Saturday, 24 September 2011

New group, new group!

We were really lucky yesterday to be able to meet up with a group of home educators that live much closer to us. After only 15 minutes we all arrived at the park and I was really happy to see that there were lots of boys for Ruben to play with, he's had a real lull of having some friends that are boys. It was also great for the girls because they both found a new friend each that was the age as them! Fantastic! And I got to meet and chat with some very nice new people, all within such a close drive. We all said how great it was NOT to have to go on a motorway to get there. It was so lovely to see them all playing so nicely, or a bit roughly in Ruben's case, what is it with boys? They seem to have this need to roll around on the ground, constantly run, pretend kick and punch, jump etc. They were all shattered when we eventually got home but are counting down the days till next week's meet up already! We finally left after about an hour of the children saying "we're hungry" (bad mummy had not taken lunch, what a rookie mistake to make!) and then disappearing to continue playing again, none of the children wanted to go home, which I thought was a great sign of a very successful first meet. Sadly, no teenagers for Bailey but he didn't mind, its funny because normally it seems there are lots of older ones or tiny ones and none in the middle, this group seems to be more in the middle. Just hope this lovely weather continues for us to be able to meet up regularly. Wish I'd taken some photo's as they all looked so happy :-)

How many games can we play??Oh and stockmotion too!

I mentioned on a previous post that we have had many game days recently. I really like board games myself (me and hubby play board games several times a week when the peeps are in bed) and think they use such a mass range of skills that its about 3/4 lessons rolled into 1 and rarely anyone complains about playing them either. I've spent the last few car boots looking out for games that we don't have, which is becoming harder as we have so many. A new favourite at the moment is Pokemon Yahtzee, which I picked up from a car boot for £1. All four of my children are really into Pokemon, although Bailey not as much now, he still is like the knowledgeable hero where the other three are concerned though and even Hubby has become a bit of an expert in it. The game is great for maths skills and learning to be patient whilst waiting for your turn.

 I managed to pick this brand new and sealed game up for 50p, we haven't had chance to play it yet though but it looks like fun!
 I also picked up Boggle for £1, I can't recommend this agme enough for literacy, its fantastic and we all love playing this game in a  morning it really gets all our brains working! And I've seen some very interesting words from it too....
 Continuing our game theme this week Bailey and Ruben decided to create a chess stockmotion video. It was lovely to see them do something constructive together for a change rather than wrestling , which is what they seem to be spending 80% of there time doing this week! Take a look.....

Food shopping challenge

Now whilst I'm yet quite to think about GCSE'S for my four (lots of thought, just not sure what's right for them/us yet and in no rush to make a decision) I am very much of the opinion that whilst qualifications are great, life skills are much more valuable. One of the great things about home education is that your children are involved with many different social situations, my children are all aware that their is only one wage coming in and that we are on a tight budget. Whilst I don't want my children to have to worry about money, the reality is that our children are growing up smack bang in the middle of a recession. Whilst we have been lucky that Hubby's job has not been affected too much, the reality is our budget is being squeezed tightly by other factors such as gas/electricity prices, fuel prices, rental costs, food costs rising and the cost of clothing. I have never shopped as much at carboots, charity shops and budget supermarkets as I have in the last 12-18 months. I'm glad that I have discovered these things though because it has made me look at myself and my own shopping habits. Once a girl who used to love shopping and buying new things I have come to literally HATE shopping centres so much that they put me in the worst moods. Hubby has in the last few weeks refused to go to Meadowhell, hmmm I mean Meadowhall with me ever again because I was so horrible for the rest of the day. I think I've got around in blissful ignorance for a while not realising how much the recession is affecting us, until I needed to buy shoes/clothes/wellies/winter coats etc for the children. Now I'm quite appallled at the cost of a pair of jeans for a seven year old boy that spends his life crawling on the floor/mud/grass/concrete etc! With Christmas looming in the very-near distance and two of the children's birthdays, we have to begin to plan and think about these things. So, with this in mind I have set the children a task: For the next 3 weeks Bailey, Piper and Cordelia are not only going to plan what meals we have but are going to buy all the ingredients online and have it delivered. Sometimes I shop online and sometimes I go to the supermarket but to be honest I don't enjoy it that much and resent a quarter of my weekend being spent inside there. So very eagerly Cordelia has volunteered to go first, I have set them all a budget and any left over they can have as a contingency fund incase anything runs out. They have to have enough for 7 meals and not forget pet food for the dog and 3 cats either. So here is Cordelia with her full week's shopping. I haven't dictated meals, they were her choices and all I requested was hubby and mine's treat of Cherry Coke (not alcohol as we would much rather have a glass of coke!!) and I left the rest to her. She used so mnay skills in the hour and a half that it took her to do the shopping, obviously maths but problem solving too. Like for example an offer of fresh chiken meant that if she bought 5 extra ingredients in the offer then she would get the whole meal for £1 less than the chicken cost! She thought it was bonkers but she did it. And realising that we couldn't afford a £3 cheesecake for a pudding! I've designed a worksheet specifically for this task too! Will be intersting to see how it goes.

