Swimming

Today we decided to take the children swimming. I’d found out that a local pool had one of those giant inflatable obstacle courses which sounded like a lot of fun. I knew R would definitely enjoy it. So we headed out a bit after 11am with four very excited children.

Once we had changed, we all made our way to the beach pool and the kids played on the little slide. It’s a perfect size for small children, even little S can use it unaided. Then R spotted the giant inflatable, and dragged me off to go on with her.

 

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You had to leap on from the side of the pool, which was fun in itself. Trying to land safely on a slippery, wet bouncy castle, floating on top of a swimming pool, whilst trying not to fall off and to maintain some dignity was not easy. Then I had to make my way through the course whilst a life guard at the side of the pool threw water at me, and eventually climb a slippery ladder and slide down into the pool. 

It was fun, but I was quite conscious of the fact that I was slipping and sliding all over the place whilst in just my swimming costume with a large portion of my (very white) derrière on show!

R of course, thought it was fantastic and made me go on another 3 more times. She also managed to convince Daddy to have a go. 

E asked if he could have a go, but one of the safety rules stipulated that you had to be able to swim 25 metres unaided. So I said to him that once he was able to swim I would take him on, but that it might be a while as he would need practice. With that he ran off to grab a woggle (also known in our house as a noodle) and asked me to teach him to swim!

He held the woggle under his arms and swam about the pool kicking his legs, a grin like the Cheshire cat on his face. He was so proud of himself. 

Little S also showed off her skills, I pulled her around the pool as she held onto to a large float and kicked her legs. 

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S eating a sausage roll in the car after swimming

It was really lovely to see the children happy and wanting to learn to swim. E hasn’t shown any interest in wanting to swim for a long time.

After swimming we popped to the shops, and the girls chose some new slippers to keep their toes warm though the winter. E got a new football and I picked up some new trainers in the sale and Daddy, well Daddy went home empty handed! 

Grey skies and rainbows

Last night we left R at Nanny’s after swimming for a double sleepover. I know she’ll love it, lots of attention and plenty of spoiling too. This does mean though, that we are a child down at home. It’s amazing how much quieter it seems, I mean, there are still 3 small children charging around.

We started the morning with cuddles on the sofa, breakfast and tea. Then a little play time before icing biscuits in the kitchen. This is a great, easy activity that I can leave them doing whilst I tidy up. Today they turned the simple digestive biscuit into ferocious monsters! 
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Over lunch they watched Curious George. A mischievous little monkey who likes to explore. In one episode he was learning about rainbows, and making his own. After lunch we headed out to a swing park and on the way two magnificent rainbows filled the sky. Awesome timing, as we got to talk about the earlier cartoon and how rainbows are formed. 

Unfortunately the park was a bit of a wash out but we did find a little rat running about by the river. As it was too wet for the park we headed to Pets at Home to look at the fish, rabbits, guinea pigs, degu and hamsters. We bought a new hide out for Max and Nibbles, our guinea pigs, too.
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Then we decided to treat ourselves to a drink in Tesco cafe before embarking of the chore of grocery shopping. We spent a while there, the children enjoyed people watching, chatting and a spot of colouring. 

This evening I’m off to spend some time with my mum, Aunty A and her mum. Daddy will be left watching the small ones, although I’m sure he won’t mind, as once they’re in bed he can have some peace himself and play on the pc. 

My Random Musings

Marble runs and baking 

This week the children have enjoyed making a marble run at home ed club with the other children, playing with Hama beads and meeting an eight week old puppy. We’ve had our usual swimming lessons and seen family too.
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We’ve done lots of baking, Little S making some scones on Saturday. Some sweet raisin scones and some cheese and chive ones. She did all the mixing of ingredients, rolling and cutting on her own. Not bad for a two year old!
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S and Little S made some cupcakes, and R made some ginger biscuits. I do very little when the children are baking, supervising and the odd bit of directing. I can imagine us having a family bakery one day with all the practice they have.
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Today E made a scrumptious chocolate cake, although I did get distracted and left it in the oven a couple of minutes too long. Extra crispy is good, right?!

S has enjoyed practising her writing and sounds with her Alphablocks workbooks and playing on Monster Maths. She has surprised me with her ability to calculate numbers quickly and in different ways. She is able to make 11-14 by adding or subtracting a variety of numbers. For example she knows that 6+5=11 but so does 15-4 and 3+8.

R came to me the other day and asked me to give her some maths homework. It’s wonderful to see that her love of learning has returned. I wrote out various sums for her and we found some worksheets that she wanted to do, word searches, Lego maths and spot the difference.
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We also enjoyed going to moors valley, we’ve not been for a few weeks. Thankfully the sun was shining although it was a bit chilly. After some time playing and going to see the swans I treated them to a drink and a snack in the cafe. One perk of having a parking pass is that I also get 10% discount there.
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Saturday morning Daddy and R went into Salisbury to do a little shopping and have time together. They were planning on going to a cafe for a hot chocolate but ended up in Burger King for brunch! R chose to buy a gift for each of her siblings (and of course a little something for herself) in Poundland.

