Saturday, February 20, 2010

Half-Term & An Ultimate Party

I guess the weekend is as good a time as any for a catch-up :D It's been half-term here this week, so no formal educating has happened. It's been a chill-out and play kind of week :D There's been lots of friends around here and lots of going to friend's, a couple of sleepovers and the Ultimate Party last night!

8 little girls ages 7- 11 went Bowling ~ then home to ours for a Movie & Pizza, Pop-corn and open-fire-toasted, chocolate dipped Marshmallows ~ a 'stay-awake-over' which they took much too seriously and it was 01.05 when I heard voices (having thought, in error it seems, that they were already asleep around 11pm) and went in to tell them it was seriously not funny and they NEEDED to sleep now!
I was amazed to be woken to the sound of rowdy laughter at 8am!! I hauled myself out of bed to make pancakes (with Maple Syrup and the remains of the chocolate dip), but was astounded to find out that for most of them this was seconds as they had nearly all already had cereal! What time did they really wake up?! I strongly advised a video (some people were still sleeping upstairs) so Princess Diaries 1 was the order of the morning, followed by a slightly mayhem-ish round of collecting from parents and apologies from me for the wrecked children I was sending home with them! I know the kids all had a fantastic time and it was a party that the girls will remember with high-spirits. I love it when I hear them, and others, say "this is the best party I have EVER been to!" ~ I love creating memories!! It's not every house we have been, or may be in the future, able to do this kind of thing in, but I love that just right now, right here, we can - and so we do!! :D

Meanwhile, over the week, Stitch has continued to work on learning to count and this morning Paul spotted him with paper and pencil, 'writing' and counting - he got to seven without error! :D

Lilo is also working on her numbers and asked me to teach her to count to 100. I tried my method of explaining about tens and ones and following a sequence ~ she looked lost! So I printed her out a 100 chart and laminated it. I showed her how the sequences work. She has consistently picked it up all holiday (almost every morning) and counted through to 100, the penny dropped, she understood the sequence and can now be heard counting to 300 on a regular basis (she gets bored a bit after that!). This girl is SUCH a visual learner, but it seems she really has to steer her own boat. I look forward to the day she asks me to teach her to read - or just brings me a book and reads it to me, which I think is just as likely! At the moment though she happily brags to her friends about being 6 and not being able to read!! ;D

Some snapshots for your pleasure :D...


                      Stitch waits


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Catch-Up Tot-School Post

I'm changing the way I do things (again) and trying to free up more time with Stitch. This week was quite successful. My only battle is that he'd rather spend time playing on the computer than playing with his tot-school things! I have to strike a balance, but I don't wish to force him into anything just yet. He is so bright and learns by saturating himself. Just today he chose to play on Starfall and I could hear him saying "see" (naming the letter C) after it was read out to him. How can I argue with that? We don't 'do school' on a Sunday, but to him he is just playing. We have a set of miniature board books upstairs in his room. Each one focuses on a number, a letter, a colour, or a concept (eg opposites). None of my other children have been in the slightest bit interested in them- they are his number one choice. He is so hungry to learn and he learns very quickly. He has all but mastered his colours now (still forgets yellow sometimes) and is seemingly moving on to learning to count. He is pretty secure with one, two, three, four, and has nearly got five in the sequence, but often jumps to nine (why do children do that with nine?). But not only is he learning to say the sequence, but he is trying to point and count objects one-to-one which seriously impresses me! I'm not pressing any of this, I am just going with his flow and he is most definitely leading the way. This is a first for me - a child who wants to learn and wants ME to follow HIS journey :D All of my others, if they have asked to learn anything, they have always wanted me to supply the materials. They have lacked the creativity to 'choose' what to learn, or the initiative to know where to start ~ I am working hard on helping them with this :D Stitch is so very different ~ he is like a breath of fresh air :D

Here are some pictures from the last couple of weeks;

He had a haircut!

He really enjoyed this puzzle ~ and didn't need very much help with it!

each time he completed one he worked down the line, naming animal & baby name ~ his idea! :D

So simple, but DD and Stitch were quite absorbed in this for some time.

Just good fun :D

We spent some time in the park one warmer afternoon ~ he was able to hit the ball (a little) and has a VERY good overarm throw! He also has some very well developed 'dribbling' skills with a football.

