am a lucky mummy. We took two other kids to the soccer with us. Poor old Ditz got to stay home with dad because, 'Liddy sold my seat!' The child doesn't even like soccer. I digress.

So the younger kiddie is Ditz's age. She arrived wearing a very nice shirt ~ that she was falling out off. After our experience on Thursday I cringed but she's not my child & by the world's standards she was still modestly dressed. That shirt would have been immediately trashed if it had been brought into my house. Anyway Liddy goes off to do her thing leaving me with her friends, neither of whom is particularly comfortable around adults & decidedly uncomfortable around one they consider to be more than a little mad. I am so over the inarticulate teenager thing!

At which point my twins arrived with their best buddy (my de facto son) & Theo's girl, that he wants me to meet. She is sweet & shy & has a piercing through her bottom lip. I'm so pleased Ditz stayed home. She would have been charmed beyond words. As it was Liddy's soccer team was charmed beyond words, eyeing of the gaggle of males that had arrived to cheer Liddy on. Very funny. Does she own one? Can we hit on them & not tread on toes? The lads are so used to attracting this sort of attention it barely even registers any more but no one was in a hurry to leave after Liddy's game. A flurry of phone calls to ensure it was all right to bring our guests home on a later boat if we stayed on to watch some of the premier game & it began. Youngest child began a diatribe against her mother that lasted (on & off) for the rest of the evening. Liddy has heard it all before but I was rather shocked. I mean my girls & I have our moments but not even Ditz has sunk to such levels, not even in her angriest moments.

I know this child's mother loves her but there seems to be a conflict of interests. Daughter does not like mother's boyfriend. Daughter did not want to be dropped at the adult party her mother was at with a lot of inebriated adults. Mother thinks daughter should fall into line but made no provision for her entertainment at this event. I made no objection when Liddy went in to ask if we could bring the child home with us where we just fed her & put her to bed. One can not run other people's lives for them but Liddy & I, seeing the rocks looming ahead, are rather saddened. OK, it's hugely wearing when my girls start obsessing at me about either soccer or music but really, I am blessed. That is far better than being shut out, ignored, irrelevant & watching my girls become close with anyone else but their own family.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.

April 25th is ANZAC Day. Anzac stands for Australian & New Zealand Army Corps. What Anzac day celebrates is a military bungle of rather massive proportions. History according to Ganeida tends to be a little on the colourful side & not strictly how the text books like to describe things & given my anti~war leanings anyway I always approach ANZAC Day with ambigious emotions.

Do I believe we should remember our fallen soldiers who died doing their duty as they saw it? Yes. Do I attend Dawn Services? No, not anymore.

The first Anzac Day occurred during the First World War when ANZAC troops were landed on a secluded Turkish beach in a bid to eliminate Turkey from the war. Well, they got the wrong beach & what should have been a quick skirmish soon forgotten in the horrors of war turned into a protracted stalemate with no winners & lots of unnecessary deaths. The waste of lives horrifies me. The sheer stupidity of the thinking horrifies me even more.

Now my issues with war tend to be rather personal. Firstly I am quite old enough to remember Vietnam in vivid detail. I have huge issues with a government that was quite happy to send our young men to a foreign country to be butchered then refused to recognise their sacrifice. Thankfully that has been rectified but it should never have been an issue. Secondly we have many, many men on this island who served in Vietnam & without exception they have been seriously damaged by that experience. And then there is the Second World War. That is the one my father & uncles served in. My grandmother had four sons on the Japanese front. Norman didn't come home. None of the others would ever march in the parades or attend the Dawn Services. To a man they would never speak of the war. They were small town men, farmers & gardeners. War was utterly foreign to them. My father flew the big carriers into PNG ferrying fresh troops in & the shattered wrecks of men & dead bodies out. It changed him. He never forgot that experience...& he never spoke of it.

See, when I think of things like Anzac Day I don't tend to think of the dead, who are dead & out of it. I tend to think of the living: the men who became abusive towards their families out of trauma, (& there have always been plenty of those), those who became less than sane, those who lost sons or husbands causing financial & emotional hardship, the shell~shocked no longer capable of holding down a job. I think of the ongoing nightmares & all those souls plunging into eternity. I see nothing glorious, only the stupidity of mankind who has never learnt to resolve conflict in a sensible way. What saddens me is that we will never learn from our past. You will hear of wars & rumours of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. (Matt.24:6)

In Canberra, which is our political capital, there is a National War Museum. Like plenty of others I've strolled around the courtyard scanning the names on the roll of honour for a family member. Norman's name is there along with the name of every other soldier who has served in a conflict Australia's engaged in. Every name represents someone's grief, someone's heartbreak. There are a lot of names. That's a lot of grief. It's a wonder God's heart doesn't break at the folly of it all.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Venturing into Brisbane.

I don't like Brisbane. I keep saying this & I keep landing in this dullest of cities. Brisbane lovers say how livable it is (if you like being slowly simmered in a humidifier), how cosmoploitan it's become (where have they travelled?), How pretty (Hmmm...). The river is as brown & sluggish as the Yarra (Melbourne's river) & the place is a maze of one way streets. OK, you have the picture. I just don't like the place, being a Sydney girl myself & having absolutely no sense of direction.

So Thursday we were on our way into Newstead. I did consider driving in ~ briefly! A passing moment of madness. Instead we opted for the train. Now Sydney gripes about its public transport fully as much as Brisbane does but I have never been thrown of a train that said it was going my way as often or as regularly as when I travel Brisbane rail! One stop short of our destination we were racing up stairs & down stairs to make our connection. Moving at speed is not Ditz's thing but panic is. Not a good combination! I was getting rattled having opted for a mud map instead of dragging the refedex with us. Why do I do these things?

