View From My House

View From My House

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Who Killed Dave?

Who Killed Dave? you'll never guess By Linda Cockburn.

In the beginning, I noticed the clunkiness of the character introductions above the story itself. I am cool with this, many great writers have clunky debut novels so I was not put off (read: Neil Gaiman, Kim Wilkins). There was quite a few characters, many of which had a large amount of backstory which was needed, and as a result this made for a clumsy beginning. I need not have worried because Cockburn's story has indeed been told well. The plot and the story flowed naturally and very nearly told itself.

It was narrated by a psychic woman in her late twenties, Robyn, who has some connection with everyone living in her street, Kaos Court. She was totally believable, as her version of the events of a short week is told as she experiences them, interwoven with her personal insights, recollections and reflections of the residents and people connected with her story. As the events happen, almost unbelievably so as so many things happening at once; but builds itself to a natural peak. Dave is hated by everybody in the street for varying reasons, and his death is as bad as his life to the residents of Kaos Court, all of which have motivations to want him dead.

The humour is natural, I would compare it to ZigZag St by Nick Earls. I found it much more belly aching than ZigZag St, the fumbling romances are much better played out in Dave and the sequence of events lead to a much more enjoyable read. I know many people love ZigZag, and if they do they should really give Who Killed Dave? a go because there is a similar tone of humour to both. In my opinion though, Who Killed Dave? is a much better story though (even though ZigZag is based on a true story - and they say truth is stranger than fiction!).

Her discriptions are hilarious, her insights marvelous. I recommend this book to anyone with a sense of humour! Julie Hyatt-Harris.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

This is what the children have been modeling!

As this is what my husband is doing I was going to just put it in as a guest blog. On second thoughts I'll be just posting links. Rather than trying to capture all the pictures and uploading again (the words are easy, it's a simple cut and paste but all the pics - and there is rather a lot) I'll just put a permanent link on a side bar, and put a link in right here. I'll mention if there is anything you should check out in my general posts.

You can find his "posts" (it is actually a thread dedicated to it in one of his modelling forums) right here. All excepting Monika are working on models, its one of Andrew's hobbies and they are all interested in doing it so he has come to the party and sharing his knowledge/talents with them, which is all good. Hope you enjoy, Q.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dragons Are Good!

We studied Asian Dragon myths in the last week. I accessed some myth stories here, and we then coloured in these Asian dragons in the colours of The Four Dragons. Obviously there are five children and no one wanted to miss out so Monika's dragon is an added bonus. Its a shame that you can't see what the images really look like! We did this in stages, we first used water colour pencils, then painted water into them, added highlighting markers in silver in some, gold paint in others, then we put a shimmer paint over the top of the dragon's bodys. They are really very iridescent! Anyways, Raven did the Black Dragon at top (by choice - they all chose which dragon to do from the story), next is Monika's lively dragon, followed by the Pearl Dragon by Labyrinth. Below is the Yellow Dragon by Kai and lastly but not least is Dante's Red Dragon.

Above is Raven's picture of a man outside his house with a dog, and Monika's picture below.

These are the big three's western dragons. Labyrinth has gone for a firey dragon perched on mountaintop, while Kai's is up to some practical cooking of birds before consumption.

Dante has opted for a free standing dragon, which had much more detail before he 'coloured' it in! But still great! While we haven't looked at any more myths from the west, yet, we will this following week, and hopefully be making little FIMO dragons too. We did rewatch the Mockumentary Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real. It is amazing and well worth a watch!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dragons and Flightless Birds!

Labyrinth was rather taken by the Moa, which she has drawn above. Below is Kai's Kiwi picture, he loves them too. Dante far below is amazed by the Kakapo!

