We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
[Marianne Williamson]

Friday, January 30, 2009

D is for ... decorative

This week, Tricia from The Miss Rumphius Effect proposed writing a lipogram. Basically, this is a piece of writing "that avoids one or more letters of the alphabet." It is also defined as "a work written within a constraint" (though this definition would apply to most poetic forms, would it not?) As my poetry stre-e-e-e-tch, I decided to write a reverse lipogram, in which every word of the poem had to contain the letter "d".

I liked the result. The lack of connectives made it difficult, but the two-words per line rhythm that emerged seemed to echo the erratic zip-zip-zip flight of the subject. It also challenged me to come up with new descriptions, as most of the words which first came to mind had to be discarded because they were "d-less".

In the end I had a lot more words brainstormed which felt perfect but which I decided not to use - as I added more, the effect started to fade, and it started to feel like just a list of jumbled words. It was difficult to get a balance that felt right and still seemed to carry some meaning. Where and how and even whether to punctuate also took some time and thought. Did I get it right?


Delicate winged
darter, dipping,
dashing, diving.
Splendid, suspended
unfolding dream.

Diligent endeavour;
dynamic adventure.

Deeper delight
untangled serendipity -
uncomplicated desire;
confident dignity.

Endless gratitude.

The photo can't do justice to the amazing colour of these creatures. This one has an almost lavender shimmer over a silvery sky blue.

Today's Poetry Friday is hosted by Suzanne from Adventures in Daily Living.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Unplug your kids - ball

For this week's unplugged project, we combined a couple of activities I'd been reading about in the blogosphere - milk powder paint and marble painting.

I like using Stockmar watercolour paint which needs to be mixed for different colours, and diluted (the little bottles will stretch for ages if you do). In the past I have used just water, and a water & cornflour mix (this gives a great texture for fingerpainting, but really makes the colours pastel when they dry). I am always looking for something new to try, so this was a good experiment.

To make milk powder paint, mix equal amounts of skim milk powder and water, then add your colour. I used 1/2 cup of each, which made too much paint - it doesn't keep very well - you need a sealed jar in the fridge, so next time I will make less. Also, I am using a liquid paint instead of a powdered one, so it was a bit runnier than I wanted (why does a Monty Python skit suddenly start playing in my head? lol). Next time I will use a little less water as well. Other than that it turned out perfectly!

The red, blue and yellow are my basic colours; we mix them to make purple, green and orange as well. Wombat asked for two yellows. My paint palette is an old plastic microwave muffin 'tin'.

I lined a box with newspaper, put some A4 paper in and we splotted colour on with a spoon.

Then we added a marble (the ball for our project) and rolled it around.

One marble wasn't enough for Wombat, he threw in a few more and did some finger swirling for good measure.

All in all, a fun activity, though Wombat only wanted to do one picture (I think I was 'over-controlling' again... gotta learn to step back and let him experiment more.)

The paint dried well with a slightly glossy finish, and clean up was a breeze - the brushes and the palette washed clean really quickly - much easier than just the paint by itself lol.

Next week's Unplugged Project is : colour.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Where did the time go?

My little Munchkin is 6 months old today! Hooray for the happiest, most patient, most wonderful little boy a mother could ever wish for! It is really amazing watching him grow. He seems so much more aware than Wombat did at this age. Maybe it's just me who is more aware and observing more closely lol :D

He has started 'talking' in a big way and it is just the cutest thing you can imagine... I know I am overloading on the superlatives here, so I'll show you instead.

I love the purposeful way Munchkin goes after what he wants. (That's Wombat rolling around saying "Roly oly pumpkin numpkin" at the head of the bed - and his foot at the end of the video.)

We went for a walk today and I used the chinese carrier - Munchkin is growing to like it now his neck is getting strong enough to support his heavy head. He still prefers the sling, but this is easier on me, especially if I wear it on my back (which I want to start trying more often).

It had been raining, and I had to point out the shining droplets clustered along the she-oak needles to Wombat - he was more interested in stomping on the ant nests lol. A few minutes later I had stopped near another wet she-oak when Munchkin started reaching out for it. I moved closer and he spent a good 10 minutes studying the droplets, touching them and sucking the rainwater off his fist. He was an observant baby from the moment he was born and his fascination with his surroundings is awesome to watch, especially as he becomes more able to interact with the world.

And now for something (almost) completely different. There was an exciting message in my inbox today! Elizabeth Pantley, the author of the 'No Cry' parenting books, is offering a chance to win two sets of her books if you mention her latest book - the “The No-Cry Nap Solution: Guaranteed Gentle Ways to Solve All Your Naptime Problems” - on your blog or website.

I have subscribed to her emails for a while now, but have been unable to find her books at our local (sadly understocked) library, and my book buying budget at the moment is stretched to the limit keeping up with my wishlist for the boys' reading. Hence my excitement :)

There are five books in the set:

  1. The No-Cry Nap Solution *NEW*
  2. The No-Cry Sleep Solution
  3. The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers & Preschoolers
  4. The No-Cry Potty Training Solution
  5. The No-Cry Discipline Solution

We generally do ok with sleeping at night, since we co-sleep. We have pushed our queen bed and Wombat's king-single together to make one big bed (Wombat's is slightly lower, so he still feels he has his own space) and this is really working well for us. Potty training is also pretty much under control. Wombat is totally nappy free, and my only difficulty is convincing him that he needs to go in the toilet and not out on the grass - but since we don't have any close neighbours, that's really not so much of a problem. He knows where he is supposed to go. He just likes to experiment lol.

