Tuesday, 28 December 2010

One of Felicity's playgroup offerings over the last few weeks. We have been quite mean to her- having been offered numerous blobs of paint/streaks and totally obliterated paper- when we know that she can produce nice pictures (they don' t have to be of anything in particular -just more than toddler blobs that we would expect of her brother!)- so I actually gave her a challenge and said that I wanted a snowman with blue eyes- and here he is....... along with copious cuddles and praisings and admirings and photos and filings in the cumulative picture file
A heap of Christmassy K***** kids- this so sums up my threee at the moment- a pile of togetherness- complete with the pinchings/pokings/joy/squabbling/fun that this entails- can't live with each other/can't live without each other.
An so it was Christmas/ And what have we done/ Another year over/ And a new one just beginning.........
And christmas came- it seemed so long in coming then was all of a sudden upon us and I didn't do half of the things that I promised myself- peppermint creams/Kringle loaf/crafting -spent all day Christmas eve going in circles trying to do bits to make Christmas day easier and getting more frustrated then was madly wrapping Ms presents at 10pm at night. But anyway the kids had a great time- all loved their special presents and I don't have too many things that need to be homed this year as family etc did great things like books. SJ had a Christmas of lego, FI of paper dolls and TP just loved his helicopter (which we bought him -even though it WAS plastic and WAS a battery toy) and has scarely been separated from it (and goodness forbid one of the others dare to approach it-let alone touch it). Principles are one thing but there are exceptions and I haven't seen too many wooden helicopters with winch arms ( like Whiskey Bravo on Sea Patrol) around........
Anyway I think over the next few days I am going to write myself a list of the things that I wish we had found time for and see if can incorporate them into our 'activity advent calendar' next year- of which we managed about 50% this year- December is such a busy month- seemed to spend half of my evenings creeping up to the activity chain and secretly snipping off 'another' activity that we didn't achieve.
I don't think that my four days at work going into Christmas helped- let alone my six hospitals in 10 hours day!
And the day before Christmas eve Felicity slipped on the ice and got a possible buckle fracture to wrist and us bad parents haven't sought official medical advice!
Need to try harder...

Friday, 17 December 2010

Playgroup? Pre-christmas explosion in activities

The result of a week at playgroup for Felicity! It got to the point I told them to feel free to ration her paper!! These are done with a salad spinner- no fancy equipment here. These ladies are strictly old school playgroup- with a 'painting table' and a 'sticking table' and with kids free to wander where they will. I must admit they do sing a few Jolly phonics songs at the begginning as their lip service to EYFS and I know that a few boxes get ticked behind the scenes but the remainder of the time is spent 'having their hair done by three year old hairdressers (braver women than I) or visiting miniture shop keepers.
It is very interesting-there has been lots of discussion on some of the HE forums about whether or not Playgroup is a good thing for any children OR for children who will be HE. There seems to have been quite a lot of thought that PG is 'spawn of the devil'. Well I have to say that my older two have loved Playgroup- Sebastian went until his vouchers stopped (at which point he was probably ready to finish) and Felicity 'would' be off to school fulltime in Jan- but will instead have another two terms at Playgroup- and they have got a lot out of it- maybe one or two not so desirables- but then they acquire those playing with children at the park sometimes! Tristan is due to start in January- so we will see how that goes. I think one of our sucess elements has been the fact that we have carefully considered how much they do- we have never utilised 'all' of their vouchers just becuase they are 'entitled' to them- playgroup has been an opt in decision.
Anyway other than this we have survived a week of intense pre-Christmas activities- 3 parties, Pantomime, Playgroup, Ballet, Gymnastics & Trampoline, Swimming & shopping- WOW I am meeting myself coming back- my poor socially deprived children!. Would say that I am looking forward to a weekend off-but now I go into four working days (some would say a 'rest!!!). Our seesaw of activities contsntly seems to have big swings in it- we either seem to be rushed off our feet chasing around- or I feel guilty that we aren't 'socialising'- that is entirely my guilt and wanting to outwardly demonstrate that my children aren't socially limited- rather than outside interference- but occasionally I crave a quiet cuddle on the sofa with story books or DVD!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

SJs freehand Hama beads- we tend to have little fussys with these- but this was quite a step on for him- moving on from filling in a shaped peg board to free hand pictures on a large plain board. He seems to be have a developing stage on a concentration front- all of a sudden finding him sitting doing a 'map' of the house or an activity book- however this has been long overdue as he regularly drives us to distraction by bouncing around the house- especially at tender moments!
Well half of the country has been snowed in and EVEN Nottingham gets an inch or so- the kids made a real fussy out of it on days 1 & 2 but by day 3 even they had realised that snow makes you cold-especially when you persistently pull off you carefully and lovingly applied mittens.

