Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wasps (not Bees) & Wanders

Some of you may remember this;

well it now looks like this - look closely and you will see a wasp or two. It's like a big, white, beautiful ball ;

We took a little family jaunt after Paul got home today , to the 'oops-closed' PO for sweets!

So some of the team went on home whilst the rest of us went down to the brook.

My photo mission word for the day was 'gate' - you can see the shots I got HERE, but I also took some gorgeous ones down by the glistening brook. Boo did a spot of this;

While the boys built a dam in the very fast flowing stream. A few weeks ago they were paddling in there quite happily, but not today: it was too deep and too fast! E in fact had run down the bank in eagerness to paddle, slipped and landed on her bum in it. I was glad she hadn't fallen right in as she at all can't swim yet and I I'd have been jumping in after her! It did make her grizzle though as she was thoroughly wet - poor love!
Got home about 7 to find P had left the key with me and couldn't get in (silly nit)! Eventually ate what should have been a lovely tex-mex chickeny thing, only the rice tasted like mud and P & I just couldn't eat it at all! Not sure what the problem, but hope it was nothing major because a lot of the kids had mixed it with the sauce and eaten it!
I think P actually has some free time tomorrow - now there's a novelty - best make sure I don't spend all day on here!! ;D

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Shape of The Day

The day started like this;

Contained a bit of this;

And a lot of this;
(that's Boo pulling faces at me for taking photos instead of making lunch ;) !!)
while others decided to fend for themselves...!

I did make lunch - honest - just after I took these :D
Aside from that it's just been a whole lot of playing going on - and I like it that way :D
Now it's tidy-up and bed-down time - and I like that too!


I don't usually do these kind of things, but this little man is gravely ill right now and NEEDS your prayers for him and his family.

Prayers for Stellan

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Did I mention that we are taking a summer break and not 'doing' school atm? It seems my tots have other plans...

I just bought a bunch of new pegs (including these 'posh pegs') to make something schooly for NJ, but I haven't got to it yet as they only arrived today - seems he's read my mind and beaten me to it!! He could only just manage the squeezy pegs (sometimes with two hands) but he did do a few which I was pleased about :D They both enjoyed their game for a about 15 minutes and then just tossed all the pegs back in the bucket and went off to play somewhere else - but there was NO MESS and everything was thrown in an appropriate place - yeah!!

Tonight I've been out for a meal (eat all you can Chinese) with some girly-friends and had a really lovely, fun evening. Sadly it was all in aid of yet another "goodbye!", as yet another of our friends connected with the College moves away :( It's been a really tough few months with SO many goodbyes. It's more difficult some years than others, depending on relationships we've formed, but this year has been especially hard with the whole college up and leaving and taking so many of our friends along with it - and many of those that haven't gone to Malvern have moved on anyway, as is the case with our friends tonight who are moving to plant a church in the North East - I will miss them and their beautiful baby girl :(

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mud, Glorious Mud

What is it about boys that you take them for a little walk to feed the horses and they find the muddiest puddle they can..! Actually, I love that about them! Five minutes after they get dressed they are knee deep in mud and encouraging all those around to join in :D We did feed the horses and they were lovely, but running fly-wheels and splashing sticks through the mud was much more entertaining - all under the watchful eye of Bolt!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Primary Ballet...

Today was Phoebe's Primary Ballet exam. She looked beautiful when she left here - neat as a pin :D This is the first time I haven't been with one of my girls at the hall, but Daddy was there so she was OK. Here's a couple of snaps before she went just doing a last minute practice. She is shoe-less because I wanted them to stay clean and in her bag!! She announced to me that she would like to be a ballet teacher when she is older. If she works hard... (far cry from vet though, which is her 'other' ambition!))

Busted Bus, photographs, tot-school and STuff!

I can't believe it's been a whole week since I blogged! It's not been the most exciting week. last Monday night we had some friends over for a meal and I got to take some photos of their now almost 3 month old daughter. Since then I have spent most of the week working on them to make them more professional looking. The problem with my lovely bridge camera is that is struggles indoors without bumping up the ISO too much and ending up with really grainy pictures, so if I want to gift people with my photos I have to go to work on them to remove the 'noise' (blotches) and/or lighten them - all without making them look like porcelain dolls. It can be quite difficult - and time consuming! The sooner I can save for a new PROPER DSLR the better :D