We have the most interesting comments as his awareness of bodily functions and feelings develops. The other morning I asked if he wanted to come to the toilet with me (I find this works better than asking if he wants to go...) He said "no". A few minutes later he appeared at the door of the loo saying "I didn't know what my weewee was telling me!" He sat down, did his business and then said "My weewee has stopped talking to me now." ROFL. This morning the conversation was about the "tank" behind his weewee which needed to be emptied because it was all full of the water he had been drinking. He came up with the metaphor himself and I think it's a pretty good one! Not hard to tell he's a country boy lol :D

None of which is to say that I wouldn't read the sleep and potty books with avid interest as there is always more to learn. I have started sitting Munchkin on the potty already, and he is getting the idea as well. I want to do some more reading on elimination communication when I get the chance, just so I can interpret his commands more clearly. At the moment, nappy free time is resulting in a lot of cleaning for me, especially now he has started solids.

The books I REALLY want to read are the Nap Solution and Discipline ones. I need as many different tactics in the discipline area as I can get because each day brings new challenges that I often struggle to meet - and as for naps...................

Wombat decided he didn't need to nap anymore about 5 months ago. At first I started to fight him over it, then I read Maria Montessori's comment about treating our kids like slaves and forcing them to sleep, which made me feel guilty, so I just let him go. That resulted in total chaos, so I tried enforcing a head-on-pillow time ("You don't have to sleep but you do have to lie quietly until the music ends.") Now when I put music on during the day he panics because he thinks it means I will make him lie down lol. I am REALLY looking forward to some new ideas in this area, because the following excerpt from Pantley's book is all too familiar:

As the day progresses, and the sleep pressure builds, a child becomes fussier, whinier, and less flexible. He has more crying spells, more tantrums, and less patience. He loses concentration and the ability to learn and retain new information. The scientific term for this process is “homeostatic sleep pressure” or “homeostatic sleep drive” . . . I call it The Volcano Effect. ... The Volcano Effect is not something reserved only for children! This biological process affects adults as well. Understanding this can help you interpret what is really going on in your home at the end of a long day, when children are fussy and parents are grumpy – resulting in a whole mountain range of volcanoes.

[This is a copyrighted excerpt from The No-Cry Nap Solution: Guaranteed Gentle Ways to Solve All Your Naptime Problems by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, December 2008). ]

Interestingly, the foreword to the Nap Solution book is written by Tim Selden, President of The Montessori Foundation and Chair of the International Montessori Council. I have his book "How to Raise an Amazing Child".

Today, Wombat passed out on the playroom floor while he waited for me to finish an important email. I normally try not to get on the computer while he is awake (I save that for the middle of the night, thus creating more volcanoes and discipline issues due to my own sleep-deprivation lol) but he was really involved in the activity he had chosen (threading beads onto pipecleaners) so I made a deal with him - he would play quietly while I had a cup of tea and finished the email, and then we would walk down to the dam to see the waterlilies we had noticed this morning. (I had Munchkin in the carrier then, so couldn't go 'bush-bashing' to get to where they were). He soon finished his project, came looking for my attention, was reminded of our deal, yawned once and zonk! He only slept for 15 minutes but even that little moment was refreshing for both of us. (His first thought on waking was that he had missed out on the waterlilies lol... that boy LOVES to be outside!)

Munchkin, on the other hand, has a very recognisable sleep window, and if you pop him in the pram with a little rocking and singing, he falls asleep very quickly. He has one longish nap in the morning, and then only a short catnap in the afternoon. Wombat used to sleep a LOT more at this age. He also has a radar that tells him when Wombat goes to sleep during the day, which becomes his cue to wake up instantly and get some one-on-one Mummy time. I think maybe he just can't sleep when it's quiet lol. The biggest problem is that he is outgrowing the bassinet part of the pram pretty quickly. I have already had to rig up an elastic strap to stop him going over the side! I am definitely going to need some "gentle, sensitive, loving solutions" to set up a new routine for him very soon.

He still wakes to feed every 2 or 3 hours at night - if I am not in bed lol... if I am cuddled up with him he generally sleeps through. There may be a message for me in that lol...

You can read more excerpts at Elizabeth Pantley's website. If you are reading this, why don't you blog about the new book too -and if you win, you can give ME the spare set lol! I would be happy to forward you the email with all the entry details and information about the books.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY (Monday 26 January 2009 )...

Outside My Window... a golden dawn shining through leaves of sunwashed green. Happy Australia Day!

I am thankful for... life and love.

I am thinking... of to-do lists and control journals and home-made laundry powder.

From the learning room... Wombat has started keeping a nature journal in which I write at his dictation and label his illustrations as instructed. It started out daily but then we missed a few days. My perfectionism wants it to be a regular activity, but I am trying hard not to push it - there are many years ahead of us :)

From the kitchen... a cup of tea and a hot cross bun. Can you believe they already have hot cross buns in the supermarket? It's not even Lent yet, let alone Easter! Talk about commercialism ruining the significance of traditions. Personally, I would boycott them, but my MIL is not so picky... and they sure are tempting once you've got them in the house. I wonder why plain old fruit buns don't taste as good?

I am wearing... a blue button-front nightie and my pink dressing gown. My bare toes are cold.

I am creating... a new blog - lol! I take so many photos that never get seen by anyone outside my computer. I don't have time to do the photo challenges that I used to enjoy, so I have decided to join the 365 days crowd and post a photo every day. You can follow along at Fleeting Reality. In another fit of procrastination perfectionism *ahem* lets-not-label-it-ism I have gone through my pictures directory and uploaded a photo taken on each day of the year so far (can't start out by being behind, now, can I???)

