Thursday, August 31, 2006

Things we've been up to ...

Thought I'd give you an idea of what we've been up to lately. We decided to make the most of a relatively dry afternoon today and try out the pond dipping at Barnwell Country Park just a short drive from us. It was the last pond dipping session they were holding and I really wanted the children to have a go with the help of a Ranger who knows his stuff with regard to what little creatures live in the ponds! We often go pond dipping ourselves at our local park, but this time we learnt the name of several mini beasts (and how they all eat each other in due course).
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We are coming to the end of our Tudors topic and continue to learn about the explorers of this period and also the Spanish Armada. Used this template as best we could to assemble and label our galleons! There were so many sections we gave up in the end (as there were no assembly instructions), but it gave us an opportunity to discuss life on board, etc., etc.
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I have decided to buy the very well used Usborne Art Projects book that we borrowed from the library. We are constantly dipping into it so I felt like a good purchase to make. Managed to find a new one on Amazon for a whopping £5.11 including p&p so that won't break the bank! Looking out for a good value Usborne 100 Science Experiments - my other favourite library book at the moment! From the Art Projects book, B has done these fabulous pencil, pen and chalk drawings of cars:-
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Way back at the beginning of the "holidays" I mentioned that K had come up with the idea of using the paper circles from the hole punch to produce some kind of picture. She turned a few into funny little faces with different colour wool hair. Although she lost interest (she was going to cover a whole A4 page with different expressions) I thought the few she'd done look good.
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We seem to be having pet problems this year. With Allie and his ear/stroke incident during the hot weather, now Jasper, our ageing puss, seems to be going down hill. He was due for his annual jabs this month so we tentatively took him along to the vets to find out what's happening about his weight lose and general unhealthy look about him, poor fella. He's been losing weight since the beginning of summer and his spine feels so knobbly when you stroke him. Although he is attentive towards us (more so than usual) he appeared old. Last week we noticed that what was coming out back end (and missing the tray every time - grrrr) looked exactly like the food that had been going in at the other end! One morning it was so messy - won't go into details - it was literally everywhere. Turns out it could be an overactive thyroid gland (pretty common apparently). His heart is going ten to the dozen at the moment so as soon as the blood tests confirm this, we'll start him on tablets to right it, hopefully.

Our temporary pet, the caterpillar, we've noticed is changing from day to day. The chrysalis is altering in a way that resembles the beginnings of a butterfly. Fascinating. We can see two eyes and the body is darker with destinctive wings on either side. Keep you posted. Unfortunately, it is very small and my camera doesn't cope well with focussing on it, but here's a shot anyway.
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Have been trying to get my head around some new ideas for September onwards, especially the dreaded maths and literacy (these are the only two subjects the kids associate with "school" unfortunately, however hard I try to disguise it. Christmas is talked about alot in our house at the moment (probably because of all the rain, coolness and darkness that's around). I keep dreaming of Christmas away, up in the Welsh hills with lots of snow, children gathering wood for the log burner - dream .. dream .. dream .... K's not so sure, she's worried Father Christmas won't find her!
By the way, just come across this on Othena's blog - I came out I am nerdier than 22% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!
as "not nerdy, but definately not hip" - sums me up I guess!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

K's Fantasy Pony

I promised K I'd put the "Fantasy Pony" that she'd so carefully painted up on my blog. It is the last one of three up for sale at £4 (inclusive of p&p). If anyone is interested (perhaps for a birthday gift), the pony stands at approx. 4cm high, 5cm long, is painted in pretty metallic pink with silver hooves, mane and tail and comes with a lovely little poem too.

Just leave a comment if you're interested and we'll sort something out.

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Woodland walk

We visited my Mum and Dad in Leigh-on-Sea on Saturday. We haven't seen them for quite a while and Dad's not been too well so it was lovely to spend the day with them.

