15 March, 2009

Tanunda Country Show, 14 March 2009

Yesterday we spent 6 hours at the Tanunda Show (can't believe the boys behaved themselves soooo well that we could actually stay that long!). It was absolutely fabulous - all the bands, all the acts, everything!

This is only the second show that we entered stuff in (the first was the Angaston Show a fortnight ago, and that was only some colouring pages advertising the show that were in the local newspaper). We were soooooo blown away … we actually won some classes!!!

-- Needlework, any article or technique not previously specified – I put in a huge hot pink and purple shawl I wove … and won 3rd place!

-- Hens Eggs, brown shell – 1st place !!!!!

-- Digital Photo, people – I put in a photo of Blake sleeping … and won 1st place!!! My Father was a professional photographer for over 40 years and I'm sure he was rolling over in his grave, as my photography used to be so bad that it got to a point where he refused to process any more of my films because he was so embarrassed about how bad they were!

-- Colour print, childrens’ section, open – Blake put in a photo he took on my mobile phone while he was spinning around … and won 3rd place

-- Childrens’ Art and Craft, free painting – Blake won 2nd place for his "fireworks" painting

-- Childrens’ Art and Craft, scrapbooking – James won 3rd in his age category for his scrapbooking page from last year's Medieval Fair (he got to wear chain mail and armour!)

-- Childrens’ Art and Craft, scrapbooking – David won 2nd in his age category

And I got to go in the dairy goat milking competition … and came second to last out of 7 people. It was an absolute hoot and David caught in using the video feature on my mobile phone, so once I can work out how to upload it to my blog page you can see me crawling around on the ground after a rather cantankerous goat!

07 January, 2009

2008 in Retrospect - Driving Holiday

Well, this entry was supposed to be the first in the series entitled "2008 in Retrospect", but I goofed. Oh well.

This year we haven't been able to affort to go on homeschool camps or even to go on our usual driving holidays, so the last time we went away was back in January 2008. We went to Pt Pirie, Jamestown, Canowie Belt, Apilla and Apilla Springs, Whyalla and Whyalla Norrie, Pt Augusta, Moonta Bay and Moonta, Wallaroo, Pt Vincent and Edithburg.

Our preferred choice of accommodation is cabins in caravan parks, but as it was school holidays, and Christmas to boot, we ran into problems finding vacancies along the way, so for Moonta Bay and Pt Vincent we were forced to upgrade to the significantly more expensive option of holiday homes.

Along the way we picked up our friend Ya-Ya, who was able to enjoy a free holiday with us for part of our journey as we visited various beaches and homeschoolers, too.

Our trip started ominously as we left very late, then had a minor collission less than an hour from home (from which the culprit sped away !!!), then we made a navigational error and ended up more than half an hour in the opposite direction, then we became temporarily misplaced trying to get back to where we should have been up to, and then once we were on our way properly a tyre on our trailer shredded! So in 42+ degree heat, on a sandy siding, with millions of flies, my poor husband tried to change the tyre - fortunately a passing local stopped to give a bit of a hand.

The rest of the trip was reasonably uneventful, except for when I walked full force into an air conditioning unit sticking out of the side wall of one of our cabins - I've never been so close to fainting as all went black and my legs began to give way beneath me! Fortunately my husband, who never breaks into a run, must have decided that the squawk he heard come from me sounded sufficiently serious enough that he managed to dash and catch me before I hit the ground. I had a lovely nap in the cabin after that ...

But really, overall it was a great trip ... um, except for when David gashed his foot open on a razor fish (not really a fish at all, but a huge shell).

I do miss our little driving holidays.

Photo #1: playing chess with Daddy in one of the hotels at Jamestown

Photo #2: fun with old tyres while waiting for a new tyre to be fitted in Pt Pirie

Photo #3: wading in the rock pools after dinner at Moonta Bay

Photo $4: climbing the cliffs with homeschool friends at Apilla Springs

2008 in Retrospect - Visit from Flat Logan

Flat Logan arrived via a local homeschool friend, after having travelled from Massachusetts in the USA. Flat Logan is like Flat Stanley, expect the boy that drew this one is called Logan, so he named his flat traveller Logan, too.

He belongs to the Scholfield family: http://alessonincompromise.blogspot.com/ (see their entry for October 27, 2008).

