fairy cakes

The kids had their first attempt at baking without me. I had prepared for this with a very simple instruction list and list of ingredients. In fact, they only needed the measurements of ingredients and remembered the rest. I sat opposite and watched, offering advice if needed, but committed myself to being hands-off…

Keziah did a great job of weighing ingredients..

They all helped with the mixing…

An there was a LOT of this…

The most difficult part, which I didn’t anticipate was diving the mixture into bun cases. Its a fiddly job, difficult for young fingers. Sitting back and watching them at this point was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life….

After practising slow breathing for 5 minutes, I have to confess to ever-so-slightly getting involved to help out…

They did marvellously well!

My only job was Chief Taster…

Next week, Macaroons!

feasting on play

I truly delight in watching my children play. It’s when I see how wonderfully they are made. Their ability to create and be free and to imagine brings me joy. There are many activities they enjoy doing and they have enjoyed being taught or led in music, gymnastics, dancing, football, swimming and I’m sure many other things. But it’s when they are free to make up their own story that the real benefits of ‘play’ emerge. Their creativity is unleashed, they grow in confidence, they learn to use their voice and body, they learn how to have relationships and resolve conflict, they learn to lead and follow and persuade and negotiate. They practice expressing their emotions and develop empathy for others. 

Having been home educating for just a couple of months, I can look back and see changes in them already. One that most obviously stands out is the difference at the beginning of the day. Initially, they all seemed to be demanding my one to one attention, to play a game with them or sit and colour with them. I found I was pulled in several directions and it was difficult to meet everyone’s needs. Now, they seem to have got the hang of staying at home. They’re used to the usual routine of not leaving the house, they realise they’re not going anywhere and neither am I…so there’s no rush for my time. On most days, the mornings, after Matt has left for work, are relaxed and they have all developed more ability to manage their own time, to find things to do…some having found this more difficult than others previously. They might sometimes need a prompt or an idea, but often my idea will be rejected and they just need a few minutes to think of something. I’m reluctant to interrupt their flow of play when it’s going well.

There are still many sibling disagreements, but they are generally playing really well. Especially the older two, being only 15 months apart in age. They really are the very best of friends and it’s lovely watching their relationship flourish. I hope as the younger two grow up that more special relationships will emerge too. I love to watch the older ones help and delight in the younger ones. But it’s also hard to see them be left out or rejected and I’m quick to step in and offer to be a playmate when required.

I’ve really made more effort to play with them these last couple of weeks. I know in my heart of hearts that it offers such a gift of love to them to kneel down (in the crumbs) and join in their game. It’s a gift of my time and energy…but the more I do it, the easier it becomes, and they welcome my ideas…but more often love to lead. And how nice for them to call the shots and be in charge for a change. I’m getting used to the words, ‘Mum, pretend….’

 

 

 

what we’re enjoying this week 10

We’ve enjoyed lots of outdoors again this week. I’m finding the weather forecast on my phone to be rather more pessimistic than the reality, so ignoring it more. And the kids have put signs on the inside of our front door reminding me to ‘take the camera’ so that’s helped!

One of my favourite moments this week, was going swimming with the big two on Monday night. Matt stayed home to put Rafi to bed and bake with Joseph. We had been in nearly all day, I felt wrecked and needed to get out…and I made the right decision! I love swimming with them; they are so full of life and it’s wonderful to watch their confidence grow. There were some great big belly laughs as they played together and took turns swimming under my legs. Starbucks is on the way home, so we called in for a hot chocolate (in their pyjamas!)

It a salted caramel hot chocolate….skinny but with cream (it makes sense to me!). I’ll be fighting Matt for the swimming option from now on!

The kids had two big full days at the Zoo this week. One with Matt and visiting grandparents, which left me and Rafael having a blissfully quiet few hours. Rafi is waking in the night for feeds again, leaving me a little more tired….OK, a lot more tired. I had a lovely doze on the sofa and did lots of reading with tea and biscuits.

