31 July 2006

The 19th Carnival of Children's Comedy

Kim of Life in a Shoe is hosting the 19th Carnival of Children's Comedy. Kim also points out an article written by a career woman who reckons her children are so boring that it makes sense to minimise her valuable time with them. In the article she says, "I love my children as much as anyone, but ..."
Our children have learned that her statement could not possibly be true. You can't truly love someone unless you know them. As this lady has forgone the opportunity of knowing her children, naturally she finds them boring as they have no shared experiences, nothing in common.
As readers of Bruggietales have probably guessed, we enjoy the company of our children. Boring is not a word we would use to describe the times we spend with the children discovering the world - and for us rediscovering the world through new eyes.

Our post of Clare's bed time avoidance schemes and Queenmaking are included in the carnival.

29 July 2006

Clare is too sick to sleep now

by Ariel

When we went to bed one night Clare thought of a new excuse to delay bedtime, "I am very sick"
I told her to close her eyes and go to sleep it would make her better
Clare replied, "I am way too sick."
Me: "So you're going to die then?"
Clare quickly answered, "I'm not that sick, I am only half way too sick."

Next night Clare was in her bed next to mine with one of her legs out of the banket pointing straight up to the ceiling and announced, "I am the Queen of Genovia!" (She's obviously thinking of The Princess Diaries)
Distracted, I replied, "Are you now?" then I turned over and saw her leg in the air.
"You are going to have to put your leg back in."
"But that is what makes me Queen of Genovia!"

[David: For some it takes a sword in a lake, others require a crown, Clare just requires her leg in the air.]

28 July 2006

Observation Test

We often tell ourselves that we are very observant. Yet experience with witnesses has shown professional investigators and researchers that we often only see what we are concentrating on or interested in.
Here is a classic example of the phenomenon. The video is a Java applet which involves a 7mb download before it begins, so it will take some time via dial up.
When the video starts, explain to the viewer:
"There are two teams of three people, one white and one black. See if you can count how many times they pass the ball."
Once the video finishes ask, "Did you see the Gorilla?"
If they answer "Yes", follow up with, "What was the Gorilla doing?"
We had each of the four older children individually view the video. Eric and Peter replied with surprise, "What Gorilla?" and Ariel and James saw it, but didn't notice what the Gorilla did. This led to a good discussion on how accurate we are when we observe a scene.

Hat Tip: Why Homeschool

26 July 2006

Ring that Bell

My clients are a great source of local knowledge and they mentioned the local Yarrangobilly caves. As this was on the way home from the snowfields we popped in. After more windy roads and dirt tracks, we parked and Lana and I popped into the information centre.
"What's on?" we asked.
All that was open was the self guided cave tour, so we negotiated a family rate. The normal "family" rate is for two adults and two children.
Lana also saw some very nice jewellry made from fresh water pearls and hematites. So we added that to the total and went to explore the caves (which were very chilly).
It was a fascinating walk through the limestone caves full of stalagtites and stalagmites. The one pictured here was named by the original explorer the "Judge's Wig". The information board noted (in a superior tone) that we no longer use such fanciful descriptions now. Bah! We remembered the Judge's Wig, the neighbouring Lamb's Fleece and Wedding Cake. Easier than Rock Formation XYZ!
After our escape from the dungeons - sorry, emergence from the tour - we found the restored ticket booth. It had a handle linked to a bell placed up the mountain which was to let tour participants know a tour was about to start. "Give the handle a pull" we were advised by the information board. So the next ten minutes were spent by everyone having ago pulling the bell.

25 July 2006

Snow. Snow. We must see snow.

What does snow taste like?
After the Tumut Broom Factory we went to the nearby Mt Selwyn snowfields. By nearby, I mean 98km (61 miles) away on windy roads. The snowfields are having pretty terrible business this year with little snow actually falling. It is cold enough, but the snow's not coming. A headline from the Canberra paper this weekend was "There's no business like No snow business".

How far did I fall?

So to stay in business there is lots of snow - man made. (or rather machine made)
This is fine for us as all we want is enough to throw, create snowmen, get cold and realise why we like the snow, but not enough to live in it.
The first thing James did was create a body shaped trench for himself. It looks as though he fell from a height and landed "thump!" in the snow.
Clare thought she would see what snow tastes like. Her thoughtful response, "It tastes like ice, Daddy."
"Do you want to take some home?" I asked cheekily.
"Daaaad!" Clare replied, "It will melt."

Faster! Push Faster!

