Sunday, 31 January 2016

Vintage has started

LiAM came in to my room very early and was coughing a lot and not able to catch his breath. I gave him some ventolin and he settled down on the couch and went back to sleep for most of the morning - I think he'd been awake for a while before he came to me. He's been on only one preventer for most of January - if he misses it though it's only a few hours before he is wheezing, and he had taken it the night before this attack - so we've decided to go back to the 2 preventers and hopefully that will settle things down. A month off the puffer though is more than his body has managed before - so each year he seems a little stronger.

Tony didn't get home from work until after 7, he had some breakfast (or is that dinner?) and went to bed. So Vintage has definitely started and I don't feel quite as ready for it as I thought I would be! The girls slept for another couple of hours so I had a bit of time to myself to check emails and then do a bit of housework and then I jumped in a deep hot bath and read my book (Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee - very very well written, I read it quickly and easily and loved it). It was really lovely to have a very relaxing morning on my own.

Once Millie was up we played some games then she played Minecraft. When she is naming her worlds or skins now she types in the first letter of the name and then asks me to write the rest. She read the title of a couple of books that we were looking at too, she's figured out a few words that I didn't realise she knew.

When LiAM woke up he felt better although still wanted to stay lying down, so he put the tv on and watched for a while as well as playing his monster game on the iPod. He and Millie connected for a while in Minecraft as well. Caitlin helped me with the chickens and I discovered some female flowers in my pumpkin patch so attempted to hand-pollinate them, hopefully it will work this time and we will end up with some pumpkins from the massive plants that are filling my garden.

I made pancakes for lunch - they tasted better and flipped better than last time, although I did forget to put the egg in, which would have made them even better. Caitlin went to Yarra Glen park with a friend, and the other kids and I hung out and watched tv and chatted about spies and superheroes.

Tony was potentially going to have to go in to work again on the Saturday evening, around 2pm he found out that he didn't have to go, which meant we were able to go to our friends' house for dinner as planned. They have recently moved to Hurstbridge and we've been talking about getting together for a meal for ages, so we were all pleased that we didn't have to cancel or postpone. We got there around 5.30 and the kids played in the huge backyard and huge playroom, played with their pet blue-tongue lizard, played dress ups and lego and with the billy-cart and built a very cool lean-to cubby. We had delicious pulled-pork rolls for tea, and lots of fantastic conversation with our friends. We didn't leave until after 11, and it was absolutely pouring rain when I decided it was time to leave. We waited a bit until it was a little lighter, and I drove home through rain all the way - I was worried about driving through Christmas Hills in a storm, if it got windy there could be trees and branches blowing everywhere - but it was fine, just rain and we made it home easily and fed the animals and bundled everyone quickly into bed.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Rainy Friday

The kids were all up relatively early, the others coming in from the bus when they woke up and my kids getting up when they heard their voices. Millie had really wanted to play Toy Story 3 on the Playstation with one of the other boys, so they did that as soon as they were both awake. The 3 boys and Millie then played Minecraft and then Terraria for a while, then the boys played Halo again. The bigger girls woke a bit later, and hung out in Caitlin's room. L and I had a cuppa and chatted some more, then H arrived to play with the kids. She and Millie played Minecraft for ages.

L took all the big girls into Healesville to do a few things while the boys kept playing. I pottered around tidying things up while everyone was occupied. The kids had some fruit and sandwiches, and after lunch our friends headed off, planning to make their way up the coast to Sydney over the next few days. LiAM and Caitlin both pretended to stowaway in their bus, it would be so great if we could see them more often or for longer - but love seeing them anytime for any amount of time.

H played Monopoly with Millie for a while, then she drove home with me. Tony had been scheduled to work at 10am, and then was pushed back to 5pm, so I was able to leave the kids at home with him while I took H. Once we got to her place I had a chat to my friend and the kids showed me some cool stuff they'd bought. From there I went to Lilydale to get LiAM's medicine and do a quick grocery shop - getting to the shops at 3pm on a rainy Friday afternoon of the first week back at school wasn't a great idea - there were people and cars everywhere, and everything took way longer than I'd expected. I managed to get groceries and medication ok, then back via Yarra Glen library to finally pick up Caitlin's on-hold books and return some things, and then home just in time for Tony to go to work.

The girls watched Saddle Club in my room, followed by some Barbie movies (they'd already watched one while I was gone) and LiAM and I watched Highlander - which was my favourite movie for a very long time. It has aged somewhat, still loved it though and found it interested which details I had remembered and what I'd forgotten. All the kids then watched the Bugs Bunny and Road Runner movie - and LiAM read every bit of text that came up in the movie. It's the first time he's been able to read everything and not asked for help - and I don't think he even realised that he did it. After the movie Caitlin did her nails, LiAM played his monster game and Millie played on the tablet for a while, then everyone headed to bed without much fuss.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Lots of friends and water

It's raining this morning!!! It feels so lovely and refreshing and I feel a great sense of relief. For the last 48 hours the forecast has been for a very high probability of rain - and it has rained lots in some areas of Victoria (and around Melbourne even), but we kept missing out. I've been watching the radar and the rain has moved just to the north or south of us, or died out before it got this far east - it's been so frustrating, and the humidity has been building... So it's wonderful to finally wake up to steady rainy this morning.

