Tag Archives: Film

Dreaming of Colder Weather

This week has been all about coping with the extreme heat we have here in London.  We’ve been wistfully thinking about cool autumnal days and snuggling under blankets ;).

We even got our Christmas tree down from the loft this week (I can imagine your horrified faces).  We had good reason though: M is hand-felting a fairy for the top of the tree and we need to measure the top branch.  The fairy is coming on – she’s spending about an hour a day on it and has so far finished the head and is halfway through the torso.  As with most of M’s projects, she cries every time she does it but continues to plough on anyway…  She’s one determined girl!

We’ve been playing Minecraft together a lot: I have yet again made the huge wooden house from the Minecraft Construction book for D – this must be the 5th time I’ve made it now!  D keeps calling me in to her new house for ‘meetings’.  They’re very formal and don’t have a lot of point.  M has started a new world in survival mode (the much loved ‘Babbaville’ has got a bit boring now) and we’ve all been helping out in it.  I think she loves it mainly because she found a snow biome in it which reminds her of Christmas. 🙂

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We had our friends over for 2 days this week.  Apart from a bit of playing in the pool, there was much more indoor play this time due to the heat.  They had a great time playing Terraria together. 🙂

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We’ve watched Maleficent a few times this week and it’s now M’s favourite film.  D was unsure at first and watched with half an eye while listening to Stampy, but she watched it properly yesterday and seemed to enjoy it.  There were lots of questions from both regarding the motivations and feelings of the characters.  I love how they learn this way.

I’ve been wondering lately whether M is eating enough iron as she complains of being exhausted so often.  She did try eating more iron-rich food but we both kept forgetting.  Then a friend recommended a natural iron supplement so I suggested it to M and she said she’d rather change her diet.  So I’ve put a list on a kitchen cupboard of all the food she loves with the iron content alongside and she chooses what to eat to reach the 8mg she needs each day.  It’s working very well!

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Felting, Jigsaws and Mind Maps

We’ve had a lovely summer so far, lots of lovely sunny seaside days in Whitby and afterwards 10 days spent in Nottingham with my parents.  The girls were in heaven – lots of grandparent-time, cousin-time and of course, Minecraft. 😉

M has been busy with her new interest – hand-felting!  M and I were lucky enough to be able to go to an HE felting workshop while we were in Nottingham and we both love it.  It’s so easy and rewarding as it doesn’t take long to build up your competence and it’s peaceful too.  It involves stabbing at wool with a sharp needle so you do need to concentrate though ;).  D has had a go at it but after one too many stabs at her fingers she’s decided to have a break from it for now.  This is what M made after a few hours work:

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There have been a lot of ‘I’m bored’ comments from M over the last few weeks – sometimes it’s because she’s confused and she’s actually hungry (!) but mostly I think it’s a reflection of her needing more stimulus.  Both my Mum and I approached her to ask whether she felt she needed more stimulation, to which she replied ‘no’.  But after further probing it turned out she didn’t know what stimulation meant…  We were struggling to think of things she wanted to do so I came up with the idea of brainstorming all of her interests and I drew out a mind map for her which she loves:

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I don’t think she realised how many interests she has!  I’m hoping it will help clarify our thoughts when the ‘I’m bored’ comments come around again.

We also have the Boredom Jar which I have been working on recently.  I still have many more slips of paper to add but M loves using it.

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I don’t think I ever hear ‘I’m bored’ from D – whereas M dips her toes into many many things, D finds one and fully immerses herself in it for months.  As you may have guessed recently, her latest is Minecraft.  She plays it in creative mode (she’s scared of mobs on survival mode) and for her it’s an outlet for playing, telling stories, making costumes/skins  for her character (her latest was an outfit made to look like a slice of bacon) and creating structures, buildings, anything really.  She also watches a lot of YouTube – she still loves Stampy but as she has now watched every video he’s ever made (!) she has moved on to Sqaishey, Amy Lee 33, Stacey Plays and DanTDM.

