Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Good Food, Good Company

M and I had a lovely, if some what mad morning with my good friend Mel, she has been promising to teach us how to cook real Fillipino food, so Sunday morning was spent int he kitchen making spring rolls and pansit. Lots of girly chatter and giggles, followed by a lovely lunch, what more could you want, planning another cooking session soon.

Have knitted two toadstools for our Autumn display, was going to make a little mouse and hedgehog but L asked if I could make a small pumpkin, that is now on the needles, hedgehog and mouse will have to wait. Have finished the front of the blue v-neck jumper and started on a sleeve, having popped into the craft shop for some thread, saw this pattern for a knitted short sleeve dress and thought it would make another perfect present for someone, chose the shade called Bonnie, very pink but have started knitting a few rows, it is such soft wool. Joining As Kat Knits for unraveled wednesday and Nicole for Crafting On

L has finished her cats of and is talking about making more or maybe some dog version.

Pictures by L, this her with all the dogs and cats she would like to have has pets!

Enjoying some geometry puzzles.

M is battling with a horrid cold and sore throat and trying to study at the same time, Tuesday she spent the day in bed as she felt so rough.

thought I would share a project a friend's daughter has been busy at, she has her own you tube channel with lots of different variations of slime on it, at some point we will have to give them a go.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Learning To Write

I know I have written about L wanting to read and trying very hard, even though I would happily have left it till she was older and how she enjoys trying to write but we have discovered she has a tendency to reverse her letters. Not a problem as such and lots of children do it but she notices as soon as she has done it is wrong but the harder she tries the worse the reversing gets and she gets annoyed with herself. This is something that we noticed in speech therapy too, the harder she tries the worse it can get, it is better to let her have a couple of attempts and then leave her for a few days and come back to it, rather than doing daily practise. So I have been working on fun activities to help her, like writing in sand, drawing them on peoples backs using her finger, we are working our way through the alphabet, so work on the new letter and review the letters we have already done. I read SLOAH's post on using rice instead of sand for the writing trays, I thought I would give I a try, nothing like a new medium to spark interest and it has been well received.

We made bread rolls in the shapes of letters and some we decorated with seeds to write out the letters and a happy smiley face.

Monday we enjoyed making letters using play dough, have beads that we could add to write out the letters in the play dough like we did in the bread dough.

L even tried to write out some words she has learnt and then went and wrote some of them down on a piece of paper. Followed by "Mummy I can't believe I can actually write real words" one very happy L.

L has been talking lots about the changing seasons, so she drew what happened each seasons. So in summer there are lots of flowers and she can have the paddling pool out, Autumn all the trees loose their leaves, winter Father Christmas and Rudolf and Spring we water our new flowers that are growing.

A good friend sent me this link to make cats out of cardboard rolls, L loved the look of them and we so far have 3 stuck together, waiting for the paint to dry, to start the next stage.

Tuesday morning we spent at the allotment and harvested another bucketful of carrots, the last of the beans and some peas. Have very happy rabbits, they love the carrot tops to say the least, nearly as much as they love the vine leaves of my grape vines! The afternoon spent at the park with lots of other home educators, lovely to catch up with everyone.

This afternoon, some fun watching dancing raisins, you need raisins and carbonated water, or some sort of fizzy clear drink. An object that is denser than water and has a rough surface,  like a raisin, allows for the bubbles of gas (carbon dioxide) to stick to the raisins and makes it buoyant and the raisin rises up, the bubbles then pop and the raisin sinks again.

Realised I haven't shared our menu planning for a few weeks, so here is this weeks meal plan.

Sunday - Roast dinner

Monday -  cold meat, pasta and vegetable sauce

Tuesday -  shepherds pie or vegetarian shepherdess pi

Wednesday - left over shepherds pie

Thursday -  ratatouille

Friday - macaroni cheese with spinach

Saturday - beef burgers or aubergine and kidney bean burgers, home made wedges and veg

Shepherdess Pie
1 courgette chopped
1 leek chopped (or use an onion)
2 carrots diced
125g mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
60g red lentils
60g green lentils
225g can chopped tomatoes
450ml water
1 bay leaf
5ml mixed herbs
 25ml brown sauce
200g can baked beans
900g potatoes peeled and chopped
25g grated cheese
  1. Put the potatoes on to boil, once cooked mash and add the cheese.
  2. While potatoes are cooking, heat oil in a large saucepan, add courgette, leek, carrots, mushrooms, garlic fry for 10 minutes.
  3. Add mixed herbs, bay leaf, lentils, tinned tomatoes and 450ml water, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4.  Add the brown sauce and baked beans and cook for 5 minutes
  5. Remove bay leaf and spoon into a dish, cover with mash potato bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the potato is crispy

On a crafting front have crocheted some more leaves to go on our autumn nature display, have plans for knitted acorns, toadstools etc.