On Wednesday morning we still had the kids over from the sleepover the night before. The boys crashed in the early morning after staying up so late, and slept for a few hours each. The girls were surprisingly happy and active. They played the Harry Potter Scene It game for a while, and went for a bike ride next door to pick blackberries, came back and filled up the paddling pool with water to cool off, played on their iPads for a while, and were fading by about lunch time. I took them home on our way to meet up with some other homeschooling families at Lillydale Lake. (We called in to the op shop on the way through and found some more My Little Ponies for Millie, she was very happy).

We got to the playground and I couldn't believe how hot it was! Very oppressive heat and not really fun for playing in the sun. We set up a picnic blanket in some shade and for most of the afternoon the kids (mine and the others) lay on the rugs and only occasionally ventured out into the playground. One family had brought their dog along so she provided a bit of entertainment. I had a good chat to the other mums and one dad. Most of those who were there have only been homeschooling for a short while so it was good to chat about how things tend to progress. As most of the others were leaving our good friends the Hs arrived, and after a while we and one other family moved down to the lake where the kids could swim and cool off. The parents stood in water about shin deep, and the kids played for ages, the big kids as far out in the lake as they were comfortable, the smaller ones in and out a bit and playing in the sand as well. It was such an improvement to sitting in the shade and feeling exhausted!

We headed home when the storm clouds threatened. I was thinking my washing would get wet so I grabbed it off the line straightaway but we didn't get more than a few drops. Tony worked a few extra hours at work then raced in for a quick shower and a bite to eat before heading off to darts - he hasn't played competition darts in over 10 years so was excited to be getting back into it. LiAM and Caitlin fell asleep early so Millie and I played games and then made a tiger mask of paper plates and pipe cleaners.

On Thursday LiAM woke early and came on my walk with me. Instead of going around the dam we went down to the water's edge and looked at the plants growing there and the types of animal footprints we could see. We came back and he played his monster game on the iPod . When Millie woke up she played on the computer for a while, then they watched some tv. It was still hot and muggy and no one felt like doing much. We popped into town at one point to return library books (but the library wasn't open) and to get Millie some chocolate milk which she'd been craving all week.

In the afternoon our friends from Sydney arrived in their bus to spend the night at our house.  The girls went blackberry picking and then spent the afternoon dressing up and playing role playing games. The boys played Halo on the xbox and after an initial discussion about who was going to play first, quickly figured out a way for the 3 of them to happily play with 2 controllers. I had a wonderful chat with L. Once the sun had gone behind the clouds the girls and L and I went down to the dam for a swim. It was so lovely to be in the water. I didn't stay in long, L and I sat on the shore and watched the girls play and swim and cover themselves in mud, it was a lot of fun. Back at the house the girls set up a graduation ceremony for Caitlin and Millie - they made outfits and hats and certificates. There was also a wedding, and then lots of craft, the girls made some really pretty and creative creatures.

We managed to convince everyone to go to bed around 11.30 - they were all exhausted and so were we! It's so great how easily our 2 families fit together, we only see each other a couple of times a year but it's as if no time has passed when we get back together.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Pool, movie, party

We've had a busy couple of days. On Monday Tony had to work (he originally had the day off, but was asked to work as there was a lot to be done before the grapes start coming in later this week or next week). The kids played the Lego Movie Game in the morning, while I got ready to go out, sorting some clothes to give to my sister and a friend of hers, and a box of old CDs, tapes, videos and discs which can be recycled at a place in Clifton Hill. Millie made up a song and danced to it on the trampoline for me, a beautiful performance about flowers. Caitlin helped me cook pancakes for everyone's lunch before we left.

Around midday we went in to Yarra Glen, dropped some stuff off at the op shop and then went to the library - but the hours have changed so we weren't there at the right time and couldn't return our books/pick up our holds. From there we drove to Fitzroy pool - the kids have asked to go there several times, whenever we drive past it on Alexandra Parade, and so it seemed a perfect place to meet up with my sister today, as she lives not far from there. It was a fair bit cooler than the days we've been swimming lately - in the low 20s rather than the high 30s - but the water was heated and was quite pleasant once we were in. The breeze that was blowing made us all feel pretty cold when we were out of the water, so we stayed under as much as we could and it was beautiful.

The kids and I played in the big pool until F and T arrived - Millie doing lots of underwater swimming, her confidence and skills are increasing every time we go to the pool. T came in the water with Caitlin but found it too cold and wasn't very happy, so we all moved over to the very large, rather warm wading pool. T was in and out, running around the little park next to the pool, and LiAM and Caitlin kept an eye on him. F and I were able to have a good chat while we lay in the pool, and Millie climbed on me and chased me and swam happily around us. L and C went back to the big pool for a while, then returned to us for a bit more floating around, then we all went back into the big pool. Millie went deeper than she'd been before and even tried treading water for a couple of seconds - and then she was tired and hungry and we were all ready to get out.

