Category Archives: September

Many Many Activities on the Go

We’re getting to the stage now where M has more and more interests and projects on the go as she dips her toes into anything and everything.  Currently, she’s into: nature walks (big time – she longs to go to the common and would go everyday if she could!); collecting anything of interest on the walks and examining them at home; learning piano tunes; gardening; working her way through New Super Mario Bros on her Nintendo DS2 (and teaching D how to get through the levels too); sewing; Minecraft (she’s currently building her first large-scale house in survival mode); learning about space in Minecraft School; making birthday cards for family members and making Christmas decorations.  She’s also just bought a paper-flower making craft kit and she wants to finish her Fimo kits that she was given for Christmas last year.  Phew!  And that’s not forgetting the stuff she does around all that – watching films, listening to music, singing, dancing, baking, drawing, Facetiming her cousins, playing with the bunnies, playing with D, going to Art class, Brownies, Judo and our social group.  Blimey, she’s one busy girl!  But busy in such a relaxed, meandering way that if I didn’t take note of these activities going on around me, it would seem as if not much is happening at all. 😀

D is slowly emerging from her My Little Pony craze and although this is slightly overlapping with an Alvin and the Chipmunks passion, she is generally more up for other activities and outings than she has been over the past few weeks.  I like that she delves into these programmes with such gusto but I do like a bit of variety!  Recently she’s been making Christmas decorations, playing New Super Mario Bros, playing Teach Your Monster to Read, gardened, making a pop-up card for her cousin and learning how to use the sewing machine.

Both girls have been poorly this week so we’ve actually been taking it quite easy.  D had a tummy bug (now gone) and M has a cold and cough.  We made it out to the common today, although it was a fairly gentle walk with a couple of stops for sketching:

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Indoors, I have finally got the sewing machine out because I’ve got to make a mermaid costume for M’s Brownie party (mythical creatures theme) next week.  The girls were so excited and I showed them how to use it – they’ve had loads of fun just making patterns on paper with no thread.

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Once I’ve finished the costume, I’ll thread it up for them and get them sewing!  They’re both showing a lot of promise with it – they’ve got very good control.  This is M’s picture, which she then folded and made into a bag with handles.  D’s are brilliant too but she keeps cutting them up so I haven’t managed to get a picture!

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We also made a Victorian puzzle purse, as seen in this month’s Aquila magazine.  And as I mentioned before, the girls have begun making Christmas decorations – it’s never too early!!  We went to our gorgeous local art shop and bought some polystyrene stars and balls to decorate.  We always admire their window displays and we chatted to the lady in the shop who showed us an ex-window display item: a quilled letter.  M and me adore quilling and I feel sure we’ll be doing something like this soon.

We were going to go out at dusk tonight to see the moon but M was too tired so we’ll leave it until next week’s supermoon lunar eclipse!

Christmas Countdown Begins

Yep, the Sausages are already talking about Christmas, and I realised that it is actually 100 days away!  They don’t talk about Christmas in a ‘I want presents’ way, they mainly talk about decorations, which is probably my favourite part of Christmas too – decorating the house – it’s obviously rubbed off on them. 😀

We were on the common today and there was lots of talk of what they could use from the common to decorate the tree – it was very sweet but I did have to keep reminding them that it’s too early to make natural decorations as they won’t last.

Yes, we were on the common again today – the girls were very keen to go, rain or no rain.  I kitted out the car with newspaper and plastic bags, in readiness for a lot of mud, but in the end we escaped the rain.  We had a list of items to search for in our nature curriculum and the sausages found them all.  They also collected a few things to bring home and M made a rope from grass, which she wanted to try after seeing this video.

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We’ve also been busy at our classes – we had art class yesterday, and M had her first Brownies session of the term.  She was strangely cross after art, which made me wonder if something had happened that stressed her – I tried some gentle questioning but I couldn’t get to the bottom of it.  She was out of sorts for an hour or so afterwards.

Once we’d settled back at home again, D watched some My Little Pony on the iPad – she’s actually just starting to ease out of MLP again and is asking to do other things instead.

