All things Bright and Beautiful

This week seems to have sailed by casually. Jessy was in Sheffield staying with my ex and her fiancee from Friday morning until Sunday evening. On Saturday I took my 14 and 15 year old nephews indoor skydiving, which I’d got them as a Christmas present. It was great fun watching them and I think they enjoyed it too. I took my middle nephew for a meal at the Nawaab, an amazing Indian Buffet just up the road from us. It’s rare to have the chance to spend time with the teenage nephews on their own so it was good to have a catch up together. Over the weekend I enjoyed hanging around in my pyjamas, spent far too much time on the computer and went to Richmond Tea Rooms with a friend.

My 14 yr old nephew indoor skydiving.

My 14 yr old nephew indoor skydiving.

Jessy was very taken with the hymns at the church service we attended as part of St. George’s Day Parade last week. He’s been walking around singing ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’. We might try going to a church service, but in the mean time I ordered ‘Come and Praise’ – the hymn book I remember from primary school, which is still apparently very popular. I got the CD to go with it so that Jessy can hear the tunes. It was an instant trip down nostalgia lane! Jessy picks up the songs quickly and last night we sat in bed singing hymns from the book together. My favourite song, number 27 ‘There’s a Child in the Streets’ wasn’t on the CD, so I sang it for Jessy and it even helped to calm him down when he was tired and tetchy.

Jessy made a little shop one morning with a timetable of opening hours stuck to the kitchen door and a Welcome mat on the floor. He’d laid out all the book he’s made over the last couple of years and created money for me to use out of paper. He said it was also a cafe which meant I could get tea and toast (ie breakfast!) while I shopped. He explained that it was a self service cafe where you can use any of the ingredients in the kitchen to cook what you like. I thought that sounded like a good idea!

Jessy's Book Shop and Cafe.

Jessy’s Book Shop and Cafe.

One of our cats Nimbus, developed an abscess and needed to go to the vet. Nimbus is the second cheeky boy in my house and has acquired the nickname ‘Naughty Nimbus’ because he always seems to be up to mischief! Jessy came with me, and the vet was great at including him, asking Jessy to fetch cotton wool to help clean the abscess. Jessy has also helped me at home when I gave him his antibiotic injections, by holding Nimbus steady for me. Jessy is sometimes a bit too full on with the cats, and has a tendency to hold them when they’re not always in the mood. He cares a lot for them though and often feeds them without being asked and he’s gentle with them even if he does over fuss them!

Jessy and Nimbus

My two cheeky boys!

When I collected Jessy from Wood School this Thursday I thought he had suddenly aged 10 years. He looked as though he’d grown a beard! On closer inspection it proved to be red marker pen – a lot of red marker pen! Jessy informed me it was blood – the Twilight phase is still going strong! The teachers apologised but I simply shrugged and said I’d given up bothering about it! He has enjoyed drawing on himself on and off for a while now. The ‘Avatar’ phase was especially fun, he went around with blue arrows up his arms and legs and on his forehead. This morning’s addition was a large black lightning scar on his forehead. He went to cubs with a faded red blood-beard and a large black scar. I really do give up!!

I’ve thrown myself into my Japanese studies this week. I’ve done several new audio lessons, practiced writing hiragana and continued to learn katakana. Jessy is picking up more as well. Today I tried asking him ‘Naneka tabe mas ka?’ (Would you like something to eat?) and he replied ‘Hiee’ (yes), so I continued ‘Nannio tabe mas ka?’ (What would you like to eat?) and he told me what he would like. He’s passing on what he knows to his friends too. One of my friends says she’s been putting the Japanese CD on at her house too so hopefully the kids can start chatting together as they learn more.

Today’s Tuesday Group was arranged at the last minute so I suggested the park round the corner from me. It’s been a lovely sunny day, although chilly in the wind. The kids climbed trees and played in the playground. We set up a game of croquet, and my friends laughed at my posh Buckinghamshire upbringing as I talked about how we used to play croquet on the lawn with our antique wooden croquet set. I showed Jessy how to play.

Home Ed kids in a tree again!

Home Ed kids in a tree again!

It’s been a quieter week than usual with Jessy being away, but sometimes quiet is lovely. 🙂

Tragedy, Twilight and Play.