We drove back and met Tony at Yering - we'd swapped cars because the engine light in my car had been coming on, and I didn't want to drive all the way to Fitzroy in it. He was going to baseball in the evening, and I was going to the Bayswater Outdoor Cinemas, and taking some extra kids, so I needed my car back. The engine light had been on while Tony was driving it - and didn't come on again once I switched back into it. Odd.

We went home, had some tea and a shower and got food and blankets and pillows organised, then headed out again to pick up S and V, and then on to the Outdoor Cinema. We found a spot to park fairly close to the ground, and were able to find a place for our blanket at the back of the area for blankets (in front of all the chairs) and not directly in front of a speaker (which would have been too loud for Millie). The big kids ran around the oval while Millie had a jump on the Frozen jumping castle, then we settled down on our blanket to watch 'Hotel Transylvania 2'. I had only seen bits and pieces of the first (the kids have seen it) and I wasn't expecting much, especially when I saw that Adam Sandler was in it - and I was very pleasantly surprised. I loved it, and found it extremely funny. I laughed, loud, often. The kids all enjoyed it as well. Afterwards they ran around the oval playing tiggy in the dark (it wasn't completely dark, there were spotlights on) and enjoyed that as much as they did the movie. I took the others home, had a bit of a chat to R when I dropped them off, and eventually made it home after 11pm. It took a while to get everyone settled so it was a very late night for me.

Yesterday morning I was still up early as usual, and the others had a bit of a sleep in. Mum and Dad came down and I went for a walk down to the creek with them. Once we got back the others were all awake and playing Toy Story 3 on the playstation.

In the afternoon we all went to a housewarming party at the house of some of Tony's baseball friends. It was a lovely afternoon. LiAM played cricket and jumped on the trampoline with some of the other boys, Millie jumped for a while and then watched a movie, Caitlin jumped, watched some of the movie, chatted to the adults, practiced her cartwheels and bridges. I had some good chats with people and Tony really enjoyed seeing his friends. We got home around 7pm, and S and V came over after that for a sleepover. R and I sat outside chatting until it was dark, then she went home. The boys were playing The Lego Movie game again, and the big girls did some work in making Caitlin's room more private, and then spent time in there chatting. Eventually I took Millie to bed and the other 4 stayed up playing minecraft, Lego Movie and watching movies.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Detectives and vets

Yesterday Tony played golf in the afternoon and the kids and I stayed home for the day. We did more quizzes - geography, music, movies, word plays and definitions, and Caitlin wrote and submitted 2 quizzes herself - one on horses and one a speed test of typing the alphabet. She then found some onlinechoose-your-own-adventure stories and we spent a while taking it in turns to read and choose our way through the stories. LiAM and Millie played for ages with a magnetic story kit - a background of a vet's surgery and a barn, and lots of magnetic animals and veterinarian equipment which stick on to the background. We also played lots of 80s arcade games (online) through the day - packman, frogger, space invaders, tetris (yay!), snake, and hexagon, which I'd never played before but reminded me of Lord of the Shades. We tried to find somewhere we could download Lord of the Shades or play it online, but could only find PC versions, nothing for Mac. We tried to get our old Toshiba up and running again but didn't have any luck there either. So it was back to packman which is always fun...

Tony had made pancakes for breakfast which the kids snacked on through the day - they discovered their new favourite way of eating them is with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar. (LiAM has been eating waffles at a friend's house, with that topping, and given that we don't have a waffle maker he was happy to try it out on the pancakes and was pleased it worked).

Caitlin played with her detective kit, taking everyone's finger prints, then setting up a mystery to solve and collecting evidence - which ended up with me handcuffed as apparently I stole the precious jewels. Millie played on the trampoline and pretended to be a seal - Caitlin the detective did some DNA testing on her to see if she was related to any famous seals.

The kids sorted some of their old animal cards which they collected from Woolworths last year. I started sorting through the pantry in an effort to get rid of the pantry moths that are living there. I was going to pull absolutely everything out and not put it back til everything was clean, but that seemed too big a job so I'm working on one shelf at a time, much more manageable.

In the evening we watched Dolphin Tale - I love it because it really shows how easy it is to learn when you are inspired about something. Afterwards we watched an old episode of Heartland, and the kids played some more computer games before everyone went to bed.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Quizzes, McDonalds and house organisation

