Wibbly Wobbly Weightloss and a Blogging Break


Wibbly Wobbly Weightloss
LilySlim Weight loss tickers

We’re a bit early this week, for reasons which will become clear at the end of the post.  It has been a great week for healthy eating and healthy dates with my husband.  On Monday Gary and I played 50 minutes of badminton.  My heart and lungs were burning, I ached all over and was soaked through with sweat but it felt so good.  I’ve always enjoyed racket sports but haven’t really played since I got married.  It was honestly so much fun!  Fifty minutes flew by, and I found it was much like riding a bicycle – you just don’t forget how.  I was a little rusty at first but it soon came back to me.  Gary and I always have much fun together and we giggled all the way through the 50 minutes!  Although, I’m thinking much of the laughter was aimed at me rather than with me!

I had a yoga class booked to go to the next day, but I was so stiff I was struggling to get from sitting to standing.  Yoga was out of the question(!) so I cancelled.  Next week maybe.  I have played badminton a couple more times, getting stiffer each time!

All this aerobic exercise has helped me to shift another 1Ib and I am proud to say I have now lost 19Ib in total.  Still slow but I’m really alright with that.  So far any changes I have made feel like ones which I’d be happy to maintain for the rest of my life.

I’d like to direct you to a couple of other posts this week:

1) Phyllis wrote another fabulous post about all she has learnt about healthy eating.

2) Audria wrote her own update and included a lovely recipe for Fish Tacos

Taking a Break

I wasn’t planning to even take a school break, let alone a blogging break, but there are things we all want to do and they don’t include formal home school or computer time.  The children have asked to begin having the same school terms and holidays as their friends.  Funnily enough, we are too busy this summer to need to find extra projects and fun stuff to do to keep us all out of mischief!  I’ve decided to take a couple of weeks off to focus on my home, in particular this home school room which we still haven’t finished.  I will also be finalising our curriculum plans for next year.  The children will be taking some time to focus on having fun with their friends, who are currently off school.  They will keep up with their maths and writing, but that’s it.

There will be no more posts until Saturday 30th August, which will be a wibbly wobbly one.  This is so I only miss one week of wibbly wobbliness.  Normal posting will resume the 1st September.

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer, laughing and having huge amounts of fun with your friends and family.  See you in September!

Fibonacci, Da Vinci and the Golden Ratio



In my last Fibonacci post I wrote about how Fibonacci set himself a question and then went about answering it.  The resulting sequence has been intrinsically linked to the golden ratio ever since.  I am very grateful for Denise’s input in the comments section of that particular post because I was still confused.  How on earth did Fibonacci know that this sequence would turn up in his rabbit problem.  She set me straight, however, by stating ‘there really wasn’t any “why” behind Fibonacci’s rabbit story. It was just an excuse to practice with the new Hindu-Arabic number system and to show other Europeans how to calculate stuff. It’s a fun number pattern to play with, but the fact that it connects to a ratio that shows up in nature is an unintended coincidence.’  Thank you Denise, that makes much more sense to me now!

In mathematics, two quantities are in the golden ratio if their ratio is the same as the ratio of their sum to the larger of the two quantities.   The Golden Spiral is simple mathematics beginning with the Golden Ratio, expanding to Golden Rectangles, and then by drawing curves through the corners of the Golden Rectangles to reflect the Golden Spiral. The Golden Spiral was first discovered by Pythagoras in the 5th century B.C. as a mathematical expression but it has been recognised by man in nature for 4000 years and has been around since the beginning of time.  It can be seen in galaxies, hurricanes, shells, sunflowers and all aspects of nature including DNA.


During the Renaissance artists used the Golden ratio, or the Divine Proportion (a term coined first by Da Vinci in his book ‘De Divina Proportione’), extensively in their paintings and sculptures to achieve balance and to make the art immediately aesthetically beautiful to the eye.

Leonardo used it in his painting The Last Supper:

da vinci gr 3

And in his Mona Lisa:


And again with a spiral drawn between opposite corners of each rectangle:


The children watched a lovely relaxing video demonstrating extensively how Da Vinci used golden geometry in his painting of the Mona Lisa:

I found particularly this video interesting and it introduced the children to the idea of subliminal messages.  It was particularly fascinating to see the faces which appear in the back ground when one turns the picture on its side!  Who knows whether Da Vinci purposefully painted the faces in as a subtle cipher to be found.  Somehow it wouldn’t surprise me.  He was known for his sense of humour and practical joke playing.  Maybe as he painted he smiled at all he had hidden for those in the future to find.  Or maybe they were there entirely by accident.

