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!!


Jax said...

I think we'll let you off, especially given such a generous posting tonight! ;)

Eek, a month on your own, I'm well impressed. And still getting education done. I don't know where you find the energy - let us into your secret?

Jules said...

Wow, you have my full admiration!

Sarah said...

Sounds like you're managing admirably, Caroline!

Just wondered what level of fractions Jacob is working on, as we've had some sticky moments with Anna's fractions this week - what sort of exercises has he been doing? They are a similar age I think (Anna turned 8 a couple of weeks ago) so it might be a helpful comparison for me at least ...?

karen said...

Keep us in the loop if it gets too much for you Caroline - especially if you need a rant while Paul is away - keep up the good work.

Caroline said...

OK - what is 'the loop' ? Do you just mean keep posting (which I shal TRY to do), or am I missing something?

Sarah, yes Jacob is 8 in May, so he and Anna are similar ages :) The fractions we were doing were pretty basic stuff (when seen through MY eyes), but he so did NOT understand it last year when I tried to explain. We use Sinagpore Maths. He's on 2B. The kind of stuff he was doing was 1/8 is ? part of ? equal parts - fill in the blanks. Which is the greater fraction 1/2 or 1/5 ? Which is the smaller fraction 1/6 or 1/8 ? Then today 1/3 + ?/3 = 1 (whole). There are initially pictoral helps, but they were phased out by the end of the section. The exercises are practice questions on the concepts covered. Match the pairs of fractions to make a whole (e.g. 3/5 & 2/5) was his closing exercise today. He did it in a couple of minutes :) I hope that gives you a clear enough picture of where we're at. If I can help any with Anna give us a shout - off bog if you like.

Caroline said...

Jax - I'm wiped and heading for an early night, but the kids are being REALLY great so that helps loads:) And today we did only 30 mins of school because there were too many errands to run! But I did try to incorporate 'practical' education while we were out. See todays blog!!

Jan said...

Really glad to hear you're managing OK with Paul away. I've been thinking about you lots (assisted by C planning a circus show she wants to do nect time you all come over!)

Caroline said...

if you're still eading - did you just get my email? I need a password to your blog - it didn't send me one when I applied! :(

karen said...

LOL Caroline - by 'in the loop' I just meant give us an occasional update when you can re baby stuff and ed stuff. And if you need cyber support we are here for you dearest. xx