Tag Archives: Writing

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…

 

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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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Poorly… again.

Dearie me, D is poorly again.  Yesterday, she obviously knew something was up and decided she needed to lie down with a blanket over her (in this heat!).  She seemed to swing from being energetic and creative then back to poorly again.

First all I got her doing some roller painting, which I found here.  It didn’t work quite so well as we had hoped but she had fun doing it anyway.  She loves that roller!

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And she also made some gorgeous watercolour pictures after seeing M doing the same.  The second one is the sky – love the pink clouds!

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She has also been doing a bit of Teach Your Monster to Read and has been writing quite a few lists for various things.  She’s a very capable reader and writer, she just lacks confidence at the moment.

Then it was time for a lie down and a movie…

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M was ‘just’ being creative all day after finding her watercolour pad whilst searching for something else in her drawers.  She really did sit and paint ALL day, interspersed with the occasional run-around in the garden.  It was too hot to do much else!  The last picture was inspired from watching the Lion King – there’s a scene right at the start that shows ants marching along a branch with zebra walking below.  I love it!

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Inspired by D (who made a Lego gun to shoot a baddy (J) trying to steal animals from her zoo), M made a working Lego gun that shoots out Lego ‘bullets’ – it’s a really extraordinary machine.

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The sausages never cease to amaze me.

We had a dreadful night last night: M and I couldn’t sleep even though it was gone midnight and D was waking over and over again with nausea, all night long.  She’s still nauseous today but is again running around and then sitting back down again with the sick jug and a movie!

She has been mainly watching the Lion King on loop but did find time to do some tessellating..

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And a Rothko-esk watercolour…

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Unfortunately, M missed her art class this morning due to D’s illness and my tiredness.

She has been too hot and tired to do much but did dig out her old puzzle cubes:

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It’s day 3 of my push to ‘strew’ more food choices.  I’ve been preparing monkey platters every morning as if I’m packing to be out for the day!  Sandwiches, crisps, chocolate, fruit, veg and dips.  It’s working well for M because she struggles to think of what food she feels like – now she picks at what she can see.  I’m not sure if it’s going to work for D in terms of getting more variety into her diet but she certainly hasn’t eaten as many flakes over the last few days, though that could be down to her illness rather than anything else.

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M finished the day off at Brownies, while D summoned up a burst of energy to go the park with her Aunt Sh and Uncle F!  She was out like a light this evening.  I hope she’s better tomorrow because I’ve booked something really good in London…

The Library, Housework and Eyebombing

So we did make it out to the library yesterday… but it was closed.  Gah!  So annoying.  Ah well, the girls had a little play on the ‘climbing frame’ and then we came home again.

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We spent the afternoon writing letters to the girls’ cousins – I had hoped to get out to the post office but M took so long drawing a picture that I decided to leave it for another day.  D wrote this letter to her cousin, J.  I made her include the second two lines so that it didn’t sound so sudden and final (we are going to France next week).

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The girls watched a few films and we played Connect 4.  Then I quickly made a make-shift pass the parcel for Gloria’s birthday.  I included a couple of Frozen games that I had found on sale in The Entertainer and put some peanuts in the middle for Gloria.  She thoroughly enjoyed them and the girls liked their presents too.

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Yesterday felt like a bit of a non-event: once my plans go awry, I find it hard to readjust myself to the rest of the day.  So today (after some art and baking) I resolved to get the girls out to Wimbledon to properly stretch their legs and enjoy the sunshine.

They walked all the way in, eyebombing along the way:

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We did a bit of shopping and then spent over an hour in the library.  We picked up three more Narnia books, some rabbit and space books and a Rubik’s Quest book, which I’m looking forward to strewing for M.  She has barely looked up from her Rubik’s Cube all day!  She’s now able to do all but two sequences to finish it.  There have been tears at every stage but she has quickly recovered, picked it up again and persevered.  I am very proud!

For the rest of the day we read books, watched films (Bambi and Anastasia), tidied and cleaned, fixed the pulley and played with Morris and Gloria.  The girls are very into housework at the moment – they are constantly ‘surprising’ me with sneaky tidying up!  But here’s a picture of D doing some sweeping and Morris taking a keen interest.  M is giggling because I’d just suggested putting Morris into the pulley and hauling him upstairs. 🙂

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Patterns, Weaving and Vomit

I’m able to sit here writing my blog in the middle of the day because both of my sausages are poorly.  Poor D has been very under the weather lately with a horrendous cold and she’s now onto her second bout of a vomiting virus.  M has finally caught the cold and sickness and I’ve got my fingers crossed that she’ll be well enough for her ballet production at the end of the week.