Now I know so little about my own capital city (I know. I know. Please, no lectures.) That I didn't even know that Brunswick street is the wineing & dining centre of Brisbane. It was simply the street that was going to get me to where I was going. On the map it looked about a 10 minute walk. Half an hour later Ditz was convinced I'd lost her in the middle of Brisbane beyond all hope of redemption. 'How can I be lost,' I snapped, 'when we're walking a grid?' Blank look from my beloved child. I explained grids & why I was walking one; so that we wouldn't get lost!

All this for a 2 hour master class with David Kidd. When I recover my equilibrium & get over the migraine I may consider it worth it. At present what looms large in my mind is the class running overtime & me with one eye on the clock knowing it's an hour on the train, 20 minutes in the car & if I am lucky enough to get a 9pm train heading south that will barely get us on the last boat home. There are days when living on an island is sooo much fun!

I hurtled out the door at a brisk trot my reluctant child trailing in my wake but sharing how tight out time restrictions were was definitely not advisable. I had a full head of steam up & was hooting along, Ditz huffing & puffing in my wake. Every set of lights she caught up as we wove our way through the city's night life revellers. Ditz had her big boots on so I could hear her clumping along behind me.

There were, with Anzac day & dawn services the following morning, police everywhere, which was reassuring despite mobs of inebriated young men milling about aimlessly & Ditz, who doesn't like Brisbane either, was keeping me close. Just the same, we were waiting at the last set of lights when glancing at Ditz I noticed a little white haired old man trying to hit on my daughter. Now I know Ditz is tall & well developed & carries herself like a queen but for crying out loud she is 12 years old! She dresses like she's 12. She dresses modestly. She's not allowed make~up. She was a kid wearing a back~pack & carrying a flute! Ditz moved a little closer & I put a hand protectively on her shoulder & the creep took one horrifed look at my *mummy tiger* face & hurridly backed off. I was looking round for one of the prolific coppers.

There were hordes of them at the train station nabbing fare evaders & under age binge drinkers & the rail guard hearded everyone into the first 3 carriages & patroled those 3 carriages constantly, which made me feel a whole lot better as the rails don't have a particularly good reputation.

We arrived at the jetty to find the boats were 1/2 an hour behind schedule & we finally arrived home about midnight 14 hours after we left. Given how awful I felt last night I feel pretty good this morning. Another day & I might actually feel like it was worth it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Todays D & M.

I have been thinking (& don't ask if it hurts! :P) about our hidden lives; the lives we don't talk about or blog about, life after the computer screen goes dark & the lights switch off & why I blog as if I'm as ditzy as my ditzy daughter. What is the meaning of it all?

Did I ever mention I'm not much of a realist? My reality sucks. Oh not all the time & not unendurably but a lot of it's not fun either. We exist on a disability pension. This puts us well below the poverty line. You see Dearest has so many things wrong with him that if he was a horse you'd shoot him & put him out of his misery. He can do very little thanks to a broken back which means I live in an unfinished house with no storage space & Dearest is underfoot 24/7. This is not happy news for someone who enjoys her own company & already has one chronic people person trailing her about. To the homeschooling add the duties of a full time carer. Doing anything outside the norm is a nightmare in logistics & logistics are not my strong suite. To this volaltile mix add two people with some mental illness. (Besides Issi). One, happily, is not living here at present. The other is medicated to the hilt. Improvements in mental health mean their meds no longer turn them into walking zombies (we have lived that scenario & it was not fun) but it does not make for the most stable of environments for raising children either.

The old adage says you either laugh or you cry. How we face what life throws at us is a choice. I choose (for the most part) to laugh & stay focused on the positive things in my life & the strength who undergirds me, my Lord & saviour. The things of this life will pass. This is the furnace to refine us into gold fit to adorn the Father's presence. One day we will know as we are known & not only will there be no more tears there will be no need for them for the old will have passed away & everything will have been made new. I don't expect to have to sweep dustballs from under my heavenly bed either! With no decay housework should be so much easier. There are houses so there will be housework but maybe once things get done they will stay done!

So as I read about each & everyone of your lives I wonder about the things you don't say & can't share. I know some of you face health issues. Some are simply overwhelmed by life. We are told not to be surprised when we face trials & tribulations; they are to be expected in this life. Everyone has something & that being the case I'd like to thank each & everyone of you who takes time out from your busy day to read my dribblings, share a giggle & leave a comment to brighten my day because you have blessed me. And I do so like to be blessed! ;D

Monday, April 21, 2008

One Neurotic Cat.

Just in case you weren't already convinced that Issi is completely neurotic, here's the pic Ditz snapped last night.

He'd tried to get into my lap 3 times. Unfortunately there's a couch jammed behind the computer chair & no room to move the chair back so not enough room available for one oversized cat. Undeterred he went for the keyboard & mouse. I think he was taken from his mother far too early. Some of his behaviours are quite bizarre.

Homeschool highlights.

Click on the picture to link to Ellen & find out how to join in!

Here in Oz we've just started reschooling after a term break; Ditz's music puts us on the public schedule, more or less. So what has Ditz learnt?

~That if she flips her pony tail over her face & holds it in place with a cap she can have the fashionably short haircut her mother won't give her.

~That silence is a virtue on long car journeys when you are sharing the back seat with a big brother.

~That having an emotional meltdown due to sickness is a good way to render strong male flute teachers helpless.

~That even grandmothers who complain about the endless singing are proud when you announce you have a 3 word solo at a TTT concert.

~That if you behave like a civilized human being big brothers & sisters don't threaten to half kill you every 10 minutes & turn out to be fun to be with.

Yes, most of this week's highlights were character traits but Ditz has a bigger than life persona & squeezing it into the confines of ordinary life has never come easy for her. She did pretty well this week~ oh, & she did pretty well on the academic front too. Way to go, Ditz!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The weekend.