I am going... to fold three baskets of washing, and change the sheets on all the beds today.

I am reading... Charlotte Mason, still.

I am hoping... that my car won't be too expensive to register. I was hoping to take the boys into town for the last day of the Impressionist Exhibition at the NSW Art Gallery, but the cars are being unco-operative.

I am hearing... the hungry whine of an elusive mosquito.

Around the house... lego... lego everywhere.

One of my favorite things... 'Google Reader' lol.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
  • Yeti's birthday on Wednesday

Here is a picture thought I am sharing...

Me and my munchkin!

This snippet of my life brought to you courtesy of the Simple Woman's Daybook. If you would like to join in too, you will find all the details here. Thanks, Peggy!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Be Not Afraid

We didn't get to Mass this week, despite our best-laid plans. Yeti's car is out of rego and needs some rust-spots repaired before it can pass inspection. The filler for the rust gives you 6 minutes to do the job at 20C. It has been over 30C every day this week except for a thunderstorm lol... so the job has to wait for the right conditions. There is my car - but when we went to start it, not only was the battery flat, it was completely dead! It has to go for its rego inspection next week, so I will buy a new battery for it then - when the mechanic can also check for electrical faults that may be causing the problem.

Oh well, at least Wombat LOVES his new bible - I finally found a children's bible with text I can bear to read as it gives some life and detail to the stories instead of just a sentence or two. He has been demanding at least a half-hour reading from it every day :) Funny story about that - it was delivered during one of those awful hot days when nobody felt like walking to the mailbox. Then the thunderstorm came and it rained all night. When we checked the next morning, the box of books was sitting in a PUDDLE of water, totally sodden. There was no plastic wrapping around the books, just the sopping cardboard box - and the books were completely undamaged! Perfect condition! Guess he was meant to have them!!!

Still enjoying working my way through hymns where I love the chorus but don't remember all the verses. This week's hymn is:

Be Not Afraid

You shall cross the barren desert,
but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety,
though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words in foreign lands,
and all will understand,
You shall see the face of God and live.

Be not afraid,
I go before you always,
Come follow Me,
and I shall give you rest.

If you pass through raging waters
in the sea, you shall not drown.
If you walk amidst the burning flames,
you shall not be harmed.
If you stand before the pow’r of hell
and death is at your side,
know that I am with you, through it all

Be not afraid,
I go before you always,
Come follow Me,
and I shall give you rest.

Blessed are your poor,
for the Kingdom shall be theirs.
Blest are you that weep and mourn,
for one day you shall laugh.
And if wicked men insult and hate you,
all because of Me,
blessed, blessed are you!

Be not afraid,
I go before you always,
Come follow Me,
and I shall give you rest.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

C is for... creation

I am so late with posting this that I don't think I can still claim that it is Friday anywhere in the world! What can I say? The babies wouldn't let me blog :P

Better make this quick as there is a nappy to change and breakfast to provide (lol... Yeti always comments when I combine things like that in a sentence - NO, they are consecutive, not concurrent events, and one will not provide the ingredients for the other lol)

Way back on Monday, Tricia from The Miss Rumphius Effect suggested writing an Oulipo for a poetry stretch. This is a snowball Oulipo, in which every line has one letter more than the one before.


Wombat and I spied this cocoon outside our toilet window last week. We have been watching it anxiously and yesterday we decided to bring it inside out of the extreme heat, so we could watch it hatch. We researched it on the internet, prepared the old fish tank and then as the last step, we cut the branch.

What disappointment to find it empty and dry with a tiny hole in its side! It had been parasitised by a wasp or something of that nature, long before it came to our attention. (Click for the larger picture and the hole is quite visible.) Oh well. I have promised Wombat that we will look out for one of these...

and try again!

Poetry Friday was hosted this week by Laura Salas.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Unplug your kids - balance

The theme for this week's Unplug your Kids project was balance.

I had originally wondered about making our own set of scales, like this. However, that project was a bit beyond Wombat, and I think I will save it until he is older. We do have a set of balance scales, and I may get them out for some (carefully supervised) experimenting sometime this week. He loves to put an object on our kitchen scales and tell me that it weighs 58 kgs!

But back to balancing... while digging hunting for worms in the garden, Wombat kept frustrating me by walking along the brick edge. Each time he did it, a loose brick would overturn, hurting his foot and as a result I spent more time comforting him and rebuilding the edge than I did weeding! Finally, I decided, if you can't beat him, join him!

I found 16 clean bricks and two (almost) straight planks of wood lying around the yard, and with a bit of improvisation, we built a balance beam. It is just high enough off the ground to be a little challenging, but not enough to cause injury should he fall. I actually find it quite enjoyable to do the exercise myself (disregarding MIL's comment about walking the plank lol). The slight warp in the beams makes it a little more tricky, but I propped a few pieces of soft bark under the highest contact points to minimize wobbling. Wombat is really into building obstacle courses lately (after I built one for him on a whim a few months ago) so we are going to leave this set up and see what other ideas we can think of to add to it.

Wombat also came up with his own balance experiment - eating grapes from a bowl "just like a pussycat"!

Next week's unplugged topic is "ball".

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'm a crunchy mama!

My post on how to build a no-dig-garden was featured on the new Crunchy Mama blog! Hmmm... I do believe that this is the first award this blog has ever received. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside :D

Crunchy Mama Award

Click the button to head on over to Crunchy Mama, where you will find more ideas for good living!

A Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY (Tuesday 20 January 2009 )...

Outside My Window... when I started writing this, the black silhouettes of the trees were outlined starkly against the first grey light of pre-dawn. Then Munchkin called me in to feed him, and Wombat woke and insisted I stay, so I lay watching the myriad shades of green gradually emerge. Now golden sunlight is hopping from leaf to leaf and the sky is a freshly polished blue.

I am thankful for... blessings beyond number.

I am thinking... that I really look forward all week to writing this daybook! It is a joyous idea - thank you Peggy!

From the learning room... Wombat has suddenly started stacking his nesting blocks into a proper tower, then unstacking them, nesting them and putting them away (this is a huge improvement over kicking them across the room!)

From the kitchen... another batch of Anzac bikkies are needed. I have been revising my recipe (which originally comes from Flo Bjelke-Peterson - Australians will recognise her as the inventor of the famous pumpkin scone!) Each time I make this recipe I have been adding less sugar and more interesting titbits, and I think we have finally got it perfect. It is SO easy for Wombat and I to make together, and they are healthy enough for me to leave accessible as a snack he can help himself to whenever he wants. They are not as dry as traditional Anzac biscuits, which, being invented for soldiers, were able to be used in hand to hand combat lol. The recipe is very forgiving - add any extras you like, change it around, see what you can create! For example, last time we made them Wombat insisted on cracking the egg himself - half the shell went in the dough and half the egg went on the floor. No problem! Pick out the shell, clean the floor, add another small egg and they turned out as nice as ever!

Wombat's Anzac bikkies

  • 125g butter or margarine
  • 1 dessertspoon golden syrup (Wombat's favourite ingredient and real reason for agreeing so readily to help make these - he gets to lick the spoon - and ask for a second helping lol; if you don't have golden syrup where you are, try honey or treacle!)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking soda (don't make a mistake and use bicarb like I did once - the bikkies were still edible, but they really tingled on the tongue!!!)
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar (the original recipe used a whole cup - you don't need it - they are still sweet with 1/4 of that)
  • 1 cup dessicated coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (here is where I get creative; we hardly ever have enough chopped nuts on hand, so I add extras - sultanas, dried fruit, puffed rice, chocolate chips, whatever takes your fancy and you have in the pantry)
  • pinch salt
  • 1 egg

Put all dry ingredients in a big bowl. (Wombat likes to sift the flour.) Melt together butter, syrup and baking soda (very low heat and watch so it doesn't bubble). Add melted ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well. Finally, mix in unbeaten egg. Knead mixture for about 5 minutes. (Wombat and I both knead together in the bowl - that's why it needs to be a big one lol). Roll into small balls (I use about a teaspoon of mixture so we get lots of small snacks lol) and place on a greased biscuit tray (we use baking paper on the trays instead) or alternatively, press all of the mixture into a large biscuit tray. Bake in a moderate oven (180-200C) for 10-15 minutes (when you can smell them, they are done)!

I am wearing... a thin pink cotton nightie that was a hand-me-down from my mother, who wore it when she was breastfeeding me, and my pink cotton dressing gown. Nightclothes are the only times I ever wear pink lol

I am creating... a mess as projects pile up waiting for me to get a chance to use my sewing machine.

I am going... to make another cup of tea ;D (same as last week, lol)

I am reading... more about unschooling, and deciding that this eclectic approach suits me better than concentrating on either Montessori or Charlotte Mason, as it inspires me to "strew the path" with the best of all worlds.

I am hoping... that I get the chance to vacuum sometime today.

I am hearing... Munchkin gurgling on my lap as he shoves a fistful of my hair into his mouth.

Around the house... trying to restart the habit of 15 minutes decluttering every day.

One of my favorite things... online book shopping.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
  • look back at the plans I have made over the past two weeks and ACTUALLY DO THEM!!!

Still working on that, lol...

Here is a picture thought I am sharing...

When Wombat, Munchkin and I went to check the mail yesterday, we spotted this BEAUTIFUL huge moth on the trunk of a young Cootamundra wattle. I am in love with the irridescent blue on its shoulders!

One of the concerns about unschooling is that parents may not be able to provide an environment rich enough to ensure that a child fully engages with their world. I don't think I have to worry about that while we live here! There is always another miracle to explore :D

This snippet of my life brought to you courtesy of the Simple Woman's Daybook. If you would like to join in too, you will find all the details here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Unplug your kids - square

My attempts to find a 'square' project that would interest Wombat were remarkably unsuccessful, and then I had a brainwave!

One of our most popular activities lately has been restarting a tiny raised-bed veggie garden. Several years ago, well before Wombat was born, Yeti and I built a number of large raised beds for growing our own produce. We had some wood left over, so Yeti put together this little SQUARE bed, right down the back. While the bigger beds were very productive, this one was used just for potatoes.

Then life intervened and gardening took a back seat for a while. The big beds became (and remain) hopelessly overgrown with kikuyu grass. Being down the back, almost in the bush, the little potato bed was below the kikuyu line and escaped the invasion. There it sat until Wombat and I decided to make it our own. We weeded, and spread a load of homemade compost. The pumpkin plant you can see in the front corner was a self-starter, from seeds in the compost.

In honour of the square project, I lugged the old welded-pipe frame down and Wombat and I gleefully planted blue lake runner beans. We also planted nasturtiums in the the other front corner. So far, we have three little bean seedlings. I shall be sure to post more pictures of them, once they are grown.

