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!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Our Eclectic Day

Going to post to pictures and video clips to give you a flavour of today...

TP did an experiment with starch (ground rice) and iodine.

I videoed whilst she did the experiment and just listening to the backing track of general noise is quite amusing! The high pitched voice is BBC Dance Mat that Stitch was working on ("Type on meee!"), but all else is just us!

Result - black rice! ~ and tomorrow the theory is applied to leaves!

Chip got busy doing some copy-colour work

Chip worked very diligently whilst Stitch did a colour-cut-stick exercise beside him (a bus) ~ working on fine-motor skills and making good progress :) 

 Finished work. I only helped him (at his request) by doing the red of the sub' and the propeller - all the rest is entirely his colouring. I don't think we are going to have pencil control issues with this one ;-)

 And today's 'auto-awesome' is quite nice :D

The rest of today has included some History (talking about the beginnings of the Agricultural Revolution), Igniting Your Writing II (which is not as 'igniting' as IYW I - that they all enjoyed - and may end up getting shelved as it's a bit of a drudge atm) and the usual Maths and other 'normals'. I've felt a bit 'flat' today. I have a lot of days like this just now and they make everything seem so much harder than it is, but we muddle through... At least we didn't have any battles over tea tonight (pulled pork) which is always a relief, but Stitch, who had been complaining of not feeling quite right all day, was sick before he went to bed. Hope he's OK in the morning, but if not he can have a TV day.

And to finish - here's some pics from Monday. We are doing FIAR on Mondays and have spent this half term looking at The Story of Ping. To finish off, this week we made Lego rafts and did a little sink-float experimentation. We tried different shapes of buoyancy aids in varying numbers and arrangements. We moved the man around a little too, to see how that affected the floating of the raft. I can't say it was a very 'fair test' because there were too many variables, but the boys enjoyed themselves and ultimately we all agreed that Stitch's raft was the best floater!
DD went first with his double layer of 'floating heads'! It floated well enough.

He tried removing one layer of floats (and the Lego rods to which they were attached) and it still floated, as it was now lighter, but it sat lower in the water. It was better when the man was more central of course.

Stitch's raft next. He had a solid row of square floats and the raft floated really well.

 I suggested he remove alternate floats to see how much difference it made. The raft still floated and, although not as high in the water, the man still stayed dry!


My raft was a total failure and floated so low in the water that my girl got drenched!!

Next week is half term here. Paul and the four eldest chids are off to The Gathering on Friday evening and I won't see them again until Sunday. They love it and will have an incredible time - they always do! I, on the other hand, dread it! Home alone for three days, with just the youngest chids & no transport to go anywhere is HARD!! We do have a lift to church on Sunday, so that'll help, but still... I don't envy single mothers AT ALL!!
Before church on Sunday morning DD is leaving to go and stay in Brum with his cousins for the week, then late Sunday afternoon Paul and the big chids all return home (exhausted usually!). On Monday we have some close friends visiting from Oxford for three days, which will be lovely, as we just don't see enough of them :(. They go Wednesday morning and another friend is popping in to see us Wednesday afternoon! Thursday MIGHT be a quiet day, but Paul has the day off, so we might do something outdoorsy if the weather is nice enough and we have the energy to!  Friday afternoon Paul's parents arrive for the weekend, also bringing DD home with them. I have a Pastor's wives conference to go to Friday evening and Saturday, and then Mum & Dad are taking us out for a meal Saturday evening (as a belated celebration of Paul's 40th back in June!).

All in all it's going to be a crazy busy half term, and somewhere in all that I need to review the chids 'school' work and re-shuffle things a little, because quite a lot of what they have been doing this term they have completed and/or moved on from. I'm not sure I'm going to get everything done, but I will try ~ otherwise the chids might get a 2 week break, which they might need anyway to recover from all the craziness!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Little Art Dandy

As promised, here is a little art post. Last week we were drawing Dandelions, which although it looks simple, was harder than it looks. Here's the results (still more to add).

Mine & Lilo's

Minnie & TP's 


And before the summer break we did these, but I never got around to posting them, so I am now ;-) Joel & I didn't actually do this one though.

Stitch & Lilo

Minnie & TP 

DD (and a close up of his watch, which I thought was rather clever!).

Monday, October 13, 2014

Another Week Goes By ... a non-book week

We took a 'midway through half the term' break from our books as everyone had worked hard so far since summer and I thought we all deserved it. The weather seems to have suddenly turned far more wintery and it felt like a good week to snuggle in and play games, so we did!

Minnie did her usual cooking on Monday, but I set her the challenge of making Turkey Pasties. She did exceptionally well and they were really scrumptious. I did buy ready-made puff pastry (I can make shortcrust, but I've never attempted puff and it's so much easier this way), but she did everything else from scratch :D

TP spent some time one day customising her new tablet case and used an iron for the first time! Ironing is not something we do much of in this house, so not really a skill my children have been taught. That said, no-one taught me. I taught myself how to use an iron and developed my own methods for such times as I need them, so I guess they will too ;)

Some of the chids played Monopoly City a couple of times. On this occasion I believe TP won. 

There was a good deal of 'tablet' time ~ learning without a book, but on a tablet is still considered fun it seems ;) 

This is a new tablet, as our Hudl's charger point packed up in again (second Hudl) and I refused to let Tesco replace it again, instead insisting (with some force) on a refund and getting one! We now have an Asus Memopad HD7 (Ist generation) and it seems great so far. It was £20 cheaper than the Hudl and as far as I can tell is no different, except that it only runs on Android 4.2, rather than 4.4. This is not much of a problem atm, although it might become so in the future as apps continue to update, but only if Asus don't release a system update too.