We've been so busy with Advent and Christmas, as well as preparations for our eldest son's first Holy Communion, that we initially neglected Flat Logan, but we've now shown him a little of our side of the world (in the photo he is with the boys in the Amazon Lily House at the Botanical Gardens - they are waiting for the tiny fish to nibble their hands)
Soon we will send him on his way, travelling round the world, either to friends in Singapore or England.

2008 in Retrospect - David's 1st Holy Communion

It seems to have taken me forever to prepare our eldest, as I wanted him to truly understand the significance of the event, to receive our Lord in the Blessed Eucharist, but finally, at 10yo I felt that he was ready.

I won't go into the mortifying experience (for me) of his interview with the Priest prior to being given approval to receive his first Holy Communion (his brain went to mush and I couldn't find a crack in the floor big enough to fall into ... sigh).

However, at the Mass on Christmas Eve, looking resplendent in freshly polished shoes, hired shirt, tie and pants, he received our Lord in the Eucharist.

I think the Priest must have quickly worked out that he needed to keep a close eye on my mischievous boy as, at the end of Mass, he beckoned to my boy to join him at the sanctuary steps in order to process from the Church with him. I had drilled David on all that he had to do during the Mass and reception of our Lord, but this totally threw us both - fortunately he obeyed, albeit with wide-eyed trepidation!

2008 in Retrospect - Williamstown Carols

It's kind of funny; I have neglected to teach my children any carols, and yet they have managed to pick it up quite well, and have managed as well as others whilst busking carols, and again at our township's Christmas parade and carols evening.

Different groups entertained the crowd by mounting the back of a semi-trailer tray-top which was set up as a stage on the local park, but from time to time they called for children in the audience to come up on stage to join in - my two youngest didn't need much encouragement and were up there each time.

2008 in Retrospect - Homeschool Theatre Group carolling

This year our boys have been involved with the Rat and Cat Homeschool Theatre Group in the Adelaide Hills (about an hour's drive from us).

Each year the group puts on a public performance and to raise funds to put it on they decided to go busking as carollers during the Stirling Street Market.

2008 in Retrospect - Joseph Hackett's 1st Holy Communion

23 November was a momentous day in the life of young Joseph as he received our Lord in the blessed Eucharistic Sacrament for the first time.

It was astonishing to see how truly devout this young lad was during the Mass leading up to that very special moment - it seemed as though the rest of the world no longer existed for him, as his eyes seemed to gaze unwaveringly at the altar and the preparation of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

Truly moving.

2008 in Retrospect - Homeschool Bush Dance

This year we managed to get to the annual Bush Dance which was hosted by the Adelaide Hills homeschoolers on 15 November.

It was an absolutely wonderful evening - nearly everyone came dressed in colonial costume or bush/stock attire, the hall was bedecked with gunny sacks, corrugated iron, gum branches, and all sorts of bush paraphernalia. The band was comprised of many homeschooled musicians who all acquited themselves admirably. The dance callers kept the dancers from devolving into total chaos, and all the dancers wore huge smiles.

My brother, who lives in the area, managed to join us on the night - the funniest thing was that what he wore was that which he wears as a matter of course, but he fit in to the theme of the night brilliantly!

We are soooo looking forward to next year!

2008 in Retrospect - Science experiment No. 2

Alas, poor Ya-Ya, the very best of intentions don't always pay off when it comes to achieving successful outcomes to science experiments!

One afternoon while I was lying down my friend attempted to recreate for my boys the "Mentos in the Coke bottle" fountain/volcano. However Mt Vesuvius was decidedly dormant - even shaking the bottles vigorously, or adding copious amounts of bicarbonate of soda and shaking again, didn't seemed to entice even a tremor, let alone a pyroclastic eruption.

Upon viewing the photographs which my long suffering friend had taken of the experiment, a clue was discovered as to the reason for the disappointment. And, upon chatting with another homeschooling family, who have a science aficionado for a son, the light of understanding was shed upon the matter.

I have three sons, and my friend had decanted equal quantities of the cola into separate smaller bottles so each could have their own. When they added their Mentos lollies and nothing happened they shook the bottles vigorously, and when that didn't work they added copious amounts of bicarbonate of soda and shook again, but still to no avail and much disappointment.