Yes, we've been studying dragons again, or rather, we haven't stopped! At the request of the children, we have decided to interlace the Life On Earth series with stories of myth and legend. So we are. So we are watching the next series, Life of Birds. It's fantastic! We've watched one so far, which focuses on birds in New Zealand, quite remarkable and interesting ~ and they say animals in Australia are wierd and strange! So, we did some worksheets that looked a bit more in depth of the above birds, and some worksheets too.
As for dragons, a later post will be dedicated to those.
Other things we've been doing: going to homeschool picnics/get together in the park, maths, drawing, gardening (we've harvested some lettuce and will harvest some Kale today to put in mashed potato!), english grammar (covered nouns, pronouns and adjectives - may not look like much but it includes all the little things like superlative and comparative adjectives, and the four types of pronouns! We go over and over them so they don't forget), they've started learning Japanese formally, they already use spanish, sign language and a touch of environmental. Other non formal learning goes on all the time, naturally, like cooking, fixing things, going to the library - the boys have discovered comic books, its great. Labyrinth had discovered anime comics a long, long time ago! We still read to them everyday, they read to each other and to themselves. Currently Dante and Kai are reading books on militaria, while Labyrinth is reading Coraline and anime still.
We've been going on walks to, along the foreshore tracks that have been made this year. Its a lovely walk, right along the Derwent River, its been really cleaned up and we see many native birds, such as black swans, sea hawks and harriers. We even caught an echidna baby living in our hedge and getting into our vegie garden to hunt out bugs! We have a variety of birdlife living around here, some in our roof, and we've noticed big bumble bees are currently hanging around the tea tree in our front yard, close to our front door - have they moved in?
I've been flat out really, I had one day off after getting in my last assignment, but I've been doing a fair bit of organising and cleaning (boring), have lots of scrapping to catch up on and applied for Advanced Standing finally.
In our immediate future for home edding, we are looking forward to stopping for a holiday soon! We are tying up loose ends, like finishing off our Dragon Myth unit, and doing some fun Christmas activities as well. We will go to about 5 Christmas parties, two of which are homeschool ones (with any luck our family one won't clash), and one of our own to officially end the school year, which has never been done here before, usually we just keep going til Christmas and then have a few weeks off. I'll be posting a bit of scrapping and holiday news over the hols, and anything remarkable that happens, but we're still at it for another week and a half. I just want a holiday!
Until next time, Q.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Its Halloween ~ Trick or Treat?
Oh, we do love our Scaries in this family, and what better time of year to get your freak on than Halloween! This Halloween wasn't about parties though, we had a quiet one as all of our other ideas fizzed out, unfortunately. Not to be perturbed, we decided to go Trick Or Treating, and have ourselves our Pizza night and a little party too. I haven't been wonderful lately as I've had more and more headaches and pain. I'll put that in the other blog. Teeth are wonderfully painful at times.
So here we have our Princess Monika first up, she's our resident fairy, Labyrinth wanted to be a witch, Dante is the swamp monster again, Raven is Batman and Kai our resident zombie, and there they are all together just before we went Trick Or Treating. It was indeed surprising how well that went, lots of people were impressed by them dressing up, one woman who had no treats gave them money~ how that made them pleased!
The second last picture is them over the 'loot' as they called it. There is quite a bit of Gluten Free there, so Raven was indeed happy. The last is of their pizzas. Raven ate the most I've ever, ever seen him eat, hell he ate more that I did that night (and he was in pain thought he was going to be sick after). His appetite is certainly improved greatly since going GF. And no, they didn't get to eat all that, they ate two little lollies and one big one, and we'll spread it out as far as we can.
We had a wonderful time, everyone enjoyed themselves, and Diego soundtrack in German is so Rammstein !! We let them watch Halloween goodness all night after that, and had some spooky dancing after. Q.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Who Do? ZooDoo!

