Once upon a time there was a man called Laurence. He was an ordinary man, not too rich, and one day a man who worshipped God, who was a priest, asked him to look after a big black bag full of precious stuff to use to worship God. In the bag there were golden banquet cups (chalices), candlesticks, communion trays, plates and cups, and there was a bad man who loved gold and money. He saw Laurence carrying the gigantic bag of stuff and he said, “Let me have that stuff!” Laurence said, “No, you can’t have the bag, because it belongs to the church and they use it to worship God.” The man got cross and he said, “Give me that bag or I’ll kill you!” Then he got some soldiers and ordered them to kill Laurence’s friends. Then he said “I’ve killed all your friends so give me that bag!” Laurence was a bit scared, but he prayed to God and God helped him to have an idea. He said, “Give me a week and I’ll gather up all the stuff that is precious to God and bring it to you.” The bad man thought to himself and said to himself “In a week I’ll have all that stuff!” Laurence collected together all the precious things, then he sold the gold . now he had all the lots and lots of money, which he gave to all of the poor people. At the end of the week he took the people to the meeting and told the bad man, “This is what God loves!” The bad man was so angry he killed Laurence and the church is built in memory of Laurence.

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 162 user reviews.

We’ve been doing a lot of work on times tables recently, as multiplication seems to keep coming up.
We started with chanting the tables as we walked along, but J gets cross after a couple of sets and starts muttering or just generally being silly so we’ve had to be a bit more obvious about it. The biggest problem is that he claims to know them, so won’t bother saying them, then when pressed has to admit that he doesn’t know them (but how could he? He’s never learned them! I don’t quite understand why this is such a problem for him 😕 ) and then goes all sulky or even downright depressed and sobs about how useless he is 🙁 which leaves me feeling totally rubbish and as though I might be better just letting him take his chances at school because at least he liked the teachers there…
Anyway, in an attempt to get out of this cycle I’ve had him colouring in number squares to see the patterns, which was quite fun, and then chanting the tables using the number square as a help. So far we’ve done 2s (fairly confident), 10s (totally confident), 5s (fun – like 10s with an extra twist) and 3s (less popular) and are taking pains to point out that the more he learns the more he already knows of the rest 😉 The Woodlands school pages (will try to add link later) are really useful for reinforcement on the PC, so we’ve been using them a bit too.

Yesterday J had a CHEF sport session, which was good, and he and L collected their certificates for doing the Great School Run (2km) a few weeks ago – very chuffed they both were too. After that we took L to Mustard Seeds, where J and I sat in a corner and coloured in number squares, then read My Naughty Little Sister, interspersed with tables questions (the more he answered the more I read – seemed to work!). I remember my grandfather reading MNLS to me when I was J’s age, so it was quite a trip down memory lane 🙂 Mustard Seeds finishes with a story, which is always done in a fairly hands-on way so all the children can feel part of it. This week was the story of St. Laurence (MS is held in St Laurence’s church) and J really got into it. When we saw Bob later he retold the story to him. Actually 💡 that might be a good start point for some imaginative writing – or indeed any writing.

In the afternoon we had a friend from school round for tea, so J had a chance to meet up with old friends (and his favourite teacher) and play for a bit, then we came home via the library where they each chose 2 books which we then came home and started reading together on the settee before tea. After about 4 books it was so hot the children decided ice lollies were in order, so took those outside then came in and did sand art until tea was ready – am I mad? 4 children, aged 6, 5, 4 and 2, several sticky bits of paper and 6 pots of coloured sand! :yikes: Actually, the results were not bad at all, and the mess safely contained on newspaper.

Today we met with Z, L and mum at church coffee morning, then all piled into the car (yay for a 7-seater!) and went across town to the Funky Funhouse where we discovered that the children’s tickets entitled us to a free tea or coffee and them to a free icepop. Useful when it came to time to get them out of the softplay zone and back in the car…

Dashed back across town (boy does time go fast when you’re having fun!) just in time to get J to French club – and having the car proved to be a stroke of luck when the thunder, lightning and enormous raindrops started just before we were due to head back home. Next week is the last session, possibly ever 🙁 as the teacher still does not know what the school will be doing next year and whether their plans include her after school sessions (in which case J will be able to continue) or will put French into the schoolday curriculum, in which case J will no longer be able to do it. I think the time has come for me to look seriously at Jolie Ronde training and possibly franchise.

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 224 user reviews.

