31 December 2005

My Lady's Chateau

by Lana

This is Mum's latest finished cross stitch. It is called 'My Lady's Chateau' - a kit from Dimensions. She purchased this kit about eight years ago and finally started it this year. We thought that we would share her finished work with everyone as well.
The finished size is 18 x 12 inches.

The most exciting part is that she can now start something new!

B8 finds a bird

As mentioned in the rules, B8 has some leeway in participation in B Where's. Here she has discovered how close she can get to the King Parrot without it flying away. She has seen her brother and sister do it before.

(Cross posted at the "B Where's?" blog)

30 December 2005

Why we homeschool

Many have asked us why we homeschool and we thought now would be an appropriate time to provide an answer. Each year we review our life situation as the new year approaches and compare it to past years.

We were very fortunate to discover homeschooling when our eldest was around 3 years old. We met another family at a talk we had organised and asked the three lovely young girls what school they attended. "We homeschool." was their simple answer. "What's that?" we cleverly responded. We then began visiting a number of homeschooling families and a homeschooling camp and figured that the children seemed to turn out pretty normal. So we gave it a go.

In the intervening years we have had time to analyse our decision and ample opportunity to use homeschool apologetics with family, friends and work acquantances. We have many clever answers to all the comments, but it all boils down to four key areas:

1. Socialisation
This is one of the most important reasons we homeschool. Once a definition of socialisation is worked out then we can determine the best way to obtain this lofty goal. We consider socialisation to be:
The process whereby a child becomes an active and productive member of society, able to function to the best of his ability and provide support and care for those around him.
Typically this is what most questioners will agree socialisation to be.
"Then," I reply, "The standard school system has failed."
We regularly join with many other homeschool families and our children are constantly exposed to the real world in a multitude of ways. They also miss out on most of the negative socialisation (such as bullying, abuse, bad crowd dynamics and so on) until they are mature enough to handle it. We compare homeschooling to a greenhouse. A gardener doesn't place seedlings in the raw harsh environment until it is strong enough to handle it. One also doesn't leave the seedling in the greenhouse for ever.
Homeschooled children are ready for the real world much younger than those in the typical school. They tend to be more mature and more innocent. The other option is immature and worldly "wise" - a very dangerous blend.
Our children also associate with other children of varying ages and are used to being in contact with adults in positions of earned trust.

2. Family
Homeschooled children are much closer to their siblings and parents. One would hope so, being together so often. The togetherness makes it imperative that each child work out relationships. You can't run away from relationship problems - both sides must work them out. This is done in a loving way with parental supervision. This tends to lead to a world view gap with other parents: "How can you stand being with them all day every day?!" to which a homeschooling parent asks, "How can you bear to be apart from them so long?"
The photo above is a good example of the family bond that develops. Our sand pit is pretty small but all six children are playing together. The eldest is teaching the youngest to put sand on the other's feet and pat it down.
Some years ago we were passing a school during one of their recesses. The school children were all outside enjoying the company of other children and playing on the fine playground equipment. "Wouldn't you like to go to school and join in with them?" I asked. "Oh no, Dad," they replied, "We wouldn't see our brothers and sisters as much, and we would have to do homework!"
Another benefit is that the children are not so tired at the end of the day. When I arrive home they are happy and run out yelling, "Dad! Dad!" and we have time to do many things other than homework.

3. Faith
Our faith is not just a belief which is separate to life. Our faith influences the very way we view the world and our relationships to those within it. We are able to say prayers at appropriate times of day, discuss issues as they arise, consider the glory of God's creation during the day and ensure that the children understand that our faith is not blind - it is a reasoned faith. If it was unable to explain the world around us in accord with logic, true science and our observations it could not be considered true. Many a time we have had the joy of launching into a long multi part discussion arising from a passage in a book or scene from a movie.

4. Education
If you have the first three areas covered, education easily follows. After all, you are teaching the children one on one and tailoring your instruction to the level of the child. The material you present is consistent over time and not changing from year to year. The examples of the parents and other siblings promote positive learning experiences. Younger children learn from their elders, and the older children learn by reviewing lessons with the younger ones. Book work is only part of the education process. Our children have learned how a house is built, how people in other countries live, how to be in business and many other experiences. If they were trapped in a school for x hours per day, plus the homework and extra curricular activities, when would they actually learn anything else?

5. Other reasons
There are lots of other reasons including flexibility, cost, curriculum choice and so on.
Plenty of studies have shown the advantages in education, socialisation and other important measures.

The bottom line after homeschooling for the last nine years or so is that we enjoy being with our children. Yes, even with the teenager!

We have some of our favourite posts on the side bar, including a menu for Homeschool and Family related postings over the last two and a half years. You can track back on our blog and see the many things in which we are involved and the experiences our children have had. This blog is a record of our adventures over the last two and a half years. Feel free to browse and comment.

