Saturday, December 06, 2014

Frosty The Snowman...

A bit of an art catch up... 

We didn't do any official art last week, so the children just did whatever they fancied doing. DD started an intricate colour-by-numbers that's sat on our shelf for a very long time & Stitch coloured in some wildlife pictures. Minnie sewed (I think), Joel skived and I can't remember what Lilo and TP did! It was chilled and lovely for that fact :D

This week we were in a more Christmassy/wintery mood, especially as it was SO cold that we had to light a fire

little bit of winter art by the fire was in order! 

I printed out a choice of activities from my usual haunt, and this is what we ended up with;

Joel's (unfinished) watercolour snowman

DD (9)'s pencil coloured snowman

Stitch (7)'s pencil coloured snowman, on blue card.

Lilo (11)'s painted snowman

My chalk pastel 'soldier' snowman (on blue card)

Abbie's Sticky-note snowman story

And TP did some fancy lettering on a card she has hidden away for a week or two!

In other news Chip has developed a love of cutting just recently. I've never taught him how to use scissors, but last week he just started chopping! He chopped up LOTS of scrap paper into tiny little bits, so this week I thought we might as well direct the activity a little more constructively and see how well he is doing at the same time ~ here's how he did (with very minimal direction from me).

This little man is all about dexterity skills ~ such a contrast to Stitch, but I suspect he will bring me challenges in other ways ;)

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

A Short Long Month

November always seems like such a long, long month. 

The long, cold nights and short dark days set in; jumpers get pulled from the cupboards, never to go away again until spring and it's hard to lift your mood when the sun sets at 4pm!

This November has admittedly been unusually mild, yet still it's seemed like one of the longest months of the year. But, thankfully, it has been sandwiched by a couple of breaks in the hum-drum...

The first slice of the sandwich was at the very end of October. We took a family walk in the countryside, not too far from home (minus the two eldest boys who opted out). It was a warm and sunny day - perfect weather in fact - and we had a lovely time together. The days preceding had been a bit wet, so in places it was more than a little muddy, to the point of almost losing shoes and boots! Thankfully the children mostly thought this all just added to the fun and adventure of it, all except Chip, who wasn't so keen :D Whilst walking Chip and Stitch had a great time looking closely at all the different kinds of fungi we came across ~ and there were many!

We also had the unexpected priviledge of watching a lady training her young Border Collie dog for sheepdog trials. This was fascinating to all of us.

We also discovered an amazing old oak tree, which was managing to sustain itself despite being almost completely hollow at the base...

 - so hollow in fact that two of us could stand up in the centre of it and look up to the light coming in above, where a branch had once been. Presumably it had been storm damaged, and/or struck by lightening, but it was quite incredible to stand inside a tree!

More pictures in this slideshow;

November 5th came and went and Paul was out, so we watched fireworks from bedroom windows. However, after considerable amounts of persuasion, Paul lit a bonfire on the 6th. This was our very first family bonfire (a good way to dispose of the felled holly tree) and tbh, it could have done with being a bit less windy! The smoke and flames were bit too unpredictable to roast our marshmallows without considerable bravery! Still, Jake and I did so, and passed them round :D

School wise we have just plodded on. A couple of the children are reaching the ends of things now ~ just in time for the end of term :D. Chip has been wanting to do more learning activities too. I don't take as many pictures as I should, but here's a couple from this month

Many mornings Chip comes into my room with a handful of cars and begins his day by lining them up on the 'mountains' of bedding! 

He also counts them and groups them ~ he has that organised sort of mind I think. He can now count reliably to about 14 in sequence, or about 12 if he's counting objects and consistently recognises almost all the numbers to 10 (only really getting 7 & 8 wrong occasionally). I've started insisting that if he wants 'screen time' (on the tablet of laptop) whilst we are doing school, then he must choose a learning app/website. He has quickly got used to this idea and is happily working away on a few now :D

Another thing that seems to have made a sudden leap, is his drawing. He loves to draw and colour, but mostly, up until now, it's been draw 'something' and get us to guess what it is. Then he'll decide when we are right if he likes that idea! One day last week though, Abbie asked him if he could draw a person and after an initial refusal, and no further persuasion, he then drew this and shocked us all;

According to him it is "A Mummy, a baby and a spider mummy." I think the decorations around the outside are the spider web, and the extra red legs are intended to be trousers (after-all I always wear trousers).

We've all been learning about Molluscs in Zoology and the children have really enjoyed looking at my seashell collection, from various beaches over many years (spot the two 'oddities' in this picture) ~ how many can you name?

One thing that has been a little exceptional this month, is that Paul had to make two trips to A&E within the space of a couple of days! Our children are hardly ever ill, and even more rarely need any emergency treatment, but one Sunday morning DD was practising some gym in the lounge, as he does all the time, kicked Lilo's foot and fell awkwardly on his neck. For the rest of the day he walked with it to one side and was still doing so by evening. His shoulders were also misaligned and he was still complaining of pain, so, being a neck injury I thought I had best play it safe and get him checked over. It was just a muscle pull thankfully, but even with a hot wheat bag wrapped around his neck for most of four days plus gentle stretches, he still couldn't hold his head straight until the Friday. 

