Tag Archives: Swimming

Poetry, Pottery and Painting

I’m trying really hard to strew more to keep M (and maybe D?) more stimulated – M already has numerous activities on the go but she seems to want to be stretched and challenged more recently.

Way back in the early days of our HE journey, when I was devouring other blogs, I found a few references to Brave Writer’s Poetry Teatime.  I’m not a poetry lover as such (I love a good rhyme or a limerick but I can’t bear some of it – probably because I don’t understand it.  It brings up similar fears/anger/boredom issues to looking around the Tate Modern) but there’s something about getting lots of yummy things out on the table and sharing poetry together which appeals to me.

It’s only taken me 3 years to get around to trying it out…  I gathered a few poetry books we have (although annoyingly I couldn’t find our copy of Roald Dahl’s ‘Revolting Rhymes’) and invited the girls to a poetry tea.  M was up for it, D was not but came to the table for a chocolate muffin that Grandad had bought for her.  They both wanted me to sing ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ by Edward Lear to them, which I duly did.  D gobbled her cake and scarpered to bounce on the trampoline while M stayed for a few more poems.  I read ‘Bananas in my Ears’ by Michael Rosen, ‘Us Two’ by A. A. Milne, and M sang ‘The Owl and The Pussycat’ back to me. 🙂  All in all it was a success and I hope to do more of it in the future, which may make D less wary and suspicious of it all.

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M has been to pottery – she’s churning out pieces by the dozen and I’m not sure where I’m going to put it all!  Here is her latest piece, which I love.  This week the teacher was marveling at how much work she puts into each of her pieces. 🙂

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We’ve spent a fair amount of time playing Minecraft together – we defeated a witch (with a lot of terrified squeals, mainly from me) and built an enormous scaled up model of a Minecraft bunny in the sky.  It is supposed to be a mob-trap but no mobs are spawning in it unfortunately. :/

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J has taken the girls swimming and got them playing marbles, which they loved.

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This weekend I painted our bedroom, and the girls helped too.  Their brush strokes have really improved from the last time they helped and I didn’t need to correct or go over any of it.  It won’t be long before I can leave them to do an entire room. 😀

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We’ve already reached half term – it feels like M’s classes have only just begun…?  So now we’ve got two weeks without classes to mark the days.  We’ve got a few play dates and activities planned though so I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

Butser Farm and Minecraft

It’s been an odd week, it always is when we have no classes to anchor us.  Days drift and merge but time flies by so that every day I’m surprised when bedtime comes around. 🙂

This week has of course featured Stampy, a lot.  And Babbaville – the latest developments are that M put the finishing touches to her boat, adding signs so the Captain, First Mate and crew know where to sleep; she reorganised her department store so that items are categorised better; and we turned the difficulty level up to ‘high’ because M wanted to overcome her fear of mobs (it worked and we got some nice enchanted armour out of it).

A couple of really noticeable skills from all this Minecraft playing: we’re now really good at working as a team – helping each other, dividing up jobs, and playing to each other’s strengths; and maths – the other day M was working out whether it is better value to smelt with 9 pieces of coal or a block of coal (which is made with 9 pieces) – turns out the answer is a block.

Also, the learning threads that come from Minecraft – M wanting to know what the correct terms for the second in command on a ship, the crew and where they sleep; and D wanting to make her own iBallisticSquid soft toy, which led to a trip to Tooting Market to buy fabric (always an experience with all the produce and smells).  D helped me to draw a cube net for the toy pattern and then I spent almost a whole day (!) making Squid.  It is very much loved which is a relief as there were heart-achingly silent tears when she realised the Squid toys that iBallisticSquid was promoting (on a two year old video) were no longer available. Phew.

Minecraft’s creative side is obviously huge:  M made a replica of a road this week and D spotted a natural island that was the shape of a dolphin – we just added fins and covered it in blue wool.

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Onto real-world news – J has taken the girls to the park quite a few times, and also to the hospital to visit his brother (who is now recovering from a quadruple heart by-pass!).

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We have been on a trip to Butser Farm for a workshop organised by another HE mum.  We had booked it last year but M was too ill to go but we made it this time!  When we got there I was wondering ‘what was I thinking?!’ because there was FAR too much talking from the leader which didn’t engage either of my two (blank stare from M who couldn’t take in a word of it and D on the verge of tears from the boringness-missing-stampyness of it all).  BUT it all came together later on.  The girls did cordage, spinning, pottery (using real just dug up clay), copper jewellery making and clunching.

