Category Archives: October

Books and Fair-Eagles

We’ve had loads of downtime this week due to it being half term.  We had M’s old nursery friend over to play on Monday and they all played in the garden together as the weather was so mild.

I had planned on going to the library on Tuesday but D was adamant that she didn’t want to go out.  Having learnt from past experience that I am better off trusting that she knows what she needs, I changed my plans and we had a day indoors instead.  We started off by painting the clay Xmas decorations the girls had made over the weekend:

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The rest of the day was spent drawing; playing dominoes (M is a master of it after only a few games); and watching Heidi on Netflix.  The animation isn’t great but as I found with My Little Pony – the social stories and plots are a very useful learning tool for the sausages.

After a day indoors, D was ready to go to the library on Wednesday.  Although, since she’s not too fussed about books at the moment and declared libraries to be boring, I had to bring the iPad along so that M and I could enjoy the visit.  D is definitely going through an odd phase at the moment – she’s unusually delicate and anxious about things, which quickly leads to tears.

The last time we went to the library D wanted to borrow lots of space books but it seemed to me that she was on auto-pilot and she wasn’t really interested.  Lo and behold the books have been unread for 3 weeks and most of the time she doesn’t even want to read anything at bedtime.  One night she told me that she kept forgetting her space information so I suggested we could start from scratch and re-learn it all but she said that once it falls out of her head it won’t go back in again… ever.  Which I think was her way of saying she wasn’t interested!

She’s loved space from the moment she learnt how to say ‘moon’.  I can’t believe her passion for it is waning.  It is so much a part of who she is.  Recently, a friend of mine pointed out that this must be difficult for her too if space is so much a part of her identity.  I never thought of that before.

We got some great books from the library – origami crafts, Minecraft hacks, the Gunpowder plot and Greek and Roman myths.  I’m hoping to read some of the myth books with D since it ties in nicely with constellations and My Little Pony.  She’s even made up and drawn her own mythical creature – a Fair-Eagle – an eagle with fairy wings!

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Cousins and Pyjama Days

Weirdly, it almost feels like we’re ready for a half-term holiday.  M looked so tired on the way to art class this week and I commented that she looked ready for a break, to which she replied “a break from what?”  Ha ha.  It’s difficult to take a break from being a life learner.  We talked about how much school kids need half term holidays – M has no recollection of how long the days are at school and how hard children have to work.

Even though she was tired, M still managed to complete her squirrel picture, which I think is wonderful – I love the detail and colour.

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Over the weekend, the girls went to Judo, followed by the park for many hours with J.   Also, M and I watched The Spiderwick Chronicles together for the first time and we both loved it.

On Monday, we all went out for a pub lunch to celebrate mine and J’s 13th anniversary!!  J had to get back to work afterwards and we went straight on to a playdate with M’s friend B from nursery days.  We spent hours there and the girls were really sad to go home so I have arranged for B to come to ours next week.

Yesterday, my cousin Z and her son (M) arrived and there was MUCH excitement!  Today we showed him how to do a pyjama day, sausage style (they are professionals at it after all) – so we did baking and M used an piping bag for the first time, I was so impressed with her skill!

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We did a lot of Minecraft: cousin M downloaded Technic Launcher on our laptop which is kind of like a souped-up version of Minecraft I gather.  It certainly got the sausages enthused.

We also watched a documentary on Netflix called Hidden Kingdoms.  I can highly recommend it, even though D ended up crying at the end because the Grasshopper Mouse decided not to return to his family and to seek his independence instead…

The three of them are excitedly chatting upstairs as I write this, even though they’re knackered – tomorrow will be interesting…

Leaves and Trees

This week I had intended to lots of autumn leaf craft but I just haven’t got around to setting anything up.  We did manage a bit of leaf decorating though – I had hoped the girls would want to do lots but I had to make do with one from each of them. 🙂

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The girls also drew leaves at their art class.  M chose a very complicated leaf and is still drawing all the intricate detail on it, so these two beauties are D’s:

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D also brought home her fantastic picture of an owl:

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At home, she made a picture of a house, which is modeled on one from My Little Pony, with a library, thrones and stain glass windows!

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The highlight of our week has got to be our trip out to Cannizaro Park.  Our friends were unable to join us this week and I had intended to find Caesar’s Well but almost immediately I took a wrong turn!  M was getting anxious and tearful so I gave up and decided to go to Cannizaro Park instead.  As soon as we got there, M’s anxieties fell away and she became calmer and happier.  It’s absolutely stunning there, the tree that M is sitting under looked like it was on fire, it was so vibrant – unfortunately the colour wasn’t picked up by my camera phone.  The girls picked leaves, spotted fungi and squirrels and had fun finding ‘dens’ in the undergrowth.