Last week, we all had a wonderful time when my cousin Z and her son MD came to visit for a few days.  In between a lot of Minecraft playing, we managed to squeeze in a day out to the Science Museum.  It was a bit more crowded than usual but this time we made it past the Pattern Pod and up to the Launch Pad, where the kids had a great time with the various experiments.  We also tried out the Red Arrows simulator which the girls adored and immediately wanted to go on again!

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Our guests left on Friday and we went out to M’s climbing class.  While there, another Home Ed mum was giving away some of her old resources and I picked up a lovely pack of shapes.  On returning home, the girls immediately began making patterns with them.  M has returned to these shapes again and again over the past few days.  She made a pattern (shown below) that has a 3D element – the blocks around the edge are like raised cubes and she says the taupe ones are water pots.

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D hasn’t been doing quite so many activities because of her virus but she’s still found the time to amaze J and other family members with her knowledge of the globe.  She also worked on her writing after finding a Biff Chip and Kipper activity book in her drawer.

M went for a sleep-over at a friends’ house on Sunday and came back with an idea (her friend’s mum is very creative) to weave with some electrical tape we bought from a pound shop recently.  This has sparked a weaving frenzy: she’s also started making a friendship bracelet and today began weaving ribbons until she decided she was too ill to continue.

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Yesterday I got out my sewing kit to sew M’s name label into her outfit for the Alice in Wonderland ballet production. This sparked both girls interest and inspired them both to get their cross stitching out – I really must get my sewing machine up and running, I’m sure both girls would love it.  Here is M’s outfit – she’s playing a spotty dog in the caucus race – very cute!

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M has been quite moody over the last few days – I’m not sure if this is linked to the illness or perhaps a sign that something needs to be adjusted in her life.  However, I did have a bit of a breakthrough last night (before the illness really set in) when I did a long ‘roughhousing’ (hate that word) session with her.  I know the importance of roughhousing with your kids, having read Playful Parenting, but I tend to leave it to J as it’s not really my thing.  But last night a tickle ended up in a full-on pillow fight on the bed and she really brightened up properly for the first time in days!  We agreed to do the same again soon 🙂

Cans, Climbing and Codes

Well what a week it’s been…  Thank goodness for this blog – it helps me to have perspective and see the week as a whole rather than just good days and bad days…

There have most certainly been a few lows this week, M has been SO grumpy!  Lots of rudeness to me and D, lots of ‘I’m bored’ comments, followed by huffing and shoulder shrugging at all suggested activities.  Humph.  J and I are sure she needs more structure but she is unwilling to try.

Anyway, as I said before, it hasn’t been all bad, and here is a round up of all the activities we’ve been up to over the last week:

All 27 Sylvanian Family tin cans have been finished!  Wowsers that was a long job.  They look brilliant too.  M made a start on the cereal boxes which involves making a net using a set square.  She got very angry about it and gave up but I live in hope that she’ll want to try again as she seems more willing to have another go these days.

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The girls have really got into writing coded messages to each other, and to me.  M made one that had tiny symbols and pictures for each letter of the alphabet, which D loved decoding, but mainly we’ve been using a simple number/letter code.  It’s great for spelling practice and D wrote out all the letters of the alphabet in order, in capitals, which I’m not sure she’s ever done before.

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Games have continued on the iPad.  This week’s favourites have been Farmville (for M) and Slice Fractions (for both girls).

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M started a new climbing course at White Spider in Tolworth.  It’s fortnightly and she gets to experience climbing and bouldering and also has the chance of working towards climbing certifications if she wants to.  She managed to climb to the top twice!

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D was of course thoroughly bored while all this was going on, although there is a lovely climbing/play castle there too.  She made a comment along the lines of “why is it all about M?”.  So after I explained that she needs to tell me if she wants to do something particular inside or outside the house, we decided to write a list of all the activities she would like to do.  Telly was at no.1 so the next morning she merrily sat down to watch TV… ok…

On Saturday, J got the chance to see Arsenal play Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium and he took M along with him for her first football match!  She really enjoyed it and was in awe at the size of the stadium.

