Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Elves in the loft?

I got the Christmas decorations out today.
I don't get it.
I specifically remember putting them all away tidily and well organised into their boxes at the end of the season last year.
But they didn't come back out that way.
Why is that?
I don't get it!!!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Plasticine fun.

I don't consider myself to be the most creative of people especially when it comes to taking part in plasticine and playdough activities. Believe it or not, I've spent a fair few hours trawling the internet for some inspiring plasticine tutorials but have so far been unsuccessful. Hope loves getting these modelling materials out but I often feel a bit useless when it comes to giving her a bit of direction. So on this occasion we had to rely on our own creative skills; as we had just been looking at The Hungry Caterpillar finger puppet book we decided to make delicious plate of fruit.
And counted: one apple, two juicy pears, three tart plums, four sweet strawberries and five oranges. We also had to make a banana!

And a beautiful butterfly with two wings!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Practical life

Here is an update of the practical learning activities that the children have been doing around the house lately. Hope enjoys doing a variety of Montessori tasks such as using tongs (though she often cheats and uses her fingers) to pass objects such as little plastic frogs from a container into the portions of an ice-cube tray.
In these pics she is transferring water from the left bowl to the right using a sponge. These activities are thought to get young children ready for the left to right process in learning to read. Then we played with the little frogs, counting them and making them jump from pool to pool.
Henry uses these base ten blocks which are fabulous for helping him understand loads of number concepts.
Here, we are about to follow a recipe for cheese stars from this jolly phonics book.

And I set up this pet shop to help the kids learn about adding up money and calculating change. This play till cost £10 and as well as calculating mentally, the children checked their answers using the till as preparation for future SATs tests that they sit in school - one of the papers is a calculator paper.
More uses for ice-cube trays! I've almost managed to sort out my homemade moveable alphabet. I just need one more for my vowel sounds.
We use this alphabet for word building. I am currently making a new set of tactile letters for Hope. I used to have a set of sandpaper one that I made years ago but they got ruined when the hot water tank leaked into our cupboard. As I don't much like the feel of sandpaper and find it quite tough to cut the letters out, I decided this time to use foam board and lighter foam to make these.

The website MontessoriMom.com has some great ideas and free resources.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Stuff and nonsense.

I don't know why I don't invite the children's friends round more often as it seems to be the only time they leave me alone to a bit of peace and quiet. At last I get to catch up on a bit of blogging. Today is Children in Need day and the children went to school wearing spots and took part in activities to raise money for this worthy cause. So last night I was up 'til midnight sewing spots on Henry's blue t-shirt. We've agreed to put the t-shirt away somewhere carefully afterwards so that he'll have something to wear next year and I'll be able to go to bed a bit earlier! Before I started on the sewing, I had taken Honor and Henry to the rehearsal for the pantomime that they're involved in with a local theatre group. We absolutely love going to these rehearsal evenings. It's great for the kids to be working alongside other people of all ages and it's such a fun and uplifting way to spend the evening. Of course, the kids love it even more because they get to stay up late. Honor, in particular, is really getting into the performing arts side of life. She's now going to guitar lessons (Hubby goes with her and tries to learn too!) And she has joined a performing arts school on a Saturday which she loves. They practise one hour of singing, one of dancing and one of acting. I think Henry would enjoy it too so maybe he'll join a bit later on.

And I've just received an email from the NHS. They do a national weighing and measuring programme in schools and are about to go into Honor's class to gather their statistics. After they measured Henry in Reception class and called him obese I decided I wasn't going to play this game anymore! So I let them know that HM wouldn't be taking part and to redirect the money they might save into paying for someone to feed the starving and neglected old people in hospital. My comments have been passed on to the head of dept.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Playdough and hand therapy

Some of Henry's hand therapy exercises involve playdough.
I made some myself using the following method:
I mixed 3 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of salt and 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar in a bowl.
Meanwhile, I boiled 2 cups of water with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and then added the liquid slowly to the dry ingredients.
I divided the dough up and coloured the portions using Morrisons natural food colourings. The colourings were quite wishy washy and it took quite a lot to get a decent amount of colour into the dough. But I quite like the earthy tones that were finally produced.

And all three kids, from age 2 - 10 years couldn't wait to get playing with it...

Honor and Henry got bored after about fifteen minutes, but little Hope needed coaxing away from it when it eventually became time for dinner and was not at all happy when I cleared it all away!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Waldorf toddler group.

