Tag Archives: Music

Grandma and Grandad

My parents came to stay for 4 days and we’ve been doing all sorts with them:

On Friday I had booked in an event at The Bank of England Museum.  It was billed as being for 5-7 year olds which suits both my two (as regular readers of this blog will know, M finds it hard to follow lots of information being given to her in a long stream so shorter, more simplified workshops suit her well).  Unfortunately the lady running the workshop was seemingly blind to the sea of 5-7 year olds in front of her and proceeded to give a 45 minute presentation aimed at 9-12 year olds (I know this because it was on the title page of her PowerPoint presentation!).  As such, we left after 20 minutes feeling frustrated and disappointed.

The museum itself entertained M for a bit but the interactive exhibits seemed to be too old for her (and me!) to understand.  M gave it a score of 5/10.

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D would much rather have not gone at all but gave the museum 10/10 because she got to play on her iPad. 😀

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The day felt a bit Mary Poppinsy so after the bank we walked up to St Paul’s Cathedral: Grandma and M sang Feed the Birds while D and I kept our distance.

On Saturday we had a trip to our local Costa’s, a trip into Wimbledon to pick up a clothes order for D (she looks so old/smart now!) and playing at home for the rest of the day.

Grandma showed M how to make drop scones; Grandad tried to encourage D to play her guitar (better luck next time, Grandad), we had funny face competitions, musical statues and card games.

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D has asked me to make another soft toy – this time it’s a pink Minecraft chicken.  Yes.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time on it already: the pattern has been done, the pieces cut out and some of the bits sewn together.  I can feel old rusty cogs grinding into action as I re-learn my pattern cutting skills.  This is D stuffing the chicken feet:

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M also worked hard with Grandma – pruning our ‘Sleeping Beauty’ hedge, much to our neighbour’s delight. 😀

I’ve recently taken up Face Yoga in an effort to release tension from my face (it’s working!). Both the girls have been having fun joining in, and it even led to M asking what a 45 degree angle is.

Grandma had recently learnt that Emily Davison stayed near us on the night before she died under the King’s horse at Epsom, so we had a chat about suffragettes with M (more links to Mary Poppins).  M has also recently asked about yellow box junctions, which led to a very long and detailed explanation and a diagram!

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We had a listen to a Radio 4 programme that Grandma had recommended – Word of Mouth on Radio 4.  I found an episode on Roald Dahl that kept the girls’ interest for a few minutes, particularly the story of what Roald Dahl said to Michael Rosen’s son when they met.

And then it was time for the Grandparents to leave!  Wowsers we packed a lot in.  They will be very much missed. 🙂

Nottingham, Space Centre and Christmas

We’re back from a trip to my parents’ in Nottingham.  We actually got back on Saturday but we’ve been busy putting the the Xmas decorations up – oh yes!  My excuse is that we’re only here for another 5 weeks before we leave for Nottingham again but really we just love our Christmas decorations. 😀

While in Nottingham we had a wonderful halloween party at my sister’s house: there were lots of family and cousins there.  D didn’t cope too well with the enormity of it all and the scary costumes unfortunately – it was the first halloween party she’s been to but she said it was the worst!

Apart from other play-dates throughout the week, Grandma treated us to a trip to Waterstone’s book shop – one of our favourite shops in the world!  She bought both girls a book: M chose Heidi and D chose Poo Bum.  V reflective of their personalities, ha ha.

We also had a trip to the Leicester Space Centre, which was rather disappointing: it was all a little tired, the interactive displays were past it (some broken too), and the layout was terrible.  The best bit was the planetarium which showed a rather good animation all about how we’re all made of stars.  It was a shame as the centre has the potential to be amazing but I guess it’s suffering from lack of funding.

Sausages on the moon:

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D has decided she no longer wants to be a space scientist or a cleaner – now she wants to be a singer!  She wants a guitar for Xmas and she had a good time practicing on Granddad’s while we visited.

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M has been honing her icing skills:

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Back to London again and the girls have been busy crafting, playing with Lego and cross-stitching.  Here is D’s ‘man and dog’

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Surprisingly, there has been very little screen time going on since we got back – no Minecraft or My Little Pony..?

Yesterday I spent most of the day finishing off a website for J’s new business.  The girls mostly entertained themselves but were also very bored.  J made up a game that revolved around times-tables – it involved M running to quickly find an answer to a sum from our times-tables poster and D checking it in her times-tables sticker book!  I’m not sure how much went in but they loved it.

