Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Christmas Lights...

Three years ago we started a little festive routine of going into town to watch the Christmas lights being switched on. Its difficult when its not all of the children's cup of tea, Bailey and Piper aren't ones for much fuss, unfortunately the other two however are a different story. Cordelia is like Mother Christmas and Ruben is just SO excited that it will be his birthday soon he just has a boat load of new energy. Bailey and Piper actually really enjoyed it this year, Piper even sang along with the Christmas songs! She normally hates loud noise in crowds but she was in a lovely mood. We took the children into a cafe and we all had hot chocolate, which was nice as its not something we normally do. We had a lovely wander around the market and got lots of ideas and inspiration for things we can make ourselves over the next few weeks, we enjoyed looking at all the silly presents in the shops. There were some donkeys, llamas and even reindeer in town too, which Cordelia and Ruben just loved. The children had saved up some pocket money to spend too and enjoyed spending it.

 Cordelia bought herself this horse balloon, which was rather big, but at least we would be able to see her if she got lost in the crowd!

Like I said, a TON of energy at the moment!

We also saw this fab window display, am hoping we can have a go at something similar very soon

We didn't really have many festive traditions in our house when I was little so its not something I have really started myself. Its always a really busy time of year with two birthdays and a wedding anniversary just before. Every year though, I try and add something like a tradition. We have made our own calendars for the last 2/3 years as I really don't like the cheap cardboard ones in the shop. One year we bought them for the children and they ended up getting another one each too, it was ridiculous having 8 in the house, so now we just make one altogether. I'm thinking of possibly sewing one this year maybe but will have to see..... There is always so much I want to do but I always run out of time.

What traditions do you have in your house? I'd really like you to share some if you don't mind?

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Math and Money!

I've been thinking lots this week about maths, what with the Primary Maths Challenge coming up, it always makes me feel the same! The children are always playing board, computer games, baking and weighing so I know the kind of maths they are doing to be more practical and more like real maths. They are good at adding up their pocket money, working out if they have enough to buy whatever it is they are after, how much change they will get, how many weeks pocket they need to save up for something etc. All good practise in life skills I think. Filling in workbooks and sheets is all well and good for short periods but I find it uninspiring sometimes so tend you use them for gap fillers really. A friend gave me the link for this website, its called Mathwire and is American but has lots of theme related maths which the children have really enjoyed this week. Cordelia sat a few days ago and discussed Prime Numbers and also pie (not that kind but the maths kind. No symbol on my pc available though). We discussed it for a good hour and she came away feeling much more confident about both of the things I'd introduced her too. I think maths is also a lot about confidence and that's one thing that I'm trying to give them all lots of. I wasn't very good at math at school and only re-sat my GCSE 4/5 years ago, gosh I'm so glad I did because its been so useful. I really like the Schofield & Simms workbooks, especially their problem solving books as that is very much like real life math problems. I'm not saying I want my children to be accountants when they grow up (although that would be fine, if they wanted too of course) but I just think its important to be able to work things out yourself and it can only help them to be good with money etc when they get older. I think lessons in money/finance etc begin now and if we don't help them with it now then where will it lead too? My parents were not the kind to save up and wait to buy something, they were the 'stick it on the credit card and pay it later' generation. So I too have grown up with that, its only in recent years I have learnt to be much more careful with money, although that is very tricky when you have four children, unfortunately they rarely grow out of shoes/coats/clothes a month at a time! So I want to bring the children up to save and make sure they can afford things and also to know that not everything has to be expensive, charity shops/car boots are part of our life now and I think its helped them to see how much more they can get for their money. They are also good at making things for presents rather than going and buying them, which is lovely. As they get older they see things in shops and have started to say "I can make that myself, much cheaper" so I'm hoping that's a good sign. They've also learnt that money isn't everything, it can't buy you happiness. That's a rather important lesson to learn I think.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

And finally this week a little bit of art!

We had a fab time at our local HE group today with the children doing a mixture of painting, board games, top trumps, playing Doctor Who/Pokemon/Animal Hospital and Playmobil, sewing, sticking, and felting. Ruben woke us up at 5am saying his throat hurt but went back to bed and was fine when he woke again. He's always so excited to go on a Friday and see his friends. On the way home though he looked terrible, very pale and full of cold so the rest of the day was spent snuggling on the sofa and watching a DVD. I think we are all pretty wiped out after a busy week to be honest. Just hoping he picks up for the weekend, bless.

Meanwhile, Bailey, continuing his new found motivation did some rather cool pieces of art. I like this piece below, he used potatoes to print the dancing people and was inspired by the Usbourne Art Project Book. I really, really love Usbourne books, especially the art ones.
 Cordelia painted some flowers and did a tissue paper poppy in honour of Armistice Day. Whilst we talked about percentages and possible questions on the PMC paper, which both girls will be taking part in this month.
 Bailey also painted these two beautiful flowers. I love them. The detail is so good, he is very talented. We are lucky that we have four children who are all very creative and imaginative. I've told him he will be designing all of our Christmas Cards this year as I think this would look just beautiful in reds and greens.

Bring on the weekend, I'm so ready for it! Hope you all have a lovely weekend too :-)

Some BIG decisions.......

