Building a Birdhouse With a Child

Making a birdhouse with my child was a fun activity using nature to interact with nature. His birdhouse has been swinging in the garden from a cherry blossom tree for over a year now and I’m pleasantly suprised how it has endured the seasonal changes and weather.
Building a birdhouse was an activity which certainly required adult assistance and was quite time consuming for a seven year old. Some older children might be able to construct one independently, although a bit of guidance from an adult would most likely be helpful, particularly during the first time. We have found it a good project to work on during the holidays or on a weekend that has ample free time available. Jonty has made two now. The first one hangs in our garden, the second he gave to his best friend for Christmas. We really need to make a third. A friend asked Jonty to make her one and he said he would, and even though she has made Jonty some recycled birdhouses, we haven’t reciprocated, which I feel awful about, but it is a time consuming activity and our lives are so busy. But no excuses, we really ought to do it soon.
The first step was to go hunting in the yard for leaves and sticks. We have plenty of gum trees around us so this wasn’t too hard. Depending on where you live you may need to go on a bushwalk or an excursion to a national park. The trick was to find sticks a variety of sizes that were able to be broken into smaller sizes easily enough.
We used an empty juice bottle as the base to stick the sticks and leaves onto. Cutting the holes out for the birdhouse was tricky and certainly needed to be done by an adult. We made sure that the hanging string was in place right from the start.
Birdhouse made by a child
After that it was a case of using the hot glue gun to apply the sticks. There were a few burnt fingers here (for both of us!). Assembling the sticks require a bit of thought and time to fit them together like a jigsaw so there was minimal gaps. I would line up a stick, Jonty would glue it and apply it to the container. Just a hint, we ended up sitting on a large piece of cardboard to catch the dripping glue. This was the time consuming part of the project.
Child making Birdhouse with hot glue
Jonty first put bread and grapes (his idea!) into the birdhouse. The next time we went shopping we bought birdseed and kept a container in the pantry. It lasted a long time because the birds haven’t seemed to cotton on to the free food!
Birdhouse food
Although this was a time consuming project, it was a great chance to spend some quality time being creative with my son. If you have a block of time, I would heartily recommend this as an activity to try with your child. It’s also very exciting when birds eat from it, and a great chance to learn the names of various birds.
Project Birdhouse
Do you have birds in your garden? Do you ever feed them or have a birdbath? Any hints on tempting the birds to eat from our birdhouse more regularly?
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Why I Write (Blog Hop)

My lovely bloggy friend Rebecca from The Plumbette asked if I would join the current blog hop,”Why I Write” that is doing the rounds at the moment, .  I was flattered that Bec thought of me and I was keen to participate, writing is certainly one of my passions. Plus, it resembled a cyber chain mail and I was always a sucker for chain mail when I was a teen, (fun ones, not the pesky ones). I once even did a chain mail underwear swap! Well almost. You were supposed to send the next name on the list a new pair of undies with tags on it. If everyone did it you would get 7 new pairs of undies! I sent a pair away, but then just couldn’t bring it upon myself to send people a letter asking for knickers, as much as I liked freebies!

Of course a blog hop is far more respectable then that!

OK. Let’s change the topic and start answering the questions.

What Am I Working On?
Well. Nothing except what I’m writing at this very moment! Which is generally the way I work with my blog. I was writing articles for a teens magazine, (Check out Bella if you know any teenage girls, it’s a gorgeous magazine that’s uplifting and without smut.) For some reason that work seems to have dried up the last couple of issues, (they must be getting some fabulous new writers), so for now my only writing outlet is my blog. I’ve explained how time is always an issue at this stage of life and it’s really hard finding the time to write. (See my little vent here) So generally I write then publish. I pretty well never have anything written in advance.

How Does My Writing Differ From Others?
My writing is different because I am different. My writing is me in print. I have no grand illusions that I am a super star writer. I often admire others eloquence and their ability to craft words into enchanting sentences that linger in your mind. I think I can make the mundane sound interesting enough, and I am assured by people that they like reading my work, so I am happy. I am an extremely open and honest person, so I am proud my blog reads like this. Sometimes people applaude my blog because it is so honest and they say there is not enough honesty in the blogosphere. I think there is a lot of raw emotive blog posts out there that people really identify with, but I’m happy that there are people making connections with what I’ve written also. I hope that when people read my work they feel accepted, they hear the friendly tone and they leave encouraged either with something to think about or they feel a bit happier and amused. (Sometimes even both?)