Today is our usual Tuesday routine – art class in the morning and Brownies this evening.  The art teacher was disappointed to hear that D doesn’t want to continue the class after this term.  D admitted to me yesterday that she only rejoined the class this term because she wanted to chat to her friends!  However, I suspect that the reason she doesn’t to continue the class is because it’s so prescriptive (in the nicest possible way!): D very much marches to her own beat so the teacher is going to see if she can adapt anything to encourage her to stay… here’s hoping.

Here’s a picture of the sausages with their new hats and scarves. 🙂

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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. 🙂

Playing, Music and Films

The past few days have been very slow paced, mainly because our car has been in the garage.  It was supposed to be back with us on Monday evening but the garage let us down so we had to miss M’s art class on Tuesday morning.  Whenever my plans for the day go awry I can never seem to settle to anything else so we sort of pootled about all day.   Well, I did. However, the girls were very busy playing a game of pirates on the climbing frame:

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It went on for quite some time and at the end they turned it into a show which I was invited to watch – I love to see M acting as it isn’t something that comes naturally to her.  D on the other hand is a born actress. 🙂

They also had a long game with their long-forgotten Disney Fairy dolls.  It’s rare for the sausages to get on well these days so Tuesday was wonderful.  The other remarkable thing about Tuesday was that ‘I’m bored’ was not uttered once!  Amazing.

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Jeff is planning to have a party for a few work colleagues on Sunday so we set up a Spotify account to get some new party music – I’ve been playing music non-stop since!  I was getting quite bored of my collection so it was lovely to have new stuff to play.  It’s led us down all sorts of avenues too – M wanted to listen to music she loved from the films she watched, like this one from Regina Specktor, which is played at the end of Prince Caspian.  We also listened to the new Annie film’s soundtrack which led to us watching the movie, which led to me giving M a long explanation of how Twitter works (it’s is used to rescue Annie from her kidnappers) and what a foster child is.

Aunty Sh took the girls to the park and then we had Brownies that evening and M had to prepare for her Promise.  She had to have done a good deed that day so she helped me hang up the washing and make pancakes.  She does good deeds daily (she’s a born Brownie!) but we wanted to mark something in particular to tell the Brown Owl.  Naturally, she was feeling nervous about it as she wasn’t sure what to expect but she learnt the Promise by heart and got through it.  Sorry for the blurred photo.

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She also received her first badge – the cook badge – which she’s very proud of!

Wednesday was more of the same, I had planned to take the girls out on their bikes to the local park but D was having none of it.  She said that her life wasn’t fair because M always got to decide whether we go out or not (this is true – M gets the final say because if it was up to D we’d never go out).  I tried to find a compromise but I guess in that situation someone is always going to be disappointed.  This time it was M as D was in such a bad mood there was no persuading her.

So we stayed in and we watched Beetlejuice, after a recommendation from another blogger!  It turns out D might have been feeling a little unwell as she vomited halfway through the film and continued to be sick throughout the night.  She’s better again this morning though thank goodness.

We also had a look at the latest videos from The Kid Should See This: M loved this origami one and this time lapsed video of a New York skyline drawing led to us watching this music video by my very talented and lovely cousin, Zoe Johnston.

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I feel like my head is so full and busy lately.  Usually I use this blog to clear my mind but I haven’t been able to untangle all the thoughts going through my head to do so.

The majority of my thoughts are regarding M’s suspected ASD.  We were rejected from the multi-disciplinary team because they don’t deal with ASD anymore.  Our GP then referred us to CAMHS instead who rejected us for the most LUDICROUS reasons:

  1. They don’t do assessments just because a parent asks for them (wtf? Why shouldn’t a parent have the authority to request an assessment?!)
  2. The list of symptoms I had provided weren’t enough proof of ASD (duh – I had seen all the symptoms in Tony Attwood’s book!)
  3. They needed further evidence from school (Again, duh.  Firstly, if they had actually read my evidence then they would have known that we home educate.  Secondly, M hid all her ASD symptoms from school so further evidence would have been impossible to obtain!)

Can you tell I’m slightly narked by this?  I am still wondering about sending a scathing letter in reply but I haven’t got the mental energy right now.  Besides, if CAMHS are this stupid and ignorant, what’s the likelihood of being taken seriously at an assessment?

So the upshot of all this is that we’ve decided to approach an NHS Consultant Paediatrician who also does private work.  She comes with lots of good recommendations so I’m full of hope.

