The last couple of weeks we’ve spent a lot of time snuggled up at home away from the ghastly weather. So far we’re fairing quite well, just the odd scuffle between the children as you’d expect being in an enclosed space for a long period of time. We have managed to escape a few times for a walk or a quick shopping trip.
Daddy is off from work until the new year so the children have enjoyed using him as an indoor trampoline and I’ve enjoyed having a couple of lie-ins whilst he tended to the small ones.
E has received many, many skylanders this week and is thoroughly enjoying playing with them, both on screen and off. I’ve also enjoyed playing them with him, it’s been lovely spending good quality time playing together. We went to Smyths toy store yesterday and they had all Swap Force Skylanders on sale for £1 per pack. Needless to say, we stocked up!
All the indoor time can be great for reigniting their love for playing with toys. R has bought herself loads of My Little Pony bits. Ponies, Equestria dolls, playhousesnd more. She’s set them all up in her room (which had to be rearranged to accommodate them) and is spending hours playing with them. Sometimes alone, sometimes with her sisters or a friend.
The two little ones also got to spend their money and bought themselves so new toys. S was given a small CD player from Nanny and Granddad so has been able to listen to some of her favourite Nursery rhymes and Disney princess songs in her room.
As much as the children are enjoying playing at home, I am eagerly awaiting lighter, spring days. I long to be outside in the garden pottering about or out in the countryside. I have a while to wait I know, but it’s good to look forward to something.
We’ve had a very quiet week with all of us having a cough or a cold which seems to have been accompanied by ear ache. Little S also appears to have had a mild case of chicken pox.
Most of this week we’ve spent a lot of time at home doing winter themed crafts and baking.
We’ve baked gingerbread men, made peppermint cremes, rice crispy cakes, and iced gingerbread star biscuits.
We’ve made fluffy snowmen, and gingerbread people and houses.
History has been learned by watching horrible histories, we’ve practiced our maths playing monopoly, card games and monster maths. We’ve read stories and practiced gymnastics in the living room. We had lots of fun with paint too.
We went for a lovely woodland adventure yesterday with Daddy. We found all sorts of goodies, great sticks for walking, a deer skull and foot, soft moss-covered trees and hidey holes. Plus there was lots of mud and puddles for jumping in.
This weekend saw my eldest turn 8. 8! Can you believe it? It barely seems 8 minutes since she was born, let alone years. She has grown into such a wonderful girl, and this last year she has really blossomed. She’s found her imagination again, she loves playing with my little pony and equestria dolls. She has a love for cooking and baking, she enjoys playing Minecraft both on the PC and the Xbox. She is very sporty, enjoying swimming, skating, cycling, running, and climbing. She is extremely social and has many friends of different ages, schooled and home educated, boys and girls. She has found a keen interest in history, mostly Tudor and before (she must have inherited that from her Granma).
On Thursday she made a cake, a project she decided upon herself. A Minecraft creeper cake, she used her knowledge from YouTube videos on how to ice the cake. When it was finished I posted a photo of it on Twitter and tagged her YouTubers, one of them “liked” the photo which made her day.
On Friday we had a morning at home, then after lunch we headed to a local soft play with one of her home educated friends where they all played for over 2 hours. On Saturday Nanny and Uncle R popped round for lunch, and then in the evening we all cosied down in the lounge for a film night. Minions the movie, with lots of snacks and two more friends.
She is such a lovely, cuddly girl. She really seems to be finding out who she is these past few months and pursuing her interests. I’m looking forward to watching her grow over the next year and beyond.
As a parent and a home educator, YouTube can be an invaluable resource. My children watch anything from Russian children’s T.V. programmes, or tutorials on how to bake and ice the perfect cake, to science experimentation channels or their favourite Minecraft YouTuber. Knowing they like using YouTube I’ve always made sure we have filters on the internet and YouTube, and I monitor what they’re watching.
I recently discovered that the BT filter, whilst great at filtering most websites, doesn’t filter what is watched on YouTube.
YouTube does, however, have it’s own filter system known as Restricted mode, which can be set to either off or on. It works well at blocking most inappropriate material. The only flaw with restricted mode though, is that it has to be set on each and every browser and app individually. Given that most phones and tablets each have Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and the YouTube app, that is a lot of filters to make sure you have set.
Now take into consideration that most households have internet accessible mobile phones, tablets, games consoles and a pc or laptop, each needing every browser and app with restricted mode activated! You can guarantee that if you miss one, a child will access something that’s not appropriate.
Even having a YouTube account that each browser and app is logged into, restricted mode still has to be set for each one individually.
