Halloween and Thunking

We don’t really celebrate Halloween in this house, not for any particular reason, it’s just never occurred to me to really promote it.  However, this year I thought the girls might want to pick their own pumpkin and carve it.  We had planned to go with friends but they were  poorly so we went to Garsons Farm on our own.

The girls were disappointed not to be seeing their friends but they really enjoyed it and want to go back again soon.  Of course there were Minecraft references while we were there and we talked about what was available to farm in Minecraft compared to real life.  We’re not big veg eaters on the whole so they’re not overly familiar with many vegetables and just seeing how they grow was an education!


We found a pumpkin we liked the look of and D scrubbed it clean when we got home.  This afternoon I gutted it and M designed and carved it on her own:

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I didn’t realise that you can also pick your own flowers at Garsons – M was thrilled to pick a small bunch, and then had fun photographing them at home – she got really into positioning the flowers for the perfect picture and using the zoom function to capture the petal shapes.

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I’ve bought a few books recently and this one in particular was brilliant for keeping the girls entertained in the car:


I love it!  It’s primarily aimed at teachers for group work with children but the questions in it are fantastic.  I’ve written recently about how M needs to be challenged and stretched more than she has been – I started to wonder whether some sort of maths program might suit her (as she’s also expressed an interest in trying Mathletics again), just to get her thinking through problems, but as I was perusing Amazon I came across this ‘thunking’ book – it was just what I was looking for.

The thunks I posed to both of them in the car were: ‘If I borrowed a million pounds, would I be a millionaire?’ and ‘Is Marmite nice?’ – they were the only ones I could remember from the book at the time.  They loved it and we had a really good rabbit-hole type chat.  Once D understood there is no right or wrong answer she had a good thunk too.  They were asking for more and more questions so I had to start making some up – next time I’ll have to remember to bring the book.🙂

The rest of the week has been spent playing Minecraft and Terraria (of course) and watching Stampy (of course): this is D looking very autumnal and cosy🙂


M has been working towards a ‘Friend to Animals’ Brownie badge – the first part involves making a poster about a pet so M watched a YouTube video on how to draw a rabbit.🙂


I took D to the doctor’s to see about her never-ending cold.  He had no answers but suggested we try a nasal spray for a month.  D was worrying all the way home about it.  I chatted to her about what it would feel like and how she needed to weigh up the annoyance of her cold against being brave and trying the spray.  In the end I said I wouldn’t force her to do it, she has to want to it: her body, her rules.  When we got home she thought about it for an hour before deciding to try it out – hooray!  She is so full of fears I really didn’t think she’d go for it so I’m very pleased she did.

This week J and I celebrated our 14th anniversary together so we decided to take the girls into London to have a go on the singing see-saws in Leicester Square and then go for a meal afterwards.  Unfortunately I didn’t realise the square would close at 6pm (I don’t remember this happening back in my London-frequenting days?) so we missed it but had a lovely time at a restaurant afterwards anyway.

My niece has been in hospital this week – the girls have been full of interest about her poorly leg, and we were all worried about her too.  J got them writing and singing a song to cheer her up in hospital (I’ll spare you the video and just show a screen shot of the three of them) and they also made lovely cards for her.


This week J has also had them doing a jigsaw and he took them to the park, managing to fit in playing around a very busy job – he’s a bit of a whirlwind.🙂


Phew – sorry for the long post, when I started out I didn’t think I had that much to write about!

Poetry, Pottery and Painting

I’m trying really hard to strew more to keep M (and maybe D?) more stimulated – M already has numerous activities on the go but she seems to want to be stretched and challenged more recently.

Way back in the early days of our HE journey, when I was devouring other blogs, I found a few references to Brave Writer’s Poetry Teatime.  I’m not a poetry lover as such (I love a good rhyme or a limerick but I can’t bear some of it – probably because I don’t understand it.  It brings up similar fears/anger/boredom issues to looking around the Tate Modern) but there’s something about getting lots of yummy things out on the table and sharing poetry together which appeals to me.

