Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sculpture class has finished

I promised some photos of our finished work:

Here's Ben's bowl. He cut the wood into a square and then drew a circle onto it before chiselling out the centre to form the bowl. He then used (with some help) the woodturner to smooth all the edges and the bowl to form a lovely piece of woodwork. Later he drew a pattern and his name and used the pyrograph to burn the pattern finishing off with water colour pencils to colour it. Ben also made a small wooden penguin, similar to Katie's fish using chisels and a whittling set to get the shape and texture, then the pyrograph to burn the features.

Katie added a base to a ready made box shape. She had to mark and saw the wood to fit the base before glueing in on. After some sanding to smooth edges, she used the pyrograph to burn different horse pictures onto the sides, finishing off with the water colour pencils to add some colour.

Here's my finished gargoyle. I had great fun doing this, and found working with clay very theraputic (plus the time flew by). Carving, pulling, shaping and altering the shape was brilliant - I have visions of becoming a plastic surgeon some time in the future!! I left adding the wings for a good two weeks as I thought it would be really difficult to get them right. However, an evening sitting in front of the "box" and the pair just came together without any hassle. The gargoyle is completely dry now and can't be fired as it hasn't been hollowed out enough inside. Have now started making a dragon for Katie, so more photos to follow.


Labels: ,

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I woke up at 6 this morning and my face was really cold. Laid in bed wondering when (and if) the boiler would kick in (the boiler is still not 100% - she'll be well on the mend beginning of December when our "man" starts to get her sorted). Fell asleep until 8.30 (the boiler did kick in) and peeped outside to see snow! Yeeeesss! When will I grow out of the excitement of snow?
Chucking snowballs at me!

I always have to tell people about the snow years ago when I was doing my Art O Level (resit). How exciting the evening had been hearing on the news that we were to get snow and constantly peeking out of my bedroom window wishing the white stuff would fall. I guess I eventually fell asleep and woke up to that strange white glow that always confirms that snow in on the ground. Not just a little covering, but heaps of it. Roads were blocked for days, and milk/bread was delivered to the ends of roads for people to collect. I remember having to walk (a fair way) to school to sit my exam with the heating now working properly (me and one other, plus the teacher were the only people in school that day for the 6 hour exam). Luckily I passed with a B (two previous attempts a D), no doubt they took sympathy on me!

Anyway, moving away from my memories. Snow had fallen on frozen ground, so there were some pretty patterns around, like on the Landrover window.
The string used to tie up Billy the rabbit's waterproof sheeting was completely frozen solid, as was the water trough for the chickens. All very pretty though - lots of snowball throwing and obligatory snowman complete with coal eyes and carrot nose!

We still have some snow left around the place, but it keeps throwing down rain now and again. Unfortunately melting snow on rooftops identified another leak in our conservatory. We had bowls and towels in three places around the house today - not good ah?
Little snowman


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Update on the Cubs thing

Just realised that I haven't updated on Ben going along to Cubs. We managed to go three times in total (half term was between these) but he's now decided to stop going (just after I'd purchased the uniform, naturally). Actually, I feel a little guilty in that perhaps, with a little more perseverance and persuasion from me he may have stuck it out a little more and perhaps grown to get used to it. Who knows.

He wanted me to stay each time, which was fine and actually I quite enjoyed being with the children.

One of the main problems I had, and noticed that Ben had too, was that the assistant leader had, how can I put it, a voice that was a problem to understand. No offence to him, he was a happy, loud and enthusiastic chap but his voice, perhaps the tone, loudness or whatever, made it difficult for me and Ben to understand. I don't think it was just us as I noticed other children asking him to repeat himself. He'd also occasionally bellow when a child misbehaved which made even me jump at times! He was very good at trying to make Ben welcome, but without communicating properly, well, communication can break down!

The main leader wasn't so bad, although she would at times talk down to the children, something I really cannot tolerate.

Ben, I've come to understand, likes to know exactly what's going to happen and hates to be put on the spot. To be told that "now we'll play a game" but without instructions as the other children all seemed to know the game or "pack together" again not explaining to Ben where to stand, what to do, what to say, etc., etc., made him really nervous, especially as it was assumed he'd know what to do after the first session. Once he'd get into the game etc., he'd be OK, but then they'd throw in "right, this game now" and he'd go into panic mode again. OK, so perhaps he'd get used to this and get to know all the games in the short time he'd be at Cubs before starting all over again at Scouts, but it reminded me of when I was a child and having similar feelings of not fitting in, no-one else new, etc., etc., and just wanting to disappear into the walls.

