Probably fair to say that this was the Year of the Lego- a Hillside Creator House, a Fire Station and Vehicles, a Creator Car and some Airfix for the older ones, a Lego game and some Fireman Sam toys (preloved- as I don't like to buy new palstic- lego aside!!) for the little one.
Mr Snowman was tucked inside SJs stocking- although he is owed a hat and his scarf was completed on Boxing Day! I ran out of time and motivation!!!!
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall arrived in my stocking!!! Really enjoyed his last series and would like to have this as a target for more of our eating plan this year...
And finally the present that has been most fought over!!! Officially bought for TP (but I knew SJ would love it too)- preloved (following my avoidance of 'new' plastic rule) and apparently the best- as well as being far bigger than I imagined- fortunately has two planes to go with it- so IF they want to co-operate and play nicely it is possible!! However led to a little wrangling on Christmas Day and led to DS1 spending some quiet time with Daddy in his bedroom- building lego- which probably ended up being a reward!! Finished the day with The Gruffalos Child- which was just as gorgeous and magical as last years Gruffalo- I have hopes of them doing Stickman next year (my favourite)!!
Boxing Day was also a quiet day with the addition of my parents, a little bit of colouring and crafting- mosaic pictures and sticker scenes. The next couple of days we have spent quietly gardening (burning tree cuttings which were overshadowing the veg patch- we ahve woodland behind us so fight a constant battle with encroachment- especially brambles and self setting Mountain Ash) visiting the park to let off steam and a run around Rufford Park.
Tissue paper crafting always goes down well with the big two- tis a slight shame that in a 'Christmas Kit' complete with reindeers and robins and angels that they haven't adapted the colours accordingly- rather than sending the standard colour selection- thus Rudolphs bottom took all of the brown that they sent- and the angels wings took all of the white- which leaves us a Robin and a Snowman to do in Yellow and Blue!!
SJ built a Gingerbread House Kit- which required a fair amount of concentration and patience and probably looks better than it tasted (but thats not his fault).
FIs patchwork angel- due to colour problems mentioned above.
A quiet last couple of days prior to Christmas Day- a couple of activity taster sessions at the local leisure centre and then some quiet DVD watching- hangover from holiday and in anticipation of a few days of broken routine. Managed to persuade TP to have a little nap everyday- which was quite an achievement- especially desired as we were going to a Christmas Eve family party............
Wow- what can I say......the Barclaycard advert comes to mind (probably ancient as I don't really see many)- but Lapland (Finland)- priceless! Magical, mesmerising.....like Narnia in the LW &W, snow dripping from pine trees, powdery snow, faces on children as each wonder unfurls............
A visit to Santa almost on the Russian border- a tiny cottage in the middle of nowhere- where they tobogganed then had hot cranberry juice and visited the man. He was very respectful of other cultures- he visits 'where he is invited' and gave away enough hint of trade secret to make sure that a wavering 7 year old truly believed ( we believe Santa as a deliverer of presents from family- not the giver). TP wouldn't initially go to him- but later siddled up for a quiet chat and I managed to get a photo.
Snow was amazing- they played for hours- toboganning, snowballing, snowmen, snow caves, just rolling about in it................. the Arctic Suits that the hotel provided were fabulous- everyone remained toasty warm for hours.
Yet another trip up and down the toboggan slope......
I think we will do another Winter Holiday at some point- we love Snow!
A photo of the Daddy initiated wreath hanging on the front door. Now slowly shedding rose hips......but still looks delightful!
Another handmade offering- made from a Baker Ross Kit. This year I am really learning a few lessons about 'kits' - the kinds that work and the kinds that DONT and end up with madly frustrated mummy and upset child ( ie most 3D type kits that expect to balance and stick together with plain PVA glue- especially anything foam- which I do try to avoid as I intrinsically don't really like the stuff- but the odd one slips in......)- like todays kits that just fell apart and ended up thrown in the bin grrrrrrrr. I think I have gone a bit mad in buying kits in sales in the past- and this year we are actually getting around to using some. Now I have to admit that I have just bought a load of Autumn kits in the BR sale- ready for next autumn- blush, blush- but at least I know they will work....... Another admission is that I bought colouring in Christmas Cards for the children to do this year- and when it came around to sending the cards off I hadn't allowed enough time- next years resolution- if doing own cards- need to start early in November- trouble is it feels too ridiculously early in November and being open to ridicule............ Anyway I have had a good sort out and have pulled out the most bulky ones to try to prioritise doing this year. Have also rationalised the Used Christmas Card store (we had around 100ish)- there is a limit to how many cards we will possibly cut down for other projects and the crafty drawers were exploding...........