It’s only taken me 3 years to get around to trying it out…  I gathered a few poetry books we have (although annoyingly I couldn’t find our copy of Roald Dahl’s ‘Revolting Rhymes’) and invited the girls to a poetry tea.  M was up for it, D was not but came to the table for a chocolate muffin that Grandad had bought for her.  They both wanted me to sing ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ by Edward Lear to them, which I duly did.  D gobbled her cake and scarpered to bounce on the trampoline while M stayed for a few more poems.  I read ‘Bananas in my Ears’ by Michael Rosen, ‘Us Two’ by A. A. Milne, and M sang ‘The Owl and The Pussycat’ back to me.🙂  All in all it was a success and I hope to do more of it in the future, which may make D less wary and suspicious of it all.


M has been to pottery – she’s churning out pieces by the dozen and I’m not sure where I’m going to put it all!  Here is her latest piece, which I love.  This week the teacher was marveling at how much work she puts into each of her pieces.🙂


We’ve spent a fair amount of time playing Minecraft together – we defeated a witch (with a lot of terrified squeals, mainly from me) and built an enormous scaled up model of a Minecraft bunny in the sky.  It is supposed to be a mob-trap but no mobs are spawning in it unfortunately.:/


J has taken the girls swimming and got them playing marbles, which they loved.


This weekend I painted our bedroom, and the girls helped too.  Their brush strokes have really improved from the last time they helped and I didn’t need to correct or go over any of it.  It won’t be long before I can leave them to do an entire room.😀


We’ve already reached half term – it feels like M’s classes have only just begun…?  So now we’ve got two weeks without classes to mark the days.  We’ve got a few play dates and activities planned though so I’m looking forward to it.🙂

Grandma and Grandad

My parents came to stay for 4 days and we’ve been doing all sorts with them:

On Friday I had booked in an event at The Bank of England Museum.  It was billed as being for 5-7 year olds which suits both my two (as regular readers of this blog will know, M finds it hard to follow lots of information being given to her in a long stream so shorter, more simplified workshops suit her well).  Unfortunately the lady running the workshop was seemingly blind to the sea of 5-7 year olds in front of her and proceeded to give a 45 minute presentation aimed at 9-12 year olds (I know this because it was on the title page of her PowerPoint presentation!).  As such, we left after 20 minutes feeling frustrated and disappointed.

The museum itself entertained M for a bit but the interactive exhibits seemed to be too old for her (and me!) to understand.  M gave it a score of 5/10.

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D would much rather have not gone at all but gave the museum 10/10 because she got to play on her iPad.😀


The day felt a bit Mary Poppinsy so after the bank we walked up to St Paul’s Cathedral: Grandma and M sang Feed the Birds while D and I kept our distance.

On Saturday we had a trip to our local Costa’s, a trip into Wimbledon to pick up a clothes order for D (she looks so old/smart now!) and playing at home for the rest of the day.

Grandma showed M how to make drop scones; Grandad tried to encourage D to play her guitar (better luck next time, Grandad), we had funny face competitions, musical statues and card games.


D has asked me to make another soft toy – this time it’s a pink Minecraft chicken.  Yes.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time on it already: the pattern has been done, the pieces cut out and some of the bits sewn together.  I can feel old rusty cogs grinding into action as I re-learn my pattern cutting skills.  This is D stuffing the chicken feet:


M also worked hard with Grandma – pruning our ‘Sleeping Beauty’ hedge, much to our neighbour’s delight.😀

I’ve recently taken up Face Yoga in an effort to release tension from my face (it’s working!). Both the girls have been having fun joining in, and it even led to M asking what a 45 degree angle is.

Grandma had recently learnt that Emily Davison stayed near us on the night before she died under the King’s horse at Epsom, so we had a chat about suffragettes with M (more links to Mary Poppins).  M has also recently asked about yellow box junctions, which led to a very long and detailed explanation and a diagram!


We had a listen to a Radio 4 programme that Grandma had recommended – Word of Mouth on Radio 4.  I found an episode on Roald Dahl that kept the girls’ interest for a few minutes, particularly the story of what Roald Dahl said to Michael Rosen’s son when they met.