J and I (and Bob, I’m sure 😆 ) have been longing to do the Diet Coke and Mentos experiment, but I really couldn’t bring myself to buy any. However I spotted a post on Freecycle the other day offering a couple of large bottles of out of date Diet Coke and we’re off to collect it tomorrow 😀 Just need to get hold of some Mentos now…

Another treasure from Freecycle this week is a Stompa low cabin bed. J already has one (thanks to Ebay) and loves it and now K can have one too 😀 The only reservation I have is that K has a tendency to fall out of bed with monotonous regularity 🙁 We’re hoping that the extra space and higher sides of the Stompa will stop this, because otherwise we’ll have to surround his bed with pillows and padding 😕

Now we just need to put half the house contents on Freecycle ourselves to make space for the new bed! :mrgreen:

Shame you can’t get spare hours from Freecycle: there must be some bored teenager or hospital patient out there who could spare a few…

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 275 user reviews.

Tagged by Jax

5 things in my refrigerator:
organic milk – several pints
leftover Eve’s pudding (but not for long 😉 )
half a tube of tomato puree
acidophilus powder
2kg tub of Suma dairy-free Sunflower margarine

5 things in my closet:
smart(ish) clothes
shoes
Winter coats
an overlocker I need to learn how to use properly 🙄
spare blankets

5 things in my purse/handbag:
cash
cards
spare pants for L
pen
far too many receipts!

5 things in my car:
3 car seats (and often a spare for friends)
food (usually breadsticks) and bottles of water (usually almost empty) – for emergencies 😉
trolley pound and parking change (in the ashtray)
toys and books
general detritus

5 people I am tagging:
Errm, I think everyone we could tag has already been tagged so we’re wimping out – sorry.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 207 user reviews.

Bob and I bought books from amazon for the first time yesterday: Five-minute Miracles (thanks Jax!) and The Story of the World books 1 and 2 and corresponding activity books. I fear this could be the start of a slippery slope 😆

Then today I ran the Race for Life for the first time. It was really hot and I just don’t do heat; I really thought I was going to faint halfway round and the temptation to linger in the few places where there was shade was great, but somehow I managed to keep going and finished in almost exactly 30 minutes! I am seriously chuffed as I have never been able to run; even when I was rowing and relatively fit I used to be let off training runs because I wheezed so much! Bob and the children were unable to watch 🙁 because Bob was reading in church and had forgotten to swap with anyone, plus it was all age worship and we knew that neither of the other regular families was going to be there, so felt we should give the preacher somebody to talk to under the age of 20 😉 In fact, I really regretted this as I was running; it was amazing how much difference it made to see the occasional person I knew and feel that they were willing me on. (Blatant plug – I didn’t ask anyone beforehand, as I was too embarrassed and didn’t want to let people down if I didn’t manage it, but a friend insisted and now I’ve started I may as well try for the £100 target Bob set me…)

Another (and rather sad – shows my sheltered existence!) first for me was buying a round of drinks for my fellow Running for Non-runners classmates in the pub after the race. I have hitherto avoided pubs except when absolutely necessary because the slightest hint of cigarette smoke makes me wheeze 🙁 When I have been in it has usually been with Bob (who has bought the drinks) or in a “buy your own” situation. I discovered something very useful though, as we all decided soda and lime would be the most refreshing thing and the round came to 90p! I thought the bartender must mean per drink and even then was relieved it was not too much, but no, it was for the round! :mrgreen: Apparently they cannot charge for soda water 😕 so you only pay for a shot of lime 😉 Anyway, we sat outside in a shady spot in the garden and watched the runners getting ready for the second race (there were three in Cambridge, with 3000 runners in each 😯 ) and it was lovely 😀

After church the children had their first: Sportsfest at the local leisure centre. J played football with a squidgy inflatable ball very nearly as large as him, while K and L found their own amusements (I wasn’t there, so will have to leave it to Bob to blog about it in detail). The boys also got goodie bags, so they were very chuffed – made up for me having a goodie bag and a medal 😆

We all met up then for lunch, which we ate under a tree halfway round the course, so we could clap and cheer when the second race runners came past. L raised lots of smiles as she pirouetted and clapped and K informed us that when he is older he is going to dress up as a lady so he can run the Race for Life too 😆

Needed a nice quiet afternoon to recover. L slept for nearly 2 hours (unusual for her) while the boys stripped off and painted cardboard boxes outside. K now has a lovely cardboard sword and shield and J a person waiting to be cut out. Bob and I have put up a few more bathroom cabinets and doors – but still no more tiles yet. Ah well, there’s always next week!