Anyway bags are 95% packed, paperwork nearly sorted- nearly ready to go- which is good as I am feeling quite irrationally stressed at the moment................
Living life- the older two decided to take on responsibility for making lunch on a daddy day- this was the end result. Sandwiches and a pepper salad and baked apples as pudding- apparently the kitchen was a sight to behold and they ahhhhmmm tidied?? but the teamwork was amazing and they are still talking about the baked apple days later......
Also on a daddy day...... a weekend day trip to an NT property. They had to make a choice between an Edwardian Christmas (Kedleston) or Make do and Mend (Hardwick)- so off to Hardwick they went and came back with various decorations. However these really reminded me of my childhood (crafting in my house was a strictly cheap and cheerful- therefore recycling christmas cards was fine- except in those days it wasn't 'recycling' it was thrift!!) I remember my older brothers making huge dodecahedrons- trying to outdo each other and that we used to have them hanging from the roof.
Yesterdays activity was pompom raindeer- both done entirely independently following the instructions- very interesting FI followed instructions, SJ did his own thing....?female/male characteristics?? SJ is in the background on Education City- which he has a bit of a love/hate relationship with- I do slightly understand this- this years activities does see a lot of the 'literacy' focused on spellings- which I guess I am not too fussed around. However he did impress me on his speed improvement with basic sums- an activity that he struggled with perhaps six weeks ago- he was completing with laid back ease- I guess that is the real value of these things- the ability to make a slightly more detached (objective??) assessment of their progress?
Well, high on todays priorities is going to fetch our tickets and Euros- as our holiday is now zooming up at a frightening rate- really need to sort myself out and maybe even make a start on packing!!
Gosh mine just love cardboard modelling- I swear they would be quite happy to recieve the contents of our recycling bin plus a few rolls of sellotape and a couple of glue sticks for Christmas! The train was a joint project of the older two and took two hours (absolute concentration!!)- not necessarily appreciateable in this picture- but the detail was fantastic.
Little mans 'workbook'- he was so pleased when I pulled out something specifically for him when the others were doing their quiet activities. We had realised that he is actually quite deft (for age) at cutting out and he is really enjoying working his way through this book "Cutting and Pasting".
Advent activities are going quite well- I need to walk around with the camera and collect a few photos- Daddy did a wreath -collecting items on a wintery walk- which is now hung next to the front door. They have also done sewn and stuffed tree decorations, mince pies- Daddy has indeed set high standards for the first six days of December (I have just done a mega stretch at work) and today I have failed to match up (my activity was watching a christmas DVD- well I was half conscious- but it was a nice one- "The Tale of Jack Frost").
Anyway- should leave it at this and go and do some other tasks on my 'to do' list- like actually putting the advent activities into the pocket calendar!
Well finally a photo of the finished article- although not terribly flattering as it seems to be larger at one end than the other- but anyway all wrapped up now. Am very previous with the wrapping this year as I just know that December is going to be an awfully busy month- especially as we are going on holiday for a week. Terribly un-green- but we are taking them to Lapland- and it will be their first airplane flight- in fact they will be soo excited I feel for the rest of the passengers!
Have managed to finish my main project for the GP swap- a crochet applique picture plus a few other bits- am not sure 'how much' I should be doing- so I shall have to see what arrives here...
SJ has just spent a day at his local Scouting County Activity Day and has made all of the above- as well as meeting Bear Gryllis- the Chief Scout- which has entirely tickled him! I was rather disappointed to be working so I couldn't go along as a parent helper(!!!). Although I know he fancied some of the activities that were cubs upwards (bringing our child up to be too adventurous obviously!).