After a wonderful home cooked lunch and natter (of course) we went out for a walk in Belfairs Woods, just at the top of their road. We love these woods and always take our strolls in there after lunch. We love it because there's always horse riders taking their lessons or cantering through at speed, piles of logs to clamber over and ditches to negotiate, vast amounts of squirrels that are so tame they feed out of our hands (and nip too if you don't offer them any food), a peaceful nature reserve and a riding stables at the end of the wood with horses and cats to see and stroke and lawn bowls for B to watch (he's fascinated by the game).

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Luckily the weather was lovely. We thought it was going to be dark and gloomy as the clouds loomed on the journey down, but it perked up and the sun shone for us - just perfect.

The kids ran and climbed and chatted and had a great time (in fact we all did) and yawned their sleepy heads off on the journey home. We all agreed that the outdoors was much more fun that sitting in front of a PC day in day out. Let's hope we can keep this attitude going (managed it today anyway!).

Today we went to Barnwell for a snack and cuppa mid-morning (I was cooking a late lunch for P's parents - scrummy potato, chickpea and spinach curry from "Sam Stern's Cooking up a Storm" check out my review here) - so lots of playing on the fabulous playground there (see previous post). Then home to cook and enjoy a rather full lunch.

Off to watch the new BBC2 series "Equator" which is starting tonight. Oh and I think I'd better tackle the ever growing ironing pile too!

I've been tagged ...

I've been tagged by Othena. I've only just got back into reading books after about a 9 year gap. In fact I'm thinking of stopping again as I get so involved in the book I'm reading I find I neglect everyone/thing else! Anyway, here goes:-

Magazine actually - "Junior" - it's where I first heard about home education and although it took me another 5 years to pluck up the courage to do it I still think back and thank that article for planting the seed in my head!

"The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett - a big chunky book, great for holidays! The back reads, "a timeless story of passion and idealism set in the mists of the middle ages".

"The Family Home" by Joanna Copestick, just for the lovely dreamy homely piccies in it (I pull it off the shelf and read it during a tea break, it calms me!) and either a Phillippa Gregory book or "Lady of Hay" by Barbara Erskin, another fascinating book that has remained on my book shelves to re-reading over and over. Set in present day - a journalist decides to be hypnotised to discover her past life which is set in 1175 and she is a Lady threatened under the reign of King John.

"The Other Side of the Story" by Marian Keyes, I just couldn't put it down. About three ladies and how their individual lives involve each other.

I can't think of one that made me cry as an adult, but as a child the "Anne of Green Gables" series (as well as the TV version) by L.M. Montgomery certainly did. They were powerful books for me, I still quote bits of them today to my children. In fact my dd, K, has just started to read them too.

Perhaps a book on how the world can actually resolve all it's problems and live in peace with itself.

Have been thinking and thinking about this one - sorry - no go, can't think of one.

"The Queen's Fool" by Phillippa Gregory - so far, so good!.

"The Virgin's Lover" by Phillippa Gregory (yep, I love her books - have you guessed!?)

Lucy, Nikki, Tammy, the-lewis-family, thegreengreek

Friday, August 25, 2006

After all this wet and chilly weather, the clouds parted and the sun shone warmth today which was great as today was a farewell picnic for one of our HE families embarking on a new venture to Spain. We all bought food to share and enjoyed the company of friendships for a good 4 hours or so. It was lovely too because we hadn't all been together since our end of term event at the end of July, so we had lots to catch up on! The boys all enjoyed their usual "fighting" play, using sticks in their games, and the girls enjoyed their gentler play, all with the occasional joining up to play footie or similar sport.

Looking forward more and more to getting back to a routine. We had our group "planning" meeting the other evening and so now it feels a good time to settle back to some kind of "work". We have thought of a lot of new ideas for group sessions and outings, which will come up on my blog as and when they happen. We're also trying out two new venues too which will be fun. The first has lots of outdoor space with great play equipment for letting off steam, the second, which we'll try after October half term, is excellent for cold and miserable weather, with indoor soft play area and a huge barn for team sports.