My mother is getting tinier & tinier amongst her growing grandchildren but I think she had a nice time with everyone round & the kids do well together though poor Dino got dragged round the Plazza for hours while Liddy shopped for clothes. Neither he nor Ditz were madly impressed.

We went to the Eumundi markets, which used to be fantastic when the kiddies were little & full of people who did their own hand crafted items. The markets have grown huge & commercialized (like so much else) & are nowhere near as much fun as they used to be.

However we spotted these hand made jackets dyed with vegetable dyes & Dino bought me one because, 'That is so you, mum.' Well I think it is lovely but I appreciate the thought more.

After the markets we had a look at how mum & dad's old property has been sub~divided. There are 13 blocks between 1 & 7 acres & the green corridor along the creek beds where the rainforest grows & the platypus play has been kept intact, which pleased us all.

The whole weekend was wet & windy so the beaches were out. Dino says a weekend with the girls was fine but a whole week would be too much! I think they are all too much. They like to be busy & doing things.

We left mum's after an early lunch Sunday for Liddy's soccer game. Poor Dino. He was nearly beside himself at the way the girls were playing & itching to get out on the pitch & show them how it's done. I thought they would do all right. Liddy, who was playing out on the left wing but has a knack of positioning herself just right, scored first after a fairly even 20 minutes. Dino captured the moment on film. Lid's in red in the middle of the scrimmage round the goal mouth. Normally the team takes heart if she scores early but not on Sunday. They just lost it psychologically & ended up going down 3~1. Liddy was really put out with them. She gave them the psychological advantage & the scoreline advantage & they didn't capatalise on it.

We had very little traffic & good flow coming home so were back on the island by 7.30, to the pschotic ones great delight. He knew we were coming & was, by all accounts, bouncing round like a yo~yo in his delight. He slept with his head over my heart & I got loved on hard all night long. That cat really is something else!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Two things.

Another Yay, Ditz! moment. We can't wait to share this one with her grandmother. It is too, too funny. The rehearsals for the Ten Tenors concert are now in the fine tuning stages, as they should be. The concert is only a few weeks away. The ensemble has the music down pat & they are working on things like French pronounciation & sss. They are also assigning solo lines. Ditz actually put her hand up for one. These are always given out on a volunteer basis so no~one feels pressured if they aren't feeling confident but not only is Ditz fairly new she is one of the few students not also taking private lessons. Well, she got her line! She has to sing alto & out of tune!!!! Too, too funny making. And she was told she does it so well! The look on Ditz's face! It wasn't meant as a back~handed compliment but Ditz is too smart not to have got that joke. Guess what I got all the way home in the car...& on the boat...& in the car? No prizes.
Meanwhile Liddy's away game this week is at the half way point between home & my mother's & it is on a Sunday. Dino & Liddy both have Friday off so we are going to make a weekend of it & take a flying visit up to see mum, leaving {hopefully} on the first boat Friday & coming on home after her game on Sunday. Dearest is in charge of the psychotic one. No, Liddy doesn't get to drive on the highway but I am hoping Dino will sort out his lisence so we can share the driving. His driving is quite good so long as he sticks to the speed limit & with mum in the passenger seat he has no choice!

Monday, April 14, 2008


This week's quote is in honour of MrsD's post over at Dishpan Dribble & all the great people who congregate here...So here's to you ladies!

"Think where man's glory most begins and ends,And say my glory was I had such friends."- William Yeats


My friend, Siano, who sometimes posts here at The Nest, works in a cat shelter & sometimes fosters which point she rings me & numerates their charms knowing perfectly well I'm an absolute sucker for anything that purrs! This time she even sent me pics. Smart lady. I absolutely adore ginger moggies but the psychotic one really would go psychotic if I brought another cat home & loved on it. Aren't they adorable, though?

We've always been a 2 cat family so your days of being an only cat are numbered, Iss.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Almost Free Ditz Holiday Project.

This sad & sorry specimen is chocolate mint. I don't know what happened to the poor plant but it was in a sad condition when I bought it. As it was the only specimen there it was that or nothing. I might have gone with nothing but this was a Ditz holiday project. Chocolate mint was the only thing she was interested in.

The pot came courtesy of a friend who was given one of those *candy trees*. Her boys didn't like the candy & no~one in her house gardens so we got both the candy & the pot. Handy, I thought, & perfect for a Ditz project. Even the pebbles cost nothing. They came out of the defunct fish tank. We haven't successfully managed to keep fish for love or money & now have a huge tank, given to the children years ago complete with goldfish, that is pretty much useless. Every so often I look at it & consider a miniature glasshouse but it's a cruddy old tank & I've never been able to bring myself to do it.

Ditz isn't much of a gardener, not really. Anything that requires getting her hands dirty she pretty much leaves to me. She's keen in theory & mint is pretty much unkillable so I set her to shoving a layer of pebbles in the bottom of the pot as drainage. (fuss, fuss, fuss.). I sent her to put in the soil. More fuss, fuss, fuss. The mint was root bound so I broke its plastic container apart & plonked the plant in its new pot but left ditz to finish filling the pot. Yes, fuss, fuss, fuss. I looked & shook my head. Ditz hadn't firmed the soil down because that would require getting her hands dirty. Honestly! Back inside to put a layer of pebbles over the soil as mulch & a good watering whereupon Ditz happily took it away to display proudly on her desk.

I believe everyone should know the basics of growing things, & most of mine have been avid gardeners, even Theo who is my Mr., Neat & Clean freak. They've all laid claim to various parts of the garden in order to grow their hearts desire, all except Ditz. She is the anomaly & to prove it go have a look at her latest art project at CJay's Waffle..

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Cruel, cruel mummy.

I am in trouble with both my daughters, though for slightly different reasons. Let's start with Ditz.