We had a race between the boys and girls to make a snowman. Actually Clare insisted that the girls should make a snow girl, as they were girls. They found grass for hair and made a dress, whilst the boys made a snow man sitting down on a chair with legs and arms and the lot. We won.
Meanwhile James went to help another girl who was making a fort out of snow. He asked her if she was using her toboggan and she said we could use it. Woohoo! We all were able to give tobogganning (is there enough double letters in that word?) a go.
To prepare for this snow trip Lana had been scouring the local Op shops (Thrift stores) for snow gear, and we borrowed some from friends. We arranged for hotel accomodation and a day off work for myself. The drive to the mountain was a two hour return trip. After an hour and a half actually in the snow, everyone was satisfied (or cold and whiny) and we made our way back to the hotel.
Still, on balance, I prefer snow being at a reasonable distance from home rather than something like this outside our house when we lived in Georgia. We're glad we didn't live further North in the US! Brrr!

24 July 2006

The Tumut Broom Factory

While the rest of the family is coming down with coughs and sniffs, I am away in Sydney, occasionally checking in on Bruggie Hospital. As promised, I will update you on some of the highlights or our Tumut trip.
A great benefit of homeschooling is the flexibility. We were able to take up the opportunity of having a "field trip" in the vicinity of my client. I work, they play.
Tumut has one of the last working straw broom factories in Australia. Visitors are able to wander in during business hours and the fellows making the brooms are all very helpful and willing to show you how the brooms are made. Here you can see Clare supervising the man cut off loose ends from the sewing stage. I think she has the management's "hands on hips" part covered pretty well.
When I returned to the hotel after work the children all told me what they had seen so I decided we would all visit the factory together on the Friday when I took some time off.
The brooms are made from a combination of imported and locally grown materials. This is mainly because the millet used for broom making uses a very manually intensive process, without enough demand for the local farmers to grow enough for all of the factory's needs. We were able to watch as the two men attached the millet to the handle with wire, using special machines, and then sew the head with varying numbers of stitches for strength and firmness, and then cut the ends for a smooth edge.
The brooms are very good quality, so we purchased a full size one, and a special small one so Clare and Rose can clean out their cubby house.

23 July 2006


Lana recently finished "Stargazer" by Mirabilia. This is another design with lots of beads and the face and hands done one-over-one. (You can get more detail clicking on either picture.)
If you look towards the top there are some large beads (called "Pebbles") which contrast with the normal smaller beads, and then some "petite" beads to really make for some variety.
As I have been away working in Sydney, no-one was around to tell Lana to go to bed on time, so she was able to do lots of Cross stitch and listen to several large audio books. This "dedication" meant that the pattern was finished in under four weeks!
She listened to King Solomon's Mines by H Rider Haggard and Emma by Jane Austen (again!)
The material is hand dyed material by Stitches and Spice called "Bell Bottom Blues". This is the same as Lana used for Fairy Moon but from a different dye lot so is a slightly different shade.

Carnival of Children's Comedy is back!

Kim from Life in a Shoe has returned with the latest Carnival of Children's Comedy.

One of the posts is from "Here in the Bonny Glen" concerning the discovery that some things can get overlooked in any method of education (and some great habit training advice).

Our collection of Saturday comments featuring Clare is included.

Croup Remedies

We have just returned from a short time away in Tumut. I worked and the rest of the family explored and played - more on that in later posts.
This winter we have been able to avoid most illnesses, which, as any large family will tell you, is a marvellous thing. Now we are finally catching some winter "lurgies".
Clare has a running nose and whiny temperament, typical of some sort of cold. Rose and her play together constantly so we knew she would also come down with something soon. Last night at around 1:00am we heard the horrible hacking cough that means Croup. This is not the first time we have heard this so there was no panic. The cough sounds as if the child is close to death.
Lana picked Rose up and went into the bathroom, closed the door and turned on the hot water into the bath. The steam is what we wanted. The bath was so we wouldn't waste the water. You can get steamers which do the same thing for a pretty low cost.
After about half an hour in the steam, Lana had a quick look on the 'Net and discovered that cold air can help too. The cold air helps reduce the inflammation or expansion of the airways, meaning easier breaths. So they both rugged up and went for a walk in the chilly night air. It worked beautifully.
The night time stroll happened again at around 4:00am, and then at 8:00am Ariel took Rose for a walk around the block whilst Lana slept.
So now we have a happy wide awake little girl, and Lana fast asleep in bed.

18 July 2006

Changing Looks

Recently I purchased a new suit. When we left for the US three years ago we had a massive clean out and my old suits joined many other clothes in a one way journey to the Op shop (Opportunity Shop = US Thrift Store).
The three boys were with me in the store and when I emerged from the changing room wearing the new suit, Peter looked up at me and frowned.
"You don't look like Dad anymore."
The shop assistant thought it was pretty amusing.
Well, it has been a while since I wore a suit on a daily basis. It is amazing how quickly children get used to the current situation - be it looks, house, clothes or whatever. It's the same when I grow a beard. After a short adjustment period all are used to the new hairy look (except Lana who doesn't like it) and once it goes (when I have enough of Lana's grimaces) the chldren are once more surprised.
The photo is a re-enactment of the scene in the store.