Drive through joy

When we lived in the US the locals sometimes had trouble with what they called our "accent". I tried to explain that Australians don't actually have an accent, only everyone else does, but no-one would believe me.
This made ordering food via the drive through or phone orders effectively a random order generator. Even with what I thought was a pretty bad imitation of a local accent, it was still easier to just go to the shop and talk in person. If all else failed we could point to the item in question. Also we sometimes received free stuff because of the novelty of our so-called accent.
The cinema we visited today didn't have working drink machines or ice because of the drought and water restrictions currently in force in Goulburn.
So today we went through the drive through on the way home to get some ice-creams and a drink. Woohoo! The small pleasures in life.

B4 REALLY liked Narnia

Today B1 through B5 saw The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe and throughly enjoyed the film. It wasn't too scary and the children playing Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy were very well cast. The story departed from the books in parts but overall well worth the outing. See Decent Film Guide for a more detailed review.

We promised to mention Lilac City Cinemas of Goulburn and let you know their fine venue and good prices. That mention should be worth a couple of tickets don't you think?

Here is B4 doing his "B Where" thing.

(Cross posted at the "B Where's?" blog)

B5 is very very hot

We have typical Christmas weather and with hot winds, high temperatures and over 20 fires currently active across the state, B5 wanted to highlight the "Fire Danger Today" sign.
These boards are set for each shire/county and give warning to all passers-by to be careful.
B5 is also very happy he had his sunglasses on as the sun was very bright.

(Cross posted at the "B Where's?" blog)

"B" Where?

Following on from the fame of "Where's Jonathan" we will be incorporating "B Where" into Bruggie Tales.
Whenever it seems appropriate we will be featuring a photo of one of us (designated as B1 through B8) according to the following rules:
1. Only one person is in the shot;
2. They will be wearing sun glasses;
3. Their hand will be palm outwards gesturing to something. (B8 may not always comply)

(Cross posted at the "B Where's?" blog)

29 December 2005

The Fourth day of Christmas

Today we remember St Thomas Becket - the Archbishop of Caterbury. Originally a "King's Man", once we was ordained a bishop he became a man of the Church and would not let the King over ride church duties.
There is actually an eye witness account of his murder on 29 December, 1170.
Edward Grim, a monk, observed the attack from the safety of a hiding place near the altar. He wrote his account some time after the event. Acceptance of his description must be qualified by the influence that Becket's sainthood had on Grim's perspective. However, the fundamentals of his narrative are no doubt true.

I always find it amazing the things you can discover on the Internet!

Floral Rainbow

by Lana

This is an earlier Fiona Jude pattern I did back in 2002. It was included in Better Homes and Garden and is a lovely array of flowers arranged in rainbow order.

This is just to show that I do quite like Fiona Jude's patterns! In Fiona Jude related news there are lots of her older designs now available as charts and she is gradually converting all her patterns to DMC kits. Woohoo!

28 December 2005

Archimedes Death Ray

Archimedes (of Ancient Greek Fame) recorded destroying enemy Roman ships using a "death ray". It has been assumed this is but a myth and the TV show "Myth Busters" determined that it wasn't possible. Aha! Not to be foiled some MIT students wanted to make really sure.

Maybe it wasn't a myth after all? Find out how they went.

Thanks to the Love 2 Learn Mom's husband for the pointer.

Ham Bone Soup

This is our solution to the problem of what to do with the Christmas ham bone. There are always chunks of meat remaining that are just too hard to get out.
Just put the whole thing in a pot of water.
Add Carrots, Zuccini, potatoes, celery and whatever vegetables you want. A little bit of pepper and perhaps bacon for flavour. Don't add salt as there is enough in the ham bone already.
Then boil it and simmer it most of the day until the meat falls of the bone. Fish the bones out and the serve the soup with some hot buttered toast. Very tasty!

The Third Day of Christmas

Today is the third day of Christmas on which we remember the death of the Holy Innocents - the children that were murdered by Herod in an attempt to kill the new born King of the Jews. The third type of martyrdom is a tricky one as the children were undoubtedly innocent and we always remember the loss of innocent lives.

What computer should I get?

