Monday, January 30, 2006

'Puter Troubles!!

It’s always quick these days…

I never seem to have time or energy to properly blog or to blog trawl these days. I’d love to catch up with you all and sincerely hope that your new year is going well so far. Maybe one of these days I’ll get a not so tired spare evening.

We have been having MAJOR computer problems with our upstairs PC and despite me spending nearly two whole days (and most of a night) over the weekend trying to make it happy, it still keeps crashing! Basically it powers down in the middle of everything, but not properly, so you can’t even restart - just have to unplug and start again! In fact if has taken up to six attempts to get it to power up at all at points :( Anyway, at least we have the downstairs one now (just in time it seems!!), so the kids can play and I can keep at least reasonably up to date with emails etc…

School is still good. I’m going in to see Jake’s teacher this week, just to chat. I have a few issues to raise. One is that she is wrecking his handwriting - trying to make him do it ‘her way’ which is not so different to the way I taught him, it’s just that she is working on the standard he was at two years ago! She wants him to write bigger (WHY???), straighter and with diagonal joins. Now you tell me - how do you do diagonal joins on straight writing? And WHY does she have such a problem with his slopping his writing - that’s what they are working towards anyway. (big rrrrrr). He has talked to her about it, but her response is “No, you have to do it our way!!” I don’t think so. His writing has really gone down hill and I have a big problem with that, so that is definitely one I wish to tackle - perhaps more than the reading issue, because we can deal with reading at home more.

The others are doing fine. Phoebe spends many hours in the dining room either working on PC Play and Learn or on (excellent site) and in my experience an infinitely renewable free trial! I got her some Carol Vorderman books too, just so she has some ‘school books’.

Abigail is coming on well. I have decided to tread slowly and carefully with her. So we have taken three weeks to cover the first six letters in Jolly Phonics and gone over and over the ground. I think they are well cemented now so today we moved on to Book 2, which starts out with letter ‘C’, which happens to be one she already ‘picked up’ somewhere along the line anyway, so was easy. So, so far she knows s, a, t, p, i, n, c, & k. (c & k are covered in the same lesson as they make the same sound). The other day she came to me and asked “what does this say?” She had written ‘stop’ on piece of paper. I asked her where she copied it from. She said she hadn’t, she had just written it. I asked her what it said and she told me. She had simply sounded out the letters onto paper - and I haven’t even taught her ‘o’ yet, but she must have that logged that somewhere already too :) She can also easily read(by sounding out) the CVC words that her learnt letters can make up, so with a little ice-treading I think we’ll be OK!

Both girls had fun with Maths today - a huge play tub of water on the kitchen floor with lots of different tubs, cups and bottles (it was too cold for the garden! I love the versatility of this new house). They were experimenting with quantities of water in different size containers, learning about volume and the basic measuring of. I called it ‘school’ - they called it ‘fun!!’ (albeit a bit wet)

Joel is doing swimmingly too - when he’s in the mood. I try to do a little of ‘making him write’ and a little of ‘Mummy’ll do the writing if you tell her what to put’. It encourages him to ‘dump’ more when he doesn’t have to do the writing - definitely a boy thing. He has great writing, but hates to do it! His maths is progressing slowly, but he just doesn’t get word problems. He’s fine with numbers, it words that muddle him!! I got him this - Papers in Verbal reasoning - to try to help him out. It’s not just with maths(in fact that’s a very small part of it), but lots of logical thinking. I think if he can learn to reason better then the maths problems will be less tricky for him. These books are great and they are quite fun too. There’s loads of freebies on the website too, so go check it out! :)

Sorry there are still no pic’s. Probably won’t be for a while now. I’ll let you know when I post them up, but the main ‘puter is going to the menders (I’ve given up) and I don’t want to put pictures on the kids PC as the HD is not too big for storing all that sort of thing.

Well that’s me. P needs to do some work now on here and I’m going to veg’!!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Happy Burnes Night!!