It will be interesting to see how balancing the girls’ needs plays out over the coming months.  Saying that, home life has recently become easier: YouTube can be quite invasive (D doesn’t want to wear her headphones all day) and M struggled with it being on all the time, but now she seems to feel more comfortable being in other rooms – currently we have an ongoing game of Monopoly in the front room and she’s working on a drawing competition on the kitchen table.  I just have to make sure I divide up my presence around the house so neither girl feels ignored!  Doing more activities outside the house will be interesting – hopefully if I plan the right things and prepare D enough then she’ll be able to cope with it…

I booked the TV in yesterday so I could watch one of my all-time favourite films – The Prisoner of Zenda!  As usual I had to narrate pretty much the entire film so that the girls understood the plot; D was fretting about how bad the baddies would be and whether the goodies would win; and M was bordering on anger as she tried to understand every intricate plot detail. But bearing in mind neither of them had to watch it, they both watched the entire thing and enjoyed it so hurrah for that!

M and I have also been enjoying a jigsaw app called Magic Puzzles – I’ve just started on Renoir’s ‘Dance at Le Moulin de la Galettet’ and we had quite a long conversation about it last night: admiring details, colours and the scene itself.

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And I have also put up a Europe and UK map in the bedroom, which has sparked a few conversations on the British Empire, distances and past holidays.

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I love how the girls learn through these snippets of conversations 🙂

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…

 

History, Films and Maths

We’ve been watching a fair amount of telly over the last few days, interspersed with other activities.  I’m getting really into history documentaries at the moment – I prefer to watch them in the daytime, partly because the sausages sometimes take an interest and partly because I’m too tired to concentrate in the evenings.  This week I watched The World’s Most Beautiful Eggs: The Genius of Carl Faberge; Tutenkhamun: The Truth Uncovered; and Stonehenge: A Timewatch Guide. The girls tend to be busy when I watch telly which is nice as it means they can dip in and out of my programme, depending on how interesting they find it.

The girls, D in particular, have been watching all three of the Narnia films over and over and also Hotel Transylvania 1 and 2 – the questions that arise from films get more and more complicated!  M is starting to get a grasp on story telling and asks questions about certain scenes or characters and how they link into the plot.  I’ve said before that their telly watching isn’t ‘zoned-out-gorming-at-a-box’ type viewing: they’re really engaged and learning so much from it.  I sometimes use their film time to do some cleaning but recently I’ve been using the time to get some cross-stitching done so I’ve been around to answer tons of questions. 🙂

D was sick in the night this week – she appeared to be fine but a little tired the next day.  She spent a good couple of hours in recovery on Wednesday, watching Storybots Dinosaur Songs on YouTube.

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On Thursday we went to Wimbledon Common – it was absolutely freezing but D of course was boiling hot and took her coat of almost straight away :).  It was so quiet and peaceful there, particularly by the lake – it’s the first time we’ve been that way since D fell in and she was ok about it.  The entire walk took on a Minecraft theme with D marching ahead to collect diamonds and kill off mobs.

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We spent Friday morning at a friend’s house – after a bit of playing together and trying out their indoor swing chair and hammock, the girls got to work on designing t-shirts.  They had such a lovely time!

In the evening, in the middle of our bedtime stories, D’s new calculator arrived from Amazon – she was so excited and asked for sums immediately, M then wanted to join in too so I asked M the sum while D checked her answers on the calculator.  Hooray for maths in bed at 9pm. 😀

Bushy Park and a Car Breakdown

Ok, so we didn’t make it to Lumiere London – we were far too cosy and warm to face going out.  As it turns out it sounded too busy for us and was even turned off outside Kings Cross at one point to disperse the crowds.  I don’t do crowds, particularly with small children!

On Friday, we braved the freezing cold to meet D’s best friend at Bushy Park.  I’ve only been there once and that was years ago (for M’s back to school picnic!) and I had completely forgotten how near to us it actually is.  It’s only 20 minutes away, or at least it would be if it was easier to find.  No road signs and my sat nav didn’t know where it was either which meant we were late, and our friends were REALLY late for the same reason!  M was so cold by the time they arrived that we only stayed for a few minutes before heading home again.  Ah well, we will probably try again another time, especially now we know where it is!

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We’ve been revisiting a lot of old favourite films recently – Disney’s Robin Hood; Johnny English; 101 Dalmatians; and Jake & the Neverland Pirates.  We also watched Jurassic Park for the first time (didn’t go down well) and Hugo (me and M loved it!). We watched Castles: Britain’s Fortified History too, or at least I watched it: the girls weren’t really that interested until someone dropped their trousers and farted at the Normans during the Siege of Exeter – their ears pricked up at that point.