Ebay bargains and lots of pearly paintings

A few weeks ago I managed to buy two lots of items from a seller for 99p each. As she was local there was no postage costs either, so what did I get for my £1.98? Books, books, books and some more books! Girls books, boys books, craft books, even a Cath Kidston book that was brand new, origami books and a few other things that I wasn't expecting like these pearlised arcylic paints which I'm sure would have been nearly £10 on their own. It inspired the children to pick up their paintbrushes, which they have been a little slack with until now. Now it seems to have reignited their imaginations once again! Best £1.98 ever spent I think....

Dungeons and Dragons

Hubby has got Bailey, Cordelia and Ruben completely hooked on this board which we picked up for £1 from a boot sale a few months ago. They have now been playing it for 4 consecutive nights after tea. I'm sure its got absolutely nothing to do with the fact that it happens to be one of hubby's favourite games, nope nothing at all, pure coincidence! Its really, really great to see them being so enthusiastic about it though and also seeing how patient they can be whilst waiting their turn etc. Not that we are ever short of board games mind and we do play LOTS as you can learn so many important skills, in fact I have been meaning to do a post on some of our recent board game purchases, but life has got in the way! Here is the game all set up ready for after tea tonight:

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Markham Grange Steam Museum

On Tuesday we met up with the home ed group for a trip to Markham Grange Steam Museum, we haven't visited here before and haven't been to many group meetings of late, preferring instead to do our own thing, but its nice every now and then to see friends form the group. I have to admit to being more of a 1 to 1 person than a big group person but we all needed a trip out after the rubbish weather yesterday. The museum was only very small and I think the children were slightly disappointed but I think this was because of our recent(ish) trip to MOSI which was on a much larger scale. The staff however were really helpful, friendly and informative, which you think is how it should be but when you have children, not in school at term time, its not always the case! It was very, very warm inside and it has to be said that my children are not exactly the best with heat, so we had to come out for some fresh air after 15 minutes or so. Plus, as there was a pet centre next door to the museum and a few people had informed us of there being snakes and Gecko's in there I think they all would have rather gone in their first!! Still after some fresh air we went to see how the boiler works. It was a little similar to our power station visit but the information was more digestible. There were piles of chipboard and mdf behind the museum which is used for burning, people have to pay the musuem to get rid of it because its actually dangerous to burn as it contains glue. When MFI shut down recently they donated lots of their furniture to the museum to burn.

The man showed us where all the chipboard/mdf goes to get broken down and how the machine kicks out all the loose stones etc that get stuck in the chipboard. We then went to see this machine that magnetically removes all metals, this might well have been the children's favourite part, having a go with a piece of metal and seeing how far they could have the tool before it was dragged up by the magnets. Then we all got to look inside the boiler/furnace. Which was very, very hot as you can imagine but had what looked to be a super smiley face?

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

So are we?

After reading this article this morning UK Children stuck in "Materialistic Trap" and also watching it on the news last night before bed, I thought I would write my views. In particular I like the line "The results were startling. Children in all three countries told researchers that their happiness is dependent on having time with family and friends and having "plenty to do outdoors". Really? This is startling? That children want to see their parents/family more and play outside? Surely this can't be that surprising? Haven't children always wanted this, I certainly don't think its a new development. Whilst its lovely that in places like Spain, extended family share childcare what if that's not always a possibility? My own parents work full-time and so do my in-laws and  my children have rarely been cared for by anyone other than myself or my husband. Not that I'd actually want it any other way, I actually enjoy spending time with my children, but it wouldn't have been possible anyway. After reading this I'm even more certain that our decision to home educate was absolutely the right choice. We do go outdoors lots and  see lots of friends and family. I think the "materialistic trap" it speaks about is much more rife at school and always has been, I notice it more during the holidays when my children see their old friends from school and it makes me quite sad. I had a conversation recently with my 9 year old daughter about how long your actually a child for and how long your an adult. When I put it to her like that she really thought about it differently. I think/actually I KNOW if my children were at school, they wouldn't be rushing home to play Playmobil, Lego and Barbie's. 

What is to blame then-spending cuts from a new government? parents feeling guilty and buying more? society? Maybe all of them are. I think its not just children that are sucked in, I think we all are a bit. I know I have spent a large portion of my life being like that because I really didn't know any better, sometimes I still don't. Sometimes I forget the bigger picture of what I/we are providing for our children by allowing them the freedom to play, learn at their own pace and be themselves, sometimes I get caught up in what we can't have because there is only one of us with a wage. Because its everywhere! Especially on the street where I live anyway, its very much 'keeping-up-with-the-Jones'. We are the only people on our street who home educate, (quite possibly in the whole village,) the only people who have an old car, the only one's who rent rather than own our home. And because of that I feel we do get treated differently/sometimes ignored. However, they don't know us, they don't know how happy our children are and what a lovely family we have, so I figure its their loss not mine

This article makes me feel sad but to be perfectly honest I don't think its anything that I didn't know before it was published. It would be great if all the years UNICEF spent on this report something positive were to come out of it but I have a feeling things will just continue to go along the same way. Just for today though I will feel as if I'm doing my bit so that my children won't be one of the children giving out "startling" information to UNICEF in their next report.

