Sunday, 19 April 2015

Another busy week

One of the extra exciting things about seeing Cinderella at the movies on Monday was the 20 minute Frozen Fever film that showed beforehand. It was incredibly exciting to go back into the world of Frozen, and see all the characters again having a new little adventure.

It was a pretty big day all up. Before the movie we went and bought Caitlin's karate outfit - she's been training all of term 1 in casual clothes, so this was long anticipated. After the movie LiAM had a go at the claw machine to see if he could win a prize - and he snagged a plush Oh (from the movie Home). It was incredibly exciting. He and Caitlin had another turn each and got lollies this time, but the Oh doll is very much prized and loved. We with to the Pancake Factory and shared a Chocolate Chip Pancake which was delicious! From there we went to Costco and stocked up on some things we were low on, and bought some delicious gelato, and some lollies and chips in bulk - good to get the shopping done, although quite exhausting. By the time we got home everyone was quite knackered.

Tuesday we spent at home and for most of the morning we were all a bit cranky and restless - it happens when we haven't had enough quiet home time lately. We picked up in the afternoon though, it felt a lot calmer. Millie and I had a lot of fun playing with the bicarb and vinegar and food colouring again, and found new ways to make explosive painting work effectively (one of the things I did was to drip food colouring directly onto paper, then cover it in bicarb, then drip vinegar onto it (I'd found a dropper which meant we could control the amount of vinegar we were using). It was a very cool effect, with the bicarb bubbling and then the colour spreading through it.)]

Wednesday we had a quite morning at home then went to Yarra Junction pool in the afternoon, we hadn't been swimming for a while and we all enjoyed it. For most of the time we were there we had the centre to ourselves! We went to Yarra Glen library after the pool and hung out there and at the park, joined by S & V who were coming for a sleepover, until the big girls had Guides at 6. This was their first night in the senior guides, which was quiet exciting. We dropped them off and the other kids and I went home for an hour or so, then back to pick them up. They really loved it. Once home again the kids played Minecraft and went and lay on the trampoline with blankets and chatted and looked at the sky, then watched Dance Academy till they fell asleep.

Thursday the kids played more minecraft, and with kinetic sand, and went to visit our neighbour. We went to homeschool group in the afternoon, where we made Anzac Biscuits. It was a fun group, a few  families who've only come a few times were there, as well as lots of regulars, and it worked really well. Exciting to see the group growing and people starting to come more often. The kids also played Minecraft and Terraria and Lego and with some of the other toy library toys, and rode scooters and ripstiks etc in the park and played on the playground. Once most people had left the kids were hanging out in the library or at the skate park, and we were waiting at the park for karate to start - the kids decided not to come to karate so they went up to R's house with her kids, and I went to karate alone - it was my last training session before my grading, so I really wanted to go and practise, and it was fun and useful, I cleared up a lot of questions I had about the moves and practised effectively and felt much more prepared (although still incredibly nervous!)

Thursday, 16 April 2015


On Monday we went to see Cinderella at the movies. Caitlin and I were very excited, Millie happy to go and LiAM not sure - he didn't enjoy it overly but the girls and I loved it. I was impressed with the detail and the direction, and thought Cate Blanchett was a captivatingly nasty step-mother, and Helena Bonham-Carter a delightfully eccentric fairy godmother.

Over the past year we have watched many movies based on the Cinderella story. We started with the original Disney animation, and then have borrowed many live action movie versions which tell the story in different ways. I'm amazed at the number of Cinderella based movies there are, and the more I watch, the more I become captivated by the story, and the more I realise it's not just a nice rags-to-riches story.

Two things in particular really stand out to me about the story - Cinderella is downtrodden and treated badly, and then she starts to stand up for herself and is able to break free of that - usually with the help of friends, but I guess it's the prince character noticing her and falling in love with her that boosts her self-esteem and gives her the courage to stand up to her stepmother and make some changes. I think I had always thought of her as just luckily meeting someone rich who takes her out of her undesirable situation, but it's more that she finally fights for better treatment and is able to break free that way. The prince is really just a nice bonus after that - her freedom is even more important. She also spends a lot of the story feeling like she's not worthy of the prince, and at the end is so much more confident and does believe in herself enough to believe that he could love her.