We’ve also spent a fair amount of time clearing out old toys to go to charity or in the bin; playing a few apps (Plants vs Zombies is a current favourite of M’s, and D has almost finished her One Billion maths app); playing Junior Scrabble; poker; learning card tricks; going to ‘D land’ (imaginary play is like medicine for D); playing the piano; and french knitting.

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J took the girls swimming at Guildford Spectrum yesterday but unfortunately he punctured a tyre on the way home and they had to wait hours to be rescued by the AA.  All three of them were absolutely exhausted by the time they got home and the girls have been quite out of sorts today too.  I can’t work out if it’s linked or if something else is going on.  We managed art class this morning but both sausages have been on edge all day – swinging between tiredness, boredom and tears. 😦

I definitely have a case of the January blues which I think is rubbing off on the girls – I’m certainly through the lurgy we had last week so I’m not as exhausted as I was but I’m feeling rather flat and lethargic.  I can’t wait for my old buzz to come back!

Emotions

Today, D has been drawing her ‘motions’ (emotions) after being inspired by Inside Out.  First of all she drew Joy, Sadness and Anger (but no Disgust or Fear as she didn’t like them!) but then scrapped that and drew a new picture with just Joy because she “just feels so happy at the moment”.  That was lovely to hear given how highly strung she’s been recently.  I didn’t take a picture of it but she also drew her three favourite ‘islands’: Family; Christmas; and Goofball.  All in all it was very cute!  When D had finished drawing, we watched Inside Out again and M remarked how strange it is that they only show 5 emotions.  After a quick Google, I found an article which describes these 5 as the primary emotions (a bit like the primary colours), which I then read to the girls.  They seemed to understand but no doubt they’re taking a bit of time to process it as it was fairly complex!

I noticed today how there is such a difference in M’s attitude towards absorbing information: there is no sign of the panic/fear/anger/sadness that used to appear at a moment’s notice.  Now she just listens and asks questions if she needs to.  Today, she finished learning Silent Night on the piano – I was amazed that all mistakes were met with giggles instead of rage!  She did have a few moments of frustration (she is after all, human) but she kept herself in-check.  Why?  Because the bunnies were sleeping next to the piano and she didn’t want to disturb them, ha ha.  Every home should have a bunny. 🙂

J took the girls out last night to see all the London Christmas lights, along with his Mum and nephew.  They had a look at some shop displays, went up the Shard and finished off with some pancakes.  I was in two minds whether to go with them or not but in the end I decided I was in great need of some alone time!

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Documentaries

We’ve got documentaries coming out of our ears at the moment – the girls are actually asking for them to be put on!  This hasn’t happened before, ever.  As I’ve mentioned before, D loves the ‘Colour: The Spectrum of Science‘ programme and now M loves a new one I put on the other night on Netflix – ‘Secrets of Henry VIII’s Palace: Hampton Court’.  She seems fascinated by the goings on of Henry VIII.  We also watched ‘Secrets of the Tower of London‘ and two episodes of the ‘Britain’s Outlaws‘ series.  There have been so many questions, from M in particular, and no anger issues at all!  We tried ‘Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity‘ too but that was a no-go: it didn’t pull any of us in unfortunately.

The girls have been busy making a boat from a cardboard box – they’ve really worked hard together.  They made oars to go with it, made a shelf for a little treasure chest and designed a flower motif on the base of the boat.  They then drew the same flower design with Sharpies on some plain white t-shirts.  Altogether a gorgeous little team project!

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No Curious Minds today: D didn’t want to go.  It was quite hard for me to accept as I could see it was a beautiful wintry day out there; but we have an arrangement whereby we all get a turn to have ‘the final say’ as to whether we go out or not.  So we stayed in and M finished off her Sequin Art, we watched Disney’s Christmas Carol (which was surprisingly true to the book); D did a bit of maths with Numberjacks and also made a card for her friend and both girls played on their boat.

We’ve had a busy happy few days really.  D is much more relaxed now that I’m with her in the evenings; and J has promised her that she doesn’t have to join in at Judo, she can just watch M if she wants to.  Giving her more control and comfort may well have done the job – I hope…