This week has brought some very fun times and also very sad ones. I’ve been reading a new book: ‘Playful Parenting’ by Lawrence J Cohen. It’s been on my ‘intend to read’ list for years. I’m glad I picked this week because I’ve felt like it’s been a good time to concentrate on my parenting skills and for Jessy to have me a little more attentive and thoughtful.

Thursday morning had a tragic start. Jessy came in to my room saying that his pet gerbil had a cut. I could hear the tremor in his voice and as he started talking, ‘blood everywhere… she’s rolling around’, I realised it sounded serious. Jessy pointed under his bed and I could see instantly that the poor little thing was dead. She’d fallen on one the home made story books Jessy likes to create, and as I pulled it out I saw the pool of blood coming from her head. It was such a distressing sight, we both burst into tears immediately. “Poor Gertrud” we cried. Jessy was supposed to be going to WoodSchool, but it really wasn’t the time to rush him into getting ready so I text his teacher with a brief explanation and asked if I could bring him in later. “Of course, anytime”, she replied.

After a lot of cuddles I went to clean up. Jessy thought that Gertrud must have hit something sharp when she jumped off the bed, but when we looked we couldn’t see anything sharp. Feeling a little like a rodent FBI agent, we worked out that the most likely explanation was that her little head had been squashed against the wall when Jessy moved a heavy box whilst looking for her. Somehow this made it all feel even worse and I knew Jessy would have to deal with guilty feelings. I knew I had to handle the situation sensitively and luckily I think I managed. I made it very clear that I understood it was a complete accident. A little later we also talked about how incredibly fragile small animals are and the power we hold over them. Ideally I would like him to come out of this with a little more mindfulness around vulnerable creatures without feeling unnecessarily guilty. Jessy imagined a gerbil Heaven and I talked about how her body can become part of the soil and feed other little creatures and how her energy will become part of new things and we can imagine her in the wind.

Jessy’s friend Stan had a lovely idea, to bury Gertrud in the pets graveyard the children found at Highfield Park. So on Friday we went to Highfields with friends and did a little burial for her. Stan dug the grave and everybody helped to decorate it. The children were all very thoughtful and respectful in the process. It was also nice that they could then run and play and enjoy themselves.

Preparing the grave for Gertrud the gerbil.

Preparing the grave for Gertrud the gerbil.

Decorating Gertrud's grave

Decorating Gertrud’s grave

Tree climbing at Highfields Country Park.

Tree climbing at Highfields Country Park.

In the ‘Playful Parenting’ book it talked about how children use play to deal with difficult situations or to make sense of things. I noticed this when Jessy was playing Minecraft and said to me “I had a pet ocelot but it died. I didn’t realise how delicate it was and I hit it once and it died”. I felt quite pleased that he can even use a computer game to help him deal with his feelings.

We’ve been using the playful approach in happier ways too. One afternoon Jessy was saying that he wants to be able to walk around in the streets on his own and that he feels he is old enough to do that. I disagreed and explained I didn’t think he would be safe. The conversation was in danger of getting heated and unpleasant when I decided to try and be more playful. Adopting a mock serious tone I said ” Jessy, I can’t possibly let you out on your own, haven’t you heard of the Wild Boars of Levenshulme?” “There aren’t any”, he said. “Oh yes there are! They feed on small children who are out alone and shouldn’t be. The worst of it is that if you don’t believe in them you can’t even see them!” He took the invitation to join in and soon we were laughing and talking about the Wild Boars. The best bit though was a few days later when Jessy wanted me to go out with him but wouldn’t tell me why we were going, or where. Once we got outside he said ‘We’re hunting for Wild Boars!” We had a great time, walking down a long path and really getting into our Wild Boar hunt! We were afraid under the railway bridges, we heard them roar! We saw signs of them everywhere! Playing more really has been fun.

My other favourite game was the Twilight parody we enacted with Lego. Jessy’s interest in the Twilight series has gone from strength to strength this week and I think it is vying with Harry Potter for number one interest! This week we’ve watched ‘New Moon’, ‘Eclipse’ and ‘Breaking Dawn Part 1’. Our lego parody covered the first film. It actually started with us playing a Harry Potter game using an amazing ‘Cauldron Room’ Jessy had built. It was so detailed, with little potions bottles and wheel controls for gas and fire. There was also a bed with Gryffindor bedspread.

A Hogwart's Cauldron Room with added bed.