As a follow up to a previous post about our caterpillar, he still seems to be doing well in his little chrysalis. We also have another one who came into the box nestled on a leaf (I didn't see him somehow). This time we definitely left nature to take its course and noticed he'd followed the same pattern as the first caterpillar. Eating leaves for a few days then wandering off to the lid of the box to form his chrysallis. Can't wait for the next stage ....

On the Tudors front we have been learning about the wonderful discoveries for the new world, the galleons and those who sailed on them, Drake and the Golden Hind. Used this site to help plot the Slave Trade triangle and Drakes route around the world. Although we're going to make galleons using old cardboard soup cartons, I couldn't resist using this rather detailed (but small) printable of a galleon which the kids have coloured in ready for assembling onto paper and to label, it was so detailed. Also found a young childrens' reader in the library named "Captain Drake's Orders" by Karen Wallace to help K and B understand what happened during the Spanish Armada.

Finished our vegetable diaries, they were beginning to drag and the children were losing a bit of interest. The tomatoes are gradually turning red and are a good size (although some are still rather marked on their skins) and taste wonderful. Beans are taking their time to grow, they are so tiny in length - I guess they are lacking (like us all) the sun at the moment. The new pumpkin is getting bigger each day and we are keeping a careful watch for naughty, munchy bugs. We don't want to lose this one!

B has decided to make a film with his PC character "Blupi" as the main character. He's very excited about it all and wants to jump right in. Trying to slow him alittle without squashing his interest, as I don't want the whole thing to flop. He's started thinking out his characters and a brief, short storyline and I've suggested we make the characters out of plastacine so they can be moved more easily between frames. Let you know how we get on. He's really enthusiastic about this and I know we'll have some fun.

B has also made this lovely snakes and ladders game. He designed it himself and I just helped colour in the snakes and some of the squares. He's added extra bits to this traditional board game like "move 2 spaces back" and "jump to square 34" etc., etc., to make it a bit more interesting. It was interesting how we incorporated a bit of maths in this as he put it all together, using a ruler and measuring, working out the total number of squares with multiplication (although I was a bit put out that he'd already forgotten his 11 times table after our short summer break!), counting with the dice and so on, without his really noticing.

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K has been busy making more tack and riders for her hobby. She uses "milliput" to make the riders as it is much stronger then clay and doesn't seem to break. She's started a model horse club with her friends and is writing news updates on the PC in magazine form for everyone to see. K also did a wonderful cut and paste job on Paintshop this week by using a photo of herself taken when horseriding, using the PC to cut around it and then pasting her photo onto the back of a model horse. It is superb, she really looks like she's riding one of her models! Amazing what you can do on these photo software packages.

Have a good weekend. I hear the country is heading for heavy downpours next week with risk of flooding. Should be interesting ...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Model Horse Live Show

One of Ks New Year's Resolutions came true yesterday - that was to attend and participate in a live model horse show. She has done numerous model horse photo shows and postal shows but the ultimate - to take part in a live show - had yet to happen. This one was held in lovely sleepy Rothersthorpe in Northamptonshire's beautiful countryside.

It started at 10 a.m. (so an early Sunday morning wake up - yuk). In fact P and I couldn't sleep the night before (K couldn't sleep either due to nerves, excitement and just that fact that K's a light sleeper), we sat in bed chatting and debating things for quite a while and then we both felt wide awake! Getting up around 6.45 a.m. on the Sunday was not my idea of fun, but we were out the house by 9.30 a.m., only 15 mins. later than we'd planned.

