31 January 2010

Children's Quotes

Clare came up to Lana and asked, "What does 'Ka Zoom Tite' mean?"
"Ka Zoom Tite? Asked Lana.
"Yeah, you know when people sneeze and some people say 'Ka zoom tite'!"
While we were at church waiting for Mass to start, Martin was doing a little climbing around and I asked him, "We are going to have another boy soon.  Who are the boys?"
I then asked, "Is Eric a Boy or Girl?"
And then I asked about each of the children, and Lana was a "Dirl".
"Am I a boy?"
"Mm, No!  You Dad!"
"I'm not a boy?" I confirmed.
Martin shook his head and pointed at me, "Dad!"
Rose had been watching some "I Dream of Jeannie" episodes on DVD.  She thought the concept of a Genie able to "bing" her head and make things change was pretty funny, so she started going around the house pointing at people, "Bing! You beard!" or "Bing! You long hair!" then giggling at how she imagined her target would look.
Rose had been listening to some children's songs including "Bananas in Pajamas".  She thought it was pretty funny but decided to make up her own version, "Piranas in Pajamas".

(The photo is a recent one of Rose doing a photographic pose.)

Sibling Rivalry Revisited

We had a guest the other night joining us for dinner.  After the meal when the children were cleaning up and washing dishes, our guest asked, "Don't your children fight?"
Lana and I looked at each other and pondered.
"Not really," we replied, "They have occasional disagreements but these get sorted out pretty quickly."
"Don't they yell or scream at each other?" our guest asked in amazement.
"Rarely, but we stomped on that behaviour very early on and now they have learned appropriate conflict resolution skills.  Also, when the children fight over something - a toy, a game or anything - we will get the object in dispute and tell them 'If this is causing you to fight, we don't want this thing in our home' and then throw it in the bin.  Pretty quickly the children learned that it wasn't worth fighting over 'stuff'"
"Hmm," he said, sitting back and watching the children singing off key - but loudly - and obviously enjoying themselves while they were cleaning up.
That is one advantage of homeschooling.  Rather than being thrown into the school jungle with no direct adult supervision, they are able to learn from adults when the problems occur, as memories are fresh and actions are obvious and not distorted by time and emotion.  Of course, the pressure was on Lana and I to grow up too, which was probably the hardest part.  We can't expect them to follow appropriate problem resolution techniques if we are squabbling over stupid little things.
"Ahh, but what about when they get in the 'real' world?  How about then huh?"
We actually believe the family is the "Real" world.  School life certainly isn't real life as what works in school doesn't work anywhere else.  So assuming "Real World" means the workplace, shops, sports and everything outside of home and school, we can answer that our methods work very well.
One on one taught conflict resolution techniques work great in the "outside" world.  The children have been performing admirably in the shop and in sports teams in which they have participated.
So, the experiment continues...
Previous articles about sibling rivalry are here and here.

(The photo is of Eric teaching Martin to fire a bow and arrow.  Martin concentrated very well and once he fired his arrow he went back to his primary role of arrow fetching.)

26 January 2010

Large Family - Small Footprint

There has been much talk recently about the environmental impact of large families and it is pretty much all a load of rubbish.
Large families are much more efficient than a 4 person family and even more efficient than many of the broken family and family like structures around us.  Let us look at the numbers.
Housing:  Our house looks big when compared to a typical 3 bedroom house as we have 4 bedrooms plus a study and large dining room and lounge room.  Attached is a 2 room "granny" flat where Lana's parents live.  So our property houses 11 people (soon to be 12).  We use the same rubbish bins as everyone around us with 1 or 2 people per house.  The living space per person actually works out about 1/3rd of the 1 or 2 person households.  Yet we feel as if we have ample space.
Power Consumption: We spend around $950 per quarter on Electricity.  That is around $86 per person.  The typical power bill for the 2 person families around here is around $250 to $350 a quarter.  The average per person rate is $150.
Water: We are on tank water.  This means all our water is derived from rainfall running off the roof into our water tanks.
Food and Groceries: Our monthly supermarket bill is around $1,300 per month. (USD $1,100) That is for 9 people, or $122 per person.  This is very efficient as we don't cut back on quality, we just get better value with buying in bulk and re-using leftovers and being more efficient in meal preparation.
Fuel and Cars: We have a family van that seats 12 people.  The fuel economy is about 10km per litre (around 23.5 mpg) similar to a mid range sedan.  We travel as a family in one car rather than two full sedans.  Typically 9 people would be from 3 to 4 families so would need 3 to 4 cars.  The cost of a new car vs a new van is about 1 to 1.5 sedans = 1 van.  So we save around 2 more cars on the road.
Appliances and Equipment:  Once more, the one appliance (TV, DVD player, Cooking utensil) is used by 9 people, not just one or two.

