Monday, 2 December 2013

The Princess and the Knight, by Samuel

Once upon a time there was a handsome knight and a golden-robed princess. The knight was in hospital after he ran into trouble, and then the princess got into more trouble while she was waiting for him to recover. This is their story.

Chapter 1: The Knight
A long, long, long, long time ago there was a handsome knight. The knight was chased by a tornado. The tornado had thunder and lightning and trees.
The knight ran away, but the tornado sucked him up.
A year later, the knight was in a hospital. He didn’t know anything. He didn’t remember anything. But he was alive.
The end of the knight’s story.
But WAIT! This is not the end of the book, there’s more! So, please turn the page.

Chapter 2: The Lost Princess
As you know, the knight was gone in the tornado for one whole year, and then he was recovering in hospital. So now, I will tell you about the princess.
A long, long, long, long time ago there was a golden-robed princess. The princess was walking by the hospital, hoping that the knight would return to full strength. She was hoping he would help her be happy, by sharing lots of good things with her.
The princess thought the knight would be out of the hospital in ten more days. She was right!
But, by the time the knight got out of the hospital, the princess had become lost. She had heard a sound, a spooky sound. The princess did what the sound told her to do: she went into the Forest of Doom. The Forest was dark with evil all the time. But the princess did not know that.
The knight did know about the evil, dark forest, but he did not know that the princess was in there. He knew that there was a curse. He also knew that the dark forest had a dark hole, dripping with evil made by the curse.

Chapter 3: The Dark Curse
Ten days later, the golden-robed princess was caught by cursed vines. They wrapped around her until she couldn’t struggle. Then the cursed vines pulled her to a cottage deep in the forest, which had also been made by the curse. The vines let the princess go when she was tied up to a stake.
There was a witch waiting in the cottage. But the princess didn’t know about the witch.
The witch came out of the cottage with four potions. She went near the princess and put three potions down. She was mixing them together. The four colours of the potions were blue, green, yellow and blood-coloured red.
The princess kicked over two of the potions on the ground.
Then the witch told her with a very, very scary voice, “Do not touch my potions again, or else I will turn you into the very creature the knight hates most to fight: the Dragon of Doom, my pet!”
The princess screamed, “Aaaaaah!”
Then the witch was angry and she said to her baby dragon, “Mingo, I want you to scare her out of the dark forest!”

Chapter 4: The Dark Hole
Mingo did one thing that the witch didn’t tell him to do. Mingo put the princess near the dark hole. The princess thought that it was very deep. She was right. Mingo had scared her like the witch said, but he had not taken her out of the forest.
Then Mingo jumped very quickly for a little dragon. He jumped to the cottage, leaving the princess by the hole. Then, the princess slipped into the dark hole.

Chapter 5: The Most Deadly Sword
The knight realised the princess was in the dark forest. He thought, “She might be in the dark hole! I hope she won’t be turned into my arch-enemy, the Dragon of Doom, by the witch.”
So he got his golden armour and his most deadly sword and his trustworthy horse. The knight went to find his lovely golden-robed princess.
The knight rode his trustworthy horse to the dark forest. He rode his horse as fast and far as it would dare. He stopped when he got to the witch’s cottage. When he got off his horse, the horse ran away to its stable, because it was frightened by the dark hole!
Then the knight kicked as hard as he could on the door of the witch’s cottage.
The witch came out very angrily and asked, “Who are you? Oh! You are my arch-enemy.”
The knight pulled his most deadly sword out from its scabbard and put its tip near the throat of the witch. But the witch disappeared from his sight, and reappeared behind his back.
Then the knight slashed his sword backwards at the witch. But every time the knight slashed his sword, the witch disappeared and reappeared somewhere else.
Mingo was watching the fight. He dashed in to hurt the knight, but the knight chopped Mingo’s head off!
Then the witch began to cry. And she didn’t disappear. The knight slashed his sword one more time. This time the witch did not disappear. The sword stabbed her in the heart, where all the dark magic came from.
The knight realised he had killed the witch, but he still had not saved his beloved golden-robed princess.