Route to Rothersthorpe appeared really straightforward on the map, we also took some internet instructions, just in case we got lost. P always runs these off together with an awkward map. I hate these instructions, the ones that say, "after 0.xx miles turn left onto slipway and bear right, after 0.xx miles take 3rd exit off the roundabout onto A blah blah (which is never signposted) or A blah blah 'something Road' (which again is never signposted). Anyway, you get the drift. We got lost, naturally. We were so close, it was just there were no signposts or road numbers and a serious number of hedges between us and the village. Stopped off at a hotel for help and they kindly ran off another load of these horrible internet instructions, all with road names (no help, couldn't even find the starting road name!). A kind American in the hotel lobby said we needed to get onto the M1 and go up a junction which we did and then got lost from there! Hopeless aren't we - I'm just so glad I coaxed P to drive rather than me. In the back of the car, as the clock ticked past 10 a.m. ,K became abit tearful and suggested we just go home. No way! We were just so close we couldn't give up!

Found Rothersthorpe by chance - the wind blew as we got close to a road sign and Rothersthorpe appeared alongside other names! Yippee! We were only 20 mins late and they hadn't started as others had got lost too!

Anyway. K's hobby of collecting model horses has opened up a whole new life for us all! We know, from her, that there are lots of different makes of models, different sizes too, that you can alter them to be a completely different horse to the one you originally bought, paint them, make tack for them, put them in for photo shows to win mini certificates and sashes, and enter live shows like this one.

This show was specifically for Julip model horses and other "craft" horses, whatever that means (K knows), and people pay for a table to line up their models ready to enter specific classes, competing against others and hopefully win prizes. K didn't have many models this time. She took her Schleichs and her Feltie (which are "craft") and her one Julip.

Everyone is so particular about their horses - grooming them and making sure they look their best for the judges (one of which was the owner of Julip (see above link), no stray hairs, scratches, etc. Classes with horses wearing tack and including riders need to immitate real life versions to even hope of getting a placing. It may sound abit strange but in fact we found we were getting very competitive, and nervous too during judging. K came away with several tiny rossettes and certificates for fourths, fifths and sixth and even got a first for one of her Schleich (with rider) together with a mini trophy. She was so chuffed. It was also really lovely for K (and me) to get to meet some other model horse mad people (all female) and a couple from forums that K belongs to.

P and B were totally bored by the whole thing. They did go for a bit of a walk before lunch (and didn't find a pub) but the weather turned terrible so they were stuck with K and me until we left at around 6 p.m. (although the show hadn't yet finished). Must admit, K and I did feel it was beginning to drag by then so we probably won't be doing this every weekend! I know there's another one coming up in October some time.

Here's some pics.

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Ks models ready for their classes

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all lined up to be judged

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rosettes and certificates

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Lessons learned ...

Friday was not good.

I woke up around 4 with awful stomach cramps, something I just don't suffer with, but hoped that they'd been gone by the time I needed to get up. Not so. The cramps lasted all day and as the day wore on I began to feel nauseous too and light headed. Pumped myself with paracetemol to dull the cramps which helped but I felt like a useless mother all day - bursting in to tears at the slightest thing, especially at this:-

I thought I'd killed the little caterpillar we are nurturing. He'd been doing fine during the week, eating his leaves and pooing lots (and shedding his skin) but on Thursday he kept wandering off to the lid of the box and I was beginning to wonder why he wasn't still needing more food, I'd read he'd need to eat lots and lots before the next stage of his little life. Friday morning he was still on the lid of the box and looked like he was writhing around. Panic set in and I tried to entice him off the lid and onto a leaf. After a short while I could see that he was held firmly to the lid by something round his middle - a hair perhaps that had got caught round him. The idea that he was making his chrysalis just didn't enter my head (it was too early, surely). Besides, from what I'd read he should be forming the chrysalis from his bum downwards and be hanging, not from a strand cutting into him round his middle. K suggested I leave him ("caterpillar's don't follow text books") and I wish I'd listened to her (I often think this), but I thought he was trapped and needed to break free so he could get munching again. Tried hard to free him and eventually cut the strand (which was tough) and let him go. It was only then that I noticed he looked somewhat different to his buddies outside. No longer long with sharp colourings he was fatter with duller colourings and he didn't have any energy to move around. On later inspection of the lid I could she the beginnings of his chrysalis. That's when the tears kicked in - boy did they - for a long time. How could I do such a thing, why didn't I leave him like K suggested, etc., etc. Anyway, this poor little mite was pretty quite, but he wasn't a gonna just yet, his head kept moving, although the rest of him didn't.

