Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A hunt for Brolgas

On Sunday around mid-day the 2 youngest asked if they could do something with dad. He had been away all week and they felt an excursion was called for. As we had read a book earlier in the week on Brolgas myself suggested we go on a Brolga hunt. I had an idea we had seen some on Hindmarsh island so off we went. It was cool in our air conditioned van. But a stop at Strathalbyn to wander up their main street and consume one of these did not go amiss!
We hit Goolwa just in time to see our favorite paddle steamer come in. We have this print on our living room wall and ever since we first chased it at Renmark many years ago we have welcomed "the Oscar W" as an honorary family member!

Over the bridge to Hindmarsh island and on with our hunt. After several unsuccessful diversions we found ourselves at the Murray mouth. The boys and I enjoyed the breezy cool while dad snoozed.

Driving back from this stop we spotted these small dots in the distance. Could they be…. We aimed the camera for a close-up and discovered we were literally hunting …geese!! Ah well it was an adventure! After a brief stop at Currency Creek for fish and chip tea it was home.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Just a bit warm!

Yesterday(Tuesday) the temperature reached 43.2C. Our garden wept dry tears! Today we are expected to max. at over 44C. We are in a heat wave folks, with temperatures in the 40's expected for the rest of the week, possibly dropping to high 30's after that.

Monday, January 26, 2009


We started school last week. Overall not a bad start. We had a few “interesting” diversions …quick nature study crash course on “there’s a huntsman near the air-conditioning duct”. Here is Master 7’s nature journal entry on it.

“The other day I said to my brother look there’s a GIGANTIC huntsman coming out of the air-conditioning duct. My mother got upset because she said I made my brother unnecessarily frightened! And because neither of us would sleep in our room. The next day I told T. that there were 2 or 3 little spiders on our ceiling. I tried to tell mum but she just told me to s*@#-up about spiders when T. screamed again. So I went back to have another look to see if there were more. Then I called my mother and she came this time and looked and THIS time there was hundreds and thousands of baby spiders all over the ceiling. My mum and my sister looked too this time AT LAST!! My sister said they looked like baby huntsman spiders. But my mum said she didn’t see how my sister could tell so my sister just looked up at the ceiling. Then we called Caleb and he vacuumed all the little babies up. When he took out the air-conditioning grate HE screamed (but only Hannah heard cause we were in the school-room) because as well as finding the egg sack there was the mother huntsman and she was ENORMOUS and coming out towards Caleb in the air. So he vacuumed her up and then all the spiders were dead!”

But we still managed to remain focused when the need was there.
For geography we are looking at the Continents beginning with AFRICA. If you have any good readlouds or picture books to recommend please feel free to suggest them!
We have made up an Africa Montessori continent box. So far it contains flags of countries, plastic animals of Africa, maps of Africa, a few recipies and games from various African countries which we are keen to learn.
Master 7 and I have read the following books.

The second is a longish picture book . The only pity about it is the tedious repetition of the expletive b@#%y by one of the main characters. While this fits with the rather grumpy behavior and condescending attitude of this character it seems like writer’s laziness to use it in very other sentence this person says when the book is obviously written for primary age children. However with mums “editing” we are continuing, as there is too much else worthwhile to make the book a non-read.
In Chemistry Master 11 is using the above text with explanations from his oldest sister. This is working well. I had Mel review the course before we began and she gave me the opinion that it covers many of the concepts expected in a yr11/12 chemistry course but obviously written for a younger audience. She gives it the “thumbs up”. Mel is also writing/editing a physics course for Master 7.

For Latin we are using Lively Latin. So far we are impressed. The lessons are colorful and engaging and place the language in an historical context. During Circle time we are also continuing with English from the Roots Up.

What is Circle time? For us it is when we come together(after violin practice) at the beginning of the day. Each day we revise a Latin or Greek root and its derivatives. Next we might discuss an artist, read a poem and discuss its form, or listen to a composer or study a kind of musical instrument. In line with our African study we have been listening to Siyahamba and Nkosi Sikeleli Africa(God bless Africa).
We are continuing with the Addison Wesley math series for Maths. Both boys are enthusiastic maths pupils.

For History we are reading through British History using the schedule by Katherine.  The  book Britannia  has been enjoyed by both boys.

Our readalouds have been Eleanor Estes  book set in the time of the Emperor Nero. and The last Battle by CS Lewis which we downloaded from Audible.And that in brief is what we are studying this term!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It's still Christmas...on this blog anyway!

A good friend in blog-land sent me the card at the top of this post. She is well-known for her ability to draw cartoons(when she's not juggling...thank Cristina!.