YouTube have launched a new kids app, which still has the search function (although you can turn it off) and this is great for their tablets. It has popular videos on the home page and you can set the parental controls. The children now use this on their tablets but we still make sure that all the other filters are set just in case.
This morning started frosty but the sun was shining, so after breakfast we wrapped up and put on our wellies to go exploring. When we arrived at Moors Valley we decided to do the Stick Man trail, a walk through the woodlands doing activities based on the Julia Donaldson book. We picked up our pack and followed the arrows to begin our walk.
Unfortunately E doesn’t cope too well with the cold so the first 45 minutes of our walk were challenging. Despite this we managed to make a nest, build a tower, do bark rubbings and more.
After we completed the trail we headed to the visitor centre to collect our certificates and stickers. We grabbed some hot chocolates to go and went off to feed the swans and ducks at the lake, one swan even let S stroke it.
Next we headed off over the bridge to the play parks. The girls played house, and E and I played monsters.
After a while I noticed a little robin following us, when it was quiet I crumpled a tiny corner of biscuit onto my hand and he hopped over and took some. R came over and got to have a go at feeding the robin too. She was thrilled and the robin kept coming back for more.
After a few more minutes play we headed back to car and home for lunch.
Whilst I was preparing lunch the children spent time on their tablets, S played Monster maths, E played games and R watched some YouTube tutorials.
After lunch I made a cardboard box house for the little girls to play in, then caught up on some housework.
E and I then had a quick game of Monopoly Junior before the girls and I made some musical instruments. We made shakers out of old bottles, lentils, rice and coloured beads. We also made a small water xylophone with coloured water.
Whilst I make dinner the little ones are playing with the Guinea pigs, E is playing on his tablet and R has a friend round to play. After dinner R and I are off to Morrisons to do the food shop and get ingredients for a project she wants to do tomorrow.
Saturday evening we surprised the children, we sat them all down in the evening and showed them a video of nine, 2 week old puppies. The children all looked up at us with wondering, excited faces. “How would you like one of those puppies?” we asked. R squealed with joy, “really?” We explained that the following afternoon, we would be going to choose one we would like to adopt. Of course, they still need their mummy so wouldn’t be coming home with us for a few weeks yet.
After lunch on Sunday we set off to meet our new family member. When we arrived 4 of the puppies had already been reserved. We’d already decided we wanted a little girl, so we were introduced to the available girls. After that we let the children decide which one they wanted. Thankfully they all chose the same, beautiful, sandy coloured puppy. Now we need to agree on a name ready for when she joins us in January!
This morning the children and I decided to get in the winter spirit and make snowmen. However there is a distinct lack of snow, so we made them out of old socks. I found some odd socks and cut off the foot from the ankle. We tied an elastic band around one end of the ankle part then turned it inside out. The children stuffed them with cotton wool balls and we popped another elastic band around the top. With yet another band we gave the snowman some shape, a smaller bit for its head and a large round for its tummy.
We glued on some goggley eyes and used glitter glue to decorate them. With the foot part of the sock we made little hats.
Lots of fun and a great way to use odd socks.
We’ve had some really good times this week, soft play with friends Monday afternoon. Home ed club Tuesday morning, making towers out of sweets and spaghetti, colouring, spending time with friends, and swimming in the afternoon. Wednesday we spent time at home in the morning and then met with our friends at a local skate park in the afternoon.
Yesterday R made meatballs from scratch and her own tomato sauce and served them with spaghetti for lunch for her and her siblings. We went to the library to change our books, as always R chose history books and S chose more books than she was able to carry!
We’ve also had some very challenging times. As the shops get busier, going out with E is becoming more difficult. The noise, light and bustling people take their toll on his senses. This normally results in him wanting to run away and hide, which isn’t often an option for him. Unfortunately, when his flight reflex is taken away his fight reflex kicks in. I normally bare the brunt of this as I’m the one who restricts him from running off.
Occasionally he will completely switch off when things get too much. Sit down in the aisle mid-shop or curl up under the end of the conveyor belt and shut the noise and light out. In times likes this I just have to wait it out, let him calm himself and come back out.
I’ve decided that for the rest of December I shall (as much as possible) be avoiding all shops whilst E is with me. Normal duties will resume in January, when hopefully it’ll be quieter.
Life is never going to be totally quiet for E, and his challenges are some of the reasons I took him out of school in the first place. E, for the time being needs a quieter, steadier pace of life. One where he can feel safe, the busy world will still be there when he’s ready for it.