The final time we went he was nearly in tears. The boys were told to line up and were handed papers with two verses of the National Anthem. Now strangely we'd been listening to national anthems just the week before but hadn't really gone over the words to our one (we were more interested in the beautiful Welsh N/A). They all started singing (!) and after a couple of goes the leader announced that if anyone now knew the words they could form a new line opposite those that didn't to watch them try and sing. Now as they continued to sing more and more boys moved to the other line, most still unsure and mumbling but, I'd expect, they were wise to the fact that they weren't going to be different from the rest. Poor Ben, close to tears, didn't move line because he honestly hadn't learnt the second verse. I had been moved to the kitchen at this stage to make drinks, but Ben's scared face was enough for me to decide that was that (unless he asked to continue going of course). By the time I'd finished in the kitchen he was in the line by himself with everyone else watching him - how uncomfortable is that!?

I must admit he did have one good week when the boys used a pyrograph to decorate Halloween keyrings. Ben was really pleased with himself for not only learning this new skill but also learning to drill the keyring hole by himself. The panic attacks and loud exclamations from the leaders when children accidently burnt themselves was quite interesting. I've heard before that if you ask children to be careful because something could hurt them, they will psycholgically hurt themselves!

So, I'm probably softer than I used to be. I'm sure Ben would have got over his nervousness eventually and maybe had enjoyed himself. The other boys there were friendly enough, although loud at times which Ben can find a problem. Just seeing his face and hearing him say after each Monday night, "well that's over, do I still have to go next week" made me think, what's the point of making him suffer. If he really wanted to do this he'd put up with any difficulties and try and enjoy himself.

At the back of my mind I keep thinking he'll never drag himself away from my side, but I know deep down that's not the case. He managed to do a whole morning of tennis by himself with a whole load of other children he'd never met in the summer, and still he asks to have tennis lessons. He seems such a confident little guy when he's with his friends and freely talks to other adults, I just feel he needs to branch out a little but in what direction I'm not yet sure.

I got a refund for the uniform by the way!!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Quick and fun science

Katie and Ben have worked really hard to finish their "our world" lapbooks, and they look brilliant - full of info. Have decided to take a couple of weeks break before December starts, then we'll do our Christmas Notebook plus all the other exciting things relating to the run up to 25th.

I'm going to paint our bedroom during the break (as well as find all the stuff needed for the Notebook) and so far the children have found things to busy themselves. Katie's been making some whittling and woodwork as well as making lots of new headcollars and tack for her model horses (she's just sold a bridle through one of her horse forums). Ben started a magazine called "The Monthly Spark", something he began with his cousin when we were watching fireworks. He's now started a "Monthly Spark" blog which is looking good. He's also been doing lots of lego as well as helping me work out various everyday maths problems associated with painting a room!

We've re-signed up to the Krampf Experiments weekly email - did this when we first started HEing, but it seemed to die out after a while. Anyway, this week was about triboluminescence - sparks caused by electrons jumping from a negative area to a positive area when, in this case, sticky tape it pulled very quickly from the tape roll. We also managed fabulous triboluminescence by sharply breaking sugar cubes in two using plyers - lovely blue/green mini flashes happen each time. The tape experiment was OK, but produced a dull yellow blob of light! Good fun - especially being shut in the understairs cupboard with two other bodies in complete darkness! Spooky!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembering those ...


Why and when, etc. plus we did some lovely poppie pictures using paint and a variety of materials other than a paintbrush! Wrote some Haiku (much prefer this to other styles of poetry - can get a deep sense of understanding from a Haiku), discovered the 6 verses of the National Anthem (Queen lays the first wreath) and read Lt. Colonel John McCrae's moving "In Flanders' Fields" which can be heard here on You-Tube.


Labels: , , ,

Flaming chemicals

Dug out Katie and Ben's first year HE folder of work to hunt down the "firework colours" experiment we did in 2005. We had great fun back then changing the colour of flames to understand how fireworks produce such lovely colours, but we had a gas hob in our old home and now we have an electric hob, which obviously is a problem! Lighting a fire in the snug yesterday it came to my mind that we could use the fire for our experiment, but further reading told me that we needed a blue flame. Lightbulb moment - use the camping gas stove - perfect. We had great fun as this time we not only had kitchen substances to use (salt, boric acid and, if it had been in the cupboard, cream of tartar), but we also had Ben's chemistry set of goodies to use too. Not too sure where I found the original experiment, but I've got it all on my website here (keep scrolling down until you find "Firework Colours") and this site gives you some more info + a list of the colours produced from different chemicals.

Here's some piccies. Best of all was the magnesium which produced a very bright white.

orange from sodium

green from copper

blinding bright white from magnesium - love Ben's goggles!

We also managed lilac (potassium (cream of tartar would make lilac too)) and a sort of red (calcuim).


Here's "Bond"


Photo makes "him" look pretty long doesn't it? The car is like a tardis inside; very family friendly and is lovely to drive compared to the older Renault (I guess technology has moved on). Named him "Bond" because they were playing "For your Eyes Only" on the radio when we test drove him!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Nowt much happening ... ill and all that

Got my first proper cold in about 4 years - it hit me Monday and was more or less gone by Tuesday evening, but then came back big time Wednesday morning. Feeling heeps better today thankfully, although I thought last night I was going to start one of those awful to shift chesty coughs. Doesn't seem to be the case, touch wood.