We have been doing quite a lot of baking recently and Felicity was particularly proud of her spider buns! We are trying to be good and cook more at the weekend- particularly bread.
We have done an advent activity calendar this year and have a number of baking acitivities on it. SJ has some Christmas cross stitch kits- he has been begging for more 'sewing' for a while- so we have one or two things on the go.
This year we have decided to celebrate the advent season more- I have felt for a few years that we have this big 'build up' for the stated day and so we have decided to celebrate the whole month in stead. This is probably a good habit to get the children into- especially as the shift work means that 'christmas' may be a mobile day for us anyway. Sooo we have factored in some family activities- pantomime, a couple of HE parties, Christmas walks etc as well as the flip side- making Christmas boxes for local homeless. It has been nice to do local this year as we did the overseas shoe boxes last year- so it has been good to think of a diffrent target audience- may even get me to hit the crochet a little harder for hats and scarfs next year!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Well last post started with my lovely boy- so it is the turn of my little princess this time. Bless her- all of her dressing up clothes so far have either been charity shop purchases/hand-me-downs or home made articles. But we had some vouchers which they were given last Christmas(!!!!) and she and I had a lovely half hour wandering around M&S deciding what to spend them on (which was actually quite hard work!). She had spotted the Snow White dress and said 'I really like that mummy'. Bless her-I don't think she could actually believe it when I said that she could have it- one of those moments you want to frame and replay. Of course now I am being neurotic around it- making her take it off before eating- but she looks a true little princess in it.
Then the princess turns into a fleecy pink fluffy bunny snuggle suit whilst displaying the Gods Eye that she helped to make at Forest School- she always seems to think that smiling nicely for the camera involves a maniacal grin!
Well we are coming to an end of our first run of Forest School and it has been good- but I do think we take a break after Christmas for a while- partly weather related and partly because I could see that they may degenerate into a 'nothing special' session- if we did it too often. I am also feeling quite stretched at the moment- with lots of activity things on during the week- we seem so busy all the time- that good quality home activities -like baking etc- seem to be falling at the wayside. There may be some climbing wall sessions coming up soon and TP is due to start Playgroup after Christmas -which will give SJ and myself some quality time to do some older actvities.
Playgroup- now there is a word which has swallowed a portion of my life in the last couple of months- and caused some sleepless nights. Won't be offering to take on Chairpersonship of any further groups for a while. I guess a part of me feels a little guilty not taking on arranging anything HE, whilst some of the other mums seem to whip activities out of hats- lets just say I never envisioned spending evenings writing Contracts for staff etc!
Anyway onto more pleasant topics- am cooking up lots of plans for advent- I think we will do an advent activity calendar this year. I think that I want to make more of the Christmas season rather than focusing on one day. So we are planning a mixture of activities-ranging from the traditional Pantomime to packing Gift Boxes for a Homeless Charity with a goodly mix of crafting and baking mixed in. I still have a lot of shopping to do for family ( the ones that I cannot get away with preserves hampers- that is).
Taking of which I have 4lbs of nectarines to attck tomorrow- just can't make up my mind whether to jam or chutney them.........

Friday, 12 November 2010

Twice in a week?

Wow- twice in a week?? My new strategy is aiming for shorter posts therefore getting past the feeling of it taking a whole evening?? PLUS I have a presentation to write for my work- so any valid procrastination will do.......
Firstly my lovely boy (complete with a graze on the chin) TPK I love you forever -especially on the brief moments I don't want to live in a separate house (he is a shrieker & a squawker)- BUT he is probably my last baby and he is growing up fast..................
A reason why my (just!!!!) 4 year old is not yet ready to be taken to school everyday- bless her- busy week and she fell asleep on my lap whilst having a story read and I wanted to hold her forever- until number 3 had filled his nappy and was waddling around feeling very sorry for himself saying "poo in napnap mumma"- so managed to slip her onto the bed successfully and she had to be woken after an hour.........