And then it was time for the Grandparents to leave!  Wowsers we packed a lot in.  They will be very much missed.🙂

Grave Thoughts

We have been to two graveyards this week – one because it’s next door to M’s pottery class, and the other because it’s next door to M’s Brownie class.  Even though I’m not religious I still like church graveyards, particularly these two because they’re so pretty.  We’ve had conversations about funeral plans, cremation, why some graves are in disrepair, over-population of graveyards and family tombs…

We are respectful of graves but graveyards are very good for hide and seek… the other day I overheard a Grandmother muttering about how she doesn’t want to be buried in this country because the English turn their graveyards into playgrounds!  If I could hear when I’m dead and buried I think I’d quite like to hear children playing and laughter, rather than eternal silence…

So this is us in our ‘playgrounds’.😉 D loves the picture below: Cute Twitchy taking flight!

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We’ve had some interesting conversations this week: this morning D was asking why some people tell their children they won’t get Christmas presents if they’re naughty.  Neither of us could think of a time when D was naughty, but I told D that I would rather she learnt to behave in the right way out of respect for others, rather than for fear of not getting presents.  I’m not sure she understood my reasoning, but she certainly doesn’t understand why presents are dependent on being naughty or nice.  Good.

We went to Nottingham over the weekend for my niece and nephew’s birthdays – M and I had a lovely time but D was very homesick.  She didn’t want to play or go to the party and didn’t really settle until the morning we were due to leave.  We don’t usually go up for such a short time but I didn’t want (and M didn’t want) to miss her two classes – we’re counting down the few remaining Brownie classes she has left.😦

Yesterday we had a gorgeously autumnal morning at Bushy Park with D’s friend, D.  When we got home we watched some old favourite films – Watership Down and Bambi.  How lovely it is to not be tied down by any curriculum or timetable.  The sausages are free to be children!


Growing Up

M’s will to learn is going from strength to strength – she is actively, positively, wanting to learn new things and to get a grasp on things she doesn’t understand.  It is so refreshing!

This week I bought a new STEAM book – sometimes it’s lovely to go through a book for ideas – I tend to feel overwhelmed when I look on the internet.  M saw me with it so we read through it together and she picked out 6 or 7 projects she’d like to try.  We were looking at an electrical project and M started asking questions about how electricity works – I seemingly wasn’t grasping exactly what she was asking and she was getting frustrated but we got there in the end: she managed to find her words and ask

“Why do things behave the way they do?”

Wow.  What a question!  I obviously didn’t have an answer on hand for that but we had a chat about scientists questioning everything and some of them even turning to religion for an answer.

She does seem so much older now she’s nearing 10 – she makes her own breakfast now: she toasts a waffle and sorts out her own drink.  She’s even been sleeping for 11/12 hours a night this week so I’m sure she must doing a lot of growing.

I’ve also noticed recently how amazing the girls’ vocabulary has become: we were doing some research on Terraria and noticed pictures of bunnies wearing party hats – the explanation read that they only wear party hats when there is a party on.  M asked “what qualifies as a party?”.  What the hell?!  Where did that word come from?! Meanwhile, D is wandering around on Minecraft saying “I’m looking for some flat terrain“.  It is all hilarious and super-impressive at the same time.😀

This week the girls have been playing Terraria and Minecraft, trampolining, playing chase with J and playing with their cousin M, who has come to stay for a few days.

And finally, here is a picture of M dressed up as a dragon – J got out the long-forgotten dressing up outfits when I was out last weekend,🙂


Old and New

Busy busy busy.  Too busy to write a blog and too tired to squeeze it into the hour I have to myself before the girls get up in the morning.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me – I keep waking up at crazy o’clock: 4, 5 in the morning?!!  What is that about?

I keep swinging between giving up this blog but then I love looking back over old posts.  This week D said she wanted to grow her hair as long as M’s and I remembered that 2 years ago M’s hair was short as D’s so I showed them both September 2014‘s blog posts.  They really inspired M to go back to some old activities – she tried the Alchemy app again, made gloop and iced cakes.