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It was an amazing trip but the following day D needed some serious Stampy watching to recover.  We had a birthday party to go to that day though but luckily our friend was thoroughly understanding of D’s need to escape into Stampy’s Lovely World – D was full of excitement about the party but in the end just couldn’t seem to cope with it.  She did enjoy swimming in their pool at the end though.

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M has been doing lots of paper craft – making tiny Washi Tape bags for her Sylvanians; doing her first paper cutting with my knife for J’s birthday card, and quilling.  I showed her how to use Instagram and Pinterest on her iPad and they’ve really inspired her.

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We also watched Star Wars for the first time to see what all the fuss was about (neither of us was that enthralled to be honest) and M asked to watch Doctor Who so we’ve started on the Christopher Eccleston series, which she really likes.  Unfortunately it’s far too frightening for D and even with headphones on she still ends up seeing images that upset her.  She won’t leave the room but I have to watch with M to explain what’s happening throughout so I think I will have to turn the sofa around next time we watch. :/

This marks the first time that M has requested to watch a film/programme she’s heard about, rather than the suggestion coming from me.  She’s noticing much more around her than she ever did before – I once commented that she wouldn’t ever be influenced by peers as she was so much in her own bubble, but this is no longer true: she picks up on every over-heard conversation and questions it, she asks about images she sees on the news, culture, behaviours and jokes.  She picks apart and examines everything!

And finally, we ended the week with a trip to the Common to meet friends we haven’t seen in AGES!  We had a lovely time and no-one fell in the lake which is always a bonus.

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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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Stampy Love

Well, Minecrafting has continued apace since my last post.  It shows no sign of abating just yet either!

D continues with her love of Stampy, to the point where no other films or programmes are being watched.  She is currently on video number 117 and I think there are 270-odd so she’s got a way to go.  The other day I was thinking about how much she fully immerses herself in interests for a long time, to the point of obsession and almost to the exclusion of all else, and then gradually resurfaces to move onto the next interest.  In the past it’s been Go Diego Go, Dora, My Little Pony, Kung Fu Panda and countless other films that have been on loop in this house, not to mention the books she has read over and over again.  M, on the other hand, tends to have many things on the go at once and she dips in and out of each of them – she’s always engaged in what she’s doing but needs variety.  Always chalk and cheese those two!

D has also (unfortunately and hopefully not permanently) gone off our Woodcraft Folk class.  The past two weeks she has only joined in a couple of games and spent the rest of the time on my lap, moaning about how bored she is.  When questioned by the ever-lovely and patient leaders she explains that she doesn’t like being bossed about (!). Fair enough.  She doesn’t understand why everyone can’t just turn up and do whatever they like so I explained that a lot of these children like the games and if they just wanted to play with friends then they can do that on a play date – I’m still not sure she understood why anyone would want to be ‘bossed about’.  M adores going but isn’t ready for me to leave her there so D has to tag along.  Next week I plan on taking D’s iPad with us and I’m a little nervous about whether there will be any respectful understanding of a child who would prefer to sit and listen to Stampy rather than join in…

This is M and D playing with friends on the way home.  🙂

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The girls had a loooong swimming session with J at Guildford Spectrum on Thursday, which gave me time to do some cleaning and play on Minecraft.  Yes, I did.  I’ve really got into it recently!  M and I play quite a lot together – we are of similar organisational minds so one of us will be farming, the other cooking, or we might build something together.  D joins us occasionally and runs around making us laugh and eating all the food. 😀

We’ve been turning up the difficulty a notch in the past week, which means we have to fight mobs.  Initially D found this too frightening but we swore to protect her so she tried it out and declared it to be not so bad after all.  M built a wonderful world with all sorts going on in it, even a trading post!  But unfortunately she deleted it by accident. 😦  She was totally gutted but recovered a day later and is now happily recreating it all in a new world.

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M is also taking a great interest in doing meal preparations with me (chopping, peeling etc).  She doesn’t tend to like the finished product but she loves the smells of the herbs and veg as we go along.  She’s also really interested in tidying and cleaning.  She really likes a tidy room which puts a bit of pressure on me to put Minecraft away and do some work. 😀

April/May Catch Up

And I’m back in the room.

Can’t believe I left 6 weeks between posts!  I just haven’t been in the mood and lost my blogging mojo for a while so this post will be a quick update on all the things we’ve been up to and then hopefully I’ll be in the mood to blog more frequently again.

We’ve had 3 lots of visitors – cousins & grandparents.

