Tuesday, November 30, 2010
As a reminder, here is the "Bug Hilton" that we saw at EcoFest.
And HERE is OUR version:
Not quite as tidy, but extremely habitable for lots of lovely bugs nevertheless.
We have been careful not to touch it since making it, but we're watching keenly to see what emerges.
A wise mother-of-many once told me that if we have well-meaning friends and relations then we should de-clutter EVERY WEEK!
We had left it a bit long I think.
I encourage everyone to have a really good mental attitude towards STUFF. Some stuff is good and useful and helpful. Other stuff is annoying, cluttering and hard work!
We like "living with less" but we still have a lot of STUFF. But an ecletic home educating mummy will find that it comes with the territory. It's great to have books, and paper, fabric and art supplies ... we need to keep them tidy, USE the art equipment instead of hoarding it, and constantly cull out the rubbish.
The old 3-box system works beautifully for de-cluttering. One box for keeps, one for give-aways and one for throw aways.
The give-away boxes can be taken to the Re-Use shop, or charity shop on your next trip out.
Like we did.
And we felt so much lighter on the way home. :o)
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Imagine there is a man you admire for his intellect and his eloquence – Professor Clement Peacefilledman. He is a great scientific mind, a speaker, a debater, a well of knowledge and inventions. His research into specific aspects of natural health show him to be extremely industrious and blessed. He is a man of God, steeped in the word and led by the spirit.
You have followed The Professor's studies, books and lectures for many years and agreed with all he says, and been blessed greatly by his works.
You have an opportunity one day to meet The Professor!
His personal assistant of 10 years has contacted you and asked you to follow them around for the day, helping to set up a conference in this area. Of course you leap at the chance and spend much time in mental and physical preparation.
The day comes. You meet the assistant, a capable, friendly man who obviously admires The Professor. The gentle, reverent way he speaks about him shows his love and respect.
The assistant directs you to your first task. Your mind is on the job so you don't get it wrong, but your head is spinning as you await you first meeting with the Professor.
As you work in the busy auditorium, helping to set up the stage you turn and see The Professor. He is sitting in the front row of the auditorium listening to his assistant with a look of calm confidence, smiling and nodding. His assistant is respectful and relaxed, going through a long page of instructions, with a few questions here and there – never addressing The Professor by his given name - Clement – always “Sir”. The assistant quickly notes down any thoughts The Professor may share, and any questions or requests. The assistant stands and smiles and thanks The Professor, as he goes to work on that list.
Maybe this is your chance to meet The Professor? You start down the steps from the stage, but you notice that The Professor has dropped to his knees and is deep in prayer.
Realising that this is not your appointed time to meet The Professor you tip-toe back up the stairs but are SHOCKED to hear a screech ring out across the auditorium:
“CLEMENT! Have you fed your budgie yet? I can hear the thing halfway across the carpark from that cramped little campervan. I told you we should have hired the six-berth. My neck is killing me from sleeping in that tiny bed. You'd think by now someone would have realised that you can't possibly be relied upon to make a decision on those sort of things. Mind you, I suppose I'm the bigger fool – married to you for 40 years and still letting you make the arrangements. And here's me giving up this whole week to travel with you and attend these lectures which I've heard hundreds of time when I'd rather be at my Women's Retreat. The speaker this year was someone I SPECIFICALLY wanted to hear and she won't be back in New Zealand for another two years.”
As the shouting gets closer you see a tiny little woman striding down the aisle of the auditorium, waving an umbrella and holding a book.
“And you went and forgot these didn't you. Ha! It was only 20 minutes ago you said you'd need an umbrella today for that bit in your talk. My, my. What you'd do without me I just don't know. And I don't suppose you've had your tablets today have you? Humph ... Just as I thought, here you are then. I saw some of the bottles were open on the bench - but you'd got distracted half-way through hadn't you. So I don't suppose you can remember which ones you HAVE taken? Can you? Hmmm? Here you are then. Yes, yes I've got a bottle of water for you ...”
The Professor, by this time, has risen from his knees and is standing, head hanging, mumbling something and putting out his hand for his umbrella, book and tablets.