Meanwhile, I am trying to marry up ASD strategies with our unschooling perspective.  Thanks to some wonderfully supportive and informative people on an unschooling Facebook group, I’ve found Son-Light.  It’s a totally unique approach to Autism which, although it’s been around for a few decades, is still pretty radical.  I like radical.  I’m halfway through the book and so far nearly all of it is sitting very well with me.

I’m on a very steep learning curve and I’m trying not to feel overwhelmed by it all!

In other news…

We’ve been enjoying the spring weather…

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M is still very into Animal Crossing: yesterday she was petitioning residents!  D hasn’t been on the computer very much, but she’s done a little Minecraft, Numberjacks Mission to Learn and Teach Your Monster to Read.

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D is still very much enjoying dressing up as a princess.  She made herself an orb like Elsa’s from Frozen the other day!

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D has really impressed me with how much she has concentrated on tasks lately: she copied some complicated Hama bead designs; designed some clothes for her paper doll; played for well over an hour with Anna from Frozen’s ice hand; and made lots and lots of ‘sewn’ constellation cards.

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However, she did struggle at our latest outing: we were lucky enough to get last minute tickets to go to the Royal Albert Hall with a group of other HEers to see Classical Spectacular.  It really was spectacular!  M adored it – she loved the music, the lights, the fireworks and the loud cannons that boomed at the end.  This photo doesn’t really do it justice.

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M has been spending a lot of time perfecting some Frozen figures that she wants to make into puppets.  I am quite in awe of her drawing of Elsa.  She’s 8!  8!

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We have continued to enjoy our new local HE group:

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And finally, I’ll end with D’s Van Gogh masterpiece!  Isn’t it incredible?!  She’s 5!  5!

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Music, Cleaning and J

It’s been an odd week, due to Dusty dying, but one of the good things about having kids (or sometimes difficult, depending on which way you look at it) is that you are forced to carry on regardless of what mood you’re in.

So life has been continuing pretty much as normal with the odd bit of sadness surfacing here and there.  Last night, I was too sad to read D’s bedtime story so M kindly took over and read it to her instead, while holding my hand.  They have been very sweet towards me in the past few days.  M hasn’t expressed a lot of emotion over Dusty’s death but she did say last night that she is sadder about me being sad than Dusty dying!

So, in ‘normal’ life, here’s what we’ve been up to:

Their Aunt Sh has taken them to our local children’s theatre to see Peter Pan.

D has learnt how to draw 3D shapes, which she is delighted about!

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The music phase continues, with the girls getting into Beethoven’s 5th Symphony following our viewing of CBBC’s Ten Pieces DVD (they seemed pretty uninterested at the time but have remembered some aspects of it); D did another concert at the piano for us on Friday night; M has been learning the words to Frozen’s Let it Go and playing it over and over; we’ve had a few kitchen and bedroom discos; and the girls have rediscovered our bag of instruments in the toy cupboard.

They’ve both been more involved in the cleaning this week: previously I haven’t been too keen on them doing it because of the amount of chemicals involved, but recently I’ve gone all frugal/eco and use water and E-cloths to clean most of the house.  The girls love my homemade lavender/water spray which I use on the floors and could be heard having an argument over who would be spraying and who would be mopping!  Today I asked who would like to help me clean the car this week and they both shouted ‘ME!’.  What is that about.

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D still watches lots of Dora The Explorer and her love of Spanish continues.

M has been spending every spare moment playing Animal Crossing New Leaf on her new Nintendo DS2.  If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that we don’t limit screen time in this house: so D can spend as much time as she likes soaking up Spanish with Dora, and M can spend as much time as she wants on her new game.  J struggles with this a bit because he doesn’t like computers very much.  However, he does let her get on with it, while sometimes muttering about ‘bloody computers’ under his breath…

While I’m on the subject of J (who is largely forgotten about on this blog!), here’s a list of all the activities he’s done with the girls JUST THIS WEEK, just to big him up a bit: He’s made a few dens (which tends to involve turning all the lounge furniture upside down); he had a ‘sleep-over’ with the girls in the lounge on Saturday night; he took them to our local soft play for 3 hours; he taught D to ride her bike without stabilizers last week (sorry, I forgot to mention it!) and has been getting her to practice at it; he can’t enter a room without getting them to leap off the sofa and into his arms (where there is J there is shrieking); he has played countless games of hide and seek; taken them to the park; to their Judo class and had a film night.  Phew.

I was recently asked how I get ‘me’ time while home educating – if it wasn’t for J I would get very little!

Lastly, here are some pictures that the girls made with oil pastels to say ‘thank you’ to their Nanny and Granddad for their Christmas presents (better late than never!).

