Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Oh so busy...

It's been almost 2 weeks since I last blogged. Time flys when you're busy!! Also Paul has been at the computer a lot writing his doctrinal statement for his application to Elim (for the ministry), so there hasn't been a great deal of chance to get on here either. So what have we been up to... let's see...

The other day we made some cool gingerbread families!

This was to reinforce the sound 'er' (gingER) from Joel's Jolly Phonics, but I felt it was a fun thing for everyone to do, only on that same day I decided to spring clean the house! The children did try to 'help' plenty. Bless them - they really tried hard. The girls were really wrapped with their green dusters, but how much dust they cleared I'm not sure - more like redistibuted it!!

And we had Ellie's dedication on Sunday this week - with all the family up to visit

dedication day (1)

Dedication Day (2)

My beautiful baby!

School is going well. Jacob seems to be getting used to the new scheme of things and life does seem to be generally more peaceful. We have also re-introduced a reward system for first-time obedience (well we can try at least!). This time the boys each have a paper racing-car on a drawn race-track. They each have to complete three laps in a week (10 spaces per lap) to get their 'treat reward', but it is a race to see who gets there first. Of course who ever wins continues moving and gets a 2p bonus for every 'extra' space the go. The main reward itself is not money (they earn money for chores - 50p for 10 small jobs), but something they have 'wanted' - this week they are striving for beyblades (they were buy 1 get one free!!), last week an S-Club CD.

The girls are joining in on this too. They have flowers to add to a stem for their reward, but there is no competition factor in theirs - they are too young for that yet I think, or at least I don't want to encourage anyway!!

Other things we have been looking at this week or so have included:

Collecting leaves from trees to try and identify the trees. This unfortunatly was not too successful as we need to not just collect single leaves but 'small branches' in order to get an accurate match. It was too hard with one leaf for even me to work out what was what!

Major discussions on Dinosaurs and how they became extinct! Now this I was hoping to start next year's history with, but looks like the 'moment' has arrived - but why is it always at bedtime! This discussion arose at 9pm - not the best time for major theological debate with a 7yr old! Anyway I went away and did some research and came up with this website; The Dinosaur Trail. I think it's great, so today we looked at just a few pages. Jacob seemed quite keen - I think because the information was coming from 'The Internet' rather than from Mummy he was more willing to accept what it was telling him.

It fills me with excitement when I see that Jacob is one step ahead of my plans, but that I am heading in the right direction for him. Sometimes I feel I don't know him at all, other times I realise I am actually quite tuned in! And one of the best things about this is that Joel gets to learn along side, by osmosis or otherwise. Both my boys seem to be 'swallowing' facts at the rate of knots at the moment and are hungry, hungry, hungry. I just hope I can satiate that hunger well enough. I'm thinking maybe I am going to have to keep their minds busy through the summer - maybe some project work might be in order. Something I've not ventured into before, but hey, why not give it a shot!

Just while I've got your attention - I'm setting up a small-business website: - offering photo' editing services. I'm trying to earn myself a little 'pocket money' to help pay for schooling. As you may have guessed, my hubby is a student at Bible College and money is tight, so check out my site and put the word out for me - and use me!! The more people who look me up the higher up the search engines I'll come too!

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Not too bad...

Well things this week, with our new schedule, didn't go tooo bad! Jacob did however land himself with almost two hours work (which had he got-on-with-it could have been done in less than half that time) on his day off & NO time on the playstation all week (PS is a reward for completing the days work - in time). I need to be careful things don't become too punitive, but I do what to add in some motivators none-the-less. These things are always hung in such careful balance! Jacob declared "I don't like new rules. Why can't we just stick with the old ones. Mummy is always making new rules!" Actually Mummy is just 'tweeking' the rule and of course the reason he doesn't like the new ones is that they highlight his idleness! I did discover this week that he spends a great deal of time destroying his chair! It has multitudes of pencil holes in it and he's ripped the plastic cover and pulled alot of the foam out - I was a little livid, but have yet to devise a suitable punishment. I explained to him that the reason for the new rules was so that BOTH of us got free-time at the end of each day and didn't end up at each others necks quite so often. I think he understood.

