Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Learning Together - picture word hunt

This was one of those crazy activities that sort of came from something random Flip said about hiding things for them to find around the house.

On afternoon about 10 minutes before I left to get the boys for school I scribbled down 12 different words I knew they could both read or figure out numbered each and stuck them in every room of the house including laundry, ensuite, toilets, my 'sewing room' (corner)....

When they got home I gave them both a piece of paper divided into 12 sections and numbered then I sent them off in different directions to find and draw each item.

Wee Bounce started by writing the first word (which could be a variation) but they soon got into it. They went at different speeds but because they started in different rooms it wasn't a race (which often takes the joy out of things here and means the little one doesn't want to play) and they were both super engaged.

They loved this so much and it was cute (and have me some time to prep tea). We'll be doing it again for sure.

  • Word recognition - they could check if they wanted to but only once they had their idea sorted. 
  • Fine motor skills - we don't do a lot of drawing and fine motor work so some simple speedy drawings that don't have to be perfect but do have to be small are a good work out for little hands.
  • Close reading/matching - they had to find the appropriate box for each picture which is good number recognition for the little one and careful checking for the big one - achievable but an extra thinking step.
In case you can't be bothered thinking of your own words ours were - ant, car, three, tree, family, hat, teddy, cat, rainbow, cow, angel, banana.

and we had lots of fun - result!

Learning Together a series for primary aged children and their parents - activities that break up homework monotony, promote skills and create positive experiences together.

love you more than a super cute picture xxx

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Chic Lit

I've decided that Chic Lit (as in fairly easy, sometimes 'frothy' reads aimed at a female audience) has a happy place in my bookshelves. It's not what I usually buy but there are times when I just need something that isn't too taxing or intense to read.

But I still have specific things I like and dislike. My general dislikes are:
  •  too much sex or sex with too much details - I do have an imagination if required, otherwise I'm just not interested in reading about it thanks.
  • story-lines that are driven by misunderstandings, assumptions characters make about other characters, lies or a general lack of honesty - this one does seem to feature a lot and it does in movies too. I suppose it's to build tension but a lot of the time I find it annoying, I start to think if you would just be honest or give the guy the benefit of the doubt and actually ask him things might get on, also those plot lines feel really unrealistic to me (I know because being a journalist who spends her life buying inordinately expensive shoes, shagging strangers she met last week and eating at nice places all the time but maintaining a size 6 figure is so realistic :o) I realise that!)
  • swearing - not a fan. I try not to do it too much in real life and I will excuse the odd word but when it's every page I get a little turned off - I sort of 'hear' the words while I am reading so it feels like a bit of an assault on me.
  • when characters are too obvious or shallow or you know the plot for the whole book before you've reached the end of chapter one
Whew, now that those gripes are off my chest I'm going to let you in on some chic lit I've been consuming lately.

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer
This is a mother-daughter authored book which I find super sweet and kind of amazing, especially considering Van Leer is a junior in high school. Could you get through all the sweat of writing a novel with your mama and keep the relationship in tact? It's a teenage read and a romance but done nicely and a little quirky to boot. It's a better written less cheesy and shallow version of the sweet valley high books I used to read as a teenager (I know, don't think too little of me will you?!!) No sex, pretty sure no swearing and a protagonist who is not popular or self-confident. I think a lot of adolescent and teenage girls could enjoy this tale which is told by 2 different characters and has a fairy tale running through it. The novel which is a decent size and length is also interspersed with pencil drawings and silhouettes.
Details Allen and Unwin, August 2014, RRP $ 14.99 Aus.

Mothers and Daughters by Kylie Ladd
This novel is based on a week away for 4 mothers and their teenage daughters to a very remote dry (as in, alcohol free) community in the far, far north of Australia. Considerably more 'grown-up' than Between the Lines in my book this is an adult only read. Ladd is clearly a strong author and she manages to tell the story of the week from the perspectives of 8 different characters across 2 strong age bands. The narrative is pacey and the characters are well drawn. I can see this book getting a lot of positive reviews for the real and complex relationships it manages to portray. I didn't find it an easy read. There is a lot of swearing in the book (and not from the teenagers) and a lot of a way of living and perceiving life that I found hard to relate to. Mothers who are unfulfilled, unhappy and given to a lot of drinking, daughters who are risky and disrespectful (though these things aren't true of all the characters) and experiences I know happen but I'd probably rather not read about. I can imagine, however,  it will strike a chord for a lot of readers though and particularly women who are parenting through the transition of their daughter become teenagers and pushing them away. I did engage with the story though and shed a few tears, had some laughs and wanted to yell at a couple of characters loudly over the course of the novel. I'm sure there will be those who disagree with my reservations on this one and I am impressed by much of what Ladd has achieved. (She also has a PhD in neuropsychology which is pretty impressive!) I also loved the way Ladd confronts racism and challenges ways of thinking about 'cultural experiences'.
Details Allen & Unwin, August 2014, RRP $29.99 Aus, available as an ebook.

