Sunday, October 13, 2013

MIA

Just in case you don't hear from me in the next little while...

I am still here.

Just not 'here' you know.  On my computer, yes.  Typing, yes.  Blogging, no.

Doing assignments.  Loads and loads of them.

The current rundown is:
Due in 1 week: Centre Design.  Not started.  Ugh.
Due in 2 weeks: Passionate Creed and Metaphor of Teaching and Learning.  3/4 done.  Priority for tomorrow??!
Due in 3 weeks: Website highlighting one area of technology and it's teaching impacts (I think, haven't looked at brief in awhile - really should get onto that but hoping for some guidance in class this week).
Due in 4 weeks: Leadership Report.  About 1/3 done?  Hard to tell.  Done loads of research/note taking.  Have interview to write transcript of and 2,000 word essay to write.  Deep sigh.

At least I don't have any exams after that!

This is of course on top of the mega garage sale I have a stall in next weekend, which requires the sorting of all Munchkin's past clothing and other assorted baby gear!

Did finish the delux guinea pig hutch this weekend, so there is some space in the garage!

See you all on the other side!
Amy

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Green Floor Cleaning

I have been very happily using natural based cleaning and homecare products for at least the past 7 years.  Maybe a bit longer.  In the past few years I've been privileged to share them with friends and a couple of women's groups.  But I don't know if I've written much about them on my blog.  My delightful sister-in-law recently decided to investigate some green cleaning self-made products, so this one is for you, Elizabeth!

Materials:
Bucket
Mop (or cloth if you prefer to get down on hands and knees)
White Vinegar
Baking Soda (Bicarbonate of Soda)
Eucalyptus Essential Oil


Method:
Put 1/4 c baking soda in bucket.
Add 1/4 c white vinegar (and wait a moment to watch it fizz - your kids should love that part!).
Add 1/2 t eucalyptus oil (or if you're like me - a dash!).
Half fill with hot water (the hotter the better!).

MOP.
Yup, you still have to do some hard work folks!


Baking soda is a scourer, and vinegar a disinfectant.  They work well apart, but even better together.  In fact, baking soda and vinegar form the basis for most of my cleaning.  They are very gentle on our waterways, don't hurt animals, don't sting my eyes or affect my breathing. And they are super cheap.  Our vinegar is $3.49 for 2litres (Homebrand from Countdown).  That's about 1.5c per 1/4c.  Baking soda is around $3.50/kg at Bin Inn in bulk.  Eucalyptus oil can be found at PakNSave or New World for about $4 a bottle (MedCo brand).

You don't need the eucalyptus oil, but it's a good disinfectant and also leaves things with a really 'clean' smell. (adding it to your washing apparently helps kill of dust mites too!).  The smell of vinegar does dissipate once it dries, but if you don't like it, try adding some essential oil (lavender or orange are other lovely clean smelling fragrances).  I have even cleaned floors with just hot water and eucalyptus oil.  That's how I first came across it - on request by a cleaning client.  Works just fine.  I did however, sneak a little baking soda in to help lift dried food and mud from time to time.

A special secret to a squeaky clean, shiny floor:
Dry with an old towel straight away - this stops any streaks drying, although it is of course completely unnecessary in terms of hygiene provided you're happy to blockade your nicely cleaned floor from people in muddy boots!



Happy cleaning!  I hope you are inspired to try some green cleaning.  It's easy, good for you, the environment, and your wallet!  Let me know how you get on.

Amy




Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Last One at Last

The final blanket square is done (for my yearly contribution to Operation Cover Up)!
Or rather, the final strip.

Time to pose!


Or not?!



And of course, time to play...

A spider web!


A road!


Some bandages for hurt arms and legs!  Mummy and Daddy also had bandages at various times later in the day, but no photos to prove it.


Look who went shopping with us one morning, all wrapped up in a blanket!  I wish I'd got a photo of Munchkin sitting in the trolley with red bear tucked in beside him!



Now I only need to crochet the last two strips (one either side) onto the blanket and whip round the edge.

It's been a bit of a marathon effort.  They always are, but this one in particular seems to have been hard work to get finished.  Not that I dislike the hard work!  I do love to just sit and knit row after row of bright colours.  But I also dearly love to feel like I've accomplished things, reached my goals, finished.

I have (of course) started a new square for a new blanket.  I had a few days off.  And I'm really enjoying using some of my new colours, as I always do with each new blanket!  Isn't it funny how something that you love at first can become almost an object of loathing if you spend a lot of time with it? So glad to have changed colours.