As a certified computer geek I have often been asked "What type of computer should I buy?" I figured it would be easier if I recorded my answer here for future reference.
The first step is to ask yourself, "What is the computer for?" That is, for what reasons will I be using the computer - letters, email, research, reading Bruggie Tales, home finance, business tools, and so on. Answers such as "My child needs one for school" or "I don't know - everyone has one." are not valid answers. A computer is a tool to achieve an end. If you just intend using it for games stop reading now. My recommendations are for a multi purpose tool which will help you in many areas. Games are a minor reason for buying a computer.
Children (and adults) need to learn that a computer is best used as a useful tool and not just a time wasting games machine. Computers don't come cheap and you should be able to justify the cost of all your purchases, especially a larger one such as a computer.
To determine the platform to use it is critical to know whether you will need any special software. Do you need to run specific programs such as those used at work or school? If so your choice of platform has been determined for you. If you just need to run word processing, spreadsheets, email, web browsing, design and so on then the choice of platform is wide open.
For the majority of home users I would recommend a Macintosh (such as iMac or Mac Mini) without a problem. The Mac comes with
lots of great software such as iPhoto, iTunes, email, web browsing, Appleworks and pretty much most of what you would need. If you already have a PC with adequate mouse, screen and keyboard, you could just get the Mac Mini and plug it in. Otherwise get the iMac. Also, the Mac works very well with PC networks. You can purchase an academic version of Microsoft Office and you will be able to open and save Word and Excel documents with Windows PC users.
At home we have a Mac Mini, an older Mac and four Windows Pcs. Three of the Windows machines are for my work, allowing me to do multiple data processing tasks and testing, whilst the other is an old one that's still working so I let the kids play with that knowing that nothing important is on there. The Mac Mini is for all of our photos and music and everything to do with Lana's crafts and our homeschooling. I do not need to worry about viruses or spyware and it works great. Quiet, efficient and easy to use. (Unlike the Windows computers! Whenever I visit friends with Windows PCs I often have to help them clean up or maintain their computers.)
All the computers (other than the really old Mac) are on the network via the DSL wired router. The Mac and Windows can see each other and share files and printers.
(The photo is of Rose back in May when she was 11 months old.)

Son of the Eye of Sauron

Eric now has conjunctivitus! We have him on the same regimen to clear up the problem as I used - regular clearing out of the eye with cotton balls soaked in salty boiled water and the drops I had from the doctors.
Still it looks just as yukky as when I had it.
He didn't get it from me as mine went away well before he caught it. I suspect it could be related to the strong dry winds and lots of pollen and dust in the air. Something must have got into his eye and caused an infection.
Whatever the cause he is justifiably miserable. I wonder if some of the Christmas Chocolates will help? Worth a try.

Now this is scary ...

According to the "Nerd Test" to determine my level of Computer Geekiness I have scored quite high. Now as to whether this is a good or bad thing....

My computer geek score is greater than 86% of all people in the world! How do you compare? Click here to find out!

Useful links contained in the quiz include this gem explaining the product development cycle.

Second Day of Christmas

27 December is the second day of Christmas - The Feast of St John the evangelist.
Day one was in memory of St Stephen - the first martyr - whilst today remembers a different type of martyrdom. St John was the only one of the apostles (excluding Judas) not to be killed for the faith. Instead he was exiled a number of times apparently dying whilst exiled on the island of Patmos.

27 December 2005

But I'm not dirty!

I have been told that people have changed over the centuries. Yet reading Tom Sawyer and then looking at my boys reminds me that it isn't so!
Yesterday James and Peter were adamant that they weren't dirty - after spending all day running around in the sun, playing in the dirt and the sandpit and generally being active lads.
This is the bath after just the two of them had been transformed back to their normal skin colour. That water is NOT getting re-used. Euwww!

26 December 2005

Diversion Therapy

We learnt very early in our child raising career that of the many times children scream and holler in seeming agony, much of it is fear and uncertainty. When Ariel was very little she fell down some steps and was crying loudly. We picked her up and then pointed to a bird on the neighbour's roof. "Hey. There's a bird on the roof. What's it doing there?"
Ariel looked and stopped crying. We had discovered "Diversion Therapy". Many times we have quickly checked to make sure there was no blood or broken bones and then tried diversions to distract the child.
The other important factor was to not panic ourselves. As soon as a disaster occurs - such as allergic reactions to medicine, broken teeth (Clare), broken teeth (James), broken teeth (Peter), severe internal pains, a breakdown away from home or super glue - there is no point showing panic or else the child begins to panic too! It's our job to stay calm and sort through the problem at hand. Later we can think back and consider what type of calamity we have just been through (or avoided) but panic just raises blood pressure and threatens to mislead our decision making.

(By the way - the photo is of Lana as a baby. She's being pretty cute, but I wonder what would have happened if the bucket slipped, or she caught her finger in the faucet, or even just tripped and banged her head!)

A scary start to Boxing Day

We had a very abrupt awakening this morning with Ariel rushing in holding a screaming Rose and announcing, "Rose has super glue in her eyes!". Boom! Straight awake and into action! Lana picked up Rose and had a close look. Rose was screaming because the super glue was on her hands and she couldn't get it off. Some was on her eye lids and so her eyes wouldn't open.
We immediately placed her hands and eyes in running warm water and realised the glue was only on the eye-lids and wasn't actually in the eye. With a bit of "Diversion therapy" Rose laughed at us and we realised that all would be well. Phew!
The boys had been using super glue to assemble their models and had left the tubes closed, but near the edge of their table. One of the tubes split when Rose played with it with some glue dropped on her hands. She screamed because something was stuck on her hands and then rubbed her eyes. It certainly doesn't take long!
Anyway, all is well and we continued on our lazy day celebrating the first day of Christmas.
Today (December 26) is known as Boxing Day in Australia and is also St Stephen's Day in memory of the first Martyr for the faith.

