Friday, April 18, 2014

K5 Reading and Maths online program

K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students. I've been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program. If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.

I think this could be quite good for my slightly older ones who could do with extra work on their maths.  I will get back to you with a review when I am finished my trial.

Honestly this is the first time I have ever reviewed anything, but hey, might as well give it a try.

Best wishes
Jen 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Red weird things in my yard

I have done a good amount of walking in rainforests but I have never seen one of these before.



These are about 2-3 inches across.  Weird huh?

Apparently they aren't uncommon.  Here is what wikipedia had to say about them.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aseroe_rubra

I will have more soon as there are little white egg shaped things in the grass nearby.  You may be able to see one in the bottom left corner of the photo.

Yay, science in my own backyard!  :-)

Best wishes
Jen

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Confused and not confused, still angry!

I hang out with a lot of PS people now and I find that the most forceful ones can start to do my head in, making it so I question my resolve to homeschool again.  They seem to focus on how great the social aspect is of school.

And yes, I can see there are great opportunities at school.  I don't think we would have known that one of my sons enjoys choir without that free chance to try out.   And there are some friendships forming through regular contact,  but if we had been able to access more homeschooling activities in our early days here and there had been social invitations from other families then friendships could have been formed while homeschooling too.

It might be working out here for the boys but I know from attending 13 primary schools and 2 high schools that there are no guarantees of the type of "society" in each one.  Some may be good like here, others will not.

I understand why people feel the need to pressure me.  Me being different makes them feel unsafe.  When I remember that this  is how society works to encourage conformity then I get less confused about my choices and goals.  And then I get a little angry that our society can't appreciate that what they are standing up for has flaws.  They don't want to acknowledge that their "PS god" has flaws.   It may work for lots but there are also lots for whom it doesn't work, and it can even go as far as harming.

Sorry,  but I am not agreeing with your propaganda!   I will not rely on the odds of getting another "good" school.  By the time we move I will hopefully have had at least one month of desensitisation to my allergens.   With some steely resolve and some improved health I will be homeschooling my boys again.  

I know my shortcomings and I also know the PS has them too.  There are no schooling gods, just different methods and I get to choose for my children, not others who can not see their schooling "god" has clay feet (and that applies to both camps).

Best wishes
Jen

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Living in 2 different "school worlds"

Well, dh hasn't got a new job yet although we know his contract will be up mid-year and we know that I need to move away from cow paddocks that contain one of my big allergens.  So we are still here.  In this old house with old carpet and old walls.  But life goes on.

I am now living in 2 different school worlds.  I have 3 in school, with my fourth and youngest child ironically being my first child to go to Kindy.  The other 2 have moved up grades and are now in Grade 6 and Grade 4.  I am still homeschooling my eldest and will be using the most structured curriculum I know of.  Yup, very different to the last 5-8 years.

I am still very involved in the education of the ones at school.  Just like any other homeschool mum of several years I have accumulated several books and resources that I don't want to waste.  lol  We are doing critical thinking and reading comprehension activities from some of those resources.  All the teachers are happy for me to do extra things with the boys and are very supportive.  Nice to know, as I really love Singapore Maths and don't want to stop doing it.  And Building Thinking Skills books have always been favourites here any day of the week.  I don't think the boys even consider them school.  :-)

The oldest at school still struggles with his spelling and both of the elder two at school have horrible handwriting.  I am using the methods used in Sequential Spelling to help ds2.  They have a great resource available, The Patterns of English Spelling, and I hunt through it for words that have the same tricky sounds in them as his spelling words.    For handwriting I just sit there and nag them.  lol  Okay, probably not the best way, but I am thinking that consistency and high expectations may be my best bet there.  If you have suggestions for bad handwriting habits for a 8 and 11 year old please share!

And to top it all off I am volunteering in the canteen each Wednesday and am even considering joining the P and C.  I like being involved.  It has been a long time, what with all the moves and the babies, since I have had a chance to just chat with other women without little people interrupting.  Life is pretty good right now, just need to get more sleep (have continued some bad habits from my teen years and it is Not Good) and keep on top of these allergies and life will be good.

Best wishes
Jen

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Jamie Oliver's Lamb Roast

Well, last week we did JO's Mothership Lamb Roast.  Leftovers became Lamb Pastilla and Lamb burritos.  Leftovers were not as much as the pork roast.

Funnily enough the weekly grocery spend was not very big last week due to using leftover roast chicken from Christmas and the carcass in a risotto from Jamie's book and some leftover pork becoming a stir fry.  I have one chicken carcass left in the freezer but all the other leftovers have been used up now.  Still, it did make a huge difference to the bill having 2 meals here already.