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D had a birthday party – she’s 7!

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The following week my parents took us to Spain and we happened to be flying on D’s birthday – she got a special mention from the pilot over the tannoy and he then invited M & D into the cockpit where he spent a long time explaining how he flies the plane. 🙂

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We had a fabulous week in Spain – the girls swam everyday; there was a gorgeous park next door to our complex with free range bunnies, peacocks, turtles, ducks and chickens.  M took the time to write more entries in her home-made Spanish dictionary, and she did a bit of artwork, creating this 3D hand we found here.

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On our return, we’ve had quite a few table activities going on – M has nearly finished her Sylvanian Family food and D has been creating (or directing me and Grandma) to make clothes for her toys using new fabrics and a sewing kit she was given for her birthday.

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D has created quite a few things recently – a Lego instruction book on how to make her ‘Moon on a Stick’

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She made a book about Cute Twitchy (her toy rabbit):

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And she has just started a new book which details her happy memories and dreams 🙂

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M has been gardening quite a bit – she loves helping me to prune our hedge at the front and we weeded her patch of garden together.  She really wanted to get a Brownie gardening badge so we planted lots of flowers and herbs to meet the criteria.  While we were preparing for the badge, I realised she had enough craft to get her craft badge too, so she showed all her achievements to the group this week and got the two badges she wanted. 🙂

There has been a lot of Minecraft and Terraria – we got the girls an iPad each which has enabled us to play multiplayer, which the girls are LOVING.  They frequently ask me to join them in their worlds – we’ve been adventuring, mining, killing mobs, making obstacle courses, playing hide and seek, building houses, structures and getting lost.

Here’s me enjoying Minecraft 🙂

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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!

Birthday Celebrations!

Hey all, we’ve been away for two weeks with my parents in Nottingham.  We seemed to be on a permanent playdate and the girls didn’t want to come home!  We visited cousins in Birmingham, had sleep-overs at my sister’s house in Nottingham, and had cousins over for sleep-overs at my parents’ house.  We also had an early 6th birthday party for D because she wanted all her cousins to be there but her birthday isn’t until next week.

The party was very basic with the standard party games, a treasure hunt and a game of Twister but D said it was fantastic!

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We can’t go for long without some form of art being done and luckily, Grandma had invested in a new set of watercolours which the girls loved.  D was inspired by Creative Galaxy to produce a pointillism rainbow and a Fauvism picture.  Seriously, why would anyone restrict screen-time when there’s this stuff being absorbed?!  Thanks to this programme, D is also keen to paint a mural on our lounge wall but I’m not so keen.  The girls have also been watching lots of Mr. Peabody and Sherman and thanks to that film have gained an awareness of Leonardo da Vinci, Agamemnon, the French Revolution, Tutankhamun and George Washington.  Their interest in the French Revolution has been backed up by Aquila this month, who did a feature on it in their magazine.

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The sausages love playing schools and Grandma was asked to set one up for all the toys, which she duly did.  The girls spent hours on sums, spellings, reading, P.E., history, Spanish, space and art. 🙂

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Grandma also bought them both a book for Easter and M wanted the Frozen paperback.  She proceeded to read almost all of it to herself every night in Nottingham!  I think it really helped that she knows the script by heart which helped her to understand what was happening in the story and not panic when she couldn’t read certain words.

My sister also taught the sausages something while there, she is an Environmental Health Officer and happened to have been showing a class at school how to wash their hands properly to stop germs spreading so she had her glo-light thingy with her.  The girls loved putting the special lotion on their hands and then testing to see how much was left after a hand-wash.

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M also produced this incredible pencil drawing of a rubber plant while on a visit to my cousin in Birmingham:

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Since we’ve been back, J has played with the sausages a lot, having missed them tremendously.  He took them swimming for 3 hours at the weekend!  He has also had them in the garden a great deal.  Me and the sausages need a bit of a shove sometimes to get in the outdoors, me in particular.  It’s something I’m determined to change, partly because my sedentary tendencies just aren’t healthy, and partly because I know how much the girls need me to do it.  So with that in mind, I chose to take the girls out to Morden Hall Park today, for my birthday!

It was really hot and as we haven’t really explored it properly it was quite exciting to be somewhere that felt new.  We played frisbee and fetch (the girls were pretending to be dogs) and explored the different fields, gardens, play areas and the River Wandle.  It’s really lovely and I can’t believe we haven’t used this great (and free!) resource properly before.

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More birthday celebrations tomorrow as J has the day off!