Tag Archives: Learning

Perseverance

This is the fairy that M made for the top of our tree!

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She must have spent 30+ hours on it and there has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears.  She worked to a deadline too: she wanted to get it finished in time to put on top of our tree, which was being put up during Aunty S’ visit last weekend.

As the deadline loomed there were many moments when her face brightened as she remembered something exciting to do (she always has so many ideas and activities on the go) but she would then droop as she remembered she had to continue to work on her fairy.  By the final day she was weepy and had clearly had enough, but she still ploughed on until it was done.

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Bear in mind that this was a self-imposed deadline, and a self-imposed project, and that she’s 9!  I asked her ‘if you could go back in time and tell yourself how hard it was going to be, would you still do it?’ and the answer was ‘yes’.

D (7) has also impressed me with her perseverance lately.  Over the last few years she’s really struggled with anything competitive because she can’t bear to be wrong and she can’t bear to lose.  The other night she asked me for an addition sum.  She couldn’t quite get the answer right though.  In the past she would have cried and raged that she NEVER wanted to do STUPID sums again.  I could see her eyes welling up so I offered to help her work it out.  She refused saying she really wanted to do it herself.  And she did, and she beamed. 🙂

 

 

Growing Up

M’s will to learn is going from strength to strength – she is actively, positively, wanting to learn new things and to get a grasp on things she doesn’t understand.  It is so refreshing!

This week I bought a new STEAM book – sometimes it’s lovely to go through a book for ideas – I tend to feel overwhelmed when I look on the internet.  M saw me with it so we read through it together and she picked out 6 or 7 projects she’d like to try.  We were looking at an electrical project and M started asking questions about how electricity works – I seemingly wasn’t grasping exactly what she was asking and she was getting frustrated but we got there in the end: she managed to find her words and ask

“Why do things behave the way they do?”

Wow.  What a question!  I obviously didn’t have an answer on hand for that but we had a chat about scientists questioning everything and some of them even turning to religion for an answer.

She does seem so much older now she’s nearing 10 – she makes her own breakfast now: she toasts a waffle and sorts out her own drink.  She’s even been sleeping for 11/12 hours a night this week so I’m sure she must doing a lot of growing.

I’ve also noticed recently how amazing the girls’ vocabulary has become: we were doing some research on Terraria and noticed pictures of bunnies wearing party hats – the explanation read that they only wear party hats when there is a party on.  M asked “what qualifies as a party?”.  What the hell?!  Where did that word come from?! Meanwhile, D is wandering around on Minecraft saying “I’m looking for some flat terrain“.  It is all hilarious and super-impressive at the same time. 😀

This week the girls have been playing Terraria and Minecraft, trampolining, playing chase with J and playing with their cousin M, who has come to stay for a few days.

And finally, here is a picture of M dressed up as a dragon – J got out the long-forgotten dressing up outfits when I was out last weekend, 🙂

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Glorious Google

This week, D asked me why Gloria (a hippo in Madagascar 3) was wearing a scuba diving mask when surely she could breathe under water?  This lead on to Googling (D says “can you ‘Google Up’ something, Mum?” like this is some sort of new verb she’s invented) how long hippos can stay under water while holding their breath.  Which led on to how long people can hold their breath under water for… which led onto learning about techniques for doing this… Which led onto a carbon dioxide explanation (M pipes up with ‘trees use carbon dioxide!) and the meaning of ‘acidifying blood’.  Glorious Google.

Other recent conversations have been about iron (we’re trying to ensure M eats enough iron everyday): linking it to Minecraft (imagine if we could EAT iron ingots, Mum?!’; linking it to our cast-iron radiators which we’ve been disconnecting and flushing to get them working again; Googling the 5 stages of iron overdosing after M was concerned she might eat too much iron, and amazement that we EAT metal!

I love these rabbit holes and connections.

Another thing Google is useful for is for doing research on a previously jailed sexual offender that your daughter wants to watch on YouTube.  That was D, wanting to watch L for Lee play Minecraft.  I was in a cold sweat wondering what I should do so I stalled her for a while by getting her to watch new Stampy videos while I panicked thought about the best approach.  In the end, I figured he’s unlikely to be displaying dodgy behaviour in his videos but I would be upfront about it to D.  So I told D and M that L for Lee did something horrible to someone and went to jail for it.  D wanted to watch anyway, M didn’t.  Questions from D: ‘But he seems really nice in the videos?;  ‘Do you think he’s still friends with Stampy?’; ‘How can he be nice and horrible?’.  I felt deeply uncomfortable about the whole thing but I knew that if I didn’t let her watch him then she would find ways of doing it behind my back anyway.  In the end she watched 3 of his videos and then returned to watching Stampy – turns out he doesn’t make very good videos – thank goodness!!

