Tag Archives: Brownies

Old and New

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shopping, Sickness…. and Minecraft

I should really have taken notes on what we’ve been up to this week but I forgot so this post is not going to be very detailed!  We have come into a nice bit of cash this week (thank you, parents!) and I have been having fun spending it, tee hee.  Our house has always been lacking in soft furnishings due to money being spent elsewhere so I’ve never really felt comfortable enough to spend money on nice things.  The saver in me immediately wanted to put this money away for a rainy day but J insisted we spend some of it so we’ve had a trip to an ironmonger’s in Clapham and John Lewis in Kingston.  The girls don’t get to go shopping much since I tend to buy most things online and shops tend to send them a bit loopy (think hide and seek, which is a bit heart stopping for me when they disappear, and chase, which is never going to end well).  However they seemed to enjoy the ironmongers, and had fun picking out the door knobs they liked.  Yesterday I took M to John Lewis (D hasn’t been well this week and chose to stay at home with J instead) and we had a really lovely time together: M picked out a new pillow to replace her lumpy one and we chose a new sofa throw and cushions.  Afterwards we had coffee and cake in their cafe and marvelled at the river view and the timeline on the wall.

We did have a bit of an upset in the car on the way though – I made an offhand comment about how J had told me a month’s rainfall had fallen in one night, M didn’t understand what I meant and it didn’t matter which way I approached it, she just couldn’t get it.  She really wanted to understand though, which led to a lot of tears.  We’ve had quite a few of these scenarios recently and it always brings to mind an analogy I read somewhere of the difference between an Asperger’s mind and a neuro-typical one: ‘It’s like a mac trying to talk to a PC’.  So I changed tack and tried to talk to her about how her brain is wired differently to mine to which she replied ‘I don’t get it’ with a little smirk.  Ha ha.  We did so much chatting though, it really reminded me of how much she absorbs just through conversation.

So D has been unwell this week, it was building up on Tuesday and I had a very thoughtful and sorrowful D on the way home from dropping M off at Brownies.

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It resulted in her being sick in the night and missing a play date with her friend on Wednesday, poor D.  However, what with illness and the ridiculous amount of rain we’ve had this week there has been a lot of Minecraft play, along with Stampy and Squid videos.

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I’m feeling a bit heart-sore this morning as the news that we’re leaving the EU has been announced.  I dread to think what this means for the future of our girls in this country, but bringing it back to home education I feel reassured that we’re doing the right thing by them in providing them with a fun, loving, unique and rich learning environment that will enable them to thrive anywhere.

Home Time

We do seem to be spending a lot of time at home at the moment, but in fact all we’re missing from our usual routine is our Tuesday mornings out at M’s art class.

On the way to Brownies I probed the girls as to how they were finding home ed at the moment: is there anything they would like to change, are they happy, would they like to go out more/stay in more etc…?  M decided she would like to try the pottery class again – we finished it a year or two ago, mainly because D had had enough and M didn’t want to go without her.  I think she’s so used to doing activities without D that this is no longer an issue though.  She also commented that she doesn’t have a best friend but when I asked her if she’d like to meet more people she said she was happy with the friends she has. 🙂

D on the other hand has a best friend (also D) and they are like peas in a pod.  She also told me she is happy with the friends she has and added that she would rather never go out again.  Hmm.  That one isn’t really possible since M now loves new experiences and going out.  The difficulties of balancing two differing needs.

Currently, D is totally absorbed in all manner of Stampy YouTube videos.  Thanks to a lovely commenter on my Facebook page, we have discovered Stampy’s Quest to Kill the Ender Dragon – D has now watched all 24 videos and has continued with the other following quests.  She has also watched Stampy’s Wonder Quest channel which we found out about from a commenter on my previous post (thank you!).