More charity shop purchasing- SJ is quite intrigued by the Odyssey book- so will try to hit that one over the next few days. He is also quite into the microscope at the moment (another charity shop purchase)- quite like the idea of 'germs' -which of course M+D are both quite happy to discourse on at length.

FIs Divali hand made at playgroup. I think we will try to observe more festivals over the next year- I have my trusty food,festivals &families book which gives a lot of ideas- but have struggled with rampant toddler quite a lot- I have the eternal expectation that this will 'get easier' as he gets older. The older two are starting to understand the idea of religions and faiths and different beliefs- it is quite interesting how they have setttled into the assumption that they are of the 'Christian' faith- because I do not believe that I have led them that way- however we have had to address it slightly as SJ has just joined Beavers and made his 'promise' which does involve 'loving God'- I am guilty of glossing over that one.......
On the other hand he absolutely loves Beavers and can't wait until Tuesday night comes around- even if I have had to buy him black shoes especially for Church Parade this sunday ( I have made a point of NOT buying black shoes- becasue we don't have to up to now). We get a 'program' for the term- so I am guilty of preparing him for sessions (hate to think of him coming across as lacking- as he is probably the first HE specimen that they have come across).

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Update and GP Weekend

Twice in one month-hmm I was getting complacent! Then nothing for three! Well we have been quite busy- lots of Forest School activities, various days out. Quite a lot of reading going on and some doing new crafts. A new kitchen and a lot of house upheval and tidying/rehoming. Hamster sitting! The above is SJs first effort at 'proper sewing' ie with a sharp needle. He has been dying to do it for ages (since winning a little sewing kit on a tombola last year!!)- apparently a balloon ( I think I see it?)

Have just returned from a weekend away with a group of Green Parents (from my forum lifeline!). Finally plucked up courage to go ( both from a meeting new people as well as taking away three kiddies single handed) and we will be back! Kids had a great time and were scarecly seen over the weekend- which was good as I spent a significant portion in the drying/laundry room trying to resurrect filthy clothing/footwear. Was great to meet some of the people that I have been chatting to virtually for a few years- always feels odd as you have to match perceptions with reality (and ditto back again).

Highlights of the weekend were the (wet) firework display, the zip wire (below) and bridge building in the stream (more wet clothing) as well as muddy puddle jumping (unfortunately don't have pictures of that one)

Resolution- take spare clothes for the spare clothes next time.
Resolution 2- don't plan 'meals' just put out small buffets for kids to munch on in passing
Resolution3 - take more fruit to replace all that that my children (TPK) help themselves too
Resolution4 - Try to get over the shyness a little sooner

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Busy Summer

Firstly- wow- Ive managed to post twice in the same month-I'm improving!!!
One thing I have to own up to -is being a bit of a charity shop fiend- find it very difficult to pass a charity shop without a quick look for 'treasure'- and above is a small selection- for about £3- which, actually thinking about it, is towards the top end of what I would normally get for six book- but most are pristine. I think that charity shops are, for me, one of the most importnat resources for HEers- after the internet. It is amazing the amount of pristine books that one can get that have obviously been untouched presents on peoples shelves- especially 'reference books'. Recently one of our librarians commented on the amount of factual books that we take out- later in the convesation I brought up the HE topic and she said arhhhhh knowingly- I knew that you were 'different'. Having said that they seemed slighly disapproving when SJ completed the Space Hop challenge in two visits- with quite short books as his 'chosen ones'- not appreciating perhaps that he had actually read the books-excepting one- and that the one he selected to feed back to them was a factual one about the plague!
Lego remains a favourite with the kids- even though I can' t progress much past houses/garages or square boxes. This was FIs horse which we were all very proud of. SJ produces great models-generally on a theme of transport-articulated lorries and variations on caravans.