And finally, a gorgeous Minecraft creation by D. 😀

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Friends, Films and Minecraft

We’ve had a lovely week, full of friends and activities.

The heat was incredible – we had friends over on Tuesday and we all had so much fun that they came over the following day too, bringing their paddling pool with them!  It was a two day marathon of trampolining, swimming, pretend play and ice cream with lots of chatting and G&Ts for me and my friend as we caught up on each other’s news.  At one point, J took the lot of them to the park, giving us time to soak up some rays uninterrupted for half an hour. 🙂

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On Thursday we had a meet up planned with other friends where the girls played on Terraria, Minecraft, bounced on their gorgeous trampoline and in their lovely pool.

I felt utterly zonked by Friday so we had a quiet day at home, watching YouTube videos and films.  We have really enjoyed the new Netflix film ‘The Little Prince’ and have watched it several times this week.  M adores it, D is not so keen – unsurprisingly since it deals with loss, an emotion (is it an emotion?  Or is the emotion ‘grief’?) that she finds hard to cope with.

However, after repeatedly watching Stampy and Squid play on a Hobbit adventure map, I suggested to her that she might like to watch a Hobbit film since The Battle of the Five Armies has just been released onto Netflix.  She was really keen and loved it even though we were all having difficulty following the plot having never seen a Hobbit film before.  I thought she might find it frightening given how horrible some of the fighting scenes are but no!

This week, D’s seemingly endless thirst for Minecraft YouTube videos has not only led her to feeling brave enough to watch a new film but she has also made me a Minecraft adventure map for me to play on (I was terrible as I really can’t do parkour!) and arranged for M and I to do Hunger Games on her world (I lost, what a surprise!).

M is also back on Minecraft after a week or so’s break.  She’s trying to get to grips with redstone and has so far managed to successfully copy a trampoline she saw Stampy make and use a daylight sensor to turn her lights on and off.  To me, it’s as confusingly overwhelming as electronics so I haven’t been a lot of help apart from finding how-to videos for her on YouTube.

Inbetween all the busyness this week, M has been determinedly working on a drawing for a Sylvanian Families competition.  She had to draw what she would do if she was in the Sylvanian Village on a summer’s day so she chose to be Freya, berry picking with her brother.  I am always astounded and so proud of how she pushes herself to get over hurdles: there were so many tears involved in the making of this but she carried on anyway!

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The girls’ aunt took them swimming this afternoon, on their return we all enjoyed the first episode of Season 2’s Wonder Quest.  This one was quite mathematical rather than scientific but the girls really enjoyed it and we’re looking forward to next week’s episode!

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…

 

Visitors, Changes … and Minecraft

We’ve had our final (!) visitor before we go off on our hols in a few weeks time – Aunty S!  The girls adore her – she really is an unschooling Aunty, joining them in all their games: trying out Minecraft, watching Stampy, chasing them around the garden, playing catch and generally taking an interest in all they do.  At one point, D was crying because it was bedtime and she didn’t want the day to end – that’s how good S is. 🙂

So, after our lovely weekend life has returned to normal, sort of.  I say ‘sort of’ because recently there seems to be a slight change in M with a few instances of ‘I don’t know why I’m crying’ which really resonated with me as it’s exactly what I remember saying during puberty.  I don’t want to jump to conclusions though so I’m just going to see how things pan out for now.

M also seems a tad unsatisfied and J and I wonder if she isn’t being stimulated enough at the moment.  J hit the nail on the head and said ‘it’s like she’s waiting for something’.  I think she needs to go out more and have some different experiences.  I had a quick chat with her at the coffee shop yesterday and she really brightened up at the idea.  Not sure how that’s going to sit with D as she already moans that we go out too much!  It’s impossible to find a balance as one of the girls is always going to be unhappy about going out/staying in so what I might do is give each girl a turn in controlling whether we stay in or go out on certain days.

So on with what we’ve been up to:

Our builder P has started work on re-insulating the loft and brought down an egg-sized wasp nest to show the girls, which was fascinating as we’ve never seen one before!

J took the girls swimming, which they adore and they get the benefits of a mid-week quiet pool.

