Wednesday, March 26, 2014

When the Internet goes down...

Today, well actually for the last week or so, our internet connection has been atrocious! Mostly we have soldiered on, but today it just went down ~ completely dead! As about 50% of the kids schooling involves computers for one thing or another, and a large portion of that requires an internet connection (strange how different things are for us now than when I first started out with Jake), this basically meant I had to give the children an impromptu games day!
They did what work they could, that didn't need internet, and then they spent a large part of the rest of the day play Monopoly city together ~ starting at 12.15 and finishing at almost 3pm!! 

Most stayed the course, but the little boys ended up going off to play after a while - I think they went and played lego upstairs. Minnie won ~ although she looks cheesed off here, she was thrashing them all!

I wasn't feeling like playing the game, so I had some luxury 'free' time to get my latest little crochet project finished. I only needed to do the breast overlay, the tail and sew everything together. I loved making this ~ especially working with the thread for the eyes ~ so fine, so rewarding!

A certain little man was more than a little chuffed with him (he'd asked me to make him a doggy with a tail) ~ and named him "Puppy" (of course!).

So today was quite a productive day, despite the lack of internet, and then just about the time we were packing up for the day, it came back on again, but VERY slowly! It seems to have picked up again now (thank goodness) ~ here's hoping it lasts!

So while I have a decent connection, I'll share some snap shots from over the last couple of weeks. There seems to have been a LOT of reading going on, which makes me very happy :D
Minnie has read Pride & Prejudice (devoured it to be fair!), dipped into Emma and given up and moved onto Sense & Sensibility ~ I think she's having a Jane Austin phase ;-)

TP recently finished reading Black Beauty - I'm proud of her for that - and is now reading 'Go Well, Stay well' ~ a book I read as a child about her age and absolutely loved . It has some deep and challenging content and she is gripped by it! I don't think I've ever seen her so engrossed in a book ~ even when she read 'Shadow the Sheepdog' (that Lilo is currently enjoying), which was probably her favourite book - until now!

Lilo, as I said, is reading Shadow the Sheepdog. This is a real step up for her, but I felt it was time to challenge her a little. She is still not great with texts that contain a lot of conversation, but as this story does not have quite so much as other Enid book, but it's also the KIND of story she would enjoy, I thought it would be a nice introduction to next-level reading. She is definitely enjoying it  and I hope it will give her the confidence and inspiration to continue in her reading journey. It's amazing for me to think though, that this time two years ago she was still almost completely illiterate. It's been a slow but steady journey for her, but she is certainly doing well on it now :D

DD is ripping his way through Five on Treasure Island and enjoying as much as I remember doing at his age. I think this was my favourite Famous Five book of all ~ and I read lots! They may not be perfectly 'politically correct', they may not even be brilliantly written, but the stories are perfect for inspiring the adventurous spirit in us! I just knew DD would be ripe for these and I was right ~ he can't wait to turn over the next page :D

Stitch is reading an abridged version of Robin Hood. It's actually quite a stretch for him, and he tends to rush himself a little (as he does in all things!), but he's doing pretty well. I feel perhaps he does better when he reads to himself than when he reads aloud to me, but that's rather hard to gauge!

Chip is enjoying some interactive Bible reading on their Hudl, amongst all the other many stories he loves to read and have read to him! He also has loved playing with these really cheap pegs that I bought for the chids to make 'dens' with (to hold up all the blankets).

There's been some experimenting... DD instisted on trying to get this Knex windmill to turn. I did try to explain that the design was not really going to work due to flat sails and general instability, but he had to try :D

And we have continued on making our Art Journal. I thought this weeks (which was a colour wheel) would be too simple for most of the children, but surprisingly they were all happy to do it and enjoyed it :D Nothing like going back to basics for a little reinforcement! This week will be on shading ~ I'm expecting that to be a bit more stretching for all of them!
   The week before last I was particularly pleased with Stitches work this week ~ love his cars! His pencil control and patience for these little projects has come on in leaps and bounds this year. I am so grateful for a few years of experience that has taught me not to panic, or push a child beyond points they are not yet ready to go. I may not always get it right, but I do more often than I ever did before. Stitch enjoys a little bit of writing and drawing, and is even beginning to enjoy colouring. His dexterity for these fine motor things is still a little challenged, but it's coming, slowly but surely and at his own pace. 

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Pancake Day & Other Silliness!

Pancakes are a definite hit in our house, so if was a given that they were going to be our lunch today, but it occurred to me this morning that traditional pancake races had never really been a part of my children's experience. I'm not sure how it slipped my mind to educate them about this tradition, but to be fair I'm not sure I've been part of such an occasion since I left primary school. Somehow it had seemed to slip from my memory, and when something I saw on Facebook this morning jogged that memory I felt it was a tradition that should definitely be revived! 