Queensland has been on school holidays. Whoever taught Ditz to read should be shot. {Yes, I know it was me, but now she can read she knows when the school holidays fall & insists she's entitled to holidays; I don't necessarily agree,} Normally I keep Ditz's music going because...well, it's music & she needs the practise & she told me this week music is no fun unless you've got someone to yell at you. ??? I think she likes being held accountable but that statement was so off the wall I'm not going there. Anyway, for one reason or another all her music was cancelled this week. No piano. No violin. No choir. No flute. No band. By Wednesday the child was moping round with a long face. By Thursday she was climbing the walls. Friday saw her deep in a depression. Saturday she was anxious to be out the door before Sian could ring & cancel piano again! Naturally this musical deprivation is all my fault. What was I thinking? Hush, hush, dare I even suggest she's missing her schoolwork? Don't know about Ditz but I think I will be glad when Monday arrives & we start back up. I can't stand her like this!

Then there's Liddy. This too is all my fault. Naturally! Saturday arrives & Liddy knows perfectly well Ditz has a piano lesson. It is a good 15 minute drive & she has her eye on her hours. I quibble. She hasn't got L~Plates. {Ditz made Liddy a set better than the real thing} No way am I driving through the middle of the island on a Saturday morning {our busiest time of the week} with a driver not competant in traffic; with a driver who has never had another car come towards her, ever. Liddy had a backroads route worked out. No way was I going on dirt roads with a driver with so little control over her vechicle. All bitumen. I caved.

Ditz was told to open her mouth under peril of never being able to open it again & belt up. We did pretty well till the first T intersection where Liddy promptly stalled & we sat patiently for 10 minutes while she kangaroo hopped her way across the intersection in a jerky series of stops & starts. I finally got through to her it is really hard to take off in 3rd gear!

This was Liddy's first longish drive & I kept her to about 40 K. Anything over that & I can feel the car start to drift so I know she's not really got control. She wasn't real happy. She likes to test her limits but I so wasn't happy in the passenger seat & she's pretty good about trying to follow instructions. We had no real trouble until about 1/3rd of the way home. Another T intersection. Liddy is really starting to hate these. She'd just rounded the cornor a little wide when a whole series of cars converged on her. I could feel her freezing up & then she realised one of them was her boss. Total panic. She was all over the road & pressing down on the accelerator! Yikes! 'Brake! Brake! BRAKE!' I said, careful not to scream in case I sent her completely loopy but an edge of hysteria was creeping in. I eventually got her calm & we toddled down to the shop, parking in a side road as I didn't think Liddy was up to the vagaries of parking spaces.

Liddy orders some crispy chicken bites to calm her shattered nerves & hands me the car keys. 'You drive the rest of the way home, mum.' Tempting. My nerves weren't in good shape either. I thought about it but the best thing to do after a fright is try again & regain confidence so I handed those keys right back. Liddy nearly died on the spot. 'Muuuum!' she wailed. I insisted. Nothing for it; much better to finish on a positive note & she drove the rest of the way home really well.

Both my girls think I'm really, really cruel. Good thing I'm not always a total pushover.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Liddy moments.

My gorgeous Liddy is the 4th of 5 children but the first girl & consequentially something of a Queen Bee. She also has a sweet & compliant disposition so has been very easy to raise. (Ditz is a cat of another colour entirely!) Homeschooling brought us a lot closer too so when she began work we missed each other & Liddy liked me to bring her lunch, freshly made, up to her.

I don't think Liddy was expecting grown women to behave like schoolyard brats. For months she has endured the heckling & the catcalls when her lunch arrives. If she leaves something at home she rings & asks me to bring it up; mostly I do. If she needs more lunch on a day I've just sent it with her, she rings & mostly I make her another sandwhich or take up her keycard. If it's cold I do her toasted sandwhiches & take them up warm, or soup or chowder in a covered bowl. If she finishes early she rings & I go pick her up. Yes, I run after Liddy a lot, but as she has been trying to defend herself at work, she does things too. She often cooks when food & I part company. (this happens on a pretty regular basis.) She'll often put a load of washing through for me. She hassled no end to get me Jonathan Creek because she knew it was something I'd particularly enjoy. She shouted me dinner for my birthday, shares her sweet treats, lends me money when the boys have eaten us down to the bare boards & are too broke themselves to contribute, pays the upkeep so we have a mainland car. Nothing has made much difference. The teasing has continued unabated. Finally Liddy snapped & snarled, 'Do you really think mum would do all that for me if I was a horrible daughter?' Good point, Lid. In the stunned silence her little temper tantrum created someone finally blurted the truth. 'You do realise we're all just jealous?' Maybe, but is that any reason to make Liddy feel bad about the relationship she has with me?

It's not like we have the perfect relationship. When we lose it with each other the kid gloves come of & it's no holds barred. Nasty, very, very nasty. Dearest ducks for cover. Ditz gets clobbered both ways for trying to re~establish peace. Thunder rolls round the domestic horizon but you know, eventually we get over ourselves, the 'tulmult & the shouting dies' & recognizing we're sinners & fallible we move on. We both know Liddy's joking when she refers to herself as the 'perfect child' , though for balance I've got the 'perfect child' & the 'wild child' No prizes for guessing who the 'wild child' is.

And todays driving quote:
Me~ 'Slow down, you're going too fast!'
Liddy ~ 'Mum! I'm only doing 40!'
Me ~ 'I don't care what speed you're doing, you don't have control of this car!'

Oh! Makes me wonder sometimes.

Driving with Liddy.

This morning Liddy slept through her alarm but instead of the usual panic stations she rang work, said she'd be in as soon as possible then came & prised me off the computer so she could have a driving lesson. Words fail me. I seriously felt the need for an indeterminate amount of time to psyche myself up for driving with Liddy.

Being sporty & co~ordinated Liddy is actually over~confidant. Ooops, past tense. She was over~confident. Now she is experiencing how many things she has to remember to do anything she has stopped backseat driving in case it turns round & bites her!