The raised-bed idea comes from the 'no-dig' gardening philosophy. It can even be used to create a garden on a concrete surface. In fact, beneath the bed you see in these photos there is a solid sheet of sandstone rock! As far as I know, the concept was pioneered by an Australian lady, Esther Dean, in the late 1970s. It is particularly effective in areas with low soil fertility and erosion problems. Instead of turning the soil to remove weeds (thus burying the weed seeds and perpetuating the problem), you simply smother them with layers of paper and straw, thus inviting the worms and other beneficial micro-organisms to aerate the soil and do the digging for you!

For a good-sized garden, you will need a frame, a bale of lucerne hay, a bale of straw, a bag of organic fertilizer or dry poultry manure, and some well-rotted compost.

The first step is to build a frame of some sort - you can use wood, as we have, or bricks (this is how my flower beds are built) or even recycle a frame from an old bed or table. The possibilities are endless. With a bit of imagination, you can even lift your raised bed up off the ground, making it accessible for those in wheelchairs or with other disabilities (Esther Dean does this by building a frame around an old bedstead and lining it with plastic before proceeding to the next step).

Once your frame is in place, you build the soil in layers. To construct a garden on hard rocky ground, first put down a three to four inch layer of old leaves, small sticks and bits if seaweed. If you are building your garden over an existing lawn or garden bed, you can omit this step and go straight to the newspaper.

Cover this with a layer of newspaper. (Avoid glossy advertising pages or thick cardboard as these will not break down properly.) It helps if you wet this layer before proceeding. The layer needs to be about quarter of an inch thick and make sure the newspaper is well overlapped to prevent any weeds popping through.

Cover the newspaper with pads of lucerne and sprinkle this lightly with the fertilizer. Next, add a layer of loose straw, about eight inches deep, with another sprinkle of fertilizer on top. Finally, spread a patch of compost about four inches deep and eighteen inches across where you plan to plant your seeds. Water after planting, and then as needed to keep the straw just damp.

Ms Dean suggests starting out with summer vegetables, such as zucchini, squash and pumpkin, at one end of the bed, and tucking some potatoes under the straw at the other end. This sets you up ready to rotate your crops by alternating a leafy vegetable with a root vegetable.

By the time your first crop is harvested, the straw will have broken down to form a lovely rich soil. To plant your next crop, just add a new layer of compost and off you go! (This is the stage Wombat and I are at with our square bed - there were only a few weeds that needed to be pulled out, then we added our compost layer and started planting. To recover the big beds, however, I am going to have to start again at the beginning.) Have fun and happy harvesting!

You can find more weekly inspiration over at Unplug Your Kids! The next challenge is "balance".

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Here I am, Lord

I was talking to Yeti about my church-going dilemma, and he came up with a brilliant solution! Out of the blue, he offered to start taking us to evening mass on Saturday nights in the big church - the one with all the singing. Evening mass is less crowded and there are less disruptive children, so I have more chance of keeping Munchkin healthy and Wombat focussed, especially if we can get there early and find a seat up the front :) It is a great time of year to start making this a habit, as it is still light until about 8pm (Mass is from 6:00 - 7:00pm).

We went for the first time today. Monday is predicted to be another scorcher with extreme fire danger, so Yeti had to get the pumps on and the sprinklers going before we left. This took longer than expected, so we were about 15 minutes late - but baby steps - at least we got there! Yeti didn't come in with us this time - he hadn't had time to shower before racing out the door, so didn't feel comfortable about it. I am praying that as time goes on, he will join us.

Munchkin was perfectly behaved the whole time - awake, but lying quite still and listening like the little angel he is. Wombat, however... well, for a two-year-old, he was pretty well-behaved. I had to pick him up and hold him on my lap to get his attention, and there was a bit of arm pulling and rolling around on the floor (him, not me). For the first 20 minutes he kept saying. "It's finished now. All done. Let's go!" but he really loved the sign of peace (shaking hands with everyone in sight) and going up to communion with me was a highlight for him. I think he'll do much better next time, especially if he can see more (since we were late I sat towards the back of the church and there were too many other people to look at instead of what was going on up at the altar)!

I also had a good week enjoying my singing a new song :D For this week's hymn I am choosing one of my all time favourites - another one where I know the chorus off by heart but never remember the verses - there are lots of them, so it should be good for rocking Munchkin off to sleep. This one was actually set as the entrance hymn for today's Mass, but since we got there late, I didn't get to sing it. I'll make up for it by singing it all week!

Here I am, Lord

I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin,
My hand will save.

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

I, who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?


I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have borne my people’s pain.
I have wept for love of them.
They turn away.


I will break their hearts of stone,
Give them hearts for love alone.
Who will speak my words to them?
Whom shall I send?


I, the Lord of wind and flame,
I will send the poor and lame.
I will set a feast for them.
My hand will save.


Finest bread I will provide,
'Til their hearts be satisfied.
I will give my life to them.
Whom shall I send?


If you want to sing along with me, you can listen to the music here.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

B is for... beautiful

Well, folks, Friday is here again. Time for my combined poetry and photo challenge :) If you are here just for the photo, scroll to the bottom of the post.

This week has been quite an exciting one for me, as my best friend from high school - whom I have not seen or heard from in over eighteen years - discovered my website and sent me an email.

I have said before that I have trouble writing poems for people I love, but I really wanted to celebrate this special occasion, so today's poem is a series of rondolets for my friend. It's sappy and sentimental, and a bit bewildered, but you'll have to forgive me, because right now, that's how I feel!