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Recently, D decided that she would like to learn a language as she was worried she wouldn’t be able to speak to people when she goes to another country – ahhh.  I asked if she would like to learn French (as we’re going to France next year) or Spanish like Go Diego Go and she immediately chose Spanish.  Phew, I have to admit I’m not a fan of learning French as nobody speaks it except the French – Spanish would at least be a bit more useful!  We tried a Duolingo app which had been recommended to me but it didn’t really suit D.  She decided to continue learning from Go Diego Go :).  She has learnt an awful lot of Spanish from watching it – she knows ‘amigo’ is ‘friend’ and today we had a little Spanish conversation!  I was trying to get her upstairs to ‘de-nit’ her hair so I said “vamos” and she said “por favor, no”.  Ha!

M made gloop, one of her favourite activities.  I suggested it, thinking it was soothe her during one of her angrier moments and I was right!  I also slipped in the fact that it is a non-newtonian fluid while she was happily playing…

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M is also very interested in Vi Hart on YouTube – if you’ve never heard of her then have a watch, they’re fascinating videos!  Whether or not M takes in the maths involved, she loves Vi’s doodles and it inspired her to start doodling her own, humming like Vi Hart while she draws…

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M has also started to like classical music – I’m still sticking it on in the background while they play and it seems to be sinking in.  The other day I put Peter and the Wolf on and M was talking about the different instruments being played and describing the characters.  I couldn’t believe it!  When I first started HE I wondered how on earth children would learn this stuff without it being taught to them, but it seems they just do, you just have to provide them with the opportunity to experience it.

The girls decided today that they were going to make cards for their cousin, M.  While they were working I decided to read the latest Aquila magazine to them, fully expecting to be booed off at any moment.  But they actually listened to me talking about Pompeii, volcanoes, tectonic plates and the Ring of Fire!  So after they had finished I got them going on making a Pompeii inspired name plaque which they really enjoyed…

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And lastly, our enormous sunflower has flowered!

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Moving on Up

On Monday we enjoyed the last pyjama day we’ll be having for a long time – although ‘enjoyed’ would be an overstatement for M: she is very ready to return to her classes and get a bit more stimulation!

We spent the day writing letters to Grandma, watching the Wizard of Oz, Go Diego Go and the Powerpuff Girls.  M was also working hard on her Sylvanian Family food cans.

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On Tuesday, D decided that it was her new bunnies’ birthday so they both sat to write cards for them.  M also made them a parachute and back pack (no pictures of those though, unfortunately).

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I had a break through with M that day.  She was getting angry about not understanding something (as per usual) and I made a shot in the dark comment about how she asks very intelligent questions.  I could almost see the tension in the room visibly shift and she admitted she didn’t think she was very clever at all?!!  The poor girl, she is so intelligent but because she questions EVERYTHING, she doesn’t think that she is!  I told her that she should never accept what someone tells her (even me!) without researching it herself.  I don’t want her to blindly follow anyone!  She seemed quite pleased with this new slant on things.  I think it’s a very good trait to have although the in-depth questions do try my patience sometimes…

On Tuesday afternoon I gave M advance warning that she didn’t have long to read her final book for the summer reading challenge.  She sat down and read her book in one sitting!  I love that she has completed the challenge with total self-motivation.  No cajoling from me was necessary at all!

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Later on it was the first ballet lesson of the term, which M was eager to return to.  The class is in full on rehearsals for the up and coming production of Alice in Wonderland.  I had a peek through the door and the choreography looks great.  M LOVES it!  Though she has said she’s scared that she won’t learn the dance moves in time for the performance, she still wants to go ahead and do it.  Feel the fear and do it anyway – she’s so brave!  The girl is really going from strength to strength.

As for D, she has been soaking up knowledge from Go Diego Go, The Magic School Bus and various iPad apps.  She has been getting M to show her how to do the Monument Valley puzzles and creating more buildings in Minecraft.  Mostly, she has been spending LOADS of time on Reading Eggs.  I downloaded the app onto our new iPad (it isn’t available on android unfortunately) and its much easier to use so she’s been on it non-stop.

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Her reading skills are far beyond what I imagined them to be and I think even she is surprised by what she can read now.  Her handwriting is also getting smaller as her fine motor skills improve, as this gorgeous letter shows…

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Our new bedtime routine is working very well.  We go up around 8pm, I read to them both until 9pm and then go downstairs, leaving them to do whatever they want to do and decide for themselves when they are ready for bed.  Sometimes they play on computers, sometimes they run around like a herd of elephants, and sometimes (like tonight) they lie on the bedroom floor and draw or write.  I’m surprised by how sensibly they take themselves off to bed and I’m also surprised by how easily D has settled into a later bedtime (10pm) with a later wake up time (7.30am) when she spent a year (A YEAR!!!) waking up at 4.30am…?!