Toadstool in the making, shouldn't take too long!

Embroidery is coming along slowly but least you can see the kitten appearing, even if it does look a little bit skeletal at the moment. Reading Unplug Your Kids making interesting reading but will wait till I have read more before I write a lot about it.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Changing Weather!

Monday was my birthday and it was wet, had planned to go out for a walk, especially as the weather was nice and sunny at the weekend but it rained most of Monday, so change of plan. I know we do do wet walks but not today, instead, I had a lovely long phone call with my Aunt, followed by storied with L and then watched some TV with both girls. My family know me so well and have a nice selection of new books to read and another season of Blue Bloods to watch.

In the afternoon we spent some time doing some science, L was interested in M's science and what categorising meant, we've been looking at classification and the binomial system. So we talked about why we categorise things / put groups of things together like all her socks in one draw, T-shirts together etc. Or how the supermarket puts all the fruit together, then the veg, meat etc and can you imagine how confusing it would be if you went shopping and your first aisle you had oranges, then bread rolls, ice cream, the next isle apples, meat and magazines and it was regularly changed. Shopping would take a long time, it would be confusing and stressful, highlighted this week by our main supermarket we use, having a change around. So we organise  to make our lives easier, so our brain isn't overloaded and scientist do the same for similar reasons. We then played an old party game, collect 10 to 20 random objects on a tray, spend a minute looking at them, remove tray and try and remember what was on the tray. Great fun was had and we ended up playing this game several times. after the first go, we looked again at the tray and I talked about how they can link objects by use, colour, subject, or tell a story with them to try and remember them. So you could do utensils, food, toys, or a story, one day the rabbit saw 2 trees and orange and an apple tree, she used scissors to get them and shared them with the sheep and the horse, doesn't work for everyone but that works for me.

So L learnt about what and why we categorise and making links for ideas on what to put together, while having fun. M thought deeper about how and why we organise, plus ways we can revise though making links, as well as going back over the classifications system, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. I was taught and it always stuck with me was the mnemonic King, Philip, Came, Over, For, Great, Sex, my Mum would not of approved of that, there was one I came across later about kings and chess but that has never stuck the same, not sure why though!!

Tuesday we had our home ed park meet up and the morning it looked like it would be rained of, it wasn't but went prepared with waterproofs etc, turned into a very hot sunny afternoon, that none of us parents were ready for!! Wednesday it has alternated by either raining or sun but after getting the washing in twice, gave up and left it to dry indoors but did manage a nice walk, looking at man made and natural objects. L tonight has said that she hasn't done any work this week its all been fun and games, must be doing something right.

The weekend was busy, on Saturday M has dance first thing and we do a food shop, pop to the library and butchers as needed, home, quick lunch before one of us takes her to drama. This week hubby did the gymnastics run and as it was so nice, L went with him and they had a lovely walk and I got to sort out all the toy baskets. Now M has been looking at different dance lessons and struggling to find a school locally that we can get to that do what she wants, or doesn't clash with her gymnastics. Anyway I found a theatre arts school that did some dance, musical theatre and drama, convinced her to try a drama lesson on top of a dance class. The classes have a maximum of 6 so thought she wouldn't be overwhelmed etc, try out was last Saturday, She came out saying she didn't like the dance but enjoyed the drama, second lesson this week and she came out with a big smile on her face. On the first week the teacher picked up on the speech issues and gave her some tips for trying to compensate for it, seems very understanding and enthusiastic. Hoping the drama will give her more confidence in talking and dealing with people. She is happy chatting with friends and neighbours but struggles more with strangers, so I am looking ahead for college and work, so confidence building is a good thing. So while she is in the 45 minute class, I get to sit in an empty canteen, with no distractions and read and/or lesson plan, rather perfect use of time.

Sunday saw us up the allotment, picking the last of the apple, some raspberries, peas and some of the carrots, this year the carrots have done amazingly well and surprisingly all rather straight!! No I haven't dug out a trench and put in decent soil and yes our soil is very stony but this we have started using the no dig theory to the allotment, so compost is scattered over the top of the soil and covered for the winter, leaving nature to do its work, will have to see if we keep producing straightish carrots!

