Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Long time no blog! 2012 has been a whirlwind and we are  finally getting to slow down a bit this year!  Kids did Vac swimming for all of January and so homeschooling went on the back burner, we needed a good break. All the kids did very well in vac swim.  #1 made it through to level 10, #2 to level 7, #3 level 6, #4 level 4 and #5 will be enrolled in level 3 or 4 depending on his skill level in October   #5 is an exceptional swimmer, learning how to do freestyle with breathing in five days! #6 is very confident in the water and thoroughly enjoyed swimming after his cast was removed! He is able to swim independently under water and is beginning to take his own breaths. He even tried to do freestyle arms courtesy of #4’s teaching!

After swimming the kids have been enjoying the first season of the Brady Bunch borrowed from the library.  It’s been the first ‘sitcom’ series they have watched and we are all enjoying it immensely.  #4 is learning a lot about how girls interact and behave among each other   A good lesson I think 🙂

We have also enjoyed numerous playdates with cousins and friends.  Holidays always means playdates, especially with those who go to school and the kids have been enjoying catching up with old friends and meeting some new homeschooling ones who live up the road!

We reorganized the playroom and the library and so the house is easier to clean! The smallest things make the biggest difference.  #1 now has his own study area in the library which is the first step up he takes in homeschooling this year.

#1-4 have been enjoying playing with the snap circuit set we have.  What a wonderful toy!  Even though we have taken a break from formal learning they have been doing science all month.  #1 and #2 have invented new circuits and come to a new level of understanding electronics, I am finding hard to keep up!

All in all, a fantastic month, renewing and fun, readying us to face the new 2013 school year.


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*Scroll over the photos to read the titles*

We arrived at the hotel.  The trip there was lovely.  When we got out of the plane it was still light and by the time we arrived at the hotel it was dark. The owner of the hotel was the man who drove us and we mentioned that we would like to return to the airport so we could find our way to FieraMilano City, the congress centre in Milan, in the morning. He told us his daughter was a team leader of a group of volunteers involved with WMF and that is exactly what she was doing at the Malpensa airport! What a blessing!  The hotel was amazing.  They arranged everything for us.  Julia, the daughter, arranged for us to catch a bus directly to Fiera which meant we didn’t have to catch the triains and transfer at the stations! We can really feel God working on this trip!

We arrived at Fiera at about 11am after a lovely breakfast of croissants and Italian toast, nutella and great coffee.  The kids were very patient and helpful in getting the luggage to Fiera.  The pushing of luggage is still a novelty…wonder how long that will last!   We were very well welcomed.  The congress didn’t start until the next day so we a had a whole day to familiarize ourselves with the venue and the kids got to be some of the first to play with the equipment. We registered and collected our kits and meal and travel tickets and then decided to find out about our accommodation.  That proved to be more difficult than we anticipated!  We had a couple of volunteers help us make phone calls to the organizer at the parish we were staying at and still couldn’t get in contact with them!  After a while though, we managed to check our emails, get a mobile number and we were on our way to a nearby parish via taxi phew!  We arrived at our parish and were greeted profusely by the priests and parishioners.  They had been waiting for us! We felt so, so welcome. We are staying in a three bedroom apartment above the parish centre which is perfect.  We are able to participate in the parish activities when we are there.  What a community.  When we arrived, at about 4/5pm, there were children playing in the soccer and basketball fields and so we went down to meet them.  The parish has a playroom set up with toys, a playground area for children and their sports, soccer tables, and grandparents (i nonni) group, a bar….  People come in after school and filter through until sunset which is at about 9:30pm.  If only parishes in Australia were like this.

Had pasta and salad at home for dinner after exploring the supermarket down the road and then we crashed!

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We arrived at the airport at 3:20 am after having to turn around and get a forgotten bag we left behind the front door at home!  I was quite stressed and at the same time well and truly ready to leave.  The kids we’re very excited.  They had had about 8/9 hours sleep and we’re ready for the day!