Overall, our ecological footprint is lower than the same number of people in smaller families.  Next time you see a large family piling out of a van in a seemingly never ending stream, think about how they are helping the planet by their efficiency.  Then thank them for saving the planet - one baby at a time.

25 January 2010

Martin Ringtone

I have just created a ringtone for my iPhone of Martin's laugh.  How did we do it?
Lana held the iPhone running Voice Recorder whilst I had fun tickling Martin.
Then I uploaded the recorded file to iTunes, saved it as a MP3, edited it in Audacity and exported it out as a MP3 file.  Then we converted the file to AAC format in iTunes.
We dragged the file to the desktop and renamed the extension from .m4a to .m4r which made it into a ringtone.  Then we had to delete the AAC file in iTunes or the ringtone wouldn't upload.

Anyway, for your ringing pleasure, here is the MP3 version and the Ringtone version.

Can You Get Martin Out?

Clare came into the study and asked us, "Can you get Martin out?"
We turned around, perplexed, and saw Martin inside Clare's skirt.
"So, how did he get there?  Were you just standing idly there and then he just appeared?"
"Ummm," Clare replied, with a trace of a grin.
"Get onto the back deck so I can take a picture, then go and play!"
There you go.  "Problem" solved!

Remember the Alamo!

Every year we try to attend Cancon, a games convention held in Canberra.  This is the same convention at which I met Lana 23 years ago!
The tradition has developed in the family whereby I take the boys out to the convention and Lana and the girls have a tea party at home. (Past posts about this day are herehere and here.)
This year there was a magnificent game of "The Alamo". Peter was able to take on the figure of Daniel Boone, so was privileged enough to wear the 'coon hat.

The fellows that ran this demo game built and painted all the scenery and models.  As you can see from the photos, the fort has been recreated marvellously.
The rules were very simple.  The Texans can shoot up to 24 inches and need a 4,5,or 6 to kill a Mexican.  The Mexicans can shoot up to 12 inches and need a 6 to kill a Texan.  A cannon can shoot using 6 dice.  Hand to hand combat is the highest die roll wins.  For the first 90 minutes all Mexican casualties come back as reinforcements.  The game lasts for 2 hours and the Texans have to have at least one man surviving.
The bottom photo shows the hordes of Mexicans that have broken into the fort preparing to assault the last Texans holding out in the ruined Church.  The Mexicans won this game on the last turn.
Meanwhile, Eric was able to join in a Renaissance wargame between the Italians and French, and James enjoyed watching the competition of Lord of the Rings wargaming.
Lana and the girls had a lovely tea party at home, with everyone getting dressed up specially, all the fine cutlery and plates laid out and fancy food for all to share.  According to Rose, one of the highlights was that Martin "even had a glass cup and plate and he didn't even break them!"

18 January 2010

Feeling a Little Horse

Yesterday we were able to give Martin a great treat.  One of the ladies with whom Lana and her mum attend Quilting classes has a farm with miniature horses.  Horses that are Martin's size!
We don't know where Martin's fascination with horses come from - perhaps it is genetic.  But we can't work out what triggered off his love considering we have nothing to do with horses in our little village.
When he awoke yesterday morning Martin came into our room with a fresh nappy, wet ones, clothes and whatever else he needed ready to go.  This was at around 8:30 and we weren't going to leave until around Midday.
The miniature horses are pretty amazing.  Just like real horses only little.  The horses are very inquisitive and quickly came in from the edges of the fields to check us out.  There were lots of foals and horse families, all coming up close and personal.  You can see from these photos how we were right amongst them all, close enough to pat and examine.  There were about 20 horses in our paddock, enough for all to share.
The horses which were for shows were in other paddocks and our hosts were very happy to show us all their awards.
Notice how only Eric (and me out of the photo) were wearing a hat.  When we left home at midday, the traditional local mid-summer cooling mists were rolling in to the village.  By the time we were 5 minutes from home, there was no more mist, just a glorious clear Summer's day.
The generous winds fooled us into thinking it wasn't as warm as it was, so Lana and Ariel both came home a little redder than they would have liked.