B cuddled me, K said "told you to leave him" like a scolding mother! B made me a gorgeous card saying the caterpillar will be "all rite", he read to me and calmed me down (sweetie). The caterpillar looked no different when I went to bed, so I continued to feel absolutely horrible.

Woke up to find little caterpillar laying calmly on a leaf on the bottom of the box, with his newly formed chrysalis encompassing him. I really hope he makes it to a butterfly and I will leave him well and truly alone from now on.

So, I've learnt three main things!
  1. nature knows what it is doing so leave it to get on with it!
  2. the silk or whatever they use to form their chrysalis is amazingly strong for something so fragile looking. I couldn't snap it with the tip of a pencil, it needed to be cut with scissors. Even then I pulled what was left to test it's strength and it just wouldn't pull away from the rest of the chrysalis.
  3. my daughter knows more than me, so I should follow her advice!

To sum up - nature is truly wonderful.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Took the opportunity, as the weather was quite nice, to have a picnic lunch at the park yesterday. We were sitting at our usual "Rabbit Creek" when a family of four kids (eldest about 10) and two rather grumpy looking female adults also decided to be close to us. OK, no problem with that, we're not hermits (although sometimes that would be welcoming). However, they were loud and were constantly shouting, nope, yelling at the children to keep off the fishing platform ("it's not a playground"), not to explore the rather dry river bed, not to pick up sticks to play with in the river (what's left of it), etc., etc., Shouty, shouty, yell, yell, scold, scold and eventually tears from the kids. After they eventually left, dragging the kids away from their explorations, K whispered, "makes you grateful for what you've got" (me, I guess!!).

After a model horse photo session and a play in the playground, we went for a wander in the little wooded area to find some good sized twigs to make a shack for Ks dolls. K made most of the shack and I put on the roof, made from old blinds material which kept off the rain overnight! We made a little fire and K did a compost toilet with a screen for privacy. B used nails and a hammer (with some help from me) to make this wooden "A".

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We also came across this very large caterpillar wandering along the pathway. The kids were rather nervous of it because of its size and little hook style tale. Looked it up when we got home - a Laurel Sphinx Moth it seems. Here's the details.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Plodding along nicely

Hi, thought i'd just jot down a few things we've been up to over the last few days. Went greenlaning again in Elsie Mo on Saturday and Sunday. There's quite a few lanes close to us ready for exploration (although some are rather tedious sometimes you get a fun bumpy or picturesque one). One on Saturday went right along the canal on one side (which was surprisingly high and nearly up to the edge of the bank, lovely for a spot of fishing) and right by a local railway line on the other. We stopped for a cuppa (rather sad I know, we take a flask with us!!!) and climbed the steps up to a small barrier by the edge of the rails (ahhh! - that's asking for trouble surely). One of the lanes on Sunday was lovely, very bumpy and well used so the kids enjoyed being shunted around the place. I did a spot of driving while P took some film. Found lots of brambles which, unlike the ones in town, were no way near ready for picking. Will try and remember to come back in a month for a good old feast.

B has started painting his solar system mobile that Grandma and Grandad gave him for his birthday. He's being really careful and doing a planet at a time so as not to rush it all - very wise. He find out what the Milky Way actually is (apart from a rather yummy tummy filler that is) and has been telling me planet facts while working.

B has also made this fun marble maze, and idea he saw on the Discover Kids channel recently in a program called Big Bang. He stuck barriers up on the bottom of a large plastic lid and designed his maze. Good fun.