SO, today we did out bit to bring back the old ways!! I did try to get the girls to don their aprons, but they declined, however I do think Minnie's washer-woman head-wear is quite fitting :D

We cheated a little bit (because pancakes are simply to delicious to waste!) and used tortillas for tossing - they are a bit firmer and easier to cut to the various sizes of our frying pans...

Aside from the races, it was just lovely to be able to be outside. We've not had ANY snow this year, but SO much rain and that has kept us pretty much boxed up in the house too much of the time. Today was all about being outside ~ playing footy, 

riding bikes (Stitch is concertedly trying to master his now, but I ddin't get any pictures of him),

 and even the climbing frame & the trampoline got a look in :D

And so, tomorrow is the beginning of Lent... are you 'giving up' anything?

In the past I have given up TV, & breakfast, and I have taken up better things in their place ~ namely using the time for prayer instead. Breakfast was no biggie to give up really, but using the time to pray was harder than it might sound.        
   Giving up TV at the time was huge ~ I was an avid follower of Home & Away & Neighbours (to name just two I can strongly remember being hooked on) and conversation at school became difficult when everyone was talking about what happened 'last night' ... BUT it did break the habit for me and I've never really become addicted to TV again. There are a couple of programmes I enjoy, and would be sorry to miss, but on the whole it's not a big part of my life any more.    
   When I was at college I used lent to give up a caffeine addiction - giving up chocolate and ALL caffeine was a tough one, but has been something I never really went back on. I can really take or leave chocolate now and have drunk decaf' coffee ever since. Coke is also a pretty much take-or-leave thing. 
    There is something to be said for 40 days of self-discipline. It is great for breaking habits and time enough to form better ones... however, all that said, I'm not giving anything up for Lent this year. Perhaps I should, but I'm not. There are things I think I could change, do better, use time more wisely with, but I'm just not ready to make those changes right now. However, I am keen to use these next 40 days to form a new habit ~ I want to read my Bible more & I want to reteach myself to play the flute ~ I was pretty good at both once upon a time :( !

Monday, March 03, 2014

Happy 12th Birthday TP

Being as my daughter writes her own blog these days you might want to hop over and have a read of her take on the day, but as it was a normal working kind of day, and as all she had really asked for a gift this year was money (possibly to go towards a tablet) it was hard to know how to make her day special, but I think in the end she had a nice birthday. 

She arrived in my room about 8.30 with her duvet and pillow and set up camp next to me for a cuddle! I loved this and I suspect she was keenly aware that her childhood, and times for this, are ebbing away. It's right that we should both make the most of what is left of the little girl in her :D

We chatted a bit and decided that today should definitely include a hair dyeing session! She'd been keen to dye her hair for some time and I happened to have some henna in the cupboard, so we figured this would be a great way to mark the day a little.

It came out beautifully :D

Whilst she waited a couple of hours for the henna to take, she and several of the others played a game of Seafarers (Catan), but TP very quickly saw that she stood no chance because, despite it being her birthday, her plans were kiboshed right from the outset and she just couldn't make a go of it, so she ducked out after and hour or so, with the excuse that she needed to wash the henna out before she went TOO red!

Then I think she just pootled about until Paul came home. Her chosen tea was open steak sandwiches (cooked in balsamic vinegar and honey) with garlic mushrooms & tomatoes, rocket & other salad things. It happens to be one of my favourite meals, and actually something we all enjoy, so tea time was lovely ~ joined by my Mum & Nanna too. Eaton Mess for pudding and then time to open cards and presents.

She ended up with about £85 so that will definitely help her tablet funds! Paul bought her a bouquet of Roses and Tulips and I had bought a fresh supply of elastics for their Rainbow Loom. Minnie also had been into town, and bought her a set of bangles. She seemed happy enough :D
To top the day off, Paul surprised her with having bought Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, so evening was rounded off with a late night in front of a movie.

I think we did OK in the end! :D

And because I know you will read this TP ~ this last bit is especially for you! ...

Happy Birthday TP ~ We love you very much princess xxx

Just remember sweetheart ~ you will never be 12 again, so make the most of this year and the little girl you still have inside you just now  ~ enjoy her ~ don't rush to grow up, or wish her away ~ your adulthood will last a lot longer than your childhood, so don't be in a hurry to get there!! All toys are still OK (even those ones you've told yourself are too babyish ~ they're not ~ and actually they never will be!). We have loved the little girl you have been, we love you just the way you are right now - emerging into a beautiful young lady (inside and out), and we will continue to always love you - unconditionally - into the future of who you will one day become. xxxx Mum (& Dad).