Got some more goodies in Oxfam bookshop today - including Usborne 'History of the World' - I think maybe someone round here puts 'Sonlight' books in Oxfam when they've finished with them. They always seem to have loads of Usborne (& Ladybird) factual books. I got about 10 today!

Another piece of news. My Joel had an asthma attack in the night on Wednesday - his first - and he is now on double inhalers and steroids for 5 days. Anyone who feels they'd like to, your prayers would be appreciated for him. He is very well considering & has made a quick recovery - thankfully. He's a tough little cookie! He is actually pleased as punch with himself this week, because not only has he got himself a 'breather' (what he calls his inhaler), but he has also been given 'glasses' - slightly long sighted. He looks really intellectual in them.

Anyway - that's it for tonight I think.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The first Quickie...

This didn't post! Can anyone tell me how I can make the main section of my design wider?

Another Quickie...

How do I put a little pic of me and Paul up next to where it says 'contributors' on my template?

Feeling Thwarted!

Why is that some days you just end up feeling thwarted at every turn! When the day starts out with "I don't want(s)..." coming from Jacob at 9am, I know we are in for a bad one. Top that with just feeling 'strange' in myself today and Paul being out 9-6 & 8-?, having to do school with ALL the other children around (I manage to lose at least one on all the other schooling days), three loads of washing to circulate on & off the washing line, cooking tea (normally Paul's domain:) ) whilst feeding and nursing a permanently hungry baby. And every time I turned to do something I found another misdemeanors in my path (a completely unraveled toilet roll at one point tonight, which I think might have been the second today - a full roll this morning being mysteriously empty by this evening! And then having to put all five over-tired, ratty children to bed - all by my ratty, tired self ! RRRRRRRRRR!!!
The worse thing about today is that when one child is playing up and I am feeling short fused anyway then it seems to magnify the misbehaviour (or even just the irritating childishness) of the others, so that even the ones that are being reasonably well behaved get the brunt of my sourness! I hate days like today. I feel like a green Ogre by the end of them! And I always feel guilty when I am so relieved to shut the bedroom doors!
Rant Over!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Days in the Park & School Revamp.

On Saturday - yes I know I'm late again, but I just don't seem to be able to keep up at the moment. I seem to be always busy - schooling, feeding, cuddling, playing, etc... You get the picture! Anyway On Saturday we went to a local-ish park we haven't visited before. Paul had Ellie on his bike and I cycled too (ouch sore legs!!), while Mum took the rest of the children in the car. Lots of green space, a small play area, a brook (not too clean though) and great woods! There were some fabulous Oak trees for climbing. Aren't they just the best? Branches from the bottom and going up and round in steps almost. When I was a child I was an avid tree-climber. At about 7 I climbed a tree in a garden of a pub - to the very top - higher than the pub and worried my Mum rather. Well - history repeats itself, but not always in the next generation! Jacob is oddly NOT one for tree climbing. He is so confident at most things that you would think he'd shin up no trouble, but he's simply not confident on the branch of a tree. Joel is a little better, but younger of course. But me - I couldn't resist! I climbed that tree!! My son below was worried silly; "Mummy you're gonna die, Mummy come down, Mummy you'll fall..." , My Mum was nearly as bad but managed to contain herself a little, or maybe she has learned to trust my judgment a little over the years!! Joel thought I was stuck; "You are Mummy, you're stuck! You're just stuck!!" For me it felt like a taste of youthfulness again - just before I turned 32 - Today!

And today's news is...