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D fell in love with a tree (below) and wept when we had to leave it.  That tied in nicely with our nature curriculum we’re (loosely) following.  We have to ‘adopt’ a tree and observe it’s changes throughout the seasons so I think D has chosen her’s!  Next week she wants to come back to it and do a bark rubbing.

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I’ve been getting lots and lots of questions from the girls this week: why do we have lips?; Why does hot food cool down and cold food warm up?; Is a room the same temperature all over?; Why are street lamps orange?; How do trees get diseases?; How do doctors treat diseased patients without catching the disease?  I’m sure there were many many more and the questions seem to be getting more sophisticated.  I can’t answer 90% of the questions without Googling, which is fine – I don’t mind admitting to the sausages that I don’t know everything – but I am astounded by how much I have taken for granted in my life and how little I’ve questioned.  I’m on a steep learning curve!

Our week was finished off with a very laid back Curious Minds.  D played outside with her friend for most of the time (playing house on a pile of logs) while I helped M with some craft indoors:

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I can’t believe another week has passed… we seem to be careering towards the end of the year at break-neck speed!

 

 

What is a Bully?

This was the question D asked me recently.  How amazing and wonderful that a 6 year old doesn’t know what a bully is!  There have been dozens of questions from D as to why people bully, whether that boy” is a bully; what she would say to a bully etc etc.  This is all stemming from some bullies depicted in My Little Pony.  It has been explored further with the girls watching the bullying in ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Squeakuel’.  Honestly, that movie would put anyone off the idea of going to school: the bullying was so horrendous but told in a ‘this is what a normal American high school is like’ kind of way.  Nice.  D got quite anxious about it and told me that that was why she didn’t want to go to school.

I really feel for those children who have to suffer being bullied daily and it has made me realise how much value I place on mental health.  I realise now that I have (unconsciously!) placed the sausages’ mental health over and above anything else that might be going on in our HE world.  I have also realised that it really is the foundation for everything in life: learning, fun, friendships, responsibilities, relationships, jobs and careers, finance, parenting… EVERYTHING!

I am sure the sausages will be bullied at some point in their lives but I hope that when it does happen they will have enough self-confidence, awareness and resilience to deal with it.

In other news, we’ve been dipping our toes into all sorts this week…

D has been playing on her maths app – at one point it took all three of us to figure out a number line question which resulted in much hilarity.  All  of us have also been teaming up to help and motivate M through the levels of Super Mario Bros: she’s been getting quite down-hearted because she’s been stuck on a particular level for days.  She’s the most skilled of all of us so unfortunately we’re not a lot of help but I think she appreciates the support.

We had a look through some hang-gliding videos after seeing it in action on ‘Alvin & the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked’.  (I never thought I would stomach watching chipmunk films, it’s amazing how low your tolerance goes as a parent).  We also watched this amazing sky diving video and a whole host of others – D is very keen to have a go!

There’s also been a lot of dancing and singing off the back of the Chipmunk films.  I introduced them to Strictly Come Dancing the other night and they were both intrigued by the different dances and the scoring system.  I’ve noticed both sausages incorporating a bit of Charleston into their dance routines since then. 🙂

M is still working on her wooden house in Minecraft.  It’s all the more impressive that she’s gathered so much wood and stone herself to make it.  She was also inspired to create a scaffolding after seeing one in use at a local building site.

We also chatted about how babies grow in the uterus after our free ‘Nine months that made you‘ poster arrived the other day.  The girls had totally forgotten that they are IVF babies so I reminded them about how they were made and how D was frozen (!) as a blastocyst.

We’ve also had a great afternoon out at the common with friends…

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It was not enjoyed so much by D as she managed to fall head first into the lake, but she coped admirably well!

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Later, she found a stick and pretended to be Taurus the bull…

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And M scampered up a tree like the monkey she is…

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The end of the week is always finished off by playing with friends at Curious Minds.  I love that they all make their own fun: sometimes playing in a crowd, sometimes playing with parents and sometimes on their own.  It’s a lovely, friendly, supportive atmosphere.

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Focus on D

I didn’t realise it was so long since my last post!  I just haven’t been in the mood to write lately, even though I’ve had lots of ideas swirling around my head.