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K has been busy making more model horse tack. She's had an order from one of her forum people as well as from a friend. She has also been asked to make some tack for a model horse club show and raffle! (((PROUD MUM)))

K is presently reading Anne of Green Gables and I dug out the old videos of the recordings I'd made from the TV yonks back. Although I'd never read the book(s), I absolutely loved the film(s) they'd made and hoped she would too one day. B finds them "boring and girly"!

K and B have finished their Henry VIII and six wives (and monach siblings and mottos) mobile. The kids each made up their own crest and motto - "to care for the creatures of the world" (K) and "B the fab" (B). Was interested to find out that Henry originally asked Christina of Denmark to marry him before Anne of Cleves, but as Christina was a widow and able to choose whether to marry him or not (and having thought about the unhappy endings of Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn), wisely declined!

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Our nasturiums in the garden are being host to loads of caterpillars. We've decided to nurture one (see previous post) and we're caring for it well (I think - following guidelines anyway). We've started diaries, drawings, photos and measurements,etc. According the website the caterpillar should end up a Great White.

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Cherry tomatoes in the garden are superb, we are able to pick a good handful each day and B is loving them. The larger (normal) tomatoes are doing fine, no more rot, but are taking their time to turn red. We've finished K's new potatoes and will probably dig up B's this week. Runners are beginning to appear with lots more pretty red flowers too now that the rain has turned up.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Country park visit for B and me

K had a "pony day" at her riding stables so I was able to spend the day just with B. He really wanted to play the pitch and putt at the local park but it was closed at 10.30 and no one knew when it would be up and running. Much sulking from the little fella, but we decided to go further afield to a park a short drive from where we live.

This is it, set in Northamptonshire's lovely greenery. Not too hot today (it was one of those, "shall we take a jumper just in case" kind of days) although the sun shone most of the time the persistant wind took the edge off the heat. A lovely park with walks, ponds, rivers, fish (one was huge), and a great playground which B thoroughly enjoyed and he made a little friend too. The playground had some fun games like wooden naughts and crosses, a version of pinball and this maze game which B managed to complete. The swinging rope was a hit with us both!

Had a picnic and a read of B's new book about nature that his friend gave him for his birthday. B read a lot of it to me, which was refreshing, he also read lots of the signs around the park. They have nature treasure hunts, scavenger hunts and pond dipping on a regular basis (for a very small fee per child), so we'll probably return in due course with K aswell. It was lovely to spend time with B alone. Love her to bits, obviously, but K's a constant chatterbox, usually about model horse things, that B often can't get a word in edge-ways!

K had a good time at her pony day. We turned up to see her doing some races on a rather tall horse, but she handled him really well. She said she'd had two riding lessons during the day and had also done some grooming, lunging, bandaging and horse games. A very happy bunny she is!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Blackberry picking

This morning, B wanted to have a fiddle with his new Chemistry set that Grandma and Grandad had given him for this birthday. Although it informs us that it is for ages 10-adult (or "you need 10 adults to help me, as B saw it!), skimming through the instruction booklet led me to believe that we'd already done most of the experiments using our own kitchen bits and bobs. Anyway, today, on further inspection of the booklet, things seemed alittle more complicated. It was exactly like the chemistry set I used to have when much younger, and I remember not following the book but mixing various lotions and potions together to see what would happen (not a lot actually!). B said the same thing ... "can I just mix some things together to make a bang!" We did a couple of experiments to make bubbles to whet his appetite but he really wanted to take it further. I hate to stop learning in its natural tracks, but I just felt I needed to read the booklet first to see what's what before I can let him loose on it. Just hope he won't lose interest.

K made some rock cakes all by herself (except taking them out of the oven) - proud moment. They were the best rock cakes we've had so far.