My big boy recently stretched the apron strings far enough to spend three days with Nanny in MK. Nanny has been requesting this for a couple of years but he never seemed keen until this year- and I am so glad that we waited until he was 'ready' as previously he would say 'yes he wanted to go to Nannys - and we could go too. By all accounts he had a fab time- going to the cinema for the first time (poor deprived child!), digging for fossils and visiting a dinosaur park, baking and cooking, feeding the ducks and walking. He also made his sister a beautiful birthday present- as well as decorating one of the above biscuits as 'daddy' (guess which one!!).
Over the last couple of weeks my poor unsocialised children have hardly been in the house- lots of activities at the local leisure centre, meeting friends, park etc. One of the highlights was a visit to the local play day- where we partook in painting/drumming/crafting/model making/box building/gloop- mental note -to not dress in decent clothes next time and certainly not to put FI in the new dress G&G bought for her birthday!
SJ has just been put up on his Education City levels and has re-discovered it- I realise now I should have put him up a while ago- was probably too focused on trying to get activities 'ticked

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Summer Update

Well Tristan came out of his cot into a bunk bed.........

As usual a couple of months has gone past- so I'm now going to spend ages trying to think of what to say....I need to find a new strategy for this.....
Having quite a busy summer so far- lots of socialising and activities on varying fronts- some home ed, some activity based and some general playing...... We have enjoyed a lovely forest schools taster session with HE- with firebuilding, den building, trail following, tool using, cooking on the fire. A great time was had by all and we are hoping that some regular sessions may follow- but it may be a bit pricey- we shall have to see........
SJ has made leaps and bounds with his reading since my last post. When he concentrates he can read most things that he puts his mind to- we have also enjoyed adding in some simple story books rather than just reading books. I keep considering whether we should return to the Phon-Graphix to consolidate some of the further sounds- so that he 'understands' how they work- or whether it is pointless when he is working them out on a word by word basis. We have subscribed both of them to the Readingeggs scheme which they are both enjoying. SJ surprised us all when he did the 'entrance grading exam' by answering everything perfectly- I guess one of those moment where you appreciate how far they have come in a year. FI is enjoying playing with her selection and surprises me by recognising quite a few letters as well as having a good concept of blending sounds- which as I am determined not to do the 'reception year' bit with her (being an August baby and just 4 this week!!) she may demand some of it anyway. She just loves having 'her work' on the computer as she has been 'after' Education City' for a while.
Activity wise they have been both busy- both gaining certificates in gym (SJ) and trampolining (FI). I am particularly pleased with SJs progress as he sometimes has a love/hate thing going with gymnastics- partly (I think) because he is actually having to work at it rather than it coming naturally- as swimming seems to. It is amazing the silly little things that they 'miss out' through HE- things like playground skipping- so we have been trying to do some work on this type of thing when I remember- but where the time flies to I don't know.... SJ has also moved up swimming classes. He has jumped from preschool classes to a advanced beginner- and from being the oldest by miles to being very much the youngest- I do believe that this may be a very good experience for him!
Tristan poddles along- a few more words coming here and there, a lot of temper (inherited from his mother unfortunately) and a serious love of tractors, trains and cars being developed. And strangely it seems he can count- a very definate understanding of the concept of counting as he is going and fairly understandable 'numbers' being called.
We are both slightly drowning at work with various projects and limited resource time.

Ordered a beautiful new kitchen though......

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Picture added- WW2 topic

Well thats a start- hopefully first picture achieved- I'll see in a moment anyway. SJ is very intested in WW2- so we have spent quite a lot of time reading from copious library books on this topic. There have also been quite a lot of good TV programs on this which we have caught- Blitz street, Coal House at War. We have focused on the 'Home fron' type isssues, in particular evacuation. We found a really nice book (SJ holding it) about various aspects - it contained a list of the required clothes that were to be packed for each child- so we did this. They were particularly intrigued by the fcat that they had to carry the bags themselves and the fact that the selected clothing had to do all seasons too.
Of course once they were packed they decided to evacuate themselves to their den in the back garden- doing multiple clothing changes (cue clean clothes strewn over garden)- never mind it 'was educational! And FI has asked to play the 'packing game' a few times since!