We have made a little start on some advent type activities (will have to be careful to leave enough for the advent activity calendar!)- these are cards for the Grandparents- fortunately all can be delivered as sending those fat tummies through the post would cost a small fortune! Had a slight panic moment when silly mummy applied the wrong glue- which started to melt the polystyrene- fortunately managed to wipe it off in time.
FI is looking particularly grown up in a new dress- bought in a small parcel from a GP mama- holding her fretwork pteranodon- decorated and now dangling over her bed.
Well my main news is that we have finally closed the door- M went and had his small procedure and now it is done......it seems right- particularly after a delivery I went to this week......but ohhhhh.
Anyway moving rapidly on........ I have a bedroom floor covered in crochet currently blocking- the completed ripple blanket and part of my GP winter swap ( the first time I have felt confident enough to offer something of my making)- I shall photograph when dry. Time is passing soo quickly- I have an amigurami snowman on the go- probably for our season table. I did plan to do some cross stitch- but I think I am not going to get around to that now.
My job list seems to be growing rather than shrinking- I am trying to be disciplined and move something forward each day. I have a couple more bags sorted for the charity shops- a few toys, a few books (mine) and bits of clothing from the children (can't keep it all for my sister- 'just in case')- I find it really hard sorting through this stuff- I find it difficult to move past the 'waste' thought- "it could be useful"/"they might still play with it again" etc. I keep trying to tell myself better to send somewhere it WILL be used/read again etc. And whilst we haven't bought them an awful lot for Christmas inevitably some homes will be needed...
Finally my poor children get to try out papermache- it has been a 'promise' all year and a never getting round to it at the appropriate time. But I have to say that it wasn't as bad as I imagined- no disasters and teamwork was even demonstrated! This is the start of our Christmas activities- this is going to be a snowmans head- with a removable hat- similar to a pinata- but without the bashing! (Jane Bull- "The Very Merry Christmas Activity Book"- I do like Jane Bull- activities slightly more crafty in the process than some of the Usbourne books- where it is all about end product) Possibly heading towards our seasons table?- we'll see how he works out.
It was really lovely to see them working together- helping each other. It was interesting to watch how their techniques evolved- SJ far more in there with his hands, whereas FI more refined and done with the brush!
But then FI is turning more into a lady and taking herself off for some quiet girl play.
My 'to do' list seems to be growing rather than shrinking- with various projects. Am planning on doing some gift wrapping over the next few days- so that it doesn't become a last minute panic and thus painful. I am slowly collecting 'bags' for presents to try to reduce wrapping paper- we have some large ones for big things and I did intend to make some more- but haven't go around to it- so that one may get passed over this year. I may start to pull out some cards too- I bought some of the colour in yourself ones and was thinking for some of the close rellies..... I know it sounds manically early to be this focused- but am very aware that we are going away for a week in December- so am 'losing a week' of preparation- in fact I have more preparation to do!! Anyway at least I finally seem to have got the blogging habit more ingrained- am actually finding it more enjoyable and achievable now it is regular updates rather than overwhelming life updates!
Well a few busy evenings rippling and here is the completed- but obviously not yet finished article. I have really enjoyed doing this- enough to keep your interest there but not so complicated that you are constantly counting and re-checking. It is now fully finished with a blue border and the ends sewn in- just needs blocking- but may need some advice on that one! Off to GP forum. Now moved onto doing a snowman which maybe for the winter swap or a child- haven't yet decided- may well wait to see how it turns out....
Well on the HE front I have been trying to get a little more organised after my phone call from the school nursing service.....if this leads to us being 'found' I want to have reports ready to go- so that it is not a stressor when we get THE LETTER (dum dum dum).
And writing reports made me realise that we were possibly a little lacking on a science front. I find this quite amazing because both M and I have science backgrounds and I know we are NOT lacking- it is more that what we have done is very autonomous and child led and therefore not so measurable- for example I know that SJ understands quite a lot about electricity- basic flow and insulators etc- rather ahead of education city science section about 'not tripping over trailing wires' etc and equally on a physiology front- he has an understanding of what kidneys do and that the heart and lungs have a double pump circulation so he is doing OK! But anyway I thought we should maybe go 'back to basics'- which is fine as I have lots of science activity books and 'strewing' soon led to interest. Anyway the delightful monster above was made to explore surface tension (worked briefly) but the funniest bit was when the big two decided to add 'lipstick' (wax crayon) to their monsters- gosh the shrieks of laughter- bless innocence! We also made soap powered fish to investigate overcoming surface tension- also very briefly worked (blink and you missed it!)