Maybe he measured everything to reflect the golden ratio, but I wonder if he knew just how far mathematicians would one day dissect his paintings.  Maybe, just maybe his head was so filled with what he called the divine proportions he painted using them without the need for measurements.  Maybe it all happened very naturally.  Or maybe the reason it took him so long to complete the Mona Lisa is because he measured every angle, every length.  Who knows?  One thing is for sure.  The world remains as fascinated today with his painting as it has done in the years gone by, and this fascination shows no signs of abating any time soon.

This was a good introduction, especially for L11, who had chosen to study Da Vinci for her project this term.

Help please….


We are all making headway choosing curriculum for this academic year.  However, I am struggling to find something I can use as a first aid curriculum/guidance.  One of L’s electives is first aid but I’m coming up empty.  Would anyone have any ideas?

Also C wants to do a second creative writing course as one of her electives.  The three older children will already be following a creative writing course together, but she loves to write and would like to do a second one.  She wants it very much to be a story writing course rather than a complete writing course.  Would anyone have one they could recommend?

Artist Study: Da Vinci and his Horses


Over the past few days school has been replaced by horses.  We have been studying, taking photos of, drawing and studying drawings of horses.  We have tried (unsuccessfully) to become as obsessed with horses as Leonardo Da Vinci was.  Horses just don’t float our boats with quite the same vigour that they obviously did for Da Vinci!  That said, thanks to a rather fabulous little book called Leonardo's Horse we were quite excited about the activities we had coming after the drawings:DSC_0689

This book is all about Leonardo’s dream to build a huge bronze horse.  We have already looked into Leonardo’s obsession with flight, his study of birds and how they might help man achieve his dream of soaring through the sky.  Birds weren’t the only animal Da Vinci studied in-depth.  Horses were another.  And this book really captures the essence of the man the world knew as Leonardo Da Vinci:


From his sketches and ideas of war machines, bridges and flying machines to his adoration of horses, it does a great job of helping the reading get inside the workings of Da Vinci’s mind:


It tells the story of how Da Vinci drew, designed and then sculpted an enormous clay horse and how it was trashed during Italy’s war with the French.  Through pictures it shows his obsession with horses and , ultimately, how he felt he had failed miserably to bring his dream to fruition:


The book doesn’t end at the point of Leonardo’s death.  No, it continues the tale of passion, belief and dreams and how exactly 500 years after Da Vinci built his clay horse a bronze horse built in his name was finally unveiled:


This was a picture book which was a joy to read, but even more of a joy to look at.  The drawings told a story all of their own and made us all want to dig a bit deeper and experience the wonder for ourselves.  It inspired us a great deal in our first instalment of a Da Vinci artist study.

The first thing I did was photocopy lots of Da Vinci’s own horse drawings and sketches for the children to study:





After printing them out the children studied and drew some of their own:



DSC_0695And some of their sketches:


Next, using the instructions given in the above book, we began the process of making our own bronze horse.  It wouldn’t be 24 feet high; it wouldn’t even be 24 inches high.  Possibly 24 cm…


Of course we couldn’t do it exactly like they did (I didn’t have a secret stash of spray on rubber for starters), but we did it the best we could, with what we had.  First the children made clay horses:



DSC_0699horses T12 did particularly well with his, using the rod principles in the book, he supported his horse with a rod running down its back (A chopstick) and managed to make a horse which stood up on its hind legs:


Then we decided to use plasticine and a plastic horse to make our own mould.  First L11 warmed up the plasticine until it was malleable enough to press the plastic horse into half way:


She did this with both sides in order to make two moulds which would eventually fit together to make one horse (at least that was the theory).  She mixed some plaster and poured it into the mould:



We let it dry and then carefully we peeled back the plasticine to create two halves of a horse:


In the book it talks about all the problems they had throughout the project and how they solved each one.  The moment we began casting we began having our very own problems, mainly to do with horses limbs and heads breaking off!  So we got to problem solving and came up with the idea of super gluing everything together.  I don’t know if you have ever tried supergluing plaster but it is neither simple nor easy, and in the main unsuccessful.  We are not a family to give up though and through sheer grit and determination (and lots of willing the glue to dry on the plaster before it stuck to our fingers!) we managed a slightly lopsided horse statue.  We stuck the horse in some clay to make it seem as if it had four legs which were actually the same length (they really weren’t) and to help it to stand:


L11 painted it with bronze paint and we sat back and admired.  Actually we sat back, relieved the project was over and done with before starting to pick the glue off our fingers:


Not too dissimilar to the one in Venice (!):

leonardo horse

Wibbly Wobbly Weightloss: week 7


One brick at a time, One choice at a time, One day at a time.


This has been a really positive week for me.  Things are gradually changing and I really think they are changing for good this time.  Each change I make I try to listen to what my body is telling me and go with that.  Just recently, as you know, I’ve been trying to eat more during the day and less in the evening.

