Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is not quite as commercialised here in Australia as it is in America.  Not yet, anyway.  I did see some Valentine’s Day cards in some of the shops, and a few things here and there, but not the aisles full of valentine lollies and gifts.  We wanted to make it special, here are a few things we did:

Valentine's Day

Heart-shaped pancakes.  Yum.

  Valentine's Day

Some new pencil cases full of new coloured pencils, and some activities to do.

Valentine's Day

  Valentine's Day Valentine's Day


A trip to the park to have lunch with Dada.  He surprised the kids with some new water bottles to enjoy, to replace the ones they had that are completely beat up- peeling, dented, scratched, etc.

        Bobble Art - Rocket Large Drink Bottle.jpg Bobble Art - Dino Drink Bottle.jpgBobble Art - Flower Heart Large Drink Bottle.jpg

Some more activities at home.  From here and here.  Too young for Skeeterbug but he enjoys them anyway.     Valentine's Day

These were just right for Jitterbug.

Valentine's Day

Finishing up with a simple game.  Roll the dice and fill in the heart with some red M&Ms that Grandma brought us from the Las Vegas store.  When it’s full, eat all the M&Ms!

Valentine's DayValentine's DayValentine's Day

Ladybug didn’t play the game but did help us finish off the treats!  We played twice…Shhhhh

And our Valentine’s sensory bin.

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!

That Ice Block Thing

You know, that ice block thing that everyone all over blogland does in the summer months?  I think I first saw it at Let’s Explore here.  Well, it is summer here in Australia so we gave it a go.  I saw over here on Counting Coconuts this great idea to add colours to it.  I froze some ice cubes with drops of food colouring to add to our ice block.

I really should have thought about it more.  If you put the frozen ice cubes in water they will melt before the ice block has a chance to freeze.  So we ended up with a mostly brownish-yellowish glob.  So not like the beautiful colours I was hoping for. 

Love this squat.  How do kids do that?

ice block

The kids had fun with it anyway.  Skeeterbug (6)  mostly wanted to eat the ice.  Jitterbug (3.5) was quite intent on getting out all of the treasures.

ice block

I gave them a tray full of salt, some spoons, and some things to hit the ice with.  Kept them occupied for almost an hour.  Nice!

Valentine Sensory Bin

Our first ever sensory bin!  I’ve wanted to do this for a long time.

Valentine sensory bin

For the main bits I used white rice dyed with red food colouring.  I used three different jars…one with heaps of colour, one with just a little, and one somewhere in between.  Wish I’d taken a picture of these.  They looked so pretty all lined up on the bench.

 Valentine sensory binValentine sensory bin

The effect was quite nice.

In the bin I just threw in whatever I had that was the right color.  Little sparkly pom-poms, pony beads (from the dollar aisle at Big W), foam stickers, red jewel stickers, and magnetic X and O letters.  Also several scoops and little dishes for the kids to pour into.

Valentine sensory bin

         The kids loved it!

Valentine sensory binValentine sensory binValentine sensory bin

I’d recommend starting with a clean floor.  We couldn’t help but get rice on the floor with three kids playing in it.  A clean floor meant we could just scoop it back up with our hands back into the tub and then vacuum up the rest. 

So fun!

Books, Books Everywhere

Seems we are constantly picking up books around this house.  They are everywhere.  The kitchen table, the couches, the floor in the lounge, the kids’ beds, their floor, etc.  At any given time we have about eighty books checked out from the library.  Yes, eighty.  Eight-oh.


See all those books in the background?  Ugh.  Definitely need to get to sorting those out.  We moved the bookshelf but didn’t get them piled back on nicely.  This is in our kitchen.  We are renting this house and our “schoolroom” has become more of a “storage-of-school-things room” while we do school at the kitchen table or sitting on the couches in the lounge.  Thus the bookshelf which holds school-y things on the top shelf.  I hope to move some of the books to hold trays of things to keep Ladybug busy while we are schooling.

In the meantime, this is what lunch often looks like in our family.  I’ve thought about having a no-books-at-the-table policy but really I don’t mind it at lunch as long as we aren’t getting food all over our books.

Afternoon Games

One day last week after lunch Skeeterbug asked if we could play a game.  He chose Guess Who? but we only have a tiny travel version that I found at an op shop (thrift store).  Instead of flipping the characters up and down there are these tiny little cards that must be placed in these tiny little slots each time you play.  The boys were getting it ready while I finished something or other.  I was so surprised to see Jitterbug (3.5) putting his together.  He was working so hard to get it all set up, all by himself.  Look at the concentration.