I just wanted to quickly blog how fantastically everything is going here at Wellyboots this term. We are having a ball! We have three projects on the go and two more in the pipeline. We are currently doing 'our bodies', 'plants' (still not finsihed that yet and spring will soon be here again!) & 'scotland'. So tonight we had a Burns Supper just for the fun of it - and it was too! We began the evening with the Selkirk grace and then had 'broth' as a starter (a choice of cullen skink (smoked haddock broth) & scotch broth) followed by the parading of the Haggis as Paul red "Address to a Haggis" which was accompanied with neeps & tatties (mashed suede and mashed potaoto), homemade bridies (steak & veg mini-pies), - and, because I thought the kids might not like too much of any of that we rounded off with Chocolate fudge cake (to fill them up!) and sang Auld Lang Syne - all the verses! Throughout the meal we read (Paul did a much better job than I did) a few short Burns Poems, listened to traditional scottish music and toasted to the lassies and the laddies (which I think P & I appreciated more than the kids did!!).
Surprisingly most of the children tried everything, but Jake did his usual and conplained loudly the whole way through the meal (rrrr) You'd think a nearly 9yo would appreciate the occasion, enjoy the spirit of the meal and 'have a go' without quite such a babyish attitude - but even Ellie did better than him - she ate her haggis with relish!! And Caleb enjoyed the haddock broth :) Abbie cleared her plate and Joel made a good stab at it. Beefie was not keen but she did TRY everything and she doesn't eat much atm anyway. So that just left Jake making a fuss! P & I really enjoyed the change :)
I will say though it was a mammoth effort. Joel, Boo and I spent the entire afternoon making broth and pies - it was fun, and added to their desire to try it all I'm sure, but boy am I knackered and my back is sore from the standing - not to mention the mountain of washing up it generated!! Anyway at least Joel will have something to jot in his journal tommorrow - he always says he can't think what to write (his life is SO dull!!)

(cullen skink)(bridies) Scotch Broth

Aside from all the Burns prep - yesterday we did some invisible picture painting which the children enjoyed (we now have art built in once a week (last week was junk modeling) and I think I am doing quite well at letting them try new things - so good to have a wood floor again!!). Anyway, it was possibly the first time Ellie has tried her hand with a paint brush and I will post the pics another night - but suffice to say the entire end of the table where she was, was essentially painted Black - as was her face and even her hair!! But she had a great time!!! I shall try to post up some pictures this week, but our upstairs PC is NOT happy (it keeps powering down for no apparent reason, even in the middle of booting up!). But fortunatly I have just added awireless network connection so this is happening from the downstairs PC (which is the kids one and doesn't have all the add-ons, but does the job!). I'm trying to make them talk to each other, so we can file share between them, but it's not happening - not sure why, but at least the internet connection works between them is ok, meaning I can blog :)

( OK - here are the painting pics - better late than never!!)

But its way past bedtime (to much trying to configure the pc's these last two days!!) and the little C. still doesn't sleep well so I best get some shut eye before he wakes again.

Other news before I go though - Ellie is potty trained and dry at night too!!! And Joel is up to Level 6 in his swimming :)

And these were the junk models;

bird table - by Abbie (very little help given from me - all her own idea! ) I was very impressed :)

Joel's TV Robot!

Phoebe's butterfly

Phoebe's telescope - entirely her own creation :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Just Quickly

Just Quickly...

I wanted to quickly blog that all is going well so far this term. I’m now schooling Joel & Abbie. I’ve made up a timetable that tries to get them working together as much as possible AND involves Phoebe when she is at home. Last week, despite a general lack of health in the house, everything went really well. And this week has kicked off well too (well it is only Monday!!). Joel likes to see his timetable because he likes to know what each day holds, but he is also aware that it has to stay reasonably flexible and can change if we want it to, because that way it doesn’t bind us, it just directs us and helps us remember what we would like to do each week.
     Abbie strangely has suddenly become less keen. It seems that as long as ‘doing school’ was her choice was almost overly eager, but now it is a requirement she’s not so, and is happy to sleek off with Phoebe under the guise of “I don’t have to do school today!”  I’m not putting pressure eon though because actually I’m not too worried how much she does just now and I want to keep it fun for her, but at the same time I have to fair on Joel because he is aware that Boo is supposed to be doing school now! I try to give Boo work that amuses her and makes it seem to Joel as if she is working hard!

As far as teaching Boo to read goes, I’m still not convinced she is really ready, but she so WANTS to learn - motivation coming from seeing her two closest friends now beginning to read. So we’ll plug at it for a bit - going as slow as I can without making it boring, or un-rewarding for her (she needs to see the fruits of her labour). That said, at the end of her first three days I got her to sound out, hear and read the words ‘cat’, ‘sat’ and ‘bat’ (she had learnt the letters s, a, & t and she already knew c and b) and then to show-off what she could do to her old playgroup teachers when we collected Phoebe! She liked that (& so did they)!! Today she learnt ‘i’, so I showed her she could now read ‘sit’ too. So in four days she has as many words under her hat (in addition to ‘at’ and ‘it’ as well of course!). I ’ll keep it slow and rewarding and see how far we get - that’s my plan!

