Category Archives: 2014

Spanish and Hibernation

We’ve gone into hibernation this week, which suits D: she has rediscovered the joy of Go Diego Go and Dora the Explorer, so she’s back on the sofa soaking up Spanish words and animal facts.

All our classes finished last week so we had a full free week. We’ve had a few pyjama days, which always go down well but mostly I think the girls (M in particular) have enjoyed getting into activities without having to stop to get dressed and go out!

On Saturday, Jeff took the girls to Box Hill for a run-around.


Meanwhile, I spent HOURS in Wimbledon, finishing off my Christmas shopping. I also couldn’t resist buying a gorgeous book on colour which I’ve wanted for ages (our art shop is a dangerous place to go), How the Grinch Stole Christmas and some new posters for our bedroom wall. It’s a good place to put them as the girls are more likely to be mooching around and gazing at them at bedtime (I’ve already spotted M muttering bone names while studying the skeleton poster). I also got one on telling the time – which (to be fair) M had actually asked me if she could learn, but then had a melt down because (to be fair) the poster is badly designed and she was blaming herself for not understanding it.

On Sunday, we had Jeff’s Mum over for lunch: she is teaching him how to cook curry so while they were busy in the kitchen, we began listening to an audio of A Christmas Carol (thank you, Pru, for the idea!) while doing activity books.

On Monday, D began teaching Spanish to M! She made up a game where they would run round and round the bed and then jump while saying the corresponding Spanish words! :D. This was the beginning for M getting hooked on learning Spanish too and during the week she has even been spotted watching Dora the Explorer (a once hated programme!). D has continued with her story telling and has also begun singing made-up songs while playing air guitar, which are unbearably cute. Yesterday she told me she wants to be a singer and a cleaner when she grows up. I asked her what happened to wanting to be a scientist, so then she added that to the list. And then I reminded her that she also wants to be a bee-keeper so that was added too!

M made up two new biscuit recipes – unfortunately she has lost the first one she made up (could that be, perhaps, because it was on a silly scrap of paper which she refused to write up into a book?!!) so she has baked twice this week – and written one of the recipes down in a book :).

D spent some time on Reading Eggs but I had a feeling that the interest in it is waning so I’m not sure we’ll renew the subscription in January. She had a go on Teach Your Monster To Read instead, which was way too easy for her but I felt she needed a bit of a confidence boost so it did her good to sound out the easy words and she loved playing it.

On Tuesday, I pushed M to finish one of her Christmas presents (she loves starting projects but not finishing them!) so that we could get it into the post along with D’s present for Aunty S. They’re both fantastically well made – D was shown how to construct this tree in pottery. M figured out how to make Santa ‘spring’ from the page by using a piece of concertinaed card behind him, all by herself (sorry, I forgot to take a picture!). So we had a short bike ride to the post office and back and afterwards they made up another Spanish game!


On Wednesday, J was playing YouTube videos of Nat King Cole and explaining to the girls how badly he would have been treated because of his skin colour. It’s always odd talking about racism and sexism or any ‘ism’ with the girls because they are quite naturally puzzled by people’s behaviour when it is so nonsensical! M made the link back to Nelson Mandela who J had talked about when he died recently.

It was the dreaded bath day today. D loves her baths and will spend hours in it just making up stories and playing with the water (in fact, I have to schedule it in to the day so I’m not forced to get her out before she’s ready); M on the other had hates it. Not the actual bath/shower, but the getting in and out. It is always a miserable time for her. I’ve noticed a lot of extra sensitivities creeping in to her life lately, and the coldness she feels before and after the bath is one of them. I made a decision that day to let her control her bath-times from now on. She is a little unsure about this as she knows she doesn’t want to be smelly but she also hates baths and showers so we’ll see what happens.

The girls’ Aunt Sh picked them up later in the day to take them to a Santa show at Wimbledon theatre. She took them last year and they adored it so she decided to take them again this year (she always takes them to the theatre rather than buys presents). They still loved it and were very pleased to be given colouring books so sat and coloured when they got home.


Thursday and Friday were both very similar (I had planned to meet an HE friend at Wimbledon Common on Friday but the early morning rain put me off and her car was in the garage so we cancelled) in that there was LOADS of Spanish going on and lots and lots of writing being done by M. She baked some lovely cakes and wrote the recipe down in a book and she also began a Spanish Dictionary!!! D has been helping her by telling her the words she doesn’t know and yelling from the sofa when a new word comes up in Dora.

The only other thing of note that has been happening this week is the girls learning all about mating and instinct from the bunnies… from Morris in particular…


Storytelling & Lego

There’s been a whole lot of creativity going on this week and it feels like a few sparks have been ignited which is always lovely to see!

We had a fairly busy weekend, with a family lunch out for J’s parent’s 60th wedding anniversary on the Saturday, and then two play-dates on the Sunday.

As the week has continued, there has been noticeably less telly on D’s part and much more creativity going on.  On Monday there was a lot of Lego building, then some painting and then D made a ‘story chair’ and told us a story in it (and then I had to have a go too).

