Friday, 31 October 2014

Gardening at Homeschool Group

Yesterday morning was a quiet one at home - playing with kinetic sand (I really love that stuff, and so do the kids), playing iPads and iPods - Pixel Gun, Reading Eggs, Minecraft, looking after the chickens, riding bikes, planning for Halloween, using glue and beads and fabric to make collages.

In the early afternoon we caught the bus into Yarra Glen, Amelie and LiAM sat in the backseat and were thrilled at how much more they could see from that height compared to in the car. We went to the IGA to grab some ham and bread rolls, and LiAM also was able to sample some Warrnambool cheese that was on special - he loved it so we bought some, then he was offered a sample of some Tasmanian Brie, which we will buy next time.

Over to the hall to Homeschool Group. We had 7 families turn up, so it was pretty busy. The kids (and parents) played with some of the new games we'd bought (Uno and Log Toss mainly), and played on iPads, chased each other, played the piano, played in the park, played with toy library toys, and sat and chatted. As a group we planted herbs and vegetables and flowers in the garden at the back of the hall which was a lot of fun and will be an ongoing project for the group. It was also great to see the  younger boys (Liam and A) joining in and playing with the older kids.

Tony met us at the park after he'd finished work, and he pushed the boys on the big bucket swing, very very high - lots of very excited and slightly scared screams... After everyone else had left we got fish and chips for tea and ate them in the park, then LiAM and I went to karate while Tony and the girls stayed playing in the park. Karate was hard work last night - we did lots of combinations and learnt some new defensive moves. It was fun, and there was another woman training which helped me feel a little less 'odd one out'. She and I teamed up for the new moves and it was reassuring to be training with someone who was about where I'm up to.

After karate the kids played in the park until it was almost too dark to see, then we headed home. Everyone was exhausted so we fed the animals and the kids went to bed, they were ALL asleep BEFORE 10pm, I can't remember the last time that happened! Tony and I were in bed by 10 as well, and I had a very refreshing nights sleep with no interruptions - also an unusual event for me, so I'm feeling pretty good this morning!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Les Miserables Exhibition

Yesterday was a rather busier day than the one before! I was scheduled to drop my car off in Ringwood to be repaired, so decided that seeing as I was halfway to the city, Caitlin and I could use the free tickets we won to see the Les Miserables From Page to Stage Exhibition at the State Library.

I met R in Coldstream and dropped LiAM and Amelie off to go home with her to spend the day playing with V, and Caitlin and I continued on to drop the car off. We got a courtesy taxi to Ringwood Station then caught the train into the city. We had a funny moment when I tried to eat the hard boiled eggs I'd bought with us and couldn't crack the shell... I decided to eat something else for then and try the eggs later (and they cracked easily when I tried them later in the afternoon).

Getting off the train at Melbourne Central, Caitlin and I both felt like tourists from the country - there were so many shops and people and things happening - we've been to the city lots in the last few years, but I think we just weren't expecting it to be that crazy right at the railway station, and it was a bit overwhelming.

Neither of us had been to the State Library before, and I would have like to see it without the scaffolding all over it - but it was very impressive inside and now I want to go back and hang around in the book areas.... The Exhibition was great, we both really loved it. It started with a history of Victor Hugo and pictures and descriptions of Paris in the time that he was alive and when Les Mis was set. They had a scanned copy of the original Les Mis manuscript and some pieces of parchment he'd scribbled notes on, and the quills he wrote it with - very exciting. Lots of history then of productions of the story in all forms and many countries, including one of the costumes that Russell Crowe wore in the most recent movie. I really really wanted to touch it (and Caitlin was the same with the costume worn by Helena Bonham Carter - as she'll always associate her with Bellatrix Lestrange from Harry Potter, so it felt like only a couple of degrees of separation from us to Harry...) but we restrained ourselves and took notice of the DO NOT TOUCH sign. It was cool to be standing that close. We laughed at seeing pictures of Hugh Jackman as Valjean, as Hugh is popping up all over the place for us at the moment, and Anne Hathaway as Fantine, since we'd watched Ella Enchanted 3 times the day before... We listened to a French version of 'On My Own' and looked at some of the original lyrics-in-progress of I Dreamed a Dream (in English) and the scene where Marius and Cosette meet (in French). Then we moved into the fun part of the exhibit (as we hadn't already had a lot of fun). This part was about the musical production and had lots of costumes, props, and interactive bits. My favourite was the 25th Anniversary Concert being shown on a massive screen above the stage, and especially Lea Salonga singing 'I Dreamed A Dream'. Caitlin's favourite was being able to dress up in real costumes from previous Australian productions of the musical. She spent about half an hour dressing up and could have stayed longer if we didn't have a train to catch...