15 July 2006

A Mask, A Dress, A Birthday and a Full House

Today we attended an 18th birthday party for one of our homeschool friends. This was not just a little party. It was a masked fancy party at the local village hall. Around 270 people were invited, mostly homeschoolers and some family friends.
Lana and Ariel spent the last two weeks creating a dress and cape for Ariel and a black cape for Eric. The dress is based on a pattern similar to that worn by Arwen in the Lord of the Rings movies. This photo gives you a good idea of the end product. (you can click the photo for a more detailed look.) Also, note the very custom created mask on the lad on the left. He forgot a mask, so he quickly found some tape, paper, punched few holes and taped it to his head.
Everyone naturally started with masks, but they lasted about 30 minutes before they were set aside. Country dancing was enjoyed by many, great food was available and fine socialisation was had by all. There were a number of babies who were at times with their mothers and at other times hijacked by these young ladies, dressed in all their finery.
Families travelled from four hours North, two to three hours west and some from six hours South. Tonight there are many full houses. We have thirteen extra people staying, making a total of 21 people. Although we have an extra toilet in the barracks, it is a bit cold there so we are all sharing the one toilet and bathroom. It's good fun.

A mystery revealed

This blog documents our adventures when we lived in the US and beyond. In the early days of our time in Georgia, we discovered many amazing flora and fauna, most of which we were able to learn about using the Internet. But this insect remained a mystery.
Last week we were very fortunate that a freind of ours who runs Blairsville.com revealed the mystery. It is a Giant Ichneumon Wasp. Thanks Bill!
He was browsing through our archives from July 2003 onwards when all the local wildlife and seasons had a strangeness that locals just accept as normal.

13 July 2006

No wrong numbers here

"One who listens" at Just Listen had a caller looking for someone else.
We had a similar example the other night when a lady called us.
"Hello, David here." I answered cheerily.
"Hello?" a heavily accented voice replied.
"Hello David B here. Can I help you?" I responded.
"Do I have the wrong number?" she asked.
"Not if you were trying to call me," I quickly answered, "Then it would be the right number."
"I'm in the Philippines."
"Then this is probably not the number you were looking for."
"Oh. Sorry. Bye."

See. No wrong numbers. Just not the one you meant to ring.

12 July 2006

Signs of the Times

On our visit to the gorge on Sunday we noticed these signs.
I must congratulate the designers of these signs as they are pretty self explanatory. The children all could tell what they meant in an instant.

The first is obviously "Don't get too close to the edge or you'll fall off."
Or perhaps it is "Be careful throwing the ball too high. If you jump to catch it you may miss more than the ball."

The B Where's boys also pointed out sights at the gorge here and here and here.

The next sign is probably telling us, "If you play tag don't push the leader over the edge."
or perhaps, "Run faster as you get closer to the edge of the rocks."
or maybe it is something like the tongue twister, "Round the Ragged Rocks the Ragged Rascals Ran"
or "If one falls over be quick to catch him".

11 July 2006

Canival of Family Life No. 9

Of the Princess and the Pea is hosting this week's Carnival of Family Life.

You may especially want to check out the new game called "Yes, Dad".
Our post on sharing the load and awarding prizes of extra reading time is included.

Is this a real Gumnut Baby?

This is our latest niece/cousin. We are all very excited with the freshest addition to our extended family, my sister's first child.
This photo looks very much like those Gumnut Babies Lana cross-stitched.

Congratulations Sis, from the Bruggies!

10 July 2006

Daggie Dogfoot

I have just completed reading Daggie Dogfoot by Dick King-Smith to the children. In the US it is called Pigs Might Fly. This is a delightful tale of a little runt (called a dag in Gloucester) who has malformed front feet that look like paws, hence the nickname "Daggie Dogfoot".
In an amazing turn of events and blind perseverence Daggie survives his first few hours of life and his adoring mother, Mrs Barleylove, expects great things of him.
Of course, when reading aloud, I must put on lots of different voices and accents for each character. Normally this goes down pretty well, but for one character I messed up and slipped from an upper class English accent, to a broad Welsh accent, to an American accent and then back to Welsh. Oh, the ribbing I received from the older children. But they did enjoy the book! I last read this when Ariel was about seven years old, so it was new to all the other children and a great re-read for Ariel.

We live in the mountains

After Mass yesterday we did a little exploring near home. We live in the Southern Highlands, but it never seems very hilly.
The slope on the way home is very gradual and our local area is relatively flat. However, less than 10 minutes from home is this gorge. From fairly rudimentary observation areas we can get a glimpse of a narrow winding river what seems like kilometres away and many distant mountains.
This is a photo of Ariel taking in some of the view. (Click for more detail)

9 July 2006

Why does Lana find this funny?