The next day, I took them back to the Zoo again. It’s such a great place and we’ve got membership now, so can go as often as we like. We will get our money’s worth I can tell you! It’s a lovely spacious place with farm animals too, and lots of nice play areas. They enjoyed some of the world’s greatest toys on Thursday….

Water…

ย and hay….

Here’s a taster…

(Not a real cow!)

Trampolines are great aren’t they? The previous day, Grandma counted Keziah do 800 jumps!

Anyone want to feed the Meerkats?

Sorry, I wasn’t brave enough!

We’ve found an incredible hollow tree trunk to play in nearby….providing lots of climbing and crawling opportunity. Great fun to be had…

Yes, yes…you are the King of the Castle….

No, I can’t get you down…

Enjoy the power…

And these arrived….

So we’ve been doing some of this…

(I know, we wear pyjamas a lot!)

I hope you’ve had a good week too, and if it applies, have a fun and restful half term….We will be steering clear of the crowds and hopefully cracking on doing something with that new stationary…

Oh…and Rafi has found his feet ๐Ÿ™‚

big night in

I stayed up a bit late on Thursday night…with a very tired husband sleeping soundly and an unusual amount of energy and motivation myself, I spent a lovely couple of hours reorganising our craft area. It was an easy job to start tackling, after my Angel had been, leaving a clean, clear table and one big pile of left-over pictures to sort out. I started by just sorting out this pile into ‘file away’, ‘to be finished’ and ‘recycling’ (bin!). But, as can so easily happen when one is left alone with music… 

one thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was soaking jars in the sink….

And peeling off the labels, which I find come into two categories of very-easy and very-frustratingly-difficult. I seemed to have a plethora of the latter….well, what do you expect if you buy jars of 28p jam? 

Anyway, most of them look lovely now..

 

Oooo, I wish I’d taken that photo differently with those big ugly scissors and Pritsticks at the other end of the line! 

Forgive me.

I’m afraid I’ve been feeding the Amazon Giant a lot lately and they have chopped down several trees just to make cardboard boxes for my deliveries. I LOVE deliveries! Very large card (what for, I hope you will soon find out), lots of paper and good quality pencil sharpeners and scissors (after watching a YouTube clip of an American homeschooling mum making something I’m trying to learn about….I need some of those scissors! You can enjoy your manicured nails, though, that’s not happening here.) 

Where stationary is concerned, we have learned to value quality. It makes such a difference, for kids included, to use quality goods that actually work. So far, I would heartily recommend Staedtler. Their pencil crayons are fab (pictured above), creating excellent colour with leads that don’t easily break and pencils that don’t roll off the table (can you hear that sound?)! Following high recommendations on Amazon, there’s no looking back.

After reorganising, I spent a little time prepping for a craft activity on Friday, inspired by another blog (am I supposed to link it here? Not sure of the blog etiquette….anyway, not passing it off as my own idea!)

When they were painted, a couple of them fell apart too easily, but hopefully I will have some finished products to show you soon…

I enjoyed myself enormously….and there wasn’t even a glass of wine involved!

 

what we’re enjoying this week 9

When I think about what the kids have really enjoyed this week, for the elder two, it is this…

A massive pile of coloured card that arrived last weekend. Delighted! We are going through a lot of stationary, but they do so love making. My picture of idyllic is using watercolours and natural crayons, but what do they love? Card, felt tips, glue, stickytape! I collect the leftovers, the cut offs and put them in a separate basket to be used up, but it’s never an easy task to encourage them to use it. They always want a fresh piece don’t they? 