A Hogwart’s Cauldron Room with added bed.

The game morphed into a Twilight game when I created a ‘Bella-armus’ spell which makes everyone fall in love with the caster and protect her. We had ‘Car-lisle’ played by a small blue car, Bella and Edward by lego minecraft figures, Laurent was a white chocolate skull with licorice wand dredds. Jessy particularly likes my rendition of Jacob “woof woof, Bella Oh! Dog food! … Bella, dogfood” .. you probably have to be there to appreciate it. And be eight. 😉 I thought Jessy was actually going to wet himself, he laughed so hard when I used the licorice wand as Bella’s nasal tube in the hospital scene!

I noticed another example of dealing with things through play. Some parts of the Twilight films push the boundaries of the level of violence and sexual content I’m happy with. We were playing a game one evening which turned into a bit of a rough and tumble with Jessy on my bed. He wanted to pretend he was a newborn vampire having his limbs torn off by the Volturi (the unforgiving keepers of vampire law) I felt a little uncomfortable but remembered reading in the book that it’s often the games that we might be least comfortable with that are the most important for them to play and ‘get out of their system’. So I threw myself into it and realised that if those scenes are pushing my boundaries, it’s probably because I’m worried that Jessy may be too young to deal with them. Although he hasn’t shown any distress about the scenes I’m sure this game was helping him to process it somehow.

On Sunday Jessy took part in a St. George’s Day Parade with his cubs group and many other Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Rangers from the local area. There was a short march led by a brass band to the nearby church. It was lovely to see him so happy with his new friends. I have struggled with the moral conflict I have sending Jessy to a religious, nationalistic organisation when I am far from either. However, I do believe that if he is going to benefit and take part that we should support the activities of that group with our presence. I actually enjoyed the Church Service. I have always loved hymns and I have fond memories of singing them from primary school. I regarded it as a home ed trip for Jessy. I realised that the songs I knew so well are unfamiliar to him and I was happy for him to experience that. I did have to roll my eyes and restrain myself when the sermon talked of supporting equality, and I felt quite uncomfortable at that point.

Jessy with his cubs group setting off for the march.

Jessy with his cubs group setting off for the march.

Marching into the Church grounds

Marching into the Church grounds

This week we’ve continued enjoying the ‘Life of Mammals’ series and Jessy has continued taking a general interest in spoken and written Japanese and has learnt a few more words. I’m practicing my written Hiragana and my reading speed is improving although I need a higher vocabulary to make the most of that. Interesting discussions have ranged from social cues and eye contact, to intelligence, and the death penalty.

Today we enjoyed a lovely Spring day at Heaton Park with friends where the kids spent ages on the enormous tube slide and then ran and climbed to their heart’s content. We found a super friendly squirrel who ate crsisps out of our hands. We stayed so long that Jessy ended up missing cubs. He managed to get into his uniform super quick but I didn’t want him to go without any dinner and by the time we got there the doors had been locked.

Rock climbing

Rock climbing

Feeding the friendly squirrel

Feeding the friendly squirrel

Stream jumping

Stream jumping

This week has felt like a success for parenting, but there always seems to have to be a balance and it’s been terrible for healthy eating. We’ve managed to clock up two trips to the evil Golden Arches (aka McDonalds) and one to the Indian buffet. Keeping on top of cooking gets harder as the sunshine keeps us out longer! We’ll live on lettuce and organic seeds next week …. maybe. I’ll let you know next week!

By pinkylucy

Science, Kayaking and Climbing High.

We’ve spent lots of time with friends this week which always makes me happy. We went to a sleepover with three of Jessy’s friends, including one of his best friends D, who recently came back from Canada after 6 months away. We’re really happy to see her again. We finally got to see the Doctor Who Christmas special. We all squished on the sofa to watch it, eating home made crumble and custard – bliss! The next day Jessy was impressed by D’s Dad, who showed him how to complete one side of a Rubik’s cube. He spent a long time practicing.

On the days we have been at home my poor sofas have yet again been turned into dens!