It's too hard to watch. You turn and walk away.
How could she? Doesn't she realise what a wonderful man he is? How blessed? How full of the spirit. Filled with wisdom and using his gifts for the glory of God?
Doesn't she see?
Eph 5:33 ... and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Winter was over, it was spring for a week or so and now suddenly it's summer!
Poppy has shed her winter coat and looking decidedly thinner. The photo above was taken while she was still trying to get rid of all that beautiful natural insulation.
We haven't had rain for a while and I believe that is causing a lot of problems in the farming and horticultural world. Our grass is looking very thin and whispy whereas normally we have thick fat green blades this time of year.
Might be having to buy water this year! We know the Lord will provide though - whether he gives us rain, or money to buy water. According to His perfect will.
During this time of intensive research for the book our family is writing on Home Education, I am able to revisit lots of old "friends".
One of these is "Teaching the Trivium" by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn.
Just thought I would share a few portions as time permits.
Here's the first one:
... If there were some simple but accurate diagnostic test to assess whether the
From Chapter 10 - page 290
Used with permission from the Bluedorns
In New Zealand "Teaching the Trivium" is available from Hefnet on sella or trademe
Thursday, November 11, 2010
We need to keep our potatoes safe from our chooks.
Since we let our chickens go free-range we are having so much fun. It's a much healthier idea to let the chickens go free, but pen the vegetables in.
This potato cage was made from bits and pieces around the place, some compost we'd made - some compost that wasn't ready yet, and some soil.
After constructing it we left it open on one side and the chickens helped themselves to any goodies they wanted, scratched it around, spread it, composted it ...
Then the yucky little doggie came trotting out happily with a mouthful of something mucky ...
We will put the potatoes in the soil today, under the compost.
As the plants grow we will throw hay onto them to encourage more growth.
I will take some more photos later in the season to show how this experiment is working!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
To some people it might just look like some bits of cardboard with numbers on them ...
But to us, this is a valuable game that teaches and reinforces:
- number recognition
- taking turns
- following instructions
- making neat piles of cards
- understanding rules
- matching numbers
- waiting patiently while other people learn
- laughing together
- congratulating each other
- waiting till other people have finished the game before starting another.
Not just a few bits of cardboard.
Friday, October 29, 2010
These two have made a "garden" with a "plant" in it.
Even in a suburban garden you can allow your children a bit of dirt.
Unless your child is extremely interested in horticulture then I suggest you just leave it to them to build and plant their garden by themselves.
Those who REALLY want to learn will search through gardening books with you, choose seeds, discuss how to make successful potting mix ...
Just provide the equipment and stand on the sidelines ready to assist when asked.
Actually it's a plant.
But we think it looks rather like a little mouse climbing into our wee vase.
Does anyone know the name of this plant?
It also looks a bit like the end-halves of mice we find around the place here. Seems the cat doesn't like to eat the end with the tail on it.
Or is he kind enough to leave the bit with the tail so we have something to hold when we throw it into the compost?
Monday, October 25, 2010
I am so very excited.
We now have the website sorted out and our first items for sale!
Please wander over to our Willow Cottage website and have a little look around.
Our products are made RIGHT HERE in our own workshop.
They are designed by a Mummy and Daddy team who understand the need for quality, durability, usability and style!
And - along with our blog here we hope to encourage and equip others in their quest for a gentle, natural lifestyle.
Each item has been designed because there was a need for it in our family. All goodies have been tested and approved :o)
We are ready to take orders!
Thank you for looking.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
I just realised I have made 100 posts!
I never thought I had that much to say.
Thank you Lord for this tool where I can communicate with so many people that I've never met.
Thank you for the opportunity to share truths that you have revealed to me.
There are many more posts in the pipeline, and I have some special guest writers coming up soon.
Thank you to all those who read and comment (to my regular, most supportive comment-makers I LOVE YOU SISTERS!).
There have been studies done on what we already knew.
Children love doing jobs.
There is no need to go into all the technical terms they use for what happens in a child's mind and heart when they work - you just look at their faces. Listen to their conversation with you. They love working!