Today I spent the day finishing off redecorating E’s bedroom. All that’s left is to hang the curtains once the paint is dry and maybe look for a rug for him. He was chuffed when he saw it, beaming from ear to ear.

Tomorrow we are looking forward to Aunty A and baby N coming round for lunch and some play time.



An evening with Steve Backshall

Last Friday evening Daddy, Granpa, Uncle C and E went on a “boy’s night out” to see the Steve Backshall Wild World tour at Salisbury City Hall. E has always loved watching Deadly 60 on CBBC and has a few Deadly 60 and other books by Steve Backshall. We kept the whole evening a surprise for E until the day of the show.

E was super excited about going out without the girls and seeing one of his hero’s.

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E’s face when I told him where he was going

As I didn’t get to attend I interviewed E after the event to find out what he thought.

Me: How was your night out?

E: It was AWESOME!!

Me: What was your favourite bit?

E: Steve went to look for the biggest snake in the world (Anaconda) and a Caiman snapped at his camel guy (camera man), but he dodged it.

Me: Were there any funny bits?

E: Steve was getting pulled behind a speed boat and his shorts fell down and he flashed his butt!

Me: What else did Steve talk about?

E: He talked about saving Whales and animals

Steve-Backshall
Image from Google

Vegan Ginger Cake

To celebrate World Vegan Month the girls and I made a vegan ginger cake. I’m not vegan, I’m vegetarian but I don’t eat eggs (I don’t like them). When I stopped eating eggs Pinterest was a great place to find recipes. I found an amazing chocolate cake recipe, it is that recipe that I have adjusted to make this ginger cake.
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Everyone in our loves this cake, and the children all love baking it.

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Recipe

Dry bowl
1.5 cups of plain/all purpose flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
2tsp ground ginger
1tsp mixed spice

Wet bowl
1cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup golden syrup
1 cup water
1tbsp lemon juice

Mix up each bowl and then combine the bowls together.

Cook for 35-40 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean) at 180℃
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Enjoy hot with custard or cream as a pudding or cold with a nice cup of tea.

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Why I let my children talk to strangers

I used to worry that my children talked to anyone and everyone, I mean what if someone takes them. Now though? I think it’s fantastic that my children are confident enough to start a conversation with someone they’ve just met. Wouldn’t it be great if we were all like that? Imagine the stories we’d hear, all the knowledge we could access and the people we would meet. If I hadn’t spoken to the stranger in the bar, I never would have married him and had my four gorgeous children!
Just the other day my children saw a man flying a model aeroplane, they asked me if they could go and talk to him. I said yes and they ran ahead while I followed slowly. By the time I got there they had already learned all about his plane. I spoke to him for a while, we thanked him for his time and left. It was a great experience for the children and the man seemed really happy to have been able to share his hobby with others.

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image from Google
As well as being fantastic at helping them develop their social skills, it’s also good for mine! Before I had children I hated talking to people I didn’t know, I still struggle with it now on occasion. I hope that my children don’t ever grow up to be shy adults.
Of course, I teach my children to be sensible. It’s always best to ask me (or Daddy/Granma etc) first and NEVER go off with anyone, familiar or stranger without first checking. They are also aware that there are people who are not kind out there, even if they may seem so at first.
The problem with telling your child to never talk to strangers is, what happens if they need help? The chances are that the police officer/shop worker/passer-by that could offer your child assistance would be a stranger. If your child is terrified of strangers they may be too scared to ask for help.
According to childabduction.org.uk ” Nearly 60 per cent of completed abductions recorded by police are perpetrated by someone known, but not related to, the victim. These include acquaintances, neighbours, boyfriends and ex-partners of parents.” So teaching your child stranger danger wouldn’t be effective. There is a good publication by childabduction uk called Beyond Stranger Danger which gives tips on how to talk to children about staying safe.

I want my children to grow up as confident and social people and not be terrified of the world around them, for there is so much out there that is exciting and wonderful. So many people to meet, stories to hear and adventures to be had.

My Random Musings

Grey Days

I’m really not fond of grey, wet days. The odd one or two I can cope with but when it goes on for a week or more I get rather miserable and a tad snappy. Housework becomes much more of a chore, even getting out of the bed in the morning can be hard work. When there are four little bright eyed children bouncing around the house and wanting to learn, I don’t have the option of curling up under my duvet, stuffing my face full of chocolate and watching movies (at least not every day!)

This week has been one of those grey weeks. I have to admit that the house isn’t quite as tidy as I’d like it and we haven’t done as much as I would like to. I’ve had moments when I’ve thought I’m not doing very well as this educating lark. Then I look back at what we have done.