More den building

More den building

We did some discovering, autonomous education style. Jessy was playing with water in the sink when he asked , “why does the water go up when I put my hand in?” We have talked about this idea before but I thought I’d help to make it a bit more concrete. We got a jug of water and Jessy found a large stone. Jessy measured the level of the water before placing the stone in. He measured it again, did the maths and I happily declared, ” so the stone is 240 …. er… um, what?” I realised I didn’t know the correct word. I think these are the kind of incidences that worry people who don’t like the idea of home education. The idea of a teacher who ‘knows all’  is comforting to people. I have the odd moment when I think ‘do I really know enough to do this?’ What I do know is how to show Jessy that it’s ok not to know, that we can go and find out.

Brainpop came to the rescue! Brainpop is an excellent resource covering about a million topics with little video clips and a choice of quizzes. You can check it out here:

http://www.brainpop.co.uk/
We learned about mass, volume and density; and about how weight differs from mass. We now know that we measured the volume of the stone, and that the measurement can be expressed either as ml, or cm cubed (I don’t know how to make my keyboard type a little 3 in midair!) Jessy did some calculations, and we figured out between us, the various equations for working out mass, volume and density when you know two of them but not the other. Afterwards Jessy chose to do a graded quiz. He used to prefer the ‘review’ option which doesn’t grade you. It was quite a heavy topic and after a while Jessy wanted to watch a video about ants instead. He did the graded quiz for that too. He already remembered some of the information from our recent ‘ant day’.

Jessy seemed to be on top form on this particular day. After our scientific start, he then prepared a packed lunch for us both, to take to the park. Before we left, Jessy prepared blancmange for our pudding later, while I got the casserole going in the slow cooker. We’d never made blancmange before. He read what we needed, got the ingredients ready and followed the instructions. I only helped with stirring the very hot liquid and pouring it out from the pan. I was very impressed! We got caught in heavy rain at the park, so our friends came back to our house and we all enjoyed casserole and blancmange for dinner – apart from our vegan friend who settled for chips and beans!

Jessy’s reading seems to have taken another huge leap lately. He’s been yawning during the day, because although I get him to bed on time, he then stays up for ages reading. It’s always felt a little unreal to me as I never see him reading independently for pleasure. This week, he curled up on the sofa, with ‘The Prisoner of Azkaban’ and was utterly engrossed for over an hour. We’d planned to go out, but I just couldn’t bear to disturb him.

Harry Potter is still the inspiration for most of Jessy’s creativity. He created his own ‘Marauder’s Map’ and also made a large Dementor on the kitchen floor out of cloths and clothes. He’s also started writing his own stories in a Harry Potter style but featuring himself. They feature ‘Hogwats’ (the missing ‘r’ is deliberate) which is a school for younger witches and wizards. The first one is ‘Jessy McAlister and the Secret Monster’. He’s written the first page so far. His writing is chaotic, but he’s beginning to get the feel of how a story flows and to enjoy writing. So far he’s only written the blurb for the second book: ‘Jessy McAlister and the Snow Cup’.

Jessy McAlister and the Snow Cup

Jessy McAlister and the Snow Cup.

It was my good friend’s birthday yesterday, so we picked up the kids from Wood School and then went back to her house to join a few friends and family for a little celebration. I got her a kayak for Christmas as she lives near a lake and desperately wanted one. She decided we would launch it on her birthday as the sun had finally come out. She named it ‘The Good Ship Lucy’ and asked me to officially launch it. We even took a bottle of champagne. Then S headed off on the maiden voyage!

The maiden voyage of 'The Good Ship Lucy'.

The maiden voyage of ‘The Good Ship Lucy’.

Her daughter Anastasia went in for a ride next, with Jessy eagerly awaiting his turn. He loved it!

Jessy loved going in the kayak

Jessy loved going in the kayak

I finally plucked up the courage to have a go but I felt very nervous the entire time and was incredibly relieved to be back on solid land! It rained a little, but that meant a beautiful birthday rainbow for my friend.

A birthday rainbow

A birthday rainbow

Today has been a busy day. I had an early physio appointment (Jessy sat and read a book the entire time) and after that we headed into the city centre. We finally managed to re-launch ‘Tuesday Group’ after many years. Tuesday Group is really just about getting together with a bunch of home ed friends once a week to go out with the kids or hang out together at someone’s house. Today we headed for the Manchester Museum. We had five boys between us ranging in age from 2-8 and it became apparent fairly soon that they just weren’t in museum mode, which the scowling staff only further confirmed! They did have a few moments of sitting together at a table, chatting and drawing but then it was back to tearing around and yelling, making more noise than all the groups of school children combined! We headed for the nearest park! A couple more families joined us.