Another busy day yesterday with a trip to the library, that can really take some time with us ALL choosing books and then a visit from friends (can't remember the last time I saw so many friends in just one week!). Bailey has also come to the very big decision, all on his own, that he wants to do an IGCSE in Computer Studies. Now to some readers this might just be yeah so? But to us this is a major step. When we first began HE back in January 2008 I tried really hard to do school at home with the eldest three children, that worked for a few months before we all burned and crashed. I didn't know anyone for a year other than HE online forums so had no one to really questions like how/why so I kind of just followed what I thought was OK. Since that we have floated somewhere between autonomous (I even had to look up that word when I began as I hadn't a clue what it actually meant) semi=structured and child led. Bailey was diagnosed with Asperger's (which isn't something I've discussed for lots of reasons) in 2009. At the moment I'm not sure if I agree with it actually and feel pretty let down by the whole special needs specialists. Thankfully for us we haven't needed any extra support as, just like the rest of everything else we've done so far, we have gotten on with it ourselves. I'm not one for asking for help, I've always gotten on with things myself and I'm lucky that I have such a fab hubby to share everything with. Oh gosh, now I'm babbling.... Anyway, Bailey has been in a phase of not really wanting to do much at all without a good kick up the bum (not literally of course!) he spends a good deal of his day mentally counting down hours to go on his XBOX, (which I've found out very recently seems to apply to ALL other 13/14/15/16 year old boys too, phew....). So this sudden and rather unexpected change in him has quite took me by surprise! Yesterday he even sat with me and we looked at University courses on Game Designing, then we spent a further hour discussing and reading through the curriculum for the IGCSE. He does have a few friends, both HE and school friends that are taking/studying gcse's so maybe its that but all of a sudden he has a plan and is very willing to put in the work required.  Recently I had thought that GCSE'S were possibly an option to us but definitely not something I was going to push. There are so many people with qualifications and degrees that are doing nothing these days that I'm not sure they are worth the paper they are printed on. If Bailey or any of the children wanted to wait and see what they want to do that is absolutely fine by us, life is too short to be stuck doing something you hate. So I'm glad that rather than be coerced by secondary school into doing obligatory gcse's that he will probably not use again he has been allowed the space and time to decide what HE wants to do. He also has the time to be able to study at his own pace without anyone rushing him and the luxury of help from 2 parents, not 1 teacher shared with 30+ other students. I have never regretted our decision to Home Educate our children and applying for Bailey's exam place today made me feel so glad and thankful for that day in October 2007 when I first read about HE in a national newspaper. I'm so happy that our children have the freedom to chose who and what they want to be.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Cinnamon Bath Soak, Chocolate Truffles & Cupcakes

Continuing our busy week with friends we went to another good friends and had a very busy day! She had planned for us to make lots of things whilst we were there. We started with cinnamon bath soak, which is so easy to make and absolutely divine! Think Christmas in a jar. The ingredients were all things readily available from the supermarket_Bicarbonate of Soda, Cream of Tartar, Cornflour, Powered milk and of course Cinnamon.

 After we had finished and bottled it up in some recycled jam jars we started of the chocolate truffles. Ruben even had a go with these, hmmm wonder why? They were quite easy actually and have given me a few ideas for variations as I'm not much of a dark chocolate fan. They were extremely rich but the children thought they were scrumpcious, think you can tell by the cheeky smile on Ruben's face!

They all enjoyed rolling the chocolate out and covering it in cocoa. The hardest bit was then waiting the ten minutes they were in the freezer before they could be eaten!

 My friend also showed the girls how to make material cupcakes, we only had time for a quick go but the girls really enjoyed themselves so I think we will try some different designs this week. At least I can fill some of my cupcake stands up with them in the kitchen. Plus I've heard their zero calories!
Love the gingerbread button on top :-)

Tudor biscuits

We have had a really busy week this week and have been out every single day. We haven't seen as much of our friends as we'd have liked recently with all the wedding preparation so we tried to get back to normal this week. Monday we went to singing, the girls are preparing for their Christmas concert in a few weeks time so they had an extra 20 minutes singing this week. They are both very excited. On Tuesday we went to visit some friends and the girls made some tudor biscuits (jumbles). It was a strange recipe as there was no butter? Just flour, sugar, eggs and carraway seeds. I love aniseed but have to admit these were the most peculiar tasting biscuits.   The girls worked together with each of their friends-Piper with Immy
 And Cordelia with Jemima

 Excuse Cordelia's make up! They were playing vampires before we started the baking! As you do.....
 After the kneading and rolling into knots they were then boiled for a minute before being baked in the oven
 They looked a bit like bread when they came out and tasted a bit like bread too. The children were a little unsure.
So off they went back to play their giant game of Playmobil!

Monday, 7 November 2011

November's catching up!

Can't believe I haven't wrote a blog post for a week! Thought I was doing too well. Well its been very busy around here and will probably continue to be for the last half of the year as we have 2 birthdays, a wedding anniversary and obviously Christmas coming up. I feel like I can go into Christmas mode now this week has finished.

A little round up of what we have been doing in the last seven days since Halloween;
We finally took part in the Samaritan's Purse Shoebox Appeal. I have wanted to do this several times before but I always run out of time. It was great this year as the kids really understood why they were doing it so maybe its better that I waited until they were older. If your not sure what I'm taking about-basically you have to fill a shoebox with small gifts/toiletries/sweets/stationery for a girl or boy in 3 age categories, the boxes are delivered to parts of Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.. The children all picked their age and sex to do a shoebox for and had lots of fun buying little things to put in the boxes. We then donated online and we should find out where our shoeboxes have gone this year.

We also had our first meet up in the community hall for our Friday Group. There were only four families there but it was lovely, the children all played really well together and one of the mums brought lots of sewing things so the girls had lots of fun! The girls all ended up playing Doctor Who with cars, dragons and playmobil so a giant mix up with the boys! It was nice to be warm and dry too as the weather was very grim on Friday, plus I managed to finish two whole cups of tea whilst they were still warm! Today has not been quite like that so far.

Ruben also lost his other top front tooth and had a trip from the tooth fairy, here he is without his two front teeth:

And thats where most of last week went!