For Vivienne

Isn't it strange?
I close my eyes and think of you.
Isn't it strange
how passing years can rearrange
our hopes and dreams, but as we grew
our hearts remembered friendship true?
Isn't it strange?

Isn't it strange?
I close my eyes and feel your hands.
Isn't it strange
to wonder what we each would change;
to feel the pull of new demands
and know the other understands?
Isn't it strange?

Isn't it strange?
I close my eyes and hear your voice.
Isn't it strange?
As full-grown women we exchange
our teenage hearts and still rejoice
in love that makes a timeless choice!
Isn't it strange?

And now for this week's photo inspired by the letter 'B'! A little beauty for your viewing pleasure - a butterfly, and a rose in bloom.

Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Karen Edmisten.

For more ABSee photos, visit The Homeschool Blog.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY (Tuesday 13 January 2009 )...

Outside My Window... a cool mist hovers amongst the trees and the grass is wet with dew. The sun is just rising, welcomed by the chiming of bellbirds. It is going to be hot again, and I am hoping for a rainstorm later in the day as the tanks are almost empty and there are (as always) nappies to wash - not to mention Wombat's (and my) muddy gardening clothes.

I am thankful for... a long-lost friend contacting me out of the blue.

I am thinking... that the 40-day Love Dare Challenge sounds like a great idea.

From the learning room... we are working on replacing a bad habit with a good habit. Also, the letter "B", and hunting for worms and millipedes.

From the kitchen... look at this lovable little face covered in banana!

Munchkin is continuing to delight in discovering solid food. So far he has tried banana, sweet potato and rice cereal. I'm planning to introduce stewed apple this week. He is very independent and insists on feeding himself! As soon as the spoon comes towards him he grabs it, checks what's on it with his fingers and then puts it happily in his mouth. No spoon-feeding for this lad! I'm thinking I need to make him an eating-smock as bibs - and even an old nappy tied around his neck - just aren't doing the job! Either that or give him another bath and clean clothes AFTER dinner, lol. BTW, none of this has decreased his interest in breastfeeding as often as he can possibly manage ;P Munchkin by name, Munchkin by nature!

I am wearing... a red t-shirt, khaki trousers and my chinese phoenix-embroidered mary-janes.

I am creating... little bags and pouches in which to store toys.

I am going... to make another cup of tea ;D

I am reading... Charlotte Mason. I am ecstatic to have finally found a free source for her books in text format that I can load onto my ebook reader (the replacement Yeti bought for me has just arrived.) I think Wombat is really going to respond to the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education - with her emphasis on being outdoors, and on narrative, which he loves - much better than he has to Montessori (though I will still be making Montessori-inspired materials for him).

I am hoping... that the boys sleep in just a little bit longer.

I am hearing... the clock ticking and the chickens clucking.

Around the house... MIL is returning from one of her short trips away today, so I must put on my housewife hat and do what the FlyLady calls a crisis clean. It's not that bad, but Wombat has been wandering around leaving trails behind him (have I told you I also call him Captain Chaos?) I do need to kickstart my control journal again, and get back into the habit of a little bit every day.

One of my favorite things... baby and toddler huggles.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:

  • look back at the plans I have made over the past two weeks and ACTUALLY DO THEM!!!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing...

Mum gave Wombat a 'touchable' bubble blower for Christmas. They smell a bit chemical-y so I recommend using them outside - plus they leave a slime like a snail trail when they do pop... but they are lots of fun. They hang in the air and move slower than normal bubbles, and they stick when they land, so you can 'decorate' your trees with them lol. Wombat loves that they wait around for him to come stomp them.

Here's a 'popped' one - such a pretty rainbow sheen!

This snippet of my life brought to you courtesy of the Simple Woman's Daybook. If you would like to join in too, you will find all the details here.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Unplug your kids - orange and wrapping paper

Monday is here again and although we have been doing the unplugged projects, I just haven't had the chance to upload the photos yet. I'll have to play catch-up.

Shhh, Joe, don't crow... "Yon light is not day-light, I know it, I..."

cue gratuitous Rooster pic:

I've done it again - but somehow, after staying up till 3am talking to Yeti and then trying to check email and blogs in between feeding Munchkin every other hour, and knowing that Wombat is going to wake up before 7am it just seems easier not to sleep at all :P

Enough sidetracking...

Last week's project was orange. I started with this sun idea from No Time for Flash Cards. (Since it's summer here, it's actually seasonally appropriate for us, which is a relief from all the snow projects.)

First, I traced Wombat's hand as many times as I could fit on a piece of orange construction paper. While I was cutting them out, I gave him all his orange markers, pencils and crayons and asked him to colour in the plate until there was no white showing.

When he got bored with that I gave him a piece of white paper so he could 'draw a picture' with the same orange colours. Then together we cut & ripped the leftover orange paper into small pieces and searched through a newspaper for orange. We I glued these pieces randomly onto another piece of white paper.

About this stage he got bored and wandered off to annoy Daddy, so I finished by tracing one of the orange handprints I'd already cut out onto the two decorated white sheets, cut out more handprints and glued them around the outside of the plate. When Wombat came back, I asked him to help me glue and sprinkle glitter on the plate.

We added a string, I took down our curly decoration and packed it away with the Christmas stuff, and we hung the orange sun in its place.

This is the back (and our overcrowded play area) - I had an orange handprint leftover, so I wrote Wombat's name and the date on it.

It's actually very bright and cheery - looks much better in person than it does in the pictures.

Wombat is hassling me to get him dressed and start the day, so I will let the wrapping paper project tell it's own story in pictures...

