Wednesday, 21 May 2014

More water, and green fingers

The fine weather continues, despite predictions of torrential rain and thunderstorms.  We made the most of the heat on Monday, and met up with Natalie and Toby at Cassiobury Park paddling pools in Watford.  

The kids were in and out of the water and the playground.  It has the best zipwire - long and fast, as well as a small trampoline, a sandpit, lots of different swings and a reasonably big slide.  The miniature railway was running, so Betsy, Meg and I took a trip through the woodland.

On Tuesday we went swimming with Zoe and Billy.  Betsy can suddenly swim underwater!  She likes to go under without goggles and is delighted that she can open her eyes.  Her confidence in the water has gone up and up, it's wonderful to see.

Today was forecast wet, but it's been lovely all day.  We went to the allotment as I wanted to plant the young courgette plants.  I grew lots from seed and am giving most of them away, keeping three.  That will yield more than enough courgettes for us!

Fred helped to dig one of the holes, and Meg watered them in.  I used the compost from the wormery to give them a nutrient boost.

Afterwards we went to the garden centre.  I wanted to get Fred some wellies but annoyingly they don't do kids sizes.  Instead I bought some gorgeous flowers for pots in the front garden. The search for wellies will continue another day!

When we got back I noticed that the 'Grow Your Own Potatoes' spuds are flowering.  The flowers are so pretty and delicate.

The other plants destined for the allotment are coming along nicely (if I can keep the night time snails off them).  I have tomatoes and jack-be-little pumpkins that have grown into lovely young plants, and am waiting for a winter squash called Winter Fairy to germinate.  Only one green bean seed germinated, so I'll probably stick it in a pot in the garden and see what it does.

After lunch the kids asked to play some games - chess for Betsy and Meg, Game of Life for Fred.  Later Fred played outside with Jarvis, and the girls made an animal land in the garden.
Then it was back in the house for computer games and duplo/playmobil.

I've finally ordered the replacement trampoline bed, and that should arrive on Friday. Fingers crossed it's dry so I can put it on.  The kids have missed it!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

An excellent week

This has been one of those wonderful sparkly weeks, full of friends and adventures and fun!

After seeing some local home ed families at soft play on Monday, we met up with some of them again (and more) on Wednesday.  We went to the splash park in Leighton Buzzard.  It was glorious when the sun was out, but chilly when the clouds came over.  Fred (as usual!) spent the entire time in the water, nearly 3 hours.  Luckily we were with so many families that there were lots of children in and out of the water so he always had someone to play with.  Betsy and Meg hopped between the splash park and the playground, changing in and out of their swimming costumes several times.

It's likely this will be a more-or-less-regular meet up over the summer months, at least until the school holidays.  It's a good one for us - people the kids like, 25 minutes from the house, cheap parking.

On Thursday Amanda, Caden and Miles came over for a play, and we did a quick science experiment.  I didn't get any photos but it was this colour changing milk activity.  

After they left Alex Matthew and Autumn came over.  Meg and Autumn hit it off and played together for ages.  Alex, Matthew and Betsy joined worlds on Minecraft and were having such a great time.

Friday was brilliant.  We met two families at the Thames at Wallingford.  There is a little beach there, and Moss's mum had brought a plastic boat (really a sandpit but it floats!), a raft and a paddle.  The kids had a blast.  Fred (as usual!) stayed in the river for the whole time (3.5 hours).  Betsy and Meg went in and out, and pulled each other along in the boat.  Meg enjoyed playing in the clay earth.  She didn't enjoy me getting the worst off in the cold river though!

On Saturday Fred and Betsy were due to go to Zoe's for a sleepover.  I wasn't entirely surprised when Fred changed his mind at the last minute - but a couple of phone calls later Billy decided to come to us instead.  It was lovely to have him here.  Everyone was about, so the kids played out on the little road with nerf guns and scooters with the neighbours.

Fred struggled to get to sleep later as Billy snored a little (about the same as Fred, but he doesn't hear himself!), but with some help from a 3 hour piano youtube  track, ear defenders and advice to count very slowly to 100, he got to sleep.