Our family has a tradition of making things for gifts.For several years ds(19) has given me home-made gifts for christmas. First there were three "Jan Brett" angels

then last year another idea from glancing through this book!

This year he made me this beautiful representation of the "heavenly city".I love it, not just the colours and the skillfill representation but the hope of what it represents. My eyes can "feast" on it each morning when I wake!

The two youngest spent nearly all of Advent crafting this wonderful painting for their father under older brother's encouragement.Ds(11) drew each character separately in pencil. Then they were either minimized or enlarged for ds(7) to colour. Sometimes they were left as is. Lastly a very fine-tipped pen was used to outline the figures in black. The final work was put on a gold background and hung in a golden frame.

Ds made two St Francis images one for his Capucin brother and the other for his father. Both were greeted with pleasure. Each year this son spends Advent "closeted away" making wonders for his family. I have been the recipient of many in previous years as have his two youngest siblings. This year the very youngest was included in this giving experience. DS(7) made this image of St Therese of Liseux for his sister.

Here is a final home-made "thought" from my good friend downunder. I don't know how she found the time(!) but it sits on my bedside table as a daily reminder to pray for all my friends.

And finally a response to the title of this post:

All through the month of January the crèche is standing in the living room, even if the Christmas tree has been removed, and every night the family prayers will be said beside the crib, followed by at least one Christmas song.Candlemas Day marks the end of the Christmas season
And as a final comment to my Catholic readers. Yes I am aware the church is now in Ordinary time. I just needed a "tie-in" for this belated post on Christmas...and wouldn't it be nice if Christmas still lasted until Candlemas!

Friday, January 23, 2009


I have been reading a lot lately by this author. I really like his style. He is a good example of why I read fiction. I find his character developments interesting and his style both amusing and soothing. Yes that’s right soothing! Just before sleep and after prayer there is something so nice in letting these thoughts swirl around my head.Let me give you an example:

 “ O Lord,” he whispered,” who judges all men and to whom alone the secrets of the heart are known; forgive my human failings, my manifold acts of wickedness. Open my heart to love. Turn thy healing gaze to me. Forgive me for that which I have not done which I ought to have done.”

It was a hotch-potch of half-remembered phrases, taken out of context and patched together, but as he spoke them, uttered each one, he felt their transformative power. He saw a man beside a shore. He saw children at the feet of the man. What he saw was love and compassion; he was sure of that, utterly sure.

             (from The World According to Bertie by Alexander McCall Smith.) I should add that I haven't found anything preachy in this book or the others by the author I have read but more that they speak about life and people in a musing sort of way.

 I started reading The  No.1  Ladies’ Detective Agency series Set in Botswana these books are refreshing for their positive slant on Africa. Indeed the author states this as one of his reasons for writing them.Later I  read  The World According to Bertie from his  44 Scotland Street Series Both series have much to commend them and I am looking forward to dipping into his two other series.

As a postscript, there is a movie based on the first novel in The  No.1  Ladies’ Detective Agency series. I haven’t watched it but it looks as if you can watch it online here. Anyway here is a preview of it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Pope sends greetings to President Barack Obama

Vatican City, Jan 20, 2009 / 10:31 am (CNA).- This morning Pope Benedict sent a telegram welcoming Barack Obama as the new President of the United States and assuring him of his prayers.

The text of the telegram is below:
On the occasion of your inauguration as the forty-fourth President of the United States of America I offer cordial good wishes, together with the assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will grant you unfailing wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high responsibilities. Under your leadership may the American people continue to find in their impressive religious and political heritage the spiritual values and ethical principles needed to cooperate in the building of a truly just and free society, marked by respect for the dignity, equality and rights of each of its members, especially the poor, the outcast and those who have no voice. At a time when so many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world yearn for liberation from the scourge of poverty, hunger and violence, I pray that you will be confirmed in your resolve to promote understanding, cooperation and peace among the nations, so that all may share in the banquet of life which God wills to set for the whole human family (cf. Isaiah 25:6-7). Upon you and your family, and upon all the American people, I willingly invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy and peace.

Benedictus PP. XVI

Friday, January 09, 2009

"…there are no secrets that you can keep from God.
She stopped. It was time to take the pumpkin out of the pot and eat it. In the final analysis, that was what solved these big problems of life. You could think and think and think and get nowhere, but you still had to eat your pumpkin.That brought you down to earth. That gave you reason for going on. Pumpkin."
From “The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” by Alexander McCall Smith

Thursday, January 08, 2009

For Duncan

Two messages from your youngest brothers. The first is a "do you remember this shirt-final picture pre cast removal" the second "speaks" for itself!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Tribute to a daisy!

The young lady on the left is a special friend of ours and a wonderful advertisement for the benefits of homeschooling! Both soloists hail from Adelaide...can't you tell!!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Here are some photos of our Epiphany celebration plus an extract from "AROUND THE YEAR WITH THE TRAPP FAMILY" by Maria Augusta Trapp


In earlier times there were twelve holy nights between Christmas and Epiphany — called “Smoke Nights,” because the people went through their houses and barns burning incense, blessing their homestead. Only one such night is left, but this is celebrated with great solemnity: the Vigil of Epiphany, January 5th. After the supper dishes are done, the whole family, dressed in Sunday clothes, follow the father, who goes ahead with a shovel of charcoal on which he burns incense, while the oldest son has a bowl with holy water — Epiphany water, blessed with a much longer formula than theordinary holy water, a formula that contains a prolonged exorcism, which makes it efficacious against all demoniacal influence — which he sprinkles freely all over house and grounds and barns, while the rest of the family follow behind, saying the rosary and singing hymns. While the father and the oldest son are incensing and blessing the house, the youngest child carries on a plate a piece of chalk. has been blessed with a special blessing from the Rituale after the morning Mass. In the old country every household would be most careful to send somebody into church for the blessing of the chalk. At the very end, when the whole homestead had been blessed, room by room, the father took the blessed chalk and wrote over every room that led from the house into the open:

AD 19 C M B 55

which stands for “Anno Domini 1955 — Caspar, Melchior, Balthasar” and means that the three Holy Kings, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, in this year of Our Lord, 1955 (or whatever the year may be), are protecting this against all evil spirits.

Epiphany is also known as “Little Christmas.” As a feast it is even much older than our Christmas. On the Vigil, the eve before the feast, there comes to the table a special Epiphany cake, in which three beans are hidden — two white ones, one black one. Whoever gets a bean in his piece has to dress up next day as a Holy King. The one who got the dark bean will be the black King. (Soot from the fireplace or black shoe polish are recommended.) Epiphany Day the three Holy Kings, with golden crowns and richly dressed in oriental splendor, are the guests of honor at the table. Afterwards the whole family tries to entertain them and they have the say of the evening. This is always an evening much looked forward to by the whole house. We have had the most fantastic-looking magi at our table. Before the three majesties leave the house again, they hand over their gifts — equivalents for gold, incense, and myrrh

Monday, January 05, 2009

Craft time at Mary's

My friend Mary invited me to a craft morning recently at her place. Another family were also invited. We stayed for a delicious lunch and the boys enjoyed making pet rocks and little notebooks. Thanks Mary looking forward to the next time!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Lavenders blue dilly dilly...

Here are some photos of another days excursion. This time to Lavender farm at Lyndoch. We have been coming back to this beautiful spot at least annually for many years.

The first time we visited the older children brought their sketch books/nature diaries. The owner of the farm was delighted to see the children drawing and showed us some of her sketches/paintings. Last year we discovered that an out-door Mass was celebrated here. Usually no visit is complete without a walk
to the olive grove. This year we discovered that the route was unfortunately no longer available. However we were still able to walk to the top of the hill and look down on this colorful scene.
Later we drove to Nuriopta where we stopped for a picnic lunch. Our lunch had to be eaten quickly however as we found we were competing for the food with the most enormous ants!
so on to discover still another park

where we walked in an old orchard and examined old farm machinery.Before returning home.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A rose by any other name

January second we decided to go on a family outing. All four younger children agreed to come.So we headed off to the Barossa.It was going to be a warm day but not too warm and the "temperature" in the van was pretty ambient.Dh suggested we take the back roads to Gawler. And after a "few" diversions through Golden Grove we found the way. It really was very pretty and there didn't seem to be too much traffic on the road. even saw some highland cattle. Unfortunately just as we decided we could extend the speed we were traveling at (remember this is a Hiace so we're not talking super speedy!) a couple of veichles literally appeared around the next corner. car came first followed by a motor bike in fast pursuit. ...lets just say neither have a desire to celebrate 2010! Still after a few deep breathing exercises (did I tell you we're all taking up yoga this year!!!) and some diversionary tactics with a bag of licqorish all-sorts and humbugs equilibrium was reestablished! We had a rest stop at this beautiful rose garden. I'll leave the pictures to speak for themselves except to ask if anyone has had any expereience with Austin roses, are they easy to grow...and what can I do to make my roses look better