This little guy was only two-and-a-half when this photo was taken. He loves to cut carrots and apples.
Let me share how to teach a little one to do this job:
1. It's much easier if you have a child-sized table (like the ones we sell through Willow Cottage! As I write this the first table is being made for sale.)
2. It's also easier if they have a stool or chair the right size for them! (same!)
3. Have a chopping board and a sharp knife the right size for them. (we don't sell the knives sorry!)
4. Show them how to cut slowly and carefully, keeping their fingers out the way. They must cut the piece off and then push it to the side.
5. Show them how to keep things neat, and keep their working area tidy.
6. Help them to clean up afterwards.
And that's how.
But you already knew that didn't you!! It's good to be reminded of these things though.
We were just blessed by having some wonderful visitors staying. Just before they left for their new home Daddy cut some kindling for them to take with them. Several of the boys were out there watching, and collecting all the pieces to pile together. The visitors' little two year old guy presumed the kindling was to take into the house, so he collected a handful and very purposely toddled over the driveway, and with a big smile came into the kitchen and handed me his bundle of kindling. I was so touched by his diligence and thoughtfulness. His Mumma and Daddy have done some good training. :o)
Thursday, October 14, 2010
This is so precious to me.
17 year old playing quite naturally and happily with his 3 year old brother. They are real buddies.
I'm told this is quite common in home educating families.
I am so blessed. Thank you Lord for this family.
Blessings to you too
Silk scarves are SO much fun.
Hunt in your local op-shop for some lovely colourful scarves for children of all ages!
Baby loves to
* chew them
* scrunch them up in their chubby little fists
* play "peek-a-boo" and "where has teddy gone?"
* roll on them after bathtime - feeling the silk on their skins.
Toddlers and older children may like to
* throw them
* wrap things in them, playing "presents for everyone!"
* make them into parachutes
* tents for teddies
* royal capes
* dessert headwraps
* bedding for a baby doll
* wrap to carry baby doll around in
* sling for a "broken arm"
* bandage for playing doctoring
Let their imaginations soar!
Friday, October 8, 2010
Once upon a time (this is a true, sad story) there was a little girl (we'll call her "S") whose Daddy worked full-time, and her Mummy also worked full-time. However, the happy thing was that Mummy and Daddy and S (who was 6 years old), at the time of this story, all lived in the same house. Unfortunately, some time later that wasn't the case.
The normal family routine was: Daddy left for work early in the morning; S got up and had breakfast with her Mummy; Mummy took S to school; later in the day Mummy went to work.
At the end of the school day a friend of mine (let's call her "L") collected S, along with L's own girl and boy, from school. They all went to L's house and played till it was time for S's Daddy to come and pick her up.
S and her Daddy would have junk food for tea; S would fall asleep in front of the TV around 9 or 10 o'clock and her Daddy would carry her to bed.
This whole thing was very, very sad to me.
But it got even sadder.
One day when S's Daddy came to pick her up from L's house, L and her family were just about to sit down to their tea.
"Can I stay here for tea?" asked S.
"No." said her Daddy.
"Why? I want what they're having."
"Come on. We're having McDonalds," said the Daddy.
They left, and L felt very heartbroken.
What was L's family having that S wanted so badly?
Baked beans on toast.
L and her family didn't have a lot of money, but they had a lot of love and time for each other. Maybe it was the love and the time, not just baked beans that S wanted.
I often think of that story when we have baked beans on toast.
I thought of it the other day when we had a lovely home-laid egg and baked beans on toast, so I took a picture to show the world, and encourage everyone to give lots of love and time to our children.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
We enjoy using this "Bible Stories to Read" book by Rod and Staff, with accompanying colouring book available in New Zealand from Creaky Corner. After reading a story from this book we read the account from the ACTUAL Bible - King James Version.
Mr Five Year old was listening to Mummy read the story of Samson.
Being five, he is going through that rather grizzly stage where little boys like all the gruesome details of history.
He was rather intrigued by the Philistines taking out Samson's eyes.
"Argh!" he said greatly horrified and interested at the same time. "Those terrible Philistines!"
Later on, I was wondering how much of the story he remembered.