Chapter 6: The Princess and the Knight
When the knight killed the witch, all the dark magic from her evil heart became a mist that blew to the dark hole. The knight followed the cloud of dark magic.
When the knight arrived at the dark hole, he heard a tune of the princess’s lovely singing. Then he looked and saw the princess rising up out of the hole to hug him.
Everything the dark witch had done was coming undone, now that her heart had been stabbed and the dark magic had escaped.

Chapter 7: The Happy King
When the princess and the knight came back to the kingdom, the king had died. The princess was the new queen. The knight married the new queen. Then, the knight became the new king.
The knight was a very, very, very happy king. Also, he was good. Very, very good, to be precise.
And they lived happily ever after. Very happily.
The end. But wait! I want to tell you something! This story could actually be a bedtime story. Now for the proper end… this is
The End of the Book.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Before you say, "I'm bored. What can I do?" READ THIS LIST

A list for the holidays.

What you can do outdoors:
Talk to the chickens. Check if they have laid any eggs.
Jump on the trampoline. Climb the tree and swing onto the trampoline.
Take a ball from the outdoor toy box and play catch.
Take a bat and ball from the outdoor toy box and play baseball or cricket.
Climb on the straw bales in the back yard and pretend you are king of the mountain. Jump off!
Take a piece of fruit from the kitchen bench and eat it. Feed the scraps to the chickens.
If it’s sunny, ask Mum or Dad if you can go to the skate park to ride your bike or scooter.
If it’s wet, ask Mum or Dad if you can put on your boots and raincoat and go puddle jumping.
Ask Dad if you can help him with his building projects.

What you can do indoors:
Ask Mum if she has any chores with which you can help.
Ask Joshua if you can battle Pokemon against him.
Ask Anna if you can listen to her play her guitar.
Ask Abigail if you can play Sylvanian Families with her.
Ask Samuel if you can read a story to him.
Read a book. Then read another book.
Do a puzzle or two or three: do dot-to-dots, or mazes, or cross-words, or find-a-words.
Draw a picture. Write a story about the picture.
Draw a map. Make a legend to explain what the symbols on the map represent.
Play with Lego. Then, tidy up the Lego before you play with something else.
Play a board game. Play a card game. Play a puzzle game.
Put on some music and dance and sing.
Put on dress ups and pretend to be someone else.
Ask Mum to read aloud to you or cook with you.

What you can do during afternoon Quiet Time:
Listen to a book-on-CD in the lounge room. Put the CD away in the CD case when you’re finished.
Read books on your bed. Put them away on the bookshelf when you’re finished.
Play with your teddies or dolls in your bedroom. Pack them away when you’re finished.

What you CANNOT do:
Use the computer or wii or iPad or iPod or TV, between 8am and sunset.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Motherhood is a Calling, Not a Hobby

I was browsing and found this post on I think I might need to come back to it often, to encourage myself. Here's a tid-bit:

"Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.

Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values. You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another—and laying down your life for another represents the gospel."
If you're a mother, be encouraged in your calling to demonstrate the gospel through your motherhood.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

My Own Little Swallows

I've been reading Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome aloud to the kids recently, and this morning they went off as shipwrecked sailors and explorers to the open scrub up the road from our house, on the edge of our town.

They carried the necessary rations in "knapsacks":
"pemmican" (twiggy sticks)
"grog" (cans of ginger beer)
bread and "bun loaf" (homemade bread)
"marmalade" (since there is a general disinclination to digest marmalade among our children, they settled on a jar with butter)
"apples all round" (apples - duh)
"chocolate rations (real chocolate, individual bars so there was no arguing)
and some cheese.

They also carried their own supplies. Anna, as Ship's Mate and Cook, carried the bulk of the rations as well as two plastic knives. Joshua, as Ship's Captain and leader of the expedition, carried the Ship's Knife on a belt, and also carried the Ship's Compass and Whistle for rallying the crew. Abigail was the Able Seaman, and she carried the digital camera for the Ship's Log (although she didn't do a very good job at taking photos, unfortunately) and Samuel, the Ship's Boy, carried the tarpaulin and octopus straps for shelter. Everyone wore gumboots and warm jumpers.

Here they are, ready to proceed up the "beck" (the little seasonal creek that goes under the road into town).

Monday, 9 September 2013

A Mathematical Mind

The first words that Samuel spoke this morning, still hazy with dream-sleep, were "four ... teen ... times by one hundred ... equals one thousand four hundred." What six year old child dreams of multiplication equations with answers into the thousands? And gets them correct?