Whitworth Park has Jessy’s favourite climbing tree which he first started climbing a few years ago. Today he went straight to the top! People get very nervous and when my friend, who gives her daughter a lot of freedom began to express doubts, I wondered whether I should stop him from climbing. I know that accidents can happen, but he has always been so very careful to stay within the limits of his capabilities that I trust he is relatively safe. He climbs carefully and conscientiously, and take such pleasure in it that I really wouldn’t want to stop him. He even worried a group of teenagers in the park who told him to get down! He does go pretty high!

Jessy in a tree.

Jessy in a tree.

Some of our friends came back to our house so the kids could play and the Mums and Dad could have tea and biscuits. We managed to squeeze in the latest episode of Doctor Who before it was time to go to Cubs. That’s all for now folks! I’ll be back next week.

Potions, Pop and Parodies

We often have a quiet time during the holidays, but this week has been busy. Early on we went on a home ed trip to the Irish Heritage Centre in Manchester, for workshops on Irish Art and Dance. In the first workshop, we created artistic versions of our initials in an old Irish style, turning the initials into animals. Jessy is always bold and confident with his drawings, despite an unconventional style; he made the workshop leader nervous by reaching straight for the permanent marker and forgoing the pencil entirely! Anais was more cautious to begin with but impressed the leader with her results which I unfortunately didn’t get a picture of.

Anais concentrating on her artistic initial.

Anais concentrating on her artistic initial.

Jessy chose a bird and a hippogriff for his initials. I did a snake and a bird.

Jessy chose a bird and a hippogriff for his initials. I did a snake and a bird.

The next workshop was Irish Dance. I was very impressed that Jessy joined in at all because I know dancing really isn’t his thing. He didn’t last long but I was glad he’d tried. Anais joined in for a bit longer, but she decided to come and sit with us too. I wondered if it was simply the novelty of being able to make that choice as she’s usually at school, or whether she just found it too tricky and wasn’t enjoying it. We ended up trying to make beer mat towers instead!

Jessy and Anais with other home ed kids, joining in with the Irish dance.

Jessy and Anais with other home ed kids, joining in with the Irish dance.

Our most impressive beer mat tower.

Our most impressive beer mat tower.

On the way home we popped into a pound shop where I stocked up on craft materials and the kids found ‘sew your own sock animal’ kits. For a pound I couldn’t say no! They both did some sewing the next day. Jessy finished his teddy and then ‘Jessyfied’ it, adding lots of masking tape and other quirky editions! Anais found the sewing frustrating but she did manage to complete the body of her dog. I did some sewing of my own and made one of my ‘Pippi babies’ for my sister. I make each one in a style I think its new owner will like. Annabel was thrilled with hers!

The latest Pippi baby.

The latest Pippi baby.

Jessy sewing his teddy bear.

Jessy sewing his teddy bear.

Anais gets on particularly well with one of Jessy’s friends, an 11 year old boy. Whenever she’s staying I try to invite him and his 9 year old sister to come round for the day. The kids are always so busy playing that I get tea and a natter time with their Mum. On this day they all decided to create potions out of the display potions that had been left out after our Harry Potter party. The copious amounts of food dye prompted me to move the potions class into the kitchen where, in the absence of a watchful parental eye, they proceeded to go through all the cupboards adding potion ingredients! It wasn’t the happiest discovery I’ve ever made, however, the potions looked brilliant and they’d had such a great time! They all helped to clear up, and all apologised for not asking first.

Visiting friends making potions.

Visiting friends making potions.

The other thing I try to do when Anais is here is make a trip to Highfields Country Park, which she loves so much. We went with my old friend Dennis, her 8 year old twins and another friend from their street. They paddled in the stream and climbed trees and ran wild having a wonderful time. We tended to alternate days in and days out. On one of our days in I’d ordered something for the children to try – Astronaut Ice-Cream! I still remember getting some from Kennedy Space Centre on holiday as a child and how much I loved it. They were both keen to try it. We started chatting about astronauts and watched a short video about how the food is made and a couple of others about astronaut training.

Jessy eating an astronaut ice cream sandwich.

Jessy eating an astronaut ice cream sandwich.

Anais had mint choc chip.

Anais had mint choc chip.