I struggle to eat anything before 11am, a knock back from the insomnia when I was too tired to eat (and anyway I had eaten quite enough over night to keep me going thank you very much).  In the past I would often eat my toast at 11 and skip lunch and be starving by 3pm when I would begin my quest to feed the 5000.  Actually it was just me, but I do remember eating a lot from early afternoon onwards.  It was not always unhealthy food.  I actually really enjoy healthy food and absolutely always eat far more than my five a day (love, love, love my veggies!).  It’s just I was really hungry until I fell into bed at 3am.

This past week I have done my best to eat most of my food before 4pm.  I still can’t eat in the morning before 11ish, but with only a smoothie or a slice toast I am able to fit in lunch.  Lunch is now our biggest meal of the day and tends to be the most calorific (not that I count any).  Because it is not that long since I have eaten (only an hour since breakfast), my portion sizes are smaller.  We then have a tea with sandwiches once Gary gets home at 3pm, before heading off to the leisure centre.  At this point I don’t seem to feel hungry.  I am still munching away on our evening cup of tea and snack with Gary in front of Castle dvd, but every night this week I have thought how unnecessary the snack was to me.  I wonder now how much is habit rather than need?

This is really just a (very) long-winded way of saying my body loves eating before 4pm and overall in a 24 hour period seems to need less than before.   Another rather positive side effect is that it has also stopped the incessant nagging from the children that they are starving.  Eating more food  earlier on suits them too.

In the coming weeks I will be focusing not on how much weight I lose but how much health I gain.  If I can make this a journey about making lifestyle changes rather than trying out the newest or latest fad diet, I might have a chance of some weight coming off and staying off.  That said, I am pleased to say I have lost another 1Ib this bringing my total weight-loss to 18Ib.  Can I hear a yipidee dipidee?  I would say this is still down to moving more rather than eating less.  I have walked the 45 minutes home from the gym most days.  Next week Gary is taking me into the gym on our date night (I’ve not had the courage to go in by myself yet) and after that we have booked a court for an hour of badminton.  It is such a healthy date night I feel all virtuous!!  I have also booked myself onto a yoga course and I am debating a bit of Pilates and maybe even a swim.  We’ll see, but the more I move this body, the more I want to move it!

I’ve also been putting some of my new knowledge to work and trying out various things.  I’m incredibly bad at following recipes and the like, so will often play around with ingredients until I find what I’m looking for.  I find this process much more satisfying than following the results of someone else’s playing about time!

This week I was intent on buying, preparing and freezing small freezer bags full of fresh fruit.  My goal was to exchange the toast and Marmite breakfast with ice-cold smoothies:

Ribbet collagefruit

I managed to fill ten bags with two large ladle-fuls to each bag.  I will freeze them and add them to apple juice each morning before whizzing them up for smoothie heaven!  I have plans to play about with freezing home-made yogurt in cubes and adding them to bags of fruit and chopped bananas for the children to help themselves to each day for a snack (they will add them to milk and blend).  I was gratified to see how little space they take up in the freezer and next week will buy more fruit to make enough to last two weeks.

I have also been playing about with a granola recipe.  The addition of the juice to the smoothie above gave me the idea to soak some just rolled oats in pine-apple juice.  In the end I mixed together pineapple juice, small amount of oil and the last dregs of the honey and poured the fluid over the oats.  After mixing thoroughly I spread them over a baking sheet and popped them in a hot oven:


I then mixed half a bag of mixed seeds with half a bag of sultanas and half a bag of dried apricots (which I chopped up):


I added the fruit and seed mix to the oats:

DSC_0709granola And put them in a hot oven.  Once they had started to brown I turned off the oven and allowed them to dry out completely in the residual heat of the oven:


They are seriously good and made only from natural and healthy ingredients.  I left them to cool and stored them in an airtight container.  I made these for the children’s breakfast for them to eat a small amount of before going swimming each morning.

Thanks for all your encouragement last week.  I love to read about your tips, successes and very much enjoy the cheering on!!  I want to point you to a couple of other posts:-

1) Phyllis wrote another excellent post on why she won’t be a trim and healthy momma.  A blogging friends  emailed me recently concerning this book saying how well it had worked for her.  I’ve never heard of it before, but Phyllis gives a very clear and helpful explanation of why it is not for her.  Many helpful posts can be found at her blog On the Mend, where she documents everything she is learning about a cancer fighting diet.  It’s very good stuff!

2) Audria posted about her week here and is going to be trying out a recipe for fish tacos this week.  I’m kind of hoping she will post it because I love fish (Hint, hint Audria!).

How has everyone else done this week?  Any of you care to show a before and after photo to inspire the rest of us?  Any non bloggers want to share a recipe or write a guest post for me about a health related topic?  I’d love for you all to get as involved as you want to.  We are going to do this, I just know it!