The other thing is the incredible romance of the prince being so determined to find this girl. He is willing to be ridiculed by his friends, advisors and his family, in order to track her down and be with her. I'd not realised before how brave that is, how much he goes against everything he's been taught so far. And it is SO romantic. He really loves her (or trusts that he will love her) and he prioritises that over everything else.

Both of those aspects to the story are so inspirational and I think could really make a difference to people who are struggling with their own self-esteem or being prevented from following their dreams. I feel movies can make a big difference and remind people that we can do things that are scary and it's sometimes worth giving it a go.

It's been great watching so many versions of the tale - we've had lots of discussions about what things are always the same in each version, and which bits are changed - and how those changes alter the story. I'm also really loving the fact that by exploring the story a bit further, my opinion on it has changed completely and I'm seeing it much more deeply than I ever did. I used to dismiss it a bit as a light, frothy, Disney tale, and now I love it and it's brought us so much joy and learning.

(Our favourite modern Cinderella adaptations are A Cinderella Story with Hillary Duff, and Another Cinderella Story with Selena Gomez)

Monday, 13 April 2015

A weekend at home

LiAM and Millie were up reasonable early on Saturday and joined me at the computer. Tony was going to go and buy some chainsaw accessories so he could cut wood for our fire, and he took the 2 kids with him to have breakfast at McDonalds and then get his supplies. Caitlin, S & V were still asleep until the phone rang shortly before 9 - perfect timing, as we were leaving at 9.20 to take V to a hair cut appointment. The kids got up and quickly dressed and ate, and we were in Yarra Glen on time to meet R. The girls decided to walk back to S's house to watch some more Dance Academy, and I went to the post office then bought myself a Chai Latte and headed up to open the Toy Library for the morning.

As I was putting the sign out Tony and the other kids arrived. Millie and Tony played a great game with one of the sets of animals, and LiAM watched YouTube videos, while I did a bit more stocktake and chatted to the guy who came to return toys. Once our duty was over Tony took the other kids home and Caitlin arrived back from S's. We made a quick stop at the op shop - and found some kitchenware for our camper trailer, the full set of the Fifty Shades books, and a whoopee cushion (it gets me every time, we have definitely gotten our dollar's worth of value from it already!)

Tony played with Millie for a while, then went to cut wood. I had bought 'TinkerBell and the Lost Treasure' on DVD from the Op Shop, so we watched that (twice). Millie had a bath in the middle of the 2 movies, playing with a water toy (a boat and a water wheel and pump and some other blocks that fit neatly in the boat) that we'd borrowed from the toy library.

Caitlin played her fashion game on the iPad and the others played Minecraft and Terraria, and in the evening we watched Heartland - a new series about a horse ranch, this was the first time we'd watched it and Caitlin really loves it. Millie played with Lego for a while, and also a game where she was an ocelot and I was a human who adopted her. Millie and I went to bed before the others and read a big pile of books together.

Yesterday we had LiAM's friend A come over as his family was taking his sister to the airport and he wasn't keen on the long drive. The kids played Minecraft and Terraria and jumped on the trampoline and played on the swings all day, quietly and with no arguments. The girls joined in when they felt like it and did their own thing at other times. All the kids popped over next door to see our neighbour, they helped Tony unpack the wood from the trailer, then he took them for a ride in the trailer and in the Kabota, down around the dam. At one point when the kids were all occupied Tony and I had time to play a game of Letters and Numbers and just hang out together chatting for a while afterwards. Hasn't happened much in the last couple of months, it was great for him to have the whole weekend off work (and baseball starts next week so he will be away on Saturdays again from now on). In the afternoon Caitlin and I sorted my tea collection - I had 2 shelves of boxes and packets of tea, shoved in there when we moved in and not really touched since, except for the popular ones which were all over the place. So Caitlin labelled everything for me with her label maker, and I sorted and rearranged and put things in boxes that can slide in and out of the shelf - so I can access the stuff at the back and I actually know what is in there now. It was really fun working with Caitlin and made the job much easier - and it's exciting to feel not overwhelmed by my flavoured tea collection and actually feel like drinking some of it now - I think every time I thought about it before it felt too hard to find anything and so I didn't try.

