Tag Archives: Nature

Our Life is a Summer Holiday

It really is, no really!  We’re in a permanent holiday state, so although we returned from holiday last week, we’re really still oh holiday anyway.  That’s not to say we’re skipping in meadows all week: we have our busy days, our still days, our ups and our downs.  But life is pretty good and we know we’re privileged to live such a life.

It’s been a lovely week.  LOTS of Minecraft learning together with M – we have finally braved adventuring out of the shelter/mine, made a map, discovered a village, tamed a horse and so much more.  We tried and failed to connect to M’s cousin in Minecraft online but we’ll try again soon.  J has yet to be convinced of how much learning can be done through Minecraft but he’s getting there.  Today he had a little play on it so hopefully he’ll come to accept it’s value over time.  He also had a go on M’s Lego Technic Car Racing app and afterwards M was much more ready to join him in a game he suggested (Frisbee) rather than asking to continue on the computer.


D is also enjoying playing Minecraft in creative mode.  She builds LOADS of structures and it seems to have replaced Lego as a favourite game… for now.  Her love of mental maths continues and she regularly asks me for sums as early as 6am – I have to try very hard to appear enthusiastic.

While all this computer work is going on, I sit and learn alongside them both for a while but I’m also using the time to get rid of piles of accumulated ‘crap’ around the house, catch up on admin and read my novel.  The house is very peaceful at the moment and when we’re all busy in the lounge I’ve been putting Swan Lake on in the background.  This version is narrated by Angela Rippon and both girls have expressed an interested in it so are obviously soaking it up while they play.

J has also been encouraging his nephew to come over and play before he heads off to university in a few weeks.  The girls have loved having him over and he’s been teaching them football skills and playing endless games of hide and seek, pirates and chase.

On Wednesday we met up with our friends from 3 Kids and a Gluestick at Devonshire Avenue Nature Area.  Jo had spent 5 hours the night before putting a nature trail together – I was very impressed!  M was determined to complete all the cards which included a feather, a hawthorn leaf, a spider and many more.  


D lost interest after a while and found a little den under some trees from where she could be heard singing her heart out like Maria von Trapp.  M was over the moon because she made friends with another girl and she can’t wait to meet up again next week.  D struggled to play with the group and once she’d finished singing she spent quite a bit of time on my knee, asking to go home.  I’m assuming this problem will pass as she gets older: she does seem to get too overwhelmed with other children.  I had thought this was a group issue but after a friend came over to play on Thursday I’m not so sure.  D had been longing for this girl to come and play for nearly a year but after an hour in her company she was soon retreating into imaginary play with her bunnies, and her friend wasn’t very keen to join in.  M also had a friend over to play too and they had a great time making a ‘ship’ on the climbing frame and then showing each other what they had learnt on Minecraft.

Looking ahead to September we have lots of new things starting: D will be attending swimming lessons at Dolphin Swim School (we’ve cancelled our David Lloyd membership); we’ll be trying out an HE club in Leatherhead where they’re learning about Africa this term (much to D’s delight!) and there’s a possibility of joining in a Christmas show; M is continuing her ballet class and will be part of an Alice in Wonderland production in November; M is also starting a climbing wall class and of course Judo and pottery will be continuing.  I’m also hoping to fit in a visit to London at some point, D is desperate to go back, she loves the city!

Comparing our states of minds to last summer, I would say we’ve all calmed down a lot – I’m feeling less need to occupy them with ‘educational’ activities all day.  M still has her moments of fear driven anger when she doesn’t understand something but I think she is gradually getting the idea that it’s ok to learn.  She asked me about pollination yesterday and after she got angry at my poor attempt to explain it to her, she then allowed me to show her a YouTube clip with a much better explanation – this is definitely a step forward.  Phew!

Flowers and Exploring

Last week I wrote about how I burst a tyre on the way to our pottery class (here) and that M and D had played lovely games on the street while we waited for the AA man to replace the tyre.  M enjoyed it so much she said she wanted to explore somewhere new and random again to – she even gave this idea a name: “Going to The World”.

Yesterday we had a free day so M put a pin in a map (not literally, she actually used Google Earth as she’s a modern sausage) and chose to go to… Croydon..?  Jeez.  Of all the places.  Anyway, we all trotted off to the tram stop and the girls had a happy journey looking out the window and enjoying the ride.

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Croydon was pretty much as I expected, very grey, dull and run down.  The girls were happy scootering around but they were a bit limited by the crowds and busy roads.

M then said she wanted to go to a park so we hopped on a tram again and got off at Wandle Park.  This is a lovely little place that I’ve never been to before.  But it all started to go a bit wrong at this point: D grazed her chin while bunny-hopping over some logs and they both scraped their backs flying off the end of the slidey-est slide I’ve ever seen.  It all ended in tears so we decided to go home.


Back at base we had a very quiet afternoon – D was so tired she kept trying to go to bed but kept getting distracted by books and telly, and I installed Pocket Minecraft on my tablet for M (I overheard a boy at pottery talking about all these stone age things he’d learnt on there so I thought we could give it a go).

Just a note about what we got up to before pottery on Monday – it was so ridiculously hot by 10am that I encouraged the girls to come inside.  I remembered that we have a flower press full of flowers from last summer so M and I opened it up – it was like a treasure trove!


M made a lovely picture with her flowers and then picked some gorgeous peony petals to press,

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M is also trying to make friends with every ant she meets!