If there is any way I can pray for you please do leave a message or shoot me off an email at the address above (right hand corner of blog).  Thanks so much for joining in and for all your enthusiasm.  I’ve also added a few more pins to my pinterest inspiration board which you might enjoy having a peek at!

Response to ‘A Few Thoughts…’


I was slightly overwhelmed by the care and support given in response to my post about us moving to a bought curriculum.  You have all given me so much food for thought and I appreciate it more than you can know that you all went to such trouble to share your own choices.

This past week has been all about the children finishing off their projects for this term and me looking at curriculum for after Christmas.  I will be checking out each and every curriculum you were all so kind to write about in your comments.

As it stands we are going to continue with our maths curriculum (Galore Park) and I have just ordered a writing curriculum from America which has cost $79 just to post it here!

A couple of days ago I asked the children to sit down and write a list of everything they were interested in learning come the New Year.  I have been blown away by their responses which include a very eclectic mix of financial management, home making and photography as well as the expected history and biology.  In total I have over 20 subjects between them to fit into our week.  I’m not convinced next year is going to be any easier after all, curriculum or not!

What I have noticed is that we will be doing lots of different things each day.  We have never had this type of variety in our school and it is quite exciting to imagine!

Although there is a phenomenal amount of curriculum out there, I am quite enjoying perusing through it all, particularly whilst I am looking for resources to use for their more unusual courses.

We will now have a week off before beginning our new term, which will be all about Native Americans.  Thank you once again for all your help and lovely comments, the support I get from this blogging community is priceless!

A few thoughts….


Apologies, this is probably one of those posts which is of interest to nobody but me.

I have come to the conclusion that home schooling is God’s way of ensuring the grass does not grow under my feet.  His way of making sure I do not become too complacent.  Maybe even His way of preventing me getting stuck in a rut.  One can’t you see, when one has to change direction constantly to keep up with the needs of their family or (in this case) with the needs of oneself.

Many, many people have emailed me over the past three years wondering how on earth I managed to school as I did.  My answer has always been that I have 6 extra hours in my day to school plan, and organise and then execute said plans the next morning.  Those extra hours, created by an insomnia I frankly wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, gifted me with time.  Time to research, time to pull together a full and yet fun home-made curriculum for my five children, time to blog about it and meet all you lovely people and time to be on the computer when it had absolutely no impact on those around me or my relationships with them, because they were, y’know, doing what normal people were doing – sleeping.

But something has changed, and that something is me.  I have changed.  I now sleep very, very well thanks to my doctor’s prescription.  I forgot to take my medicine Sunday night – the first time since the brilliant Doctor figured out what was wrong and got it sorted.  That night I was awake all night, with my mind racing, exciting me with all the possibilities of life.  In some ways it was good to have me back.  Ideas rushed through this very overactive brain of mine all night long.  The night was lit up with potential and promise.  In other ways, it was exhausting, and when I got up the next day it was with an aching head, aching body and feeling absolutely terrible.  It shocked me to realise that this was really how I had felt my entire life.  I just didn’t know any different and so just got on with it.  Now I know differently.  Now I know what it is to feel normal.  To not have aching joints, heavy eyelids, fuzziness in a brain which whizzed at top speed.  I’m not sure I even knew what it felt like to not have a dull head ache all. day. long.

But since I have slept, since that wonderful day the doctor told me she knew what would stop the racing, that she could give me that ‘off switch’ I had longed for all my life, I have felt well.  Not just well but exuberant.  I am pain-free.  There is no heaviness.  I have no need for caffeine, sugar or food to get me through the day.  Life feels, dare I say it, easy, rather than everything being a struggle.  There is, as is so often the case, a down side.  I have lost 6 hours of every day, 42 hours a week.  That amounts to almost four extra 12 hour days a week, which is an incredible 182 extra 12 hour days a year.  And it is showing in the sheer amount I am not able to do anymore.  I have thought about stopping my blog.  I have thought about putting the children into school.  I have thought about just not taking the medicine.  Something has to give.

I am very blessed to have a husband who is support extraordinaire.  I am able to garble seeming nonsense to him which somehow he unravels and makes sense of and even comes up with a few workable ideas.  He was clear.  I was not stopping my blog.  I was not sending my children to school.  And I was not, absolutely not, going to stop taking my medicine.  So what have we come up with?

The way we home school is very time intensive so we decided we needed to reduce the time required behind the scenes.  This will probably take the form of using curriculum somebody else has written.  I need to do a bit more research for this but we have decided it won’t be a one curriculum fits all.  Each child will be assessed for their individual interests, strengths and weaknesses, and curriculum chosen to suit them.  There will still be some project based learning but my guys need more than that.

If anyone has any to recommend I’d love hear them.  I have planned and bought resources up until Christmas, but after that I’m open to any ideas….

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