Yesterday was a lovely day. The elder two played so amazingly all day. It started with their idea to recreate the sports day from school last summer…they set to making themselves and other significant people out of the coloured card and this hive of craft activity was interspersed with role play and using toys for other props. They crafted and played to their hearts content for about 6 hours! Even lunch…which I provided on stools at the breakfast bar so we didn’t have to clear the table of crafting….was eaten while talking to the card people, reassuring them of their soon return. The game continued upstairs and they would occasionally reappear in a different outfit to make some more or put music on and dance with their card children. It only ended because they heard the sound of Chipmunks on the iPad…it was film afternoon.

After the film, they played some more…

I spent most of the morning playing with Joseph. Rafael had a massive sleep which helped. Joseph is really getting into his role play and he loves me to join in. There’s usually a parent and baby theme. Often he is the parent and I’m the baby…I love ‘nap time’ but that ‘cock-a-doodle-do’ comes too soon! We also made some chocolate fairy cakes which were dreadful and burnt on top…but can always be rectified with some icing…

I’ve written out the fairy cake ingredients very simply in the hope of teaching them to be able to do it themselves. But weighing might be tricky. Even Joseph could remember ‘125’ grams but we have digital scales and the younger ones would struggle to know if they’ve put too much or too little in. So that will need a bit of help. Joseph was admiring a picture of some old weighing scales in a recipe book….’I want one of those!’ I’m sure they would be fab to use or play around with so I may do some eBay-ing. The recipe book I’m referring to was actually one he had chosen for his bedtime story. Picture me if you will, sitting snuggled up with him in bed…

’50grams of self raising flour, 50 grams of raisins, a grated carrot….’ ‘yes, yes, and what else?’, he asks, face alight with imagining the culinary wonders before us…what a little gem he is.

I’ve noticed the kids make lots of patterns in their play, using toys or other props around the house…

And Joseph is still especially fascinated with pyramid shapes. Here’s how I found him the other day…

We had a lovely Sunday afternoon last weekend. Matt and I set the kids up watching a film (a gift to ourselves) while we chatted, read the newspapers….and I may have had a little doze on the sofa….;-) Then I got some crafting things out on the rug in front of the fire for them to make when the film finished. Matt’s letter cutting led to a lesson in symmetry with a mirror! Keziah made some pictures and I knitted. It was bliss! I think Joseph was snapping happy with my camera which I allowed for the sake of a knitting opportunity. I have lots of photos that need deleting now!

Home educating has helped us use opportunities to teach the kids and spend time answering their questions more. When they were at school, I found it easy to defer those learning opportunities, but now there’s no excuse! Given a nudge, Matt is a great teacher and I enjoy watching the kids learn from him. We have very different intelligences and are a really good team. Someone in our local home ed network posted an email with a ‘code breaking’ exercise….I think her husband is a maths/physics professor and so they are a family with lots of interest and enjoyment in code breaking. I showed the message to Matt and saw him light up a little and get excited….I, on the other hand, started to feel very tired and fidgety! I enjoyed maths at school and was good at rote learning…once you teach me how to solve an equation, I will happily do more…but I’m not someone who thinks mathematically or enjoys working out solutions. Give me a recipe to follow, a craft idea to copy, a pattern to knit, a dance routine to learn; happy, but I will struggle to create my own. Matt is also amazing at building and constructing…my only memory of design/technology class at school was of being reprimanded for tap dancing in the workshop! But give me a story to read to the children, a grammar exercise, a sick child who needs nursing, a blog to write, a homeless and hungry wanderer, someone greiving who needs a listening ear…and I’m in my element. So we are a good team.

We enjoyed some more outdoors this week…

 

 

 Thanks for following us…

 

Enjoy your week…

what we’re enjoying this week 8

A very late post, due to problems with my App…now sorted thanks to brilliant husband. So later than usual…

Playing….there has been lots and lots of playing.

And I’ve been dipping into this..

 It’s a book we’ve had since our first child was a baby…it’s a great book to dip in and out of and is very readable. It’s difficult to summarise as there’s so much information in it, but today’s summary can be this…..encourage your children to play, to spend lots of time outside, to go bare feet whenever possible and to have lots of pets…! I’m not sure what the author would think of my summary! I long for more time to read and research into child development. It’s a real passion. What I need, as well as living out these adventures is another life to spend reading and writing about it! 