SJ is also quite into 'Grand Design' type programs (as is mummy!!) as demonstrated by how his house pictures are developing. The shape of this house is the Farmhouse at the camp site we went to in September- but this is the straw bale version! He is currently working on a new design- maybe I need to suggest Daddy adds in a few basics of technical drawing......hmmmm.
A lot of our more constructive Home Ed things happen when TP is at Playgroup (thank goodness for playgroup)- in case people are wondering where the three year old is, in all of this. Is great as I know he gets plenty of painting and sticking there- which means I don't have to feel guilty about not doing so much here with him. We used to do things like that in the kitchen- where we had a wipable laminate floor- but since we changed the kitchen we now have gorgeous slate tiles- which I don't want them painting over- so painting/modelling now goes on where the oldest carpet in the house is- which is usually fine for the older two- but not so much for Mr Flail-arms...
Yummmm- have come slightly full circle on the preserving. Started off with chutney for a couple of years, then to a jam year, then to marmalade and jam and now back to chutney. Quite nice to do it this way as it means we have well and truly decided which reciepes we really do like and which we aren't soo bothered by. Soo marrow chutney- we had decided that this was our last try as we really were not fussed by any of my previous batches but this one truly smells promising- a mixture of marrow/pear/tomato and beetroot with cloves and allspice......
Even looks better than my previous marrow ones- which always looked a little washed out and always tasted very seventies- complete with raisins. I love most of John Harrisons book- but he does tend to dress his chutneys in a seventies style!
Anyway now to a shameful confession - I have just totally indulged myself with my annual Christmas magazine buy. I soooo love looking at houses dressed for Christmas- the colours/ the cosiness/open fires/hot chocolate/fir trees/snow......could keep going........ The Cross Stitch magazine is a new one to me as I haven't done much for many years- probably since teens when I was quite 'in' to it- but with some of the things the children have been doing and Kirstie Allsops series it rekindled a little spark and the 'giveaways' on the front looked interesting. I have 'Mollie Makes' and 'Period Living' on subscription. The other two home magazines are occasional buys (I also love the summery 'Victorian tea on the lawn' type features).
Another recent purchase- from a blog that I occasionally read- the title sounded just perfect but am very slightly disappointed (as I was also with one of her previous books)- probably not aided by all the 'yarn' projects being knitted rather than a mix of knit/crochet. Maybe I have done wrong by reading it all at once- so am going to try to read each month as they fall and see whether that feels better.
Am still trying to have a general declutter and a 'using things up' session
Gosh a whole blog post hardly mentioning the children..........
Good old playgroup!! On an aside- it always makes me smile as an 'unknown' HEing family- that I am also the OFSTED registered person for playgroup!! As chairperson it tends to involve a 20 minute chat everytime I drop TP off- and the big two revel in the chance to briefly 'return'..... In the said 20 minutes they did a 'sticking picture' each, a painting picure each and then made huge box model rockets each. Apparently this then started a trend amongst the playgroup children and the huge box of cereal boxes/ yoghurt pots etc was entirely emptied- looking at some of the creations going home that day to various households- I imagine there maybe one or two parents wanting to bless my kids!
SJ and his beloved construction toys! Part of the evolvement in accepting having older children means- for us anyway- an acceptance that those gorgeous wooden toys- lovingly selected- just don't really do it all the time anymore. A certain amount of brightly colored plastic creeps into your life-whether it is Lego/K'nex or Meccano- and to be honest, SJ would be bereft if it wasn't there. Of course there are still things that you can do....... we have, so far, tried to avoid the media associated 'kits' and go more for the generic kits that come with 'mulitple model' instruction books, so that models aren't merely deconstructed and rebuilt- or even worse just stuck on a shelf gathering dust. So far we have found Lego Constructor sets to be good- charity/car boot finds even better- although lego seems to hold value well......K'nex seems more generic anyway- the above model is the church where Auntie A got married a few blog posts ago.....