Pears are looking good but not ready yet.

Its all change for O he has decided to go back to college and do an access course in biology with chemistry, it has been a bit of a bumpy year for him this year and nothing has gone to plan,loosing his spleen and spending  time in ICU has knocked him. Though he still likes the gym work, and might finish his personal training course, the close shave with death and stuck with a zero hour contract job, has changed his view. When he was younger he always wanted to be a vet but due to health reasons mainly allergies it wasn't going to be feasible, so gym instructor/personal trainer was second choice. He decided very last minute to apply for uni, doing a foundation course in biology but for the first time ever I said no he wasn't going, it was too rushed for a major decision and huge amount of debt and he hadn't even looked at the uni. So after much debate he choose a local college and is enjoying it so far, so we will be looking at unis later in the year and saving towards it as well! I am a lot happier, though I don't mind last minute changes etc but this just felt to much of a major one to rush, this way he will have time to check out the different unis etc.

On a crafting front, the dress with the neckline I stretched is still sitting in the sewing basket but have picked up my cross stitch and started working on that again, can't wait to do a bit more and add in some outline so the detail is clearer. Knitting have finished back of baby jumper and made a good start on the front, joining Kat for Unraveled Wednesday

Thursday, 21 September 2017


We had our annual not back to school picnic, can't believe how  lucky we were with the weather, having had mainly rain, overcast weather all week. Friday saw sunshine, a bit chilly when the sun went behind the clouds but otherwise a lovely time, only a few of us, as I think the threat of rain put many of. Rain did not strike until we were nearly home, luckily we were in the car as it was torrential!

This week we have had a wet walk through the woods, in between showers there was some sunshine and spotted one red admiral sunning itself.

L enjoying a walk through the stream.

At our allotment entrance one of the plot holder has planted loads of sunflowers, they look stunning and such a warm greeting as you come into the car park.

Our blue moon apple tree has done well again, it produces loads of apples especially considering it is a column tree, really hope we can get another one.

Right at this moment I can't remember the name of our other apple tree but they are lovely to and love the contrast in colours from the purple red to the pinkish red.

We have loads of marrows again this year

and a nice selection of butternut squash.

We were looking at apples and what happens to them if they are left out in the air and then what would happen, if you put them in different liquids. L enjoyed cutting up the apples and then drawing pictures in her journal.

On our walks we have collected a selection of conkers (great for doing sums with) and lots of leaves, so we had a morning leaf rubbing, really must remember to take crayons and paper with us to do some bark rubbing. L has also been adding lots of animal drawings to her journal and adding different facts that she knows about the animals.

Snap dragons are flowering well.

 and my nicotiana are also out in flower.

On a crafting front, slowly knitting a jumper for a one year old, all in 4 ply so not the quickest knit going. Dressmaking was going well until I managed to muck up the neckline, when I added the bias binding, it has stretched horribly on one side, to make it worse the other side is perfect! So slowly unpicking it all and back to the drawing board with it.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

New School Year

Following on from my last blog post on my thoughts on learning to read and write, I've been thinking more about the different styles of education and why there are so many, which led to these thoughts. When you decide to home educate changing your mindset on what is education and how it can be implemented can be one of the hardest things to do. Once you start looking at home education you are introduced to so many different styles and philosophies, do you do unschooling, unstructered style, or follow a structured time table, do you like the philosophies of Waldorf, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, or a more eclectic style.  Finding the right style/path that suits your child and your family's learning  style and lifestyle can be an education in itself, everyone brings different things to the table and they all affect how we live and learn, there is no rush, learning is not a race, it is something to fall in love with (well hopefully). Some will come to want structure and some will not, go with what works for you, if you and your child are happy, then you are on the right path. For us our path involves some structure and routine but not a set time table of we are doing maths at 9am, art at 10am etc but more we are doing x. y and z today and then time to see what else happens etc.

As I've said before L is happy to dip in out of phonics but is loving working through her Saxon maths book and I had been planning ahead, expecting to have more surgery so wanted something we could do together. Surgery isn't going ahead due to me developing an allergy to part of the treatment and need to wait till my appointment in January to find out what I might of reacted too. Anyway I came across Funschooling with thinking tree books and they seem to fit, what I was after, she is loving the variety and different drawing activities, without the need to write and read. Seeing her older siblings with their text books makes her want to have her own, so she is very pleased and proud of her book. They are kept in her work basket and it is up to her how much and when she does them, this week so far we have 2 pages, one on drawing anything and then she has been telling me about her picture and I have added her words to the page, at her request.