Last week, we were indoors at home a lot and I knew we needed to spend more time outdoors this week. It’s a breath of fresh air, not only literally but within the dynamics of sibling relationships too. Everyone enjoys the adventure together! I get stuck on the sidelines a bit, with a baby at the moment, but I know it won’t be too long before he is also walking and running around and I’ve got my hands free again. I’m really enjoying using the moby wrap this time round. So much comfier than baby carriers I’ve used before, it does give me an element of ‘hands free’ – although not free to chase the kids like a bear (possibly their favourite thing EVER!) I like having him close to me a lot…

 

We’ve been to Blaise Castle Estate, Noah’s Ark Zoo farm and  Puxton Park. I finally remembered to take my camera out with us on Thursday!

 

 

I noticed that I’m always trying to get the kids to look at the animals, but they would far rather be doing this…

They don’t dislike animals, but I realised they prefer to be doing things than looking at things. Same here actually. Now, if I offered them a ride on a horse or donkey, that would be different! We are talking a lot about animals at the moment. As we search for and dream about what will be our next home, animals are definitely on the agenda. We started off hoping to have rabbits and chickens (eggs!) but even found ourselves reading up on keeping Shetland ponies, after admiring some at a local farm park. And I definitely want one of these….

The kids work well as a team when we’re out and about. They generally look out for each other, help each other and wait for each other. They make friends with others around them. They run and climb and find and dig and laugh and shout and discover. It’s good childhood stuff and I’m so happy they are feasting on it.

I’m still out jogging most mornings (5 out of 7 this week, I think) and enjoying the benefits. But, man, I am so tired in the evening. And being up early means going to bed early! A couple of evenings I’ve fallen asleep with the kids and not made it back downstairs until the next morning. One evening I said to Matt, ‘Im tired of being so sensible, I just want to stay up really late and knit for hours in front of the fire’! Yes, I laughed too when I realised what I’d said! 

We’ve enjoyed a bit more knitting this week. Keziah is really getting the hang of it. This project (a scarf for her bunny) is taking a while…it gets left on the sidelines for days or weeks even, but yesterday, she really got the hang of it and did a whole row on her own. She doesn’t have much more stamina than a row at a time but it’s early knitting days. I felt a surge of pride watching her really knit on her own, like the first days she began swimming alone. Those moments are so precious when you watch them really crack something.

Some other highlights of the week…

Monday morning had a theme of linking things together: 200 paperclips in a chain, most of the clothes in their drawers….

Some gorgeous ‘farm play’…

 

We made patterns with the letters….

Teaching my big girl to play ‘clock patience’. I remember my mum teaching me…:-)

Laughing my head off watching this…..

Not enough wind that day ๐Ÿ™‚

Where Joseph is most likely to be found….

…made before 8am on Monday morning (with daddy)!

what we’re enjoying this week 7

Saturday. And so, I can sit down unaccompanied, enjoy a good coffee and finally take the squashed raisin out of my shoe that’s been bugging me for two days.

We now have a seasonal nature table…

 

Does anyone know of a Jamie Oliver cookery school for preschoolers? Because that’s what we need! Still tolerating, and sometimes enjoying, the attempted baking! I welcome any ideas for how to use a large amount of mixed cinnamon and celery salt…

We have enjoyed some baking successes though. It was Zachary’s turn to enjoy baking with Mum on Monday night (with the bigger two swimming with Dad)… He wanted to make a cake using blackberries from the garden (at least my memory is that it was his idea!) so we used Tana Ramsey’s apple and banana cake recipe, subsitituting the apple and banana for pear and blackberries….and filling the middle with our homemade blackberry jam and whipped cream. Of course.

Is there a mathematical task more enjoyable than measuring ingredients for a cake??