Mummy: "Who was the story about that we read earlier?"
Mr Five: "Samson."
Mummy: "And what happened?"
Mr Five: "They took his eyes out."
Mummy: "Who took his eyes out?"
Mr Five: "Um ... ah .... " (look of intense concentration on his face ....) " ... ah ... " (a sudden smile and eyes sparkling " The Philistyrenes!"
Sunday, September 26, 2010
There is something very satisfying about using crayons.
Coloured pencils are neat and tidy, felt pens are dense and often messy (especially if you are 2 years old) - but crayons are soft, responsive, versatile and smell good! Especially Honey Sticks crayons made from beeswax!
A small child does well to have only a few colours of a good quality, and a shallow tray to put the crayons into. Teach your child to respect all art equipment, and to put it away when finished.
Borrow some books from the library on crayon work - or art with pastels - to give you some ideas if the children are looking to you for help.
And have a go yourself!
Friday, September 24, 2010
As mentioned previously, our family love our reading aloud sessions.
But its sometimes a problem to keep the little ones quiet when we read aloud.
Mummy has devised the following scheme.
Take some shoe boxes.
Put stickers on the boxes (we have two boys using this system at the moment so we have 1A 1B, 2A 2B, 3A 3B etc)
Put a collection of toys in them (1A may have three wooden blocks, a car, a tractor, a small doll; 1B may have some polished stones, a wooden bowl, a basket, a silk scarf, a small boat ... )
It goes without saying that we DO NOT put these type of things in our boxes - whistles, drums, clicky cars ... although some children have a knack of making ANY toy noisy! If that is the case, just keep training. :o)
Store the boxes in order.
When reading time comes put a blanket down for each child (not touching each other!) and say "Blanket time!!"
One child is the "A" child.
The other child is the "B" child.
"A" child gets box 1A
"B" child gets box 1B
They sit nicely on their blanket, and wait while Mummy puts the boxes down.
Mummy gets comfy and says "You may open your boxes".
Mummy reads, the other children draw, colour etc and the little boys play with the toys in their boxes.
When "A" child has been through all the "A" boxes (we have eight) he becomes the "B" child, and goes through all the "B" boxes.
The boxes do not come out unless we are reading, so the toys stay special.
The children also have a pillow or cushion on their blanket, so if they don't want to play with the toys they can cozy down and just listen to the story.
When our children were around 8 months old, till they're about 2, they've always liked the game where you carefully put the rings onto a post.
In the past we've had plastic ones that get broken.
But putting my "natural" thinking cap on I came up with this alternative which has been fun for everyone!
I found a "coffee mug tree" and asked a handy passing saw-user (one of the big boys) to saw the sticking out bits off.
And now when we do our op-shopping we are on the lookout for any sort of wooden rings: curtain rings, or napkin rings etc. Quite hard to find, but exciting when we find them.
Sometimes you can't believe everything you read.
Sometimes you can't believe everything you see.
In this case, both my words and photograph are truth.
But a wise reader will use DISCERNMENT and, hopefully INTELLIGENCE in processing the information I have shared here: that our hen is, in fact, as big as a dog.
This reminds me of the importance of teaching our children to be THINKERS!
With a sense of humour too - very helpful :o)
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Maths doesn't give me a headache any more!
When I was in school "maths" was something I didn't understand.
Well - sometimes I understood it briefly, but as soon as I got home and looked blankly at the page of questions I doubted that I had any intelligence at all!!
I was blessed to have a Dad who worked through my homework with me, and made it a bit more understandable.
Right now our oldest two are doing maths that is REALLY beyond me - but that's fine - Math-U-See has a DVD where kind (and funny) Mr Demme explains each new concept. And best of all - Daddy is overseeing the boys maths!!!!
So I get to play fun games with the smalls at maths time.
"If I have 16 walnuts, and I wanted to divide them up equally into the four compartments of this wooden tray - how many walnuts would I have in each compartment?"
Friday, September 10, 2010
Inspired by a wonderful post by Harmony Art Mom - I had a go at the same sort of effect using our new block crayons.
These crayons smell wonderful (they are beeswax) and can be used in so many lovely ways.