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Then we were off to pottery in the afternoon.  It was the last session of the term, and the last one for D entirely, unless she decides to return.  As usual, we had our interesting chats in the car: today I had the news on and I felt myself tensing up as there was an item about a man being imprisoned for child abuse – strangely though, neither of the girls commented on this!  M was more interested in the following item about hospital cancer wards, and we had a good conversation about cancer and what the different wards might be in hospitals and why they’re separated.

That evening, J was home and watching Wild Weather with Richard Hammond.  D was already asleep and M sidled in with nothing to do so we all ended up watching it together.  I was surprised to find that M was really interested by it and she asked some really intelligent questions which showed she understood what she was watching and had some knowledge of how vortexes work already.

A spark was lit again the following day when we went to the Art of the Brick exhibition in east London.  At the start, we watched a really inspirational interview with the artist and M was glued: we sat through it twice.  It was almost like he was speaking to M: all about how you can make your own art with anything and it all it takes is one small brick to start.  We were all fascinated by the sculptures and reproductions: M in particular was asking what each piece was called, what it was about, what it meant etc etc and even doing her own interpretations.  It was really heart warming to see.  I urge you to go if you have the chance!

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It was a very long journey for the sausages to cope with and they did amazingly well with two train rides and a very cold walk.  They were understandably pooped on the train home so I read A Christmas Carol to them (an Usborne Young Readers edition).  Usually D would have been too scared to listen but they were both really interested by Scrooge and why he would love money so much, why nobody was sorry he was dead and D was trying to get her head around a future that may not happen.

Of course, the Lego came out when we got home!  The girls’ favourite sculpture was the ‘Yes Pencil’ so we set about making our own.  I made the pencil, while M did the ‘paper’ and letters. 🙂


M has also been working on a the story of her Christmas play, and has finished one of her presents!  She copied a holly sprig we found on the street outside our house.  All I did was help with bending the leaves a little to shape them.  She also used the hot glue gun on her own for the first time!



We also watched a very very VERY cute video about orphaned baby bats, and another on making honey.  D said she would like to be a bee-keeper AND a scientist AND a singer when she grows up. 🙂  She drew these pictures this week:

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We also had a preview of D’s Christmas play.  This is one of her lost boys (they’re wearing animal onesies in the Return to Neverland film, hence the strange outfit on the puppet!)



We also got our Christmas delivery of Aquila this week and funnily enough it was all about story telling!  And funnily enough, D wasn’t interested in listening!  But M listened to how story telling was important in ancient times (of course, she had to check whether this was before I was born…) and all about the life of Hans Christian Andersen. However, she did stomp off because she didn’t get 100% on the Christmas quiz.  At which point D came wandering in and was chuffed to find she could answer the crossword questions!

And finally, today we had to go to the vets to give the bunnies their first vaccinations. The girls were full of sympathy for what the bunnies had to go through and the process of just being at the vets was an education in itself: looking at the clock with Roman numerals to see how long til our appointment; asking about vaccinations; seeing a vaccination being injected; what the bunnies might be feeling etc etc.

And now I can still hear them playing upstairs and it’s 10.30!  So I’m off now to be a kill-joy…



A Week in the Life of a Home Educating Family: Friday

This week has been very odd and I’m not entirely sure it was a great week to report on as it seems to have been quite a nonentity!  Next week looks much more exciting I can assure you…  At least you’ve seen how mundane it can be as a home educator, ha!

What I love about our life though is the little things: the tiny sparkles of funniness throughout the day; the joy I have in learning together with the sausages; the joy I have when they have learnt something for themselves; and the overriding fact that they are 100% happier at home than at school!

I’m not sure I’m going to continue my daily blog into the weekend: we have a big family lunch tomorrow (J’s parents have been married 60 years!) and M has two playdates on Sunday so I probably won’t see a lot of the sausages…

If you missed the previous days, please click on the links below:

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.


I come downstairs and write my previous day’s blog.


D comes down and has dressed and brushed her teeth and hair.  I love this new phase of hers as it’s so hard to get her dressed later in the day.  She watches Go Diego Go for a little bit and amazes J (who is now awake and working) with her animal knowledge.


M comes down and we have breakfast and get the bunnies out.


J gets the girls working on anniversary cards for his parents.  While they’re busy, I grab a shower and clean the bathroom.  When I come out, D is in the bedroom doing some colouring.  She tells me that the Spanish word for Grandma is Abuelita!  I love that her head is filled with random facts.  J leaves for work.


I make myself a coffee, M is just finishing her anniversary card.  She has copied their wedding photo and done a lovely job.  Then she starts on Minecraft.  We can hear D upstairs, she’s singing with an American accent at the top of her voice.


We leave for Wimbledon Common.  I’m amazed that the girls want to go, usually it’s very hard to get them out of the house.  They must be feeling as cooped up as me.  M loves exploring off the beaten path and we find a bush with 2 rosehips left on it, 2 dens made out of very large branches and a huge fir tree.  We end up at Putney Heath where there is a lovely wood and we play Sausage Spotting which is similar to Where’s Wally.

