Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Pirate mad!

The world has gone pirate mad- this involves being dressed as a pirate by 6am (or alternately as a RAF Fl Lt) and spending the day thus- usually involves poking each other with foam swords and lots of ohhhhahhhhhs! And watching the Swiss Family Robinson (although she realised that made her a 'baddie' and she didn't like that!). Of course the little goosepimp arms and blue feet make mummy suggest that the pirate might like to slip some socks and a cardigan on- (at least a vest!!) but pirates don't take mummy advice........
Pirate number three currently has a delightful thick lip from a midnight wander- goodness knows how or what- all we know is he came in crying and next moring had a huge thick lip....that was easy to explain to Playgroup!
Otherwise we have been baking and making- scratch art windmills. We have done a little mini project on the Water Cycle- looking at Evaporation and Condensation- with some Kitchen Science experiments to explain.
Today SJ starts some individual swimming lessons (ouch small fortune)- he has been struggling to click with the idea of co-ordinating his breathing with front crawl arms- so the teacher recommended some one-to-one......hmm we'll see how this goes

Saturday, 28 January 2012

HE- Constantly learning

Constantly learning- yep that's me! Just when you have got yourself comfortable with an approach/ideals etc then you review and plan anew..... Just when you think you are moving forward you realise that underpinning knowledge a little shaky....... One of my great ideals with HE is that you can 'move' at the childs pace and into their areas of interest- which I agree with passionately BUT what happens when the underpinning knowledge doesn't match up?? Do you deliver merely 'what they are interested in'- knowing that they can't get the most out of it or do you say- 'yes we can look at that but first we need to cover x,y &z'- I can't quite get my head around this...... Sometimes the stuff is already there and just need reminding and sometimes it seems that you are currently talking Greek and it as if the word has never been mentioned. I find myself writing lists of concepts to revisit- in an attempt to try to bring them into everyday life- sharing out objects, time, temperature or reading scales- but sometimes there isn't an easy application to bring up and you just have to deal with a stand alone topic. Sometimes 'workbooks' help (and sometimes they are spawn of the devil!) and sometimes third party- such as Education City fills a gap.......
'Workbook' as an activity gets a different reception almost all times suggested- sometimes whoohoo- others 'awwww mum!'- I keep a selection in hand- some glossier than others- some more academic some glittery and gold star ish- this week I have introduced a most basic style ( no gold stars or false situations- merely plain 'sums' with a 'fun activity' ie a dot-to-dot etc on each page - and he is loving it- volunteering to do more pages than suggested- I guess that is a learning curve for me- especially when the dot-to-dot is an apparent WW2 plane- that requires the SJ WW2 'bible' reference book to come out.....
 The peg model of Victory, mentioned in my last post, has rather resurrected his interest- such that he returned from a Playgroup visit with an eggbox model of the same......A Union Jack and a St Andrews flag (!!!) were carefully added today... as well as cotton rigging and signal flags....
We have partly looked at Chinese New Year this week- I say partly as it fell on my 'work days' and we never got around to chinese food- but the big two both enjoyed completing these Chinese Dragons from Activity Village (always a good fall back for activity suggestions)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Mini Projects

 Another Daddy special- mini ships made from half a peg and some long matchsticks. Of course SJs then had to become Victory (one of his favourite topics!)- must go back to the Historic Dockyards again soon!
And Dinosaur gliders- another popular topic in our house- due in part to the Astrosaur books which SJ loves (and I tolerate!)...plus a crafty thing that they can all do- hence three gliders in a row - and two days later still surviving which is pretty good going for our household!

DIY progressing- but as always one step forward and two back..... in insulating the suspended floor M noticed that we have woodworm......so that will be the next big expenditure. However plastering progressing in the hallway and house due to start being insulated and re-rendered outside in the next couple of weeks- exciting times ahead- finally makes the end of the mucky time consuming stuff visible over the horizon. TP said to me tonight that we need a 'chimney' (fireplace) -so Daddy should go and "buy some blocks and a hole!"- bless him- gave me a giggle- am not sure where B&Q keep the 'holes' (Daddy can make them well enough himself!!)