Anyway it’s way too late - again! Caleb is about to wake for his early hours feed (ho-hum - when will he sleep through!?!) and I really must get some shut eye! We have had a house of bugs for a couple of weeks and I am way behind on stuff (having only just caught up after Christmas), hence the late nights...

I’ll blog as soon as I can again, but probably a couple more days.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Happy New Year

I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year! And I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas. Life here has been pretty busy over Christmas. My Mum was with us, but she was her usual late-running self and didn’t arrive until 9.30 on Christmas morning, having stayed up for two solid days and nights to wrap presents and pack her bag for going to my Nan’s for New Year. You can imagin what she was like by then..! Anyway - I won’t off load about her on line, save to say she annoyed me +++ !
New Year was great though - my two sisters in law and their spouses came to stay for a couple of days. It always means an extra 4 children in the house when Esther & Rueben come to stay, and totally exhausted children by the end of it, but they all have such a lovely time together. There’s always a long hard game of Mum’s and Dad’s all entwined with school & teachers (three of them are school age now and mine seem to be able to join in with Issy (who goes to school) pretty well considering they have no real idea of what school is like!) Jake is a bit on his own really - being a bit too old for all that, but Uncle R is great with him and likes to play lots of games (Othello being Jake’s latest discovery) so that works out OK. :) They all get on so well that it’s always worth the bit over over-tiredness it brings!!

(just a little pic of some of them just before E&R went home!)

Plus of course, us growny-ups get to chat lots while they play and we had a great laugh New Year’s Eve playing on the boys’ new PS2 and their eye-toy. I never knew a virtual assault course could be so exhausting!! The children are now just veg’ing big time - in front of the telly & PS2 way too much, but I’m doing much the same; giving myself time to catch up on my blog and emails, church newsletter and website - all of which have been seriously neglected for the last two weeks. Jacob is so exhausted he has a sore throat and crashed out at 5pm yesterday for the rest of the evening and night (save for changing into his PJ’s and getting into bed). He needs to recover some pace as he is back to school on Thursday! I shall probably wait until Monday with Abbie and Joel - gives me an extra weekend to prepare for having two full-time scholars again! I think even though I want Boo to be PT she will push into ‘more, more’, so I shall just play it by ear.
As far at Jake at school is going all seems well atm. His homework for the last week of term was to write a story to be assessed by the teacher. Apparently, all the other children had written one at the beginning of the half term, but Jake had missed those first couple of weeks and hence the assignment. So he sat down to write one at home. I was out at the time (with Joel at swimming) and when I came home, it was done! A full side of a note-quite-A4 exercise book - full of story and straight out of his imagination. No planning, no basis in his real world or experience and pretty good even by my high standards!! WHY? Why could he not just do that for me at home? Why, even after a full year of teaching how to write good stories, would he throw such a huge wobbly when I asked him to do the same thing, and yet as a homework assignment it’s done in about 15 minutes (according to Paul) with no fuss at all? There were a few spelling errors (he consistently spell went as whent) but he realised that and was willing to go through in the morning before school to correct any he could find. I didn’t look again so I don’t know how many he corrected, but I’m sure it will be a good piece of work for his teacher to make an assessment of him with - it’s just that in my eyes it was fairly exceptional! That, aside from his spellings each weekend, has been his only homework so far and he tells me that is because he finishes everything in class. Homework is only given to children who need to practice something (“they don’t get it”), but as he is finding everything too easy atm that doesn’t include him!
Socially he is happy too (phew!). The worst the children can find to tease him with is “Salad Boy!” because he likes to have salad with his school lunch every day. I have reassured him that if that is the worst it gets he has nothing to worry about :). The other tease he’s had has been for picking his nose (YUK!) - which they are welcome to continue as it does seem to be encouraging him to stop! He has made plenty of friends across the year groups and the teachers seem to like him so far (according to the one I spoke to at the school Christmas presentation and his Head teacher).
All in all - I really think we made the right decision - praise God! And I’m hoping that 2006 will be a fantastic year!