I have been unexcusably slack on this blog, and I apologise, and will be slack over the next week to 9 days as I have my three final assignments for uni due and I haven't begun a single one. I am crazy but somehow I always seem to pull it off with decent if not good results. I have been reading all the set texts though so maybe it is a little OK in regards to Uni. For this blog though, I have been naughty. I have got a lot of housework done, managed to complete one scrapbook page (which I won't share due to it being a bit personal) and begun another. And we've had a wonderful Halloween as well as going to ZooDoo on Tuesday.
I've admittedly questioned my decision to stick by Andrew and his mental illness, and this of late has had some bearing on my stress levels. He has in the last 3 weeks gone completely of his meds, gone back onto one of them and completely withdrawn from that and begun a heavy dose of Lithium. This has been a very difficult time as he's not so much been depressed (he hasn't), he's had one single symptom - incredible irritability. The normal children playing noises was enough for an explosion.
So, I very nearly had enough, was just about ready to clear off but he went to the GP now he's on Lith and he's doing much much better. He didn't go on the slow approach about it either, he copped the harsh physical side effects to get better faster probably because he knew how I was feeling about the episode. But two of the best memories of our married lives happened this week, one being ZooDoo, and the other was Halloween yesterday. Just a simple family day but a good one. I'll put a post up especially on that later.
We loved ZooDoo, we were taken by the baby Marmoset with mum, the Tigers and Lions were sleepy of course, but it was nice to see them, the baby animal nursery was sweet as the children interacted nicely with goats/sheep/guinea pigs etc but the younger two enjoyed the native Australian animal area much more. They were shy to begin with.
The tour was good too, but Raven was quite freaked out by the Emu who snatched his food bag right out of his hand and it made him nervous of the whole lot after that - especially the Ostriches which were surprisingly quite gentle.
The black swans can be found and enjoyed right out our window, so they weren't very special to us, but we loved the albino and coloured peacocks (there were even matching peahens for both!) Peacocks are lovely as they embody my favourite colours of purple and turquoise, so beautiful.
It was really a great day, but I'll be looking forward to a return visit when they have the lizard enclosure up and running. The children got a token stuffed toy of course: Monika a monkey (she loves them), Raven a Koala (he became quite taken with the Koala there, so passive and sweet - I think it was the only animal he touched whilst we were there), Kai got an echidna (he loves the oddest beasts, his all time favourite is an elephant because he thinks they are cute. As an aside it is the strangest thing I've ever seen given away on freecycle - an elephant - true!), Dante got a Tassie Tiger and Labyrinth got a Kangaroo with a Joey in its pouch (she's obsessed with baby this or that, scary).
We took along our own BBQ. As you may be aware I have to eat Gluten Free as I'm a Coeliac, you can see the dramas of that in my other blog. I am only really recently diagnosed by diet and blood, relatively speaking, and Raven shows the classic symptoms/appearance and has the double DNA markers so he's GF too. So I made our own burgers, which I'll probably post the recipe on the other blog as I do quite a few of the recipes we make in the other blog also (however I must warn I update that even less).
All of the children have already blogged on ZooDoo (go into profiles and those links are there) to those blogs.
I have to go as Monika is crying and won't hop off my lap... but one last thing, I included the ZooDooLoo as I was so impressed by it, I love Jasmine, was quite something as an outside toilet, it rekindled my desire to build my own home on a farm. Thats it for now, Q.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Crazy last two weeks!

These two pictures are what Raven and Monika get up to. They are most of the way through the first workbook of Reading eggs, and they love it. above is Monika's and below is a particularly good example of how well Raven can write, albeit a poor scan.

Above, Dante's picture... I'll let you the reader decide what he's trying to say (in other words I'm still confused). The picture below is Labyrinth's trippy cat.