I think I mentioned before that I take Hope to a toddler group arranged by the local Waldorf Steiner private school. It really is a very nice, natural play experience for little ones and this time I took the liberty of taking a few pics of their gorgeous displays.
At the moment, a lady from the school brings all this stuff over to a village hall and sets it all up for us parents and toddlers to enjoy, but soon it shall run from the school itself.
Here is Hope playing in one of the many playstands - this one has been set up with this beautiful wooden kitchen set.

And this mobile, if you can see it clearly in the photo, was made there from natural materials (seeds, leaves, sheep's wool, feathers, etc) brought in by one of the teachers.

Another trip to London

What a busy week it's been so far.
On Monday, Henry had his long awaited appointment at The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Kings Cross, London with a specialist doctor to discuss the apparent problems with the nerves in Henry's hand following his accident. The doctor thinks his hand will improve with plenty of physio and probably won't need to have another operation. So that is good news.
We decided to travel up by car because the train is outrageously expensive but the journey up there during rush hour was pretty bad and we only just made the appointment on the dot. We were straight in and straight out again and as Henry has found all this 'arm palava' a bit of a nuisance, and he is very fascinated by London, we promised that we'd take him to The Museum of Natural History.
Having recently visited The Doctor Who Experience, we decided to go back to the same car park by the Kensington Olympia which cost us £15 and take a taxi (costing an average of £9) to the museum which was not too far away. Entrance to the museum was free.
The dinosaur exhibit was, in Henry's words, awesome!

Here is Henry face to face with a King Cobra!

The three of us really enjoyed this part of the trip and it was great to be able to talk to Henry by himself about what we were looking at. Usually, we do stuff all together but Honor and Henry tend to behave like loonies when they are together (Hubby has now dubbed them Berk and Hair after the notorious duo Burke and Hare) and it's often difficult to have sensible conversations with them. And I commented to Hubby about how, if we homeschooled, I'd come to places like this all the time. But then I remembered that I'm the mother of three very crazy kids and there were a couple of times when we had to prevent Henry from launching himself over the balcony of the blue whale exhibit and so I'll let some other teacher worry about that for a while!

On another note (sorry Hubby!) just thought I'd mention that I really like the latest single Paradise by Coldplay. I'm sorry - but I do!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Secondary school transfer

I'm not long back from visiting another secondary school for Honor. We've so far been to visit two faith schools both of which we were impressed with. The two girls that gave us a tour were fantastic - so chatty, informative and brimming over with personality. A good sign. I don't feel much like looking at any more but we have to list four choices on our application and I think transport to these two schools that we liked is going to be a problem...

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Last weekend - pilgrimage to Bruges

Last Saturday, 1st October, Mum, Honor and I joined a group from our church and from the catholic churches of Canterbury and Herne Bay on a pilgrimage to the beautiful city of Bruges in Belgium. Honor and I had to get up very early, 5.30 am to be on time for the coach which took us on the ferry to Calais, France and on to Bruges. As I said, it was the 1st October and it was, well, very hot! Pushing 30 degrees in fact which made the coach journey a little unpleasant. I didn't think the air conditioning was up to much!
But once off the coach, we had a very relaxing time browsing the many chocolate shops and having a nice, leisurely lunch before gathering at a chapel for Mass.

I bought some nice handmade wooden toys to bring home for Hope and Henry, though everything was very expensive.
This weekend we are doing a lot of clearing out and moving the children's bedrooms around and Hope will soon be going into a room of her own. I'm looking forward to being able to decorate that! So far it has been hard work and the state of Henry's room has had Hubby rather displeased. I'm glad to say that the weather has got seasonally cooler, though a pleasant day has been forecast for tomorrow, so perhaps we'll do something nice then.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Roald Dahl themed book week

This week was 'Book Week' at the children's school and today they had to dress as Roald Dahl characters. I must admit that when the parentmail email arrives to say that it's time to come up with an outfit, I'm not usually overwhelmed with excitement. The headteacher appreciates that not everyone will be up to sitting up all night papier mache - ing (what is the verb for this?) a giraffe's head and so the option of wearing yellow (apparently Dahl's favourite colour) was given to us as an alternative... gawd bless you, maam! However, Honor was absolutely defo that she wanted to go as Veruca Salt - the spoiled brat, ahem, I mean princess, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She loves the original (Gene Wilder) film, more than the Johnny Depp version and does a superb impression of this character.
I thought it might be quite tough to find a similar red and black outfit to the one Veruca wears in the film, but my mother found the red cardigan on sale in ASDA for £1.50!!! and the skirt was from Matalan for £7. Not bad. And they are clothes that she can wear anytime.
Henry went as Mike Teavee, another golden ticket winner who wears a cowboy outfit. Simples!
My favourite part of the whole thing is arriving at school in the morning to see how everyone is looking. There were indeed some very impressive papier mache props and other amazing outfits and hats off to them for the effort. (HM, incidentally, got picked to have her picture taken for the local paper).
Great fun!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Doctor Who Experience

