Thursday, January 20, 2005


Hi All. I wish I had the energy to blog properly, but I don't!! Suffice to say things are going reasonably well here, despite us all missing Paul loads!

Joel finished Singapore Maths 1A today and did some addition and subtraction without much help from me at all - he remembered the steps well - BIG sigh of relief :) And Jacob reached his first 'write a story' page in Just Write, which initially brought tears, but then he knuckled down for once and made a reasonable attempt for a pretty-much first go at story writing :) Not sure how he's going to feel when he sees that the next page is another 'write a story' page! He said to me today "But I've done this kind of thing before!" He seems to think that once he's done it once (which actually he really hasn't) he'll never have to do it again. I explained that yes a little, but he will be doing it more and more. Hopefully he won't be totally unprepared to write another story when it comes to it. Fortunatly it's not something we do every day, or even every week for that matter and I do know that it is not that unusual for a 7 year old boy to not be that enthusiastic about story writing!! Fact, figures and accounts of things - they go down better these days, so I try to build his 'essay' skills mostly that way instead. But I also want to help him devlop his imagination more and the Just Write is great for that, because it is so step-by-step, giving concrete tools for imaginitive writing.

Anyway - going to finish my chores now (load dish-washer, wipe down kitchen and d.table, quickly run hoover through ready for the group in the morning, fold the washing and put next load in dryer) and I REALLY need to go to bed!! This is why I am so tired!!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Very Quickly...

I was going to bed an hour ago, but two 'phone calls later...

Anyway, today we went out at 9am (how impressive is that!!) to run errands in town. We paid to many bills - when I eventually remembered my P.O. card account pin number to get the money out (pregnancy block!!). Bought Joel some new trainers which are just TOO cool, so he's a happy bunny :) Bought them both a cake in Chatwins and a pasty for me. Then put Joel's old shoes in the shoe recycle bin at Safeway and did a little bit of 'social ed' by making them read the sticker on the bin which explains what will be done with them. Then we went into Safeways where Jacob noticed the mountain of baskets stacked by the door.
J - "Look Mum, there must be about 60 baskets there!"
M - "No, a good few more than that I'd say."
J - " A hundred?"
M - "OK let's do some Maths - estimation - count the number of baskets in the middle size stack."
J - "24"
M - and how many stacks are there?"
J - "9."
M - "OK, so how many baskets are there?"
J - "24 x 9 ... I can't do that, it's too hard! And not all the stacks have 24 baskets in them so it won't be right."
M - " No, it will not be exactly right; it will be an estimation - a close guess. To work out the answer break down the numbers. 24 is 10 & 10 & 4 isn't it?"
J - " yes."
M - " so 10 x 9 ?"
J - "90 ... + another 90 that's 180"
M - " plus the 4 x 9..
J - "36... 180 + 36. That's 216. WOW!! That's a LOT of baskets. I was nowhere near when I said 60!!"

Maths lesson over - we had multiplication, addition and estimation covered in five minutes!!

As we really didn't do much more school today (about 30 mins just finishing off left-overs) I was pleased we had squeezed that in :)

Also while we were out today a lot of 'social' education happened. That is, me telling the boys what is and isn't acceptable behaviour in the street and any other public place for that matter, and how they should learn to walk along nicely like normal human beings, not leaping about and behaving like orangutans!! :)

Not much else to report today. The kids are still being really good at chores etc... :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Still Alive - honest!!