Packed a picnic and headed for the park for lunch by "rabbit creak" which seems to still be a rather shallow swamp, rather than a nice small fishing lake. Obviously we need some serious downpours to get it back to how it was last year when we are able to go fishing with our nets. After lots of tree climbing, photo and film taking, handstands, cartwheels and chatter, we headed off to my sister and brother-in-law's home to pick some wild blackberries that line their outside walls. Got loads. We noticed them last week during a visit and were able to record our siting of fruit on the bramble on the Nature Detectives website. Our package which corresponds to this had arrived a couple of days before, so we're all geared up for siting autumnal things! We're looking forward to sending in our sitings and have been writing up our on-line diary too. Check out the website here. I think once you've joined they send you a package each Spring and Autumn.

We've found lots and lots of tiny caterpillars on our nasturium leaves this morning. Tempted to have a go at nurturing one/two ourselves - the 100 Science Experiments book from Usborne that we're still borrowing from the library, tells us how to do this safely. Use this site to find out about caterpillars. It seems the only one (they have listed) that likes this leaf is the Great White. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Hama, bubble wrap and sunglasses

In between mini bouts of bickering between K and B today they had some fun with the items in the title. I picked up a lunch box worth of Hama beads, mats and ironing sheets from the car boot fair for 10p which the kids played around with this morning. Here's a photo - K made a rabbit face, B a Blupi character and K did the pattern too.

P received a large box of goodies to get Elsie Mo back on the road (again). Her clutch gave up the day before we went camping, and it needed replacing. Loads of bubble wrap came with the goods - this is the wrap with the large bubbles that make a big noise when popped. We layed it on the floor to jump on first of all, then B rolled all over it, then we all had a tug of war with it. The neighbours must have wondered what on earth we were up to!

Finally, K found my sunglasses which have blue tinted lenses. I keep them for the garden as they make everything appear brighter to me, rather than shadier! She thought they were great and wore then during dinner time as they made her feel like she was in a large swimming pool. This led to much joking, pretend swimming on the kitchen floor, being grabbed by sharks, and passing smelly feet (don't ask) etc., etc. B did this fabulous song and dance about life underwater. Amazing how a pair of sunglasses can trigger so much imaginative play.

Talking of imaginative play. We were in town this afternoon purchasing a few bits to get K's little craft project up and running. B was looking through all the card making kits available in one store and found a packet with tiny little tools inside which he wanted me to buy for him (it was £2). I wasn't sure, thought it may be a waste of money (I know it's only £2 but we were out purely to stock up on the necessary things that we needed and I had a feeling he wouldn't use them once I'd bought them), all that sort of stuff, when he pipes up "oh come on ... you're always telling me to use my imagination, with this I can right?!". What could I say to that. They've been opened, played with and left, stuffed down the side of the sofa!!!

The best thing about car booting ...

... is not getting some spare dosh (or though that's nice too), it's being able to cook a good old fry up at 8 a.m. while waiting for interested punters to grab your wonderful sale goods!!!!
Sorry to any veggies out there, but this fry up went down a treat!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Being creative

We often check out the Crayola website whenever we need inspiration for creativity. They periodically send me emails with lists of topic related crafts. This time there was a bit about supercharging childrens' creativity. This section I thought was good to read and inspire people to get out and be creative!

We have been creative these last few days. Our summer project is titled "take a picture of something you see" (after the well known song), and we have each chosen a subject and are taking a picture each week of a different aspect of that subject. Once we've finished and done something fun with all the pictures, I'll put it up on the blog.

K had another good creative idea this week. During our local festival some of the homes opened up as art studios and the public were able to wander round to view, and buy if they wish, the wonderful array of different artwork that had been produced by local artists. One of the homes showed a large picture made up entirely of pistachio nut shells, pasted onto paper in rows, and each had a different face drawn on them. All those different expressions pictured on nut shells - would never have thought that one up. K wanted to do something similar and came up with the idea of using the hole punch to make lots of tiny round pieces of paper to draw her expressions on. Started this yesterday. B and I are using the mini circles to produce our own style of mosiac. Again, will put up pics when we're finished.