Nativity Play 2005

Christmas day was most enjoyable. After going to bed at 2:30 am (see here) James entered out room at 7:15am wishing us a Merry Christmas! The Christmas Carols were playing but we had a loophole: Clare was still asleep! "Give us an hour" we mumbled and actually had 45 minutes before Clare awoke.
Then we called in Lana's parents who shared in the present opening. Our rules for this are that Ariel and Eric alternate in reading the labels and handing out one present at a time. We all get to see the new present being unveiled and the next one is passed. That way everyone gets to share in the suspense and joy and the whole thing lasts a little longer.
At about 10:00am our first visitor arrived, a good priest friend of ours, so we called Lana's parents back over and performed the Nativity play. It all went well, especially our scene changing fairy (Clare) who announced "The Angels appear to Jofus" amongst all the scene headings.
By Midday Lana's brother and sister and their families had arrived and we were able to sit down for our Christmas lunch. Cold chicken, pork and ham, rice salad, potato salad, lettuce & tomato salad. Yummo. Later we had dessert of Mango cheesecake, Chocolate cheesecake, Broken glass (a jelly dessert that looks like stained glass windows), ice cream, fruit salad cheesecake and lemon merangue pie. Perfect!

25 December 2005

A changed look

The top part of our web page looked a little bland so I had an idea for a new look. At about 6:30pm the sun is low in the sky making the shadows look really interesting. I had everyone go outside and line up on our not very busy street. Lana and I were in the middle holding Rose up and others are supposed to have their hand by their sides not touching their neighbour in the line. This was the best shot. (The second photo shows us all lined up getting ready.)

Then I had to trim the shot so that it would fit in the banner of 800 x 150 pixels. This is the information in the blog template. The way I learn basic html stuff is to have a look at what others have done on their sites. If you ever want to see the code that makes up a web page go to "View Source" in the browser menus.

I next had to add the title "Bruggie Tales" to the picture and make sure it was legible. I did this in Appleworks but any image or drawing program would do. Then I moved it into iPhoto and exported it to just the size I wanted: 800 x 150 pixels. This made it a very small file (90k) which would load easily on anyone's computer - even via dialup. The result is a more colourful heading, hopefully setting it out a bit more from the crowd.

What do you think?

Behold a child is born this night

Saturday was the last day preparing for Christmas. After we all attended confession and morning Mass I did some last minute shopping whilst Lana went home for some cooking to prepare for Christmas day. The plan is to do NO cooking on the day as we want the house to remain cool. We have made plenty of ice (the same amount which would last about an hour at normal American usage) and drinks and food are cooling in the fridge.
The children and Lana went to bed early. I woke them all up at about 11:00pm ready for Midnight Mass. Peter didn't really wake up very well. I told him to go to wash his face and hands and go to the toilet as that should help him awaken. He did that and hopped right back in bed!
We made it to Mass and we all enjoyed celebrating the birth of Jesus. A figure of baby Jesus was brought up near the beginning of Mass by a couple of girls and Father placed him in the crib. As you can see the nativity setting has a certain Australian flavour. The Southern Cross in the background, a tin roof and watertank with windmill and even a kangaroo and wombat were placed near the front.
After Mass there were some celebratory food and drinks and the children played spotlight with the other families. We have just arrived home. The younger children were surprised to see all the presents under the tree that weren't there when we left for Mass. Also, baby Jesus was suddenly in each of the nativity sets!
Now to sleep.
On Christmas day we are holding our Nativity play and having friends and family over. Now it's time to celebrate for the next 12 days of Christmas! Woo hoo!

23 December 2005

Spider training

We certainly love our spiders in this family. Or at least they seem to love us!
This evening we went into the older part of our house "The Barracks" and we saw this lovely huntsman resting in the cool inside. I placed the pencil close for size comparison, although it does look as if I am asking the spider to jump the pencil!
When it did move Lana and I instinctively jumped too.
Past spider tales occurred in the car and in America. As always click the photo for a closer look!