We had great seats for this flight.  Right up the front of economy with lots of leg room, lots of room to spread our mess!  The kids were given great little packs containing puppets, dress up soft toys, colouring in, pencils and books.  They were in their element with that and the screen in front of them!  I’ve decided that the best way to prepare kids for travel is to bring them up in a deprived screen media environment!  Our kids sat glued to the screens for ten hours….

We got to Dubai really smoothly and so I thought ‘okay here comes the hard part’.  I struggled to stay awake in Dubai, We wondered around the airport for a bit. The kids were very tired as they had watched their TVs the whole trip and not actually slept. J and I fell asleep on the chairs waiting for our flight to board.

It boarded and we told the kids they had to have a nap and they mostly did…and then they played games/watched tv!  By this leg of the trip, N had learned that he wasn’t allowed to run around and so sat quietly or fed. I don’t think he got the concept that we were on a plane at all. He kept saying ‘bye bye plane’ to all of the other planes! He was fascinated by them. When he was getting to antsy we would take him for a walk up to the back of the plane and he charmed everyone by saying ‘bye bye’ to them.  One guy wanted to take him back to his seat with him…N didn’t want to go!

We arrived in Milan at 8:30pm Milan time. The hotel picked us up at 9:30pm, 24 hours after we had begun our journey at home! I was exhausted. We all were. I was amazed at the kids. They had done a 24 hour plane trip with very few tantrums (Z had one when we woke him one hour before we landed in Milan, to put on his seatbelt…but that was the worst of it!).  I hadn’t touched any of the toys/activities I had brought for them to do. Mum and Dad were great, though very tired.  We were very excited and kinda proud to have arrived in Milan…the dreaded plane trip was over and the kids passed with flying colours! On exiting arrivals, we were greeted by volunteers from the World Meeting of Families (WMF). We were in the right place!

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We were booked into to go for a holiday to a little town 2 hours north, but due to a severe weather warning and no other accommodation available, we used the opportunity to stay at home and do fun things with the kids.  We went to Scitech on the Friday and the older boys got to watch a movie in the planetarium with Daddy.  We then had take away for dinner and watched Star Wars for the first time.  Eli liked it, but Zi loved it.  The swords captured his imagination for weeks afterwards.  We went to Ikea and bought a new dinner table – yay, now Zeek can sit with us at dinner.  It also means that we now have a craft table (the old six seater table) and an eight to ten seater dinner table to utilise during the day.  It was decided that we buy the plastic tablecloth with jelly beans all over it.  It is driving me mad.  I can’t see dirt on my table and am constantly putting things on wet patches!

We went to visit Father M on Sunday.  We attended mass at his parish (an hours drive away)and then spent to rest of the morning and afternoon with him.  The kids absolutely love Father M.  It was really nice to spend some time with him.

Derek and I did some cryptic crosswords together and we all spent a night in our sleeping bags in the lounge room!

Though our weekend didn’t go as planned, we were glad to take time out of our busy lives and enjoy each other and create memories for the future.

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Holy Week 2009

Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday and ends at the Easter Vigil mass.  For us, it is a week when we can immerse ourselves in the passion of Jesus, grow deeper in relationship with Christ and begin to heal ourselves through His resurrection.  Having been privileged to visit the Holy Land and actually see where these events would have occurred, this week is the highlight of my faith year.

Palm Sunday

Jesus enters Jerusalem with the greeting and splendour of a king.  People lay palms and cloaks on the road as Jesus rides a donkey through the gates of Jerusalem.  We attended mass and the kids enjoyed getting palms (folded into crosses) and olive branches.  they then proceeded to play ‘Palm Sunday’ during the week, waving palm branches and singing!

Holy Thursday

This is the beginning of the Easter Triduum – a three part liturgy- that takes place over Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter.  We had a Seder meal as a family.  This year we introduced a bit more structure into it.  We began with the reading from Exodus 12:1-20.  Then Eli asked the traditional Jewish Passover questions which explains why we eat the food presented.  We then ate dinner and Derek read the account of the last supper from Matthew 26:17-30.  We then broke bread and shared wine.  After dinner and dessert, we read about the washing of the feet and talked about the meaning of this action.  We then proceeded to wash each other’s feet (which was actually heaps of fun!).