Off the subject of photography, before I bore you all to tears... On Sunday, after Paul had done a 400 mile round trip to Portsmouth on Friday/Sat to drop my Mum home (she's retired now and won't be back up here for a bit), the bus delivered us all to church and collected the drums (from elsewhere), but by the time it got back to the church again it was sounding VERY poorly and Paul had had to force it into gear :( We almost all got lifts home - just in case - and Paul crept the bus home in 2nd gear! On Wednesday our now very-friendly mobile mechanic (A) came out to take a look, but initially couldn't see the problem, so he took it for a drive down the lane - it never made it back again!! All the gears and drive just 'went' less than half way back up, so he towed it back to the house (no mean feat!) with me behind the wheel (first time in almost 9 years!). The following morning he came and replaced the clutch. When he took the gear box down the clutch fell out in pieces!! He said we had been lucky to get anywhere with it all ;) He also said Paul needs to be gentler with his left foot!! LOL Thankfully it was not too expensive a repair in the end...BUT!!! NEXT DAY... Paul drove over a parking bollard at work (because he had to turn a bit to reverse out) and PUNCTURED a wheel!! He was supposed to be coming home to take Beefy to her extra ballet practice ready for her exam on Sunday, but she never got there :( Anyway - that is all sorted now, but the car is still making a few odd noises... Thankfully we have A booked to come and pre-MOT it on Thursday and then it will be MOT later that week - hopefully it will be happier after that - for a bit anyway!! It seems to have needed a lot of work lately, but when we think how hard we work it, it is a pretty reliable car :D And so far, it has never packed up on us while we are not at home, so that's good too!

On the health front - Swine Flu reared it's ugly head at church last week (a little boy who was being dedicated ended up with it on Tuesday!) and two of my kiddos have gone to bed with sniffs and sneezes tonight, no temp' though, so I'm hopeful it is just a common cold, more over because I am on creche in the morning and two sick kids to stay home with would be a pain!!

We are now taking a break from school for the summer, but some of the kids do have few bits I want finishing off before we start again - they each know what! So I am trying to take the opportunity to make some resources for NJ. This week I made these (based on an idea I cadged from Carisa over at 1+1+1=1);
My problem with this little man is that if he does not feel challenged he will deliberatly get things wrong, just to make it more stimulating for himself. So to begin with he did this;
then he pointed out the errors -
and corrected them (that's him saying "there") -
All this totally un-prompted!

I figured that he wouldn't be able to do the plain shapes, no colours one (thinking he was primarily colour matching) and that he would likely just throw it all about and be silly, but I was wrong...
First attempt he did this
Obviously this was just right for him because he did not play the 'wrong place - naaaah!' game initially. He only did that when he did it subsequently - and then he got bored and plonked something on top of it so he couldn't do it any more - beats throwing it anyway :D
Other than that there hasn't been a great deal of organised learning going on, but pleasingly the children do seem to be picking up stuff in the school room and choosing to play with it more than ever they did in our old house. This may, of course, be because things simply are MUCH more accessible to them, but it may also be that our new box-system has reminded them that actually there IS a lot of fun stuff to do in our school room :D CT in particular has been consistently picking up a magna-doodle copy-number book that we have (I'll photograph that another day), and trying to learn his numbers from it. It's actually a very useful, fun, self-learning tool and actually, I will be pleased as punch if he learns his numbers by the end of the summer without me even trying to teach him them! Maybe this un-school system could work for my younger ones... but I am quite scared to give it a try - I'd need to do some research - and just HOW far do you let them go if they are NOT learning the basics by themselves? And with all the 'Badman' stuff and the encroaching of regulation, I'm not sure that now, after 7 years of having set routines in place, would be the best time to do a U turn and try something new! But then again, maybe I will! I have never been one to submit to something I don't agree with and I have always TRIED to shape our school around my children's needs as much as possible - it just so happened that my eldest sons were ones who very much needed/thrived on routine: One, because he struggles to function well with it (holiday times being prime example of that - grrr!) and the other because he likes to keep his life well ordered (he is neat as a pin, punctual and diligent) and it suits him well to have school that way too. Babsi would have been fine with a more casual approach, but being an easy-going, chilled-out kind of girl she is happy with routine too. Beefy would probably have done a little better in a more free environment. She struggles to keep to time (very slow and steady) and I have already seen a big improvement in her attitude to school with the arrival of the boxes (smiles more about the thought of school and is keen to see what the day has in store each morning :D). Belle, as you know, is flighty and up until now has pretty much been un-schooled anway, simply because any attempt to 'box her in' and she has frozen on me - let her out and she learns freely. I've seen it work for her - and she spends a LOT of time with CT, such that I think her 'style' has rubbed off a little! He actually is naturally much happier in routine, but he is a little stressy worry-wart, so I think any sense of failure or pressure could really stifle his learning. I'm not planning on doing a massive amount of 'teaching' this year for him anway, but I shall wait and see where his interests take us. Right now - it's definitely numbers :D. NJ is a very bright kiddo too and I am going to be stretched to keep him challenged I think, but even so, at least I can see that now and prepare myself!!