Household chores

In an effort to involve the whole family in household management each of the children does their part. Laundry is split into boys, girls and the rest. Here are the boys hanging up their clothes today. Note their idea of hot weather gear on a 35C (95F) day:
- Hunter Orange caps;
- Camouflage overalls;
- Hunter Orange T shirts.
I think something rubbed off when we were in the Appalachian mountains!
Also notice the special device inside which James has his hands. It is a special peg apron Lana's Mum made. It ties around the waist and the pegs are all placed inside the apron with a pocket each side allowing the wearer to easily reach pegs without the need for bending or searching.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

We all went out this evening after dark to see some of the Christmas lights. The temperature had dropped to the mid 20s (75F or so) and it was lovely. This house went quite overboard for our little village so I felt he deserved a photo.

Lana mentioned to me last night that it's starting to feel like Christmas. Why? Because of all the normal Christmas things such as:
  • Hot weather in the 30's (high 80Fs to 90Fs)
  • fans blowing the air around the house
  • businesses preparing to close for two weeks
  • nativity sets are out
  • christmas lights all over houses
  • Christmas cards from people all over
  • Christmas greetings from clients and friends (not so much seasons greetings - in Australia the common greeting is Merry Christmas)
  • Preparing for the family dinner on Christmas day - cold meats, summer fruit, lots of lollies (candy) and chocolates, ice cream, pavlova and cool drinks.
  • decorations slowly appearing on the tree
  • the children starting to wonder where presents might be hidden
  • the morning ritual of looking for the figures of Mary and Joseph as they move around the house getting to the stable
  • preparing for midnight mass
  • organising for the Christmas carols to begin playing once Christmas eve starts
  • Christmas plants such as red hot pokers and agapanthus flowering just in time
  • Santa Clauses sweating profusely in inappropriate red fur lined clothes.
This time we have no confusions such as snow and cold to change what Christmas is really about!

Outback Windmill

by Lana

I finished this Windmill the other day. It is from Country Threads by Fiona Jude. I had started it whilst we were still in the US and it was put aside to do something else for a while. It has been a bit of a challenge as these designs only come as kits and they require you use three strands (rather the normal two). This means you can't do the loop start as you have an odd number of strands. Also the colours don't flow, they are scattered all over like a dog's breakfast which means a cross here, a cross there! Aaargh!
This has been dubbed "That Rotten Windmill"

Update: Busted! It just goes to show that you never know who is looking at your blog! Fiona Jude added a comment regarding the three strands and scattered colours. We do have to admit that when you stand back it looks very good. It's just tricky to do when you are stitching and the colours are separate and the final blend isn't quite as obvious. I'm happy to have done the pattern and we are looking forward to framing it and putting it on the wall. :-~
Fiona does a marvellous selection of Australian themed patterns. I want to do the "Clydesdale" and "Cattle Crossing" but I have a couple of others to do first.

22 December 2005

Aussie Jingle Bells

Now this may take a while to load via dialup, but it is a great version of the Australian translation of Jingle Bells by Colin Buchanan to the photos of Ken Duncan. Ken Duncan is a very accomplished photographer who is famous for his panoramic photos from around Australia.
You can read the lyrics here - the same place I found this link at G'day Mate.

There are a few important translation points for our American readers.

Australian = American
Thong = Flip Flops
Ute = Pickup Truck
Holden = GMC
Bush = Country
Esky = Cooler
Swaggie = Hobo (from Waltzing Matilda)
Shoot Through = Go home

It is quite possible if you take the wrong meaning the song may be understood very differently!

In search of Treacle

Since making the yummy Treacle/Molasses biscuits (cookies) we needed to get some more Treacle. In the last two weeks I have visited many supermarkets and after searching various aisles I find the exact spot where Treacle (*) is supposed to be sold. And there are none in stock! Aargh! - five different supermarkets during pre Christmas shopping.
As we wanted to make those biscuits again, Lana's dad went shopping and found it at a supermakerket in the middle of renovations. With cables dangling from the ceiling, no signs on display indicating where any products may be located and just a maze of shelving, Dad the intrepid explorer went in. He figured if non-one else can find anything there may be some treacle left. They did, so he bought us three jars.
Ha! Now we can make them again!

(*) Treacle is also known as "fancy molasses" in other parts of the world.


I have just changed the little icon next to Bruggietales in the address bar and your favorites or bookmarks. It is called a favicon and requires that you have somewhere to put it.

Whenever the page is loaded it looks for the icon to place next to the page name. It will be in your bookmarks or favorites next time you open the browser.

HTML Kit is a very handy web site explaining how it can be done.

Just another cool little thing you can do to personalise your website or blog.

21 December 2005

Nativity Play preparations

We are continuing our tradition of doing a Nativity play each Christmas. The children have all been practicing their parts and costumes have been gathered.

We enjoyed doing this last year - but it was a lot colder then.
Currently we are having temperatures around 31C (88F) a little different from biting wind and occasional snow! Here is a photo from the same time last year compared to this photo taken of our backyard today.