Meanwhile me and M tried to get started on our first week of Minecraft School.  We read through the space information, watched a video and then answered 6 questions on what we’d learnt.  I have to say it was rather dry but M stuck with it.  We then tried to get going on their Minecraft server (M perked up considerably when we discovered that they have a virtual Minecraft shop!) but we couldn’t stake any land to get going on a spaceship build (this week’s assignment) so we may have to leave it for this week.

We got our weekly The Kid Should See This email, which sparked off loads of questions and learning, as always.  D absolutely adored this video, which shows a man’s ‘magic beard’ in stop-motion.  It is very very funny, and inspired her to make her own, which you can see on our Facebook page here!  When we got back from the common this morning, M also got down to work and made her own video too – I particularly like the Lego man with his head on fire. 😀

Headphones

Why didn’t I think of getting them before?!!

Now we have this:

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And this:

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Before, I thought it would be quite isolating for the girls as they’re sort of shut off from the rest of the family while they wear them.  But actually, it isn’t isolating at all.  They can totally immerse themselves in whatever they’re doing (gaming, watching films, listening to music) without distraction, and it frees up everybody else in the house to do what they want too!  It also means that more than one ‘audio’ activity can be going on in the room at the same time.  For instance, yesterday I read (and finished!) Tom’s Midnight Garden to M while D watched My Little Pony on Netflix on the iPad.  And this evening I have come downstairs having left M snuggled down under her duvet blissfully listening to Mozart through Spotify while D watches (yes, you guessed it) My Little Pony.  So huzzah for headphones.

So apart from the thrill of new headphones, what else have we been up to?

Well, the girls missed Judo on Saturday because J noticed how below-par they both seemed on Saturday morning so he gave it a miss.  They had a chilled out day instead, and we all watched Back to the Future together in the evening but they both went to bed with tummy aches.  They’ve both been better since though much more tired than usual.

Yesterday, J worked for most of the day and was also poorly so we had another chilled out day at home.  I showed them an ’80s anime version of Little Women that I used to watch as a child.  They loved it and it sparked questions about slavery, the clothes they wore, and why Jo’s behaviour wasn’t correct according to Aunt March – subjects that aren’t really touched on in the abridged version of the book I read to them before.

M is continuing to teach D how to get through the Super Mario Bros levels on her Nintendo. It is so sweet to watch them both working together and cheering each other on.  I’m really impressed with D’s recent perseverance with tasks – she has also learnt the first part of Frere Jacques after M showed her how to play it!

Today we had a bit of a tidy up in the morning, before the girls settled down to some Lego, which we haven’t played with for ages.  Then in the afternoon, their Aunty S visited!  D introduced her to My Little Pony, and she played board games with M.  Aunty S also taught M two new tunes on the piano and M is very pleased to now be able to play Frere Jacques, Jingle Bells, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Happy Birthday!  Next she’d like to look at improving her finger technique and it’s something I struggle with so I think we’ll look it up on YouTube… or ask Grandma when she comes to stay in a few days. 🙂

Subsidising Greggs

So D really knew what she was about on Wednesday (refusing to go out) and by Thursday she was ready to face the world again!  We needed to go into Wimbledon to get some clothes and shoes for the girls and as I had planned to go to Morden Hall Park the day before, I tagged it onto the end of our shopping trip instead.

In the car I told the girls I would buy them a doughnut from Greggs if they wished, which delighted them both.  D was asking why we had to pay for them so starting a dialogue on all the people, produce and services that go towards making a doughnut!  M went further down the line of questioning and wondered why the government couldn’t pay all these people so we could get doughnuts for free.  Smart girl. 😉

We whizzed around the shops (the sausages have no patience for shopping) and then drove over to Morden Hall Park.  I had remembered to put their bikes in the boot, thinking that there are some good paths for D to practice on and M to get up some speed.  As you can see by the picture below, I had no hope of keeping up with them…

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It was really really lovely to be out in the sunshine, and I did feel rather smug that we were outside, and then sad for all the school kids that were inside on such a gorgeous day.

We’re now on week 2 of our nature curriculum and this week is all about mini-beasts.  Urgh.  I was planning to fail on this one as I’m not a lover of bugs.  As we’re unschoolers, I’m actually following this curriculum for me, and if the sausages show an interest then they can join in too.  So back to the bugs, actually I figured I didn’t do too badly on that front because we came across so many while doing the gardening: M spotted a few and asked what they were called so I happily named them for her and that’s about as far as I’m willing to go on that one!