OK - that's enough - I'm tired -I've waffled - it's late! Remember to check out my my 365 to - I post the best pics there!! And don't forget to mention that you dropped in :D

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ballet Open Day

Today was the once a year event where we Mums & Dad's get to watch our children dance during their normal lesson (so we cna see all they are learning). I love this event. FOr us today though it was a marathon as Paul was not here, having driven my Mum back down to Portsmouth yestaerday with all her stuff (she is moving back home now she has retired). This meant that we all had to get there on the bus. It's easy enough with all but one walking now and easy access buses mean no collapsing of the buggy anyway, but the bus-stop is a 20 minute walk away + 5 minutes the other end to ballet, so we had to be out in good time - especially as the buses only go one an hour!! Then we have a total time of 1hr 45 minutes of ballet to watch - taking us right up to lunchtime, so I arranged to have lunch with R&R (A's best friend and her Mum - who is my good friend), but by the time P was dancing Paul had arrived (he did it in 3 hours straight!!) and so he joined us and we all went for lunch together - and I didn't have to catch the bus home :D The only thing that bugged me a little (but not enough to make me not go home with everyone else in the car) was that I had been looking forward to the opportunity to have a mosey around town - I haven't been into town at all since we moved :( We just about had time to order a book for JIH and measure JAH's feet (up 2 sizes in 6 months!!) and by him a pair of shoes, whizz into Home Bargain and buy some vinyl-y beanbags for the creche at church (and one for us) + the fastest look round ever because the car-park time was running out and Paul had taken the kids back to the car already. That was it - shopping time over :(
Back home to upload the million and one photos I took - and see that I won 8th Place in the IheartFaces competition this week (YEAH!!!!) - and get the kids some tea. Paul was pretty exhausted after his 400 mile round trip in two days (plus helping Mum pack, load the van and unload into her house : apparently the van & top-box was choka-blok, so much so that Paul only had just enough rear view vision - how much can one person keep in one room??) , but he need to go and get some food for a few days too - poor man!
I'm not going to post the photos tonight because I'm running them through noiseware - a nasty consequence of only having a bridge camera instead of a proper DSLR - it doesn't cope too well indoors without my bumping up the ISO higher than it confortably takes good pictures without them all being grainy/spotty/noisy. Anyway, when I've done that I'm going to bed, as it is gone 1am already and I have to be up reasonably early (and us all out the house by 9.15 tomorrow), so I best get some sleep tonight!! Check back tomorrow for photos - or take a look at my 365 to see the best ones :D

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Just Ticking along...

Not much to blog really... life has just been ticking along since the weekend. The girls made scones today :D Tomorrow was supposed to be our last day of school before the summer, but I had a phone call from a friend today to say they are back in the country for 5 weeks and could the girls come to play tomorrow. Of course I was not going to say no to that, so it turns out school finished today!! I'll mow the lawn, catch up on the washing after all the rain these last few days and maybe clean some of the windows tomorrow instead ;-) That should keep me busy and if I don't get it all done I will have something to do on Friday!!

The Tot-Trays seem to be working fairly well for NJ and intermittently through the day he comes and ask to do something on there which is nice. Then some of the time he tries to join in with C & E (who work together a fair amount, at least at the same kind of activity) and a lot of the time he just pootles about making messes here there and everywhere! I'm looking forward to having a few weeks when I can spend a bit more concentrated time on him - I want the other children to get used to that idea a little!

This evening, while the jacket-spuds were in the oven, P went outside to sit in the garden and read his paper under a parasol. Would the smalls leave him be ... you must be joking! But it made from some pretty pictures as they all messed about under the parasol ;-) Then NJ enjoyed about half an hour messing with the rain water that had accumulated in the 'not-in-use' paddling pool (a bit ewwww, but he was quiet so I was able to get a bit of hoovering done inside :D )