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Spot the Sausage…

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On the way home we look at the large houses in Wimbledon Village and M wonders why you would want a house that large.  I suggest that it’s to do with status and explain what this means.  This then leads on to whether having an unnecessarily big house is a good or bad thing: M is very interested in social justice.

We then drive past a woman in a burqa, which sparks a discussion on what the point of it is.  I try really hard to remain impartial during these discussions rather than imprinting her with all my views but I think I failed on this one!

We get back for lunch.  We have a quick game of Monopoly: M is convinced she’s going to lose (even though all evidence points to the contrary) so we stop and she watches Mr Tumble instead?  She hasn’t watched it since she was 2!  D watches Dora on Netflix for a while but soon stops to help me complete a 500 piece jigsaw we bought last week.  M also helps and D tells us both about a tomato frog that can be found in Madagascar – who knew?!


M decides she wants to bake: she begins making up a recipe using molasses sugar, flour, butter and vanilla.  She calls the biscuits Madagascar Mix-Up.  She really does find this sort of sensory activity therapeutic: it makes her so happy!



The happiness doesn’t last as she can’t wash the greasiness off her hands and it begins to stress her out.  She walks off in a huff, unsuccessfully slamming the lounge door.  I have to say though, her mood this week has been amazing compared to the last fortnight when she was becoming very hard to communicate with.  Luckily, she recovers quickly and comes back in to taste her biscuits and decides they need icing.  We spend the time up to bed watching Dora the Explorer (D told us that ‘lo hicimos’ means ‘we did it’ and ‘mochila’ means backpack’.


I read another Rainbow Magic book to D and M listens too – they were both fascinated by these fairies a year ago and I can see the interest remains!  I read a fair bit of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire but I can tell M isn’t in the mood to listen.  There is quite a bit of bickering between the sausages and I advise them to keep away from each other before I head downstairs.  Luckily, I know they’re sensible girls and they will keep themselves to themselves.  Usually they’re good friends but they can get on each other’s nerves which is pretty normal and healthy, I guess.

So endeth another week in the Sausage household!  I am looking forward to J being around at the weekend, and to a change in our dynamics: he always shakes us 3 up a bit. 😀

A Week in the Life of a Home Educating Family: Thursday

Most of my readers know that we’re going down the unschooling road with regards to the sausages’ education and that this is beginning to spill over into other aspects of our lives.  I find that I am approaching them differently (less as little children, more as little people) and recently gave them control over their food and bedtimes.  Sometimes these decisions come back to bite you in the bum… 🙂


I wake up with D.  Sweet whisperings in bed of ‘put your hand up if you love Mum!’ [little arm is raised].  We go downstairs and I post yesterdays blog while D watches Q Pootle 5.  J is already up and working on his laptop in the lounge.


M comes down.  I fear we are in for a tired day after such a late night and early morning. We all have a bite to eat and get the bunnies out for a run around.  I am now beginning to grasp how much work these bunnies are: I have to clean out their cage once a day to avoid having a smelly kitchen and I also have to clean the floor after their run around.  Ah well, the cuteness makes it all worthwhile.


The morning is slipping away: girls are playing a game together, then they go upstairs to carry on with their sequin baubles (pushing sequins on a pin into a polystyrene ball), then they’re back down again to work on their puppets.  They also have a dance around the living room to some music and D does a lovely rendition of ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’ I have a shower and leave the the bunnies unattended on their run around the kitchen (very trusting of me!).



While I’m dressing I manage to tip the entire tray of sequins, seed beads and pins onto the bedroom floor!  The girls rush to help me pick them up and while we’re doing this we talk about whether there is a difference between ‘loads’ and ‘lots’ (of flippin’ sequins on the floor) and D notices some sequins are not disappearing down the crack between the floor boards but are resting on something, so I explain about joists.  There’s a learning opportunity everywhere…


After doing a bit of cleaning upstairs, I come down to find a massive den has been made (with J’s help) in the middle of the lounge.  I put the bunnies away and M helps me to mop the floor afterwards.  I love that they help me around the house without me having to nag them to do it.  I sit with M in the lounge and she carries on with her sequin tree centrepiece while I sort the mess out on the tray.



Today is swimming class day and although it isn’t until early evening, I don’t usually try to get the girls out twice in one day as they get quite grumpy about it.  But today I’ve had enough of being indoors and they both seem much better so I suggest going out for a bike ride.  Amazingly, both of them want to do it (it’s unusual for them both to want to do the same thing, at the same time!) so we go out: M on her bike, D on her scooter.  We’re out for sometime but eventually D has had enough and wants to play with a drain instead.

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When we get indoors the girls begin a game of ‘spying’ on J with their binoculars (he is trying to do some work in the front room but joins in anyway).  J and I manage a brief chat in the kitchen while the girls are off scheming somewhere. He then goes off to work.


Each year before Christmas I make a concerted effort to bin/recycle/charity toys that are no longer played with.  I decided to have a crack at it today and managed to fill one bag for the bin and another for charity.  Meanwhile, M is still persevering with her centrepiece and D has begun a make-believe game with her toy bunnies.