Once I managed to convince her that it wasn't necessary to move both feet just because she had to move one we got the clutch/accelerator thing working & she backed out of the parking space the wrong way. After 10 minutes of me with my brake foot pressed hard to the floor on an imaginary brake & Liddy vainly trying to do a 3 point turn backwards, she conceded defeat, climbed out of the driver's seat & let me turn the vehicle round.

Am I allowed to supervise with my eyes shut? See the boys learnt to drive paddock bashing in the farm's old cars so had some idea of the basics. Liddy does not & has a natural lead foot. (heavy on the accelerator) Even in first gear she was speeding ~ relatively speaking. I was gripping my seat till my knuckles turned white & trying not to scream as if I was going down the Big Dipper or something at Dreamworld. Sweat was dripping of me & we were neither on the mainland nor experiencing heavy traffic. Actually there was no traffic. Do I look that mad?

Against my better judgement I agreed she could toddle down the road ~ slowly ~ & round the block. First corner, not smooth but ok. The second corner Liddy misjudged completely & wedged herself across the road blocking traffic from 3 directions!!! I sweated some more while coaxing Liddy in a reverse where she would keep watching her feet instead of either the road or the rear vision mirror! What's with that? Finally, finally she rounded the 2nd corner, drifting right across the road like an autumn leaf in a stiff breeze. Not good. I suggested she might like to stay on her side of the road. She over corrected & started heading across the nearest paddock. Oh, yeah. This was a circus. I may never recover. I asked her to brake so she took her foot of the clutch. We braked all right!

I finally got her home again where she suggested we go round once more. No way. I reeled out of the car heading for caffeine. Lots & Lots of caffeine.

This afternoon was better. We actually got out of 2nd gear. She's getting her gear changes though still revving the engine. My credibility has skyrocketed. NOW she gets why I get nervous driving on the mainland. She can't manage to focus on everything at once so I am working on getting her to figure out some way that works for her of knowing where she is on the road & watching the road instead of looking round for pedals & gear sticks & blinkers. Liddy, head down & bum up in the driver's seat is not a good look; not when I'm in the passenger seat! Prayers please. Lots & lots of prayer.

Meanwhile, back at the station, Ditz is watching events unfold with keen interest & a sense of purpose that has me quivering with dreadful anticipation. Three years is all the grace I have before she too is getting behind the wheel of my car. Whether I actually join her remains to be seen.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

And a bit of that.

Yes, lots of you will recognize this!

I have a friend, the only friend who also homeschools in real life. When I first met her, her son, 12 months older than Ditz, was a more full on male version of Ditz; killable material. He was motormouth un numero uno. He never stopped talking. He never sat still. He wiggled & jiggled & squiggled & squirmed. Yikes! (He has grown into a lovely young man BTW).

My friend is a far more academic teacher than I am. We like our arts focus & the academics, well, you know, they get done so we can get on with the real learning. So while I am rushing round madly from music lesson to music lesson & wishing math had never been invented she is quietly at home with her academic sequential learners methodically plowing through curriculum. I admire her tremendously. I just can't operate that way. We are both very busy ladies & involved in our children's lives & during term time, on the rare occasions we catch up at the shop, we can't stop talking. You know how it is. If you whinge to a non homeschooler they say, 'well, why don't you put him/her in school,' which is not what you were talking about. *sigh* (Yes, I'm driveling today, ladies.) Only another homeschooler gets the picture. Soooo, we arranged to catch up over the holiday week. NO children! (I can't remember the last time I got a real live adult conversation minus a child!)

We arranged to look at each others curriculum choices & talk about the kids (behind their backs, naturally!) My friend was very anxious to look at my Sonlight & I told her I'd been tossing up between Mystery of History & Story of the World for some time but couldn't make a decision & had no money spare for another curriculum that I wasn't any too sure about. 'Oh', says my friend, 'I have Story of the World. I'll lend it to you.' Yes!

So I dragged my Sonlight down to the coffee shop & between bites of blueberry muffin & cappuchinos we solved each others homeschool woes. Her son is an avid reader. I had a pile of good books Ditz was done with. Plus she liked the look of the worksheets but wasn't sure how her boy would go with them. 'Oh, that's an easy one,' say I. 'Take some answer sheets, do the dictations & the grammar with the dictation. That way you will know before spending a huge amount of money for something that may not work for you!'

We talked non stop for 3 solid hours. (Yes, all right you lot; I know you know I don't find that difficult.) We ran overtime. Liddy gave up on me arriving home & walked to the boat, missed the boat & came on up to the coffee shop looking for me. (Yes, we were still gabbing!) As the lunch crowd was arriving we reluctantly separated but it is lovely when resources & information can be shared as our kids get so much more that otherwise we couldn't afford.

I did go home, briefly, long enough to grab Ditz & the bags so we could go shopping & I drove Liddy into town so she could take her Learner's test again. This time she passed!!!! I waited till she was walking towards us then hooted, wooted, howled & cheered her at full throttle. She was mortified & was still blushing & deep & becoming beetroot when she had her licence photo taken.
'I can't believe you did that, mum,' she wailed. As I like to occasionally remind my children, I am a drama & literature major. Big, big GRIN.

No she was NOT allowed to drive home. I did however let her sit in the island car, waggle the gears & ride the clutch & accelerator but as she constantly stalled the engine she's aways of actually hitting the road. She's pretty chuffed with herself just the same. I've told her whatever she thinks of my driving I do have 20 years experience under my belt & she has to be pretty confident driving the island car before she's let loose in her own on the mainland. Apart from anything else her car has a sticky gear from 1st into 2nd & Liddy's panics I do not need in mainland traffic. She has to log 100 hours of supervised driving before she can go for her provisional license but once she is driving ok she can do the driving to her away games. That will bring her hours up pretty quickly ~ & it makes going to state & national trials so much more feasable! Yay, Liddy!