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Crazy Family Fun Day

Today was the annual Nantwich Family Fun Day and our church were involved in the event this year in a bigger way than ever before. Usually we have a promo' stand with balloons and face-painting, but this year we had a group of our young people performing a puppet show and dancing in the main arena - twice!! This was obviously a great opportunity, but also major hard work in terms of prep' and practice. Paul was down at the park about 7.30 this morning setting up and returned home about 6.30pm tonight - with Chish and Fips in hand (only our third plate of chips today then!!) - NOTE TO SELF - remember to make up packed lunches next year to avoid exorbitant over-pricing on burger stands & seriously unhealthy eating for the whole day!! The weather held off its rain, with only a few light showers here and there and generally warm - kind of sticky warm iykwim. (It's tipping it down outside now!!).
In the middle of all that my girls all had ballet and as P has an exam coming up VERY soon it was important not to miss her lesson. Then back to the park for the second set in the arena!
The puppets and the dancing were all brilliant - imHo!! In one of the songs JAH was operating two puppets (one on each hand) doing different parts of the backing track to "Walking on Sunshine" offset to each other - really no easy task (just ask J&J), but he was amazing! :D
Just a few snapshots to give a taster of the day. Click the little 'from NFFD' at the bottom if you want to see the pictures in an album, or the whole collage if you just want to see it bigger :D


Tomorrow is Sunday School Prize Giving day - so another early start and busy morning - now that I am, in part, Sunday School administrator!

Friday, July 10, 2009

No School - Really?

As most of you know we don't do school on Fridays - well not 'real' school, but today was gardening day and JIH was a brilliant helper as after my 1 1/2 mowing the back, he then came and really got stuck into weeding the front with me. This did, at one point, involving disturbing a very sizeable ants nest and the appearance of several earwigs. JAH thought the earwigs were in for a feast - and I think they thought they were too - but to our surprise it turned out the other way round and the children (several of them by this point) stood and witnessed a positive army of ants gang up on one earwig and slowly kill it. It was really quite astonishing to watch (albeit a little gruesome and creepy), but really quite difficult to photograph! Click the photo to see it bigger. A valuable lesson learnt in science and nature studies - and without me even having to try ;-)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

New Tools for Smalls!

I woke up to the sound of noisy dinn this morning. That never bodes well for me and put me instantly into an "I can't deal with this today!" kind of mood, so to avoid monstrous levels of confrontation I hid as much as I could all day! Of course I was physically present, but I think the kids knew all too well that in mind I was 'not in'! Despite that they seemed to have a relatively OK day. I had planned their boxes back on Saturday, so despite not having filled them last night (in favour of watching a film with Paul) they were able to quickly stock them up from my list and carry on with school.
Later in the day some more of my order of new resources for my under 5's came - bearing in mind that I will not likely be sending NJ to playgroup unless I learn to drive, I thought I'd better get sorted with him. I must confess some of the inspiration for this bean-baggy order came from Carisa over 1+1+1=1. So here are some photos from today and yesterday & my 'tot-tray' shelf which I just got organised. Some of NJ's were completely self-instigated (the dominos), some were him mucking in with CT (finger painting), some were 'tweeked' by him - beads go from threading to pouring! and others he played along with my plan for - well almost!! I've discovered this week he can thread round beads on pipe-cleaners and flat beads on laces, he can colour match red, blue and yellow and he can picture match, with some pretty nice attempts at finding labels for the pictures (I used one lotto board & tiles for this - he loved it).
















Aside from Tot-school, CT has been very keen to 'do school' and his big question atm is "What's that letter?" So I think my alphabet buy will be a big hit with him too. Perhaps even better for him that NJ, but hey-ho - whatever. It seems he already knows 'curly c', 'kicking k', 'o' and 'ex' - so that's a good start considering I've taught him nothing so far! He was also making an attempt to write his name free hand today which is great :D (see pictures). He has also pretty much mastered lacing cards this week. He kept going back to it until he completed his way around one whole picture and despite the frustration of entanglement, he still persisted to the end - major progress :D
Ellie also suprised me today with the way she was able to play with the pattern shapes. She made some lovely pictures with them :D



I have decided to have a quick fly through Jolly Grammar with Phoebe as when going into Year 3 she tell me "I don't know how to write a sentance!" I feel a little paniced!! I'm not really sure this is true, but she obviously is not confident with her writing skills, so we are going to cover some 'ground rules' and then hopefully she will feel better equiped, and after all - I never actually did do JG with her because her reading was so far behind, so I guess there probably might be some gappy holes that need patching :D.
There has been a stack of cartoon drawing going on too - with the purchase of 6 whiteboards. The ones I've posted are JAH's and one is a bit gruesome, but is pretty brilliant all the same. I'll try to get some the others do over the next few days too - they really are pretty cool - even if they do rapidly consume my whiteboard markers!! :D