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Today D has not moved from the position above and she is in seventh heaven.  J was flummoxed as to why she wouldn’t play with him in the garden (the weather was gorgeous today) but she was adamant that she wanted to continue soaking up Stampy videos.  She was utterly miserable yesterday after being dragged out to Woodcraft Folk so it was nice to see her feeling happy and comfortable in herself.

It was tough for her yesterday – she had to come with us to the class but she was pretty much upset the whole time until the class finished and she could play with her friends without being ‘bossed about’.  I brought her books to read and her iPad to play on but nothing really soothed her.

Meanwhile, M is LOVING her two classes (Brownies and Woodcraft Folk) – she really gets a lot out of them.  We’re still playing a lot of Minecraft on our iPads together and she’s also been creating a few things with some Washi Tape she bought this week, including this teeny tiny chair!

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Preparations are under way for family visitors in a few days, we’re very excited!

Indoor Fun

I don’t know if it’s because the wobbly teeth are finally out or because we finally struck gold with a class that D likes or what, but things are definitely on the up!

On Wednesday evening we went to a new (for us, apparently it’s 90-odd years old but I’ve never heard of it!) class called Woodcraft Folk.  The premise is letting children be children and being close to nature so they do a lot of camping and stuff but in the main they do a weekly class in a church hall near us where they play games, sing songs and generally run around having fun.

Initially D wanted to sit on my knee at the back of the room and just watch but after 10 minutes she actually asked to join in!!  D?  Joining in a competitive game with a load of strangers?!  Whaaat??  She had a minor upset midway through and we had a quiet few minutes in an adjacent room and then she felt ready to join the group again.  M really loved the class too.  We found it a little hard to understand all the new games (particularly as the noise level was so high) but she didn’t panic and gamely joined in too.

It was all good!

The sausages have been watching My Little Pony Season 5 for the first time over the last few days.  I have to say there is less passion about it than before but D did several spin-off activities: like arranging all her ponies on a shelf I cleared for her in the lounge; making each pony their own ‘element’ to wear; and getting me to make a big Tirek puppet so that she could put on a MLP ‘season 6’ show about the ponies beating him. 😀

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M has been busy doing various crafts like decoupage and making Minions out of the Kinder Egg plastic containers.  Today they both spent hours remaking M’s Frozen Lego castle upstairs, meaning I could have a sit down and do some cross stitch and watch some telly!!  They have also both made bracelets using some old beads of theirs.  D did one with the name of her alter-ego, Dordy.  Dordy is hilarious but a bit naughty.

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D also spent a long time arranging her bunnies and making more Lego thrones today.  There is a whole line of royal rabbits living in D-Land now.

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M has spent a fair amount of time on Minecraft, finishing off her ‘cruck’ peasant house for her Castles and Cannons course.  Together we learnt how to make a fireplace (that didn’t set the whole house alight) and added other peasant ‘essentials’ like a table, herbs, straw bed and woolen blanket.

M has also done work with me towards her Interior Designer Brownie badge – she desperately needs shelving in her bedroom so we looked at what we could fit where and how big each shelf would need to be.  It involved quite a bit of measuring and quite a few tears on M’s part.  She still gets very tearful and angry if she doesn’t understand something immediately but luckily it doesn’t last too long and she can be pulled out of it with a bit of humour on my part.

Strangely, the sausages haven’t wanted to go out the last couple of days, even though the weather has been beautiful.  We’ve been so busy indoors though, which is obviously what they both needed.

 

 

Creative, Autonomous Sausages

We’ve had a creative few days – Lego building, sewing, drawing, Minecraft and sewing: M noticed an embroidery hoop in her Stitch by Stitch book and wanted to try using one. So I dug one out and she helped her draw a template for a bird.  She chose the fabric from our scrap bag and taught herself how to do a blanket stitch from her book. Very impressed 🙂

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We tried out an activity at the National Gallery – Drawing Sunday.  This class was all about tone – we examined 3 paintings/drawings and looked at how colours change depending on light and various other things that I have now forgotten!  The class finished with all the children having a go at shading a template of the angel’s face from Da Vinci’s ‘The Virgin of the Rocks.  It was all very interesting for me, even though it was aimed at children :). D was bored to tears but luckily M really enjoyed it.  The classes run every fortnight so I think we’ll definitely try another one out soon.