If you would like a copy of the play, here it is: Nativity Play.pdf

Rolf Harris paints the Queen

Rolf Harris was commissioned by Queen Elizabeth II (Queen of England and Australia amongst other countries) to paint her portrait. Whilst most portraits of the Queen are very formal, this time Rolf Harris and the Queen had a good time chatting away whilst Rolf painted.

Art critics are dismissive as it is not the way they would have done it, but general response from the public is very good.

Well done, Mr Harris!

The Beauty Myth

This is a very educational demonstration of how magazine images are manipulated. I recommend this for anyone who thinks comparing themselves to magazine covers is at all feasible.
I went through a similar exercise with the children a while ago but this presentation has excellent detail showing all the photoshopped changes with before and after comparisons.
It may take a while to load but it is well worth the wait.

(Found at Marginal Revolution)

More optical illusions...

Back in July we provided a link to an amazing display of illusions relating to the correct discernment of colours.

Today Owl of Just Listen has prompted me to go back to the site and show you this illusion.

Are the lines straight or bent?
Go on, get that bit of paper and check.
Then lean back, squint and question your eyes again.

20 December 2005

Our Colorado Trip in September 2004

I have been updating the web site and in the process am cleaning up the postings for our trips. The first one to be sorted out is the 12 day road trip travelling over 3,500 miles from Georgia to Colorado just to attend a Christmas party!

Can you imagine two adults and six children aged from 3 months to 13 years old and their luggage for two weeks crammed in a Chevy Suburban with not the most detailed maps to follow.

Here's the details.

Road Squares

This is the first benefit of being on my own server. I can now have files uploaded without going through separate FTP servers.

In a previous post I mentioned the fun the children had playing the game of Squares. You can now upload it here.

New Map Quiz

The map visitor counter I use (Neocounter) now has a nifty little map quiz.
Have a look on the bottom left hand corner of the side bar and see how you do recognising various flags of the world.

We've moved web sites...Sort of

This is http://tales.bruggies.com.au The new home of Bruggie Tales.

That is where our adventures continue ...

Please update your bookmarks/favorites accordingly!

Also - if you find any errors popping up, please let me know. I wanted to bring everything across and I think some of the links may have broken.

It is still hosted on blogspot, but I can store files I want to share on our domain bruggies.com.au. So all this means no real change to operations. Nothing to see. Move along there ...

19 December 2005

The dangers of not emptying the bath

The baby might just jump straight in - clothes and all!


[She obviously likes the bath!]

Cinderella by Clare

Every night Clare asks Ariel to tell her a story. Sometimes Ariel convinces Clare to tell a story. Tonight Clare told the story of Cinderella:

Once upon a time there was al.ittle grl called Cinderella and her mum died. Her dad married again and she had two daughters and when they had grown up they had big feet. The next morning there was a ball and the step sisters didn't want her to go because they wanted to be Cinderella. ["Isn't that right?" Clare asked Ariel, "What's next?"]
Ariel continued: The fairy godmother came and said "Stop crying. You can go the ball but you have to back by midnight." So she put a very pretty dress on Cinderella and made a coach and Cinderella went to the ball.

Clare went on: She went to the ball and went in the ball and the prince said "She's the prettiest." And then it was midnight and Cinderella went away and left one of her slippers. The prince tried it on all the ladies and the last people were the step sisters. But it didn't fit. Then Cinderella said, "Can I have a go?" [and the sisters said] "She's just a servant". [The prince said] "Let her have a go". They tried it on her and it fit, they put the dress back on her, they got married and lived happily ever after.
Not bad for a four year old I guess. I have added the parts in [italics] to provide some context. Ariel has told the story a number of times and Clare quite likes it.

18 December 2005

How to fold a shirt

For all of our readers that find folding shirts a hassle, this is an amazing video showing how it is done - efficiently!

(Found at Marginal Revolution - an interesting economics blog)

Philosophy via Audio

Peter Kreeft is a very good philosopher and has a great ability to bring complex philosophic points down to earth for the rest of us mere mortals.
He has a collection of his writings and audio at his website www.peterkreeft.com.
It's a good way to catch up on important things when driving - certainly a lot better than the radio!

Audio stories for children

We have just found a new source of audio books in MP3 format - and free. Storynory says it has "iPod ready stories for kids". As the audio download files are all in MP3 format, you can play them on any device that supports MP3, or load them into your iTunes software and write them to audio or MP3 CDs.
Recent stories are Sleeping Beauty, The Christmas Carol and Hansel and Gretel amongst others. Go to the archives page for all of the collection.

Today's Cute Shot

I just thought it had been while since the last cute shot of Rose. Here she is in an empty laundry basket waiting for someone to carry her around.

