Just a perfect day?

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 😀

Guilt guilt guilt!

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!

Site problems

Sorry if you’ve been unable to look at the site recently – probably just yesterday. The short version is: I clicked the wrong button and fouled things up. (Long version available on request.) Thanks to help from my ISP I’ve got it fixed at least temporarily. I’m still not sure that the RSS feed is working OK though – I use bloglines to keep on top of blogs I read and it has never told me about things we’ve posted. Has RSS worked / not worked for you?

An unrelated bit of good news: yesterday Katy bought me a Bagpuss video that includes the episode with the machine that makes chocolate biscuits out of butter beans and breadcrumbs. 🙂 My favourite! Professor Yaffle as hard-charging investigative journalist. The mice’s ruse is exposed!

Full weekend

Katy’s already posted about our weekend, so I will just fill in some extra stuff rather than repeat everything.

The first thing to say is actually one of the last to happen: Katy’s recognition service. I was very glad that L stayed asleep (on me) until Katy’s well-deserved applause, even though we were making each other hot. Also, I’m very proud of Katy, for all the hard slog she’s put into her preaching. The training itself is like an Open University course – theology, church history, Bible study, how to lead worship etc. – and then there’s preparing the services themselves which can take up most of a week’s spare time. (Long before your formal recognition you’re doing services by yourself.) I have learned a lot sitting in Katy’s services, and know she has a gift for preaching.

Katy mentioned in the service today that motherhood and preaching have largely occupied the same stretch of her life. This made me remember when she was just starting out and we would put J down to sleep in a tiny travel cot bag in the vestry of whichever church we were at, and he’d stay asleep until the end of the service. Things are a bit trickier these days on the child care during Katy’s services front!

On a completely different tack, I was struck by the contrast between two Ikea workers yesterday. We stopped off at Ikea on the way back from the baby shower in order to break the journey and it also has some strange irresistible pull on the car. (Hmm… Something wrong with the space-time continuum, captain?) We got there late, but there were still people in the cafe so we tried to get something to eat. The chap behind the counter said he’d run out of pasta which was a blow as there wasn’t much else we wanted. It turned out he did have some but it had sat in the serving thing for ages and so was a bit chewy. After only a little to-ing and fro-ing we managed to get it anyway and it was duly appreciated by the children. Thumbs up to common sense Ikea workers.

We’d got a couple of drinks that gave free refills. There was an announcement on the P.A. that the restaurant was now closed (although they were letting us finish our food), and Katy noticed a member of staff doing tidying up type things near the drinks machines and said I ought to drink up and get a refill quick. I did the drinking part, hurried to the machines and was told by the tidying worker that the she’d just turned the machines off. It was obvious that she wasn’t going to turn them on again, which was a shame as I now had no drink with which to finish my meal. I know it hardly registers on the grand-scheme-of-things-ometer, but it just seemed a bit unnecessarily unhelpful – couldn’t other things have been tidied up first?

Bah! I’ve given Ikea two whole paragraphs and sound like Victor Meldrew. That wasn’t the intention so I shall end with a thought that struck me this week. I was marching across town one lunchtime to help with child logistics and crossed a common that is the venue for the fairs that visit. One was in the process of being set up, so it looked less like a fair and more like a travellers’ community (albeit with specialist vehicles). There was a girl of about 12 sat at a table enjoying a book she was reading and it occurred to me that the people who do fairs are home educators like me – it’s just the setting that’s different. Their children will have much more exposure to some things than mine will – British geography, buying and selling, marketing, logistics and planning, mechanical engineering, (advertising) art and so on. The fact that this was a major realisation then reminded me that I’m not as open-minded as I like to think I am.

Structure – musings

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!