Now I'd better hurry up and think of something 'square' to do today!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sing a new song

St Cecilia and Angel
I am ashamed to confess it, but it is getting to be a long time since I last went to Mass - I didn't even get to a Christmas service. Towards the end of the pregnancy, when I could no longer lift Wombat, it just got too difficult, then I wasn't allowed to drive for six weeks after the caesarean, and there were any number of other excuses, even with a baby as easy-going and well-behaved as Munchkin. Even today, the boys' car seats are in Yeti's car, which I am not comfortable driving. The excuses are sounding pretty hollow, even to myself, so next week I am going to make a proper effort to get there regardless.

That leads me to another dilemma. There are two churches I can go to - both half-an-hour's drive away but in opposite directions. One is small, with a grumpy old priest and no music. The other is huge and crowded, with glorious music - singing most of the Mass - but also lots of misbehaving kids and coughing adults. Call me paranoid, but I am just not comfortable making a new baby sit amongst sick people for an hour, and Wombat watches the naughty kids and copies, so my joy in being there is outweighed by these distractions.

As a result, the choice is easy. I will be going back to the small church. But I do so love singing hymns. When I was pregnant with Wombat, Yeti sent me for a retreat at the local Schoenstatt shrine. One afternoon when there was no-one else around, I sat by myself with a hymnal and sang every song I knew. It was one of those moments which provides "life and food / For future years" (to quote my favourite Wordsworth poem). So what am I to do?

Around Christmas, Playing with Legos came up with the idea of posting a song a week. I quite enjoyed the concept of singing the same song for a week, thus teaching it to the boys - and surprisingly, I learnt that Felize Navidad and Auld Lang Syne make great lullabies - at least, Munchkin thinks so. When Wombat was born, I surrounded him with music. I had Mozart and other classical music playing almost every minute of the day. With Munchkin, I hardly ever even remember to put on a lullaby cd! I feel like I am sadly neglecting him.

Rolling all these issues into one big ball, I have decided that every Sunday I will choose a hymn to sing for that week, and I will sing it at every opportunity. This is a simple idea that makes me feel really happy and will hopefully benefit the boys as well! If nothing else, it gives me an alternative to grouching. When I find myself starting to respond with irritation, I sing instead. Surprisingly effective. Also, it piques Wombat's curiousity, so we talk about what I'm singing, why I'm singing it, what the words mean... and before I know it Wombat is singing his own little lalala songs as well. It adds harmony to our lives.

In the future I hope to extend this idea to encompass new hymns that I would like to learn, but to start with, I am going to choose some old favourites that I love - often I have the chorus by heart, and one or two verses, but it would be nice to have the whole song. This one, for example, I know well, but still often get the verses mixed up, or substitute lines from other hymns and the third verse is almost always forgotten.

Sing a New Song

Sing a new song unto the Lord
Let your song be sung from mountains high.
Sing a new song unto the Lord
Singing alleluia.

Yahweh's people dance for joy.
Oh come before the Lord.
Play for him on glad tambourines,
And let your trumpet sound.

Sing a new song unto the Lord
Let your song be sung from mountains high.
Sing a new song unto the Lord
Singing alleluia.

Rise oh chidren from your sleep.
Your Savior now has come.
He has turned your sorrow to joy,
And filled your soul with song.

Sing a new song unto the Lord
Let your song be sung from mountains high.
Sing a new song unto the Lord
Singing alleluia.

Glad my soul for I have seen
the glory of the Lord.
The trumpet sounds; the dead shall be raised.
I know my Savior lives.

Sing a new song unto the Lord
Let your song be sung from mountains high.
Sing a new song unto the Lord
Singing alleluia.

I have been reading a bit about choosing (or being chosen by) a patron saint for the year, and thinking it was a lovely idea. I guess mine has chosen me - welcome to a Brand New Ending, St Cecilia!

Cluck cluck!

One of my favourite recent finds in the blogosphere - Rhonda, from Down to Earth - is hosting a 'kitchen table discussion' on the art of keeping chooks, and has asked for contributions from her readers. I really want to join in, but it is already terribly late (or early, depending on how you look at it) and I have vowed that I will not let the dawn find me sitting at the computer again this week! Also, most of my chicken photos are stuck on the hard drive of my old computer and currently inaccessible unless I trawl through stacks of cd archives (see previous comment about lack of time ;P)

As a result I am, with profound apologies, going to do this the easy way by *blush* linking to my own previous posts on this topic. My experiences with raising chickens are somewhat unconventional, and may be helpful to others who find themselves dealing with the unexpected. Follow the links for lots of drama and photos!

First, we have my happy happy joy joy post about welcoming eight Rhode Island Red Bantams, including the glorious rooster, Rufous, and his brave and daring harem leader, Ruby, into our lives.

Then comes tragedy, as Rufous leaves us, one cold morning. Yeti suspects that he probably died happy - from his experience working on a chicken farm, he has explained that roosters often have weak hearts and tendency to 'overexert' themselves, if you know what I mean *wink wink nudge nudge*.

All is not lost though, and in a comedy of clucky competitiveness, Ruby and Rosie save the day by ensuring that Rufous will live on in his children.

In the next long, rambling chook update, I am pregnant, working three days a week, and suddenly have to deal with predation by a stray cat we had adopted. Four chickens beheaded and the remainder of our flock brought 'inside' for safekeeping.

(PS. The environmental law case mentioned in that entry had quite a different outcome from my original optimistic expectations. On further research, I advised my solicitor friend that virgin excavated natural material was still classified as waste for the purposes of environmental planning laws, and that if the clients had not lodged a development application with council, then they were breaking the law and had no available defence. The end result was that they had to pay a hefty fine - but nowhere near as much as they would if the material dumped had included household rubbish or building materials.)