I've discovered a quiz website that I love - - and over the last couple of days we've all done many many quizzes on it. Lots of geography - I now know all of the Asian countries, including all the -stans and how to spell them, and am getting better at South America and Eastern Europe and Africa - as well as general knowledge, movies, words, sporting teams, and The Avengers and Harry Potter. LiAM and I did an Avengers quiz on Friday - name as many of the 100 people who have ever been on the Avengers list... At first we got about 16, then we looked through the answers at the end, then browsed his Avengers Character Guide book, looked up a few on wikepedia that were listed in the answers but he felt could never have been Avengers (and discovered, for example, that Sandman did try to work for good for a while, and did join the Avengers, then became corrupted again). We tried the quiz again and got closer to 40 - we'll come back to it again probably today and see how many we get. We did a lot of Harry Potter quizzes yesterday, with everyone joining in, and knew most of the answers (all the horcruxes, lots of spells, characters, locations, how characters died). The hardest (and most fun) was to name the 100 characters who are most mentioned in the books. We got around 60 the first time, then Caitlin had a go on her own (she wasn't there when we did the first attempt) and got close to that, then together we all did it and thought of 87. It's been so much fun - and one of the things I like about the site is reading some of the comments at the end of the quizzes - most of the people doing them are really keen to learn and keep trying the quizzes over and over until they have learnt all the answers. Especially the geography ones, I am finding it exciting to see people truly eager to remember all of the countries of the world. None of it is knowledge that is  necessary for getting on in the world, but it's interesting and fun and I love to see people learning because they are enjoying it, and I am enjoying it all so much!

On Friday we met up with another unschooling family, we had planned to go to a park but it was raining pretty hard so we met at McDonalds in Ringwood instead. I tried to use the self-ordering system (partly because our order is always a little bit complicated, and it seemed easier to take on the complications myself rather than explain them to the server) - it was so confusing and I ended up ordering 2 meals for myself and the wrong burger for Millie... The staff were lovely and gave me a voucher as a refund for my extra meal, and I went back and bought the right burger for Millie (although forgot to take off the onions and pickles, so she nearly didn't eat it anyway (I scraped them off and ate them myself, they are actually my favourite part of a McDonalds burger). The kids played with their friends in the very cool playground, and I chatted with the other mum, and once our food was all sorted out it was a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon. We were going to finish the visit with mega choc waffle cones - but their ice cream machine wasn't working! So both of us promised our kids we'd get them at a McDonalds on the way home. I was able to use my vouchers which was pretty cool - the kids had a quick play in the new playground at Croydon Maccas, I don't think it was as fun as it looked, Caitlin had been so keen but was a bit disappointed. They ate their ice creams on the way home and that was a lovely end to our outing.

I had a bath when we got home, while Tony cooked spag bol, then he went out to a darts practice night, and the kids played outside on the trampoline and swing, and looked through their binoculars at things, while I ate my tea outside with them and then read my book until it was too dark to read outside. I also took lots of photos of them, including some of them jumping all at the same time on the trampoline, it was very cool. After we came in we watched the christmas bonus episode of Heartland Series 4, then turned the tv off and headed for bed.

Yesterday we had a whole day at home with no plans (my favourite kind of day). Millie and I played Neopets, we all played with the fish/animal puzzle at various times, the girls did their nails, we watched some TV and the movie Rango, LiAM and Millie played with the dinosaur pattern board, Millie and Tony did jigsaw puzzles, LiAM and I had sword fights outside using pool noodles (it was hilarious - at one point L had chopped off my leg so I could only hop, and I had knocked his sword out of his hand, so he was running around trying to get it back while I hopped around it and waved my sword at him - exhausting and really really fun), and we did heaps of work on tidying up, sorting things out, more rearranging of the dining room so that I can start putting things away in there. I felt like I made heaps of progress in lots of areas yesterday, it was a great day. Caitlin has also set up some cool new lights in her room - a long strip of lights that can change colour, and she can operate by remote control! They look very cool and inviting, and she's loving having light again in her room (I broke the one powerpoint in her room a couple of weeks ago, so she's only been able to use battery powered light, it's great that she now has another option, and we've got ideas for how to get her more).

Friday, 22 January 2016

Fresh produce, movies, games and Alexander Technique

Having spent a few days with friends everyone was happy to have a quieter day at home. In the morning the kids watched some TV and played on the iPad and we chatted about what we were watching. Caitlin and I watched 'You've Got Mail' in the bedroom and Millie watched Barbie and the Pink Shoes on the computer.

Our fruit and veg box arrived (the first one since a few weeks before christmas) so we had a lot of fun going through that, discovering what we'd been given this fortnight, and cleaning out the old stuff from the fridge and fruit bowl to put the beautifully coloured and fresh new produce in. The chickens were happy with lots of old veggies to eat, and I stewed the peaches and apples that had been in the fruit bowl - I'd planned to make crumble but didn't quite get there, maybe I'll do that today. We all enjoyed having fresh produce to snack on through the rest of the day.

In the afternoon my friend H came over to play with the kids. I had an Alexander Lesson - I hadn't seen my teacher for ages and it was wonderful to reconnect with her, and then to be reminded of all the things I can do to help my body function more effectively. After a couple of hours with her I had no more pain in my back or my knee, they both feel wonderfully free and loose and I am walking without holding everything tightly in place. We also had a good chat about the uses of vinegar and I am feeling inspired to do some pickling, make my own vinegar, drink apple cider vinegar and honey.