It all has to do with the amount of carbon dioxide in relation to the size of the lolly - when the carbon dioxide in the Cola is the suddenly/instantaneously attracted to the coating of the Mentos it has nowhere else to go but up and out of the bottle, at a great rate of knots.

Hmm, I wonder if it would work on lollies other than Mentos? Sounds like science experiment No.3 coming up!

2008 in Retrospect - Science experiment, No.1

In October a family friend, Barbara Giardina (affectionately known as "ya-ya"), came to stay for a week and took the opportunity to help out with some science experiments we had planned to do during school holidays instead of our normal book-work.

We started with trying to build an igloo out of sugar cubes and an icing sugar mix ... well, the icing sugar mix didn't turn out right so we had to keep adding, and adding, till it approached a reasonable consistency. And, whilst the building began well, none of us could quite work out how to achieve an arched dome for the top to finish it. In the end we all walked away in disgust and left our poor friend to battle on!

The object of the exercise was to demonstrate what makes a structure weak or strong, e.g. narrow base as opposed to a broader base, dry packed structures as opposed to those held together by some sort of pinions (dowels or nails) or mortar.

2008 in Retrospect - Worldwide Eucharistic Holy Hour

On 3 October we attended a children's version of the Worldwide Eucharistic Holy Hour which was held in St Patrick's Church, Adelaide (where my grand-mother and mother were married, and in the grounds of my old high school) (http://www.scenicadelaide.com/2008/06/04/st-patricks-church-in-grote-street-adelaide/).

There was a properly trained choir of local children (I think nearly all homeschooled) who sang truly beautifully, the rosary and, of course, Eucharistic adoration.

What made it especially enjoyable was that all the children, right down to the babies and toddlers, were all well behaved and almost as quiet as church mice, and yet those old enough to know their prayers all joined in with focused reverence.
At one point during the ceremony my own boys went forward with all the other children to pray their own intentions on the steps of the sanctuary - they had never done this before so I was quite surprised when they eagerly went forwrd, and was even more stunned at how reverently they knelt to pray, totally oblivious to each other for a short while!

2008 in Retrospect - Buzz Honey Farm tour

On 20 June two groups of homeschoolers visited the "Buzz Honey" farm (http://www.buzzhoney.com.au/) in the lovely Adelaide Hills. We were very fortunate that this particular honey farm was owned by some fellow homeschoolers, Jude and Tim Crowe.

It was a cool and slightly drizzly day but still fine enough for the outing, where we saw and learned how bees and their hives are kept and how honey is extracted from the combs and processed.

2008 in Retrospect - Homeschool Methods Seminar

Together with three good friends, Beverley Paine or Always Learning Books (http://alwayslearningbooks.com.au/) and Linda Maher of Adnil Press (http://www.adnilpress.com/), close friend Nadia Taylor (Editor of the HBL (http://www.websouth.com.au/hbl/), and a a team of volunteers on the day, we managed to pull together a small seminar with workshops, and curriculum fair, which was held on 17 May.

Considering that we were all far flung from the venue (one of us being 4 hours north, another 2 hours south, and myself 1 hour from the city), and all of us suffering from various maladies and ill-health, it was a surprise that we managed to pull it off as well as it went.

It was a thoroughly exhausting, but enormously rewarding, experience. Whilst none of us are very keen to repeat the exercise as the main organisers, we would be very glad to support behind the scenes in the lead up, and also to volunteer on the day. If we had all been well, and not so far afield, and had just one more person on the team, it would have been a far less nerve-wracking experience, but we're all still glad we did it.
The photo shows myself in the background, Linda on the right and Anna Hackett from Fountain Resources (http://www.fountainresources.com.au/index.htm) on the right, on stage during one of the panel Q&A sessions.

2008 in Retrospect - Medieval Festival

Way back on 17 May our boys went to the annual Medieval Festival (http://www.medievalsa.org/photos.htm) which is held in the lovely Adelaide Hills township of Gumeracha (that's where the Giant Rocking Horse and toy factory is(http://www.thetoyfactory.com.au/)).

Our boys have always been keenly interested in all things Medieval, but after holding swords and shields, donning chain mail, and watching the Medieval re-enacters dance and fight, they are now even more enthused. We've made contact with one of the local societies of "Creative Anachronism" (medieval re-enacters (http://www.sca.org.au/index.html)) and they've already had their first sword fighting lesson (with foam swords!)