Then on the Saturday Abbie was carrying the Henry (hoover) downstairs, got the flexible tubing caught under her foot and fell off the bottom stair. She landed awkwardly on her foot, cried out and then carried on, but within minutes she was struggling to weight-bear, it was swelling and a hard lump had appeared on the top of her foot. I was pretty certain she had broken it, but also knew it was not a good night to do so! Paul was in and out and had commitments until well after 9pm, so I made her comfy on the sofa with her foot up and waited on her for the rest of the day! When Paul eventually got her up to A&E, they took an X-ray but were not completely sure whether it was broken or not (seen by nurse specialist rather than Dr), or whether it might be a torn ligament. She was sent home with crutches for the weekend and an appointment with the Orthopaedics on Monday. Poor girl struggled around all weekend and by the end of it she was complaining her hands and upper-arms were in more pain than her foot! that said, she was still unable to weight bear at all. We were all hoping is was a break rather than a ligament tear tbh, as we weren't sure she was going to be able to manage much longer on crutches and the recovery time would also be quicker with a break. So, come Monday morning she and Paul headed off to the hospital - again - and she came home with this;

I was glad I was right this time at least (although a little irritated that they hadn't just cast her on the Saturday night). She has only 'cracked' the outside bone of her foot (more than a greenstick though), but she is in the cast until just before Christmas. She can walk in it, and isn't using her crutches much at all, but still has to spend most of her time with it elevated to stop it swelling. It's driving her crazy with itching, but she is coping well. 
Something interesting that did come out of having an X-ray done, is the knowledge that, to the medics surprise, she has no growing plates in her feet ~ she is fully fused and done growing - which is a bit annoying as she is stuck at a half size, but also means she is unlikely to get any taller, which she is quite pleased about :D

The second slice of the sandwich came towards the end of November, when Paul and I were given a lovely gift to enable us to take a weekend away together. We were a bit last minute booking and ummed and arrred where to go, but ultimately we chose The Lakes because that really is my happy place! We decided though to explore some areas we hadn't really done before and I fancied being near the sea as well as the mountains, so we chose the western Lakes and stayed in Boot - a tiny little village in the valley of Eskdale. We stayed in a     Inn which was fantastic ~ comfortable, beautiful views, real fires and incredible food ~ what more can you ask?! I shan't bore you with a gazillion pictures and I shall blog about the trip separately over here, but if you're interested the pictures are on the slideshows below;

The end of November also brings Lilo's birthday, and this year she is 11. She's still such a little girl in many way. She still plays with her dolls and an essential on her list this year was some more Lego Friends, but the other things she most wants now is a 'tablet', so apart from the one toy all she really had was money ~ and plenty of it  ~ enough that after Christmas a tablet should be within her grasp! But I wanted her to have something else to open and she had been asking me to make her a cushion for a LONG time, so with just a week to do it in, I embarked on making her this  ~ 60+ rows of 154 stitches, endlessly counting in sevens;    

 and I did it! 

I found some other fun uses for the pattern along the way too, and will be tempted to do it again without the deadline ;-)

It perfectly held a single ball of wool and would be great for stopping it rolling everywhere when you're working! Also lovely as a little 'pot' for holding bobbles and scrunchy type things. A friend of mine also suggested it as a hat, which you maybe could with a little adaptation and the right shaped head!

Anyway, back to Lilo's birthday...

The final day of November saw DD and I back in Wigan at another Gym competition. He did very well and came away with 2 bronze medals. The competition was harder this time because he was against more boys. He narrowly missed bronze overall for his group of 8, and came  12th of all 19 under 10's. Sadly, despite excellent warm-ups, when it counted he under rotated for his low-bar dismount and landed on his bottom, thereby losing a full mark. With that added he would have done considerably better! 

And that's it, we're into December and the run up to Christmas has begun!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Joel's 16th Birthday...

And then I became the mother of two UPPER-teens!

Joel said I could take pictures of him, but not of his face ~ so I complied - to begin with anyway!

Only a mother might understand the significance of shooting these BIG feet though... 

He conceded that so long as I didn't take any close-ups he'd live,

so I kept my distance...

For a little while anyway ;-)

Later that day he, Paul, and the other oldest three headed off to The Gathering. He'll have had a brilliant birthday despite the lack of a party at home. Hopefully we can do something for him a bit after Christmas, but his birthday (and the two others after his, but before Christmas) falls at a very difficult point in our finances each year (Car insurance renewal month is never going to be a good time to have a birthday!!)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Art Time ~ Klimt & Stella

Last week we took a look at the 'protractor art' of Frank Stella.

This was relatively easy and good fun to do.

I let the children choose their own sources of colour

Some use paint, others pencils.

The only limitations set were no more than 6 shapes or 6 colours.

This one below is mine.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

This week we re-visited the work of Gustav Klimt.

The instructions said to use black Sharpie for the tree, but ours are all run out, so instead those who chose to do the filled in tree used black/brown crayon and then did watercolour relief.

It worked REALLY well and I love how Minnie's in particular turned out (below

Joel hasn't done his watercolour yet, because we ran into lunch time! I think it'll look good when he does.

DD & Stitch, chose to do brown trees. It's more blendy, but still looks good :D

Then myself , TP and Lilo ((below respectively) all chose to do a 'shapes' tree. 

I used watercolour pencils for mine and spent my entire lunchtime doing it. It was very relaxing!

The girls never got theirs coloured in. I think they are both intending to use watercolour paints and are planning on using half term 'boredom' time to complete them :D. 
I actually think they are rather lovely as they are!