On the way home I went to the library and the supermarket, and came back to find everyone happily playing. Millie and H were playing our Neopets board game, then everyone connected in Minecraft for a while. I did a bit of housework then felt extremely tired so sat down and did a bit of work on my photos. The girls all played with Millie's StarLily unicorn for a while. We watched what turned out to be Lleyton Hewitt's last game in the Australian Open. After tea I took H home (she drove) and I had a chat to another friend when I dropped her off, then home to help everyone get organised for bed (including the chicken and her chicks). We looked to see if we could see the 5 planets aligned in the sky but it was too cloudy. Caitlin was in my room watching Heartland outtakes and special features which were funny and interesting - we all watched for a while then turned it off and headed to our various beds.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

After the sleepover

It was a quiet morning here yesterday, with the girls away on a sleepover, and the boys sleeping in for most of the morning as they'd stayed up playing The Lego Movie game until late. It was raining too which was fantastic, there really hasn't been much rain at all this summer and it was lovely to be out in it, letting the chickens out, checking on my plants etc. 

I was able to get heaps done since I had so much time to myself. I sorted out a lot of the stuff that was piled in our walk in wardrobe, so Tony can now easily get to his work clothes, and heaps of stuff has been put away, put in the op shop pile, or recycled. I also helped Winky get a rat out of the bathroom - she killed it then had no idea what to do with it, it was so much bigger than anything else she's killed before. I'm not happy with the idea that we had a rat inside, although very pleased that Winky was able to take care of it.

When the boys woke up they kept playing games on the xbox. I made them some French Toast for breakfast and had some myself after lunch - hadn't made it for ages and it was fun (and so yummy!). I also made lots of butter with the cream I'd bought on Monday, and doing lots of batches meant I could experiment with adding different amounts of oil and salt and see which version we like the most (I'd prefer no oil, but it does help it spread better, so figured I'd try and find the optimal amount). 

Mid afternoon the girls came back and everyone had a bit of a play here, before the others went home, and everyone collapsed a bit - late nights for everyone and being out of their comfort zone can be exhausting. I got everyone some ice cream (and made some home made stuff for me and Caitlin, with cream and frozen banana and frozen raspberries), and we watched tv, played with the animal/fish puzzle, played on the iPad and had a very relaxed afternoon. Millie wanted to watch Toy Story 3 and the others wanted to watch Modern Family so they went into my bedroom and Millie and I watched in the lounge room. I made some pasta for tea and took it to everyone where they were. Millie and I moved Snowy and the chicks, which was a little scary because Buckley decided to help and made it much much harder! Once the movie was finished Millie wanted to play Toy Story 3 on the playstation, so I played with her until LiAM came back out, then he took over. Caitlin watched the Heartland Christmas Special on the Heartland series we currently have out, and everyone went off to bed fairly easily once that was over.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

A hot quiet day with multiple sleepovers

Yesterday was hot (37 degrees, so not the hottest day we've had this summer, but quite warm) and we had no plans to go anywhere - I decided to really work hard on keeping the house cool and to see if we could manage to be home all day - often it gets too hot inside and we go out because we're so uncomfortable. So I concentrated on closing the blinds and windows at the right time and turning the air conditioner on earlier than I thought I'd need it, so that it didn't have to cool the house down as well as keep it cool, and it was fine inside. Around 4.15 I started to feel hot, and turned the air con in the bedroom on as well, and that helped to keep it bearable. I think it also helped that we weren't going in and out through the door all day, LiAM and Millie and I stayed inside pretty much until after 4, so there was no hot air being let in. It is encouraging to know that if we really want to, we can stay home on a hot day.

It was a pretty quiet day overall. I pottered around and did housework, Millie played with her barbies and soft toys, I mended a few of her toys that were broken, LiAM played  Plants v Zombies Garden Warfare, Millie watched him for a while, we all played with the animal/fish game that we bought the day before (LiAM is very good at it), we had pancakes for lunch, I tried all day to put off reading more of my book (because I was loving it so much, I wanted to have a big chunk of time to read it when I went back to it, especially as I was getting close to the end) - then I realised I was not getting much done anyway because I was thinking about my book, so I went and read for a while, and felt better, and then got on with tidying up (I wrote about doing things that way only a couple of days ago, and I keep forgetting that it's ok to have breaks, to do enjoyable things, before I finish all my work. Hoping that if I keep reminding myself that it will get easier all the time, and I'll be more content more often). I also played the piano a few times and did some Spanish - I hadn't been doing much of either lately and I'm excited to get back into them.

Caitlin came home around 4.30, and the girls did their nails and looked at some stuff Caitlin wanted to show S. They both looked gorgeous in new dresses from the op shop in Yea. Caitlin was going to go and stay the night with S, and V was staying here with us - as they were also having 2 girl cousins over for the night and he preferred not to be so surrounded by girls. The boys started playing The Lego Movie game and apart from a bit of a jump on the trampoline once it cooled down a bit, they played that all evening and well into the night. They did a really good job of negotiating which bits they were going to play next, what their strategy would be, which character they would play and so on, I was very impressed.

Millie went with Caitlin to play with S's cousins, who were about Millie's age. The plan was that we would go and get her later in the evening, but when we said we were coming she was upset that she wasn't staying the night. She seemed quite settled and happy there so we let her stay and have heard this morning that she was fine. She'll be thrilled, because it probably feels like her first sleepover that is for her with her friends, rather than staying somewhere just to be looked after because Tony and I were going out.