We stopped for a minute or two so D could climb a log and M could run around in a field, then M spotted some fungi growing on a tree and remembered (from our Wimbledon Nature Club days, 2 years ago!!) that it only grows on dead trees.

We then headed over to the playground and had fun on the zip wire (including me!), tyre swings and tree climbing.

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The sausages have been great friends lately, which is lovely as they’ve been getting on each other’s nerves for a long time!  When we got back home, they both got stuck into playing on Minecraft together (either sharing the iPad, or one on the iPad and the other on the laptop).  M has also been showing D how to play Super Mario Bros on her Nintendo and after a lot of tears, D finally made it to the end of level 1!  There was much rejoicing. 😀

This morning D wanted to make her current favourite thing to eat: brownie in a mug.  Sorry, no recipe link because it was copied from my sister’s ancient cookery book.  It’s amazing though because it only takes a minute to cook in the microwave.  D is getting very handy with a knife!

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There has been more Minecraft (so much so, that Equestria Girls has only been played once.  ONCE!!) and we also went out in the afternoon to our lovely social group, Curious Minds.

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And so endeth another week!

Art Class, Piano & the Tooth Fairy

I’ve had an interesting couple of days with the sausages.

D has restarted art class after a term’s break and absolutely loved it.  She obviously did miss me while there but I guess the fact that she’s with other children that she likes and doing art that she loves overrides that, which is just as it should be!  M was also pleased to be back but I get the feeling she gets more out of the actual art than the girls there, which is fine too.  In the car, I was noticing the difference when I asked them what they’d been doing – after school I would have had a vague “don’t know”, “I can’t remember” or “I’m not sure” – but this time M knew exactly what she’d been doing and could recount all the activities!  It may be because she wasn’t there for a whole day unlike in school but I think it’s also due to the fact that she is thoroughly enjoying herself and is engaged in what she’s doing.  I’m looking forward to seeing what they both produce this term!

In the car on the way home I began a conversation about prostitutes.  I thought it was high time since I’ve noted they’ve been alluded to in 3 films the girls have watched: Hook, Annie (the remake) and The Cat in the Hat.  M has been picking up on them in the films and asking me about them so I thought I would try and explain – I find the car is the easiest place to have long conversations and explanations!  She didn’t quite get the point of it all but I think I placed the thought well in her head and she will no doubt be mulling it over for the next year or so.

While in the car, M also decided on a ton of activities she wanted to do for the rest of the day, although there were so many I convinced her she could probably spend the next few days doing them.  They were: gardening, playing with the rabbits, playing Super Mario Bros, learning a new tune on the piano and helping me with my jobs!  I’m pleased she’s thinking about what she wants to do to fill her time as lately she’s seemed quite bored.

So that afternoon we all spent a few hours in the garden, preparing the girls’ plots for planting bulbs.  While gardening, I found some old poppy seed heads (tying in nicely to our seed conversation last week at the common).  M was delighted and spent a long time carefully pulling the heads apart and gathering the seeds together.  She was kind enough to share them with D and they both scattered them over their plots and watered them.

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That evening I also convinced M to sign up to an online Minecraft school.  She was a little unsure about it but I reassured her that she could quit if she didn’t like it and that we would start on the easy course so she agreed.  I think D might also be interested since the first session is about the space race.

Today we’ve been doing all sorts.  I had planned to go to Morden Hall Park but D point blank refused to go out!  So that put paid to that idea.  M was disappointed, as was I, but I could see that D needed a full day at home (perhaps recovery time from the art class?) and she agreed to going out tomorrow instead.  D watched a lot of My Little Pony but she also made a den in the bedroom, played Minecraft with M, and made a map of Canterlot (from MLP) after watching a video on Mystery Science.  This is another ‘school’ I have enrolled for, thinking that M might get something out of it (and it’s free!) but actually having watched some of the videos I think it is more suited to D’s way of learning.  I watched a couple of them with D and she immediately wanted to draw the map of Canterlot after watching the ‘Why is North at the top of the Map?’ mystery.  All roads lead back to My Little Pony!