A bit of this...

This was going to be a bit all over the place post because that is the sort of few days we've had but the easiest thing to do is just post twice. Why not? After all you've all got nothing better to do than read my drivel, right? Thought so!.

Yes we've been cooking because it's been wet & miserable & everyone's been cold & particularly hungry. Liddy has done some lovely baking but it was all gone before I could get pics. I had a day when I just had to have quiche so went to the trouble of making the pastry & baking everything but as so often happens with me & quiche the middle took longer to set than anticipated & everyone was ravenous by the time I pulled it out of the oven. we had it with a green salad & coleslaw & there were not even crumbs left.
Ditz did dessert. These go by the strange name of roadmakers crunch but are very quick & simple to make, require no cooking & were all gone before morning. Ditz rather enjoys taking a rolling pin to the biscuits to make the *crunch* element. I'd give you the recipe but I'm pretty sure the first question would be, 'What's that?' Translating into American don't always come easy.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A little explanation...

I came to Celtic mythology by way of research into the validity of the Arthurian legend & I came to Arthur via fairy tales so this has been a lifelong obsession.

Central to the Arthurian tales is the story of Merlin but one doesn't have to read very far to realise that in Celtic mythology the real power is held by women. Oh the warriors strut their stuff & the bards prate about bravery but it is the women who drive the story lines. Men forsake honour for them (Deidre), fall helplessly in love with them (Grainne), are trained by them (Scatha), terrified by them, (Morrigu), or are simply at the mercy of her whims as the Cailleach, the washer woman at the well, or any of the dozens of denizens who inhabit the half world of the sidhe. Ganeida is another of them. Her name means morning star so is associated with Venus & with the guardian of the doorways of time & culture. She was the (twin?) sister of Merlin, was ban file in her own right & poems under her name have come down the centuries to us. No, I haven't been able to turn one up as 1/2 my books seem to be missing.

Now odd as it might seem given my topic matter & the content of this blog, when it comes to history I actually prefer reality when I can get it. In my digging round into obscure matters I came upon the druids. NOT, I hasten to add, the modern sort in their funny white sheets prancing round ancient sites doing peculiar things & while I'm sure their spiritual ancestors did equally peculiar things I have no interest in that at all. No, I refer to the Aos Dana, the people of art.

There were 3 main branches of druids ~ seers (we won't go there, very yucky), the brehons (lawyers) & the file (poets). As a poet no prizes for guessing what attracted me. Again, this was, for the most part, not poetry as we understand poetry. The poet's role was more that of historian; to record & preserve the language, history, genealogy & heraldry of a people. They were the intellectual classes, a role passed down through families. They studied for 20 or more years & were usually better educated than the kings they served. Their role was perhaps more along the lines of a noted journalist with their own column to chronicle & comment upon the events of the day, satirise the culture, sway public opinion. They held untold amounts of power.

The Gaelic peoples have a long & rich history of intellectual passion, setting up schools for the training of their elite as far back as memory goes. No wonder that, in the end, the bards were way out of control, thrice being banished in Ireland for demanding things like even the king's crown. Arrogant. They existed & trained their young long before Christianity arrived & when it did there was no real shift in power. The druids, who had a quite liberal theological viewpoint, embraced the new religion, wedded it to the old & the Culdees were the result.

So when I come to my Celtic past I rest (in the best Celtic tradition) upon the threefold heritage of history, mythology & literature that has amused & tantalised my small mind for most of my life. It is a rich tradition that has contributed more to our modern world than most people know. If it wasn't for the Irish & that strange Celtic obsession with evangelizing much of European civilisation & intellectualism would have been lost ~ but that is another topic entirely.

Monday, April 7, 2008

More Ditz.

Ok, bear with me because Ditz has sent me for six & I still haven't recovered.

If you read Ditz comments about homeschool you will have gathered Ditz isn't madly enthusiastic about being educated; far from it in fact. Resistant, even. And we are officially on break. Please note, school is not compulsory this week. We are on break.

So Sunday afternoon I am standing in my kitchen bleary eyed from a well deserved nap wishing dinner would somehow just materialize without me having to actually do anything to make that happen when Ditz sidles up to me. That in itself is not so unusual. Ditz has a bad habit of draping herself over me to emphasise how small I am in comparison to her. *sigh*

'I'm going to regret this', says Ditz. (My mummy mind promptly leapt to all sorts of horrible things the child had done that she shouldn't have; disasters piled upon disasters. Thanks, Ditz.) 'But,'continued Ditz, 'SBS has a special on the Great Wall of China tonight.'

Scrape me up off the floor!!!! Not only did she tape the show she actually watched it with me tonight & commented on it intelligently! She's engrossed in Mythbusters now. (Please, no~one tell her that's school too!) I don't have the courage for it but I see how unschooling actually works. Plus NaNo has her writing 2 novels at once & the last extract she shared with me was impressive. Her writing has improved in leaps & bounds. Double plus, we've watched all the Jonathan Creeks & that (ssssh) is the basis of logic! I dread the day it dawns on Ditz all her favourite things are educational!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

And Liddy's off & running...

