Category Archives: July

Butser Farm and Minecraft

It’s been an odd week, it always is when we have no classes to anchor us.  Days drift and merge but time flies by so that every day I’m surprised when bedtime comes around. 🙂

This week has of course featured Stampy, a lot.  And Babbaville – the latest developments are that M put the finishing touches to her boat, adding signs so the Captain, First Mate and crew know where to sleep; she reorganised her department store so that items are categorised better; and we turned the difficulty level up to ‘high’ because M wanted to overcome her fear of mobs (it worked and we got some nice enchanted armour out of it).

A couple of really noticeable skills from all this Minecraft playing: we’re now really good at working as a team – helping each other, dividing up jobs, and playing to each other’s strengths; and maths – the other day M was working out whether it is better value to smelt with 9 pieces of coal or a block of coal (which is made with 9 pieces) – turns out the answer is a block.

Also, the learning threads that come from Minecraft – M wanting to know what the correct terms for the second in command on a ship, the crew and where they sleep; and D wanting to make her own iBallisticSquid soft toy, which led to a trip to Tooting Market to buy fabric (always an experience with all the produce and smells).  D helped me to draw a cube net for the toy pattern and then I spent almost a whole day (!) making Squid.  It is very much loved which is a relief as there were heart-achingly silent tears when she realised the Squid toys that iBallisticSquid was promoting (on a two year old video) were no longer available. Phew.

Minecraft’s creative side is obviously huge:  M made a replica of a road this week and D spotted a natural island that was the shape of a dolphin – we just added fins and covered it in blue wool.

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Onto real-world news – J has taken the girls to the park quite a few times, and also to the hospital to visit his brother (who is now recovering from a quadruple heart by-pass!).

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We have been on a trip to Butser Farm for a workshop organised by another HE mum.  We had booked it last year but M was too ill to go but we made it this time!  When we got there I was wondering ‘what was I thinking?!’ because there was FAR too much talking from the leader which didn’t engage either of my two (blank stare from M who couldn’t take in a word of it and D on the verge of tears from the boringness-missing-stampyness of it all).  BUT it all came together later on.  The girls did cordage, spinning, pottery (using real just dug up clay), copper jewellery making and clunching.

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It was an amazing trip but the following day D needed some serious Stampy watching to recover.  We had a birthday party to go to that day though but luckily our friend was thoroughly understanding of D’s need to escape into Stampy’s Lovely World – D was full of excitement about the party but in the end just couldn’t seem to cope with it.  She did enjoy swimming in their pool at the end though.

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M has been doing lots of paper craft – making tiny Washi Tape bags for her Sylvanians; doing her first paper cutting with my knife for J’s birthday card, and quilling.  I showed her how to use Instagram and Pinterest on her iPad and they’ve really inspired her.

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We also watched Star Wars for the first time to see what all the fuss was about (neither of us was that enthralled to be honest) and M asked to watch Doctor Who so we’ve started on the Christopher Eccleston series, which she really likes.  Unfortunately it’s far too frightening for D and even with headphones on she still ends up seeing images that upset her.  She won’t leave the room but I have to watch with M to explain what’s happening throughout so I think I will have to turn the sofa around next time we watch. :/

This marks the first time that M has requested to watch a film/programme she’s heard about, rather than the suggestion coming from me.  She’s noticing much more around her than she ever did before – I once commented that she wouldn’t ever be influenced by peers as she was so much in her own bubble, but this is no longer true: she picks up on every over-heard conversation and questions it, she asks about images she sees on the news, culture, behaviours and jokes.  She picks apart and examines everything!

And finally, we ended the week with a trip to the Common to meet friends we haven’t seen in AGES!  We had a lovely time and no-one fell in the lake which is always a bonus.

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Beaches, Floods and Minecraft

First up, lets start with what’s going on in Babbaville: as a team, we’ve been building a ship that M liked the look of in her Minecraft Construction book.  Wow, it was difficult!  It’s all built pretty much to the book’s vague specifications with a few added touches of M’s, like the crow’s nest and a captain’s cabin.

