Friday, 31 December 2010

There she goes.

Our hot air lantern sailing off into the new year.

2010 - the highlights.

So goodbye 2010. Here are my highlights:
1.) On New Years' Day we saw David Tennant regenerate into Matt Smith in Dr Who. Would I still like this programme?, I wondered. Well, yes and have enjoyed watching the new series with the kids for a change. They love it too and thankfully, BBC3 have been showing the whole Tennant saga too for our double enjoyment. The kids got sonic screwdrivers for Christmas and have had a great time zapping everyone and everything with them.
2.) Our holiday in Norfolk gave us the amazing experience of seeing seals in their natural habitat. The boat trip was very cold and wet, but well worth it.
3.) My best friend Lisa is truly a wonderful friend. She came to babysit for us when Hubby and I went to see A-Ha for the final time in Brighton. For her birthday, I took her to the local spa where we enjoyed the sauna, hot tub, pool and picnic... and a really good chat!
4.) This was an impromptu night out for a meal with the little girlies. A lovely evening out, but also the night we learned that the boy next door had died.
5.) This is me outside The Brighton Centre. A fantastic night out with my 4 favourite guys!

I have to go and set off a lantern with Hubby now. Midnight is nearly here.
Happy New Year!

Monday, 20 December 2010

My Montage 12/20/10 at

Had another go at photo montage. It's good fun. Have a look!

Holiday fun - indoors and out.

We are all on our holidays now. The snow is back and much more is forecast. Hubby and Henry went out to play in the bright sunshine. Henry enjoyed it much more this time. It all looks very pretty. Hope has a bad cough so we stayed indoors. Honor preferred to stay in and practise converting fractions into mixed numbers and did a reading comprehension which was a true story about a horse called Molly. Molly was badly attacked by a dog and her leg got infected. The vet was going to put her to sleep but instead the leg was amputated and a prosthetic one put in place. The false leg had a shoe with a smiley face fitted onto it so that the horse left a smiley face imprint when she walked. The horse (and owner) then visited schools and hospitals where children and patients had prosthetic limbs, giving them inspiration. Honor enjoyed that piece of work.
Later, we all went to Tescos. It was manic. I think the whole town must have been in there with their overfilled trolleys. We don't have anything for our Christmas dinner yet. I've been saying that I'm not bothered if we just have fish and chips... now if we do get snowed in, that just might happen!

When we got back from shopping, we got out a board game called Pop to the Shops. It helps kids practise money and counting skills. We don't play games often enough and it showed to start with. Lots of squabbling and fidgeting... but I think we had fun in the end.
The winner!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

The gift basket

So here is one of the finished gift baskets for Christmas. This one is for Henry's teacher. It contains some homemade soap, homemade chocolate flavoured lip balm (see previous post for how to make it) and a face flannel. This one has Best Teacher on it and was bought at a craft fair.
A little wooden dish is lined with some sparkly, red tissue. You cannot really see it sparkle in the picture. Then we added some rose petal confetti and covered the basket in clingfilm. Hope she likes it!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Homemade lip balm

The children are preparing little gift baskets for Christmas which will contain the little homemade soaps that they have been making, face flannels and today they had a go at making some lip balm to be included. The ingredients they used were:
beeswax pellets (2 tablespoons)
sweet almond oil (4 tablespoons)
chocolate and strawberry flavourings (a few drops)
The beeswax pellets and almond oil were measured out and mixed in small jugs. We used jugs so that the children could work independently of each other and it made pouring the mixture easier. Then I heated the mixture in the microwave for a few minutes until it became completely liquid. The jugs and mixture were very hot at this point so we had to be very careful. Honor added a few drops of strawberry flavour to her mixture and Henry added chocolate to his.
Then they carefully poured the mixture into small pots.
After about 15 mins, the mixture solidified.

I bought the beeswax pellets and flavourings from a specialist company called justasoap online. We originally followed an online recipe that stated using the beeswax and oil at a 50:50 ratio, but the end product turned out a bit too solid. So I melted them all down again this time doubling the proportion of oil and that made them softer and easier to apply.

Monday, 13 December 2010

The reindeer

I had been thinking of taking the family to a local reindeer farm but it doesn't look like we'll get around to it this year. However, yesterday morning I went to Sittingbourne on my own to do a bit of Christmas shopping. In the forum were these amazing reindeer along with Santa Claus himself, on his sleigh.
I had to go home and get the rest of the family who were as excited as I was to see them.
You can just see little baby boo peeping through the fence in her cute poncho.
Awwwwwwwwww! Lurvly!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

The dining table makeover.

I've been thinking about getting a new dining table. I've seen a nice, big pine, farmhouse style one that I like. But then I wondered if we had enough space for it. And then thought about the damage that the kids cause on a regular basis. The reason I got this second hand pine one was because I wouldn't have to be too concerned about the glitter, glue and other mess made on it. But I'd been thinking it looked tatty. A few months ago I revarnished it, but it soon looked tatty again. I recently painted the fire surround white and then later on - inspired by the Cherry Menlove blog painted our dark dresser. Pleased with the results and how light the room now looks, I was also tempted to paint the dining table. Cherry Menlove has done this and hers looks fab. So I thought I might as well give it a go. I like it. I'm not sure if it will stay nice for long. Somebody has already accidentally drawn on it with pencil. It does wipe clean easily and I have the leftover paint handy for when I need to touch up. I also brought in an old white bench from the garden which was in a really sorry state. So I have painted that too and plopped a few cushions on it for the kids to sit on. The Christmas tree is up now and we certainly could not fit in a bigger table now. But if, next year I find it is too high maintenance, I'll reconsider buying a new one. For now, though, we'll make the most of what we have.