A very eventful weekend

Still not much likelihood of blogging about Kessingland, as the weekend has been desperately busy. After more than 6 years of training (including two extensions and three children) I finally completed my local preacher training a few months ago and this Sunday was my recognition/commissioning/admission (whatever you like to call it!) service. Knowing that this was planned, it foolishly did not occur to me when giving available dates for this quarter’s plan, to block the date for preaching – I thought the fact that I was to be involved in a service int eh afternoon would be enough to invoke the “at least two weeks between services” rule. How wrong can you be? Finding myself with a service to take in the morning (not at our home church) and family (beyond Bob and children) apparently uninterested anyway, the plans I had secretly nourished of arranging a big celebration quietly died 🙁
Instead we spent Saturday at a baby shower in Horsham (thrown by a good friend from Hunnybeez) which gave us the chance to meet up with lots of “imaginary friends” and eat lots of cake 🙂
Oh and before we left I failed (once again) to find my hairbrush, which L has a habit of stealing and hiding, and decided that I really was fed up with long hair which is so fine and flyaway, but also thick, that I cannot get an ordinary brush through it (only an expensive specialist one, which I cannot justify replacing when DD loses it) and which is so long that I cannot reach to brush the ends in the same stroke as the top, which will not hold any style but straight, takes half an hour to wash and half a day to dry etc etc – you get the idea 😆 Soooo instead of finding the hairbrush I found the hairdressing scissors I use on J and K and I hacked it all off to jaw length – saved me brushing it, anyway 😉 Then of course no one recognised me at the meet!
Having got back from Horsham some time after 10pm we were all a bit tired and frazzled to start with today, but hey ho! The church crawl started at 10am, when we left for Sturton Street Methodist Church (calming the storm – Bob as Jesus, water squirters and poster board to make storm effects, children’s song with actions even though we had brought the only children there and DS1 had opted out and was doing Pop-a-beads at the back of the church 😕 and origami boats as part of the sermon 😆 )
Church crawl part 2 was the Bouncearound summer party at St Andrew the Great in the city centre, where we enjoyed delicious food (especially the puddings :lick: ) and the children were able to do a variety of activities from bouncing on an inflatable castle to having faces (K = pirate and L = butterfly) and nails (J = glittery orange) painted. Then L snuggled up in Leo on Bob’s chest and we marched off to church number 3, our home church, for “Mummy’s special service”.
In moving from church 1 to 2, J and I had taken the opportunity to nip into the Oxfam shop for something to distract the littles during afternoon service – and found that they were selling off last season’s toys for £1, so spent a judicious £10 and got enough to entertain chillies and restock presents box 😀 K and J accordingly spent most of the service looking at their new goodies, J making spiders (Scary Science pack), K doing numbers and alphabet beginners packs and both using a magnetic theatre set. L, having fallen asleep en route, very considerately slept until the round of applause as I sat back down having been welcomed into my new role as fully accredited local preacher and then snuggled up for a feed until the end of the service 🙂
After the service we were plied with yet more cake (note to self: feed children on bread, water and plain vegetables for next week 😆 ) and then came home to watch the Queen’s birthday bash on tv until we could decently hustle the boys off to bed. L is still up, thanks to an unusually long sleep this afternoon – but for once we’re not complaining!

Must get back to some kind of normality next week!

J had a very narrow escape today…

I came very close to pulling his arm off and beating him about the head with it!