What have you been creating lately?

Amy

A Little Bit of Imagination

We have a sandpit on our back deck.
It was Munchkin's third birthday present, carefully built by me in the garage (which is currently housing an almost-but-not-quite-there delux guinea pig hutch!).

It's pretty much square, about 25cm deep, filled with grey sand.
But this folks, is no ordinary sandpit.

Some days, it's a racing track.  Other days, there are tunnels.

Sometimes big machines are hard at work.  Come summer, I'm sure there will be ponds.

This past week, we had a bridge.  Cars were getting tired, so a rest area was added.  It has a shelter, and a picnic table, and some trees.


Some cars liked it so much, they had really long rests!


The wood's just bits left over from past chook and guinea pig hutches, tucked away in a bag in the garage.  The 'trees' were simply pieces of bracken from around our place (seriously, we have a TON of bracken fern!).

Munchkin liked it so much we did it again a few days later.  This time we added some flower gardens too though.  Loads of white daisies in our lawn between mows at present.  Loads of fun.


All it takes is a little bit of imagination.  I'm amazed at all the different things we do with a simple sandpit.  It's not like we have heaps of other materials, just the important ones (CARS and DIGGING MACHINES!).
What have your little ones been enjoying using their imagination for lately?

Amy

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Bone, Egg

We were playing with playdough.

A LOT!

Munchkin had found his huge stash of dough cutters.  Seriously, it is HUGE!  I bought it for the alphabet and letters, but it also has hats, cats, trees, candy canes, fish, ducks, stars, and sundry other items (some of which are easily recognisable, others that are ah, somewhat obscure!).

Every last bit of playdough got used, several days in a row, to make shapes.  He cut out butterflies, and cows.  He cut out trains and cars (the all time favourite shapes, of course).  They went all the way round the big dining table one morning when I emerged after an hour finishing an assignment.  Boyo was the enlisted help that time.

This particular play time though, we had bones and eggs, among other things.

I thought we could do a pattern.

"Look, Munchkin.  Bone, egg, bone, egg, bone...what do you think should come next if we want to make a pattern, make it the same?"

"EGG!"
YES!  He totally got the concept of a basic repeating pattern. I think this is the first time I've ever seen Munchkin take in patterns.  But there he was, pointing away, "Bone, egg, bone, egg, bone, egg."  Over and over and over again!

Ah, the great life lessons that can be found in a ball of playdough.

Amy

Friday, October 4, 2013

Boxes

We took a little trip this week, over to Storage King near Polytech.

Munchkin had a special delivery to make...



He insisted on holding a box all the way there.  And managed not to open it! (photo taken while waiting for seatbelt assistance!)

Six lovely boxes full of cute, useful, colourful gifts organised by myself and my mum.

The production line on my dining table last weekend!

Finished boxes!  I'm always slightly disappointed that it takes so little time to fill them all up!
There were teddies.
There were marbles, and skipping ropes, and plastic animals.

I like to fill my boxes well, but cheaply - three packets of marbles ($9 total?) and two of animals ($4-6 total) equaled enough toys for six boxes!  I already had skipping ropes in two, so the two lots here in the bowls got packaged up as 'spares' for other boxes (bowls included)!
There was stationery (LOTS and LOTS of stationery - pencils, erasers, rulers, sharpeners, notebooks, exercise books).
There were tshirts and shorts.
There were toothbrushes, flannels (facecloths), soap and even plastic soap containers.

Aren't these the CUTEST soft toys??
And there were draw string bags.  Made by me. I am rather proud of the achievement - I made them all by myself.  I did, sadly, forget that the drawstring would need room to tighten, and didn't leave enough space at the top, so they don't fit the exercise books I'd originally made them for, but they DO still fit lots of other things.  I'm sure they will be enjoyed.  And I will remember next year.





Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes are due into local drop off points around New Zealand by Sunday 20th of October.

You've got two and a bit weeks, people!  Head on down to your local Dollar Value store and get shopping!  Why not go as a family?  Turn it into a tradition.  We wrap and start packing our boxes every year at Christmas.  This year Munchkin helped me deliver them, like last year.  Next year I think I'll get him to fill a box himself, take him shopping with real money, get him to choose things, and put them in himself.

What to put in:


What to leave out:


A little something extra that made it's way into our boxes this year:

Cards given to me, printed image of our family with "love from..." written underneath.
Why not head out and fill a shoebox this weekend!  It's a fabulous lesson in generosity that makes a world of difference to a child who has so very little.