We stumbled on to this video of an Australian comedy group called Tripod singing a song, "Make you Happy Tonight".
Although this is presented from a guy's point of view, I was thinking I could just use some of Lana's classic lines:
"I just need to finish this colour" or
"I'm almost at the end of the chapter" [of my audio book] or
"I was just doing another thread whilst the chapter finished and I need to finish the thread" (Do you detect a loop here?)
Of course, I would never do this.
[Lana: "Yes, dear."]

How to lose 10kg in 10 minutes

James went to weigh himself on the scales and saw that he weighed 56kg. He came in and told us, "I weigh 56 pounds!) (he meant kilograms)
Eric (older by two years) weighed himself and found he weighed only 46 kg.
Lana said, "James, you have your vest on. Take it off and try again."
He then came back in saying, "I'm 46 pounds!"
His jacket - and all its contents of two pocket knives, fake bullet his friend gave to him, pliers, and other boy stuff - weighs about 10 kg.
So if you want to weigh less, take off that jacket.

8 July 2006

The Size of our World

The universe is big. I mean really big. You may think walking down to the corner shop is a long way but let me tell you ...
(a paraphrase from the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy).
Rense.com has posted a graphic display of how large Earth is compared to the rest of the universe. This is the first picture showing the scale of Earth to our nearest neighbours. It gets more amazing as you scroll down the page.

(Hat tip: JimmyAkin.org and Bob.)

Hmmm. Australian Doughnuts.

Today the children had a treat of some doughnuts. This reminded me how surprised we were at the US version of doughnuts we experienced during our stay there.
US doughnuts are typically coated completely with a very thin icing. (We showed how Krispy Kreme doughnuts were made back in January 2004.)
The two main types of Australian doughnuts are iced and cinnamon. The iced ones have coloured icing on the top allowing you to actually hold the doughnut without getting sticky fingers.
Cinnamon ones are rolled in a sugar and cinnamon mix as soon as they are popped out of the fryer. Lana reckons they are nicest hot and fresh.
Rose here is trying to work out how to point at the doughnuts as per the B-Where's instructions.

4 July 2006

How to gain reading time

Rose can be a fussy little sleeper. Settling down can be a challenge, but we have discovered that the secret is to hold her hand until she stops. Once she stops she drops off to sleep.
However if Lana is doing the hand holding
she mucks around and just wants to play.
So we have made a deal with Ariel. If she does the nightly duty, she gains an equal amount of time as bonus reading time. Here she is, very happy that she is able to read "just one chapter more".
As Ariel is growing she is reading a wider variety of books, including some Science Fiction selected from the remnants of my once large collection. When I analysed my own world views some years ago I realised that many of the SF books I had read and kept were basically poison for the mind and threw out about 90% of my library. The remainder however are a fascinating look into worlds and strange situations which is now appealing to a new generation.

2 July 2006

I'm being laughed at!

Ariel and Lana are laughing at me! They are supposed to be supportive and caring but what are they doing at my moment of distress? Laughing so much they have tears rolling down their cheeks. I would give you an MP3 sample but Lana won't let me.
Last week I was very proud of my snappy looks wearing my new business suit. Then I remembered that I hadn't brought it inside when I returned home. Bother! I had left it at the hotel. I rang and they still have it waiting for me.
I remember hanging it up and reminding myself that I had better not forget it.

Coke + Mentos = Explosion

There are a wide variety of videos online showing the effect of placing some Mentos into a bottle of Diet Coke. This video is of an Australian Dad showing how it works with his young daughter. It is only 37 seconds long, but wait for the closing scene.
Update: These two fellows went a little bit overboard. See if you can guess how many bottles of coke and mentos they used making this video!

1 July 2006

Children's views this week

We had some interesting discussions this week with Clare. Her duty is to empty the dishwasher. This can be difficult at times and often requires encouragement.
One evening she came into my offfice and announced to Lana and myself:
"I emptied the dishwasher.
I'm a good girl and I'm not lying.
I'm not lying because I saw it empty."
As it is Ariel's duty to fill the dishwasher, Clare then found Ariel and told her,
"Ariel, it's your turn. I emptied the dishwasher, I'm a good girl."
It's good to see that Clare has the self affirmation thing down pat!
(By the way, the photo of Rose is here because it is a funny shot of her trying to work her wand. The little blue gumboots go so well with the fairy dress.)

Happy New Year

Today is the first day of the new Financial year in Australia. Wishing everyone a "Happy New Year" is an accountant thing.

And a Happy Independence Day to all our American friends! We had some good times celebrating Independence Day in 2005 and 2004 during our stay in the US.