Saturday, April 29, 2006

"Spring" madness!

Just thought I'd post up some piccies of the last few beautiful spring days in our new garden - it's such a blessing. I never realised how much I missed having a kid friendly garden :) If you want to see more then I've put them in 'myphotoalbum' - click the flashing badge under 'photo storage' - hope that's as clear as mud!!

share & share alike (I LOVE these two pictures)
In the sand. (I've faded this one for effect)
Springing into life!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Very Briefly..

It's been a pleasent start to term. Joel wrote a very short poem today about Easter - he asked to write a poem, but it was VERY short - more like a haiku really, only he doesn't know about those yet!

Abbie seems to have blossomed over the hols and read a level 1 ladybird book to me today with little trouble :)

Phoebe did some beautiful over-writing of her name - concentrating on correct letter formation atm and working up to being able to write it independently. She is very neat and gets the 'start at the top' rule really well :)

Even managed to re-cap the battle of Jericho (history) before we move on with that. Fortunately that was easy as it's a story they all know well and so I could squeeze that in at the end of the day!

I went out with some friends tonight - very nice although I suspect a bit non-diet happy, but hey - so I took a night off in a month!

Jacob had his first trial at the swimming club tonight and got in, although sadly it's not the better club as that was going to be a legistical nightmare - I hope he may be able to transfer at a later date, like when Paul can drive, if this is not challenging enough for him. He seemed to enjoy it though and was full of chat as I was going out the door. I guess I'll hear the full details tommorrow!

Took some gorgeous pics of the kids in the garden today too - i'll post those up tommorrow now though as it's geting WAY too late and I do have school happening tommorrow - I can't quite get out of holiday mode!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Back To School...

I'm amazed - after a lovely holiday my kids can't wait to get back to school, so after a trip to the opticians tomorrow morning we start afresh for the new term. I wonder what's in store for us all?

My boys have been busy with the Hama this last week - just suddenly took to it and spent ages quietly working on it together one afternoon - very nice :) Need to get some 'skin tones' from Merry as the boys are into making sporty figures, so it's all people with shorts on!

The girls have produced some very lovely colourings over the hols - mostly flowers and they are very pretty :) I've pasted one of the outlines here for you to use if any of your girls would like to use it too. If any of you would like any more, just let me know and I'll email them to you :) These have been a real hit here this holiday - the girls have used gel pens a lot to colour them and they look great.

I've re-discovered my creative streak too - I found some cross stitches I started 9 years ago in a drawer and have decided to try to complete those in the evenings - me time, aside from the 'puter.

It's Jacob's birthday next Tuesday - he'll be nine! I can hardly believe I have a 9 year old and he seems to be growing up all at once atm. I'll have a teenager in the house before I know it! He does seem to be calming down loads too, which is great, but we still need to work on helping him manage his anger/frustrations at times. He has a nasty habit of lashing out a bit too often still, but it IS improving and his concentration definitely seems to be taking a turn for the better (as the hama proved), so I'm more and more hopeful for back home for year 7 - we'll see... Meanwhile he's asked for an MP3 stick and a mobile phone for his birthday! It's a technological age I guess and, as he is increasing going out with his friends without me, I am allowing both, but he doesn't know that yet, so ...(shhh!)

Swimming lessons have ended now for Jake and he has his first try out of club swimming on Wednesday evening. Joel started in level 7 tonight, so I am really pleased with him too. Abbie starts level 1 on Friday. I am at the pool three evenings a week now!!! And out at other activities (for me) the other two - busy, busy!

That's it tonight I think.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A few hours Later...

I decided tonight I want to finish today's blog, so despite my new bedtime rules and having been out with a friend until now (11.30pm) I'm going to finish my blog before I hit the sack.

The other big 'new' thing in my life is 'flylady'. I'd heard about the flylady website for ages, but thought it would be another guilt trip I'd send myself on, so avoided it! But one day - about a month ago now, I made a fleeting trip to see what it was all about and was pleased with what I found. So I thought I'd sub' and give it a try. I really like it and it has changed the way I think about keeping house (and has led to the new diet too). Today I managed to clean the bathroom upstairs, sort out the weeks shopping list, hoover the whole of the upstairs, do a load of washing (wash, dry and put away), play with the kids +++, make a healthy lunch, chat to a friend, play with the children some more & read to Ellie a bit, cook tea, wash-up (dishwasher not happening in this house) and clean down the kitchen, sweep the dining room floor & mop the kitchen floor, comfort the baby (teething!) and tidy the front room up after the smalls ready for a visitor this evening - all between 9am and 8pm. And I blogged a bit and read some emails! It's great. My day is broken into little 15 minute bursts of chores, interspersed with time with the children and me time. Tea obviously takes a little longer, but not that long and I'm really enjoying cooking real food :) I think the children can see a difference in my attitude already and the only time I really get stressed by the chores is when I do something stupid like spill a jug of juice just after I mopped the floor and then it's more frustration at my own stupidity! Even the children are cottoning on to working in a 15 minute time frame and it helps them because it is a measured and comfortable amount of time to work for - there is always an end in sight. Only Jacob really puts up a fight, but that's just par for the course with him it seems!