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When we got back home, D got straight to work playing with her bunnies while M played on Sims Freeplay on the iPad (her new favourite app).  Then J took them to their Aunt Sh’s house and they came back a couple of hours later having made cars out of Lego.  The cars have been played with quite a bit since!  J transformed the lounge into a race track using pans, teddies and piles of DVDs for bridges; blankets and sweets for paths; and cushions for mountains.  It’s still there now although Lollipop Lane has been mysteriously shortened.

M’s Castles and Cannon’s Minecraft course started this week – there doesn’t seem to be anything set to do until next week but M had fun buying things from the ‘shop’ and exploring their server.  I’m really hoping she enjoys this course as she’s really excited about it!

It was back to art class this morning and this afternoon we’ve had to do some homework for Brownies (leaving it until the last minute!). M had to find a picture of a Brownie from another country and write a few details about the country too.  She hasn’t enjoyed it much and I feel resentful too – it brought back memories of ridiculous research homework she’d be given at school, which the parents inevitably ended up doing.  So yes, I have done most of the work and we’ve had a few tears from M about it too.  Humph.

It re-emphasises to me how important autonomy is to the sausages. 🙂

Play Dates and Pootling

Since I last wrote, we’ve continued along on our pootling-wintery-slow phase – we’re still fairly busy but we’re all asleep by 9.30 every night, even night-owl M.

Last weekend, Aunty Sh took the girls to Wimbledon Theatre to see Peter Pan for their birthday presents.  It’s a little early for D but it was nice that they got to see something together.  They didn’t make Judo because J had too much work to do (the downside of being self employed!).

D has been spending a fair amount of time on Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 on the iPad.  It isn’t a major thing in itself but for D it’s brave of her to try a new game on her own, especially a game with baddies in it!

On Sunday, J took the girls to the park to play football – amazingly he’s never just taken them out for a kick-about before as trips out tend to be to playgrounds or swimming pools.  The girls were really excited and loved it!  Last week he arrived home late and announced he was taking the girls to the park in the dark, which was quite an adventure too.  J can always be relied upon to be spontaneous. 😀

On Monday we had a play date at our house with our first unschooling friends  – the kids played Minecraft together then moved onto other games like Connect 4 and Snap Circuits before ending with an almighty long (and hilarious) tour of D’s imaginary land.  The rest of the day we spent pootling around the house.

On Tuesday we were back to our usual routine of art class in the morning and Brownies in the evening.  I had a lovely bit of quality time with D as she doesn’t want to go to art anymore.  M came out of Brownies, full of the joys – she absolutely loves that group!  She wants to do an optional Saturday class to get her Science badge and has decided that she’d like to work towards another Brownie badge in her own time too.

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On Wednesday we had more friends over to play – they played out in the freezing cold for ages on the trampoline and there was a lot of giggling and thumping about upstairs too.  It was so successful we have arranged to meet again in a few days and this time we’ll be having some Minecraft fun, while I try to encourage my friend to accept screens as an acceptable form of entertainment on a playdate. 😉

Tonight we’re supposed to be going to see Lumiere London at Kings Cross but we’ll have to see if we can overcome the freezing cold and winter lethargy first…

 

Strictly Times Tables

The love of numbers is still in the air!  D was working out what 4 x 9 is after seeing the judges’ score on Strictly Come Dancing.  She gets all cute and excited when she works something out in her head :D.  She’s still working out the number of tens and units in various numbers too.  She’s also (having been inspired by Strictly) trying to do various dance moves while saying the beat like a choreographer; and clapping to a beat and talking about the different speeds of a rhythm.  Who knew there was such a lot of maths in Strictly. 😉

M has also been thinking about Maths: in the car on the way to art class she asked me for some division questions, which then led onto me asking her sums with a negative answer (she quickly worked out she just needed to switch the numbers around in the sum!).  She then wanted to chant and be tested on her times tables.  And so the mental maths goes on.  I’m so pleased they see maths as something fun to do, not some awful chore that has to be waded through everyday.

