Sunday, 27 November 2011

Happiness is flying a kite

Freddie found a kite in the toy room this morning. We've had it for years but never used it. This morning was bright and sunny, and windy. Perfect kite flying weather!

We went to one of the many hills that surrounds Aylesbury, called Whitecross Hill. It does have a white cross on it, supposedly covering a pagan symbol. There's an ancient barrow up there too.

The sunlight coming through the trees was beautiful.

Freddie and Betsy loved tramping through the leaves, and throwing them up into the air to make leafy fireworks.

As soon as we reached the hillside we were buffeted by a really strong wind. Meg did not enjoy the wind at all, so she and I sat in a sheltered spot next to the barrow, while the other 3 flew the kite. It was so wonderful, sitting on the grass snuggling Meg and listening to the delighted laughing of Rob, Fred and Betsy. I've rarely felt happier.

And look at their faces! So happy. A very special morning.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

A day off, and an evening walk

I had a wonderful day off today. I met up with a friend in London and went to the National Gallery. It's been an age since I've been there and it was wonderful to see some of my favourite paintings again. In particular I love The Execution of Lady Jane Grey, Tiger in a Tropical Storm, Van Gogh's Wheatfield (and Sunflowers of course), the Bathers, and King Charles on his horse.

After tea and cake we went to the Portrait Gallery. The Photographic Portrait Prize 2011 was on. I love this exhibition, and seem to have accidently been every year. There was also a photographic exhibition of British comedians. It was wonderful.

After a late lunch and a couple of beers I got the train home and arrived just after the kids had tea. I suggested we go for a walk in to town to look at the christmas lights and take the kids to the cafe for a brownie.

Freddie and Betsy poured the milk into Rob's coffee.

Meg chomped on a bit of Betsy's brownie.

I thoroughly enjoyed a mocha mmmmmmmm!

Then we went to the two town squares and ooohed and ahhed over the lights.

The clock tower looks beautiful bedecked in fairy lights.

And the theatre is lovely at night.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

First Christmas makes

We're getting excited about Christmas here. We had the town Christmas lights switch on last week, and the Father Christmas parade at the weekend.

Betsy loves an Usborne book we have - the Big Book of Christmas Things to Make and Do. She's been leafing through it all year. She's picked out some projects for us.

First up are decorations made from bread (white bread specifically for some reason, it doesn't say why though). The kids cut them out and left them overnight to dry out. The next stage is painting them.

While we had the cutters out we made some biscuits. Freddie and Betsy helped with the mixing, I rolled it out, and Betsy cut the shapes. She decorated them with chocolate chips before they went into the oven.

I sprinkled them with edible glitter. Yum!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Forest school

We went to our first forest school session today. It was a unreserved success - we all had the best time.

Freddie was delighted there was a fire. He spent most of the time tending the fire, adding sticks when they were needed. He did join in with a couple of games of hide and seek, and later went exploring with another 6 year old. We didn't see either of them for half an hour or so.

Betsy warmed up to the group much quicker than usual. Together we made elder drawing sticks, with bits of elder wood, chalk and charcoal. She enjoyed the hide and seek too, and went leaf collecting with the Abby, the session leader.

Then she made a woodland picture with her finds.

Abby had brought refreshments, so the kids munched on cookies and bananas, and I had a cup of tea.

Meg enjoyed throwing leaves onto the fire, and drawing on her face with a red pen. More than one of the kids in the group asked if she was bleeding!

There were some magnificent looking mushrooms (hmm, or toadstools?) that looked edible.

We will definately go back, it was such a lovely couple of hours.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

A rite of passage?

I've read about this on some unschooling lists I subscribe to, and wondered if it would ever happen here. I wondered what I would say, if either of the kids asked. I wondered if it would bother me.

This morning, Betsy asked for ice cream for breakfast! I slightly surprised myself by simply saying yes, and getting it for her. Then Freddie asked, so he had some too.

They both followed it with traditional breakfast food. I wonder if they'll ask for some tomorrow?

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Sticks and sunset

Today was our home ed group that meets monthly at a local nature reserve. It's the second time we've been, and we all really like it. It's very relaxed, with a few activities and lots of time outside.

We started by looking at leaves (and plastic snakes!) under the microscope.

Then we went outside to an area they're developing into a forest school. Freddie spotted a birds nest.

There were some really tall thin branches to move around, and make houses with.

The kids found sticks to bang on trees.

Meg got a little frustrated as she kept falling over (wellies+sticks underfoot=unsteady toddler), and Betsy was getting cold, so we left Freddie playing with the the rest of the group and went back to the barn.

Meg loved running along the path (no sticks to fall over!).

And so did Betsy...

Back at the barn, I had a cuppa, Betsy drew some pictures and Meg worked hard to dump stuff on the floor and clamber up on to the tables. I'd forgotten how challenging the toddler months can be! Though I do think Meg is slightly wilder than the other two were.

It was such a warm day for November, sunny and clear. On the way out the sun was setting, and looked beautiful over the lake. This photo doesn't do it justice.

We met a lovely family there, and the kids really enjoyed playing together. We've swapped numbers, and hopefully we'll meet up at the zoo sometime soon.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Activity bags

I got out some activity bags that I made nearly two years ago. I'd forgotten about them, as Freddie wasn't mad keen on them, and Betsy was a bit young.

I dug them out today, and Freddie still wasn't keen, but Betsy enjoyed doing some.

She did some card lacing. She said she wants to do some knitting and sewing. I might get her a knitting dolly, and I've already bought some aida fabric to make some bookmarks for the grandparents for christmas.

Betsy did a sized sorting game, with small, medium and large egg shapes.

Then she did a counting game.

Freddie did some sorting using tongs.

Betsy did measuring.

Betsy also made these cute rubber-glove-finger people after seeing them on Mister Maker yesterday.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Weekend at Granny and Grandads, fireworks included

We went to Rob's parents this weekend, who live in a village on the outskirts on Stoke On Trent.

It's a beautiful part of the country. Rob and his dad went to watch the football (invited to the directors box no less!), and the rest of us went to the playground.

Betsy and Meg love the swings.

And so do I! Freddie took this photo.

I think this is the nicest view I've ever seen from a playground.

Later, back at the house, we got busy getting things ready for bonfire night.

There was a beautiful sunset.

And the moon came up.

Rob and his dad lit the bonfire (though it didn't last long, as it was all green wood unfortunately). Freddie loved it while it lasted.

The farm over the road had a MASSIVE bonfire! I felt slightly like I was betraying our little bonfire but snuck out to have a look with Meg.

Rob's folks had got some fireworks. Betsy was worried about the whole thing and stayed indoors with Grandad - I think she's watched too much Fireman Sam! Freddie and Meg loved it though.

We finished off with sparklers.

The demise of the pumpkin.

It's hammer time!