Zero frustration.  If they fell over he’d just fix it.  Normally I would expect to hear a frustrated “I can’t dooooo it!”   Not this time.  Ever so calm.  When we finished the first game he set it all up again.


When we were done Jitterbug wanted to choose the next game.  Off he went to the game closet and came back with a Leapfrog Go Fish-type game that I also found at an op shop. 



Apparently it’s quite fun.  See that yellow card holder?  The game came with four of them.  They are awesome for little hands to hold on to a handful of cards.  Here’s a blue one.


Jitterbug kept calling that N card with the nut on it “popcorn”.  He had an M card with a picture of a map on it.  I didn’t think he knew the word map so I wondered what he would say.  When it was his turn to ask for it, he asked his brother if he had “Australia”.  Never mind that it was a map of the USA.  I thought that was adorable.  Apparently for him maps only come in “Earth” and “Australia”. 

Here’s Little Miss Annoyed that I wouldn’t let her see the picture on the camera.


Mad that I wanted to take another picture first.  Quite adept at letting us know when she doesn’t get what she wants.  She’s just gorgeous.  We love her and her temper toddler-ness.


C’mon, Mama, would you quit taking pictures already?  It’s your turn!

Ready for More!

Dearest Jitterbug has started pretending to read.  Meaning, he’ll point out words and tell me what they say.  The other day he had me pause a movie so he could walk up to the tv and point at a word.  “That says ‘Movie is done,’” he tells me.  He spends more and more time looking at books.  He wants longer books read to him and pays attention to the whole story in a way he hasn’t before.  Last week I watched him “read” Go Dog Go to himself, looking at the pictures to try to remember the words.  He knows most of his letter sounds but he gets a little confused between the A and the V, or the N and the Z for example.

On Sunday he excitedly brought his “drawing thing” to me exclaiming over the dinosaur that he’d (accidentally) drawn.  After I took this picture he immediately scribbled some more pictures, pointing out the different things.  “This is a dinosaur, this is a robot, this is a dragon, this is a robot.  Two robots!”


His current obsession is our new bug catcher.  He wants it by his bed every night and he carries it around the house during the day.  I told him the locust would need water and he was so mad at me when I wouldn’t let him open the top and fill it up with water from the sink.  Spraying the water in with a spray bottle was not what he had in mind.


Can’t wait to watch you grow, Jitterbug.  There is a huge world out here just waiting for you to explore it.

First Day of School 2011

This year we ended up starting school the same day as Victorian public schools.  I had intended to start last week around Australia Day but didn't have everything quite ready in time.  I'm hoping to do more year-round schooling over the coming year.  The various curricula  we are using is generally scheduled for the American 36-week school year.  Here in Australia the school year is closer to 40 weeks.  I'm not planning to take extended breaks for the school holidays between terms, though we may scale it down some during those weeks.

Skeeterbug was very excited this morning.  Up and dressed immediately, jobs done quickly, breakfast eaten and then “When can we start school?” over and over again until all was ready to go.  We started off with circle time.  We got out the musical instruments, sang all of our various songs (including Itsy Bitsy Spider as requested by Jitterbug, who likes to play the drums with a sly smile on his face during our songs!), and reviewed all the daily calendar items.  I chose to use a pocket chart for our calendar for now.  The bad part about using it this way is that I have to take it off the wall in the kitchen and bring it into the lounge for circle time, where it must sit on the floor since it is too flimsy to stand up.  Sitting it on the floor leaves it open for Ladybug to walk across, which she did several times.  I didn’t want to go buy a foam board ($9 at BigW was the cheapest I could find)  so we’ll have to see how this goes.

first day of school 2011

After circle time it was time for our Treasure Hunt!  I packed a box full of some new school supplies, games, and puzzles for them to find.  They had to find the clues and spell the word to find the treasure.  Great fun.

first day of school 2011   first day of school 2011
first day of school 2011

I also made a little First Day of School booklet for them to fill out.  I plan to have them do one of these every year as a keepsake.  It includes basic information like age, height, and weight as well as room for their favourite colour, toy, book, etc.  I also added a place for them to say what they want to do when they grow up.  Skeeterbug said he wants to be an “airplane flyer.”  I imagine that’s just what his Dada would have said at that age.

We’ll do first day of school pictures with them holding signs they decorated also.  Once I can get Skeeterbug to finish his, that is.  Too much colouring and filling things in for one day!

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