This is so cute I had to share. She's changing so very fast! I wish I could remember to be more snap happy, but with everything that's been going on its been a bit difficult!
So this has been our fortnight, we've completely rearranged the whole house, reorganised and reshuffled everything, so far its on a whole been working.
I have my study in the master bedroom whilst Andrew has his in the loungeroom. This has not been ideal for Andrew as the children like to try and use his computer etc while he and I are still asleep! Solution? We're going to have to lock them out and give them a new TV for the boys room.
Yep, that's right the boys have a room, and the girls have a room, both have functioning computers and desks to work at. Friday we'll have a set top box in the boy's room so they can have access to TV in those very wee hours of the morning.
Other than that, we've cleaned out the kitchen/laundry/bathroom. All the bookshelves are now at maximum so we need another of those. No nook and cranny has been left undone... OK we still need to clean out the fridge/main food cupboard then well be done.
As for homeschooling. well for a week that didn't get done, but I did use it to organise the homeschooling much better in anticipation of the THEAC (Tasmanian Home Education Advisory Council) visitation last Wednesday. Well that didn't happen. I was glutened that morning and feeling rather worse for wear, and the inspector was ill too. So it's been put off until tomorrow. We've done weeding and kept the watering up to the garden as needed. We've got Raven on a dairy free gluten free diet and keeping a food diary up to keep on an eye on progress/problems. More on that in the other blog.
In the last week we've been back at normal schooling again. This is our daily routine:
Writing, Reading a chapter from a chapter book and reading aloud to the youngest two, Mavis teaches Typing, Clue Finders (for spelling/eng comp etc) and Volcanic Panic/Garfield for Math. That's our morning. About once a week we do a written draft and they blog it, they all have their own active blogs now but only have a couple of posts each. We also do IT lessons, science, cooking, and they see the glenorchy homeschoolers on Fridays for a play in the park. We are still doing our mythical creatures, but I'm going to intersperse that with continuing our units on Life On Earth now that we seem to be going so well. So, that's once a week, as is mythical creatures. Last week we attempted to make dragons from air drying clay, unsuccessfully - so I'll get some Fimo on Friday.
I'm rather pleased that all is going so well, we seem to slowly be overcoming some reluctance (translation: slow writing - hell I know it isn't stimulating but they know good things happen ie they get to play PS3 or surf the net if they get it done well and quickly).
I'll update the blog much more regularly.. there is always something though isn't there? I've got my three final assessments due back at UNE in the next half month so I've actually whenI've got a spare minute been frantically reading to try and keep up! I've read The Changeling by M Mahey, followed by Goldman's Princess Bride, oh such torture, not. I'm loving it, Charlotte's Web is next! But then I've got to go read all the boring academic papers to accompany it... so over that part... but the great news is... next year I'm stopping Uni to write novels and children's books. One of my assignments came back which was a book proposal (genuine one that I intend to do next year, testing the waters so to speak), and I got one mark shy of a HD. Why wasn't it a HD? Because I didn't quote enough of the boring academics (although I included all the readings I had to do anyway). So what! I'm very aware that the overall consensus that the writers who write children's books say about academic writers... and I am a writer not an academic I suppose. (They basically say that its the academic's domain and they have no real interest in it BTW ~ I'll add here my bit... the academics are just making a living squabbling over sucessful writers).
So that's it for now, long I know but I had a bit to catch up on. Q.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

There be dragons in these here parts...and Elmer too.

Above Monika is enjoying Elmer in the Snow with Mummy - pure joy.
These are the pictures of dragons the children drew today. To help them have a really good go at it (instead of just slacking off about it) I was naughty and made it into a bit of a competition. Basically what I wanted from them was to push themselves just a little bit, and these were the results. Andrew and I decided that Kai above won the little competition. I was going to give him and all the runners up (ie the rest of the children a chupa chub each) and the winner, Kai, to recieve a chupa chub and some time on the PS3. He shows his generous heart by sharing his time playing a multi player game with all the children. I was so pleased it worked out well and everybody was really happy, so I didn't get the guilts up about making it competitive - even though in this particular case the end did indeed justify the means - everyone ended up happy.
So next runner up was Raven, he did a good effort but in drawing but lost his edge when it came to putting time into colouring it, Labyrinth next, with her very colourful and creative nose diving dragon, and Dante who usually leads the way didn't seem to have his heart in it at all, unfortunately.