Why Do I Write?
I am a storyteller. Writing is my preferred medium to tell those stories. (Although if you know me, you will also know I’m quite fond of talking about my stories as well!)

I write because I enjoy it. I have always enjoyed writing. When I was in primary school, I would live for the creative writing lessons. During those lessons, I would write and write pages upon pages. I would concoct all types of stories – mystery, drama, adventure, fantasy. In high school English was hands down my favourite subject. I loved writing short stories. I also developed a real love for critical literacy and analysing literature. I have also loved reading, and I actually found a lot of enjoyment writing my English assignments on whatever novel or play we were studying. I used to keep diaries a lot in my teenage years also. I found one recently. What an experience it is to read your teenage words. It was a mixture of sweet memories combined with cringeworthy reflections.

When I left school, for a few years my writing outlet was writing plays that were performed by a drama group that I lead during my youth group days. Then I started teaching and for several years didn’t have time to write apart from update emails to family and friends.

One day I started blogging as a way to record the moments I was experiencing in motherhood. I actually just started writing about all the details leading up to beginning my blog, but it is getting far too long, so I’ve copied them into another blog post and will finish it another day and share it with you next Tuesday. It is enough to say that this little blog has become an immense source of enjoyment for me. I am constantly thinking up posts in my head and when I press publish I experience a surge of endorphins. I eagerly come back and check whether I have received comments and check how many readers were attracted to that post. I find blogging so motivating because you are able to receive feedback on what you have written and the blogging community is simply lovely.

How Does My Writing Process Work?
Constantly my mind is buzzing with sentences, phrases and whole paragraphs about things I would like to say. (I need to get better at jotting these thoughts down as I go) As soon as I’m able, I will sit down and type away. Sometimes I will write out an outline of what I want to say, and maybe a sentence or two that I don’t want to forget. Normally I just write based on my mental outline and as I write sometimes it changes direction, other times it gains clarity. While I am writing I pause a lot and think of the right word. When I talk, I often um and ah and can’t think of the word I want to use. When I write and I can’t think of the word I want, I stop, close my eyes and think until it suddenly appears. This is why I believe I write better than I speak. I also obsess on the flow of a sentence, often going back and backspacing. I am always re-reading as I write and often change words so it is not too repetitive. When I am finished, I like to let what I have written sit for awhile, overnight is ideal. Then I come back and edit. Sometimes the changes are small, sometimes they are dramatic. If I have made a lot of changes, I will leave it sit for awhile again if possible and then come back to it fresh. It is a constant source of consternation with me that even with this editing process and my slow writing method, I am a shocking proofreader! I don’t know how many times I will feel embarrassed as I read an old blog post and discover typos, grammar and punctuation mistakes. My mother sent me a message last week asking if she can get into my blog and fix my mistakes for me because she finds them every time I post! I immediately gave her access, because Lord knows I need the help, but first the Lord will have to help her work out how to find her way around the back end of a blog! Sincere apologies to anyone who notices the errors!

Where Do I Write?
Do you want the honest truth? I spent several hours this morning cleaning up my office to take this photo!

My office is very reflective of me. My passion for travel, my children, a glimpse into my own childhood, (some ornaments from when I was a girl) and Jonty’s picture of our family, triplet paintings and Trent’s kindy craft. 

Of all the areas where I am messy, my desk and office space has always been the worst. One of the highlights for Alex when we moved house last year is that he does not need to share an office with me anymore. We are now a two study family. I don’t blame him.