I love the way that the models evolve over time- at home later FI produced her 'flames' to come out of the bottom of her rocket (each individually coloured and stuck on).
However the bit that I really struggle with is what to do then......when it is gathering dust and falling apart/when you have restuck an item on 13 times..... I try to take photos but inevitably they do get slyly split up into the recycling bin- sometimes openly. It is the same with the pictures- I take photos and keep a large folder for each child with a selection of landmark stages- but there are only so many that it is possible to keep.
Ahh the pangs of a guilt ridden mother....speaking of which I am trying to do a few 'crafting' kits with them in the run up to Christmas- ( I suspect there may be some more on the way then),,,,so spent the afternoon up to elbows in Plaster of Paris- need to go and turn them out now (quietly and by myself just in case they haven't worked)- if they work they may be turned into presents for the grandparents.......photos next post??
Brave of Daddy!! On one of my work days- apple bobbing in our 'work room'- what we call our activity space (also known as spare bedroom- when visitors come.....)- poor old SJ was at slight disadvantage when it comes to bobbing- when you are minus your front teeth!! I gather this was the highlight of an otherwise challenging weekend!
Another item from our busy list- an autumn leaf printing picture. It started off really well with the tree and the leaves and the bird footprints across the bottom- then they found paint brushes and carried on with brushes- so we lost the printing effect slightly- but that is fine- their picture.....
Dusted off our geometric puzzles and FI seems to have the hang all of a sudden- and really got into the pattern copying- although a little help required, especially with the trying to work logically concept. FI loves 'doing work'- is in her element when given a small 'exam' or copying text/spellings from sounding out - not a great fan of reading text- but ironically LOVES 'flashcards' type thing as I found when I was about to throw out some that we had received with a book- "Mummy, test me with the cards...."- "Ok if I must....".
We went to a spectacular firwork display at Bolsover Castle (EH) last night. It had some Guy Fawkes reenactments scenes with music and hangings, followed by the most amazing fireworks with music with an 1812 overture finale- spectacular and well worth the money-even though raining at points.
Here is my dynamic Batgirl- they have been Bat Mad this week. Bat masks/pompom kits/scratch art and hats. Superman hovering on the side lines there is also pretty cute!
FI befriended her spider ("tickles") and actually walked around talking to it and stroking him- I drew a line at Tickles wanting to help make tea though! Busy week with all the half term activity sessions- generally gone well- including Rackets for SJ which I was a little dubious about. Just pumpkins left to carve now- leaving that one for Daddy as i am working this weekend.
My crafting- well my ripple blanket is progressing well- really need to do an interim photo and have been playing with trialling some crochet stars. Have volunteered to do the GP winter swap- so trying to get my head around 'what to do'.
Have been trying to update my educational reports for the children- after receiving a call from the School Nursing service earlier in the week- this may be the end of being "unknowns"- just want to be prepared so it isn't an issue if we do get the letter....will still be a little peeved though.
Decluttering went fairly well- sold a few e-bay lots including the rest (which was the best) of TPs last size of clothes- its not about making money- just getting a little something back. I do donate a fair amount to the local charity shop- but occasionaly it is nice to have not given it all away....
Ohhhhh and we have jsut splashed out- M got some back pay froma delayed PayRise and we have used it to buy Life Membership of English Heritage- there is not an awful lot in our immediate vicinity but often a lot in the type of place we tend to go on holiday too.
Wow- everything fall so close this year- we are having to rush to squeeze things in. Briefly visited Divali and the story of Rama & Sita and then moved onto Rangoli pictures. Interesting to look at the pair and work out which is the five year olds and which the seven?? Well I have to say that it obviously appealed to the five year old more than the seven- she spent far more time and effort and put more colour into it (given it away now)........
Moving on rapidly to Halloween/Samhain- one year I would like to think about the Mexican 'Day of the Dead' - but not this year. TP was particularly tickled by his 'Batman' headress which he looks ridiculously cute in. The others are doing some scratch arts and a couple of pompom kits- I need to think about our Halloween Trail which we have made a little of a 'family tradition' - we do silly clues around the house until they find the prize of a toffee apple each. One year I may even make the toffee apples as the bought ones always seem to be on particularly disgusting pappy apples.........