This is not the first time Samuel has woken with mathematics on his mind. A week ago he woke and rolled over (he often comes into our bed in the wee hours of the morning) to ask me a series of doubling questions, such as "what is twice one hundred and twenty eight?" and "what is twice two hundred and fifty six?"

Samuel loves numbers. Last week we walked to school calculating halves of various numbers. He wasn't just interested in half of one whole, although that is where he started. Then he wanted to know, among others, what was half of five and a half, and what was half of one hundred and one and a half.

We use number sequences as a distractor to calm him down, especially when we are walking somewhere, such as to school or church, and can't stop for a cuddle and a back rub. Once when we were shopping for shoes for his sisters, Samuel got fed up and we helped him to calm down by instructing him to count the silver studs on a leather belt for sale in the store.

This isn't a recent interest. Samuel could rote count to ten (echolalia-like) well before he could string two words together to make a sentence. He loved to count to three and then, once he'd learnt, to ten, before jumping from the coffee table into my waiting arms as I sat on the couch. He loved to count as Jeff and I walked along, swinging him between us holding his hands.

Well before the age of two, I knew my son had a mathematical mind.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Faction Athletics Carnival

I was genuinely pleased with my kids' great attitudes for sports day this year. There were no tears or grumpy comments about doing events that weren't their favourite. They exhibited patience between events and good sportsmanship during and after events. Success!

Samuel doing triple jump:

Abigail doing long jump:
Abigail was Champion of the Junior Girls.

Joshua doing high jump:

Anna's first for the 100m race:
Anna was the Runner-Up in the Intermediate Girls, and broke a school record for long jump.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Dress Up Days

Our school had two dress up days in the last week. The first was a Crazy Hair and Pyjamas day. With the cold weather we've been having lately, this necessitated track pants under the pjs and dressing gowns over them:

The second dress up day was space-themed to celebrate the end of Book Week. Anna was the only one who deliberately chose to dress up as a book character, perhaps because she's the only one who has yet read any science fiction. In the last month she has read Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (equal tie for my all time favourite SciFi book with Anne McCaffrey's Killashandra) and the Ender's Shadow series that follow after. She made her own costume and went as Ender Wiggin in his flash suit, with a Dragon Army logo on her shoulder and his transfer orders in her pocket. Abigail went as a "green headed alien", which Anna and I reinterpreted as a Formic/Bugger from Ender's Game. Samuel went as Darth Vader, along with approximately one fifth of the primary school population.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Bushwalking in the Great Southern

With our friend Gerard visiting, we decided to drive out to the Stirling Ranges and check out the Mt Trio hike. It is definitely not for the faint hearted, withe the trail heading straight up to begin with. The view was spectacular, but we didn't have the time (or the energy!) to complete the whole hike. This is the view back down the trail from our turn-around point:

Back at the bottom we spent some time allowing the kids to clamber over some boulders while we followed at a rather slower pace:

From the top of these boulders Jeff spied the endemic, elusive, Cranbrook Bell:

Later that day we headed further south to Albany and wandered over the granite slabs around the top of Mt Clarence to admire views of Albany township, Lake Seppings and Middleton Beach, Emu Point and Oyster Harbour.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Inventing Ice-cream

Samuel came up with a new flavour for ice-cream a few days ago. I thought it a good idea since one of the flavours is a favourite with Jeff and the other is a favourite with the kids. Unfortunately neither appeal particularly to me. I made some the next day and the kids and Jeff pronounced it "Delicious!"

 And the flavour is... marshmallow custard!
2 tbsp Nurse's custard powder
2 tbsp full cream milk
(store bought) vanilla ice-cream
white marshmallows

Mix custard powder with milk in a saucepan over low heat until completely dissolved and beginning to thicken. Place scoops of ice-cream into a plastic container and pour custard mixture over the icecream. Mix thoroughly (the ice-cream will melt). Add marshmallows and stir briefly. Place in freezer for a few hours to freeze then serve and enjoy.