14 January 2010

Sorting good and bad

I thought it was time to give you some idea of what we have been doing over the last 11 months.
We are in charge of the local Post Office.  It is a very small office, with full post office services, but all procedures are manual.  Some of the daily paperwork is in triplicate with multiple duplicate subsidiary forms with plenty of totals and subtotals all over the forms.  These are a result of lots of historical use and so we just inherit what we have been given.
The majority of Post Offices in Australia are fully computerised but we are just too small.  There are plenty of other manual post offices around Australia but they are typically in various little country towns and villages.
We also do not have mail delivery to people's homes. All mail comes to the post office and we sort and place it in each person's folder.  You can see the folder system behind Ariel.
Locals then pop in during the day and collect their mail.  Ariel has been doing the mail for some years now and knows many of the relationships of the locals well.
"Oh, you're Jane Doe.  Your mail is with your friend John Citizen and his son Fred Bloggs."
We also get challenging delivery targets such as one address to "Daddy, So and So Street, [Our Village]".
There were lots of potential "Daddy"s in So and So Street, so we had to have the letter on display and the whole village was able to help pin point the correct Daddy.
One of the first things we did upon taking over the ship was create a new Post Office bench which gave us more room to handle all the letters and parcels, and add more shelving and drawers to organise all the stamps, forms, stickers, packing, boxes, tape and so on.
The key to improving the system was organisation and a willingness to delve into the manual to work out what the procedures should be.  Now that is very dry reading!

11 January 2010

Visiting Dead People

We have been attending a great little station church that is in one corner of our large country parish on Sunday afternoons. It is in a lovely area and right behind the typical white board church is the cemetery.
On one of our first visits, Rose asked us, "Can we visit the dead people?"
So we regularly visit - and pray for - the "dead people". The tomb stones the children are peeking around in this photo are from around 1880 or so.

10 January 2010

Another little brother

Whilst we have be on a blogging hiatus, we have neglected to mention some important news. We should see another Bruggie baby arrive in about 7 to 9 week's time.
Martin points at Lana's stomach and mentions the baby is in there. Soon he will have a little brother to play with. And so will all the rest of the family.
(In this photo Ariel is enjoying herself chasing after Martin - round and round the treasure table)

Everything is on track and progressing well. Lana is getting tired and not enjoying the heat at all. Summer pregnancies are not at all fun, considering the growing in-built water heater and general heat, water and weight joys.

Hopefully, this baby won't require the same excitement that Martin raised!

9 January 2010

Where is Stress Testing

Lana and I were in the hospital recently getting some tests done (more details in the next post) when we noticed this directions board.

Those looking for "Stress Testing" would not be helped.

(Stress Testing was actually in the other direction.)

I have Come To Trim Your Lawn

Even though the shop has taken quite a bit of our time, the boys still take care of a number of the villager's lawns.
Typically Eric uses the ride-on mower doing the bulk of the lawn while James uses the weed trimmer to clear around the edges.
Here is James showing his fine work outfit.
  • Hat for sun protection.
  • Boots for feet protection.
  • Sunglasses for eye protection (and general cool factor)
  • Strap to make managing the trimmer easier.
All in all, not a bad image. Oh, the serious expression is just for effect.

Beware the Caped Avenger!

Martin has a great black cape, fine camouflage gumboots and an old ski pole to use as a horse. What else would one need to go on an adventure?

Carpet Snakes and Good Neighbours

Last week Eric and I were up in country Northern New South Wales helping friends of ours set up the systems for a new business.
On the way home one afternoon our friend was driving along the country road and suddenly slammed on the brakes.
"Ooh! A snake!" she said.
I quickly grabbed the camera as she backed the car to a more safe distance. The snake was a large carpet snake lazily resting right across the road - all 10 feet or so. I took some lovely photos and we looked out for other cars so no-one would mistakenly run the snake over.
A local fellow was coming out of a nearby driveway and asked what we had found.
"A snake. Any idea how to get it out of the way? We tried throwing a few sticks at it, but the snake didn't care much."
He didn't say much but came out of his vehicle and strolled over, examining the snake. He then went to one end and grabbed his tail, with appropriate small leaps worthy of the late Steve Irwin, pulling the snake across the road.
But the snake had other ideas. He wanted to be back on the OTHER side of the road. So we wisely left the snake to go back across the road to where he wanted to be.
Ah. Steve Irwin would be so proud!

Grammar Lesson Miss understood

Rose visited Grandma and explained her recent doings, "Clare, Martin and me went outside ..."
Grandma tried to do her bit for better grammar in the world and interrupted, "Clare Martin and I"
Rose paused and continued, "Clare, Martin and me ..."
"Clare, Martin and I," tried Grandma once more.
Rose looked at Grandma seriously, "You weren't there, Grandma. It was Clare, Martin and Me!"

Ah well. Perhaps she is too young yet for that lesson.

(Here are Rose, Clare and Martin enjoying some costumes. Martin's overalls are from camouflage material we brought back from the US. We knew we wouldn't be able to get that kind of material here.)