Leaving the library the sun had come out (it had been cloudy and cold when we arrived) and there were people all over the lawn in front of the library, having lunch in the sun. Caitlin was quite overwhelmed with the number of people around, it was very very busy, even more so than when we'd arrived. On the way to the station we grabbed some sushi (for me) and Subway (for C), and a natural icy pole (just fruit and water and sugar) from a guy at a pop up store. Back on the train where we ate our lunch then looked at all the photos on Caitlin's camera, including lots of her in costume from the Exhibition (if I remember I'll add some here after she downloads them). It was a wonderful girls day out and I'm so glad we managed to squeeze the Exhibition into our very busy month.

Amelie and R met us at the bus stop in Yarra Glen, we had a snack, then R took us up to Guides. I went back to R's place where LiAM was still very happily playing with V - they were playing the Wii at this point and had had a great day together. They'd all spent time at the park and had a big walk and run into some friends - including Amelie's new best friend who she'd really been hoping to see this week. The girls went for a walk at Guides as well so Amelie was pretty exhausted by the time she got back.

Tony came and picked us up from R's and the girls from Guides, then finally home. We put on the DVD of the 10th Anniversary Les Miserables concert (which I bought at the gift shop) and watched that throughout the evening in between jumping on the trampoline, playing on iPad, cooking a roast for tea, doing some work on the computer. This version was quite remarkable and we all kept coming back into the lounge room to watch particular songs - I'm very happy that I bought it! It has Lea Salonga playing Eponine and doing the best version of 'On My Own' (my favourite) that I've ever heard - just blows me away every time.

Everyone was pretty tired after our big day and settled to bed pretty easily. I had a bath and felt much more relaxed and crashed pretty quickly myself.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Movie day at home (and Top Gear)

A whole day at home yesterday was lovely and exactly what I needed! LiAM was a bit disappointed that we had no plans to go out, so I made sure that we did interesting things all day so that staying home became the fun option.

He and Amelie have been playing with felt shapes and boards lately, and I knew I had a set in my present/bring out when needed box, so I grabbed it yesterday morning. It was a farm set and as well as the barn and farmer and horses and cows, it had little eggs and nests and hatching eggs and ducks and chickens and lots of very cool shapes, Liam and Amelie played with it for ages.

Once that had lost it's appeal I suggested we look at the Top Gear 100 Fastest Cars book I borrowed from the library. LiAM wasn't keen so I said I'd just look at it myself as I wanted to check out the Ferraris. Once I opened it he curled up on the couch next to me and we started to work through the book from number 1 - he'd read the number, I'd read the name of the car, we'd look at the shape and colour of it and talk about that, then I'd read the (very funny) description, then he'd read the stats about power, speed, cost and cool factor, and we'd discuss that. It was a lot of fun and we did probably the first 15 cars in detail, then flicked through and did some random ones, then just looked at the pictures and the stats. When we watched Top Gear later that evening, some of the cars we'd looked at were on the show, so it was very exciting to get the book back out and check out the details again while we actually watched them driving the cars. Hugh Jackman (who plays Wolverine) was the guest on the show which was quite exciting, and there was a very funny hovercraft experiment which Caitlin and I couldn't tear ourselves away from even though we both wanted to go to bed.