We had to move Snowy and the chicks from her little safe spot again. It's getting easier each night for me to reach in there and grab her, I'm less scared each time that she's going to peck me (or less concerned about being pecked, if she gets me she gets me, and it will be fine). It sometimes amazes that I can handle the chickens so confidently, when they used to freak me out a lot more when we first got them. It's cool that the kids, especially Millie, are so comfortable and confident with them, they won't have the fear around animals that I had for so long.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

A day out shopping

Caitlin and her friend woke early (around 7) and lay in bed chatting for a while then played Harry Potter - Scene It, then went outside to play on the trampoline. Her Mum came and picked her up around 9.30, by which time my mum was also here, as I had an appointment and she was looking after the kids for the day.

My appointment was at 10.20, and I didn't get called in until about 11.20, which meant a lovely hour in the waiting room reading my book uninterrupted! (Currently reading 'The Girl In Times Square' by Paullina Simons - it's a kind of sequel to Red Leaves, which I enjoyed, and I am really seriously loving this one.) My check up only went for about 5 minutes, so by 11.30 I was out!

I was going to buy some stuff from a fabric shop in Lilydale, but they were closed, so I went to the Salvos op shop instead. A friend met me there, and we decided to go to the Mustard Tree Op Shop where we could also sit and have a coffee. We sat and chatted for ages, not often we get to talk for so long without kids around. Eventually we had a bit of a browse and bought a few things, then went to Not Quite Right (which I always think is like an Op Shop but for food). I grabbed quite a few things from the dairy and freezer section and it only cost $15, it was pretty handy.

From there I went to Lilydale Market Place and got a big plastic tub from the Reject Shop - I need lots more tubs for tidying up the house, and for when we go away later this year, so I'm working on grabbing one whenever I see a good price. I browsed in Spec Savers for a while, trying to work out what I want for my reading glasses. I did an Aldi grocery shop, then headed back to Yarra Glen to the library, and then home, feeling fantastic after a day of nurturing myself.

Caitlin and her friend S had arranged to go home with Mum and stay the night in Yea, so they were keen to get going once I arrived home. I helped them get out the door, and LiAM went with them to have a play with V for the afternoon/evening. Tony had baseball all evening so it was just me and Millie at home. We played The Lego Movie game on the Xbox for a while, then watched the Lego Movie. We spent ages playing a new puzzle game I bought at the op shop, where we have to put marked tiles on a variety of base boards, following certain rules (fish can only be on water, animals only on land, nothing on a snake) and it was challenging and lots of fun. We went outside to check on the chickens and Snowy had her chicks in the same corner behind the shed so we tried to move them into the pen. She wasn't quite settled enough yet and ran away whenever I got close, taking her chicks with her. I tried to chase her into the pen but she kept circling around and going back to her spot. (And her chicks kept wandering off so she was much more concerned with finding them then with running away from me). Millie thought that perhaps a trail of chicken food would lead them to the pen, so she spent a lot of effort making a long trail, and it worked for a while, they made their way along about half of it, then got spooked and went back to their corner. We decided to leave it until she had fallen asleep when she'd be easier to move.

Millie played with her Barbies, one of them in the new Dr Barbie outfit I bought today, so she became a vet and was fixing all of Millie's animals. I tidied up for the evening, then when Tony came home we went and moved the chickens. LiAM came home soon after and played Harry Potter Lego - he'd finished Year 7 Part 1 before he went out so was keen to finish the story off completely.  I went to bed to keep reading my book and the others came in after a while.

Monday, 18 January 2016


Sunday was a much quieter day compared to our busy Sunday. For the most part we stayed at home. LiAM was feeling quite worn out from being at the rodeo (and he did 20000 steps on Saturday, so figured he could sit still all day on Sunday and still have 10000 steps per day for the weekend) and watched a fair bit of tv and played Plants v Zombies and Lego Harry Potter. He and Millie also played Minecraft for a while.

3 new chicks were hatched early in the morning, 2 black and 1 yellow (we have SO many black chickens now). They were still in a laying box in the main pen, so we needed to move them to the chick pen. I put on long sleeves and gloves as Darkness, the mother, is quite vicious when she has chicks (actually she's vicious most of the time, just more so (understandably) when she has chicks. We had another hen (Snowy) have chicks in December and although she's very protective, and a very big hen, she's way less scary than Darkness). I grabbed Darkness out of her box and Millie carried the chicks one at a time to the new pen and I popped the mum in with them. It all went pretty smoothly (although one chick fell under the hay in the new box and couldn't get out, so I braved Darkness again and went in and rescued it, and rearranged the hay a little so that it was unlikely to happen again. Later in the day I went to check on them and one of the chicks had become stuck under the bottom bar of the pen. Trying to rescue her I got a sharp bite from Darkness - but I got the chick out and she looks ok.