We’ve played monopoly, learning about money and property. How to play together and take turns, and for some of us how to be a graceful loser. We’ve played card games, learning maths as we played Elevens and clock solitaire. We’ve done water play, playdoh and painting. The girls have had there swimming lessons, and we met up with our home educating friends at soft play (and socialised). We’ve cooked dinner together, and read books. We’ve talked about the Monarchy, old and present, and why there have been more Kings than Queens. We have looked again through our microscope at various things from cornflakes to polystyrene. We shared sparklers with friends.

There have been computer games, but in that they have learned strategies, how to defeat their enemy in war or create a working rollercoaster. We went to the cinema and watched a film about a girl dealing with her emotions. We caught a bus home, working out the route and bus we needed and what time we had to catch it.

It seems that even in the times I don’t feel like the children are learning, when I feel like I’m failing, that are really are learning.

A home educating family – A guest post by Granma

I am the grandparent of home educated children ages 7, 6, 4 & 2. To be honest, when my daughter said 10 months ago that she was taking the two older children out of school & that the third child wouldn’t be going to school the following September because my daughter would be home educating them, I did have my reservations.

My reservations were not because I thought traditional schooling was the way children should be taught, far from it, I disagree with a lot that happens within our school system. No, my reservations were more ‘how do you teach four children of different ages at home?’ ‘What happens if my daughter is ill?’ ‘How would she find things without ever getting a break from them, time to breath, or do housework, grocery shopping etc etc?’

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It soon became apparent that as most mothers do, my daughter new best. My grandchildren have blossomed, they are on the whole so very much happier. They get on with each other better, yes they still have their moments, but then they wouldn’t be children if they didn’t, would they?

The vast array of things that they are learning in fun, often in a completely hands on way amazes me. All things that matter, that will in some way be used throughout life. Ok so learning how to make a raw egg bounce may not be a vital life skill, but learning about chemical reactions and how one thing, the vinegar in this case, can alter the molecular structure of another, the eggshell for instance, is very important. (I’m sure there are a whole host of every day reasons why knowing this is important!) My grandchildren also learned that if you drop an egg with a soft shell it will make just as much mess as one with a hard shell!

To learn about the Tudors by visiting a Tudor house and building one of your own, even if in miniature is far more fun than talking about it in a classroom.

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The children know, at least in part, what berries are safe to eat and which are poisonous, what to do if you get stung by a stinging nettle, how to ease a sore throat using plants & weeds from the garden.

They have built a pond, learning why putting goldfish in it will lesson the amount of mosquitoes next year. Learned the cycle of plant & animal life, first hand. As they watched a butterfly lay her eggs on a leaf, saw those eggs turn into caterpillars, watched some of those caterpillars chrysalis themselves & later emerge as butterflies, looking just as their mother did. They planted seeds & watched them grow into seed producing plants.
They have had tours of supermarkets, going behind the scenes to learn how food gets from ‘farm to fork’. Grown their own vegetables, finding ways to stop slugs from eating them, built a hedgehog house and welcomed a hedgehog as the ultimate slug hunter.

They have performed experiments, baked, & cooked learning English, maths & science along the way. They have had to work out codes & spellings to be able to go on the PC. They have used maths whilst doing the weekly grocery shop to work out which is the best bargain, and that it isn’t always the thing that is ‘on offer’.

Over this past 10 months I have seen all four of my grandchildren become more confident, find it easier to talk to and mix with people of all ages, from children the same ages as them, to much older children & adults at home ed clubs. I have seen them use their individual strengths & weaknesses to solve problems alone & together.

I have also watched as my daughter has discovered more about herself as well as her children. As she has learned what works best for each child as the individuals that they are.

Learning isn’t about sitting behind a desk watching the teacher at the front of the class, it’s about working together, or alone, getting stuck in, muddy, dirty, or sitting back & watching, listening, working things out.

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For me as the mother & grandmother of a home educating family, this last 10 months has been fantastic. Not only have I seen all the changes & heard of all the adventures in learning, I have had the immense privilege of being a part of this home educating journey.

Under the microscope

After a “not so great” start to the week, (with my car failing miserably on it’s MOT and leaving me car-less) we managed to get to Nanny’s yesterday to spend the day and the girls had their swimming lessons.
Today, ahead of our trip to see Inside Out on Friday, we have spent some time learning about emotions. Discussing different emotions and trying to create them with our faces, playing a game making silly faces with parts of the characters from the film and finally making our own characters.

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We then decided to get out the microscope that I bought when I went to the pre-launch open evening of the new Homesense store at Hedgend Southampton.

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First we looked at the slides that came with the microscope, then we went hunting for more things to look at. We looked at a chrysalis (butterfly) and a cocoon (moth). We looked at leaves and bugs. I also put a tiny drop of my blood on a slide. At 150x magnification you could just make out the cells. I think I was possibly more excited than the children!
We’ve also spent time playing Lego, Playdoh, Warhammer and Just Dance.

After lunch Little S fell asleep on the sofa so the older girls and I headed out to the garden to carry on with a rather large project we’re working on. Hopefully it will be completed at the weekend and we can show you all.

The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback
My Random Musings