D has a big bowlful of bolognese but when it’s time for us to leave for swimming (which she did love, but now hates) she point blank refuses to go! I try discussing it with her: explaining I would like her to be a strong swimmer and she can’t yet swim a full length front crawl, but she insists that she already can and that she doesn’t need to go anymore. Grr.  I am feeling absolutely stuck as have never been in this situation before: usually the sausages can be cajoled into doing anything, but not this time.  This sausage is not for turning.  M is in a quandary as she hates going to D’s lesson too but she’s uneasy about D’s rebellion.  I’m feeling very cross and powerless so I leave them to watch telly while I make my dinner.


The swimming lesson would now be almost underway but D wants reassurance from me that she doesn’t have to go.  I won’t say it as it feels like I’m then giving her permission to not go.  Instead I say that since she refuses to go then there isn’t a lot I can do.  I’m feeling childish, sulky and angry.


I’m still sulking in the kitchen, feeling cross with myself now more than anything.  D comes into the kitchen with a picture for me ‘so that I won’t be angry anymore’, and that makes me want to cry.  We have a hug.  I think we’ll discuss this another time when I’ve gained a bit of perspective.  I let the bunnies out and M has moderate success getting little strokes, particularly with Morris.



I’m feeling really tired and don’t have the energy to entertain the girls so they set themselves up on the lounge floor with the pens and draw pictures.  I’m feeling a bit flat to be honest – I think it’s partly to do with not being out as much this week: I am determined to leave the house tomorrow!



We go upstairs and I read to them.  I make a quick exit tonight, knowing that I need to write my blog post and I need an early night too.  I leave them playing Farmville on the the iPad together.


M is downstairs again, wondering if she can do her Christmas cards upstairs. As D is already asleep, I suggest she can do them in the lounge if she’s quiet – she’s so pleased! 🙂

A Week in the Life of a Home Educating Family: Wednesday

Half way through the week already – where do the days go?  This is becoming a very indoorsy week – the weather is not inviting me to go out, D has a terrible cold (again) and M is a bit under the weather.  Ah well – we’re so busy at home it doesn’t matter too much.

Here is my post for Wednesday – if you missed the earlier posts you can click on the links below.




It’s such a lovely time to wake up – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: after a year of waking up with D at 4.30am I am still glorying in these late starts 2 years on!  J gets up too and I make us both a cup of tea and we sit at our laptops in the lounge (how sad, ha!).  I just manage to get yesterday’s blog post edited and posted as D appears downstairs.  She surprises us by opening her dressing gown to show us that she’s fully dressed and has brushed her teeth and hair already!


After a chat, D wonders aloud what she can do so I pull out a sticker book that I had strewn yesterday (which nobody noticed).  It’s all about the human body and D’s eyes light up – she loves this sort of thing.  I notice a picture of an embryo on the front cover which leads us onto a discussion about how when D was a blastocyst we had her frozen for two years (both sausages were born through one course of ICSI IVF); how M was lying incorrectly in my uterus and her placenta was in the wrong place which led to a c-section; which led onto talk of placentas, cervixes, eggs and ovulation.  Phew, all that before 9am.


I am ready for breakfast by this point but get distracted by the bunnies so I let them out for a run around the kitchen while I clean out their cage.  The girls are desperate for strokes but the bunnies are having none of it.  I need to look into ways of encouraging them to bond with us.  Then I get my breakfast, do a bit of cleaning and have a shower.


Meanwhile, J mentions to the girls ‘what if Mummy was poorly and unable to look after you, what would you do?’, which sparks off a morning’s project of ‘lets pretend we’re doctors in a hospital and Mummy’s our patient.  They also start on some get well soon cards and J heads off to work.


The girls are still preparing their cards so (as I’m not allowed in the lounge) I make myself a coffee and go upstairs to clean our bedroom.


The cards are finished so I dutifully lie down in the ‘hospital bed’ and am bombarded with well meaning doctors poking me with thermometers, bandages, syringes, stethoscopes, cards and questions about my health.  At one point, M even whacks me on the knee to test my reflexes.  I’m appreciative though as I get to lie down for half an hour under a blanket.

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I hear a heavy thud as the post hits the floor and D goes to see what it is – she brings back a parcel for her and M: inside are cards and Christmas decorations for the girls to make. They are so pleased and get to work on them straight away – thank you Grandma!  For about 5 seconds I ponder whether we should go out to our HE social group this afternoon and then think better of it as it’s still cold and wet outside.


D decides she wants to watch a Jake and the Neverland Pirates DVD and gets under a blanket on the sofa: it’s freezing today.  M and me play Monopoly in the kitchen.  The maths involved in the game is great – I can tell it’s giving M’s brain a bit of a workout.  M keeps humming the Harry Potter theme tune so I buy the mp3 and play it – M is delighted. Then we listen to Prunella Scales telling us all about The Nutcracker.