Tumbledown Manor by Helen Brown
This novel is a real chic-lit novel. I read it fast. I laughed aloud a couple of times (which happens a lot in real life but rarely when I am reading). The central character, who happens to be a novelist writing a trilogy on the Bronte sisters, has her life fall apart and she is destined to start anew. Against the odds and everyone's best advice she buys an old manor in rural-ish Victoria which has family connections and sets about refurbishing it. There are shocks, mysteries, a love interest, a controlling sister, a disapproving great-Aunt, well loved but sometimes misunderstood children  and an ex-husband and a floozy included in the cast of characters. It is clearly and Australian setting and I think will appeal to those who have the landscape of Australia in their bones and love it's wildness and native animals. It's upbeat and happy and it's an enjoyable read. Perfect for a hot summer with a cold drink. I think Brown has invested a lot of herself into the pages of the book and I really like the interiors aspect of the novel - doing up houses is fun when you don't have to invest any elbow grease!
Details Allen & Unwin, August 2014, RRP $29.99 Aus, available as an ebook.

Interestingly both Tumbledown Manor and Mothers and Daughters confront the issue of lingering racism towards Aboriginal people. And the attitudes that have kept peoples and cultures apart across generations. In the case of Mothers and Daughters I found these both shocking (to consider some attitudes that people may still hold) but also very encouraging - to see someone who has considerable talent use this to confront stereotypes and challenge assumed ways of thinking and doing things in the context of what will be a widely read novel is 'art' changing the world.

The Wedding Quilt by Jennifer Chiavereni
I grabbed this off the shelf on the 'recently acquired' section of the library (a great section to hang around in!) This is one in a series and I have read a few of them in the past. I love the characters in these books and I think Chiavereni does portray the relationships that women and men share as friends and lovers beautifully. This one centres around the gathering of all the Elm Creek Quilters to celebrate the wedding of Sarah's daughter Caroline. There are lots of quilts and reflecting how each person in the 'quilt family' came to play such an important role in their lives. I found the writing enjoyable and easy to read. My only critique of the book would be that it spends most of the book retelling all the story-lines of the other books in the series so you end up skipping a lot (really quite a lot) because you have already read what happened in those ones or, if it was the first one you picked up, quite a lot of the other novels would be spoiled. I'm not quite sure why the author does this except as a filler for not having enough to fill the novel with the current story. That said if you like quilting, thinking about 'blocks' and beautiful friendships you will really enjoy any of these novels but you won't need to read them all. Perfect for a winter's night wrapped up under a quilt. I'd certainly be happy to read other novels she has written.
Details Dutton, Nov 2011, RRP $16.00 US, available as an ebook.

...so quite a range in there and definitely a lot of contrast between them and the memoirs I have been reading lately. I do like to change things up and each of these books have given me things to think about and enjoy. I like that there is such a diverse range of genres and weight in the 'chic-lit' family.

love you more than escaping into a different world for a few hours xxx

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Make My Week - tumbleweed blowing

my crafty space is neglected.... I can almost see the tumbleweed blowing through - but I do have 2 new projects in the pipeline after my final big event on Saturday.

So for this week - hold your breath this is pretty exciting!!

I made a baby taggy - all of 10minutes before a school pick up - I know you are incredibly impressed by me right now aren't you?

of course you are!

Everything was in the draws so essentially a 'free' make.

Joining in, totally unashamed, with much more technical makes here:

 Show & Tell Thursday's

love you more than holding your head high while  bringing a packet of 2 minute noodles to a share a plate event xxxx

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pimp My Ride

Hello, hello what have we here?

