Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Time to Blog…

‘Bout time too I hear you say – where have you been? Answer – nowhere really, but I have (re)discovered photography in a big (you may have noticed by recent posts) as is always the way with me, a new love becomes all-absorbing for a while. I’m not planning on this being a fad though, as it’s not the cheapest hobby. That said, once the initial cost of the camera is spent, it’s not that expensive these days of digital photography. The cost of photo-paper is not that high these days (especially if you shop in Aldi), but tbh I don’t print many anyway, so that makes it even cheaper :D

So, what else has been happening here…

Jacob – same old with him. Nothing much changes. He is growing up rapidly and slowly becoming more responsible. Today he walked Caleb to playgroup for me, as I wasn’t feeling very well. It’s nice to have an older child in the house,  but occasionally he does forget that he is the oldest and you wouldn’t know him from his toddler siblings!!! School wise he is doing OK. Plodding on really, not exceptional, not unacceptable. I still feel I am trying to regain time with him, but I fear it is not going to happen and I am going to have to settle with what he is willing to give – which is just about ok! ConquerMaths is going well, but we abandoned Galore Park purely because of the quantity. There was no way he was going to complete that book in a year and he would be working below his capability because of it. CM is a good compromise. It does stretch him and help him to join sections of maths together in a way he hasn’t done before. We both really like it (as much as Jake is ever going to like maths!!). We have added in some ‘real life’ maths books (on The Manor Born’s) recommendation and both boys are doing these a couple of times a week. I think they are great in that they help them to see WHY we need maths at all and how it is useful in the real world. I can always remember thinking that I would never need half the maths I learnt, and tbh I haven’t much, but if someone had given me books like these at least I would have seen the point of it all! As far as literacy goes, Jake is working slowly through SYRWTL English 1 (Galore Park). It is good I think, but none of my children are much enamoured with these books – sadly. So currently i am thinking of enrolling the two boys with Catherine Mooney, not because I have any intention of doing the IGCSE at the end of it, but because the course looks good, it would take some pressure off me and I actually think they might enjoy it more than anything we have done to date. Joel is advanced enough (I think) to cope with it too, so they could do it together and that might be fun for them – I hope!!

Joel – is still at the infuriating, know-it-all, argumentative, too aggressive 10yo phase. I know he will grow out of it, but that doesn’t make it easier just now. Work wise he is doing really well and I don’t have to worry about him there. He is motivated by time and often starts school early in order to get finished before everyone else! Sadly this is not always possible when we are doing ‘together’ stuff in the afternoon – then he gets a bit grumpy! He has started trampolining of Saturday mornings and he is enjoying it very much – and I think he is probably quite good.

Abbie – my beautiful 8yo helper. She is nearly always willing to help out and is a very good girl on the whole: long may it continue :) School wise I never realise how well she is doing until I see what her little friend, who goes to private school and is ‘about average’ there, is doing – she is quite far beyond average then! Ab’s continues to love her ballet and is now dancing in the grade 2 class (not that she took grade 1 exam, but that’s just how it’s worked out atm). She is also doing OK in her swimming and this week passed up to level 7.

Phoebe – now 7 – is still not where I would like her to be school wise. Her maths is coming on nicely now, at last. Over half term and for a couple of weeks after i set her 20 addition and subtraction sums a day, with no total equalling more than 10. She managed to master them to the point of doing 10 addition in 30 seconds and 10 subtraction in a minute. Once she had that down we were able to move on in her maths to addition with ‘borrowing’ (only in our books it’s called regrouping, which is more accurate really) with numbers to 100. That may seem quite a leap, but it’s been fine and the penny seems to have dropped with her. She is still painfully slow, but she does ‘get it’! On the literacy side, her reading is making slow, but steady progress, but is still not ‘fun’ for he I don’t think. And her writing is neat enough, very legible, but she struggles to put it together and word retrieval is a problem too, just as it was/is for Jake.

Ellie – does school when she feels like it! Well that’s how it seems anyhow, but all the same she is on episode twelve of Headsprout and is beginning to be able to read. She has at last mastered he numbers 1-10 with no further teaching from me and is now well on her way to mastering 11-20 (reading and writing) with, again, very little effort on my part. I leave her alone for the best part and she comes when she is in the mood. She is really the victim of my being a bit stretched, but all the same she is learning and is probably on a par with others her age I’d say. I’m happy with where she is at and who she is. I actually really like the autonomy of learning that she is getting by default and it suits her, so I may stick with it – even if they others do moan a little that “Ellie never does any school”. They are getting used to it though and they can see that she is, it’s just different to theirs. Often I spend snippets of time with her on weekends and ‘out of school’ times – just ten minutes here and there – and that seems to be enough. She sits in on ‘together’ stuff when she chooses to and seems to absorb from that too.  Much of the time though she is playing some fairy tale out in her mind and is very involved in her play. She loves to ‘read’ books and the other day I heard her reading a Clarice Bean book to herself. She had obviously memorised the gist of the story, which was basically Clarice seeking out some peace and quiet, and was using her own words to tell it. At that moment I wished I’d had a dictaphone. The language she was using was colourful, well developed, well structured and full of voices and characters. I think one day, if I manage not to crush that creative flow in her, she might write books. She has beautiful way with words and an astonishing understanding of context for a 5yo. I feel like I really need to keep my ‘hands off’’ this one and see what she becomes…

Caleb – currently has an obsession with numbers and can count to 13 quite well :) His pencil co-ordination is very good and he can copy letters and numbers free-hand quite legibly. He is keen to ‘do school’ and so has his own school carry-box with a few pre-school workbooks in which he loves to do, albeit for only about 10 minutes at a time. He seems bright enough and his speech is developing well at last. His new phrase tonight was '”that’s different!” :D