So that was the old stuff.  The new stuff was flying a kite!  We went to Camber Sands for a day trip on Wednesday and it was glorious.

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We had a recovery day on Thursday and M and I played an ongoing game of Monopoly, and D got back to Stampy/Sqaishey/Amy Lee/DanTDM.  D also did a very cute ‘secret’ picture for M.  There was garden play and testing out our new ‘Mood Maker’ nail varnish, which changes colour according to temperature.

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On Friday, we had friends over to play – there was Minecraft, Terraria and chase games in the garden.

In Minecraft land, D’s creativity knows no bounds.  At the moment her skin is a colourful version of Sqaishey Quack’s, and as Sqaishey’s favourite food is pumpkin pie, she built an enormous one for her to live in, along with a large Sqaishey bending over to eat it.😀


M has been working through the Great Fire of London Minecraft map: she has quite enjoyed it but at the moment is preferring to  work on her own worlds.  There’s been lots more redstone work: D creating secret doors and M creating colour changing beacons.  It really is beyond me!  D asks me to play with her in Minecraft quite a lot (even J has had a go too – D was in hysterics because he was so bad at it): sometimes I have to do a parkour course she’s created for me and sometimes she wants me to help her build something and sometimes we play chase – we run round and round hitting each other and I always lose.🙂

M has started a pottery class – the same one she went to two years ago.  She’s working on a little pot with really intricate details.  She is also back at Brownies – the leader has told her she can stay until Easter which is wonderful news as she really doesn’t want to leave when she’s 10 in January.

Lastly, I went to ‘A Day with Sandra Dodd’ on Sunday – the first unschooling conference I’ve ever been to, the first time I’ve been in contact with loads of unschoolers and the first time I’ve met Sandra Dodd in person!  She was really inspiring and really good speaker.  I was also lucky enough to meet a blogger friend in person and make other new friends too – I absolutely loved it and hope it’s repeated next year.

Colour and Vision

On Monday we took a trip to the Natural History Museum for their Colour and Vision exhibition.  I love colour and anything to do with it so I really wanted to see this, and especially the light installation that had been created especially for the exhibition.  I figured/hoped the girls would be a little interested but took their iPads along just in case.

I find NHM to be quite ‘dry’ on the whole: it could do with more interactive pieces, which would really engage the sausages.  The exhibition could have done with some injection of life too.  Considering it was about evolution and vision, it was very ‘dead’: there were far too many glass cases of dead things, many of which made M and me baulk.

The art installation was beautiful and we all admired the changing spectrum of colours from different angles.


D managed 5 minutes of the exhibition before collapsing into tears because it was so boring!😀  So she played on Minecraft for the rest of the time.  Fair enough, it just wasn’t attention grabbing enough and the exhibits were too high for her to see.  M on the other hand, absorbed most of it – she asked soooo many questions and we chatted about evolution, the tree of life and the development of eyes.  Her favourite part was the only interactive bit – a computer game which tested how quickly you could spot a camouflaged crab.


The past two London outings have shown me how ready and eager she is to absorb information now – the questions she asks are incredible and tend to get me thinking along lines I’ve never considered before!

On the tube, M wanted me to give her sums to work out – it was a good distraction from the heat and motion sickness she was suffering from.  She managed quite a few before her eyes became glazed and she just couldn’t even hold the sum in her head.  We had a chat about Aspergers and how she has a smaller working memory than a neuro-typical person.  Her diagnosis has been so useful to me in helping me to understand her more and to help her understand that other people have the same struggles too.

When we got back I put on my favourite ever documentary, ‘Colour: The Spectrum of Science’.  The girls dipped in and out of it while playing Minecraft.

Overall, it was a good day!  I think it’s a shame that NHM is so old fashioned – I think they need to up their game a bit.  It’s so exciting just stepping through the doors but I find it quite boring inside.:/ Though I was impressed to read that you can now tour the NHM on Google Street View so perhaps there is hope.🙂