LiAM and I took A home in the evening and the boys had a bit more of a play there while I had a cuppa with L, then home for a roast dinner, another episode of Heartland, then the movie Space Jam and some Star Wars Clone Wars.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

A double sleepover

Despite going to bed very late the night before the kids were all awake by about 9am (some much earlier). They continued to play Minecraft in S's world. Caitlin was feeling a bit tired and was getting emotional quite easily, so she had a shower and woke up a bit, then went to see if our neighbour was home. She came back to get S and they rode bikes over to visit. I got a call a while later to say Caitlin was feeling really dizzy and couldn't ride home, so I walked over and found her lying on the ground with the neighbours looking after her. I gave her some water and helped her take off the warmer parts of her clothes (it was 5 degrees when we woke up, but the sun warmed the day really quickly and it was getting hot) - she tends to over heat and get very dizzy so once she'd cooled off she felt a bit better and was able to slowly walk home.

She went to bed and had a good rest for a few hours while the others played Minecraft, watched The Lego Movie, and a Pokemon movie, and some Dance Academy, played on the trampoline, and had pokemon battles with their pokemon cards. Caitlin joined the others later in the afternoon and seemed much better. She worked on her loom bands for a while and they all continued to flit between Minecraft and playing outside.

Someone mentioned the Anzac biscuits the girls had had at our neighbours in the morning, and the others wanted to go over and get some. I suggested we make our own, which everyone was happy with. The boys and Millie helped. I had talked up the excitement of the bicarb bit, where it fizzes up when we add it to the butter - but it didn't fizz and it was very disappointing! I said we could do some painting with bicarb and vinegar to get our fizz fix once the biscuits were cooking.

I took bicarb, vinegar, water, trays, paper, food colouring, spoons, cups, jugs and straws outside, and started by spreading bicarb in the bottom of a tray, then mixing some food colouring and vinegar in a cup, and dripping a bit into the tray - it fizzed up beautifully, lots of blue coloured bubbles. From there the kids and I all experimented in our own way, the boys tipped large amounts of different coloured vinegar into the tray and got large bubbles and mixed colours, the girls used smaller amounts and created more specific pictures, we tried putting the bicarb on the paper in a pattern then fizzing it up with vinegar, or painting with a bicarb, water and food colouring paint and then fizzing that, or just mixing it all together in small and large containers - it was a lot of fun and everyone did their own thing for as long as they felt like.

A great afternoon to be playing outside
Painting with bicarb paint
R arrived with hot chips to share for tea, so we had a picnic in the back yard - throwing the ball constantly for Buckley so he wouldn't join us on the picnic rug, and the kids played on the trampoline and swings in between eating chips and then Anzac biscuits. As it got colder they moved blankets and pillows and iPads out to the trampoline and played and talked out there for a while. Both kids decided to stay overnight again, so R and I had a cuppa and a chat then she went home alone. The kids watched an episode of Dance Academy then Tony put the football on. We watched the football and talked about it and played Minecraft and I went and had a bath and read my book (The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater - like everything else she's written, I find it very hard to put down). After the football the kids put Dance Academy on again. LiAM had taken himself to bed earlier and the others watched a few episodes then fell asleep in their beds in the lounge room.

Friday, 10 April 2015

The week after Easter

On Tuesday we went to see 'Penguins of Madagascar' at the Memo Hall in Healesville. We'd planned to see it a few times before - we chose to see Paper Planes instead the first time, and then the next 2 times we were going to see it at Bayswater Outdoor Cinema - and there was a big electrical storm the first time, and too much rain the 2nd time, so it was cancelled (we did manage to see Big Hero 6 at the Outdoor Cinema - it rained lightly all the way through the screening, but it was still a very fun way to watch a movie). So we thought we'd missed our chance to see the Penguins at the movies, then Caitlin discovered that it was showing these holidays in Healesville. We'd never been to a movie at the Memo, so it was another exciting adventure, and great being able to see a movie so close to home!

I'd been thinking the movie was at 2pm, then when I checked the schedule for the day I discovered it was at 11.30am that day (2pm on some other days). Luckily there was still time to get ready and get there - we'd been watching videos on Youtube and Skyping with friends so we wrapped that up and headed for the movie. The cinema set up was great - felt like a real movie theatre, and we all loved the movie. Very funny.