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Construction Time

 Lego- love it or hate it- it's there- it enters your household, is always underfoot, or peeping out from under the edge of the sofa/coffee table or the sound of sssshhhhhhhhggggg, ssshhhhhggggggg- as the box(es) are sorted through..... It was quite a Lego Christmas for us this year- with a fire station and a couple of houses arriving- as well as a game too! Even FI got her own house- which she was initially quite surprised, bemused even dubious about- however I believe that she is quite enjoying it now. She sets herself out with her tray and instruction book and has worked out it is a pretty good way of quietly demanding parent involvement- insidious but effective- well instruction following and manipulation is sooo good for them isn't it? This is our log cabin kit- she is building the 'Lock Keepers Cottage'- complete with Barbeque. We do like the 'Creator' kits- various options to rebuild and no TV/film associations. I am hopeless at free-building whereas Daddy is a real whizz- I do a variation on a house (garage/shed/hotel/shop??). For FI it is all about building at the moment.....
 whereas SJ also likes playing- this is his 'Pirates and Castles Brickmaster kit'- doesn't come out an awful lot but when it does it leads to a fair amount of quiet play.
 Mr TP has made a huge step forward in the last week or so- he has gained mouse control (I think I am more excited about this than him)- but his world has just opened up (and we can reduce the amount of times that we have to watch Postman Pat Special Missions- I hope). He has been particularly enjoying 'Painting' pictures and shows occasional real concentration.
SJ and I have started to read Warhorse together, in preparation for planning to go and see the new film together. We have had our Michael Morpugo set for a while but this is the first we have read together- possibly still a little old for him but aided by his genuine interest in the World Wars. We have been doing a little reading around the side issues of WWI as well. I am contemplating following this by reading a little more of the childrens war literature- perhaps Goodnight Mr Tom or Carries War?

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Quiet January days nesting and Vegging!!

 After a four day stretch at work I have taken the opportunity to veg at the weekend- especially as Daddy took them out and about a fair bit during the week- so I was allowed not to feel guilty at not taking them over the threshold (dancing lesson aside!). Lovely time cooking, colouring and reading stories..... Above is one of my HFW dishes from my Christmas cook book- North African Stew (Squash and lentil with Chick Pea)- really tasty and filling and went down really well in all directions- fairly simple to make as well. Definately going on my repeat list. Made another of his today- Chachouka (Peppers, onions and tomatos with a egg baked into it)- also very nice but not quite so filling- or I need to double amounts (to be fair he did describe it as a lunch/supper dish)- also nearly as colourful.
 The children have also embraced the quiet home days....of course obligatory wear whilst colouring is a Disney Ballgown- my beautiful Belle. They have re-discovered the Stockmar crayons (of course they were there all the time) and have produced picture after picture of glossy loveliness- on a transport theme (not suggested!!)- but we have had cars, trains, submarines.........
and fire engines of course!!

Friday, 13 January 2012

HE- Our Style

 A lot of conversation about HE often focuses on style- do you Waldorf? do you AE? Montessori? Classical? Well I'm more of a mix & match girl- I like natural things/seasons and gentle stuff but we do watch the TV (selected) and I do turn it off when I say, we do have toys and some are even plastic (haven't found wooden lego or playmobil yet). My children have all attended our local mainstream Playgroup and have claimed 'vouchers'- although never a 'full' allowance. I do have an expectation that things move forward- but am open to negotiation and target setting- maybe its my nursing background but I'm a great believer in 'one size does NOT fit all'- am aready finding that approaches that worked a treat for SJ- go down like a lead balloon for Miss Looby.
Anyway above photo demonstrates a great HE day- all credit to daddy! Suggestion....."lets cook on a fire", collecting and preparing site, helping make a tripod, collecting big pan from grandparents, starting fire, making seating area and eating yummy boston beans(ish) and on the way discussing fire triangles, fire safety, cooking as well as a little concurrent gardening.
They have also joined a HE session at our local climbing centre- twill be interesting to see how that progresses. It is the first session that we have really made a commitment to attending as I tend to like to leave things fairly fluid- dependent on how co-operative the (big) toddler is- but he is actually at his Playgroup over this session which I think will work quite well........
The other position I/we often find ourself in- we frequently just sit down with an ecletic pile of  books and children come and go as their interest wanes (although I don't usually carry on by myself!!). We have BOOKS (I'm sorry to say that I can't reconcile with the simplicity parenting view on books-even if most else makes great sense- even though I don't necessarily follow to the letter) a huge mish mash of inherited, charity shop/ car boot and a fair few new (thanks to the Book People), a mixture of classics, contemporary child fiction, non-fiction, texts, activity books, a few readers. I do pre read most- and some do go straight back to the charity shop (TV related), some are tolerable and accepted due to avoiding peer pressure scenarios (Rainbow Fairies/Astrosaurs) and some are essential reading- Roahl Dahl, Enid Blyton, Artemis Fowl etc. We do use the library- but we have so much at home that I may give it a rest for a while.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

And 2012 brings....

 Firstly I should show you the gorgeous picture of my monsters that filled the stockings of the various grands and great-grands- I particularly love the slightly furtive cheekiness of no.3 - sums him up pretty well! Gaps in teeth in no.1- 6 down, 14 to go. Two of the six presented to us in a restaurant and one of the others I brushed out whilst teethcleaning (blush- it wasn't that firmly!!)
 Trying to get back to normal- and on with the crafting projects. The bat was selected by TP- not often he makes specific requests (that are achievable anyway)- so tried my best and scaped around and managed to find some navy (nearly black) tissue paper. Ended up being a team effort between him, FI and myself- but we have all rather fallen in love with 'Batty'- even if somewhat out of season!