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 278 user reviews.

We’ve been splitting up by gender a bit today. A couple of years ago the boys and I were a bit stuck as to what we could give Bob for father’s day and eventually settled on a voucher for 3* treatment at a Turkish barber’s in town. He enjoyed it so much (despite a slightly alarming experience – but I’ll leave it to him to describe it 😆 ) that it has now become a tradition. Last year J went with him for a bit of male bonding and this was so successful that this year K went too 🙂

Meanwhile L and I were to go belly dancing, as she has been begging to come with me for weeks and one way or another we’ve not managed it; sessions have always ended up being cancelled when we could make them or we’ve been otherwise engaged when they were on. Before we left, though, the teacher phoned to say that the session was cancelled, and in fact that there would be no more sessions, as it was just not viable to keep going with the small number of attendees 🙁 She borrowed a sling from me a while back and wanted to know how and when to return it – or would I like to pop round for a coffee at the time the class would have been on? (Underlying current/unspoken message: pleeeease pop round for a coffee!) This we did, giving L the unaccustomed experience of being the older child when the other was an only child – and a boisterous 13 month old bent on pushing boundaries at that! She rose to the occasion, although a little bewildered as to why he wouldn’t share his toys and why everything she picked up should suddenly be of immense interest to him when he had discarded it just seconds before 😆 Lovely as he was, I could see why his mum was starting to feel a little stressed and overwhelmed; I remember that phase well!

After their Turkish treat the lads made their way to a summer fair in aid of the toddler group and playgroup they both used to go to, where we eventually joined them, and had fun decorating windmills and little fabric bags (with England flags *sigh*), playing on the bouncy castle, eating sweet treats from the cake stall and browsing the jumble tables for tat – sorry, treasure 😉

This afternoon, I have mostly been…….. sleeping! This is almost unheard of for me, but L’s sleeping pattern (such as it was 🙄 ) has changed since MP camp, with the effect that Bob and I now get something of an evening (good), she sleeps more soundly (good), still wakes a couple of times (not so good) and wakes proportionately earlier too (really not good!) – so I’m now getting even less sleep 🙁 When I went running on Thursday I came close to collapse after 30 minutes at moderate speed (ie slow :lol:) so I don’t see good things coming out of the Race for Life tomorrow unless I can get a bit more sleep tonight 😕 Hopefully dozing this afternoon will have helped, although it means the bathroom is still not tiled!

Still, Bob managed to get the shed finished, so we can now start putting things into it, which should help with the downstairs decluttering efforts… You never know, one day we may even lift ourselves out of CHAOS and be able to have friends round again 😯

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 232 user reviews.

Getting a bit behind already 😆 so time for a bit of a catching-up post, I think.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks, although we hardly seem to have *done* anything 😕

The week before last, after parents and tots (and the infamous milk incident!), we had lunch with a friend and then walked home, L on my back in the Ergo, with all our bits and pieces in the rucksack (useful but definitely less comfortable as it changes the centre of gravity) and a boy holding each hand. On the way we met a woman with a boy somewhere between my two in age and a baby in a pushchair, who stopped us to ask if my sling was comfortable. By the time we had finished talking about it, what it was, how it worked, where to get one etc, the boys were arm in arm and chatting as though they had been friends for years 🙂 so we decided on a slight detour to the park rather than walking straight home.

It turned out that the woman was Canadian and they were in Cambridge for just a few months, which were almost over 🙁 and had not bothered to get the boy (Z) into school for such a short time so were effectively HE, but only temporarily – anyway, the children got on like a house on fire (we’ve had to meet up a few times since due to popular demand) and we got to talk slings and carriers as they are about to go off for 10 days walking/hiking in the mountains in Italy… She fell in love with the NG Ergo (I think seeing me carry a 2 year old comfortably helped!) and we were lucky enough to then spot one up for sale second-hand on ukparents so she should have one in time for the holiday 😉

I guess this counts as socialisation for both the boys and me 😀 – shame they’re leaving so soon though 🙁
Oh, and I’m now on the look-out for yet another highly-recommended book, but with very little hope of finding it as it is both Canadian (I think) and out of print: Five Minute Miracles. Loads of simple ideas for five-minute educational and/or fun activities which require little or no preparation. If I can’t get hold of a copy, I guess I’ll just have to start compiling my own…

We met Z and family again on Tuesday (church coffee morning) and again on Thurs (p&t) and now have just one week before they go; I’m torn between cramming lots of meetings in because the children get on so well and not doing that because I don’t want the boys to feel they have found a new friend only to lose him again.