I encourage M to take a break as I can tell her brain is full: she’s having trouble concentrating and she can’t understand anything I’m saying!  She reluctantly agrees and has a go at Minecraft but ends up doing some Christmas craft instead.  D is onto her second Jake and the Neverland Pirates DVD.  Still, it has a certain amount of educational value: today she learnt what ‘scurvy swab’ means.


I almost have to force both girls to tell me what they want for Christmas: I manage three items from M and one from D.  Once this is done I surreptitiously send off emails to family members telling them what they’d like, and also do a bit of sneaky shopping on Amazon.


D gets bored of her DVD and joins M in some craft: she makes a wreath by drawing holly leaves and berries onto a polystyrene ring.  It is very lovely but very ‘D’ – it was completed in about 5 minutes! M wants to make a Santa that stands up and deliberates for ages about his limbs which ‘don’t look right’.  M wishes she was D and could just ‘do’ things.  D says ‘well why don’t you then, it’s easy being me’.  So I suggest that D try being M for a while if she thinks it’s so easy to be someone else.  D doesn’t think much of this idea.



I let the rabbits out into the kitchen again.  We try to tempt them towards us with cabbage leaves but they grab the cabbage and run.  The girls watch Peter Rabbit on telly instead – he is much friendlier, after all.  M took this picture of them sharing a cabbage leaf.


D goes back to her human body sticker book and we read through a few pages.  Bearing in mind it isn’t aimed at 5 or 7 year olds, they both do a very good job at understanding what I’m reading to them.  We talk about why it might have been illegal to dissect dead human bodies in the past.  M says it’s not very respectful and is similar to jumping on peoples graves, so we talk about whether it might be ok if you grant permission before you die.



D decides she wants to dress up as Tinkerbell so I go upstairs to help her put the dress on. Meanwhile, M is doing a rather fabulous doodle – from a distance it looks like an anatomical drawing!



Having been indoors for 2 days, the girls are due a ‘mad half-hour’ and of course it begins at bedtime.  I manage to calm them down enough to read them both a story and leave them upstairs: D playing an imaginary game with her bunnies and M finishing a puppet for her Christmas play.


M comes down again to eat some biscuits.  And then comes down a second time to ask for her Christmas to do list.  We find it and she decides to carry on making her sequin bauble so I take the tray of sequins and beads upstairs and leave her to it.


I go upstairs and find M still working on her bauble.  D is snuggled up in bed and is nearly asleep.  By the time I’ve cleaned my teeth she is asleep.  M and me go to sleep holding hands. 🙂

A Week in the Life of a Home Educating Family: Tuesday

Day 2 in the sausage household.  It’s hard work this daily blogging malarkey!

Here is Monday’s post, if you missed it:



We all wake up together and come downstairs.  J is already awake and is working on his laptop in the lounge.  M is still unwell so both girls (D doesn’t need any excuse) watch CBeebies for 2 hours.  Meanwhile, I begin writing yesterday’s blog post, make breakfast, have a shower and pack away the shopping which has just been delivered.  J leaves for work.  Generally, Tuesday is the day that we spend at home until late afternoon when M has her ballet class.


D decides she really wants to make a start on the World Map jigsaw which we failed to do yesterday – my job is usually to do the grunt work: turning all 150 pieces over, sorting them into continents etc, while she gets the glory of fitting them together.  M doesn’t know what to do with herself: she’s too poorly to do much but she’s bored – the worst combination, poor girl.



We give up on the jigsaw for a while and I let the bunnies out for a run around the kitchen. I have to clean the cage again – the amount of poo these two tiny things create is amazing. M attempts to stroke them but they keep hopping away which makes her quite cross.  D isn’t interested in the bunnies at all today and decides she would rather be a bunny herself… a bunny who likes sums!  M and I take it in turns to ask her sums (if you have 10 bunnies and Daddy puts 2 in a pot, how many bunnies do you have left?).  Eventually the bunny decides she would like to finish the jigsaw so we all get on with it.  D tells us what a ringed seal looks like and what they eat, she points out Borneo, Mexico and many more points of interest on the map… all learnt from Go Diego Go!



M and me then carry on our game of Monopoly and D plays Lightbot, which is an excellent app for learning coding.  It’s a very successful game: I manage to describe what ‘mortgage’ means to M without her getting angry, and she manages to buy Park Lane, Mayfair and all the stations so she inevitably wins!


I decide it is high time I did a bit of housework and go to hang a wash up.  When I come down again the girls are asking if they can help with a few jobs (I find they are generally very helpful if you give them the jobs they love to do) so D mopped the kitchen floor and M de-cobwebbed the radiators with a feather duster.  M also helped me put baking soda and vinegar into the washing machine to stop it being so smelly and D brushed out the bunnies’ vet beds which had just been washed and dried.


I still have tons of cleaning I feel I should be doing but the girls are in an activity mood so I try to encourage them to find an activity they can do without me: D chooses colouring and M wants to do sewing.  She’s been learning new stitches recently to put on a Christmas sampler she’s designed and wants to give as a present.  She has a real talent for sewing and has persevered with tricky stitches, taught herself new ones using YouTube and is generally being all-round impressive about it.  These are her practice stitches:


However, M isn’t quite well enough to sew for long so she plays on Minecraft for a while and D continues to colour.  I unsuccessfully battle the mess in the kitchen.