After a week of Ditz, time for a change of pace. Liddy is back playing soccer. She made the reserve team, not the premier side but that's pretty good given she played only 2 games last season & the 2nd one she broke her collar bone. She's hardly played at all in 18 months, her touch is always a tad peculiar at the start of a season & Liddy has never been valuable for her ball skills. lol.
So I got dragged over to the mainland Saturday night to watch her play at home. Watching Liddy play never involves just going to the game & dutifully sitting through 45 minutes of young women hiding peculiar figures under baggy uniforms chasing a ball round & round a bit of turf. Nope. There is the pre game discussion, the post game discussion & the tell me I'm wonderful again discussion. I'm exhausted & never set foot on the pitch!
Given I was the designated driver we spent an hour watching the game before while Liddy warmed up & got pep talked by the coach.
Now soccer is the sport of choice in our house. The only one who doesn't play is Dearest. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is an expert. Everyone knows the rules & something of strategy ~ even Ditz whose idea of playing soccer is to wander vaguely round the pitch watching the clouds overhead! So as Liddy walks out onto the pitch I take note because I'm supposed to be able to discuss her play intelligently afterwards. Ooooh! She was playing forward. Interesting. Last season they played her back & for preference she likes to run the right wing. I think, well she might get a tad cold if she's got to hang round too long for the ball to come forward & the field placement looks pretty peculiar to me but I grew up watching soccer & still tend to think in fairly traditional terms of forwards & backs & wingers. Given Liddy's touch is off I would not have been playing her as a striker where she is expected to sink the ball into the back of the opponent's net.
Five minutes later I'm totally confused. Strikers get to sit well forward waiting for the mid~field to send the ball down so they can have a strike on goal. So where was Liddy? Doing what her coach was screaming at her to do & running the right wing because the mid~field kept dropping out & her backs weren't covering her. (Liddy was ropable about this & I am going to hear about it all week!) Every time she ran past I screamed out, 'Personal cheer squad cheering here.' (eye roll emoticon inserted here) Now Liddy is a long distance runner & has always been able to run forever but constantly sprinting from one end of the pitch to the other was exhausting her. (The girl marking her was puffed after 15 minutes with 30 still to go!) No interchange any more so Liddy had to *suck it up*, as her captain told her. Oh, my!
Half time. Liddy hurtled towards the change rooms. There are a few anxious looks from those who know about her chronic fatigue but I figure her bag's there & what's in the bag? FOOD. Yep. Liddy comes back munching on a banana. Some food & a break & she is ready to go back on.
Meanwhile I am freezing despite all the clothing I am wearing. I swear, this year I am buying thermal underwear for these things! I hunker down for another 45 minutes of screaming my lungs out at the daughter I know perfectly well can't hear me & a game that has me mightily frustrated. The girls are bunching, running the ball through the centre instead of sending it wide & out of position. The coach seems to have managed to get something through. They look better than they did & come down the pitch hard & fast. I'm eye rolling. I know a lot of these girls from previous years, know their personalities, know their play & several of the mid are wannabe strikers & ball hogs. Nothing drives me crazier than selfish play because soccer is a team sport & passing is the best form of attack. Too often girls have been hanging onto the ball too long & having it stolen off them. The girl with the ball is one of them & as she can strike fair enough if she gets an opportunity. She has players moving in to shut her down & I'm not holding out much hope she'll actually pass but she recognizes her danger, sees Liddy calling at the far post & crosses the ball in. The ball drops at Liddy's feet. She turns & strikes. The goalie is off balance & the ball slams into the back of the net. Whew! Liddy's strikes have been off but as has happened so often in past seasons, if Liddy is on her game & able to score her team takes heart & uually scores again. Liddy rarely gets a 2nd bite at the apple. Being able to outrun most backs once she scores she usually gets double marked & last night was no exception. She had 2 girls sitting off her shoulders (hands pushing & grabbing & shirt holding too. Naughty, naughty.) The coach did the smart thing & pulled her off & the other striker got a ball in so they had a pretty little margin & were able to hold the other team to nothing.
At this point Dino, who has been working with Theo for some spare cash, rocks up to watch the end of the game. (not impressed but the men's games are a lot harder & faster & the mid would never dare turn themselves into backs!) I join him simply because I can't stand the supporters who have decided booing the ref is in order. I've never got that sort of stuff. It doesn't help the players & someone has to make the calls. All in all my Lid was a happy girl. She scored a sweet, sweet goal & both coaches were very happy with her play.
As for me, well we stopped at the shops on our way into town so Liddy could pick up my Chrissy present. Yes, ladies, Jonathan Creek has finally arrived!!! Liddy is planning a sweets bake & Jonathan day today. Big Grin. I think we've earnt it, don't you?

Friday, April 4, 2008

In Her Own Words.

In Their Own Words Friday, April 4
Share your children’s home education experience in their own words. What have they said about their education? What are their likes and dislikes? Share some stories, some quotes, or turn your blog over to your children for the day.

fact no1. after grade 6 schoolwork is completely useless except for people who want to be teachers for grade 7 and up.

fact no2. schoolwork is boring, useless, and horrible.

fact no3. no schoolwork is going to help with my music career.

I don't like home schooling ~ I get picked on, when I'm sick I still have to work, it makes me lazy, and a whole heap of other stuff, the only good things are I can play more instruments, I get extra holidays and... there isn't much more.

Breaks me 'eart, she does. *sigh* She found doing this a complete hoot. What a wonderful way to tease mummy! Ssssh...don't tell her that was school too. *giggle, giggle*

Show & Tell Friday,

Go on over to Kelli's to join the fun.

I have loved books all my life. I would rather read than eat. Sad but true. I don't collect a lot of nick~knacks which just require dusting & mean more housework when I could be doing something else ~ like reading. On the other hand my personal library rivals our little island library.
I have inherited from my mother some of the books she loved as a child. Some have a book plate in as they were given as school or Sunday school prizes & these are especially cherished. I have all the Milly~Molly~Mandy books. These are truly lovely stories that have held their appeal for small children. Even my rambunctious boys loved these when they were little. They are just simple stories about everyday happenings in the life of a little girl who lives on her parents farm in the little white cottage with the thatched roof. Even better they now qualify as living books. Like the Little House books they tell of everyday skills that are being lost ~ how to thatch a roof, grow vegetables from seed, quilt a tea cosy, visit the blacksmith's forge.
Sadly my originals have been loved to death. The spines are in a sad way & some of the pages are loose but the stories have recently been republished & I bought my Ditz a copy as she too loved the Milly~Molly~Mandy stories & was inspired to learn how to make potato jackets & toffee from these stories. I hope when she has her own little girl I will be able to pass these on to her & as she snuggles up with her little one she will remember how we used to snuggle up together to read the adventures of Billy Blunt, Little Friend Susan, dog Toby & Milly~Molly~Mandy because
"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island."
— Walt Disney

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

No baking needed.