Apart from chick wrangling I spent most of the day pottering around and catching up a bit on my general tidying. In the afternoon Tony took Caitlin to meet a friend at Healesville pool, and Millie went next door to see our neighbour. LiAM and I stayed home and watched some Green Lantern and a couple of other shows.  Caitlin's friend came home with her for tea, and then it was organised for her to stay overnight. The girls played Lego Harry Potter with LiAM, jumped on the trampoline, went for a bike ride, played on the iPad, chatted lots and had a fun evening.

When they put the chickens to bed they discovered that Snowy and her batch of chicks were not in the main pen - I'd hoped that when she couldn't get into the chick pen (because Darkness was shut in there) she'd take her brood into the main pen. We lost 2 chickens probably to foxes earlier this week when they didn't get shut away, so I really didn't want to leave a hen and 5 little chicks out. I searched for ages and eventually found them all tucked in between our brick pile and the shed, she was quite well hidden. I had all the kids help me - once again I grabbed the (shrieking) mother and the kids grabbed the 5 chicks and we safely moved them all into the main pen.

After all the chicken excitement we all got ready for bed (it was quite late by now anyway) and wandered off one or 2 at a time.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Sorting, party, and rodeo

On Thursday a anFriday I spent most of the day sorting through all our sewing and craft supplies. They were piled up on and under the sewing desk, which is set to become Caitlin's dressing table, and in tubs in the hallway. I got through most of it, and while I didn't get rid of a huge amount, it is now all organised into tubs and boxes, I know what we've got, and Caitlin's room is nearly free of extra stuff, so she can really make it her own.

We'd just borrowed Season 4 of Heartland from the library, so while I sorted we watched that - it's such a compelling show, and a very enjoyable way to spend a couple of days (planning to finish the series today), and it made sorting the sewing seem easy as I was happily entertained while I was doing it. And we were all hanging out together which was really lovely as well.

LiAM's friend V came over on Friday evening for a sleepover. We had pizza for dinner and the boys played Lego Harry Potter, Plants v Zombies Garden Warfare and Minecraft on the Playstation and Xbox, with the occasional trip outside to jump on the trampoline, play on the swing, run down into the paddock to see if they could get closer to the kangaroos (they couldn't - the kangaroos ran as soon as they saw the kids coming). They stayed up pretty late playing and talking, and were up again early in the morning and kept going. They really had a lovely time together.

On Saturday morning I'd heard about a garage sale in Yarra Glen, and Millie had been asking lately to go to a yard sale, so it seemed like a perfect chance to go. LiAM was interested too but decided to stay and play with his friend, and I said I'd buy anything that I thought he'd be interested in. Caitlin came along as well and the 3 of us had fun browsing through all the goods on offer, and came up with a selection of DVDs, bowls, a cool plate and cup for Millie with a strawberry pattern on it, a few stuffed toys (I found a very cool monkey for LiAM, and a penguin for Millie - she'd also been saying recently that everyone else in the family has a toy penguin and she wanted one too), a washing basket and a few other bits and pieces.

The girls put some blankets out on the back lawn and had a tea party with most of their stuffed toys. Millie had also bought a 3 part serving dish, which was perfect to house some tea party food. After the tea party Caitlin and I headed off to a friend's house for a Norwex cleaning products party. I hadn't seen my friend since before christmas and hadn't been to her new house at all (Tony and Caitlin helped them move in, but I hadn't been), so it was great to catch up with her and her husband, see the new place, and catch up with some of her other friends that I know as well. I could have bought a lot of stuff as well - I just grabbed a few things that I'm pretty sure I will use because I don't have anything like them and have been wishing I did.

From there we raced back home to pick up LiAM, and Caitlin's friend S, and the 4 of us went to the 1st Annual Yarra Valley Rodeo. I could not believe the number of people who were there - the biggest crowd I've ever seen in Healesville! We parked a little way up Chum Creek Rd and walked back to the racecourse, and joined the long (but fast moving) ticket line. Because I'd had a rushed afternoon I'd forgotten to get our hats out of the car, and the water bottle, and I didn't have any food with us - which wouldn't have been a problem if the crowd hadn't been so big and all the lines so long! Luckily I had sunscreen so waiting in the sun wasn't as bad as it could have been. Once we got in we found the water station and all had a good drink.

Caitlin confidently led us through the crowd up to the front near the arena and we found a spot where people were sitting on the ground and we squeezed in there (there were no grandstands, it was people sitting in their own chairs around the arena, and people standing behind them, so I had been worried we wouldn't be able to see at all). It was a good view, and Caitlin was pretty excited to be so close to the horses. Once we were settled I left the kids there and went to line up for food and drink. It was one of the densest throngs of people I've been in for a very long time - I'm glad I was able to leave the kids and just get through it myself. Eventually I got to the front of the line and discovered there was a very long wait for hot chips (which the kids wanted) - so I got roast beef sandwiches instead, I didn't want to be away for even longer. I made it back and they were happy and still settled - happier once they had something to eat and drink.