17 December 2005

A joey comes to our birthday party

Today we had a birthday party and had two families join us. This made about 24 people all told plus one bonus visitor. One of our friends saw a very recently dead kangaroo on the roadside and went to investigate. In the pouch was a joey which would surely have died if he hadn't been found. So they rigged a makeshift pouch from an old jumper (sweater) with the sleeves tied up. (you can see the clothes hanger is still attached so it can be hung up) They are feeding him from a bottle regularly and he seems quite happy. To make sure it is more like being fed in his pouch, they hold him tight closing his eyes and the joey sucks away merrily.

This photo is of little Ella enjoying the joey's attention. (The bandage is a result of her getting too close to the wrong part of a toaster. Ow.) Her look indicates how much she is enjoying the Joey's company!

The older boys spent the day wargaming Lord of the Rings, whilst other children played on the trampoline, played bingo, built Lego, or just ran around playing whatever games they thought fun. The adults had a great time chatting and enjoying each others company. Basically a typical gathering using a birthday party for the excuse.

16 December 2005

Some Australian Christmas music

Leigh Newton is an Australian children's songwriter and entertainer from South Australia. He has a number of albums containing distinctly Australian songs, such as "Christmas in the Scrub"(*), "Christmas in the Shed" and "Grandma rides a Harley". The children have been enjoying the songs today after I downloaded some samples from his website.
Unfortunately he has no electronic method of paying him other than an International Money order. Still it is worth downloading the samples he has and enjoying some music with a great Australian flavour.
Then let him know you enjoyed it and send him something.

(*) Scrub is the Australian word for the bush or non city/residential areas.

15 December 2005

A Slug is eating our Quince tree

Our Quince tree (a member of the pear family) is having its leaves skeletonised. This little slug like thing is having a feast. It is a "Pear Slug" (scroll down on the link). Actually it isn't a sluig - it's the larvae of the sawfly, a pest introduced into Australia in 1891.
It's an ugly thing. The fat end is the head. You can click on the picture for more detail. We're spraying it with some natural pesticide which should hopefully knock it off.

Anti Airborne Fruit Eaters defences

Our apple trees have finally started to bear fruit. Now we have to defend this prime crop from the birds. Last year the birds enjoyed the whole crop whilst Lana's parents were away. The family minding our house whilst we were away were unable to get even one ripe apple.
This time we bought some bird netting and plastic poles to cover the trees. As we all helped erect the shroud Clare commented excitedly, "It's like a wedding!" She pulled all the corners out very carefully so it was even more like a bride's wedding dress train. Dad tied a rope around from the poles to the tree so it wouldn't blow away and then tied knots in Clare's lovely "trains" and put a brick on each corner so the birds couldn't get underneath.
Phew! After all this effort I hope the apples taste OK.

Birthday Ice Cream Cake

This is the best way to have an ice cream cake big enough for all the family and friends and fit within a budget.
Get a 4 litre (1 gallon) container of ice-cream and turn it upside down. Then decorate it and plonk down a few candles.
Decorating with lollies (candies) is the best as each child then wants their piece with a lolly or two. We used a marshmallow at each corner, grated chocolate on the edges, red and blue M&Ms on the top and 100's and 1000's (cake decorations/ sprinkles) on the sides.
And the best thing is that there is no cooking required and no cake left over after the icing has been licked off. Just eat it quick before it melts!

14 December 2005

Absurd Maths

by Ariel
While I was going through the archives on Melissa Wiley's blog I came across this maths game that is very interesting. I wanted to keep going but Dad said I had to do a blog entry first.
The bad guys, Powers 2B, have captured the internet except for one page owned by the Society of the Half Closed Eye, who are the good guys. You have to do certain things such as saving a being from another dimension. To get to the next page you have to answer a maths question. If it's wrong you must try again. Sometimes if you get it wrong the question changes.
It's not easy - it's challenging. I want to get back to it so I have to hurry up and finish this blog entry.

The eye of Sauron

I think I know why Sauron was such an angry fellow in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He must have had conjunctivitis (also known as "Red eye or pink eye). Just look at the movie - there is the eye with all those red bits radiating from the centre of the eye. It must have been really annoying.
This photo is of my eye. Luckily I don't have vast armies of evil creatures to unleash on the world. With some drops and time the eye should clear up but the hardest part is to avoid touching my eye with my fingers.
Also, I must only use tissues that do not get re-used. And wash my hands often and don't use towels as this may spread the infection. And don't start fights with the forces of good. That will really ruin your day.

13 December 2005

Teaching Children to ride a bike

During Ariel's perusing of the blogs on our blogroll, she came across a great method for teaching children how to ride a bike on Melissa Wiley's blog. This is well worth reading.

Getting closer ...