She has just started on the thinking time page and loved colouring all the pictures different ways.

A couple of times a week we get out one of our Eco Kids magazine and have a read through, today we learnt about the chimpanzee and a bit about giraffes along with a picture to colour in, we watched a short you tube video on chimpanzees. The articles raise many points of discussion, opportunities for crafts and documentary watching.

This afternoon we ended up with a walk to the park and round the woods, home to look at the different apples, some from the shop and some from the allotment, we talked about the different colours, their names and

then they drew them. Now I've always liked the idea of a nature journal but at the same time it's only sort of worked with the older two, so now trying it with L, it will be her nature/science/art journal. During the summer holidays, not that we really stop learning, L and I talked about what she wanted to learn about and one of these was about how plants grow, so as we are coming into autumn I thought we would look at trees and their seeds, starting with apples. 

We then cut them up and looked at how the varied inside and how they tasted they all had their favourites.

So for maths we are working our way through Saxon math , usually between 2 and 4 lessons a week, plus board games, its amazing how much maths can be done through games. Add in logic problems and puzzles to supplement this. Reading and writing we are using a mixture of Reading Eggs and Explode the Code books but have a feeling we will be dropping this for a while, though L wants to learn to read, it is a real struggle for her, so maybe concentrate on the speech therapy side and come back to it later, I'm not against hard work but there is hard work and frustration when it doesn't just come together and it is so important to enjoy reading. Add in what ever else we find that takes our fancy and of course lots and lots of story telling. Art and craft, goes without saying there will be plenty of this. Science/nature study we will be following the seasons and anything that grabs Ls attention, so this month we will look at apple trees and oak and horse chestnut trees and see were this leads, add in Eco Kids magazine for some interesting variety. She has also fallen in love with cosmic yoga and we are using this 2 or 3 times a week.

On an organising and sorting front, my bedroom is coming on well, we have a large wardrobe as in the cupboard that goes over the stairs, I swear this holds a room full of stuff in it, as well as clothes, there's books, crafts stuff, paperwork, shoes. So had a sort through and organise and will probably go back through everything in another week or so, it will give me a chance to read through a couple of the books and think about what craft bits to keep etc. Have in the meantime cleaned out all the drawers, behind cupboards and cleaned windows. We've also finally got round to replacing and doing up the bathroom, replacing toilet and bathroom floor is not an easy job when you only have one toilet and little ones around, we had a leak a while ago, so the floor needed to be replaced but the toilet cistern kept on leaking, not major but much to my husbands annoyance one he couldn't fix and a spur of the moment trip to Ikea meant we ended up replacing the basin with a vanity unit, its fantastic having some drawers in the bathroom, have somewhere to store the toilet rolls, cleaning cloths and spare hand towels, all in easy reach.

On a crafting front, have done a small amount of dress making and some knitting, finally finished Granny Favourite and L loves it, there is growing room in it too. Reading, have just finished reading The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, really enjoyed it, the true story of one families life and how it changed after the Taliban came to Afghanistan. The changes in their lives, going from being able to study at university, to not being able to leave the house without wearing a chadri, having a chaperone and not talking to any males that aren't family. How financially they struggled with the loss of income when the women weren't able to work and the ways they overcame this and helped the women of their neighbourhood.  The other is Sane New World by Ruby Wax a lay persons guide to neuro science, mental health and mindfulness, as well as Ruby Wax's battle with depression. Taken from the book that was written in 2013, that mental illness accounts for nearly half the people on incapacity benefit, that in economic terms mental illness costs the UK £70 billion a year, this is in lost hours of work, treatment etc. mental illness affects people early, 50% of cases before the ages of 14. US statistics 1 in 5 children will be affected by mental health only 20% of those will have treatment, some will not want treatment, others can afford it. When mental illness affects so many people, why is their such a stigma about it? Why are budgets being cut? Why are we having an educational system that heaps on the academic pressure , while reducing the creative subjects that might actually give the students a relief from their studies and a chance to think in a different way?

A thought for the month.

Joining Kat for Unraveled Wednesday  and Frontier Dreams for  Crafting On