I have managed to get the kitchen looking as clean as it did this morning but am no further on with any other jobs.  Where did the last two hours go?  D now wants me to read Ella Bella Ballerina and The Nutcracker to her and I’m quite relieved to sit down for a bit so gladly do it.  It’s a gorgeously written and illustrated book and both girls are intrigued as to why the Mouse King would put a spell on the Prince, and why he turned him into a nutcracker.  Something for me to research when I have a minute.  M makes a final decision not to go to her ballet class this evening – she must be feeling pretty bad as she loves that class and wouldn’t usually want to miss it.


I then start to make dinner but D starts to ask me to find things for her, claiming she is too frightened to go upstairs on her own.  When I tell her I need to get on with dinner she starts to cry.  I manage to swallow angry retorts of ‘stop being ridiculous’ and ‘I’ve got enough to bloody do’ and calmly explain to her that I spend most of the day doing activities with her and sometimes I need to get on and do jobs.  It doesn’t work.  She goes off to cry in another room.  Hmph.  After half an hour I work out that she’s probably got low blood sugar and ask her if she would like something to eat.  She recovers instantly, asks for veggie hot dogs with broccoli, and plays with her toys while she waits.  Problem solved!


I sit down to eat my dinner in the lounge and ask M if she’d like to play Junior Scrabble.  I bought it last year but it’s the first time she’s shown an interest in having a go.  It turns out to be a little too advanced for her vocabulary but she seems to enjoy it anyway.  We have to stop after half an hour as she’s too exhausted.  Meanwhile, D is playing on Can You Escape – she loves puzzle games almost as much as me and M, even ones that are for older children.  I just have to walk her through the puzzle a few times until she gets it and then she has the satisfaction of remembering all the codes and hiding places on each level.

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I suggest going up to bed early and having a longer reading session which both girls are surprisingly happy to do.  I start on another Rainbow Magic book with D and continue with Harry Potter for M.  M has lots of questions about why Neville Longbottom doesn’t confide in Harry about what happened to his parents, how close their friendship is, what the cruciatus curse does and many more.  I’m actually feeling like I could lie down and continue the conversation and/or go to sleep but I remember that I have jobs to do downstairs.


I come down and start to write yesterday’s blog up and edit it until it is vaguely coherent. J teeters in around 10.30pm and goes straight to bed: it seems the Christmas party season has begun in the City!  His job requires that he’s out most evenings but he rarely drinks much.


I go upstairs to bed and the lot of them are crashed out.  I have to clear out a load of toys plus an iPad and tablet before I get in.  Sleep!



A Week in the Life of a Home Educating Family: Monday

This blog is generally very ‘warts and all’ as I find it helps me to process the ups and downs if I write it down.  It’s also good for me to look back on old posts and see how far we’ve progressed in de-schooling.  But, lately I haven’t been posting very detailed posts because I just haven’t had the time and it can also start to feel quite repetitive.

Recently, I read  Navigating By Joy’s ‘Week in the Life of a British Homeschooling Family’ where Lucinda journalled her family’s day for 5 days.  I loved reading the details of their day to day lives, especially as it wasn’t glossed over!  So I thought I would have a go at doing the same myself…

I’ve held off doing this for a while because each week something non-typical has been going on (guests, illness, visits to my parents’, etc) but I’ve come to realise that there will never be a typical week. or a ‘perfect’ one.  So without further ado, here is Monday’s post…


I wake up late with D and we come downstairs and chat to our new bunnies while I put the kettle on.  We got them a few days ago and while they’re still quite shy, their personalities are already shining through: Morris (a buck, the lighter one) is into everything, nibbling things and is very inquisitive – he hates being picked up and held on a lap; while Dusty (a doe) is much more reserved and cautious but is quite happy to be on M’s lap for a stroke.


D then wants to do the World Map jigsaw but we get diverted when she asks what the seven seas are (turns out it’s just an ancient term that is no longer relevant) and then where poo is before it gets to your bowel.  She’s a big Googler is D, the other day she asked to Google what snot bubbles feel like…  D played on the Tiny Bop Human Body app for a while: giggling every time she made the body burp or trump.


M comes downstairs and immediately wants to get the bunnies out, so we do.  I clean out the cage while they hop about on the kitchen floor.  Meanwhile, D watches Dora the Explorer on Netflix.  It’s a little more babyish (and perhaps even more irritating?!) than Go Diego Go but she’s still learning lots from it.


M then begins setting out our new Monopoly board, but I need to get them out of their pyjamas early today (not early by most people’s standards!).  It takes a lot of encouragement to get them dressed but I have errands to run so they don’t have a lot of choice.  It takes so long to get dressed that we then need snacks (and a coffee) before setting off.


We go out to post some parcels at the Post Office (cue M asking why coins don’t stay shiny), then onto Tesco’s (fun at the checkout beeping the the barcodes through) and then onto a pet shop to get some supplies for the bunnies.  They’ve both had enough of shops at this point so I quickly choose what we need and we head home.