M is back at work on her Sylvanian Family food – she has just a few more boxes to finish and has made some perfect miniature Fimo bananas, oranges and carrots.

The girls spent about 3 hours giggling and whispering together one day and then revealed they had been making me a holiday resort in Babbaville.  I felt really touched at the amount of thought and work they’d put into it.

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Work continues in Babbaville: M has opened a 6th floor in her department store to make room for a furniture section.  She has also made a new sheep pen with a section for each of the various coloured sheep so that she can collect wool for the store.

I got lost in Babbaville the other day but I managed to mine enough materials to make myself a compass and find my way home again (all without worrying the girls as they get a bit distressed about being lost).  Anyway, the place I got lost in was really lovely so we named it Babba Camp and M has made a path, minecart track and road signs to the camp and some chalets for us to stay in when we visit. 🙂

D has been glued to Stampy’s Lovely World this week – she’s now watched nearly all his videos from the last 4 years!  She really enjoys the story aspect of it and keeps asking ‘was that real or did Stampy edit that?’.  She got quite upset this week as Stampy’s friend L for Lee said he was leaving Stampy’s Lovely World to track down Hit the Target (Stampy’s antagonist).  She was really worried for L for Lee and missed him.  She really gets wrapped up in the story line!

We’ve also watched a few Amy Lee videos and D immediately wanted to change her skin to be like Amy Lee’s – she’s very creative when it comes to her skins.  She copied this one directly from the internet but right now is adapting it to give ‘Rosie Lee’ rainbow leggings. 😀

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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.

Yes, Minecraft

For those of you who are not particularly interested in Minecraft, these last few posts must seem really quite boring!  If you’re not into computers or gaming then I can certainly see that you wouldn’t get how incredibly amazing Minecraft really is.  Yes, it’s still featuring heavily in our lives right now.  The passion was just beginning to ease a little and then the latest Minecraft PE update came out and the level of excitement was through the roof! 😀

M has since been playing about with pistons (I have yet to learn how to work the engineering and redstone side of Minecraft so I watched on with awe) and we’ve all been taming horses using saddles that M had fished previously.

We did have a bit of a disaster in Babbaville though.  Since the update, a few of our worlds were causing the app to crash and Babbaville was one of them.  I looked into ways of backing the world up but it seems this isn’t possible without hacking the iPad which I’m not prepared to do.  M was absolutely gutted but cheered up a little when I remembered that we could use Babbaville’s seed to recreate the same world again.  We’ve since had loads more fun recreating Babbaville from memory onto a new world.  Phew.

We’ve all had a change of skin using our Skinseed app: D turned herself into iBallistic Squid, I am now Stampy and M is a blue bunny.  We figured out the patterns from looking at images online – we could have just bought the skins but that wouldn’t have been as much fun.  Here is D as Squid – she figured out the teeth and colours herself 🙂

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The measure of how much we’ve been playing Minecraft is when we have to question which world we’re talking about: i.e. are you hungry in the Minecraft world or the real one?

So onto real-world news, last weekend J and I went to our nephew’s wedding.  This was cause for much anxiety for D, and it’s been building up and up over the last few months.  We had planned to spend the night away at a hotel but I decided D’s anxiety was getting too high so we just went for the day.  Here is a rare photo of J and I together, taken by my Dad.  What a treat for your eyes. 😉

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My Mum and Dad came down to look after the girls while we were gone so they had a lovely day of play with my Mum and games of chess with my Dad.  D coped very well considering how worried she’d been.

The general mood here is one of cocooning: M has decided she’s not interested in going to Woodcraft Folk anymore and even Brownies fell by the wayside this week.  Next week, Brownies finishes for the summer so we have got a few months a head of us with no classes at all!  We’ve had a couple of play dates this week though – we grabbed a rare few hours of sunshine in Bushy Park with D’s best friend.  This girl has so much energy, the girls were utterly exhausted afterwards (in the best way)!  Bushy Park is stunning and we plan on exploring more of it.

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And here are the girls on another play date and having a last-minute bounce on our friends’ fantastic trampoline before returning to our pitiful one at home. 😉

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I made a couple of new discoveries in terms of resources: the first is thanks to my nephew who showed it to my Mum, who then showed it to us – Michael Rosen on YouTube!  I love that man.  The second is Wonderopolis: if you read this blog regularly you’ll know I struggle with science.  This is probably the first website I’ve come across where science is worded in such a way that I can actually understand it!  The girls and I wanted to know where wind comes from and now we know. 🙂