Lots to add

I'm not going to say it but I am thinking it has been a lonnnnnnngggggg time (gosh it just slipped out). Life has been fairly busy with working and stuff to be done for work, as well as holidays and DIY stuff and the need to sleep and let my hair down doing pointless things such as staring at a small box (TV or computer).
Sooo holiday- we went up to Ayrshire and did a half board holiday on a holiday park- which was a very new departure for us. Some interesting moments but it was rather nice not to have to do hardly any catering and the food was pretty OK even if a little canteenish. She kids put us to shame as they would go up to the buffet selection and come back with plates of ham/egg salad- having walked straight past the chips and fishfingers- hurrah we must be doing something OK. Our big day out was going to the Glasgow Science Centre ( Nina & the Neurons place) which was OK but probably a little too old for all of them still. I think this is probably a lesson for us that all of our children are still much younger than sometimes we treat them?? Even SJ whilst the oldest just found it overwhelming- the vast amount of noisy/rowdy school children did not help as they were routinely pushing in front of my little ones. Culzean castle was very nice though-lovely ground and apparently a nice playpark ( although I can't personally comment- since I had the very great treat of going in the house whilst M took the kids to the playpark).
Anyway- back home we have been trying to get on top of some garden maintenance which has been a little overwhelming. As TP was crawling last year we let a lot of general mainetenence lie as he was requiring so much supervision- and we are paying the price for that this year. A good achievement has been M having finished the greenhouse base- so that we shall be able to move our gifted greenhouse in next week. Hopefully in time to get a few tomatos or something this year! We are also starting to think of getting going with a replacement kitchen- which will be totally exciting as we have been making do with the clapped out 30yr+ kichen that we inherited- complete with broken door and burnt worktops- rough plaster which has 'shelves' an inch deep in dust and a bare plaster wall with exposed pipework ( describing it like that I can scarely believe that we have lived with it for 8 yrs and had three newborn babies around it!!!
On a HE front we have started to get back into doing a bit of socialising- I guess I had been avoiding some of it due to the being back at work thing and the fact that it is a fairly hefty journey to most things. M took the kids to a behind the scenes day at the local airport- SJ got to 'drive' a jumbo- which just made his day. I took the children to a EH castle with a large HE group nad we have met at parks with smaller groups. Coming up I have booked the older two onto a four hour 'Forest schools' taster session- which maybe starting to be a more regular thing in September.
SJ has been making good progress with his reading and seems to have jumped forward quite a lot. We are not using the Phon-graphix method quite so much at the moment as he is enjoying the Oxford Reading Tree books which do a fair amount of whole word recog- which he seems to be getting on OK with. I am starting to think of stepping back to the Phono-graphix in order to make a further leap into some of the more complicated sound pictures such as 'ow', ie, aw' which is probably the next stage. Somedays I do still feel that there is an element of coercion in getting him to read- which I am not a great fan of admitting. We are relatively unschooling in the majority but I can't get past the belief that reading is just soo important. He is quite enjoying doing mental arithmentic- often staring little games in the car and is staring to be happy with minus as well as plus. He is in the process of being kicked out of his swimming class into a post school class- but being as he is nearly two years older than the rest of them it had to happen and frankly we thought it was probably time too.
FI is showing a fair amount of interest in the concept of reading- however I am not sure if this might have something to do with the fact that SJ gets his apparent 'special' reading time with mummy- so we are informally working on a few new letters- she currently knows about half of the alphabet. She seems to like having a few 'worksheets' to do as well.
I have just signed both of them up to 'Reading Eggs' site. They are both enjoying this- FI because she finally has something belonging to her (she has been after Education City for a while) and we have been pleasantly surprised by SJs apparent level of achievement.
Anyway my fingers ache- I know I should do more little and often.....
I guess my next challenge is to work out how to illustrate with picure as my wordy posts look a little bring at the mo......

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Easter Update

I really need to try and make this a habit- so that ages doesn't pass between posts- and then I need to stop whining about 'how long it has been'.........!

Well we have had a quiet month or so-on one hand being a little stir crazy and desparate to get out (especially after the tantalising couple of glorious days that we had!) and then making the most of some 'in time' as SJ is coming on leaps and bounds with his reading. We seem to have got past his little blip of my last post and he is storming along now. I am finding it a little hard to get the balance right between 'making hay whilst it shines' and 'pushing' him. We have chosen soem first readers at the library- which have gone down very well- possibly because they have come from a different area on the bookshelves as his 'reading books'??? We have also been doing a little on money- coin values etc and Mark has been working with him on his handwriting of numbers-which had seemed to slip. Other interests have been WW2- which always is a favourite topic. We have had an excellent book from the library on childrens lives during WW2 and have watched most of 'Coal House at War' series again- as well as a couple of 'Island at War' serial. We have also managed to finally finish Cherry Tree Farm and have moved onto Dick King Smiths' Sophie series for our next chapter book.