On Thursday I took the children on the train to Liverpool. It was my intention to visit all sorts of places, but in the event it was a bit of a cold, wet day, so we headed to The World Museum and stayed there all day!! 

To be honest though, there was plenty to look at and learn at TWM, and every part was a 'must see' for at least one, but in most cases all of the chids. I find this kind of trip SO much easier now that most of them can read, as they are each able to glean as much from it as they wish, reading the bits that particularly interest them and each taking away different bits of new information :D

Chip was particularly keen to see the fish. I knew it was only a small aquarium, so I made him wait and he did really well to wait until after lunch. We explored the top 3 floors first; covering 'space and time', 'animals & dinosaurs' and 'ancient cultures'. I found the Egyptian section particularly fascinating, with plenty of real mummies to wonder at!

After lunch we took Chip to see the fish, and then he was very happy to continue on and see the rest, which included a large 'World Cultures' exhibition (with some weird and wonderful masks that worried Chip a little), and the 'Bugs & Snakes' section, which was Stitch's favourite part! 

By the time we had seen everything, it was 3.30pm and some of us (not all I might add) were ready to go home, but we all agreed that it was a very good idea to do days like this more often. The train only cost £26 for all of us (me + six chids). Admittedly, Joel is not a child fare for much longer, but I have a Family Railcard, so even with that added bit of fare, it'll still be an excellent value day out. They all pack up a lunch and carry their own bag (school style!) so there wasn't too much to lug around and the day literally only costs the train fare. This time I took the buggy to make the day easier on Chip, although I only really used it too and from the stations to speed us up a little and then I shut it away in a room at the museum and he walked around the whole thing. My plan is to go back to Liverpool again after Christmas, to visit some of the other places we would enjoy. It might even take another couple of trips to explore everything I had on my list of possibilities!! There is SO much to see and do there - a city steeped in history and with some truly stunning architecture that is art in itself! I myself would like to take a walking tour, just to learn more about some of the beautiful buildings.

One thing during the day that made me rather chuffed, was the fact that a couple of times different members of staff in the museum commented on what a lovely bunch of children they were ~ well mannered and well behaved :D. Comments like that always make me so proud of them. People might consider it brave to head on out alone to a big city with seven chids in tow, to spend the day in a Museum, but I just know they are going to behave well and have a nice day and so I don't worry. Often my only real struggle is getting Stitch to agree to come away! Indeed, on this occasion, as he so often does, he staged a sit-in and refused to come away. I ended up leaving him to stew for a bit - coming downstairs without him, retrieving the buggy and getting things out of the locker, whilst leaving TP on watch for him. He still didn't appear, so I went back up for him. I was none too happy. He saw me coming and started to come down. He was met with my displeasure and a two day screen ban! I am never quite sure what he hopes to achieve by these strops ~ I had even explained that the museum would close in an hour and we needed to go home for some tea ~ but he gets beyond logical reason and won't budge. I hope he grows out of it soon, as it does tend to make leaving anywhere rather traumatic and spoil things rather, if for no-one else but himself.

By the time we got back on the train he was back to his chirpy self and bent the ear of two young guys on the train to such an extent that they both looked exhausted by the time we all (including them) got off 40 minutes later!! I believe they will think twice before engaging in conversation with a chatty 7yr old boy again!

In other news...
DD came home from Gym tonight and announced he can now do 12 full circles on the 'mushroom'. He's been steadily adding 3 circles each time he goes recently. His 'level' requirement is 11 circles apparently, so he's really pleased with himself. He also tells me he can now do swings to handstand on the P' bars, but has been told he isn't ready to hold that handstand yet, so goes straight to dismount. Still, I've watched that move on YouTube and it looks pretty difficult to me, so to be able to do it at all impresses me! He's working on adding a back somersault to his floor routine and beginning to land that now. The next big things he needs to work on is Giants on Highbar and Handspring on the Vault. Giants he is not far off now, but vault is the thing he struggles with most I think. He has a county competition again at the end of November, so he is working hard in the hope of doing well in that :D

Monday, October 06, 2014

Some Snapshots of our Week

We finished 1 Samuel in our Picture Smart Bible. The children are really enjoying this and it's great for getting them to memorise the outline of whole books of the bible.

Sunday night the boys had a little musical jam. It was noisy, but rather lovely :D. I love hearing them play together these days. 

Another evening the girls had some fun on Just Dance just before bed!

The fuzzy felt came out, and Chip and I had some fun building a picture together. I think Stitch was on an iTooch language arts app at this point.

Note the pre-historic snowman (top left and corner)!

Chip is really enjoying playing on Poisson Rouge and Starfall atm, and dancing to the tunes!

I suggested Chip have a go with these (can't remember what they are called) and they haven't been put away since! He and Stitch are really into them. These can be a bit fragile though, so I'm looking forward to getting a more youngster friendly version in our Spielgaben set, when it arrives very soon!

Then chip moved on to playing on the tablet ~ a Bible story app. This story was Jacob's ladder.

Art this week was drawing dandelions ~ post to follow!

There was a little taste of Easter in the middle of our week, when I discovered a chocolate game we had been given that was about to expire and needed to be played & eaten.

This week we are having a non-book week, just because it's nice to do that now and then and half way through a half term seems about right! Today Chip has mostly played on Minecraft and other 'educational' apps!! He's full of cold and not feeling like doing much else though tbh.

Minnie has cooked us lunch, as she does every Monday. Today was a new venture for her ~ turkey pasties ~ and they were scrumptious!!

Joel & TP have played Monopoly City. Minnie is now doing some sewing and I think three of the others, who have spent most of the morning colouring, are about to play Monopoly (not City).

Later in the week, if everyone is up to it, I am planning on a trip to Liverpool for the day. Just hoping the weather plays nice on Thursday.