Motivating them has been challenging of late. They do their standard lessons mostly happily, they just don't like doing extras (which they view the myth lessons to be). We will be doing clay dragons on Thursday, with any luck the weather will be beautiful tomorrow and we'll be spending some of the day with fellow homeschoolers in a park.
Backtracking a bit, I thought I might add in Sunday. Sunday was fantastic, we went to the local fair in Blackman's Bay to be with some friends. It was a nice hot day too. We didn't really want to spend a heap of money on the one train ride or the jumping castle, it would have cost $15 for all the children to have a bounce for ten or so minutes. Not bleeding likely. But we did fill a bag with toys for $5 - building duplo blocks, a complete wooden Thomas the Tank Engine puzzle, and a soft toy each, a box of Yowie bugs cost $2 and a large stack of books for $4. Was very pleased. Then we spent some time with our lovely friends Jess and Jade, and their children Jaz and Theo. We had a great time chatting, and her mother and psuedo sis in law Charlotte was there too for a while with their son Noah - I haven't seen Charlotte in years, same with Jess' mum. Also tried out SingStar which is a positive for Christmas.
Still haven't decided on housing options yet. Can't seem to think how we could make this space work with seven, five of which are growing at a phenomenal rate. Raven is now Gluten Free, which I'll have to update the Quasior's Recovery From Silly Yaks soon to explain all that. That is all for now, Q.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Garden Of Earthy Delights... err... I WIsh,,, cont.

Our Garden is becoming something more now...

So this is how our Garden is Growing! We have salad and stir fry vegies like lettuce and Pak Choy, Cauliflower and Brocolli, Capsicum, Beans, Peas, Zuchinni, Tomato, Basil, Spinach, Raspberries, Blackberries, Strawberries, Kale for starters. We've all enjoyed the garden so much we've all been a bit tempted to stay put, after all we've been offered to buy the place. But really we haven't come to a decsion, we know we don't want to settle here, but we're keen to get a start, and it might take a while before we've got the money to get our own property. I might have an issue with unsteady electricity too, if I do indeed have sleep apnea on top of everything else. That and we all share one bedroom right now, and if we all had a bedroom each we would have to have our studiy spaces (computers and books) in each room. That would equal much sacrifice - is it worth it? Also I'm keen to get out on the farm so more things get established earlier, like fruit/nut trees. Sure we could have them in pot plants for three years and have the money that we make from selling this house to help set us up a bit. Plus experience from making this house work. Well, we have a lot to weigh up. One really, really good thing that was a deal breaker for us and one where we were keen to go get a property in Victoria was the homeschooling/ our kids getting good friends debate. Well, thats no longer a concern, they are making more friends now and they can see them up to twice a week when we all have our get togethers. Much to consider, but right now I'm keen on our little garden, Q.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dragons: Myth or Real?

Is this myth or real?
This is the question posed to my children today. We watched the mockumentary entitled The Last Dragon a.k.a Dragon's World: A Fantasy Made Real. It fell so well into learning about myth and legend, and when Andrew discovered it, it definately made its way into our learning environment.
Done so well, my children very nearly believed it was true, the eldest two were skeptical originally, which is good. However it even made me really wish it was true. How wonderfully made! Find the wiki here and the official site here which includes a lot of learning and thinking information.

While the sun has shined, we've been very busy in our garden, which unfortunately meant I didn't get any photos yet - but as soon as I don't have dirt all over my hands/grass through my hair/and the sun is still shining I'll get pics up. I'm really pleased about how we are progressing! We've got real gardens with real plants growing, some of them are th*s big!

Every time I tell the children a mythological story, I get them to retell it in some way. I'll have to get some examples up about that too. Unfortunately so much has been happening and I haven't been keeping up to it on here! Really attempting to do well at Uni has something to do with it, that is changing though. I'm getting real serious and am putting Uni off next year to concentrate on writing a novel/children's books/poetry.

The children are coming along very nicely, and there is a the official THEAC (Tassie Home Schooling) picnic coming up on the weekend too. With any luck we will get there, but Andrew doesn't sound enthused about it, unfortunately.

Raven is a smarty pants, he can write really well, he is beginning to read, but oh so lazy. It's unfortunate. He wrote for me "A Bug" today and wouldn't write any more. The big three are slowly working through their writing workbooks, we have a routine now - chores/maths/writing/english/computing/typing/reading lessons daily as a standard, plus we have myth lessons. Although we've taken off the last couple of days to work outside and the children have been helping or playing, as they will.