Nathanael – is my lovable, mischief that only toddlehood brings to a house :D I love this age sooooo much. He is my  funny, charming, caring, naughty, and extremely quick show-off. Every day seems to bring a new word to his speech. Ok, so I can understand him and you may not, but he has a lot of words all the same. He copies EVERYTHING and learns very fast. He is persistent in his learning too. Up until now books have never interested him very much, but the other night I decided to read him ‘Dear Zoo’ – it became an instant favourite: being taken to bed and carried in the pushchair to playgroup. He practiced those animal sounds/actions for a week and then he had them all sorted. New favourite of the week - ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ – you should hear him trying to count the fruit!! Very sweet. So just now books are very much his thing and that makes me happy, especially as he is no longer trying to destroy them, but actually enjoying learning from them. And new trick of the week – emptying – OH NO!! – clean nappy box, wet wipes, page-a-day loose page desk calendar (hmmm – Jake was not impressed!), drinks bottle bag… It’s not that bad, just a bit of a pain!

So, what else is there to tell…

Last weekend was Mother’s Day of course, so for my treat Paul decided we would take a day in The Lakes (my favourite place in all the world) and do a family hike. So on Saturday, we left at 8.30 and arrived in Grasmere just after 11am. By the time we had all been to the loo and had a snack before we started it was about 11.45. Our walk for the day was to climb Raven’s Crag, across to Megs Gill and down, but we seemed to miss the short path down, so we followed the cairns and ended up going  the long way, over Silver Howe (395m/1296ft) and back into the village. About 4.5 miles I’d say and they all walked the whole way!! You can see a map of our walk HERE, the obvious green line and then right a bit over the ridge (not down into Waithwaite). It was a fabulous day. The walk took us a bit over 4 hours, but the sun shone and the kids enjoyed it – on the whole. There were waterfalls and streams for them to play in, which they always love. I’d hoped the waterfalls at the top would be spectacular, but we didn’t even find them. It actually all seemed pretty dry. As we drove through we noticed that even the river running through Ambleside was very dry. That said, we didn’t look very hard at the top because it was VERY windy up there and the kids just wanted to get down again!!

I’ll post some pictures over on Picasa – follow the usual album link :)

I think that just about get’s us up to date. One and  a bit weeks to the Easter hols – woo hoo – I need a break, my enthusiasm is waning and my printer is complaining!!

2009_03_21 Grasmere Hike

Friday, March 06, 2009

Playing with the settings...

I'm trying to learn a bit more about photography, so today I played with settings on our home's two cameras. Which do you like best? First two taken with Canon Powershot A1000 IS (10 mpx) second two take with Fuji Finepix F601Zoom (3.1 mpx). What's your verdict? I know which I prefer ;) If you need to see them bigger just click on each one. Then, when you've made your decision, take a vote - please!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Back Post – Happy 7th Birthday Phoebe .

Friday -

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This last picture was her opening her Hannah Montana Wii game :)

She had been asking for Hannah Montana stuff since before Christmas, but I had resisted. However, I figured in the end that it would make her VERY happy if she got something HM, so I softened – but struggled to find anything of real worth & longevity. In the end we plumped for the Wii game and it was an excellent choice – the girls ALL love it, but you can see how thrilled P was with it :) It’s good for music and rhythm interpretation in the same way the dance mat for the PS2 used to be (when WILL Nintendo bring out a Wii dance mat? – We really miss it). Besides that 7 was a bit of a gadget birthday – MP3 player, camera (her first REAL camera), and a little piglet ‘sock’ for the MP3. Then Granny got her some ‘bits’ – blo-pens (good fun and nice effect), a pretty pen and a victorian style dress-up doll). I also got her some leggings to go with one of her tops and a Pumpkin Patch outfit that I got in their online sale. So not too many new toys to add to the already vast collection, but one happy little girlie – phew!

Saturday was a crazy, busy day and at some point in it’s duration we went to have a look at THIS house – and were bowled over by it – it’s stunning and just across the road from where we are now, so no majorly expensive move – just a majorly bigger house (and rent to boot). We have said we are VERY interested but we need to take a look at the pennies before we can proceed – I think we had better be quick though or we will miss the opportunity – I don’t think it’s going to sit waiting for us to make up our minds for long! I really would like to live more in the country, but this has plenty of corners to hide away in and I think if I could just breath more in my own home I would at least be a little happier. The house I had had my eye on already has a deposit pending, so I need to move on…

After that Paul took A into town to collect her new bike – I can’t believe she is riding the same size bike as the boys! She really is A-big-girl! She is chuffed to bits with it, and, despite saying she does not like pink, guess what colour she chose..! Apparently she really liked a purple one better (and had she been with me I might have softened to her plea), but it was more expensive for no obvious added extras. That said – it’s not like this one isn’t beautiful :D

Sunday – Ellie had her pre-primary ballet exam and tbh, I was VERY worried when i was running through a couple of the dances with her before we left, because she just couldn’t remember them! Thankfully I think she did OK under pressure – according to her teacher :D. We won’t get the results for ages though, so she goes up to the blue class next week – no more little pink ballet girls in my house now, only bigger blue ones! :( And I missed the photo opportunity – I might just have to get her to pose for me – it IS the end of an era after all!

Hah- that’s up to today – good!!

Tot-school snap shots from last week – he called it “rocket school” - cute! Just look at his writing...I haven’t worked on his pencil grip at all yet, but he did those ones and two’s all by himself – including two freehand ones of each – I am constantly amazed by him – a boy who loves to write (well atm anyway);

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