I find that being round the table together doing some form of art or craft is actually quite calming for me. I enjoy seeing them use their imaginations and have found, as the year has gone on, that they are much more confident in what they produce. Obviously I will help them when they need inspiration or assistance in what they are doing, but I make sure not to say that their work is "wrong" or that they should have done it "like this".

Forget the mess, have fun being creative!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

All about veggies.

We harvested K's pot of potatoes this evening just before the kids dinner. Always a bit tentative as to whether there would be any lurking in the earth or not, but we had a nice crop which tasted great. We shall harvest B's pot next week, hopefully it'll be as good.

Here's photos of the beans and cherry tomatoes which are doing really well. The other tomatoes are growing bigger and better with no more half rotten toms thankfully.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Rain, rain go away - we want the sun back!!!!

Good old British, can't win can we? Grumble if it's hot, grumble if it's cold and wet! Got cooler, cooler then colder as the day went on, then rain, rain, rain. Good for the garden, suddenly it's healthy and green again and at least I don't have to worry about constantly watering the veg, but I'd like the sun back please!

We're not doing much work wise at the moment. Trying madly to get the house in order and will eventually sort some stuff out for us all to do in September; I have some ideas up my sleeve!

Had a monthly grocery shop from Tesco delivered this morning. They 'phoned to say they were running early and would drop off 1/2 hour before scheduled time. Fine, no prob with me. Usually when they arrive, they ring the door bell then go and unload the van, so you can unload the crates a couple at a time. This time, they rang the bell and had put the all the crates of shopping on my doorstep and stood around waiting for me to unload it all (yep it was rather tricky to reach the top crate as it was well above my head). I mentioned something about them being in rather a hurry today, even though they were early and I was told that they were now late for their next shift! What? It was 1/2 hour before their next shift for goodness sake. Anyway, annoyingly (and in credit to Tesco, this hasn't happened for a while), lots of the order was awful substitutes, so I held the guys up even more going through all the bags trying to find the unwanted returns. Why can't they put a label on the bags with substitutes, or put them all in one bag?! Wouldn't that make sense and save time?

Kids had fun with all the cereal boxes, making a maze and then a den with added help from the large sofa cushions. This all stayed out on the living room floor during lunch, while we finished off Fantasia which we started watching the other evening. The last piece, all about hell and heaven (as I could make it out), struck up a rather interesting conversation about what heaven and hell are like, whether they actually exist, etc., etc. K believes there's only a heaven as God forgives all, even those that do wrong - she could have a point there. After Fantasia had finished the video stopped and the TV automatically turned to CBeebies (why did it go to that channel? We haven't watched CBeebies for yonks!). Anyway, good old Auntie Mable was on (love her) and we watched one of our favourites about wood being turned into furniture. It featured some rather bored youngsters using wooden kitchen tools and instruments to make music. B decided to do this too, although for the neighbour's sake I suggested he used the boxes on the floor rather than metal saucepans that he really wanted to use. B likes music and I remembered this fabulous site featured on the EO main forum recently, playing chords on a virtual guitar, which kept him fascinated for a long time. Do you find your kids really get into something just as you need to rush out for an appointment or something. Why? When they're bored, shuffling around the place bickering with each other and you suggest really fun, interesting things to do (well I think they're fun and interesting) they don't want to know. Suddenly they find something and it's just as you're about to do something else!

Have been trying to get round to doing some updates on the blog and website. Managed to download some of K's lovely horse drawings on the web (they are under art), and will at some point put a link to them from the blog. It all seems to take so long. I've changed my profile picture too. The drawing I had before of K and B was lovely, but the one of B scared me every time I looked at it, it was the teeth I think that did it (in case you never noticed, the pic's below to refresh your memory!) Anyway, tried loads and loads of times to change it and the system just timed out, but when I had a go at doing it from P's computer it worked instantly. Why!?

Think I should rename this blog entry "why", don't you?

Please let the sun shine tomorrow, please, please!