The girls had their final art class before Christmas on Tuesday.  For D it was her final one because she doesn’t want to continue anymore.  She managed to finish her final canvas: another beauty which is going on the wall!  It’s a copy of Hundertwasser’s ‘Hommage a Van Gogh’.

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M had her final Brownies class before Christmas too.  This time it was a little different because the majority of girls were performing a concert at their school.  It meant that there were only 8 girls there (instead of 21).  When I came to collect her at the end, the Brown Owl said to me she’d been amazing at joining in and organising the other girls!  I think this is due to her feeling more confident in a smaller group but they were also doing something that she loves – putting on a play!  No script, costumes, audience or anything – just a lovely game.  Right up M’s street.

Yesterday I took the opportunity to get out into the gorgeous wintry sunshine and to get to the Common one last time before we leave for Nottingham.  We all marveled at the frost which looked like fairy glitter, and the low sun which was like a bright torch in your eyes!  I completely forgot to read this week’s Nature Curriculum but it was just nice to get out.  The girls spent the entire trip playing a make-believe game, which seemed to have a Minecraft theme.

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Today we have some guests arriving (Z and M!) so we’re all excited and looking forward to seeing them! 🙂

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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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!

Maths Apps and Grumps

So where was I… oh yes… rainbows and unicorns… well it’s been more like trolls and little devils this week.  I played the part of the troll.

I was suffering from PMS and with us all being together all the time it is so easy to see the effects of my bad mood on the sausages.  It was “lets get this competitive game out to see who loses” and “lets throw balls in the winner’s face” and “lets stomp off in a huff if I don’t get the colour I want”.  They didn’t actually say that but you get my point. 🙂  What I should have done is got us all outside for a walk or something but I was tired, cranky and in pain so I didn’t.

So Monday was not a good day.  In fact it was a right-off.  But I’ve been doing this long enough to understand that bad days are going to happen!

Tuesday started off much better, with us off to M’s art class first thing in the morning.  It was the last class of the term and M is really going to miss it.  Also, D has decided she would like to start art class again!  Hooray!

Lots of interesting conversations in the car – M wanted to know more about ‘e=mc2’ after seeing it mentioned on her SimCity app and this led on to questions about gravity, mass, Einstein and algebra.  I can’t say I knew the answers to all the questions but we talked about Googling it later and the whole discussion involved no anger at all from M which was lovely!

We spent the rest of the day sorting through crap toys that the girls no longer want as we seem to be running out of space again.  This resulted in joy at rediscovering long-lost toys like Fuzzy Felts and M’s magic tricks set.

D is set on learning maths on the computer again.  We tried going back to Khan Academy but it’s become too challenging and too dry to hold her interest.  I think she’s actually reached the point where she answered all the questions she knows already and now she’d have to sit down and slowly learn new concepts.  This is not the way D works and to be fair it isn’t very interesting either!  She prefers to use maths programs to cement ideas she already knows.

As M wanted to use the laptop to do Minecraft I tried to find an iPad app that would hold her interest and I did: It was ‘Maths, age 4-6’ by onebillion.  She quickly worked her way through the first level, learning about lines of symmetry and fractions but then we discovered that we had to pay £30 to unlock the other levels.  Rather steep and given our financial situation right now I don’t really want to spend the money on something she may well go off.  So my quest for an interesting maths app continues…

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M went to Brownies in the evening, again her last for the term.  They had an end of term ‘beach’ party and when I came to collect her all the other girls were coming out with handfuls of sweets but she didn’t have any – when I asked her where her sweets were she said she didn’t want any: proud unschooling moment!!