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Striking Gold

Huzzah!  Not real gold of course, or I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this – I’d be on holiday in the Bahamas or something – no, I’ve struck gold of the home educating kind: this week I sat down with M and showed her the Hour of Code on Khan Academy and it was a hit!

Last night I told her it was time for bed and no, she couldn’t carry on coding: her eyes filled with tears!  Of course, I relented and let her carry on until I could hardly keep my eyes open and she was forced to turn the light off.  I had to practically wrench the laptop out of her hands to write this post.

She definitely has a knack for it and grasped the basics straight away: she’s learnt what pixels are, what the x and y parameters mean, how to draw a line, a rectangle, a circle, how to fill in a shape with colour, how to change the colour of a line and how to construct a function.  Pretty impressive for one day!

For her final project on the Hour of Code she had to make an animal out of all the shapes and functions she’d learnt.  She chose to copy her toy, Pink Teddy.  The picture’s a bit small but you can see how many functions she had to write (and figure out) to make a seemingly simple picture:

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M’s behaviour has really really improved over the last few weeks, so I’m thinking that she must have been under quite a lot of (self-imposed) stress in the run-up to Christmas.  Lately she’s been sunny, charming, helpful, kind, funny and calm – back to her old self!  Any rising difficulties have been nipped in the bud by me – I can now recognise when her blood sugar is running low and I’m trying to educate her to recognise it too so that she can stop herself spiraling into unnecessary doom and gloom.  It’s not easy to do when you’re unschooling food.  Neither sausage eats three meals a day  – they tend to graze throughout the day instead – and without those 3 meals to mark the day it’s very easy for me to lose track of when they last ate.  Their diets are very slooooowly becoming more balanced, which I’m pleased about.  In this picture they both decided (at 9.30pm) that they wanted chicken, yorkshire puddings and gravy… luckily I had some to hand 🙂

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This week we had a busy weekend with a big family get-together to celebrate the Sausages’ Granddad’s 88th birthday, and we had friends over for lunch who brought their 3 little girls with them too.

We’ve been playing with K’nex… M constructed this ferris wheel from a picture I found on Pinterest:

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I helped D to put together our clock.  I read the instructions while she put it together: I was really impressed by how well she followed the instructions and listened.

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We’ve been to our art class where D worked on a canvas for the first time and M began a copy of Van Gogh’s ‘Irises’ (eek – I am beginning to feel a little inferior!).  M went to her usual ballet class, despite having an ENORMOUS (2cm) splinter in her foot.  I was hoping that it would slide out on it’s own (wishful thinking) but ended up taking her to A&E this morning to have it removed.

Meanwhile, D has become interested in puzzles which is great as M and me are big puzzlers too.  She now loves doing word searches and secret codes and both are excellent ways of learning new words.  Her spelling and reading are really improving!

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We’re learning the times tables, as per M’s request.  It’s a bit of a bore and I’m not at all sure there’s a lot of point (I’ve managed very well without them and I’ve heard recently that some schools have stopped teaching them) but she wants to do it!  More importantly, she has shown that she now has an understanding of the numbers, which is much more important than learning by rote.  The other day she had worked out that she had 12 Mini Eggs left to eat because she knew there were 4 different colours of each egg and she had 3 in every colour!  D hasn’t grasped multiplication yet and was insisting on counting the eggs out one by one. 🙂  We’re listening to Times Tables Challenge whenever we’re in the car and M is also insisting on me testing her every now and again.

Our free DVD of the BBC’s Ten Pieces arrived this week.  I thought it was really well done and nice to watch and listen to.  The girls enjoyed it for a little while: there was a vague interest in the instruments and D recognised Handel’s ‘Zadok the Priest’ from Johnny English (!) but I can’t say it ignited any sparks…

…Unlike the films we watched on The Kid Should See This!  First we looked at a film of this guy making British birds out of Lego (M was very inspired by this and has had several attempts at making a Robin but had to give up as we don’t have enough Lego pieces); then we watched one about what makes Blue Morpho butterflies blue, which then led onto watching a film of them hatching.  The girls were very interested in this as the Blue Morpho features in a Go Diego Go episode so they were able to fill me in on all sorts of facts that I didn’t know they knew. 🙂

Another packed week.  Just one more thing to show you, a picture of our gorgeous bunnies, Morris and Dusty.  In this pic they are being naughty and refusing to go back into their cage – they decided to settle down for a nap/read the paper in the hall instead…  too cute to be cross with though.

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