A new trolley... I outgrew my last one

and of course it wasn't truly mine without a little fake foliage!

love you more than a bloom that causes no hayfever xxx

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Learning Together - silly rhymes

Take a 'sight word', by which I mean a spelling word or a simple tricky word like - there, turn, or whatever words cause consternation at your place, or a word that you have on a list of words to recognise by sight.

Now have some fun thinking of all the rhyming words you can think of. Record them on a chart/ white board/ piece of paper

make sure you throw in a few ridiculous ones for good measure like 'zear' - you know the baby of a zebra and a deer - I can't believe you've never heard of them! What are those teachers teaching you?

Now try to write a short 4 line poem together using some of the rhyming words.

Perform it in silly voices if the mood so takes you.


  • spelling patterns when a word like 'there' also rhymes with bear, pier, and cheer you start to 'see' that there are different ways to make a long e sound. Of course in NZ (and probably Aus?) pear, peer, pair and pier all rhyme - they don't in England! Yes happy to ruin those vowels for you English colonialists.
  • playing with rhythm and language - when you try to write lines that rhyme you naturally have to adapt them to get the rhyme scheme to work properly 
  • word recognition - if this is a spelling or sight word or just a word they perpetually get wrong by the end of this activity they will have seen it written, they will have written it and they will have said it aloud several times - all without the dreaded 'write it out 5 times' ever being uttered.

Learning Together a series for primary aged children and their parents - activities that break up homework monotony, promote skills and create positive experiences together.

love you more than that fat cat who sat on the mat and crushed his hat xxx

Monday, September 15, 2014

Little Things to Ease the Christmas Rush

So I think we've talked about Christmas stockings before.

The Atlas had them as child and wanted to continue the tradition. I quite like the idea of them but I don't want to a) spend a lot on filling them or b) buy 'land fill' (you know that plastic junk from the cheapie shops?) so my solution?

1. Make small stockings - much easier to fill especially once there is a compulsory piece of fruit and random vegetable (The Atlas insists on that!).

2. Try to find small cheap things that I am happy for the boys to have and I think will delight them on Christmas morning.

So over the next 10 weeks or so I will buy one of these each time I shop at the supermarket (for the ones I can get there). This means an extra $5 or so each week instead of $50 just before Christmas. I will probably also buy an extra one of each thing so we can do an Operation Christmas Child box or something similar, which is an important part of our Christmas Tradition.

These are my ideas - I'd love to hear some of yours.

1. Novelty plasters - major hit last year. This year I have found Mr Bump and 'Cars' ones and some under the sea themed ones. All for about $2.50 a box.

2. Large Stick of Chalk - the other day Flip was given one of these and walked all the way home from town drawing the most random and hilarious things like 'look up' with an arrow and 'lifes hard' (so random, especially as he was drawing smiley faces everywhere!). Worth about 50c

3. Cake baubles - I quite like a bit of baking bling but I hardly ever buy it so I know the boys will love decorating the cakes to go with them. About $2-3

4. Paper Straws - I like that they are biodegradable (more so than the plastic ones anyway). These can be more pricey but sometimes the cheapie shops get them too so you can snap them up for $2-3.

5. Bubble Mix - they are, finally, old enough to be reasonably trustworthy to not spill the entire contents of these on the first attempt to blow bubbles. Approx $1

6. Handmade decoration - fun and festive and something for their growing collections and the fact that we have no Christmas decorations here with us. free-ish

7. Washi tape - we can never have too much of that. I buy mine in Australia here and they often have rolls reduced to $2 plus free postage for 10 or more rolls so I should see if anyone wants to go in together?? (I also have a discount code if you want one).

8. Cookie Cutter - makes a fun summer project and I figure you can't have too many, right? Anywhere from $2-5

9. A nice bookmark - I am thinking of making some with little photos of them on and laminating them. free-ish

10. 'Pass it On' cards - these are a blast from my past I discovered in the Christian bookshop the other day - they are business style cards with cute/encouraging messages on the front and the back is blank for you to write a little message of love. 25c each.

So that's my top 10. If I get one every week from now I will be well sorted before Christmas and it should mean I don't end up in a frenzied over spend of land fill inducing nastiness.

What is an essential stocking item in your book?

love you more than a peaceful week before school ends xxxx

Sunday, September 14, 2014


art making

how I love to see you both at work

sweet, sweet things

love you more than new art supplies xxx