Having a busy week this week- two parties and a raft of taster activities at the leisure centre- where the children have membership- so this week the big ones are Go-Karting and Snorkelling with SJ doing Racket Sports and FI Pool Pirates. TP did a trial gymnastics today which he loved- seeing your three year old hanging off a bar.
SJ had a spectacular gymnastics session- witnessed by mummy & daddy! He tried sooo hard and listened - which is all we ever ask- hopefully it may be a start to emerging from his 'doldrum' (but then I hoped this for a while)- he seems to not hate it so much anyway and he is progressing. So he had lots of strokes and positive feedback and we will see how this progresses.
Today was a well planned day... TP was off at his last playgroup before half term and the big two and I had plans.
Soo today we baked our Christmas Cake- lots of group measuring and pouring and smelling and mixing- all the exotic ingredients that don't often come out. They decided that Brandy was not pleasant (fine by me!!) and that grated Nutmeg makes you sneeze.
The cake making was followed by baking a Harvest Loaf- I was determined to get something in for Harvest- although it seems a difficult one as there doesn't seem to be a defined 'time' for this anymore.
We have snipped a great idea from another lovely blog that I follow http://www.carried-family.blogspot.com/ with her 'Busy List'- as it provides a really good way for me to record all of my 'good intentions' (Harvest activity appearing on there- as well as baking bread- but can't quite make my mind up whether it is allowed to have the same acivity for two categories). Over the next week we have to fit in Divali and Halloween/Samhain.......
Firstly a peek at our cleaned up seasons table......not the most imaginative in the world- I always have good intentions....am not always very good at clearing things off.... but today I like it.
We have been having a 'finishing off' spree with various half finished projects which have been lying around the house. SJ received his first Airfix Kit as a joint present wuith Daddy last Christmas and they have slowly worked their way through it together- he has requested another kit for Christmas and wants a German Plane this time
FI received this 'Paint a Teaset' for her birthday and has really enjoyed producing the individual pieces. I have to say that I am really impressed by the quality of this kit and the amount of paint included- but then I have usually found GALT to be good quality- not cheap. We had some of their baby toys and we have some jigsaws which are really nice.
There was even enough paint for them to do some painting with afterwards- which has come out interesting- ceramic paint on paper- very glossy! SJ produced this on one of my work days and I have to admit I didn't believe it was his- I thought it had come from Daddy!!! Proves how much he has leapt forward on a creative front over the summer.
He has also been madly finger knitting this week- (thanks to shell- at the GP Meet last November) and produced a little necklace for a friend- which he labeled and wrapped.....except the friend was the daughter of his Beaver Leader and he came home from Beavers having been promised his Hobbies badge due to it.....He loves Beavers and is getting quite into the 'Badge' thing- which is great from a HE perspective as we have the freedom to produce projects accordingly.
Rippling continues well- I can see how addictive it is- enough of a pattern to not be too boring yet not so complicated that you can't chat or have half a braincell on another activity- like Downton Abbey....
I have been feeling a little like I am floundering in life at the moment- work ticking over, HE ticking over, house ticking over, marriage ticking over- but nothing feeling like it is progressing- stagnation??
Soooooo solution... teeth into new project.
I am a self/U-Tube taught crocheter- not aided by starting off using an American book- which got me going- then switching to Amigurami- which great got me onto patterns until I realised that a) the language was wrong and b) my way of doing circles was Amigurami (ie spirals rather than circles). I have really got into following this lovely blog http://attic24.typepad.com/ and her ripple patterns have got me determined to break into the BRITISH way of crocheting- so hence new book.......
ripple pattern selected.......
and a few colours put together......although not yet definate. All quite budget acrylics- am not yet at the stage that I feel I can splash out on lovely yarn yet. The pattern is actually for a cushion cover but mine is going to be a dolls blanket for DDs pram- as a Christmas present.
Another side effect of that lovely blog is that I am feeling the need to have some colour in my life- am feeling very neutral and blah at the moment- so a new tea cosy and new placemats have entered and were pleasantly welcomed by DH- so maybe he is feeling it too??