This coming week I am trying the beef roast but I have found out that beef brisket is not a common cut in Australia at the butchers.  Apparently it is meat just off the outside of the ribs and is usually made straight into sausages.  The old duckies would roll it, corn it and roast it but there aren't too many requesting it anymore.  I have found a local butcher who will cut it for me and will cost me $8.99/kg.  I think I will make friends with him and get all my roasts through him.  Jamie actually suggests this as a good way to know what is cheap to buy and how to best cook it.

I would normally cook my roast on Saturday night so that hubby can have a roast roll for lunch on Sunday but it has been stinking hot so I will do it tomorrow when, hopefully, it is cooler.  A little bit!

Best wishes
Jen

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cooking with Pork Roast leftovers

I am trying more of Jamie Oliver's ideas from "Save with Jamie". 

Last Sunday I cooked his Pork Mothership Roast.  I used a leg instead of a shoulder so it didn't take quite as long to cook, thank goodness I was checking it regularly.

There has been a huge amount of leftover meat.  So far we have had BBQ Pulled Pork with Waffles and Slaw.  Well, I changed the waffles to a slab of toasted sour dough bread, but otherwise the only other change I made to his recipe was to reduce the chilli factor.  There aren't too many chilli fans here.  The kids didn't like the slaw at all.  I wasn't surprised, after all cabbage, mint and chilli aren't common ingredients in our meals.  I loved it.  There was a good amount of leftover slaw so I have been adding it to any meal I can for myself.  It was great on a sandwich with onion relish and corned silverside.

Today we tried Banh Mi rolls.  Again on sourdough but that was too "chewy" for most of us.  The normal bread was much better.  The surprise here was the pate on the bread.  No one liked pate on its own but were okay with it in their sandwich.  When reheating the pork Jamie would have had us add chilli but I added a dash of sweet chilli sauce instead.  Even then there were runs for water and dollops of sour cream added.  lol  Definitely not a family used to lively food.

There is still a good amount of slaw left as well as almost 1kg of pork.  Dh and I have decided we will cut up the pork, add some egg noodles and the slaw and put it inside a pastry shell along the lines of pasties or peroshki.  We figure that they can then go in the freezer for reheating on those days we get stuck.  If there is still pork left after that I am thinking of trying this recipe for Jhal Farazi.

My goodness, these roasts go a long way.  Think about it though, I am paying less or the same price per kg as mince but not having as much fat and for my carnivores the meat stays more obvious.  :-)

Best wishes
Jen

Monday, December 30, 2013

First attempt at cooking on a budget with Jamie

I treated myself to a new recipe book just before Christmas.  Hmm, only the third or fourth for 2013.

This one is Save with Jamie by Jamie Oliver and was sitting on a display at my local Woolies.  For $24 and a large family I thought it was worth buying even if I do usually find his recipes sometimes a little bit too British for me.

For Christmas we had 2 roast chickens.  One plain and one seasoned.  In his book Jamie has a Mothership Roast for each meat and about 7 meals that use leftovers to create another meal.  Quite impressive I must say so I thought I would give the idea a try.

Out of our 2 roast chickens I have the makings of  6 meals.  Roast Chicken Dinner, Roast Chicken and Sweet Pea Risotto, Frenchie Salad, Chicken and Spinach Cannelloni, lunch meat for 2 days and a spare carcass in the freezer for making some yummy stock.

First off the line was of course the roast.  No surprises there.  My husband likes a roast almost weekly so it was our normal fare of roast potatoes, roast sweet potato, roast onions, steamed carrots, broccoli, peas and corn with gravy.

I weighed out the portions for my 3 chosen leftover meals and the leftover meat became lunch meat for Boxing Day and the day after.  Didn't take long to polish it off with 4 boys here.

Next was the Frenchie Salad.  I must admit this is the first time I have made a dressing from scratch and I am usually quite nervous about using white wine vinegar but I gave it a go. It was easy peasy, and very yummy.  I just had to go out and make sure I had enough mustard and vinegar to do it again soon.

This recipe also included lentils which are usually a no go here.  I decided I wasn't going to change a thing so in went the lentils.  They were great and really filled the salad out nicely.

I look forward to trying more of this book.  If all the meals are still filling despite using just leftovers I will be very impressed.  I still have 2 more meals in the freezer and the carcass too.  Not bad for $16 worth of chicken.

Best wishes
Jen


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