(lol... Munchkin called me in for a feed, then Wombat insisted "You stay in your bed, Mummy" so I am now finishing this before breakfast with a wriggling Wombat on my lap!)

While not technically about chickens, this entry shows the 'parrot' cage which is providing emergency housing for the chooks on our verandah (and introduces you to Mitch, my Corella, for whom the cage was originally built).

Now Wombat wants my company for breakfast, Munchkin is awake and asking for a clean nappy... blogging must wait - don't these children have any sense of priorities? oh... um... yeah... I'll be back.

OK, Munchkin is having nappy-free time and I gave Wombat a handful of pipecleaners and raided my button stash for interesting things to thread on them - that should give me a few minutes to finish this post.

Following on from the last recorded episode in the chook saga - the chooks lived in the parrot palace for a while, then we got rid of the cat who was causing the trouble and I very happily released them again... three days later, another fatality! This time, a hawk had decided to get in on the action. I tried everything I could think of to scare him off, but he perched in a tree above the pen and waited. We had cut down many of the trees within the pen (it is a large area, about 6metres square - used to be a dog run, with really high fences) to deny access to the cat, but unfortunately that gave the hawk a clear run.

Totally discouraged and busy getting ready for a baby, we moved all the chooks back onto the verandah - and there they have lived ever since. I gave them a crisper from an old fridge which I fill with dirt (and a few extra worms and bugs) for scratching. They get grain and their water is changed twice daily (I need to get them a proper waterer that they can't walk in as it gets so dirty.) We also give them a big handful of grass whenever Yeti is mowing or I am weeding. Whenever they start to get too grotty I scrape out all the material from their cage and give them fresh straw or dried grass (which they promptly kick out all over the floor.) It is SO much more work having them here, but at least they are safe - and surprisingly happy!

Towards the end of last year we had a hatching. I moved Mama hen (pretty sure it is either Ruby or Rosie, but no idea which - just know it is a very old hen) and the eggs into a smaller cage next door to the big one, and a few weeks later we had three baby chicks.

See the little one swimming in the water dish? Chicks are pretty silly. They need a big, wide, shallow dish for water that they can easily reach into but still climb out of if they fall in.

Disclaimer - don't read this paragraph while eating breakfast! I left the chicks for Mama hen to teach them how to peck and scratch, but I really should have moved them out a little sooner, as the remaining 10 eggs were mistreated - Mama hen ended up cracking a number of them open and feeding the babies on their unborn siblings.

The weather turned very cold (in November, in Australia!!!) so I brought the babies inside and lodged them in an old fish tank, with a wheat pillow for warmth (not having a suitable lamp.) This needed rewarming twice a day but was otherwise quite effective - I wrapped it in old towel that could be easily changed for washing.

They lived there for about a month. When they got too big (and the weather improved) they were moved back into the little cage and Mama hen was returned to the flock. She was immediately attacked by her companions, who seemed to feel she had been getting a better deal. Yeti said I should have completely changed everything in the cage (fresh straw, fresh food, clean dishes, new nestbox etc) and then the reintroduction would have gone unnoticed in the confusion.

I am not happy about all of this - I never expected to have chooks living IN the house! but we did what was needed to keep them alive. Although I know they don't have lice - I have checked carefully - I do know the dust and dirt they throw around is a major factor in contributing to our rodent and bug problem. Now our circumstances have settled down somewhat, Yeti has promised that their new quarters are top of his list and he is building them a tractor arrangement which NOTHING can get into! (Hope we can still collect the eggs :P) They have never been big layers (lol, being bantams!!) but we get between 3 and 5 pretty little brown eggs each week, which is enough to ensure that Wombat eats fresh, and that was my main concern as I don't want him getting commercial hormones.

Now the boys are clamouring for my attention and the chooks and parrot are squawking for their food, so I had better stop here... maybe I had better put a word limit on my future contributions to such discussions :P

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A is for... anno Domini

Today, I start combining Poetry Friday and the A B See photo meme.

I had planned a ballade about ants, but the combination of scorching weather and grumpy children was not conducive to a complicated composition.

Then Rocks in My Dryer hijacked me with a haiku challenge. Free stuff! I had to enter :D Needless to say, I wasn't one of the finalists (or you would have heard me whooping and hollering from wherever in the world you are reading from!)

It seems my New Year's Resolutions are pretty much the same as the other respondents to her challenge - less of me in the physical dimension, more of me in the spiritual dimension and don't forget, be nice to the babies. I started thinking about how far I was already falling below my own expectations in such matters - and we're not even halfway through January yet. The haiku which resulted from this self-examination evolved into a tanka.

New Year's Resolutions
One day at a time.
Relax! Be kind to yourself.
God will see you through.
More of HIM, less of you. The
little ones need loving too.

I obviously couldn't team this poem with a photo of an ant, so instead, here is an ANGEL!

I had a bright idea - photograph the angel with a bunch of agapanthus. I was arranging them on the old exercise trampoline which sits in our yard when Wombat had a bright idea too... let's make the angel dance!

This week's Poetry Friday is hosted by Anastasia at Picture Book of the Day. (Yes, yes, I know. It is already Saturday where I am, but as far as I am concerned, it's never a new day until after I have been to bed! Been burning the midnight oil far too much lately... another resolution in need of a revolution!)

Also, amble over to The Homeschool Post for more A B See photo fun :D