During the day we watched several movies and played on iPods and iPads and the computer, and chatted about what we were watching/playing. We watched Ella Enchanted, then Hannah Montana the Movie, then Ella Enchanted again, and put it on for a 3rd time after Tony came home from work. I enjoyed both of the movies more than I'd expected, and we also spent a lot of time looking up where we'd seen the actors in both movies, who was singing the songs, what other songs those people had seen, which fairy tales some of the characters were from, etc. We played Minecraft and some minecraft spinoff games (Pixel Gun was popular), Township, some dress up games, Candy Mania, and others.

Caitlin had a nap in the afternoon - her big performance and rehearsal schedule is tiring her out. Exciting to realise that she is starting to listen to her body and have extra sleep when she needs it.

LiAM helped Tony clean his car out and I cleared EVERYTHING out of mine before taking it to the smash repairers today. We get a free wash and vac after the damage (from a rear end collision last week - a 4WD ran into the back of my car) is fixed - will be nice to have it all fresh and clean!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Swimming, Dancing and Friends

Yesterday morning we had no plans which was a relief after being up and out of the house by 9.30 on both mornings of the weekend. Life runs so much more smoothly in our house when we don't have morning appointments (and it was funny yesterday when we got to Yarra Glen Library at midday, and the guy said he was surprised to see us so early in the day - he's used to us turning up much later in the afternoon...).

The kids played a lot of Minecraft throughout the morning, and for a large part of it all 3 were connected to the same world. They also played with kinetic sand and LiAM created a great ocean scene with the blue sand and his animals.

LiAM and his ocean scene

I played with the sand a bit, caught up on a few things around the house, and dug some new channels in the driveway to try to prevent the water from the torrential downpour all ending up in our carport and at our front door.

Our day got busy from 12 onwards, but everyone was feeling pretty rested by then so getting out the door was pretty easy. We went to the library, and I downloaded the photos from last week's Children's Day so that the council can display them, and the kids looked at books and DVDs and watched minecraft videos. We then drove through more very heavy rain to Yarra Junction for a swim, and I discovered I still have quite a lot of visits left on my 20 visit family pass, so we might to try get there once or twice a week once all Caitlin's performances are over and we have a bit more spare time.

We all had a fun time in the pool. LiAM is now confident even in the deep end of the big pool, and Millie is dog paddling short distances, which are getting longer each time we visit. She's comfortable with putting her head under the water and much more independent now. Caitlin tried a new technique for diving in and nearly nailed it.

On the way home we picked up our raw milk from the dairy, then came home and had an early snack/dinner (although I forgot to eat, just fed the kids) before I did Caitlin's hair and makeup for her dance school photos. The others watched Bambi 2 while they ate - Millie has been wanting to watch it ever since she discovered it existed, and I put it on hold at the library and on our Quickflix queue - and it arrived from both places yesterday, so we currently have 2 copies in the house!

I thought I was going to be able to calmly do Caitlin's makeup this year but I did get a bit stressed and cranky - I think my fear of getting into trouble kicks in and I want it to be perfect so that her dance teacher doesn't yell at me. Which is not even what would happen if I got it wrong, she would yell at Caitlin which would be even worse... Although C is not worried about it all and is happy for me to just do the best job I can and not worry about perfection. So once we'd worked through that little conflict the makeup and hair worked out quite well - both LiAM and Millie said she looked really pretty, and I think I did a better job than last year, it seemed to suit her better this year.

So back to Yarra Glen for photos, the other two sat out the back of the hall and played with iPad/iPod, while I helped Caitlin in and out of her costumes for her photo shoot. S & V came down to the park while we were there, so the others went out to play with them and a couple of other kids, and C and I joined them once we were done. We stayed at the park for nearly an hour, then all went back to S & V's house for another hour or so - everyone was playing well together and I enjoyed the chance to sit and chat to R & P and have a couple of cups of tea (and something to eat).

We got home around 9.30, just before Tony arrived home from baseball, and played a few iPad/iPod games, Caitlin had a shower and washed all her makeup and hair product out, and everyone went to bed fairly easily.