We then got dressed in white (liturgical colours) and went to mass. For us this mass is quite a big celebration as it commemorates the first institution of the Eucharist and priesthood.  The priest washes the feet of twelve of the parishioners and then they in turn wash the hands/feet of the congregation.  It is a beautiful ritual and celebration of Christ’s actual mission for us, to become servants to others.  After mass is celebrated, the altar is stripped and Jesus (present in the blessed sacrament) is taken out of the church to an altar outside (called the altar of repose) where we are invited to pray with Him as the disciples did in the garden of Gethsemane.  Derek and I didn’t attend the prayer at the altar of repose this year, though it has been an incredible experience in previous years.

Good Friday

We woke up to Jordy throwing up and Zeek with diarrhoea- yay Gastro hit our family!  At first I was frustrated and annoyed.  I had planned for a very reflective day, fasting, Stations of the cross and then having ‘Jesus food’ (nuts, figs, grapes, cheese, dates, bread) for lunch before heading to Veneration of the cross (the Good Friday part of the Easter Triduum).  We were then going to have some homemade hot cross buns and complete Easter presents for the rest of the day… you can see why I got upset and frustrated!!!!  Well, I stayed home while Derek took Eli to Stations, then Derek, Eli and I had some lunch, then Eli and I went to Veneration.  We (well those who were participating in food – if you know what I mean!)had hot cross buns for dinner and then we went to bed.  It turned out to be a lovely day (except for the continual cleaning side of things!).  Derek and I both got to go to services with no little kids, so we actually got to focus on prayer rather than trying to juggle family members!  Eli and I sat right up the front of the church and I could answer all the questions that arose.  Oh yes, and the hot cross buns were delicious!

Easter Saturday Vigil Mass

I have to say, that if you ever get the chance to go to the Easter Vigil mass at New Norcia – then do it.  It is beautiful, perfect, the way that mass is meant to be celebrated.  It is so rich in symbolism and celebration.  It begins at 4am, in the dark .  It ends 2 1/2 hours later, in the new morning light.  A real experience of coming from darkness into a new Easter light.  This year we attended the vigil mass at our parish, which began at 7:30pm and ended at about 9pm.  Eli and Gubbs were both baptised at this mass (in different years of course) and it is always nice to reflect back to those times when our family was still small in size!  Jordy was still not 100%, though holding liquids successfully, so she slept through the mass.  She did wake up bright and cheery at the end when our priest mentioned easter eggs (and then ate hers when she got it!).  Zeek was quite freaked out by the whole easter egg thing.  The egg he got was cold and he kept touching it then turning and hiding from it!  By Easter Sunday, he knew what to do though!

Easter Sunday

The kids woke up early and did the traditional hunt for eggs.  They were most impressed by the footprints the bunny had left behind (we forgot one year and have paid for it since!).  We then had icecream for breakfast which has become a family tradition over the last few years.  This year, though because of the gastro, we had pancakes as well!!  Derek then took the older boys to the park for lunch with his family and then we had dinner with my family.  I got to stay at home with two sleepy children and enjoy a very peaceful day!

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The Zoo and C

We had a fantastic weekend.  On Saturday, we spent the day with my cousin C and took her to the zoo, which was sooo much fun.  The kids adore her and we have so many beautiful photos of them playing and running after each other.  C led the way at the zoo and we got to visit just about everything she wanted to.  My sister (also C) and her daughter Moo met us later on and joined in our fun.  After the zoo we went to my parents’ house for dinner and then to the beach for an ice cream.  I thought the kids would be exhausted after a long day out (I certainly was!), but they were all wide awake on the 45 min journey to C’s Grandma’s home.  You see, C was playing a game that they thought was hilarious.  It went like this…

Eli:  Do you know what you’re having for dinner tonight?

C: What?

Eli: Monkey’s brains!

Everyone: hysterical laughter…

Zi: Do you know what you’re having for dinner tonight?

C: What?

Zi: potato and peas mashed with poo!!

Everyone: hysterical laughter…

C: Do you know what you’re having for dinner tonight?

Eli and Zi: What?

C: A zebra’s stripy bum!!! (that had been a highlight of our zoo outing!)