So other than our big domestic changes, life here has been merrily ticking along. Easter has been mad busy, but lots of fun. In the run up the kids and I blew and painted some eggs. I've NEVER done egg blowing before, but by the time I had blown 4 my muscles in my face were telling me they'd had enough. The end results were lovely and I glazed the eggs with the egg itself. They have a lovely shine and are consequently quite strong too. I was amazed that when Phoebe's was dropped twice it refused to little other than crack a bit. Abbie's on the other hand, has been the unfortunate victim of an over egg-cited (!!) Joel and has been smashed with jet plane! I haven't taken any pictures because Joel didn't quite finish his, Phoebe's is not very artistic (though she did try hard), Abbie's is in pieces and you don't need to see mine - and after all they are just painted eggs!!

Over Easter we had my s-i-l and her 4 children staying + M&D-i-l - making 16 in the house including us! I must confess that my 15 minutes schedules went a little out of the window whilst trying to prep the house for that onslaught and keep it running whilst they were all here, but I have reinstated them for the clear up and three days later the house is almost back to how it should be. Once they all left on Monday, Georgina (my last summer's helper) came to stay for a few days (until today actually) and although this was not a busmans holiday for her, she is always a great help and I couldn't stop her doing the washing up - she snuck right past me last night and had her hands in the sink before I could blink!! The children loved having her here - I just wish I could afford to pay her when she finishes college this summer, but I can't so that's that, but if any of you need a Nanny - I can recommend a really lovely one!

At the end of last term Jacob got 'pupil of the week' for putting lots of effort into a story he had written for homework. It was two and a half A4 sheets long! I was so proud of him!! :) Maybe all that work I put into story writing with him is finally bearing fruit.

Joel is finishing up in primary Maths 2A when we go back next week - he just has a couple of reviews to do and a couple more short sections on time & fractions I believe and we're done and into 2B - I hope he is ready.

Abbie is reading! It's slow and methodical, but it's definitely coming now. Today she sat and did a picture-word puzzle (the sort of set where you have about 50 words and 50 pictures and you have to read the word to find the picture that fits with it) - almost without help. There are just a couple of letters she hasn't downed 100% yet and she got stuck on yacht (I wonder why!!), other than that she had no trouble. I think she surprised herself! :) She also read a letter someone had written to her to me the other day - beginning to end, including words like 'friend'. The person had stuck to relatively simple to read words, but all the same... We were both chuffed!

We had our annual LEA visit from the home-teacher mediator. She is really lovely and our LEA are now handing out 'home educated' cards for the children, which is great I think. It's much easier to produce if we get stopped by a police 'truancy' spot check and it might help us get into places cheaper if it carries the weight of the LEA - I'm happy anyway, although I've yet to use it :)

Next term Joel has chosen to do a project on 'weather,' so watch this space. I bought him a 'project helper' booklet thing from WHSmiths (they do loads of them) and he's using that as a base to work from, plus I got a freebie CDRom from the met office on weather. This will be his first solo project and I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out. He know that he's working on this one alone and is quite excited by it I think. I was surprised at his choice, because there were some great alternatives; vehicles, mini-beasts, and other 'boyish' things, but he chose 'weather', and it does look interesting. Whilst he's working on that I'm going to do 'living and non-living' with Abbie (& Phoebe when she's about), which is something Joel did ages back and doesn't need to repeat.

I don't know what else we're doing next term yet. I might get Boo to have a go at some simple writing of stories (once we finish JP - just two more workbooks to go - about three weeks work) and never mind the spelling too much. At the moment she dictates a story to me about once a week, and then draws me a lovely picture to go with it. I might move that on to getting her to draw a picture story and then write some simple sentences to go along with her drawings - I dunno though... I don't want to push her beyond where she is ready to go just yet.

We're going to move on a bit in History I think and try and get up to 'The Greeks' before half term.

I want to take a brief look at Wales too before the year is out (Geography), ready to move on to the rest of Europe next year. Having covered the UK in some depth, I intend to trot around Europe, before galloping around the rest of the world. We use 'Galloping the Globe,' in theory, but I majorly adapted it, because I felt we need to start by looking at our own nation first and then gradually travel the world from here. I discovered lapbooking along the way, so we've lapbooked Ireland and Scotland and will probably lapbook Wales too, after that I might just do one major Europe lapbook as a review when we have travel around and then occasional ones for really interesting countries we visit around the rest of the world.
Ah well, that'll do for now. It gone midnight now and I'm tired - it's been a busy day!

Back after a Long Silence!!

Just in case anyone is still out there - we're still alive! I'm seriously out of the habit of blogging and never really seem to have the time to do it these days. I'm making a concerted effort to get to bed at a reasonable hour most nights (as opposed to early hours of the morning - or even nearly dawn at times!!). BUT that means I have less PC down-time. Actually I'm a little into the 8.30-10pm slot on the TV atm and then I simply can't be bothered to come stare at another screen for a couple of hours - sorry folks! When I do it's usually school prep time and that means little blog time, but hey - I've all of ten minutes just now, so this is a mini-update.

Other things that have chipped into my blog time is that I have taken on the family cooking. This has been P's role for almost as long as I can remember, but he is a bit of a freezer food fan and I wanted to seriously start losing some weight - so big changes were required. I signed up to '' on the Body Clutter diet and have been cooking for 3 weeks now. The food is great (although upping the intake of fresh meat and fish has simultaneiously upped our food bill significantly!) and MOSTLY goes down well with everyone :) I don't know if I've actually lost any weight, but I feel better - must buy some body scales!

OK - 10 mins is up - I'll be back later...