Well yes I am, but it has been really hard to get time to blog of late. Immediately following the Christmas madness it was another mad rush around here to get 'back to normal' - decorations down and packed away and the house cleaned down because Paul has had to go away for a whole month as part of his degree. It's a practical placement and he has gone to LLanelli (S.Wales) for it. I wanted the house clean before he left as I guessed that I might not get much time (or energy) to clean it whilst he was gone and at least with a clean slate it's easiER to keep it that way!! So we blitzed all week, as well as getting bits that we both needed in Crewe before he left and I was 'stranded' in Nantwich for the next month, unless I should choose to take 5 children on the bus - which of course I never would!!
SO, he left last Saturday morning and aside from missing his company and help, in the evening especially, life is actually trotting along quite nicely - I am amazed to say! I have made a couple of laminated charts. One is labelled "The Helping Mummy Chart" - which is basically a chores rota for all four of the older children. It includes tasks like emptying bins, hoovering the kitchen floor after lunch with a mini-Hoover, keeping their rooms tidy, helping tidy up at the end of the day, laying and clearing the table for tea, etc... - simple stuff, but so much help :) And so far it has worked a treat - no tantrums, no fuss, just reasonably happy helpers. I think because they can see that they each take a turn at things it make sit all seem so much fairer and keeping the boys separated at tidy-up time works well too because it seems to mean they get the job(s) done with a whole lot less fooling around and distracting each other. I just hope it keeps up for the whole month and maybe even becomes so much part of life that it carries on even once Paul is home. At the top of the chart I have written "A happy family is one where everyone works together and helps each other and a happy MUMMY keeps everyone happy!" - They like that :)
The other chart is a checklist of morning and evening "Must Do's" in the order they have to be done; get dressed, make beds, open curtains, have breakfast, get pencils, writing mat and ruler on the table ready for school, etc... This REALLY helps Jacob as he can just keep checking back to it. He is NOT good at retaining lists of things to do and this has cut down on my nagging him at least 75%! Joel on the other hand read the list on day 1 and has committed it to memory pretty much - and sticks to it very well. They are SO different! :)
There have been a few stressful moments, needless to say, like when Joel poured his whole drink of Ribena into his plate of fish and chips that he had not yet touched! He was really hungry too because he had been swimming, but that was all there was unless I'd given him my tea, which I wasn't about to do because had he used two hands instead of one to move his plate, his drink and his cutlery (all at the same time) it MIGHT not have happened & even much less likely if he hadn't been throwing a wobbly over having the 'wrong cutlery' - rrrr - but hey, he learned his lesson I hope ;) And then last night Phoebe dropped her pot of yoghurt upside down on the carpet in the lounge (our dining table is in the lounge)! And tonight 3 out of 5 made a fuss for one reason or other. Jacob wanted beans and Phoebe wanted spaghetti - each of them usually has the other, so I was a little annoyed, but just swapped them over and Joel was still making a fuss about not having his other cutlery (I have a feeling I have ditched the fork!). But we got over it and had a reasonably civil tea-time :)

School-wise; We started back this week (am I a glutton for punishment or what - starting back as Paul goes away?) and so far it's been fine. Jacob has been doing fractions. A year ago we touched on fractions. He just simply did NOT get it, he was tense and up-tight and in the end we left it and moved on feeling it was very much UN-mastered. Yesterday he turned the page to the 'Fractions' section of his Math book and his face filled with horror and dread, BUT he stepped in. To his and my delight it made absolute sense to him and he breezed through two 'chatty' bits and two exercises in no time and with no trouble at all :) He looked at me and said - "it must be because I am a whole year older now Mummy" - and I think he was very right on that; he was simply ready to assimilate what he was learning. We could have drilled and drilled on fractions a year ago and what would we have gained? I believe that actually the foundations were built a year ago and he was able to call on his previous attempts to understand it and with that and a year of practical 'life' under his belt (like cutting sandwiches and apples up!!) he simply 'gets' it now. Today he almost finished the section. I am one happy Mummy :)
Joel did some 'sticker book' maths including some additions and subtractions within 20 and got them all right with no blackboard in sight, so I'm hoping he did get it after all and we will have a similar experience with him as we just did with Jake when we come back to adding. At the moment we are doing Length & Weight, so that's more fun :)
Other than that we've done a bit of English and handwriting to get back in the swing of things. Jacob was doing 'Possessive Adjectives' and 'Possessive Pronouns' yesterday - do you know the difference? I had to look at the answer book so I do now! Apparently a PP comes before the noun and a PA comes after it :) This is my pen (pp). It used to be hers (pa). I definitely didn't learn that stuff when I was 7!! The material is actually designed for 8-9 years olds, but he gets it OK and understands it, so why not do it if he can?!
Today I had planned to do some Geography. We are going to look at Ireland these next few weeks. But a friend popped in for an hour (new to Nantwich and also home-schooling), so that got left for today and will probably wait until next week now, because the boys really want to do some History while the girls are out at playgroup tomorrow.(note-to-self; I must go get their clothes out before I go to bed). I also need to pay some bills, get a few bits of shopping and Joel needs new shoes in the morning. Hmmm - will there be enough time I wonder?! Probably not, there never is, is there!?
So that's us. I might not get chance to blog again for a few more days, but if you think of me - well think of me!!