So, children have amused themselves nicely this week as I have been having 2 hour afternoon naps (bliss) after a bit of school work. Plodding on nicely with this - Maths, English, Latin, topic work, cooking and a bit of science thrown in now and again etc., etc. Aiming to stop towards the end of November to concentrate and enjoy Advent. We're going to do a Christmas notebook; idea stolen from LaPaz Home Learning and then make some pressies and all that.

Ben's left the "contraptions" game alone now and has moved onto Sid Miers Railroads starting with the free mini download and has now moved onto the full version. Having lots of fun with it and actually it's a really well put together, educational game.

Katie's been madly finding Brownie, Guide, Cub and Scout badges to do to get some extra pocket money (£5 for 5 complete badges). I've changed the rules a little now, as she was getting through them way too quickly! Some of the badges take very little time to complete so I've added a bit of extra thought provoking activities to make her take a little longer on each project. Tonight she cooked a delicious veggie lasagne followed by a fresh fruit salad, although I still had to load the dishwasher afterwards! Once we've got some eggs she's going to make a cake of some sort and then I'll make her do the washing up!

This afternoon, as I was feeling better, I gave the Renault a quick wash on the outside ready for photos for ebay. She looks so lovely when she's clean (which isn't often living in the countryside) and I must admit I felt quite sad that she's given up and will probably go for scrap. We decided not to part x her as the journey to the car garage would be too harrowing and dangerous or us, she didn't even like be parked in her new spot on the drive way - several juddering halts before she was finally in her safe position in front of the under used Land Rover!

That's it for now I think. Time to watch the box and chill for a bit.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Doh, forgot the camera ... again!

Had a great Hallowe'en party on Friday evening with HE and local children at the hall where Katie does her art. All the children and most of the adults dressed up and enjoyed nibbles, drinks, spooky games and a disco. P came along too and enjoyed himself - swinging Ben's mate around and around so much that I thought he would pass out through dizziness!

Played "wrap the mummy" (as in Egyptian Mummy) with teams of 4 children wrapping an adult up as neatly as possible in 3 mins. using cheap toilet rolls. We played this a few years ago at home during a Hallowe'en party and I remember saying "you use the bog roll to wrap around your partner" and a few of the children didn't know what bog roll was - so this time I was polite and said "toilet roll"! Great fun anyway, and loads of mess afterwards for snow ball fights and general sliding around on bits of tissue all over the floor.

Katie and Ben carved pumpkins and made pussy cat and pumpkin shaped biscuits for the evening (we sampled quite a few before we reached the venue). Unfortunately completely forgot the camera and haven't taken any pumpkin shots or whatever! Maybe next year I'll be more on the ball.

Car started to play up on the way down, just the occasional judder but by Friday evening it was misbehaving badly and actually quite scary to drive. We had headed off to the grandparents for grub and fireworks but decided to return and pick up our other car instead as the jumping and what have you was more-or-less stalling the car - we drove home slowely and will certainly not be taking it out again - it's time to put this baby to bed. An R reg which has done us proud for about 10 years - shall miss her.

Grub and fireworks was fun but extremely wet. We got home at 11 and sank into bed with a lovely lie in this morning before a day or car hunting! We set out with the idea of buying a smaller car mainly for P to use for all his work driving. We like the Focus and Golf and were looking mainly at these. We couldn't believe how good the prices were, even for 08 cars! We had found a big car showroom yesterday before grub and fireworks, which only allowed us to test drive (with the sales person in the car too - pretty tight squeeze as we had Katie and Ben in the back) on a 30 mile an hour small stretch of road which last about 5 mins tops! Today's car showroom, a little closer to home, let us drive 4 cars in total. Each was an absolute bliss to sample as we are so used to an older car with heavy pedals and gears - it was great fun. Each car seemed nicer than the previous and then we clocked a Picasso which wasn't anywhere on our list for even looking at! The price enticed us into the test drive seat and the "ooohs and arrrrs" just said it all really. The first Picasso was a 2ltr Petrol which would have been silly to buy really as our criteria was for a (small) 1.6 diesel, but upon our return the dealer had brought out a top of the range 1.6 diesel for us which was 6 months old and slightly cheaper still. It had dealer plates attached so we took it for a much longer spin - it was beautiful and we've placed our deposit down!

Coming home with full beams on our faces, I suddenly realised that all of our past cars have lasted us near on 10 years which'll mean Katie may be 21 and Ben 19 and me fast approaching 50 by the time (hopefully) this car will give up the ghost. Shock horror - I wonder what my children will be doing by then - we could even be ferrying around grandchildren!

Photos to follow - I promise.

Finally, a little plug for my friend's album which is available on itunes to purchase - "Out of the Ashes". Can't get the first two songs of the album out of my head - they are very catchy. Some are on the artist's MySpace so you can listen before you buy!


Labels: , ,