When M’s cousin A visited the other week, A taught M how to play Frere Jacques on the piano.  M did have a term of piano lessons at school but her perfectionist side really struggled with it – she couldn’t bear hitting a wrong note.  However, her teacher was sorry to lose her and said she was really talented and that there weren’t many 6 year olds that could read music, play the tune and sing the song at the same time.  So the girl obviously has talent!  Anyway, after telling me yesterday that she wanted to learn a new tune, I said I would show her how to play Jingle Bells.  I was dreading that it would all end in tears but although she did have a bit of a flop when she made a mistake, she persevered incredibly well and could just about copy the tune after 30 minutes (we’re not reading the music, I figured we’ll go down that road at a later date if she’s interested).  So all in all it was a very positive moment!

Surprisingly, most of today was spent with the girls collaborating on a new Minecraft world and then playing together on Super Mario Bros, with M trying to teach D what to do.  There were a few upsets but at the moment I’m trying really hard to untangle these arguments with D.  They tend to be started by D because she forgets to tell M what she really feels and then gets cross when M doesn’t understand where she’s coming from!

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And finally, the major news is that D’s first tooth came out last night!  She is over the moon and was even more so to discover the Tooth Fairy really is real when she found 50p under her pillow this morning…

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Learning from My Little Pony…?

Yup.  I was a bit dubious about the girls’ new passion for My Little Pony: it looks cheap and trashy and is a little on the irritating side.

However.

The general premise of MLP is friendship, something both the girls could learn from (and couldn’t we all?).  The questions that have arisen from it have been wonderful to hear – in particular they’ve both been figuring out puns, emotions, emotional reactions, behaviours, jokes, personalities and so much more.  The MLP passion has led onto watching Equestria Girls (a similar, spin-off show) and playing a My Little Pony app on the iPad.  This game in particular is the first ‘slow’ game D has been motivated to play!  She’s been reading a little, figuring out how much money she needs to buy the next pony and generally showing an amazing, previously unseen, amount of perseverance. 😀

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In other news, over the weekend J took them to a friend’s house to play and on Sunday to a fun fair at Battersea Park; they’ve also been watching films, more MLP and helping me clean!

Today we’ve spent a day at home but most of it outdoors doing some gardening.  First of all they helped me prune our hedge at the front (a job I always save for them because they love it so much) and then they helped me weed their garden patches (which have been woefully neglected this year).  M is eager to plant some crocus bulbs in her patch but D seems to have lost interest so I might take it over instead.

While we worked, M was excited to see a little robin which came to watch us – it was just like in The Secret Garden. 🙂

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The Horniman Museum, Circus Skills and Being 6

On Thursday we went to the Horniman Museum.  I’ve never been before as it’s not exactly on our doorstep and it’s pretty small compared to most London museums.  But I had heard good things about it, particularly the current exhibition on there at the moment.

However.

The journey began with M crying because she was so cold (she seems to be feeling the cold quite a lot at the moment) and then we had horrendous traffic which meant that it took us an hour to get there.  Once we got inside, D got very cross whenever M and I stopped to look at something – she wanted to look at space things but there weren’t any.  M had a moderate interest in a stuffed wolf’s head and a skeleton of a baby but other than that it was pretty dull – we don’t really do ‘things in glass cases’ type museums.  D was too cross for me to contemplate paying for the exhibition so we went outside to play, climb trees and admire the views across to the City of London, which cheered them both up enormously.  On the way home, M said her favourite part of the museum was finding a secret den behind a bush – says it all really!! 😀

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Yesterday we went out again, to our social meet up, Curious Minds.  The girls LOVED the circus toys and were happily occupied for a long time.

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Towards the end, D was in tears because she couldn’t spin a hoop around her arm like M :(.  Recently, she’s been struggling with things that M can do and she can’t.  The other day I found her lying on the bed and sobbing because she couldn’t balance on top of the space hopper while kneeling (a bizarre and seemingly unimportant goal in life but I recognise it’s part of a bigger picture for her).  We chatted about M being two years older and therefore more able to do some things and we talked about things that she can do that M can’t (like doing a yoga crab pose) which cheered her up a bit.

I then had an idea of writing a letter to her 8 year old self, describing all the things she CAN do now she’s 6, and wondering what else she can do now she’s 8.  It was quite a long list in the end and D came up with a few ideas which really buoyed her up.  We’ve sealed the envelope and put it away – I just hope we remember where we put it in two years time!