This last week has seen us doing an Egg hunt with toddlers -including an egg decorating contest which proved interesting as SJ and FI both came up with their independent ideas. FI choosing to do a pig and SJ a Christmas Tree. FI managed to win the 'under 5s' section-which proved a difficult issue for SJ- makes me realise what little exposure he has had to win/lose situations. Daddy managed to find some stories on disappointments and 'bad losing' issues.

WE haven't done much on the HE socialising front this month-which I am a little disappointed with myself over. I probably need to rethink some of our non HE stuff (like toddlers) to make more time for some older kid socialising. Contemplation around this leads me to believe that SJ needs to do a little more where he is not automatically king pin due to his age as the only activity he does at the moment where this is the case is his gymnastics. Hopefully in September he will start Beavers but there are a couple of HE sesssions that I really need to put aside my own shyness to launch us into. It si just so hard trying to get everyones needs- as TP deserves to do a 'small child' activity too- if we stop toddlers then he has 'nothing'. I guess in a way FI is the luckiest as she gets the best at both ends at the moment as middle child.....

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Already failing myself....

So here we are- over a week down the line and any more posts yet?? BFZ!

Lets move on... what have we been up to? Well number one, M has taken another exam- which means (hopefully) one less to do before we get a daddy back again. Self advancement is one thing but starting a Masters when you have a 2 week old baby in the house is NO joke.

We have finally ( another finally) obtained our Hama beads this week- so the older two have spent the afternoon Hama ing. SJs eyes lit up when we opened the bag "Scotland" he shrieked- memories of Melrose last year being very precious to his little heart. Other than that it was a fairly laid back day- jigsaws and games, stories and lego.

We had a Chinese meal to celebrate Chinese New Year this weekend. A couple of days ago SJ made a great Dancing Dragon and we watched Youtube of Chinese new year celebrations as well as dragon & lion dancing.

I have decided to give reading a slightly lower profile as SJ seems to be feeling a little pressured. I am currently using the 'Reading reflex' by McGuiness. Maybe it is the first time HE parent in me that I/we are struggling a little with the totally totally autonomous route- reading just seems sooo important and he loves his stories so much that the bookshelves are drawing him in. However I think he is finding it frustrating that it isn't falling into his lap- that there isn't a magic secret that we can tell him- so I think we will maybe just go onto hold and keep on top of where we are at the moment rather than going forward. The Reading reflex does seem to be going OK- maybe a little more flashcardish than I would have liked. We are struggling to stick to their rules and find outside reading material for breadth- I have some of the Oxford Reading Tree stories and they introduce non-standard phonics words straightaway. I have signed him up to a year of Education City- as an awful lot of people seem to use it- so maybe that will help to give alternative material

FI is being a little trying at the moment, when she isn't snatching anything and everything from her younger brother she is being a little stroppy madam- so we plan to try to deal with that at the moment. She has been doing some of the Peggy Kaye pre-writing activities which she is loving. She is sooo desperate for workbooks or her activities- so I think I need to focus a little more on her and back off from SJ

TP seems to be having a 'switch on' moment with his talking. We have been waiting for a new word for a couple of months and we now seem to have had a new word everyday for the last couple of days. I have been so waiting for this- he has been so frustrated. I had forgotten how precocious FI was with her talking (producing words at 9-10mo). I KNOW that in a couple of months I will be wishing he had a few less- but for now, it is good to see him going forwards on this one. He has also learnt the skill of properly pointing to what he wants and shaking his head when Mummy inevitably gets the wrong thing!

Have actually even managed to clear a few things off the book shelf- just the nappy stash to start addressing now!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Wow- the first step taken! I have promised myself for over a year that I would start blogging but now DS is officially 'of compulsory school age' it really is time! Now I just have to work out how this thing works- at some point I shall try to be sophisticated and add photos- which means I shall have to become better at taking them more regularly