Today has been another warm and sunny day.  Rob bought a new paddling pool and we had pretty much all the neighbours over for a water fight.

In other news, Rob mentioned painting the bathroom yesterday.  Today he bought paint and did the first coat.  Go Rob!

The other night I took a photo of the Fred and Betsy when I was checking on them before bed.  They are so cute!  I took a photo of the view from my pillow too.  I love my granny stripe blanket :-)

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Sea (for me), woods, fun and games (for all)

Half way through May already.  The month started in a wonderful way for me - a trip with Zoe and her friends to the Isle of Wight, to celebrate her 40th birthday.  No kids, no partners, 6 women, and lots of fun!

I was away for 3 nights, and it was a real treat (thanks Rob!).

The day after I got back, we went on a trip to the Woolly Firs Environmental Education Centre, run by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust.  It's a beautiful place.  We were in a group of about 30 children.  The education officer did a brilliant job of making the activities accessible to the whole age range (toddlers to 10 or so).

It was a workshop about animal super senses - a mole's sense of touch, fox's hearing, badger's sense of smell, sparrowhawk's vision.  

We started off doing a scavenger hunt through the woodland.

The kids had very cute mole masks to put on that covered their eyes, and they felt their way round the 'mole run'.  Betsy didn't want the mask on, Meg peeped out from time to time, and Fred loved going round not able to see anything.

After that we walked through a meadow, past a big bug hotel and a pond, to a field.
The kids played a fox and mouse game.  Two kids were foxes, and had a blindfold on.  The rest of the kids were mice, collecting pinecones to take back to their nests.  If the foxes heard a mouse they pointed at it, and the mouse was caught.  It was a fun game!
After lunch the kids had the opportunity to handle some interesting bugs, including ground beetle larvae.  They look a bit like caterpillars, and nothing like their final form.

Next was a smell activity.  Badgers sense of smell is 50 times more sensitive than that of humans.  The kids were given a beaker and a stick, and asked to make a smelly potion with the herbs and other plants in the garden.

Fred, Betsy and Meg really enjoyed this, and it was interesting to smell the differences in each potion.

Then we did a hunt the laminated mouse game.  The kids pretended to be sparrowhawks collecting mice for their babies in the nest.  Our team (us plus Billy and Zoe) were on top form and won!

The final activity was using our hearing to identify 7 different nocturnal animals.

Betsy and Meg also enjoyed looking at the display of skulls, nests and other interesting things.

It was a brilliant day.  I noticed that Fred really participated.  He was keen to answer questions, and didn't tell me he was bored when the education officer did a short talk at the beginning of the day.

The next day we spent at home (I needed to catch up on laundry!).

On Thursday we visited Amanda, Caden and Miles.  They played lots of hide and seek, in and out of the laundry basket.  Fred spent a long time in the kitchen chatting with me and Amanda.  Something quite fundamental is shifting in him at the moment.  It's wonderful to see him blossoming.

On Friday we met up with new friends from forest school, at Wendover Woods.  Fred really likes Sunny, but one of his friends came too, so Fred was left out a little.  It was ok for an hour, but then Fred did get rather bored and restless.  All 3 enjoyed the big muddy puddle as usual though.

On Saturday we went to mum's to celebrate Tom's birthday.  Fred kept the adults entertained for ages with a 'poop game', involving a spinning desk chair.  Don't ask!

Sunday was a home day, playing with the neighbours.

Yesterday we went to a home ed meet up at the local soft play centre.  Aylesbury home ed families!  It was fab.  Fred's friend Matthew was there, and Sunny.  Betsy and Meg had a blast.  I sat chatting with other home ed mums.  Seriously, it was wonderful.

Later at home, we had some exciting weather.  Thunder and hail.  Fred and Betsy ran outside to get pelted.

It's been a lovely couple of weeks.

On a sad note, Smokey the hamster died yesterday.  She will be laid to rest at the allotment next to Whitey.