Well. The kids have settled into a new term at school and Ma and Pa have to start looking around for a secondary school for Honor. The obvious choice was the local catholic school... until recently when the lovely Government decided to withdraw help with transport so we're now thinking it she'll lose out on this. Still, we'll wait and see.
Meanwhile, last weekend Henry had his seventh birthday so yesterday we took Henry and Honor on a surprise trip up to London to the Doctor Who Experience at the Olympia in Kensington. You should have seen their faces! You should have seen our faces!!! We were taken through the time vortex on an interactive journey in the tardis helping the Doctor escape from the Pandorica 2(!), fighting daleks, cybermen and weeping angels. It was a bit scary in places; I thought Honor was going to get upset when a 3D image of a weeping angel lunged at her, but we had a really fantastic and thrilling time. After the show, there was a museum of all the costumes and models of the monsters to look around and a chance to wander around the set of the tardis.
Later, we hailed a London cab and headed off to Kensington Gardens so that the kids could play in the Princess Diana Memorial Playground. It started to rain so Hubby and I sat under a bush with the squirrels while the kids ran about having a great time!
A brilliant day... and we were home in time to see... yes... Dr Who!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Stay on these roads.

I've attached this clip (see post below) of A-ha from the Oslo Memorial concert for the recent terrorist attack victims at the youth camp in Norway. The band split up recently but reunited for this special tribute.

It is beautiful.

Terrorists will never win.

a-ha live - Stay on These Roads - Oslo Spektrum - 21-08-2011

Saturday, 3 September 2011

They think it's all over....

it is now!

Wow! That went quick, didn't it? The summer holidays flew by and I barely blogged about them.
Here is a little summary of what we got up to...

Hubby has been building a kitchen/barbecue area by the veg patch so that we can cook outdoors a la Nigel Slater style. The veg patch has got wildly out of control with me pretty much unable to reach the runner beans. But the pumpkins and courgettes are the biggest I've ever seen! We've had a much better tomato crop this year, too. Even the kids, who won't normally touch tomatoes (goodness knows why?!) have not been able to resist scrumping from the greenhouse!
Our Italian relatives made their usual summer visit, driving up through France and camping their way back again. The children enjoyed meeting up with cousin Eve again for fun and frolics. This was one of the very few occasions when the kids got to use the pool. Most of the summer holiday was lacking on the warm weather front.

I actually got around to doing a bit more sewing, making this table runner for our outdoor table from more fabric scraps from the local market stall. Please don't look at it too closely. It is a bit wobbly and all hand-sewn.

Henry had more hospital appointments because he has not regained the use of his hand. We made the most of his appointment at Deal hospital by going on to the country park there and hiring some bikes. Henry had to go in the cart with Hope. But, following some physio, he can now ride his own bike since that outing. He has more treatment to come.
We spent most of the holiday at home, but we did have a day out at Kew Gardens in London.

Kew is one of my favourite places and since my last visit, just over ten years ago, they have built some fabulous play areas for the kids. My little lot absolutely loved the indoor creepy crawly playground in which the children become bugs and get to experience what it is like to crawl in and out of plants and flowers. We couldn't get them out of there... not even for an ice-cream! The ice-creams, incidentally, were amazing. I wasn't go to buy them one (at £2.50 each!) but Hubby wanted to treat the kids (and himself!) so he did. I had a lick or two of Honor's coconut and lemon one and thought that maybe they were indeed worth the money! Mmmmmm!

During the last week of the hols, we gave up with maintaining the water in the pool for nothing and so we took it down and put up the teepee from last year instead. Honor and Henry transformed it into a hospital using a camp bed, a small table, a pile of paper and a roll of toilet paper (for bandages!) Henry looked quite the part sitting at his desk writing out prescriptions!

So they are back at school now, we had special prayers and breakfast on their first day, and the autumn tv schedule has started with the return of Celebrity Big Brother - shame we don't get Channel 5 so I can't follow the progress of JEdward, the X-Factor and my fav: Doctor Who! I love Dr Who and the first episode with the beginning of River Song was absolutely cracking. I decided, though, that the kids couldn't watch it tonight as the episode 'Night Terrors' was about a little boy with monsters in his toy cupboard. No, really? Far too spooky. Sorry, kids xxxx