DD & Stitch enjoyed some finger-painting (but OH! the mess!!) :D

Favourite pass time (he has now comandeered his Dad's own laptop, just so the other's can have the 'school laptop' free for their use in the day!) ~ he has mastered mouse control now :D

Some time spent playing in the garden and in the field playing footy with me and DD (no pictures of that ~ sorry!)

He still enjoys digging around in a tub of macaroni filled with hidden bead; finding the teddy, dog and 'ball' beads and then proceeding to play a game of football with them on the tot-tray :D This week the rhino and giraffe beads were added in as goalies!! - too cute!

It's been a fun couple of weeks but I am looking forward to a week's break ~ I love half-terms!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Park Fun

After yesterday being such a bizarre day in term of weather ~ snow, sun, hail, sun ~ today was beautiful and sunny all day. The kids got up this morning and got on with their school work very nicely. I laid in WAY to late, having stayed up till the early hours hunting through old photos for last night's post and then making party invites for the girls party later this week. So when I eventually arose ~ driven my a cup of coffee courtesy of Taz :D, I announced to all that we were going to quit school for the rest of the day and head off to the park for some fun together. So that's what we did ~ took bikes, scooters, football, rounders bats and ball & frisby and headed off. We had a really lovely time together playing rounders and a version of french cricket ~ that's the advantage of big families! :D Even Stitch joined in - he has a fantastic over arm throw and can even hit the ball a little bit, although he does tend to hold the bat upside down and throw it as the ball hits! I also played a little footy with him and was amazed at his dribbling skills - fast, straight and accurate :D
At around 4 I call Paul to see if he wanted to join us. He was just leaving work and essentially (at least this is how I read it) said he would join us shortly. We stayed in the park another hour, by which time it was beginning to get cold and the light was fading. Still no Paul. I gave up as the children were beginning to get cold and we headed home. When we arrived he was already there! I was a BIT annoyed, but he claimed he hadn't said for sure that he was coming... In my mind he hadn't said he wasn't, so he was! A Mars and Venus moment me thinks!
Anyway that was our day, except for me out to music practice tonight ~ it feels really good to be singing again :D
Pictures from today over on my 365 :D

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Minnie ~ 9 Today!

My photos of Minnie go back to our pre-digital years and many of my photos are bitmap scans saved on disks, which take hours to open up! I didn’t get my first digi’ until she was 18 months or so! This lovely shot of her at just about 3 days old was taken by a good friend of ours and it’s a scan (can’t you tell).


Age 15 monthsabbie may02

2nd BirthdayAbbie 2!! 007

3rd Birthday (well the day after!)02110010

March '05 (age 4 and 1 month)

smile boo oval

Taken Jan '06 (very nearly 5) ~ she had serious alopecia this year :(

invisible painting (5)

The girls joint party 2007 ~ Minnie is 6

snow 050

7th Birthday. Abbie 7 bd (12)

8th Birthday ~ in her new outfit.IMG_0006


Minnie has always been my ‘easy’ child ~ well all except the feet wrapped round my ribs when I was carrying her!! As a baby she rarely cried or demanded anything from me. I had to remind myself that she was probably due a feed, she never howled for it like most of my others did! She has somewhat lazy, or maybe just laid back and for that reason barely sat up much before 11 months, but by 13 months she was walking. She was very funny, very chatty, and just generally adorable – not much has changed! This face grinning over her cake selection tonight is the one that has been smiling at me everyday since the day she learnt how. Minnie has the sunniest and sweetest of personalities. She is (almost) always ready to help and is my little helper. She adores her siblings – older and younger and is kind and thoughtful to everyone (the majority of the time). This little girly is the one who wants to be like her mamma and have a whole houseful of children and God willing, I think she will, and she will be an excellent Mum to them all ~ far better than me I suspect! :D Just lately we have begun to see the emergence of a little more feistiness, but I think that is a little to do with age and a little to do with making sure she is noticed & not taken advantage of in this busy house of ours :D