Click on image to link to everyone else.
It is also National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day! So share a recipe…figuratively, as in two parts love, one part creativity, or literally, as in a super quick, nutritious meal your kids scarf up. Think about what you do in the day, what helps keep it organized and you sane (or how you got past that need for organization and saneness!), and curriculum materials you find effective.

Last time I posted a recipe the whole thing degenerated into a conversation on the quirks of the English language as she is spoken in two different English speaking countries ~ soooo ~ I won't be doing that again! Besides, I don't like to cook. I work on a simple principle:
If it's hungry feed it (a diet of living books, good music & love)
No watching t.v while eating but you can imagine all you like.
Amazing Grace covers most things.
Leave food freely available 24/7. And that, ladies, is how we all stay sane.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A musical education.

Click on image to learn more.

''April Fool’s! Tuesday, April 1
And we have likely all felt the fool in one way or another. Share your greatest challenge. Or one of those terrible, horrible no good, very bad days where the only thing there is to do seems to involve moving to Australia.''

We're already in Australia. Moving is not an option. Worse yet, we live on an island; a very small, very quiet island. God is His goodness, grace & mercy has provided all we need.
When my older children were small I thought they needed a musical education. I am not musical so I wasn't providing more than the most basic of basics. I looked round for a music teacher. I didn't care which instrument they music teacher; no music.
Then along came Ditz. Ditz is the completely homeschooled one, the one I taught reading & math to, the one I (foolishly) taught to make a pavlova & to play soccer with a cat tucked under one arm. I am *mathematically challenged*. This worried me enough I tentatively approached our church pianist & asked if she'd give Ditz lessons. Being a conscientious homeschool mama I'd done my reading. I knew music helped math. I knew kids who learnt an instrument do better academically. I knew Jazz is the only activity that uses absolutely every part of the brain. What I didn't know was God had gifted this child musically.
Sian agreed to teach Ditz piano & Ditz does OK with the piano but almost from day one she begged for a violin of her very own. No~one begs like Ditz. It went on & on. At any & every opportunity Ditz brought up violins. I fobbed her off. No teacher. No mainland car. No money. Then someone gave Ditz the princely sum of A$200~. Ditz was enchanted. Visions of sugar plums danced in her head. I was appalled. It was a frightening amount of money to give a little girl! Sugar plums were definitely not my idea of how to spend $200~. That money was burning a hole as deep & as wide as the Grand Canyon in Ditz's pocket. And then someone mentioned to me a new lady was on the island & guess what she taught for a living? Yep! Violin. Ditz bought the violin; I pay for the lessons. I think Ditz thought she was going to begin with violin where she had already arrived with piano but the violin is a much more demanding instrument. It has the questionable reputation of being the only instrument where Ditz has thrown a tantrum about music.
We learned fairly quickly that while Ditz has a good ear she can't count for peanuts. Her idea was to play as fast as possible regardless of what the music said the tempo was in order to reach the end as soon as possible. At about this time the school began a band. Common sense said playing in a band with others would teach Ditz to count if it did nothing else. The trouble was it meant yet another instrument. We forked out for a flute. The first thing Ditz learned was band was not a race; there were no no prizes for finishing first.
Call me slow but three music teachers telling me my child was gifted musically was rather yawn making. The kid made a racket from morning to night & I can assure you it was in no way melodic or pleasant. I thought they were being kind to yet another overfond parent. I really wasn't taking it seriously.
Then, by mistake (only there are no mistakes with God, only God moments) Ditz work shopped with a massed choir last year & did 2 performances. She loved everything about performing & began the slow dripping tap performance again about how much she'd enjoyed it, how much she'd learnt & wouldn't it be great if...? OK, so I looked up the lady in charge. She teaches privately & has her own choirs ~ only we're not allowed to call them choirs; they're ensembles. She auditions her choirs; you don't just join one. So I told Ditz, Go ahead & audition! I thought that would be the end of it. For all her outrageous extroversion at home Ditz is rarely outlandish in public. She chose a Nelly Furtado song, one with difficult changes in tempo & key. We'd no idea about how to put together a backing track so Ditz had to sing a Capella. She'd never suffered from nerves in her life until we were driving into town for her audition. Suddenly the nerves hit. I thought she was really going to lose it for Ditz doesn't do anything by halves. She didn't. Ditz wanted this badly enough that the prima donna who can make my life take on a nightmarish quality came to the fore in her proper environment. She gave it everything & got her place in the choir.
I was surprised but you know, so Ditzy. Then the looks started. Ditz is singing with them! Um, well, yes. Really?! Wow! Huh? It's taken months but I think I finally get it. Ditz is good. Oh! It has finally sunk in that this is a very, very select choir. Many audition; few are chosen.
Now I can look back & see God's thumbprints just everywhere. If I 'd thought myself mathematically competent I would never have looked for a piano teacher. Piano has given Ditz the strong visuals she needs as a visual /spatial learner. Violin has developed her ear. Flute she loves & is really good at & will be on of the two instruments she needs to get into music college. Voice is her 2nd *instrument* & she loves to sing. In fact she rarely stops.
I don't know what God has in mind for this child but so far it's been some ride!


"People who hate cats, will come back as mice in their next life."- Faith Resnick
"There is, incidentally, no way of talking about cats that enables one to come off as a sane person."- Dan Greenberg