This is one of a puppet making kit that FI received for her birthday but only opened this week- I was quite impressed with the way he turned out and her instruction following.

Anyway my real reason for coming to do this post was to commit to some targets for 2012. Rather than making huge unrealistic aims which I know will fall by the wayside I am going to have a 'small steps' mantra. I would like to lose some weight, get a little healthier, do a little more exercise and feel that I look after myself more. I know that over the next few months I will be able to stop taking the pill (which will be great- am resenting these last months). So my first steps will be to drink more water- aiming for a litre -perhaps more per day. I am buying a more efficient pedometer (previous cheap one pretty useless) and am going to measure a baseline before setting targets. We are going to increase the amounts of meat free meals- which will have a side effect of being able to increase the provenance of any meat- back to where we were pre credit crunch. We are going to have a play with the new juicer and maybe try some raw meals and try to re-educate ourselves a little- which may have the effect of some weight loss too.
My target for us, over the next few months, is to try to work out where we are heading- is it a move away from the area? Or can we achieve what we are seeking with a different house/lifestyle in the same county? I know that this means selling this house- so we must move forwards with this- so I must enable M to get on with what needs to be done- Giving my sister sweat equity rather than a bought wedding present now seems like it may have been a silly idea. I need to get M on side- I think he has been also in a bad place too- and we need to move forward!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

A Years Review

External- 2011- The year that saw
  • A dissertation completed and the COURSE finished and our Daddy returned- HURRAH!!
  • Plodding at my workplace- but plodding is fine- hang on a minute- No I'm being unfair to myself- I've actually done a huge amount of transport- including some really complicated stabilisation with multiple procedures. I've broken my Longline hang-up (maybe??), put in chest drains confidently and intubated anything that needed it- so pretty OK actually
  • SJ has become a competent reader who is starting to realise this and explore it more. He loves Beavers and is collecting badges.
  • FI has finished Playgroup and become officially HE and is also progressing in her own different way. Her stabilisers are off, she has taken her first ballet exam and participated at her first real Theatre Show.
  • TP is a noise monster who is undeniably cute asd well as being frightfully annoyingly frustratingly aggghhhh! He loves Playgroup and has started a couple of his own acivities- swimming and trampolining.
  • We have enjoyed Family Holidays to Somerset, Derbyshire and Lapland!! Birthdays have been celebrated mainly with Family Days Out and we have joined English Heritage.
Internal 2011
  • I have learnt an awful lot about my approach to HE and parenting- as they can't really be separated. We use a mixture of approaches (ie the 'whatever works for us on the day approach')- but seem to be moving a lot more autonomous- especially since SJ will initiate a fair few things himself- I am also a great believer in strewing and suggestion.
  • We probably watch a little more TV than I am happy with (compared to 'my' standard- rather than national average!) but then an awful lot less outside of winter- so it probably balances out. But then it is a BH today and there is some good stuff on and maybe I should chill out a bit -rather than measuring by the last week or so........
  • I need to get past my 'we should be doing something' panic- just because the children are playing at something which doesn't seem obviously educational- I Should celebrate the ability to move away and do things when they don't need me rather than feeling defunct and guilty that they are not achieving educational targets!
  • We have come to realise that we are feeling ready to move out of this house- we would like a little more usable garden, I would like the caravan back with us rather than having to pay a small fortune for storage. I would like the children- especially FI, to have her own space- they love sharing their bedroom but she need her own toy space where she can arrange herself without TP racing through.....
  • I am happy working and we certainly like the things that the extra money can buy for us ( we also ensure we see this as 'extra' money rather than integral money) but I wish that we had more time together as a family. Because we don't have any childcare arrangements they get lots of 'mummy + kids' and a fair amount of 'daddy + kids' but not so much mummy + daddy + kids time....
  • The other consequence of above is that household stuff falls by the wayside- and if we want to sell then we need to finish ongoing stuff before we can freshen up for the market.
  • And finally, in me, I have come to realise that I have put myself last for soooo long- I get dry skin as I never get around to putting face cream on- I forget to clean my teeth in the morning- I eat rubbish sometimes and probably drink too much tea. Exercise has tailed off (hard to do brisk walk when you need to go at toddler waddle) etc- and I am feeling the net effects of this. I think I have felt a little down this year- a combination of above and feeling a lack of direction/ feeling of merely treading water- I need to address this and move forwards. I have realise that some of the blahness that I feel can be addressed by colour and lovely small objects that make me smile....
 ......A new hot water bottle......... (my previous was coming up for 20 yrs old)
 .....One or two new bits on the tree- a GP swap owl (so cute!!), a reindeer from lapland, and the cute fat robin- who called to me- as well as the plain felt hearts (which I may decorate next year)....
.....A lovely tin which had LebKuchen in from a German friend (why don't biscuit tins in this country look like this)- I know I can find a use for this!