We’re home but we only have half an hour to have some lunch and get out of the house again to drive to pottery.  It takes us half an hour to drive there and on the way we listen to an audio book (Holly the Christmas Fairy) and discuss whether the girls want to continue pottery after Christmas.  M decides that she would like to carry on, whereas D would like to just pop in occasionally (not really doable at £70 a term!) so I suggest she has a rest from it for a term and see if she wants to start again at Easter, which she is happy to do.  They both run in to pottery and I sit in the car for an hour and catch up with the HE groups on Facebook.


On the way home, M is a bit out of sorts (this is not unusual after social outings) and it turns out that she has a sore throat.  We’re all quite quiet in the car but we do discuss whether it would be a good idea to start a project together in the new year – I tell them that I miss learning something altogether around the table and M said that she does too so we may start a France lapbook soon.


When we get home, both girls sit under blankets on the sofa and watch new episodes of Peter Rabbit while munching on snacks.  I close the curtains and put the Christmas lights on and it feels very cosy and calm.  M is feeling too poorly to play with the bunnies so I let them hop around the kitchen while I clean and make dinner.  Morris is over the moon to be out and does little leaps of joy which are very cute!


M slopes into the kitchen looking poorly but wanting something to do (she is a definite night-owl and she pretty much ‘wakes up’ at 7pm every day) so we play Monopoly until bedtime.  I’m absolutely amazed that I manage to explain the rules to M without her getting angry. 🙂


We go upstairs, the girls get changed and I read a Rainbow Magic book to D then Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to M.


I go downstairs leaving D watching Dora on the iPad and M snuggling down and looking quite poorly.


After doing a bit of emailing and online Christmas shopping, I’m exhausted (J has beaten me to it and is already asleep) and I’m going to bed.  I come up to find the bedroom light on and M is fast asleep looking very hot and flushed.  D has obviously fallen asleep while watching Dora as it’s still playing on the iPad.  I remove the iPad off the bed and crawl in between them both.

Busily Peaceful

So aside from Aspergers, a whole load of other stuff has been going on here…

Starting with putting up the Christmas tree!


Christmas has definitely begun in our house!  M is beside herself with excitement about all the craft she wants to do: she has about 6 different activities on the go at the moment, all of which she intends to give as gifts.  D is also very excited of course, mainly about the beauty of the Xmas tree and fairy lights 🙂

She has already made a card for Santa:


Inside she asks for a scarf, sunglasses and 5 lumps of coal, ahhh!

The best way to describe my days at the moment is ‘busily peaceful’.  I tend to have an hour to myself in the morning, when I have a cuppa and spend a bit of time doing blogging/Facebook/xmas shopping.

D is usually the first to come down and we either sit and chat, or she might ask to play something or watch Netflix.  The other morning we got talking about bees and this led to watching YouTube videos about getting stung and how to get honey from a hive.  The end result was D asking for honey on toast for the first time!

M tends to appear around 9am (she is such a night owl!) and after a few minutes will dive into some craft or other.  We recently had Grandma and Granddad to stay and M put on a puppet show – I am sooo impressed by her drawing skills!  She is now preparing for a Christmas play…


She also drew this portrait of me on a scrap of paper.  I was feeling pretty cheesed off with her beforehand and so I felt my heart swell when she presented it to me :).


We have breakfast quite late which suits all of our tummies, and then most mornings are spent with the girls doing various crafts, games, telly watching, iPad playing, or just make-believe.

Today, however, I had booked their Aunt Sh to look after them for two hours while I visited our local scrap store.  Another HEer set up a group subscription for £11/pa each and we can visit as many times as we like and take as much as we want (within reason).  I wish I could have taken the girls as it was pretty amazing inside but unfortunately they don’t allow children.  I was given a guided tour of the place and honestly could have loaded a van’s worth but I just took a few things for Christmas craft this time.  The lady there told me I had roughly £30-worth of stuff so this has certainly saved us money!


The girls were squealing with excitement when they saw it.  D immediately put a sequin strip on her head and tried to make a hat out of it, which was hilarious.  Then they both settled down to do other crafts in the front room: in this picture M is making her Xmas puppets while D is painting a polystyrene cone which is going to be a sparkly centrepiece for the Christmas table.


While this was going on, I was attempting to clean and clear the front room which has become horrendously packed with HE stuff and other nonsense.  After D had finished painting she decided she was going to play a song for M on the piano to motivate her to keep working.  It was VERY cute and heartfelt.  Then M had a go and sang Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer while plinky-plonkying away on the keys.  They were obviously in a musical mood as they then created a marching band with kazoos, a drum, a recorder and maracas and marched around the house chanting a song…


Which then led to playing with some ancient walkie-talkies – though they were yelling at each other, rather than talking…


It was such a busy afternoon we were almost late for M’s ballet class but we made it with a couple of minutes to spare, thankfully.  M told me today that she wished she could go to ballet every day.  During the class, D really looks forward to doing a workbook – I’m not sure why as she doesn’t like doing them any other time of the week?!  Unfortunately we left in such a rush today that I forgot her pencil case so she played Monument Valley on the iPad instead.