We have decided on a new system for scheduling school in our house. I already carefully plan out each half-terms worth of work, making sure there is never too much demanded of any child in any one day and that there is a balance between independent & interactive/supervised/group work. If the children applied themselves well school could all be done in just under 4 hours (2hrs for Joel) including 2 x 20 minute breaks and an hour for lunch. Leaving the whole afternoon free for whatever. Joel manages well, but Jacob is just not one to apply himself and school often drags well into the afternoon, leaving niether me nor him with any 'free' time and a whole LOT of tension & weariness between us. SO, as of Yesterday, we decided that we need a more definite timetable for him (something I had hoped to avoid, but that might actually be liberating). School-days now go like this; 9am start, 10.30 break (30mins), 11-12 continue school. Morning school finishes dot on 12pm. Any work not finished gets 'carried' into the next day. Afternoon school starts at 1pm and finishes at 3pm - on the dot (with a 20 min break where suitable around 2ish) and again any work unfinished carries over to the next day. As we only work Monday-Thursday this means that any work unfinished by Thursday 3pm gets carried into Jakes 'day-off' - which of course is quite punitive and hopefully will teach him to be more concentrated when he's supposed to be. Of course if he finishes everything early that's a bonus and he's free - might happen, you never know! I'm hoping this might be like giving him a jump-start and once he gets into the swing of it he'll be fine. Today he had some 'carried over' work - tomorrow he has less. Also the schedule means we can make things like piano practice/lessons more regular (3.30pm) and he's all finished in time to veg out with CBBC if he wants too. My hope is that the structure will lead to generally less tension because we will both know the score & Jake will understand what is expected of him and what to expect should he not meet the mark.

Our school journey seems to go in circles! We started out with TEACH/ACE - PACES and a very structured program & way of working. But Jake and I both found it suffocating, restrictive & boring.(btw - that was just how it became to us - no criticism of ACE intended). So we signed off and went 'free-style' - not unschooling, but self-resourced and self-designed. Still structured, but with more room for diversity and flexibility. An 'order' to our day & a rough timetable, but a rule that we DIDN'T carry over work to the next day, so that that day didn't become over-loaded & so that the boys were learning from an early age to meet targets by deadlines. But the rule and the structure have become a burden and a restriction in themselves and I have seen that in 'real-life' we are not ALWAYS working to deadlines, only sometimes in fact, so why in school? Silly me - why didn't I see that before now?! We learn as we teach I guess and our school has taken a turn once again! Hopefully with a definite 'end' to each day we will all be a lot happier and less stressed at each other. Yelling at Jacob to get finished at gone 5pm on occasions, when he had lost all motivation & ability to learn & I had lost any desire to be with him & help him, was really NO fun!! Why sometimes, can we not see the wood through the trees!!?

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Time Out!

Sorry I'm not blogging much these last couple of weeks. We are having time off, as I've said, so not much is happening really. Our weeks off are usually filled with sorting, shoe buying (oh what a time consuming - foot aching - expensive job!), catching up with the washing and lots of playing in the yard. We did take a day out to Shrewsbury yesterday though, which had a little educational value - and was a whole lot of fun! Jacob says that when we move again he wants to live there! Unfortuntaly that does not seem very likely for various reasons I won't bore you with, but hey - a nice idea!
The children really loved climbing up to 'Laura Tower' and seeing all the fabulous views from up there. And the Quarry Park was gorgeous too. Here's a few pics for a flavour of the town.

Shrewsbury Station

the Castle (from the tower)

Laura's tower

The church through the trees (from the tower)

another view from the tower

My face is not messy!

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Hunter-gatherer games.

After church on Sunday (yes I know I'm a bit late on this one) we had a picnic and all the children decided to play hunter-gatherer games; kiliing lions with sticks and cooking them on a make believe fire. The girls were very good at playing 'killed by a lion'!!

Hunter-gatherer games

The waiting women!

Please also NOTE that on the left I have posted up a link to the first of my birth stories, as promised long ago. It took me all of yesterday evening to type!! Only four more to go...!:)

Monday, June 07, 2004

Family Photo.

Thought you might like to meet us! Click the pic to see bigger.

Hampton Family

I've not blogged this week because we've had my Mum and another friend (who took the pics) staying with us (and staying up late...) and we have also had a busy time with our church Half-term holiday club - "Fun House" - with which we are heavily involved.
But suffice to say it's all been fairly uneventful and we have all had some fun together, as well as the usual bickering that seems rife in the holiday times (why is that - more time to get up each others noses!!). Kids are in the yard in the paddling pool again just now. I've decided we are having a two week half-term. We were originaly going down-south to see family this week, but the party we are going for has been postponed. It was supposed to be P's grandparents 80th birthday celebrations, but Nan has been unwell unfortunatly, so it's had to be cancelled for now :(

Anyway, I'm missing out on the sunshine sitting here and there's not much to tell, so I'll wait till later and write more maybe. I know there have been a couple of 'funnies' I have wanted to blog, but I can't remeber them just now - my memory fails me - too many babies!!