It was parents and tots today and we needed to take milk, so I grabbed a pint from the fridge for the teas and coffees and we stopped at the Co-op en route to get a couple of pints of whole milk for the children, which unfortunately meant waiting in a long queue and left us running (literally!) very late. DS1 wanted to carry the milk, which was great as it gave me two hands free for hand-holding, but then he changed his mind and asked me to take it, but still wanted to hold my hand and somehow with all the shuffling between us we managed to drop the bottle, the lid came off and the milk came gushing out all over the pavement 🙁 I managed to pick it up before it all came out, so rescuing just under a pint, and since there was now no time to buy more we had to just hope that that, along with what we had brought from home, would be enough.
Anyway, we just made it to p&t with one minute to spare before door-opening time, rushed round getting toys etc out and barely stopped until snack time, at which point I got the children’s drinks ready, made the tea and opened the adults’ milk… only to find that it was water :O A few weeks ago DS1 came up with the idea of taking an empty milk bottle/carton and filling it with water so that when Daddy was making breakfast (and half-asleep, poor soul) he would be surprised to find that he was pouring water on his cornflakes lol. We assured him that it was a good joke, but not one to repeat, and thought the matter had rested there, but clearly we were wrong *sigh* He must have filled this one up last night, but somehow DH picked a different carton this morning so it didn’t get discovered until after I had lugged it all the way to church. Anyway, I was not best pleased, but fortunately remembered that I had frozen a couple of cartons of milk in case of emergencies so I fished one out of the freezer and popped it in the microwave to defrost while I quietly and calmly (ish :P) pointed out to DS1 the error of his ways.
The children had their drinks and the adults patiently waited for milk to go in theirs. Eventually the carton was soft, with only a little lump of ice to shake in, so I took it out, shook well and opened it up, desperately hoping that it wouldn’t have separated too much. As I opened it I felt that something was wrong, but couldn’t put my finger on what it was – later realised it was that there was a lid but no seal! I poured a little out and disaster! It was really watery! I looked closer and lo and behold it was *@#* water! DS1 and his practical jokes had managed to strike twice on the same day! He could hardly have planned it better if he’d tried!
Okay, it’s funny now lol but at the time I’m afraid I just slid to the church kitchen floor and cried *blush* while the poor parents sat at the table waiting for the milk to go in their tea! Very fortunately there was a second carton in the freezer and that really was milk, but by the time it had defrosted half the adults had given up waiting and just didn’t bother with tea, while the rest had pinched milk from the children, so when I went through there were lots of children (mostly mine *sigh* ) demanding drinks 😆
Ho hum! One of those days!

Kessingland

I have been meaning to write about last week since we got back, but first I had to set up this blog, upgrade our Flickr account, go to work a bit and so on.

The simplest thing to say is that I had a really good time. About 45% of this is due to the fact that the children enjoyed camping. Our only previous experience of camping with them did not go well, and so this was a big unknown. Fortunately the kids loved it, which meant we could enjoy it too, and we can do it again in the future. Another 45% or so was the other adults there – normal people, who accepted us as we were and who didn’t panic when we talked about home education (as you’d expect for an HE camp!). What the other 10% was, I don’t know.

I was trying to think why our local HE group hasn’t produced warm fluffy feelings as much as MuddlePuddle camp did. I think there’s nothing wrong with the group, but I haven’t done many activities with them, and each activity is for half a day or less and so all the normal stress of logistics and child shepherding mean that I’m so busy with all that so I can’t get much out of it myself. Maybe I should do more, like the Beans?!

Oh the tyranny of the blank page!

I’ve been trying to think how to start and having no great ideas, so it seems the best thing to do is just to wade straight in! Of course, this is helped considerably by the fact that I should be making the most of L actually deigning to sleep on the settee by herself (rather than attached to me) for a while to get some service preparation done… There is nothing like a more important task to help get the minor ones done – or is that just me?

Will come back and blog about Kessingland later, I think, as that really will take some time, but it would be good to get today done while it’s fresh, especially as it marks a minor triumph for both J and me. We went to the CHEF Great School Run in Cherry Hinton Park and joined in, running (well, jogging) 2km without stopping – although I did have to slow down occasionally to let L get her biscuit into her mouth and have a drink. She complained that I was bumping her too much otherwise! We used our new marine Leo Storchenwiege (swapped lots of nappies for it ;)) and very comfy he was too, if a little long. Might have to try shrinking him a little…
After the run we froze our ankles in the paddling pool and then picnicked in the sun, then went and collected K, who had been on a Brunswick trip to “the Pumping Station” (Technology Museum) and then home with his friend M.

L is still asleep and I really do have a service to prepare, so I guess it’s time to be good and get on.

Bridges, optics, giant cameras and coke fountains

Some links I’ve come across in the last week or so:

  1. Foot bridge turned into musical instrument / art exhibit at the Tate modern
  2. An addictive game using an optics bench
  3. An aircraft hangar turned into the world’s largest (disposable) camera
  4. The increasingly famous diet coke + mentoes fountain (warning: sound)