Everyone: hysterical laughter…

And so the journey went on.  I don’t know how the game started, but it was one of those ‘in’ jokes being formed between C and our kids.  You know, the joke that the ‘people who were there’ often bring up and the ‘people who weren’t there’ just don’t get.  We got to our destination and C decelared that she would see us on Saturday (I hope so).  The kids and her didn’t want to say goodbye, but Zeek was screaming andthe others were tired.  We left and the kids fell asleep within about 3 mins.  Derek and I had a lovely drive home.

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Hopefully here are my beginnings of a regular weekly post about what we are achieving in our week.  This is probably going to be a good thing for me to reflect on what we do during our weeks.  I am hoping it will give me that sense of accomplishment I so yearn for!


This week the focus was on Jordy and the toilet, which in hindsight didn’t need as much focus or attention as I was planning (success!!!!).  I am focusing on reading out loud to the kids more often and in a more thought out fashion than I previously have.  I have written a new schedule (which we are extremely loosely bound to!) and that always makes me feel better about everything, somehow.  We have three ‘scheduled’ read aloud times.  One for picture books (aimed at Jordy and Gubbs), one for non fiction books (which will cover whatever rabbit trail/unit study we are on) and one for chapter books (aimed at Eli and Zi).  This helps me to make sure the kids actually get read to each day and also allows me to say ‘no’ or ‘later’ to books when I am feeding Zeek and want to spend some time with him.

We have also introduced an afternoon tea time twice this week.  We have had a cup of tea (normal and chamomile) and have sat down and talked about a different virtue each time.  Maybe we should call this are ‘virtues tea’!  This was enjoyed by us all, a definite keeper in our schedule!


Eli is zooming ahead in Rightstart level B.  I wanted it completed by the end of the year (2008), but wasn’t as consistent with lessons as I should have been.  We have about 15 lessons to go with only 2 of them being particularly challenging.  I am amazed at the mental maths Eli can preform now.  He can add double digit numbers in his head into the hundreds with no support, but sometimes a little time.  I love the flow of Rightstart, how Eli’s thinking processes naturally head towards a particular concept and then it is presented within the next couple of lessons.  I love how his interest in that concept is already piqued so that he absorbs it so readily when it is presented to him.

Zi has also begun Level B this year.  Eli and I took two years to get through it and so we will probably do the same with Zi, though it may be faster as Eli can play the games with him – yay the joys of siblings!  I often overhear him singing the ‘yellow is the sun’ song that teaches him the abacus bead combinations!


Zi has read up to Fitzroy reader 7 and 3x and 4x this week.  he is getting much better at blending the sounds, though he does get frustrated when he can’t just read it and I prompt him to sound it out!  He loves re reading the readers he has already read.  A great sense of accomplishment is felt when a difficult reader is suddenly deemed – easy mummy!

I haven’t done anything formal with Eli this week.  He has been writing a lot of letters and putting in the letter box for me to read.  Eli goes through real times of intense study in areas and at the moment literacy isn’t one of them.  He is really enjoying free play with music this week.


Eli – learning Minuet 2 (half done)

Zi – playing first line of twinkles and rhythms.

Me – Practicing Go tell Aunt Rhody on piano (I’m amazed at how far 15 mins on the piano a day can get you!)

Lots of informal experiment with the Lion King soundtrack.  The kids are loving the parts in Hakuna Matata and I just can’t wait to be king.  They are also loving the drum playing, especially with the bongos Gubbs got for Christmas.


I hate to put faith as a category.  I don’t like to have to teach faith by formal means.  We try to live our faith, we challenge each other to be more like Jesus, we discuss aspects of our faith as they come up.  This week however, we did the Epiphany, the day we celebrate the visit of the three wise men.  We talked about kings ( and camels!) and read the relevant parts of the bible. We added the wise men to the nativity.  We have also packed away our Christmas tree and decorations, but left the nativity out so that the three kings could visit with us a bit longer.  Derek and I decided that we would like Eli to prepare for the sacrament of reconciliation this year.  I have to talk to our priest to find out how to do it through the parish.  We also have to think about how to prepare him at home.

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