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D continues to put a lot of thought into her appearance on Minecraft: carefully crafting her ‘look’ in Skinseed (she’s currently a fox called Foxy) and then wearing whichever armour she thinks suits her character best.  She has built a tall ‘admiring station’ so M and I can gaze up at her and admire her outfit.  She is hilarious: particularly because M will be grafting on the ship, I’ll be sweating away in a mine and she’ll be swanning around saying ‘does anyone want to come and admire me?’.  Her last request was to be covered in gold armour but she didn’t have enough gold ore so M and I bravely volunteered to turn up the difficulty level and fight a few armoured zombies to get it for her.  We’ve since turned it back to peaceful mode as neither of us can take the stress of mobs at the moment. 😀

D (and to some extent, M too) is still in the throes of watching lots of Minecraft YouTube videos. They have both started watching one of Stampy’s friends – Amy Lee, but Stampy is still ultimate favourite.  Just this morning, D has become up to date with Stampy’s Lovely World video releases, which means she has watched 424 (!!!!!) of his videos.  We’ve also started watching his Minecraft Story Mode videos and more Stampy and Squid Quests.  He has become such a big part of our lives that even the Sausages’ accents have changed – both slip in the word ‘like’ far more often than they used to (much to J’s consternation) and their voices go up at the end of a sentence as if they’re constantly asking a question…?  I guess they really are immersed in it.  D gets SO immersed she has to be reminded that Stampy has made up the story to entertain us.

This is D: slightly frightened but utterly captivated by Hit the Target’s latest attack on Stampy’s Lovely World – she is literally on the edge of her seat. 🙂

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In other news, we have watched two new films this week: the Chipmunk’s latest – Road Chip, and Kung Fu Panda 3.  Both of which I waited to come out on Amazon Video because watching new films at the cinema doesn’t really work for us at the moment.  We’ve all really enjoyed watching both.  D asked to make a ‘Chippette’ puppet which involved colouring in a picture of Jeanette, cutting it out and putting on a show for us.  She then continued in the creative mode and made a book about some bunnies:

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Reading and writing is coming along in baby steps after it’s decline in the last year.  She learns very much as the unschoolers say: when she needs  to do it then she will.  She can now recognise certain words in Minecraft and type simple messages like ‘I love you’ on the chat function.  It is totally non-linear though as she revealed the other day she has forgotten the alphabet!  Had I not done a lot of reading around how children learn, her learning style would be utterly befuddling to me. 🙂

We had a spontaneous visit to Brighton on Sunday – we haven’t been there for 2 years and the girls had forgotten the park we always visit – M seemed a little too old for it now.  They both loved the trip though, and we all marvelled at how lovely it would be to live there (apart from M, who said she would miss our house too much!).  We also marvelled at the new structure that’s been built since we last visited – the i360!  We can’t wait to try it out when it opens.

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We had a great time, skimming stones, collecting the prettiest ones, piling them on Daddy, checking maps to see where we were in the world and generally enjoying a rare family outing.

All this changed when friends and family contacted us, warning of the flood that was going on back at home.  Yes, a FLOOD!  A burst water main meant water was 2″ below our door step.  This is what we returned home to:

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We were so lucky that the water level subsided before it got into our house – our poor neighbours weren’t so fortunate.  However, we were left with no Virgin Media services for a day – which meant no wifi, TV or music.  Holy cow that was hard.  Babbaville and Stampy were very much missed but we got by, just.  There was a great cheer from the girls when wifi came back on. 🙂

Lastly, we paid a visit to the girls Uncle G who is in hospital at the moment awaiting surgery for a heart bypass.  I don’t want to turn every experience into ‘an education’, particularly when someone we love is in hospital, but G was upbeat and the girls were reassured by the ‘normality’ of it all and got to hear the doctor telling G all about the surgery.  D was disappointed not to be able to actually see blood vessels being cut and moved about but our alternative education can only go so far…