My space has been particularly bad since we moved in. I never properly moved into this spac

e. I had chucked a whole heap of photos up on the shelf above my computer to get them out of the way, and they have stayed that way for a whole year until today. The very long desk I work at has been completely littered with piles of junk. So long I could access the keyboard, I was OK to work at it. I can’t say that I’ve been feeling comfortable in here though and have been desperately trying to tidy it, but would only get so far and then mess it up again. So tonight, it’s just a pleasure working here. (So long I ignore the washing basket in the lounge room that has a whole pile of things that still need to be put away, and believe me, the next thing that needs sorting out is the office cupboard. So I still don’t feel officially ‘moved in’.) Perhaps another day I shall show you before and after pictures, but for now, this is where I work at my computer.

We did have a lap top that I used to write from on a lounge chair or at the dining room table, but I much prefer working at a desk. It’s better for my posture and I’m not as distracted by the TV when I work.

Who Is Next?
I am only nominating one blogger, and she has already written her reasons why she writes! It seems that this blog hop has pretty well done the rounds with those who are willing to participate in my circles.

So, let me introduce you to Eva from the Multitasking Mummy.

Eva is a Mummy to one 2 year old boy and blogs at The Multitasking Mummy about her personal and parenting experiences in the hope that other Mums will find it both reassuring and relatable. Eva loves writing and has recently begun her freelance writing career as well as working on a second blog where she will share her knowledge on all things Social Media and Blogging. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, pottering in the garden, reading magazines and enjoying red wine.
Read the reason why Eva writes here.

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First Day of Year 1

Jonty starts school again today after a two month summer break. He has now had his first day of year 1. It’s funny I’ve been thinking lately how grown up he is getting. But when I just looked at his photos from this morning, I’m grateful to see that he is still little. I’m cherishing this time while they are young.

It’s a bit funny being the parent bringing my child into school on the first day. I used to always be the teacher. I kind of miss that first day vibe. Greeting excited children, enthusiastic about the year ahead. Reassuring parents and making a good impression so they will have confidence leaving their precious offspring in your hands. Getting to know the students, learn names, (actually, I don’t miss that, I’m awful at remembering names), determine ability levels and work out how to best cater for the unique individual needs throughout the year. There is always a buzz of excitement as children are keen to display and use their new books and stationary. The clothes and shoes are often new, ready to become marked with stories of their school year. Although not too marked. I remember the awful feeling sending home a little girl who had enthusiastically rubbed black paint onto her paint shirt, but it soaked right through onto her uniform. It never came out. The Mum was not happy. Understandably. I made sure J Boy’s art shirt was plastic backed, just remembering this experience.

But today. Today was about being the parent. After weeks of preparing him for school, the day came. He has been nervous about his new teacher. She is known to be strict. Of course, since Jonty is very strong willed, The Accountant and I are delighted with situation, knowing that his teacher will ensure he be respectful of others and learn obedience. Jonty will learn soon enough that she also has a sense of humour and will be sensitive to his needs also. But over the last few weeks he has been nervous about starting school. Thank goodness he has been open and honest enough to share his concerns with me. I hope that he always will be able to feel comfortable to speak to me about what worries him. It has created some lovely moments of teaching where I have advised him of the need to apologise should he do something wrong (he will, I’m sure of it) and to accept responsibility for his behaviour and to recognise when he has done wrong and change the course of his behaviour. We have prayed together and I have seen him face his fears with a quiet confidence.

The Accountant and I both took him to school. Miss Rachael came in early and looked after the younger children. These are the type of things that mean a lot to Jonty, and quite frankly, Alex and I rather love sharing these moments with him. He has a brand new classroom. Lucky fellow.  Shiny, new and equipped with all the mod cons. He found his desk, and approved of it’s location. He said to me, “I love this spot. This is a great spot!” And so I left him sitting at his desk, ready for a year of learning and growing. I can’t wait to hear the stories of his day when he gets home.

My thoughts are also with the thousands of Queensland children who will not start school today because of the floods. We are praying that as the waters peak and recede they will have strength and grace to rebuild and continue your lives. I’m especially thinking of Bundaberg where I lived as a teenager and often visit still.

Did a child you love begin school today? What have been your first impressions of the school year for 2013?

Don’t forget to enter to win a Personal Planner. Click here because time is running out! (This competition has now ended.)

I Blog On Tuesday with Essentially Jess.

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