It was very dusty and LiAM was a bit worried about his asthma, but we managed to keep it under control with some telfast and rescue remedy. I'd seen a friend of the girls when I was heading out for food, so she sat with us as well. After we'd eaten the kids needed the toilet, so we made our way out and did that, then wandered over to the dodgem cars and all 4 kids had a go - they loved it. We also ran into some other friends of the girls and it was a fun place to be. We made our way back to our spot and squeezed in to a slightly smaller space to watch the rest of the rodeo. So cool seeing all these events for real, especially after watching them in Heartland quite a lot this week. I loved the team roping and the bareback. Caitlin was hanging out for the Barrel Racing, which was the 2nd last event, and was very exciting when it finally happened. Those girls are fast, and so in control of their horses. I was surprised how much I loved the bull riding - and I'd planned to leave before the open bull riding so we could beat the crowd - but the 2nd division bull riding was so great, we decided to stay and watch at least a few of the top level guys, and I'm glad we did, it was spectacular. We left after 3 bulls, and saw another one on our way out of the crowd. Another toilet stop, then the last bull ride happened as we were heading for the gate, so we weren't completely ahead of the crowd but were in front of most of it. Getting out wasn't too hard, the kids were pretty pumped so the walk to the car not difficult (although they were disappointed that I went back a different way which meant we didn't have to jump/climb across a big ditch in the dark (we'd come through the ditch on the way in and they all enjoyed it)). We took S home then back to our place where we watched the end of the cricket and crashed pretty quickly into bed.
LiAM on dodgem cars

Caitlin in front of the ring at the rodeo

Bull riding

Friday, 15 January 2016

Catching Up

I had decided I wasn't going to blog until I was caught up with my emails - which doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon, and I've been missing blogging. So now I'll try to write as often as I can, and sort out my emails afterwards, without the pressure of feeling like I 'have to' get them done so that I can write.

Actually I tend to get much more done in general if I do the things I want to do first, then I'm in a relaxed state and can happily do the less enjoyable things too. If I try the 'work hard first, have the reward at the end' I can feel slightly grumpy through the whole thing, and often don't bother finishing and just skip the 'reward' part. The kids are all the same, to a greater or lesser extent, although they've never had pressure to do things the other way, so they can easily say no if someone is trying to convince them to do something by offering a reward at the end of it, and they automatically do the things they enjoy, and are happy to do the harder things if someone asks them too, when they are ready, they don't need anything at the end to motivate them. I'm hoping I can continue to remember this about myself as well, instead of slipping back into the more culturally expected method of operating.

So a bit of a summary of the past 6 weeks or so
- Caitlin finished her performance season and had another enjoyable night of acting. I saw this performance and was impressed with how her class performed a very powerful and important scene within the play, despite being one of the youngest groups.
- Caitlin has been to sleepovers at a few friend's houses, which also included going to a nail salon, helping feed sheep, going swimming, going shopping, going to the movies
- We all went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens the day after it was released - Caitlin with her friends at a birthday party, and the rest of us at the same time in a different movie theatre (the new one at Eastland which has reclining seats and is SO comfortable). And we all LOVED it!
- Tony and the kids went to see it again, with his sister, just before New Years
- We had 3 nights in Queenscliff with my family, lots of fun at the beach and hanging around the house, you can read more at
- Christmas was really lovely, we spent the morning here at home, playing with what Santa bought, and opening our presents to each other, then we went up to Mum's for the rest of the day, had a lovely christmas lunch then another round of presents, then relaxed and played with presents, hung out in the spa and so on
- Tony and the girls stayed overnight at Mum's on Christmas night for more of the same. LiAM and I came home, on Boxing Day I did a bit of housework and we both had a quiet morning, then headed back up to Yea in the afternoon for another enjoyable evening of leftover Christmas food and playing with T and all our presents, then we all came home that night
- I had 3 nights in Sydney between christmas and new year, catching up with a couple of friends and with my brother in his new house
- We had my dad's 70th last weekend, a fun and relaxed afternoon party at his house, very well organised by Mum
- We've been to the Healesville Outdoor pool several times on hot days - sometimes we arrange to meet friends there, other times we just go alone, and we always find lots of people we know to play and swim with
- Caitlin and I went to see The Dressmaker (which I loved completely), and LiAM and I went to see The Hunger Games, Mockingjay Part 2
- We've watched lots of movies at home
- We've played lots of board games
- I'm working on cleaning out the last part of Caitlin's new room - she's sleeping in there but her desk is covered in all my sewing stuff so hoping to get that organised over the next few days so the space is all hers
- We've had friends come over and been to visit friends and played lots of games, inside and out
- LiAM and Millie have played a lot of Skylanders - Super Chargers, which they got for christmas
- Everyone has played a lot of Crossy Road (except for me - I played for the 1st time yesterday, so I have at least now played it. Not sure if I will get right into it like the others, I found it quite stressful)
- LiAM has been playing a lot of soccer in the back yard, with anyone who will play with him. The girls have been playing a bit, and Tony and I as well, and whichever friends come over
- We've been swimming in the dam a couple of times
- Caitlin has been horse riding at a friend's house

And lots lots more!