Afterwards we had hot chips at Caitlin's favourite fish and chip shop, then went to the library. It was a cold rainy day and hanging out in the library was a perfect activity. I ran into another homeschooling mum who has come to our group a couple of times, so had a chat with her about how things are going. LiAM's new friend K (another homeschooler who has just moved to Healesville, although I've known his Mum for a while) met us at the library, the boys played on the playstation, I chatted with his parents and played lego with Millie, Caitlin flitted between us and played with her iPad mini. The boys also rearranged all the cushions which is a fairly irresistible activity at Healesville library. After K left LiAM watched some youtube videos and we selected our books and DVDs and left the library when it closed at 5. We did a quick shop at Coles then headed home.

Tony had started work at 6am so was home around tea time - nice to have him here in the evenings again. We watched Captain America - The Winter Soldier - I enjoyed it, although thought the violence level was more personal and less fantasy-world than some of the other Marvel movies (I like the villains to be supernatural or alien or mechanical, rather than evil humans pretending to be good), Caitlin didn't watch it, she skyped with friends instead, LiAM and Tony enjoyed most of it. We read another chapter of Eldest before everyone went to bed.

Wednesday we had friends come over who we usually only see in school holidays. The girls played dress ups and Caitlin set up a picnic and an adventure for them to go on where they had to defeat the queen's evil sister. The boys played minecraft and jumped on the trampoline. Their mum bought plantains to share - none of us had eaten them before so that was exciting. I helped cook them, and Caitlin and I loved them, Millie and LiAM tried them and weren't so keen.

After our friends left we went to Yarra Glen library, LiAM watched videos and the girls played in the park and I read my book. The girls went up the street to visit friends of Caitlin and had a bit of a play there. When they came back Millie was trying to ride her scooter and finding it very frustrating - it was a freebie given to us when her previous scooter disappeared at the park one day, and she's never really liked it and has always found it hard to steer. We had a free evening, with Tony at baseball training, so when we left the library we headed for the shops to get a new scooter which I've been promising her for ages. We stopped at Hungry Jacks first as I had a voucher for a family deal for $20, so we ate there and had a bit of a play in the playground, then over to Kmart. We got a very cool scooter with a cat on it (!), a new lamp for our lounge room so we don't have to spend another winter in the semi-darkness (no ceiling lights in our lounge, dining or bedrooms - I'm gradually adding more light options to the house as I really don't like dim lighting), and clothes for the kids to wear to our friend's wedding next week. Oh and a couple of new Skylanders which made the outing more bearable for LiAM (new dresses were exciting enough for the girls).

Yesterday we had a quite morning at home then went to the library (again) to meet S &V who were coming home with us for a sleepover. We hung out at the library and park for a while, Millie and I played a game with the space shuttle toys at the library, the boys watched videos and LiAM rode his scooter for a while, Caitlin rode her RipStik and chatted with S, and Millie tried out her new scooter - and she loves it. We went to the IGA - shopping with 5 kids was interesting! then home. The kids all connected to the same Terraria world for a while, S was the mayor and everyone had jobs and they worked together to get things done. They were in and out to the trampoline and swings and playing various games on iPads, it was a very peaceful afternoon and evening. They played hide and seek for a while after dark. After tea there was more minecraft and terraria and then they decided to watch a movie - took a while for all 5 kids to agree - they watched Happily N'ever After and all except Millie slept in the lounge room.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Easter Weekend

Tony has had all 4 days of the Easter long weekend off work, it has been so wonderful (and also a bit weird) having home, in the mornings, in the evenings, through the day. He seems much more relaxed now too.

On Friday we had a quiet morning at home then LiAM and I went to a friend's place in the afternoon, and I took my friend H for a driving lesson, then stayed for a cuppa while LiAM played with the boys. On Friday night Caitlin's friend S came for a sleepover. The girls watched a couple of Hillary Duff movies and everyone played their iPads until they went to bed.

Saturday the girls worked on a slide show of photos from S's birthday party last month. She went home about 11.30 then we all went to Donnelly's Weir to meet Mum and Dad for an Easter picnic, after stopping at Coles on the way for supplies. It was a lovely lunch, and the kids played and explored around the top of the weir and in the edge of the (very cold) water. We had an impromptu easter egg hunt, then once the eggs were found, the kids and Grandad took it in turns to hide them again for the other 3 to find. LiAM found a big fallen tree to climb along, and with his brown and green clothes was well camouflaged into the bush by the time he got to the other end.