Catching Up With What We’ve Been Doing

Well, after Spain, 3 lots of visitors, Easter, my birthday and D’s birthday, it’s now back to just us.  The girls have settled back into their old equilibrium of being best friends with the occasional fall-out and I’m back to my OU courses, planning activities and day to day stuff.

We’ve done a few activities in and around our visitors:

We started our food chain picture on the kitchen window, which nicely doubles up as a sun-blind…


The girls did some gardening with their Grandma…


And me & D did an enormous Jigsaw…


We’re off to the Matisse Cut-Outs exhibition at the Tate next week so I gave the girls some shapes from Matisse’s Icarus picture to see what they made of them – they both came up with Rudolph!

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The Original…


Yesterday the girls dressed up as Tinkerbell and a pirate and we went out and about on their scooter and rollerblades, much to the delight of an elderly neighbour of ours!  We had a little chat with her and she confided that she is struggling to look after herself, her house and her dying husband :(.  Of course we offered our help and she said she would let us know if she needed anything.  Of course, I fully expect that she won’t.  M is desperate to do something kind for her so I will have to get my thinking cap on.


Today we had a trip to Wimbledon Common to go on a scavenger hunt.  We had to find something yellow; bendy; a leaf nibbled by a caterpillar; something lucky; delicate; and weightless.  D wasn’t too keen to go but as soon as we were out of the car she was like a dog let off a leash!

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This weekend they’ll be back to judo and I’m back to decorating!

Just a final picture of 5 year old D at her party 🙂


Prisms and Maths

Since we’re off to Spain in a couple of days, I thought I would post a little of what’s been happening today as I won’t have time to post for a while.

The day started with me doing two hours of cleaning, tidying, sorting and admin.  I seem to have managed to leave just about everything to the last minute, which is unlike me: I just find my head is so full of HE (and moons!) there isn’t room for much else!

While I was busy the girls were absorbed in their own activities upstairs, although they appeared the minute I sat down with a cup of coffee to tell me they were bored.  I managed to persuade them to get dressed and then they both ran outside to play in the garden and do a bit of weeding.

A new toy arrived for them today – a glass prism!  They were fascinated by it as I thought they would be, knowing their love of rainbows.  After playing with it for a while they then adapted it to their own requirements by watching telly through it…

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After lunch it was time for David Lloyd.  As usual we did our workbooks in the café before going to the pool and the girls both reached new levels in their understanding of numbers today!  D has started learning about ‘difference’ and how it’s another way to think about subtraction.  I’m not sure she’s fully there but she certainly got stuck into the activity.  M continued with her MEP maths, which I LOVE!!!  She had a small strop over a few sums (because they were the wrong way around) and then quickly calmed down when I explained that they wanted her to play with the numbers.  After that she adapted a more than/less than sum and beamed when I complimented her on playing with it!  I really want to get her love of numbers back as it was before school and I hope that if she can play around with her maths exercises (scribble on them; colour them in; make patterns out of them etc.) then it might happen.  This is an example of what she’s been working on:


I didn’t mention in my last post that I came across M working out sums with missing parts using an app on my tablet.  This is something she’s been struggling with recently and she was totally nonchalant about her new skill when I complimented her on it.  I feel like we’re finally getting somewhere!  Yay!

Little things: Me: “D, I learnt something new today: I learnt that an asteroid can have moons!!!” D: “I already knew that”.

Mucus, Gloop and Other Activities

A quick post with a few pictures to show what we’ve been up to over the last few days with Aunty S…

The girls have been absolutely full of cold for quite a few days now and this was cause for D to get her body book out so she could tell Daddy all about mucus…


M has enjoyed playing with gloop…


We had a visit to Wimbledon Common…


M has spent a lot of time making plaster models by pushing toys into clay to make a mold then covering the clay with plaster of paris.  She has tried a dinosaur, a fairy and shells.  D pushed some bouncy balls into hers to make Mars and Jupiter.

M wanted to make up her own recipe so I put all our baking ingredients onto the kitchen table and let her loose.  I didn’t get a picture of the end result but I think she would agree it was pretty revolting!  D got straight to the point and made ‘chocolate soup’: it was made and drunk in minutes.

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The glue gun arrived!  We used it to finish off D’s rocket…


The girls, M in particular are struggling quite a lot with their heavy colds but we’ve managed to have a really lovely, laid back time with Aunty S.

Center Parcs 2014!

We’re back from a wonderful 5 days at Longleat Center Parcs.  Lots of swimming, playing, cycling, eating, drinking and laughing.

Daddy's list of jobs to do before we set off...
Daddy’s list of jobs to do before we set off…
M lost another tooth!
M lost another tooth!
The sausages in our much-loved holiday home
The sausages in our much-loved holiday home

We spent hours and hours outside in the parks…

And ate A LOT of deserts…

And we wrote our favourite things about Center Parcs on the kitchen chalk board.

We had a lovely lovely time and can’t wait to go back again next year 🙂



Painshill Park

Just a short post to say we had a lovely time at Painshill Park today.  The fog made it beautifully atmospheric.  We went on a hunt for Santa’s Grotto, which was led by a mad elf.

After all the walking, the girls were too cold and tired to continue after lunch so we went home, drank some hot chocolate and then headed out to swimming lessons.

Little things:

After reading a Wonderwise book in bed tonight, D told me that she would like to have seen a dinosaur rotting underground.