This is made more acute by the fact that another HE family, with very similar aged children, doing almost exactly the same things (even to having middle children at same preschool) has just moved away, leaving K unwilling to go to preschool at all (M was his best friend both in and out of preschool), L missing her first real friend and J a bit lost as we spent so much time with them as a family that even though he and O had their moments he will miss them all a lot. I’m feeling rather bereft too 🙁

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 258 user reviews.

Parents and Tots again today, but this time with milk 😆
J and K’s new friend Z came along (with mum and baby sister – and she’s managed to buy the NG Ergo I pointed out to her so looking forward to playing with that when it gets here :D) and S was there, so there was quite a posse of older boys and I let J just get on with it rather than trying to do any set work. Z had brought along some little water squirters so they rushed around outside while the little ones stayed safely inside. L did lots of playdough and playing with babies 🙂
When it came to story and song time I decided to put my foot down and made J and K come and sit quietly rather than running around as they have been the last few weeks; it’s not fair on the littlies and they actually enjoy it once they get into it 😉 We sat and they chose a book each. J wanted to read his to me rather than the other way around, so I got to listen to Two-Can Toucan, then we started on K’s choice of The Three Little Pigs, but it was too long and we ran out of time… which actually proved to be a bonus as J took over, took K, Z and S to a corner and read the rest of the book quietly to them while the rest of us sang. K was lured over to the singing (by Humpty Dumpty) when the book was finished, but the rest of them just got another book and carried right on reading 😀 I was so chuffed, especially by how confidently – and flawlessly – J reads now.
Once everyone had gone we had lunch in the church hall with Rebecca and Jonah, then went to a new soft play place in Fenstanton to meet Emma and her boys.
The place proved to be well laid-out and ideal for mums to chat and children to wear themselves out, so it was a great way to spend an afternoon catching up with old friends.
Came home just before the rush hour, picked Bob up from work early, cooked tea while he did some maths (working out football tables) with J and then the children rushed round the garden with water squirters again before we ate. K and L both conked out pretty much straight after tea; Bob and J curled up to read next chapter of The Horse and His Boy and I’m about to go out running with a friend.
😀 Contented sigh 😀

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 262 user reviews.

Just recently we seem to have been doing next to nothing on the HE front 🙁
Life has been so busy, mostly with my things, that I’ve not had the time or the headspace to get J motivated to work at all.
I seem to be spending a lot of time visiting/helping out friends, one way or another, and J has to tag along. He doesn’t seem to mind, but does occasionally (and rather plaintively 🙁 ) ask when we can start snuggling up in bed and reading again. We will soon, I promise him, then the next thing comes up and another day goes for a burton. Today we’re cooking (but that’s educational, right? 😉 ) and then heading off to visit a friend (taking the food with us) so again any reading that happens will be J reading to K and L or to himself.
I think I need to rethink a few priorities.
On the plus side, have just arranged to buy practically an entire Core K package (secondhand) so from September will be able to follow someone else’s routine (differentiating up for J and down for K where necessary) and see if that works better than trying and failing to set our own 😆
Right – off to supervise flapjacks!

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 204 user reviews.

When J first came out of school he oscillated between wanting to be totally free and wanting to follow school structure, even to the extent of asking for healthy fruit snacks, like they have at school, which he wouldn’t eat (just as he didn’t eat them at school) because he doesn’t like fruit!
We gradually came to a compromise of doing maths (Singapore maths) and English (Beyond the Code) each day and pootling apart from that, only for him to then rebel against doing any set work at all 😕
I suppressed my concerns and my conviction that some set work is what will suit him best and waited for him to realise it for himself and I think he finally has – but it’s so hard to do! How much should I impose it on him? Some days it seems to take forever for him to do even a single page and yet another day he’ll sit and do 10 in a few minutes!
I keep telling myself that things will get better when K is no longer at preschool, as the half hour walk there and 20 minutes back for drop-off, plus 20 mins there and half hour back for pick-up, really disrupts the day and limits what we can do and how much freedom J can have in when and how he does things. I guess I’m kind of assuming that everything will be easier once I have two of them to sit down and work together, but then I suddenly start to panic and think I’m just kidding myself 🙁 and things will be even more chaotic but without the enforced exercise we currently get each day 😆
I suppose I shouldn’t really complain as the usual reason I can’t get J to do things (and that we are late everywhere) is that his nose is constantly glued to a book!

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 265 user reviews.