The nativity set is up. This year we have used the wood stove as the base as it is conveniently surrounded by a fire grate to protect it from Rose. This is a very good plan considering this photo caught her trying to scale the fence already.
The stable only has a couple of animals and an empty manger. Over the next few weeks Joseph and Mary will make their way through the house to arrive there by December 24. Then baby Jesus will be there on the 25th with the shepherds too. Currently the shepherds are lurking nearby with their sheep scattered around them.
The tree is up, but bare of decorations. In the week before Christmas the children will get to add one decoration per day. On Christmas eve the lights go on and the rest of the decorations around the house. Then compulsory celebrations!
From Christmas to Epiphany the three wise men wander throughout the house with their gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. The children will awake each morning searching for the wise men's new location - on a cupboard, under a chair, on a bench, behind a box and so on.

Garden Beds for all

Lana's dad has built three new garden beds. Today was the day each bed is filled with a nourishing soil mix of manure, mushroom compost, noral dirt and whathever fertilizer would make vegetable plants happy.
All the children helped with each garden bed assigned to two children. Here Rose is "helping" by plonking a toy fellow into the watering jug. At least she will if she lets go before James works out what she is doing!
Soon we'll see what begins to grow.

11 December 2005

This blog would be G rated

This symbol is on all Australian film and literature and gives a guide as to what to expect when watching a film or playing a computer game. (More information is here). A similar system exists in the US, but with one very big difference. In Australia the symbol is prominent, coloured and on the front, side and rear of case and on the actual DVD, Video or CD.
In the US the rating is hidden in microscopic print somewhere on the packaging. Also the typical Movie Rental store had all the movies grouped alphabetically - without regards to whether the film was rated G (General viewing) or R (Restricted to Adults only).
We brought back quite a few movies and were pondering how to distinguish the US films from the Australian ones. It was very easy. We just look for the rating! If we can't instantly see it, we know it is a US movie.

Another Family Activity

Yesterday we spent some time getting ready for Eric's birthday party next week. He is having a wargaming party when some of his friends will be coming over and playing Lord of the Rings wargaming.
We undercoated with spray paint lots of the orcs, elves, men of Gondor, Rohirrim, goblins and the rest of the crew. Then Ariel, Eric, James, Peter and I began painting the figires in more detail. This all started when Eric visited the Games Day in Atlanta earlier this year.
This photo shows the model of Faramir I painted. The Games Workshop site gives examples of how to paint all the figures which we use as a starting point. My style is different to the "layered" method Games Workshop prefers, but the results work out pretty well.
Ariel painted her batch of yucky orcs quite well.

9 December 2005

I stomp on your floppy disks. Bah!

In going through all of my computer gear I came across a drawer of floppy disks. This is a good time to transfer their contents to something more stable. Of all the disks at least one third were no good, one third OK and the balance has some damage. These were all stored reasonably well and the salvage rate was terrible.
Are any of your backups on floppy disk? Quickly see if you can restore the data and put it on something more contemporary. If you are currently backing up to floppy disk, STOP. Use a USB drive which has more space, is faster and is much more stable.
The best thing for floppy disks are as children's toys. You can make castles, forts, patterns and so on. They also make a nice clatter sound when thrown onto the floor. Rose is showing the contempt all floppy disks deserve!

Parish Christmas Carols

Last night our parish held its annual Christmas Carols by Candle light. Actually the candles were citronella to keep away the mosquitos, and the candles were torches (flashlights). Various groups in the parish took turns singing. A children's nativity play was also planned, but on Tuesday our homeschooling group received an urgent phone call asking if we could help. The play hadn't actually been organised. Quickly the homeschooling families had a rehearsal on Wednesday and planned a quick nativity play based on a Golden Book someone had.

Before the activities began, we arrived early and all donned costumes and practiced in the gardens at the side. The first photo is of four little girls who were the angels that appeared to the shepherds. Little Elizabeth watched me whilst the rest paid attention to her sister reading the story, waiting for their cue. Our boys were the three wise men with their gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. James did his best to look wise! The children did a very good job and we are glad we were able to help at such short notice.

At the last moment Rose decided she wanted to join so she became a sort of angel looking very pretty in a white frock. Whilst we were waiting she noticed lovely little stones and dirt on the pavement so naturally started playing with them. Who cares about being dressed in white when dirt beckons! Towards the end of the night the children were able to go back on stage and sing some lovely Christmas Carols. When they were deciding which carols to sing, Ariel and Eric mentioned the ones they knew from their time with the children's choir in our US parish.

These ended up being the ones chosen, even singing the first verse of Silent Night in German, as they practiced in the US. This photo was taken without a flash - just extended shutter exposure - and worked very nicely. All in all it was a lovely way to begin the Christmas preparations in this season of Advent. The children are getting more excited as each candle is lit on the Advent Wreath, meaning Christmas is another week closer. Once it gets to Christmas Eve we will be putting up our tree and the children should awake to a house transformed. Then it is compulsory celebrations of the birth of Jesus for the next 12 days of Christmas until Epiphany. Mmmm. Christmas celebrations. Yum.