When we got home it was 5.30pm: I started making dinner; D immediately went to watch Dora the Explorer on Netflix (she is absorbing even more Spanish from this programme) and stayed on the sofa for the next 3 hours;  meanwhile, M carried on with her puppets, spent a bit of time sorting through her drawer of toys (she’s decided she doesn’t like most of the stuff in there) and played with her doll on her own upstairs for a long time.

Bedtime has been getting quite strange here in the past week.  For the last few months we’ve been ‘unschooling’ bedtime, which means basically that the girls get to decide when they are tired enough to go to bed.  However, I haven’t totally unschooled it because some evenings I feel like I really need time to myself so I take them up to bed at 8pm, read until 9pm and then leave them to it.  However, this has increasingly started to feel weird and a little like they are ‘banished’ upstairs and ‘unwelcome’ downstairs: particularly as M keeps sidling in to ask for help with some craft or other.  Quality time with J isn’t really an issue as he is rarely around in the evenings, so last night I experimented with keeping them downstairs until late.  I read their stories to them in the lounge while they did their crafts on the floor, I even read poetry to them which they seemed to enjoy.  Then we all went to bed together at the same time and it was really nice and peaceful.  However, today there was no way I could manage without my ‘alone’ time – but it just feels odd!  So, I’m wondering where this new shift in our routine will take us…

Aspergers Syndrome

For those of you who have been following the highs and lows of our home education life, you may be interested to know that for the past few weeks I have been doing quite a bit of reading about Aspergers Syndrome/ASD/HFA, with regard to M’s behaviour.

Lately I have been finding it increasingly difficult to navigate M’s moods and to communicate without misunderstandings, which invariably leads to anger and tears of frustration on her part.

A good while ago, my cousin Z tentatively asked if I had considered Aspergers as the reason behind M’s behaviour, but when I looked into it, none of the descriptions seemed to fit.  However, I am a frequent user of HE groups on Facebook and recently found Aspergers mentioned a few times in relation to behaviour that was similar to M’s.

So, I started to read.  I can highly recommend this book if you need a general introduction that’s easy to understand.  After reading the whole book, I probably had listed about 10 behavioural traits that resonated.  It doesn’t sound very much, but these aspects are huge in our lives and affect us on a day to day basis.

J and I (J has been taking all this in his stride) discussed whether a diagnosis would be helpful and we decided that it would be, partly to help her understand herself better, partly to help with her self esteem (she doesn’t think she’s clever and is becoming aware of differences between her and her peers), and partly so that we can all learn strategies to help her.

I then chatted to M about my thoughts (had I been able to get a referral without her, I’m not sure I would have done at this early stage) and she was stoical about it but admitted she didn’t really understand it.  I feel I only have the bare minimum knowledge myself!

To prepare for the GP, I then listed all M’s traits that I think are Aspergers related.  Not wanting M to feel uncomfortable while I chatted to the GP, I asked her if she would like to see the list before setting off.  She agreed and listened while I read it out but when we got to the fourth point (‘masquerading’ at school and unleashing all her pent up emotions on me and D at home) she said “I don’t like that one” and got tearful, which set me off and we both had a cuddle and a cry. 😦

I’m anxious that she sees Aspergers as a positive thing and not ‘we need to take you to the doctors to get you fixed’, but rather ‘you’ve got it, so let’s learn about how we can help you’.

Overall, I feel a huge sense of relief that there may be help for us if she is diagnosed.

And relief that I feel the puzzle of M may finally be solved.

Ballet and Bunnies

After writing last week’s blog post, M (after a few days of this awful bug that’s been going around) was thrown headlong into ballet rehearsals and then three performances over the weekend.  She did extremely well, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

This is a picture that I took of the flower dance rehearsal.  Spot the sausage!


Then it was straight back to our week-day activities following a half-term break.  M brought home a beautiful bowl that she had made in pottery: they’re both still really enjoying the class.


For those who don’t know, this is the Into Film Festival fortnight, where schools and home educators get to see films for free.  It’s an incredible resource, and I hope it continues – there are so many films to see!  We’re a bit limited by the girls’ ages, obviously, but also by the amount of fear D shows towards films: the cinema can be quite a frightening experience for her.  This year, I booked Mr Peabody and Sherman, and Turbo.  We saw Mr Peabody and Sherman on Tuesday and M really enjoyed it but D spent most of the film feeling terrified!

M really needed some downtime and D and I have been under the weather so we had a much needed pyjama day on Wednesday: we had a lovely peaceful day of activities.  The Lego has made a reappearance again, as has Minecraft, lots of drawing and letter writing to each other and Reading Eggs.  The girls are also entering a competition to decorate a face mask which is being run by our local art shop.


D also asked to make a chocolate cake though it didn’t match up to expectations so I have been left to eat it all myself (shame).


And so endeth another blog post, with just a little bit of exciting news to tell you about – our bunnies are almost old enough for collection: we’ve got 2 more weeks to wait and then we can bring them home!  We’re so excited… 😀