Leading on from my last post, we got up at 3am to see the supermoon lunar eclipse – it was a beauty!  We managed to spot some constellations we’d never seen in real life before too – Taurus (D’s favourite), the Seven Sisters and the square of Pegasus!  We managed to stay in the garden for 20 minutes before we all decided to go back to bed.  I tried not to think too much about where we would all be the next time there’s a supermoon blood moon in 20 years – that sort of thing gives me the heebie-jeebies. 😀

As I mentioned last time, D is coming out of her telly phase, and is often looking for activities.  I’m at a bit of a loss with her to tell the truth, her interest in space is waning and we haven’t yet found an interest to fill the gap.  D is quite hard to strew for since she doesn’t readily try new things so there’s been quite a bit of boredom lately!  However, this morning she came up with an idea to make a large golden key (inspired by The Secret Garden and an atmospheric puzzle app we have called ‘The Room’).  She has plans to make a keyhole with a matching symbol next!

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Lately, D has also become interested in competitive games – they were always avoided before because of her fear of losing – I’m impressed by how well she can now play Connect 4, all learnt from observing me and M play I think.  She’s also learnt a lot of Super Mario skills from watching M play.  She loves to watch and learn: I think it feels nice and safe to her.

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I’ve focused on M a lot over the past 2 years of home edding: working through her anxieties and helping her to blossom.  I think I can safely say M is ‘there’ – or at least, she’s in a place where I feel satisfied she’s open to learning and new experiences, her anxieties are low  and she has excellent social skills.  Further down the line, I think (and the paediatrician thought) some cognitive behavioural therapy could help her with some strategies to deal with her anxieties, but she’s not ready for that yet.

So now I’m looking more closely at D (sorry, but I’m finding it increasingly difficult to multi-task as I approach 40 – one issue at a time!!).  I recognise a few Asperger traits in there, but nothing as debilitating as M’s.  I don’t feel she needs a diagnosis, partly because I’m pretty sure she is borderline and partly because she is generally more robust and able to express herself better than M: meaning that it’s easier for me to iron out anxieties and issues rather than fumbling around in the dark as I do with M.  I won’t go into the ins and outs of D’s issues now, I’m sure I’ll cover it in future posts.  Suffice to say, I feel as if D has changed quite a bit over the last few months and my focus will now be on calming her anxieties and expanding her horizons.

Now a few snippets on what we’ve been up to:

D has been playing on Room (an iPad app) and we’ve just downloaded Room 2.  She has some totally out there ideas about how to solve the puzzles and I’m learning to shut-up and let her get on with it as she’s generally right.  She’s also been playing on her favourite maths appTeach Your Monster to Read and the Arithmasticks have been out again.  She also made a rocket, a Christmas bauble, baked cookies and played on Minecraft.  This weekend we had a lovebombing day, although I got the feeling we were just biding our time until M returned from Brownies!  We did lots of sewing together for her bunny’s outfit, as designed by D.

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M has been for a day out with the Brownies (she chose not to spend the weekend there), and loved all the activities.  I had to make a mermaid outfit for the mythical creatures theme – it tested all my abilities since I haven’t made anything for about 10 years!  I could have done a much better job had I had time and patience but M was very pleased with it.

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M has been trying to finish off old projects, like the Fimo set she got last year.  She also made her first Christmas decoration and has started learning to touch-type again.  She has mainly been occupied with Super Mario on her Nintendo DS – she has completed 6 of the 8 worlds now and has shown perseverance way beyond my level – I would have thrown the machine through a window by now!  It has also meant that she has begun looking up the ‘walkthroughs’ on YouTube on her own!  She’s never dared to do that before.

We’ve given up on Minecraft school.  Freedom to quit and all that.  The subject matter wasn’t enthralling M and the stuff we had to learn to pass a quiz was exceedingly dry.  As it happens, the course creators sent out an email to say they’d had complaints that the course was too hard so perhaps that was another reason why we weren’t feeling drawn to it.  One week, there was a cartoon about the space race which showed JFK sitting at a desk with a picture of Marilyn Monroe on it… cue half an hour lost while we looked up videos featuring her!  Anyway, M loved the idea of a Minecraft school so I’ll keep an eye out for future courses.

They’ve both been having fun with friends too.  We had a glorious afternoon at the common, we were there for over 4 hours in the end and only left because the sun was beginning to set!

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We also had a great time at our Curious Minds group.  This week, the kids played with boxes and made dens out of them.  In the end, D made a ‘kind monster’ out of hers and we brought it home – she has been decorating it every day since!

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