LiAM is at the other end of that tree somewhere...
Easter Egg hunt with Grandad
After lunch Tony, Caitlin and Dad walked to Maroondah Dam, while Mum and I drove the 2 cars over, with LiAM and Millie. The main carpark was VERY busy, but we parked further around, near the end of the Donnellys Weir track. The kids briefly explored the edge of the river, and I ran into a friend who I see quite regularly in random places, then Mum set off along the walking track to meet the others on their way. LiAM & Millie and I headed back to the playground, playing with some of the very cool bark from the gum trees on the way. LiAM had a bit of play then had had enough, and my back was hurting, so we lay on the picnic mat and played cards for a while. The others arrived shortly afterwards and Caitlin played with Millie for a while on the playground.

Back home for a quiet evening, with Tony watching the football, then at 9.20 we went outside and got comfortable on the trampoline to watch the lunar eclipse. We stayed out there until the full eclipse (the Blood Moon - very exciting as a Blood Moon happens occasionally in Terraria) at 11pm. It was a little chilly but we had blankets and lots of great conversation and laughs. It was incredible to watch the shadow pass across the moon and at different stages it reminded us all of different objects which sparked a lot of connections and conversation.

Once the eclipse had happened I went in and went to bed, the kids were fired up though so stayed up for a while in their room, making loom band creations from a new book Caitlin had borrowed from the library.

Everyone slept until after 7 on Easter morning, and the kids all waited very patiently until everyone was up and dressed and ready before they went out to the kitchen to see what the Easter Bunny had delivered. Everyone was happy and excited with their gifts - they each received a chocolate bunny, Caitlin got an egg in a Barbie cup, LiAM 2 eggs in an Avengers cup, Millie an egg with a My Little Pony snack box and drink bottle - which (unknown to the Easter Bunny) was EXACTLY what she'd wanted. Outside then for the Easter Egg hunt, lots of fun finding little eggs all over our very large yard. Once again everyone was happy with what they found, and after all were collected they happily traded with each other so no one had any flavours or types they didn't like. Chocolate for breakfast, and Millie had her drink bottle and snack box filled up, then everyone wandered off to play or loom or watch tv. Caitlin and I started cleaning up the dining room later in the morning, and we managed to clear the table and the floor so that we could eat dinner in there that night. Millie spent most of the day playing with Lego. LiAM watched tv and chatted to us.

Millie very excited about the Easter Bunny's offerings
Caitlin and her presents from the Easter Bunny
Easter Egg Hunt
LiAM after having sorted his eggs after the hunt
In the afternoon we had friends come over for Easter dinner (the same friends we saw on Friday). It was a relaxed evening, the kids all played well, the boys made a car and a cat out of bottles, boxes, sticky tape and foam, Millie and J played Lego and dress ups, O played with the dinosaurs, Caitlin made more loom band bracelet/ring hand pieces, the adults chatted and sampled wine and Tony cooked a magnificent baked dinner which everyone ate quite a bit of, and a tasty pudding for dessert.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

A quick trip away and a fun week

Last week the kids and I went to Ballarat for 3 nights, staying in our camper trailer. It was a very fun trip - great to actually get away during Vintage like I always plan to do but never quite seem to make it. I've blogged about half of it at and will get to the rest in the next couple of days I hope.

Since we've been back we've had a couple of quiet days at home, Caitlin has been to acting and the rest of us to the library, we've been to the toy library, a friend's 8th birthday party, Caitlin has had a sleepover at S's house, S and V have come here for a play, I've taken Caitlin and S shopping so that Caitlin could get some jodphurs, Caitlin has been on a 3 day horse camp and is filled with happiness and horsey knowledge and memories, Millie has been to Grandma's for 2 nights, LiAM has had a sleepover at V's, he and I have watched The Hobbit - Battle of the Five Armies (first time for me to see it, 2nd for LiAM, and he was fantastic at NOT telling me what was going to happen even though he finds that really difficult - he's so pleased I've seen it now so we can discuss it), he's had a new friend come to visit, and we've watched other movies, playing Minecraft, Terraria, Village Life, and lots of other iPad and computer games. I think we're all feeling recharged after our time away - and Tony had a day off on Sunday so we all got some time with him which is great. He and I went out for breakfast on Tuesday morning when all the kids were at their various sleepovers/camps - exciting that we managed to squeeze in a bit of time alone together during Vintage.

Looking forward to Easter now and hopefully Tony will have a couple of days off work.