Amy

ps - and in case you're wondering how to fit an exercise book in a narrow shoebox:



Make sure to hold your tongue in the right position!


Squish!

Get the rubber band on fast!
One happy little girl in a few months' time!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Bubble-wrap Boy

One of my birthday presents arrived snugly wrapped in a whole bunch of bubble wrap a few weeks back.

As we already have a good sized stash of bubble wrap that I've barely ever used, I decided, contrary to my usual hoarder stance, that I would throw this lot out.

However, as I was sitting looking at the gift, some little hands found the bubble wrap as it lay scattered on the table.


Hmmm.

This stuff is really interesting.

I can squish it with my fingers and it makes a satisfying "pop."

Sometimes it's very tricky to get just right though.  I have to push down really hard.


I'm learning a lot from this fun, spontaneous activity.  I'm learning how to get my thumb and forefinger to work together to squish.  I'm learning that pressure has effects.  Not enough pressure, no satisfying pop. If I push with my whole arm it works better, so I stood up to get lots of extra strength through my arm.  I'm learning to maneuver my hands to get them in the optimal place for good popping.  I've been watching my mummy as she pops a few for me between her fingers, and copying her actions with my own small hands.

AND, I've had SO much fun!


Amy

ps - of course Munchkin was very closely supervised with bubble wrap as it is a plastic.  If we get it out again, I might try colouring some of the dots with a coloured vivid first and seeing if he can pop only the coloured ones, or count how many we can pop along a row perhaps.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My Son, The Artist

This post is to remind you (and me) that you never can tell what hidden talents lie lurking within your child.

Munchkin does not "do" art.

He just doesn't.  He isn't really into it.  Probably a good thing my parents swapped birthday present idea from an easel to a bike.  Grin.

He is happiest in his sandpit, or with a large baking dish of flour and an assortment of trucks and diggers.  Seriously, when it is wet out or he is unwell, flour is the way to go.  It is worth the small amount that always accidentally makes it onto the dining table, carpet, his hair, my pants, and sundry other unexpected locations.  Playdough is another big occupier, as is his very basic duplo set (we should really get him some more but any unnecessary spending is on complete hold at present - he's even wearing long-sleeved tops that are now too short 'cos I figure it is spring so who is going to care that the end before his wrist!).

Do you get the picture?
My son likes to run, to climb, to feel tactile things (but not get his hands yucky-wet-dirty mind you!).
He does not bring me home paintings, or drawings, or any form of artwork from preschool other than that coerced from him by some conniving teacher (or myself!).
I force him to draw a picture for family member's birthdays and sponsored children from time to time.
He has a drawing book, washable pens, twistable crayons, and even some pencils.
He periodically uses them, but would much rather be doing something else, thank you very much.

Yet, my son is an artist.

He drew kiwis on our windows one morning.  They had a body, legs, feet, and beak.  Unfortunately he rubbed them off the condensation before I could whip out the camera to properly wow people with his genius.

Then this week, he blew me away with this:
We'd had his latest snail pets out of the teranium.  I asked if he wanted to draw some.  He did, so Mummy seized the moment.  We talked about what they needed.  "A big round shell and feelers with two eyes on the the feelers, and two little feelers."

I drew a snail.  Then we held the pen together and drew one.  Then he drew one by himself with me helping position for the tail, the feelers, etc.

THEN my son drew a snail by himself.  Legend!
As we've had a lot to do with snails (okay, that might even be an understatement), he knows their shape.  We "own" snails, we make playdough snails, and I've drawn them previously on request (over and over and over again!).  It was fascinating hearing Munchkin verbalise what was needed, showing strong understanding of the anatomy of a snail, and then being able to replicate that in drawing.  I think my "scaffolding" his learning by gradually removing my help made a big difference to his willingness to have a try.

I then asked if he would draw me a smiley face.  So he did!  Talk about amazing concentration.
We talked about what a face has as he drew.  He did the round circle, added eyes, then a big mouth, then a nose.  Then he put hair, and two ears.  What a fabulous face.

I have, of course, attempted several times since to get him to draw me another smiley face.  Nope.  Not interested.  But, the secret is out. I now know he can draw quite well!  I think the issue is that he wants it to look like what I draw, so if he's tired, out of sorts, not concentrating, anything basically, then Munchkin decides that drawing is too hard.  Yet he's really good at it!  Having something specific to draw that is strongly connected to our recent play and activities seems to help engage him too.

Have you been surprised by the hidden talents of your kids (or even yourself or your spouse) at times?

Amy