If you fancy looking at some really splendid makeovers, take a look at the Cherry Menlove site:

Monday, 6 December 2010

Sick school

We had snow school last week. Today the kids were at home sick... so we had sick school. Oh, I'm not that cruel. Honor wasn't too bad, so she did a little maths revision. Henry had a fever all day so he mostly laid in bed. After a dose of neurofen, he perked up enough to read to me this evening, but I'm not sure if he'll be well enough to go to school tomorrow. Hope was vomiting last night, but she seemed ok today. I've been feeling generally unwell for a little over a week now, and Hubby has a broken toe. He stubbed it, very hard, on the stair gate trying to stop the baby from falling down the stairs because someone had left the gate open. This time every year we get sick.

Hubby and I watched Kirstie and Phil's Perfect Christmas on channel 4 this evening and now we want to make jellies and a snowman pinata! Let's see if we can drum up the energy for that. I feel tired at the thought of all the present wrapping that needs doing.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Snow school!

Well the kids' school has done pretty well at keeping going this week, but today the heavy snowfall finally meant a day off for Honor and Henry. They had to go to Mummy's snow school where they did some snow related dot-to-dots and because Honor has been learning about writing instructions at school, they both had a go at writing instructions for building a snowman. Henry wrote some nice, clear sentences and Honor (year 5) attempted to use more ambitious vocabulary and time connectives.

They did, of course, get to go out for some sledging fun with Daddy. Henry found it a bit much though. He did not enjoy getting cold, wet and very tired and cried a lot when he got back. I had the hot chocolate with squirty cream and little fudge pieces on top ready for them.

Playing card maths

At 'snow school' today, the kids did a bit of maths using a deck of playing cards.
Here, Honor is calculating 5 0r 6 numbers from cards dealt out at random using number bonds and knowledge of multiples as strategies for quick mental addition.
So from these cards she picks out the two cards that make 10...

... then adds on the next biggest number to make 16 and finally adds 2 x 1 to make 18.
From these cards, she found 3 x 10 and then added 2x3 to make 36.

Henry is in year 1 at school and is learning his number bonds to 10.
Here, he is matching the correct numbers to 10. He needs to practise this a bit more, but I think he nearly has it.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

The Last Post.

I've been terrible at blogging this month, haven't I?
The last two weeks have been a bit busy. Mum is in Australia visiting my brother and new baby leaving me to look after Dad. Hubby was away in Alaska but is back now. And this week I have been to A-Ha concerts and spas and stuff! Will do a separate post about that.

Today we went to Jack's funeral. It was an extremely moving service with a huge attendance of family, friends, neighbours and army cadets who provided the guard of honor and last post. The Johnny Cash (or Nine Inch Nails) song 'Hurt' was sung and played live by Adam who I don't know but assumed maybe Jack's friend from the band that they played in. But I'm not certain. It was an awesome performance, though. There were thought provoking tributes read out about this remarkable young man and the comical stories provided some laughter through all the tears. It seems he spread joy and happiness everywhere he went and made me think about how a person can influence so many in a short lifetime. As he was known to his friends as 'tractor Jack' for his tractor driving abilities, and for his sense of humour, he departed to the song 'Combine Harvester' by The Wurzels!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Half term.

Bit late with this post, but never mind.
Half term started early with an INSET day (staff training day). I love INSET days, especially when they are on days when everyone else is at school. It gives us the opportunity to go places when it is quiet, or even cheaper than during school holidays.
We began the day with pancakes for breakfast! Well, Hubby and I had been watching 'River Cottage' the night before and HFW was urging us to do it. Who are we to argue?
I had saved up a little money from some tutoring that I have been doing recently and so booked a horse riding lesson for Honor and Henry. They LOVED it! I was surprised how much they learned in just one lesson - so I booked another one for a few days later.
In the afternoon we visited The Canterbury Museum which incorporates the Rupert Bear Museum. Even though we had to pay (boo!) the kids spent a lot of time on the interactive activities before asking 'where's the gift shop?'! I've been teaching kids non-verbal reasoning for the past few weeks and got quite excited by some of the activities which were great for developing these skills. For example, there were Viking runes for code work and pattern matching with Roman tiles. My favourite exhibitions, though, were for Bagpuss and Rupert Bear. Lovely.
For an exhilarating end to the day, my Mum treated Honor and I to a trip to the ballet. We saw 'Swan Lake' at a tiny, old theatre in Margate. It was a really old theatre like the one in the film 'Mrs Henderson Presents'. And it was fabulous.
Later in the week we met up with my ol' friend Glenn. He is Hope's godfather and we used to teach together. Glenn made us a lovely lunch of marrow bolognaise (which was great - and made a very good finger food for the baby) and then we headed off to Brockhill Country Park for a nice walk. Well. It was a good job we had Glenn with us because it was not easy getting Hope's pushchair around it.

As we stopped for a long chat, catching up on all our news, the kids got busy - taking their shoes and socks off for a paddle in the stream. It was the end of October!

Hope's face says it all!
Eventually, we made it back to the cafe for a nice cup of tea and a kit-kat.

Then we took Glenn back home. Henry made him sit in the very back of our Zafira with him. These pics show him getting stuck trying to get out again!
I took some of the frozen marrow home with me and had some today with my lunch in a creamy chicken pasta dish. It was lovely. Thanks, Glenn. See you soon.