I hope there may be some readers still out there! Q.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A tale of two Birthday Cakes and some Mythical Creatures

Here we have the two birthday cakes. What a story! Lets start by saying, there was a party the day before her birthday at Tolosa St Reserve. We'd invited alot of people, and surprising many said "yes". This is awesome, but it meant that I had to make two cakes to make sure there would be enough. I was also making Fairies in A Meadow too, so initially I was going to make 20 chocolate fairies which had colour (see above pic). Well, I spent one and a half days (which I didn't really have) to make those. Each time I made two, one broke coming out of the mould. I also had an enthusiastic Monika who wanted to eat them straight away. So with the problems I was enduring I made the decision just to have enough for the cake, and to do plain chocolate for the Fairies in A Meadow. Well, I had enough coloured ones to do a fantastic birthday cake, having them all standing in a circle supported by their wings. Monika got into these a few times as everyone was curious and wanting to look and they didn't keep her away! Anyways, I'd saved enough to do the cake and have plenty of plain to do the Fairies in A Meadow. Then on the day of the party I FORGOT both cakes (both Gluten Free and Dairy Free by the way, and the white choc was sweet williams that is GF and Dairy Free, so I had made up a couple especially for the party in case there was a child who needed that). So... that meant she had two cakes for her birthday instead. Below is a Bratz Pixie cake. This was meant to be with Nan and Pop when we visited them at home so she could get her presents from them. Before we got out the door that day, she'd got in and eaten or bitten into all but these two left on the cake. The others were spares of the Fairies in A Meadow. So Above?Below is the result of two days of cooking. Not quite what I was hoping for... but at least the birthday girl enjoyed herself, right?
Below is just before the final eating of the cake (she's grabbed a fairie and started plowing in before blowing out the candles, its has melted a bit onto her face).
Here's a better picture. Look at that mischievous GLEE in her face. HaHa Mum, I GOT IT!
Here is the boys at Nan's place, it was cute so I'm sharing it.
Here she just blew out the candles with the cake at Nans, she was so fast I couldn't actually catch the glow of the flames...
So this is her second go at blowing out the candles!
Getting into her present bag at Nans. This is cute little story. She's a great cleaner upper, (why else would we keep such a cheeky lass around?) Nan's got a toy bucket, and she knows she has to put toys away when its time to pack up. As a gift, Nan had given her a toy with wheels and since a large majority of toys have wheels in the bucket she immediately took the toy from her pressie bag and put it over in the toy bucket.
Nanny has now taken a little something from us. Every time she gives the birthday child a gift she now gives a little gift to the others. Here they are enjoying little lolly bags she gave to them.

We gave Monika a COOL SCHOOL, similar to the DACS (digital art creativity studio) from Fisher Price. She loves it in short bursts. It takes the place of a keyboard for use in a PC, in fact it has a little keyboard, and a place to do 'writing' etc. She also got a Dora CD expansion pack for it, and a Littlest Pet Shop, way too young of course, but she wants to play so bad when the others do, so why not? She's over shoving every little thing into her goblet, so there is no danger there. As per our family tradition, she gave each of her siblings LPS toy each too, with the exception of Kai again, who got a Bee Beany Bear, which he was wrapt in again.

The Party: Here is the Dragon Pinyata, that Andrew put so much effort into making and it was the highlight of the BBQ party! So cute isn't it? Its paper mache and plaster of paris.
And here is the Pin the Tail on the Dragon game:
Here is naughty Monika trying her best not to be caught on camera.
Here is the costumes, theme: Mythical Creatures (I took photos of all the dressed up children, but I won't be posting them here without permission): In descending order, Kai is a Marine Orc, Dante a Swamp Monster, Labyrinth the MerFairy, Raven is a Tengu (Japanese Shape Changer - in this case he is a Raven), and Monika, the Fairy Princess. Monika and Labyrinth have new wings from the fairy shop. Beautiful aren't they? They can do anything to them, sleep in them wear them in the car, trample mud into them and they'll come up good as new with a wash in the washing machine. Great, aren't they?

The Mythical Creatures of course is an extension of the learning we've all been doing. We have not moved on from Greek Myth yet, we are amazed at how much there is to learn, that and it is on top of their other lessons, and sometimes we jsut don't get time to do it. That's all for now, Q.