The result was a success….

Enjoyed by all the returning swimmers….:-) Well, what better things are there to do at 8pm on a Monday night?!

The kids have been showing an interest in the Highway Code. Unpredictable, I know. So Matt downloaded pages of road signs and got a stash of paper plates and spent last Saturday making road signs with them. They are now on high alert spotting road signs whenever we are out in the car (and far too interested in the speed limit!). They loved the craft activity…

Another big hit craft activity this week was an idea I got from another blog. Permanent markers on tin foil. It works well if you stick the foil onto cardboard first. Of course, the table was protected and the pens are now hidden again! I had this ‘in the bag’ to pull out on a rainy day, and we’ve had a few of those this week. We had just been reading about Jonah and the Whale so used this story as a theme for our pictures. Then, they made some letter pictures and the elder two were very happy colouring for a long time, which meant I could go and help our little chef on his latest attempt. I can’t remember what it was but we did something uninteresting with a cauliflower instead. Here are the foil pictures anyway…

Can you spot my Jonah stuck inside the stripey fish? I highly recommend the activity, which makes a change from white paper and pens. The pens I bought are ‘Sharpies’ available on Amazon.

So far, we’ve had very little routine or structure to our days. This doesn’t bother me, I’m happy with a lot of spontaneity, but I expected some structure to come over time. I knew this would happen gradually though, rather than trying to have each day planned completely from the outset…an achievement I would find difficult. This week, I decided I wanted to start each day with some worship time with the kids. I expected this to be mostly in the form of musical worship but it did develop into reading the Bible together and praying with each other (pause for a moment to take this in, friends!) As with other activities, I’ve learned to just start doing it myself and inviting them to join me, rather than trying to enforce anything. And they have mostly just come alongside me to join in this week. It’s been a really good and joyful way to start our day and I am so pleased we managed it for 5 consecutive days (I knew I wouldn’t always feel like doing it and would need to make myself!) I enjoy sharing my faith with the kids and am content to go with the flow and let them take the lead sometimes. We have been using the children’s version of The Message, which uses contemporary language, although it’s American and I need to interpret a little. Each chapter has suggested activities too and we’ve sometimes followed these. Here is John the Baptist baptising Jesus…!

Five and six year olds really do challenge you with their questions! 

And before Matt goes to work, this week I have got my running shoes back on….! Oh, how much a little exercise makes a positive difference to both mind and body! Earlier in the week, I was struggling with feeling so ‘yucky’ most of the time. Most mums will relate to this postnatal phase! But the combination of being out of shape, having ill-fitting clothes, being covered in baby sick, baked beans and paint most of the time, not having had a haircut or highlights for about 6 months, and not wearing make-up was just getting a bit much. I said to Matt, ‘there’s only so much character building one woman can take!’ The past couple of months, I have found myself feeling so exhausted at the end of the day but hadn’t actually exercised at all…just lots of carrying, bending, crouching, sitting, standing around, lifting, wiping…and any walking only managed at just a snail pace! So it feels great to be active again! 

I’m not a natural runner. When I’m running, my body is usually trying to tell me I should be sitting in a comfy chair drinking tea! I mostly listen to music while I’m running and think about dancing which is what I’d far rather be doing. I jog a bit and walk a bit when I get tired, and walk up steep hills. It’s a bit higgledy piggledy, but it feels good when I’ve finished! And I’ve had much more energy in the days this week…..but I want to drop at about 5.30! That snuggle in bed with the kids at story time comes in handy!

Yesterday, we finally met some other families from a local Christian home education network. It was really refreshing to chat and find out a bit about how they do life and home school…curriculum, structure or not. It was just the beginnings of conversation but really positive to see other families making it work and loving life as home educating familes. 

I’ll leave you with a few other moments from the week…

One for the blog!…

I just love what kids sometimes do when they’re left to play…

Enjoy your weekend x