I love you Minnie ~ I love the young lady you are becoming. I love your caring nature and your sunny spirit. I love that you love God like he is your closest friend. I love that life seldom phases you. I love that you take things so much in your stride and yet you have a strength of character that doesn’t allow you to become the forgotten middle child. I love that you are often by my side reading stories and playing with the small ones, or in the kitchen trying out new recipes and making a mess! I love you for being you ~ don’t change too much will you!! I live for your smiles :D Before you were born I prayed that you would be a girl and that you would be the one who was to be my soul-mate amongst my children. I believe God heard and answered that prayer when he gave me you! :D

Monday, February 08, 2010


I've been having a think and a revamp this weekend. I LOVE the workbox system, but I HATE the amount of time and energy it steals from me each night and at the weekend. I was at burnout point with it I think and simply avoiding. The kids were doing good and filling up their boxes in the mornings from my excel spreadsheet (whilst I filled just the two youngest ones' boxes), but this felt to me just like a glorified timetable with 3 times the amount of work! BUT the kids love the workboxes too, so what to do?

This is what I came up with ~ I've termed it mini-skool! The cards are diddy - there are 40 of the on one sheet of A4 (bull-dog clipped to the top of the easel at the mo'). I even have one (the yellow one in the pictures)!! The idea is basically that the children have 40 activities to complete in a week (32 in the case of TP) ~ that's 10 a day just like before. BUT instead of me filling the boxes and dictating to them what they are to do each day and the order they should do it, they will now have the autonomy to pick and choose what they fancy doing AND how much they do in any given day. All the diddy-cards on the chart are the 'must do's' and yes, there are a lot of them, but they are not all difficult and boring! Then, for the boys especially, there are few blank spaces which THEY must fill with activities of choice on Monday morning ~ choosing from the pocket chart (last picture - there's more cards in it now though). My only demand is that there are 40 completed activities by the end of the week, even if they choose to do some on Friday or Saturday. Obviously there are some taught subjects that we do as a group and these they will do when I call them to, out of necessity of not wanting to teach the same lesson over and over! This is the reason I have my own chart. You see, I am very good at disappearing into the study and doing 'my stuff' ~ OK, it is the adjoining room and I am 'available', but lately I have been very aware that this is not really good enough. SO, I have made myself an accountability chart. It's on full display to the children too, so they have ammunition against me! If I don't fulfil my duties in the week I cannot expect them to! There are four 'marking' sessions built into my week, as I tend to find that the marking just gets left until there is a mountain and then eats up my weekend :( . I have allowed myself only 2 photography/study sessions during school hours, one of which I anticipate sharing with Bugs. The rest of the time I must be where my kids are, working with them until the day is done ~ it'll be a challenge for me, but one I need to take up.

In case you were wondering; under all those diddy-cards are smiley faces. As each activity is completed the child moves the card down to the space below to reveal the smiley. At the end of the week I will expect to see 40 smilies :D

I really like this plan ~ I hope it works for everyone! I like the fact the children are going to have to take some extra responsibility for seeing that their work gets done, and at that they are in control of what they do and when. They will be able to see when they are leaving themselves too much to do another day and they will be able to feel the effects of 'ploughing through' one day to get more time to themselves another. I like the fact that they can clearly see their week laid out before them and what the expectations are, much more clearly than words on an excel sheet, or even boxes filled daily. I'm HOPING that the fact there looks to be a lot to do won't be problem to them when they get to grips with it and see the smilies appearing :D The last thing I like about it is that they can arrange their chart however they choose. SO they could choose to use the four rows as days and arrange their activities the way they plan to do them that day (or even just what they plan to do that day, but not the order), OR they can arrange the chart as I have, with blocks of subjects that they can pick from each day ~ it's entirely up to them! For the first time I really do feel that I am handing more of the control over to the children, whilst still striking the balance of ensuring that they learn what they need to. I'll let you know how it goes!!
I'm not sure yet if I am still going to need those expensive boxes I bought ... I'm thinking I may re-label them into subject sections, so that when, say TP, takes down her 'Early Comprehension' card she can then go to the 'English' section of her box and pick it out easily - already marked by me and with a sticky note in to tell her what work she needs to do next. All her English books would be in this section and all I would have to make sure to do at the weekend is rotate on her smiley-chart which ones she is to use that week. Then when I mark the work I drop it straight back into the workbox ready for when she gets to it next.

Monday, February 01, 2010