This recipe might be improved by using an electric mixer to whisk the ingredients a bit to make the ice-cream lighter and fluffier. And it might be possible to make this completely from scratch using some recipe for homemade ice-cream as well. I am not a Cooking Type Person, so I don't know. I just know that my kids were happy. And that made me happy.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Five holidays in one

Over the last two weeks Jeff and I have enjoyed five mini-holidays:

1. We had a friend Ros come to visit.

2. Jeff took the kids to Granny & Gramps's farm while I went to Perth for a weekend to scrapbook.

3. We met up in Perth and drove to Southern Cross for a holiday staying three nights with another friend, Naomi. While there, we explored the site where gold was first found in WA.

And clambered all over Baladjie Rock.

On the way back we stopped off at Merredin to visit the historical water tower.

4. After a brief spell at home for a sleepover birthday party for Anna,

we drove via the Tin Horse Highway

to Wave Rock and Hyden.

"Where a man can see for miles
Still get lost, still be free.
At home in the bush
Where the heart wants to be."

Then it was on to Kalgoorlie for another three-night holiday, this time with my brother and his family.

We returned home via Perth again, this time spending a night in a caravan park where Granny and Gramps were also, purely by coincidence, staying.

5. We had more friends visit, Tim & Helen and their baby Nathanael, so their music team could bless our church with a Sunday morning special.

Now we are back home, without visitors, and the kids are back at school. Loving life.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Anna's new desk and the Waldseemüller map

We gave Anna a new desk, complete with hutch bookshelf and chair, for her birthday. It's already getting lots of use.

(It's the fruit of the first time I've enjoyed a visit to yIKesEA ever: we were in and out in 10 minutes, thanks to checking the product availability section of their website before we arrived, avoiding the display floor area entirely, heading straight to the correct warehouse shelves to pick and then pay for the goods before leaving immediately. "Do not pass GO, do not collect $200": But we did get to enjoy a couple's night out together afterwards with the time we'd saved.)

This evening we had a family DVD night and watched the first episode of The Map Makers series, on the Waldseemüller Map, now named after its cartographer, Martin Waldseemüller. Originally called the Universalis Cosmographica, it was the first map to illustrate a fourth continent with an ocean separating it from Asia. Its publication was the first time the name "America" was used in printed form. 1000 copies of the map were produced in 1507, but there is now only one extant copy known. Found in 1901 and purchased in 2003 from a German prince's family library for a cool US$10 million, the Waldseemüller Map now resides in the US Library of Congress.

[Image source:]

An accompanying book, the Cosmographiae Introductio, written by Waldseemüller's co-worker Matthias Ringmann, states that the fourth continent has been named after Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci:

"from Amerigo the discoverer ... as if it were the land of Americus, thus America"

"There is a fourth quarter of the world which Amerigo Vespucci has discovered and which for this reason we can call 'America' or the land of Americo. We do not see why the name of the man of genius, Amerigo, who has discovered them, should not be given to these lands, as Europa and Asia have adopted the names of women."

This last part shows why America wasn't named Amerigo: Waldseemüller and Ringmann feminised the explorer's name in line with the names of the three previously known continents, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Amerigo Vespucci originally worked with Christopher Columbus, who discovered the West Indies, islands off the coast of the American continents. Columbus thought he had reached the eastern expanses of Asia. Vespucci later sailed in his own ship, reporting in letters his discoveries of a continent-sized land mass which he determined and demonstrated not to be the same Asia as earlier described by Claudius Ptolemy and Marco Polo. Vespucci's letters indicate he realised the true nature of the newly-discovered lands, but they may not even have been written by Vespucci himself. Some were possibly partially or even wholly fabricated by their publishers. After Vespucci's death, his name was besmirched by Columbus's supporters, who wanted Columbus proclaimed as the discoverer of the newly-identified continent. However, the name "America" stuck.

This is Anna's take on the episode, which she drew/wrote on her desk's magnetic whiteboard immediately after watching it.

"CC [Captain Columbus] discovered islands that were part of America but didn't really discover America.
FOCC [Friend of Captain Columbus] discovered America for real unlike CC but didn't get the credit he deserved."

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Quarter Time weigh in

A few days into the new year, I wrote that Jeff and I had begun juicing again and I was also exercising daily. This is all in aid of achieving a goal I set myself six months to reach: to lose at least 5.5kg each month over six months, to bring my weight down to within my healthy BMI range.