Bonkers for Conkers

For the first time in what feels like ages we met up with some of our very best home ed friends today! Its just lovely having a car again and being able to go to all the places that are near on impossible without a car. Today we went to Clifton Park, my youngest three love the playground there. We had a bit of time to play and explore before our friends arrived and then it was a full on catch up. It was lovely seeing them all back together and chatting/playing on the swings/exploring. I've really missed my home ed friends of late. We are meeting up with our other very best home ed friends on Thursday at a different park too!

Ruben wanted to take his backpack with bug exploring equipment today and I managed to find a plastic tub with a lid on that could be used for "observing" some bugs. He and Cordelia managed to find two ladybird larvae, ladybirds, a tiny insect and a rather large shield bug, so not too bad.

He also took his sword with him as he is going through a ninja period. The girls spent a stomach churning amount of time on their favourite park equipment-the basket swing-whilst my friend and I discussed how sick they make us feel! All was going very well until my friend's daughter was hit by a piece of equipment in the sand area, there was a lot of blood, and a few tears but she was super brave despite a very sore and bruised nose-(hope your feeling better soon J! X) The girls rushed round her, finding her plasters and marched her up to the museum at the far end of the park, whilst we struggled to keep up with the younger three, bags of half-eaten lunch and pushchairs. We got to reception and managed to get some sterile wipes and clean poor J up. Whilst in there we had a look round too and found to both the children's and my friend's delight a new section of toys in one of the rooms! Mainly a huge Sindy cabinet, the girls were looking out for things in their collection, nanan's collection and my friend's collection.

 I liked the ballerina Sindy and Scuba diving in the bath Sindy but never really was into Sindy, it was always Barbie for me.

We even spotted a Moomin doll which is very strange as yesterday I read a Moomin book to Ruben which he rather enjoyed and then I found some clips on Youtube to show him, as I liked it as a child.

I love it when things like this happen, you mention things and then they turn up somewhere! It happened last week after we watched the dolphin/whale programme, I told the children how whales can sometimes get beached like in Julia Donaldson's "Snail and the Whale" story and the very next day a whale calf got stuck in the sea not too far from us at Immington having travelled too far inland, sadly it died the next day. On our way back to the car, the children found lots and lots of conkers which they preceded to vigorously squish out of their spiky shells. Then they all played conker basketball and conker bowling, much to the delight of my friend and I! A fabulous home ed day :-))

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Birthday cakes and a double rainbow!

Well I haven't been very good at keeping up with my bog of late! I suppose I haven't felt like we had a whole lot to blog about, which is quite silly really because all our days are super busy and filled with stuff! Our second-hand car arrived on Monday but I didn't drive it until Tuesday, and I was quite nervous, that is a whole other story. Anyway, Tuesday afternoon we walked to the village library to replenish book stock! Cordelia had a shopping list of things she wanted to buy as she had plans to make another bath bomb, soap-on-a-rope and lip balm. She is such a busy girl. Her soap-on-a-rope didn't go exactly right and even after waiting the obligatory 24 hours she said it looked like cat sick so she put it in the bin, which was a shame but then that's science for you! It smelt very strong of soap in the kitchen afterwards as she had to grate 2 whole bars of soap. We also had a lot of visitors this week as it was my birthday. We also had to sort out the children's outfits as its my mum's wedding soon and the girls and I are bridesmaids and the boys pageboys, you can imagine how excited Bailey is about that NOT! Typical teenager, but he's playing along nicely bless him and looked very smart in his outfit. The girls are HUGELY excited though as its their first time as a bridesmaid! The girls were very busy on my birthday and baked me not only a fab chocolate, jelly snake cake but also a pile of cupcakes! They also made me some beautiful cards, I'm one very lucky mama! On Saturday we were lucky enough to see the most beautiful rainbow ever, I have honestly never seen one so vivid before and then to top it off a second one appeared! This weekend has largely been spent tidying, cleaning and sorting old toys out. The girls have decided they are too old for quite a few things so looks like an Ebay week for us. We have so many books now too that I think a trip to Ikea might also be coming up. We continued the weekend with more visitors too and my friend and her two daughters popped over yesterday. The boys played Dungeons & Dragon's (which hubby picked up for a mere £1 at a carboot recently) whilst we the girls played together and I had lots of cuddles with my friend's 10 week old daughter! So that was last week summed up!