First I did the background colour using the sides of the crayons, then doodled around with some spirals and flowers.
Little girl did one too.
Then, while I was cooking tea and seeing to little boys all at the same time I ruled lines on the back of the picture. Well, I tried to rule the lines, but got it all wrong and had to re-rule them!!
Then I cut the picture into little pieces.
NOTE: This is not the same as when our 5 year old cuts his artwork into little pieces! Those pieces normally end up on the floor/ in the bin / stuck to something - or being quietly chewed by the dog under the couch.
Because I was in a hurry (I usually am!) I didn't set the pieces out to make sure they looked good BEFORE I glued them. Setting them out is a good idea. I just figured it would look ok as long as I didn't have lots of the same colour together. :o)
She was very excited to make bread this week, and she did most of the work.
Of course it wasn't really "work" it was just Great Fun.
We started mixing the bread in our cake mixer with dough hooks, but eventually had to get it out and knead by hand as the recipe called for 6 cups of flour and we knew our little mixer would not be happy trying to mix that amount!
Kneading was made MUCH easier by using this lovely kneading board that Daddy made for us. And you can see that Little Girl is using the table Daddy made too - it's far more pleasant and more efficient for children to have sturdy, workable tools to suit their size.
Here's a close-up of our lovely kneading board - it is excellent for rolling pastry and biscuit dough out too.
If you would like one, and are not able to make one yourself we will be selling these in our business, Willow Cottage, very soon!
After I took the photo above I realised that now the world can see we have no cupboard doors and drawer fronts in our kitchen!! But we are blessed to have a kitchen. :o) So who needs cupboard doors!
The smaller loaf was completely gone by the end of afternoon tea - the boys loved it!
We saved the larger loaf to show Daddy, and enjoyed it with jam after tea.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Imagine you were a child again.
And someone gave you some lovely art equipment.
Nobody told you to BE CAREFUL! DON'T SQUEEZE SO MUCH OUT! DON'T WASTE IT!
And you have a fantastic time. :o)
A few years back I had a book out of the library that encouraged me to Do Some Art! (very good book in some aspects but sadly, not so good in other ways).
I imagined what it would be like to walk into an art studio, and have someone say to me "There you go! Feel free to use anything you want! Play! Have fun!"
I was so enthused by this prompting, that I got all our 3-D paints out and we had a FANTASTIC time with them - we used them all up!
Of course, we need boundaries - we don't paint the deck, the dog, or PURPOSELY put paint all over our hair and clothes ...
But we really shouldn't use the word WASTE when it comes to art.
A child who is bored with art, or looking for attention in the wrong way, or left to themselves when they want company and direction may WASTE things - but the child who is engaged and enthralled by the materials and the process should be encouraged to USE all those goodies - paints, glue, paper, cardboard.
YES it's messy.
YES it requires set-up and clean-up.
YES it's much easier and better for everyone if you ALL set-up and clean-up together which requires training.
BUT PEOPLE!!!! I encourage you so much - GET BUSY WITH ART!!!!
If your child wants you to work alongside - be there.
If your child wants to be silent and uninterrupted - give them space.
If your child wants you to sit and watch - give them the gift of your time.
The "mess" that we made on coloured card with our 3-D paints that day, was carefully sorted out, and I kept the most pleasing artwork.
And the other day I dug out those 3-D paint splatters and look what we produced.
Friday, August 27, 2010
A lovely game to get the children out hunting for tiny little items in the garden.
How many different sorts of things can you find to fit inside a matchbox?
Miss Seven decided she wanted to draw some of those beautiful little things.
The fantastic selection of coloured pencils are Faber Castell - these are the best pencils we have found. Please don't buy your children cheap, scratchy pencils!!!
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Little girl, Mummy and baby have just come back from the Eco-Fest. It was great!
Some of our favourite things:
We met the lady who made this DVD. We had previously borrowed the DVD from the library and the children loved it - so we bought our own copy. Highly recommended viewing!
This fantastic creation is something we would like to make (our little girl wants to call ours "Bug Town."
Here is the website for more information.
Bye for now