Today marks the first quarter point to meeting my six month goal. So how have I been doing?

Jeff and I were initially planning to do a juice-only fast but we realised it is better for the kids to see us making sustainable healthy eating choices, rather than doing a fairly radical diet. So we have 3-4 juices each day and eat a large salad for dinner each night. Jeff's salads include cheese, which is absent from most of mine, and we both include smoked salmon, tinned tuna, or an egg from our backyard chickens a few times each week. If I feel the need or desire for an extra snack in the afternoon I eat nuts or have a piece of the wonderful summer stone fruit that is available at the moment.

My typical breakfast juice consists of:
2 oranges
2 large carrots
1 yellow capsicum
1/2 pumpkin or 1 med sweet potato or 1 grapefruit
4 stalks of celery

My typical morning tea and lunch juices consist of half the following recipe, which does both meals:
2 granny smith apples
1 small or 1/2 large cucumber
1 green capsicum
1 plant coriander
1 lime or 1/2 lemon
1/2 inch ginger
6 leaves kale or 1 bag baby spinach on stems or 4 bok choy or 4 stems English spinach

My typical afternoon tea juice consists of:
2 oranges
1 beetroot, peeled
2 large carrots (purple carrots if available)
1 red capsicum
4 stalks of celery

Exercise-wise, during January I was awarded my Bronze Medallion swimming/lifesaving award, and I completed Jillian Michael's "30 Day Shred" DVD, with ten days of exercise at each of the three levels on the DVD. I have now moved on to Jillian Michael's "Burn Fat Boost Metabolism" DVD, which contains a longer workout as well as longer warm up and cool down circuits. I am improving already with this DVD. While I could only complete 6 of the 7 circuits (each 6min) initially, I can now do the entire workout of 7x6min circuits each morning.

My fitness has greatly improved. Here is a list of some of the things I can do now that I could not do at the beginning of January:
I can now do full sit ups (flat back, arms straight behind/above my head, knees bent, feet stay still on the floor without assistance as I do a complete sit up, not a crunch). I can do 10+ of these at a time, where previously I struggled to do one sit up with straight arms pointing forward to my knees.
I can now do 38 full (male) push ups in 60 sec. Previously, I couldn't do as many push ups on my knees (female-style) as I can now do with my legs straight.
I can now touch my forehead to my knees in a wide legs (almost) splits position, with my hands wrapped around my foot. Before, I could only just touch my toes in this position.
I can now run 1km without stopping, having cut about 1 min off my time from the beginning of January.

As for my weight, in January I met my monthly target of 5.5kg and a smidgen extra, losing 5.8kg (12.8lbs). At my quarter time weigh in this morning, I had lost a total of 10.1kg (22.3lbs), which is a drop of 3.5BMI points. So I am now 30% of the way to my target!!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

My handsome husband

Friday, 18 January 2013

Ender's Game the movie!!!

Of all the books I read as a teen, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card has to be my favourite for so many reasons, not least the kick-ass twist to the ending. And now it's being made into a movie starring Harrison Ford as Lieutenant Graff and Asa Butterfield as Andrew Wiggin aka saviour-of-the-world-as-they-know-it Ender.

For more on the making of Ender's Game the movie, see the official blog.

I know where I'll be on 1/11/13.
(Umm, unless that other Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ, comes back first.)

Friday, 11 January 2013

Sam Juices Up

Sam Juices Up
Samuel asked if he could make some of his own juice, so we worked together and he prepared - and enjoyed - juice from his own recipe:
1 red apple
1 green apple
1 carrot
It made just enough juice for one Sam-size cup.

(That's our juicer in the background, a Breville Juice Fountain.)
First Taste
My afternoon juice: Grape, Beetroot, Purple and Orange Carrots, Ginger, Kale & Capsicum

Anna reclines to read

Anna reclines to read
I swear she was lying just like this when I came to check up on how her Quiet Time was going!

Abigail from Tree to Trampoline

Abigail from tree to trampoline
Abigail loves to play in our back yard, especially when she can jump on the trampoline, or jump onto the trampoline as the case may be!
Preparing to make the leap
Gravity takes effect
"How'd I do, Mummy?"
This final photo is the one I chose for Grandma's perpetual birthday calendar: