Monday, June 30, 2014

Learning Together - Mum's Shop

I can promise you this alternative to homework will be well received!

Over a series of weeks I buy some extra bits when I am at the supermarket or they are on sale at craft and cheap shops.

Then I break them all into singles or small groups and calculate the prices for each. Then I get a pile of change and the boys are allowed a set amount from their pocket money jars (about $3-4) usually.

I write a list with all the prices on it. (Much easier here because they still have the 5c denomination).

We schedule a date on the calendar and I set up 'Mum's Shop' for the afternoon. The boys are engaged in all sorts of great learning skills:

  • adding - I usually let them choose a couple of items at a time. Flip can do all of this mentally but with Bounce I can talk him through the addition and he still gets the experience of handling coins, learning their values and receiving change. Flip also runs the shop for me, which he adores! I stand by for confirmation if required but the ability to do this builds real confidence into him too.
  • scanning - the boys know what things are called eg pipe cleaners but they need to use skills for scanning down the list to find the word beginning with 'p' and check if it is the right 'p'. For Flip I would expect him to read or sound out the word correctly. For Bounce I would simply say 'it starts with 'P.I.P.E' when you find the 'p' check the next letters'. The skill of being able to scan through a list of text and recognise letters/words quickly is an excellent skill for them to have when searching text for information.
  • decision making - this activity is a great alternative to standing in the $2 shop for an hour while they um and ah. They have less choices to make (and you have already not included the complete junk!) but they can browse, buy and repeat in a way they would seldom be able to do in a shop. The process of considering from various options and making decisions is an excellent life skill and one small children don't get to exercise very often, particularly without being rushed.
  • it's fun - and sometimes that's a good enough reason all by itself. I set up this lot the night before and they both spent a huge amount of time just 'browsing' before they left for school, then they came flying out at the end of the day full of the joy of heading home.
We always try to add in another family for fun and the adults generally set the amount each child can spend so everyone is in the same boat. In this case I had got heaps on sale and they got so many things for the $3 we let them bring. There was only one item for $1 and the rest were well below 50c.

Because I charge the boys what I pay for an item I am not making or losing money but things are cheaper because they are buying the mini options or the pack of 6 pencils separated into individual units. This way they get more things for their money.

(the cool shop stall was a birthday gift Flip received - it's from IKEA)

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 packet of mini chocolate bars in the back of the cupboard xxx

Sunday, June 29, 2014

twenty six

This week marks the halfway point of the year and 6 months that we have been in Australia.

Playing cards

and proudly wearing the crown he made on Saturday afternoon - not a crown actually, a piggy! The cheek graze is decidedly improved from Wednesday when he opened his face on a concrete seat at school.

Hope the last week of term is splendid.

Love you more than pink googly eyes xxxx

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Make My Week - House Stamp

The other night we had a proper print maker at our CWA meeting and she got us making stamps for wrapping paper and cards.

Of course I went for a more complex design rather than staying abstract but on this occasion it worked out well. (It doesn't always end up this way!!)

I made a house stamp - no surprises there! and started stamping it onto rice paper for a sheet of wrapping paper but half way through I decided I liked it too much so I'm going to frame it instead.

I love the look of lino cutting and those kind of prints and I'm thinking about doing a Saturday class in it. Watch out art world - here I come!!

Joining in with crafters here

 Show & Tell Thursday's

love you more than a little house xxx

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

100 days

There is a challenge I saw here recently.

100 things, 100 days - one creative thing done 100 times.

And I would like to join in but I really only want to join in if I can actually realise the 100 days and complete it.

100 days is a long time. I do figure if there is any time in any year of my life this is the most likely one to be able to do it. I am doing a lot less than I have any other year for a long time. Which is not to say I am doing nothing (although I'm still pretty rubbish at cleaning and exercising, which completely proves the fact that you make time for what matters!).

I'm tossing up between some different ideas:

1. to hand carve a stamp each day with a weekly theme and possibly write a little poem, or inspiring thought, or choose a Bible verse each day to go with them. I think this is achievable - I should be able to carve a stamp in about half an hour - I can find half an hour each day.

2. to do some illustrative stitchery each day. I like the idea of this because it matches well with skills I am building at the moment in my Lectionary reflections (on my other blog, a couple of weeks behind) and also on a book I am working on (keeping quiet about it at present - it feels a bit fragile and precious at the moment). But I'm not sure how much I would achieve each day. At the moment I'm thinking of working on 10cm squares possibly only in one colour.

3. To write, rewrite or edit every day. I have a couple of stories (for picture books) floating in my head at the moment and it would be nice to dedicate some time to them - although I obviously won't achieve 100 stories the process should lead to some well edited work.

So what'd'ya think? Should I? Which one should I do? Or should I just leap?

love you more than a challenge completed in completeness xxx

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

twenty five of fifty two

This boy - so thrilled to receive a very special award at assembly.

This boy - not actually listening to anything just playing in the head phones - constantly the performer!

love you more than a rainy day and warm slippers xxxx

Monday, June 23, 2014

Learning Together

So things have been feeling a little neglected here of late - you would think with 2 at school I should have more time!! Last week I actually did some proper professional work and it has been taking up a lot of brain space. ( I know look at me - one day of working and I forget myself!)

Anyway... I was talking to another mama about strategies for reading at home today and we brainstormed some ideas and she suggested I should put some on here. So for the next few weeks/months? I'm going to do a series called 'Learning Together' aimed at primary children and their parents.

At this time of the term (with 2 weeks left) it can feel like all the wheels are falling off. People (big and little) are tired and over it and trudging through 7 more pages and making dinner and keeping everyone on track and out of the pantry - weeeeeelllllllll it can all just seem too much!

This can be exacerbated by children who 'can't do it'. And you know what? You can tell them until you are purple in the face that you know they can, that they are clever, they have done it before...blah, blah and you can see the sparks aren't connecting.

So, these posts are about shaking things up a little. Yes you probably need to read 'properly' most nights and do the spelling the way the teacher wants and repeat basic facts (or whatever your school expects). These ideas are just some ways to turn things upside down now and again and make you all smile and give your wee ones and yourself a break from the monotony and the homework crabbiness.

1. Backwards Reading
 Start at the back of the book. Read the last page first - guess what might have happened before this page. Sensible ideas, silly ideas the more ideas the better. Make each other laugh. (remember the point is to do it differently and make it fun). Ask other family members to join in. Give out silly points - if they did run over a dinosaur when we read it you get 1,000 points but if my idea about flying starfish was right then I get 10,000. etc.

 Predicting and making connections between characters is an important part of reading comprehension and if the ideas are off the wall then think about how you are encouraging creativity and you can tell your child at the end of the book - 'I actually thought your ideas were more exciting that the authors, maybe you could use those next time you write a story for your teacher'.

I'll probably start with reading ideas (as reading together forms the major part of homework in the primary years) but if you have any particular areas of learning together you'd love some ideas for please let me know and I'll put my thinking cap on, I love having a challenge to come up with solutions to. :o) (I used to be a teacher once in a very scary kingdom long ago!)

Create Hope Inspire

love you more than a fresh idea to get the ball rolling xxxx

Friday, June 20, 2014

I'm Reading - Old Tom, a guest post by Flip

Hi there, It's Flip again with another book review.

This book is called The Big Book of Old Tom it has 5 Old Tom stories in it.

Let me tell you a bit about the characters -
Old Tom - he is not a baby cat, he is a monster instead. He is very naughty even when Angela says he has to be good. One of the naughtiest things he has done is go to a movie and copy the character. He is very funny.

Angela Throgmorton - she lived alone but then she found Old Tom on her doorstep one day and she was very curious so she carried him in. On his childhood he was very cute and when Angela went out to places he would find a way of going to the same place. Angela is very sensible and she loves tidy places. She really loves Old Tom even though he drives her crazy.

This is a very medium kind of book (level) to read but there is lots of pictures. I think 5+ would enjoy this book. The pictures are very funny, they make me laugh.

Thank you Allen and Unwin for sending me this book to read and review.
Published in June 2014 by Allen and Unwin $19.99 Aus.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Make My Week - Pinterest Made Me Do It

I pinned this very cute skirt and tutorial the other day and I actually followed the tutorial.

It sits very high and has a sash over the simple waistband.

This tutorial and skirt is so simple. One piece for the waistband, two skirt pieces and 2 pieces (or one if you have a long enough fabric) for the sash + one zip.

It really only requires you measuring around the place you want it to sit on your waist.

I cut all the piece and ironed in the seam allowances on the band and sash (which I just eye-balled rather than measuring) and stitched together the sash.

It was probably a half hour to an hour to make from start to finish. The zip isn't concealed so that is really easy too if you feel a bit scared about zips.

I'm pleased with it and it was all from stash!

Joining in with a lovely bunch of clever people here

 Show & Tell Thursday's

love you more than a tutorial that doesn't give me a headache xxx

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


This is what world cup fever looks like in our house

early morning football watching is a serious activity.

We always go in for a tuck in on the way up to bed. This is the sight that The Atlas called me to see:

and this is what we found when we pulled back the corner of the duvet. (Somebody was rather entertained when we showed him the photos the next day!).

love you more than a sleep that continues on the floor xxx

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Children's Reading - Kick With My Left Foot

When you grow up in the majority and well represented in media (printed and otherwise) you don't take the time to stop and think this isn't the case for everyone.

For many children their stories, their experiences, their landscapes are simply not there. And, sometimes when they are there they are tokens rather than tales written in their voices.

Kick With My Left Foot by Paul Seden and Karen Briggs is a part of a initiative that sets about to change this. It is produced in the Emerging Indigenous Picture Book Mentorship Project which is a joint initiative between The Little Big Bookclub and Allen and Unwin, it also received support from the Australian Government. It makes me happy that there are these kind of initiatives about. Getting a picture book in front of a publisher is no mean feat and I can see these kind of hurdles might make it especially difficult for minorities (of whatever type) to get their books considered.

The book is simple tale of a little boy who loves his footy. It uses repeated language patterns that are so appealing to young readers and the illustrations really represent the Australian landscape.

I hope that books like these will encourage young indigenous readers to see themselves as valid and their experiences as valid. I hope for non-indigenous readers it will encourage them to recognise that we are all similar and different in the best possible ways.

I like this simple tale and we will enjoy sharing it with little visitors and my big five year old will be able to read this one aloud himself which is a special achievement for him too.

Details - Published June 2014 by Allen & Unwin. RRP $19.99 AU

love you more than a perfect kick xxx

Friday, June 13, 2014

What I'm Reading - Missing Christopher

Jayne Newling's account of her son Christopher's life and suicide and its effect on her and her family,  is not an easy read. As a mother how can you not put yourself in her position and imagine the devastation of losing a child in such a terrible way?

Jayne writes with such honesty, which is what makes this such a powerful read. She doesn't gloss over the grief she still continues to battle with so many years later. She fronts up to the awful questions she has asked and asked and not had answered as she has looked for clues.

A few years ago I read C.S.Lewis' book A Grief Observed, which is essentially his diary of his grief after his wife died.

Both of these offer the honesty of a person writing for themselves first. The books aren't about 'teaching' anything they are the story of a person in all their humanity as they journey through 'the valley of the shadow of death'.

I think this book would be hugely powerful for any person traveling the lonely road of grief after a suicide, or anyone who has lost a child or got stuck in the mire of grief.

I so commend Jane for her beautiful honesty as a mother and as a person and I think this book will be read with many tears by people who have felt their story is not understood and they are all alone.

Details - published June 2014 by Allen and Unwin RRP $29.99 Aus. Also available as an ebook.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

make my week - pom pom tutu

A little lady turning three invited us to her birthday - she strikes me as a pinky, tutu kind of little lady so I made her a pom-pom tutu skirt.

If I had the legs to carry off this kind of skirt with a pair of tights I probably would make myself one... I guess we can't have it all right?

I was pleased with the final result even if I couldn't wear it.

joining in with this lovely troupe
 Show & Tell Thursday's

love you more than perfect legs xxx

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


My big boy and I on our special birthday date - so much fun in the leaves in the beautiful botanical gardens. These are actually a couple of weeks ago but too lovely not to add into the project.

And this wee guy singing a Spanish song in assembly and with another of his little friends.

love you more than keeping up-to-date with a project xxx

Friday, June 6, 2014

What I'm Reading - It Will Get Better

I seem to be reading autobiographies all of a sudden. Before last year I had read hardly any and then last year and this I seem to be reading loads of them.

I flew through reading Stella Gibney's autobiography 'It Will Get Better' after eyeing it warily for a bit. The back cover synopsis tells a story of tragic and awful circumstances and I am always a little worried about putting myself through those kind of stories.

Yes, the stories of Stella's life aren't pleasant or even easy but she writes them with total grace and humanity. It is her simple and honest delivery that makes it so readable, and ultimately far less harrowing than it must have been to live through.

I was thinking of her style and I thought about the making of a cake for someone - when you deliver it you can apologise for it and point out the mistakes, you can talk it up, you can tell the great drama of the cake making crises that occurred in its production or delivery ..or .. you can simply bake the cake and offer it as a gift - un-garnished with explanations and justifications.

This is what Stella does so perfectly. She simply hands you the story - not apologising for it's difficulties or painting herself as a victim or heroine. She is who she is and her story is as it stands. It is delicate and gentle and truthful. I imagine her to be those things in real life too.

All of us tell the stories of our lives every day in the way we represent ourselves to the world - I'd like to think that this book has encouraged me to be less worried about how I do that and more concerned with being simply myself and accepting others with the same kind of grace.

Set in NZ and Australia this is Stella's story. If you cannot see a way beyond your current circumstances or you are overwhelmed by your past, or you would like to read an honest story that lets you make your own decisions about its characters, I think you will find this story hope-filled and like a depth breath of fresh air.

Details - PUBLISHED: June 2014 Allen & Unwin  RRP: $29.99 AU EBOOK: Yes

love you more than finding hopefulness where you expected tragedy xxx

Thursday, June 5, 2014

make my week - pinterest gift inspiration

One of my lovely new friends invited me to celebrate her birthday with her so I did a pinterest stalk to get some ideas about what she liked.

A slightly changed (I hate to do a direct copy - although this is pretty similar) brooch that she said she loves.

I find giving hand made makes me feel like at least if they don't love it they will appreciate the effort I went to on their behalf.... do you feel that way?

I do find it hard not to apologise for it's general imperfection though!

As always joining in here:
 Show & Tell Thursday's

love you more than a present idea sorted xxx

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


These sweet boys. We visited this cafe on the weekend that had outdoor booths and this one was equipped with an old fashioned phone and a cuckoo clock.

This photo gives me such a feeling of what this boy might look like when he is big.

The colour isn't great but it's a happy memory.

love you more than a fun discovery xxx