We’ve had a couple of interesting discussions crop up this week. One was about prison and the concepts of punishment and rehabilitation. Another one was about the concepts of sex for procreation and sex for pleasure. Growing up with a lesbian Mum, and knowing that he was conceived by donor insemination, means that as Jessy has got older and put the puzzle pieces together, he is aware that sex isn’t the only way to make a baby. Conversely, sex isn’t always done to make babies, which is particularly obvious when it comes to same sex couples. It’s a subject he is very curious about and he gets very frustrated when I refuse to go into detail and tell him that he knows as much as an eight year old needs to know!

In a similar vein, Jessy’s interest in the idea of relationships, romance and attraction continue. Anais showed us quite a few pop videos while she was here. I like pop music but I forget to keep up with it and don’t listen to it that much so some of it was quite new to Jessy. Anais and I both like ‘Pink’ so we watched some of her videos and Jessy was very drawn to the narratives of attraction and adult relationships. The kids also found it hilarious that I fancy the pants off Pink, and kept saying ‘you love her, you want to marry her!’ which prompted me to point out the difference between physical attraction and love. We talked a little about that in relation to ‘Twilight’ as well, and how a lot of these ‘fairy tale’ type stories are not very realistic as the characters barely know each other before they are madly in love. Jessy has asked me a lot, what makes people fall in love with each other, which is a hard one to answer!

As Jessy was so taken with Twilight, when we planned a day at the cinema we decided to go and see ‘The Host’ which is adapted from a more recent Stephanie Meyers novel. It has very similar themes but with aliens instead of vampires. We all enjoyed it and the kids played ‘Host’ games the next day. I wanted to go to the cinema again today, but Jessy insisted on staying at home to watch Twilight again. We watched a summary with commentary by the Director and actors afterwards. I often think there is a lot to learn in the extras on DVDs. We also found a Twilight parody, and as Jessy has always adored parody I let him watch it despite a lot of screen time today. His other favourites, at the moment are the ‘Potter Puppet Pals’ parodies, which are very funny! You can see some here:

Anais had to go home on Sunday to go back to school. (We all call it Child Prison, but she got in trouble at school when she said her cousin calls it that!) We missed her on Monday when we went swimming with a group of Jessy’s friends. Apart from all the active stuff, we’ve also done plenty of reading. Jessy has asked me to read to him from his Aesop’s Fables book a couple of times. We like to guess the morals and then talk about if we think the moral makes sense in the context of the story. Jessy is doing more and more independent reading. I loved hearing him chuckle away on the bus as he read a book of short stories to himself. We’re still plodding slowly through ‘The Prisoner of Azkaban’. I’m beginning to feel I’ll be old and grey before we finish them!

Well that’s about it for this week! Thanks for reading my ramblings. 🙂

Nihongo Masters!

Easter holidays means we have my niece Anais staying with us. We always look forward to having her with us for the holidays. We are very seriously thinking about her coming to live with us so that she can be home educated with Jessy, so these are also important opportunities to see how everyone feels about us all living together and learning together. Anais brings a wonderful enthusiasm to most things she does which rubs off on all of us. A lot of Jessy’s anxiety around trying new things seems to evaporate with his older cousin around. I’ve never known two children to get along as well as they do. Before Jessy could even walk they were as close as could be.

The theme of this week has definitely been Japanese. A good friend leant me a ‘Learn Japanese’ CD which I started listening to as I washed up and tidied around. I have a feeling it drew the kids in better this way than if I’d suggested we listen to it formally. I think they also found my enthusiasm infectious! I’ve been very impressed by how well they have learned. Jessy has an ear for imitation which has pleasantly surprised me. I wondered if he might find learning languages difficult as he was a late talker with unusual speech development, but it seems this isn’t relevant in the slightest!

Anais was keen to start the ‘Nihongo Master’ online lessons which I have been using to learn how to read Hirigana (the simplest of the three systems of symbols used to write Japanese.) She worked really hard on writing them down which is certainly tricky! Jessy’s memory continues to astound me. He has only watched while sitting on my lap and yet he remembers a startling number of the Hirigana. I was so impressed by the way they were chatting away in the phrases we had learned, that I decided to take us out to New Samsi Japanese restaurant, to celebrate and continue on the Japanese theme. We went with my friends Dave and Moira, who are also what we call ‘chosen family’. We all agreed before Jessy was born that they would be his Uncle and Nana, as he didn’t have any biological family to fill these roles, and we were close enough to feel like family. Jessy and Anais were both wearing their Koru necklaces, a Maori symbol meaning ‘family’. Moira got them in New Zealand where she is from. Anais was keen to try out her phrases with our waitress but unfortunately she didn’t speak Japanese!

Anais trying out chopsticks with her vegetable teriyaki and udon noodles.

Anais trying out chopsticks with her vegetable teriyaki and udon noodles.

Success!

Success!

Jessy's six pieces of sushi disappeared before I'd barely blinked! He chose Tamago (sweet egg) Smoked Salmon and Tuna.

Jessy’s six pieces of sushi disappeared before I’d barely blinked! He chose Tamago (sweet egg) Smoked Salmon and Tuna.

Moira and myself at New Samsi.

Moira and myself at New Samsi.

Jessy, Anais and Dave all hose chocolate fondue dessert.

Jessy, Anais and Dave all chose chocolate fondue dessert.

.... and this is what Jessy did with it! Messy Jessy!

…. and this is what Jessy did with it! Messy Jessy!

Anais and Jessy will now happily tell anyone: ‘Watashi wa Nihongo-ga skoshi wakari mass’ meaning ‘I understand a little bit of Japanese’. When we got home today the children watched our favourite anime ‘Madoka Magicka’ in Japanese with English subtitles.

Other than Japanese, on Wednesday we went to Adventure Playground, which is the big fortnightly social meet ups for Home Ed families in Manchester. We’ve missed it a few times lately so it was good to go back. Jessy has also enjoyed making models this week. He made a few small things with blu-tac and pins, so I got him some plasticine and he made lots of Harry Potter related models.

The first little blu-tac figure Jessy made.

The first little blu-tac figure Jessy made.

Harry Potter, Hagrid and Lucius Malfoy.

Harry Potter, Hagrid and Lucius Malfoy.

A collection of Monster Books of Monsters.

A collection of Monster Books of Monsters.

Wands made of plasticine and pins.

Wands made of plasticine and pins.

We’ve also started watching the David Attenborough series ‘Life of Mammals’. The first episode was about Monotremes and Marsupials, the second one about Insect Eaters, although unfortunately the DVD was scratched so we didn’t get to see all of that one. We also watched the first of the Twilight films. Jessy has been expressing an interest in the story of the Twilight series for a while now, and lately he’s been asking a lot if I will read the books or if he could watch the films. I decided that in this instance the films are probably a better option. The books are so filled with the manic feelings of teenage first love, where as I think it all gets a little muted in the film. I’m sure he’s mostly interested in the vampires and werewolves anyway. Having said that, he is showing an increasing interest in the concept of relationships and romance, which again has been sparked by the teenage romance plots in Harry Potter. I’d forgotten about the nasty violent scene at the end when James catches Bella. I’m not sure why I worry, as film violence has never upset Jessy. In fact, I think I get more upset by the fact it doesn’t upset him than anything else!

There has been a lot of den building with the sofas this week, resulting in my living room frequently looking like this:

Mess ... I mean Dens.

Mess … I mean Dens.

I do have to calm my ‘inner Mary Poppins’ voice by thinking about the importance of imaginative play and how much fun it is to make dens. Mary Poppins is allowed out in full force before bed time though when I insist on it all being tidied up so that I can relax in the evenings. They do a very good job, but I’m sure there’s something different about my sofas…. ; )

Spot the difference...

Spot the difference…

I promised an update on our egg-speriment *groan*. The vinegar dissolved the shell after a couple of days, leaving just the membrane. You can see the squishiness!

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Yesterday Jessy put it in sugar water to continue the experiment.

Today we went to a climbing centre Anais recommended in Marple called ‘Rope Race’, and the kids had a proper climbing lesson. Two of Jessy’s friends came along too, so I got to sit upstairs in the cafe with friends, enjoying tea and flapjack, while the kids climbed. I wondered what Jessy would make of it, as the home ed climbing group we go to is very informal with no actual instruction. He really enjoyed it though, so I think I might start taking him along to the climbing sessions on Friday afternoons.

Jessy’s cub group let’s Anais stay for the evening when she’s with us so I still had my blog writing hour! They’re watching Madoka Magicka in their PJs while I finish up, so bye for now!