Wicked and the baby.

We missed our fortnightly Home Ed Adventure Playground group this week. I rarely miss it but it was for a very good reason; we went to see ‘Wicked’ the musical which is showing at the Palace Theatre in Manchester. We ended up with very good seats. We were up in the Gods in the second row and it was a little difficult to see with the taller people in front of us. Ten minutes into the show, all four people in front of us got up and left and didn’t come back! I felt a little guilty for our fortune in case a family tragedy had occurred! I tried to tell myself it was hopefully something nice like someone having a baby. Have I ever mentioned that I over think things sometimes? The show was brilliant and kept the children completely enthralled from start to finish. I fell into the trap of spending almost as much on merchandise as I had on the show, but the large book looked beautiful and really captured Jessy’s interest and we had to have the soundtrack to sing along at home. It’s livened up the washing up!

The stage curtain.

The stage curtain.

Waiting for the show to begin and munching sweets.

Waiting for the show to begin and munching sweets.

On Thursday I decided to undertake a creative project. Ths kids have chosen their Halloween costumes for this year. Jessy wants to be ‘The Phantom’ from ‘Phantom of the Opera’. I’m surprised I haven’t written more about Phantom as it’s been a firm favourite of Jessy’s lately. He often listens to the soundtrack whilst following the lyrics and we frequently hear his enthusiastic operatic renditions from the shower! A wants to be Kiki the witch from a lovely anime film called ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’. She has a black cat called Gigi who A really wanted to complete the outfit. You can buy toys of him but they cost a lot and thake a long time to come from abroad so I decided to make one. I headed to my favourite local shop ‘The Big Discount Store’ as I have a theory that you can find pretty much anything you want in there. I wanted something cheap made out of black material and came out with two balaclavas feeling like a wannabe Bank Robber. In fact I even felt the need to say at the counter ‘I’m making my niece a cat’ to alleviate any potential suspicions of bank robbery! It took a little longer than I’d hoped but by 10pm that night I had created this. A was very happy with him too.

Gigi the cat

Gigi the cat

We had a busy Saturday. We took A to Stagecoach on the train. While we waited for the train home Jessy did some spontaneous ‘out and about’ maths. He worked out how many holes were in a seat by counting the number in the length and width and multiplying them. When he counted to check his answer, the number was different and he worked out he’d made a mistake in the initial counting. He then used multiplication again to work out how many holes were in the whole row of seats – there were 400! We then tried a little division to get back to the answer of how many were on one seat.

How many holes?

How many holes?

Jessy’s Nana dropped A off at Piccadilly station after Stagecoach so we could head to a birthday party. It was another nice little party at home with games and treats. Inbetween the games about 15 children piled on and off a huge beanbag in a small room and all seemed to have fun. Jessy ate a balanced party food dinner of chocolate biscuits, chocolate cake and chocolate spread rolls! On the way home we saw a beautiful rainbow. It’s rare to see the whole huge arc in bright colours and we were all quite excited!

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Under the rainbow

Under the rainbow

In stead of party bags the kids all won crafty presents during the games. Jessy got some ‘create your own puzzles’ and A got a cat mask and a flower pot. She painted the cat mask to look like her cat at home.

Party crafts

Party crafts

Sunday was mostly taken up by pet care. I did the cat litter, A cleaned out her hamster Kovu and Jessy cleaned out the millipedes. The kids helped each other out to have company and make the jobs easier.

The millipedes enjoying some sunshine at clean out time.

The millipedes enjoying some sunshine at clean out time.

A very much enjoys researching new and interesting possibilities for her hamster. This week she discovered a recipe for a hamster omlette and some hamster treats. She made the omlette herself one evening. It had carrot and parsley in it and when we taste tested it, it was delicious! She shared it out between Kovu and Jessy’s gerbil Alicia.

Hamster omlette

Hamster omlette

Alicia the gerbil

Alicia the gerbil

We also gave the treats a go which involved making a simple pastry with added peanut butter and using a bit of fruit puree as a filling. Ours were mango treats. They were quite tasty too and the animals enjoyed them. It was a good chance to practice some measuring with A as I’ve noticed she seems to have very little understanding of measurements and it’s always easier to pick things up when applying them in real life. This week she’s discovered the difference between cm and inches when she wanted to get a sense of how large a hamster toy was and we had a look on a tape measure. Making the treats involved measuring some water in ml which I pointed out for her on the jug.

A making the treats

A making the treats

Adding the filling

Adding the filling

Sealing the treats

Sealing the treats

The finished treats

The finished treats

Kovu with his home made treat

Kovu with his home made treat

Today was an exciting (and slightly nerveracking) day for me as I had my pregnancy anomaly scan. It’s usually done at about 20 weeks and I’m only just over 18 weeks so the baby was quite small for the sonographer and she didn’t see everything she wanted to see so I’m going back in a few weeks. What she did see was fine though. I was quite amused that my baby was lying face down with it’s legs quite stretched out kicking about and waving its little fists! Despite our attempts at tipping the chair and rolling me over it was quite content to remain faceplanted so we didn’t get to see its face, but it was lovely to see a proper little person wriggling around in there! The photo isn’t very clear but the head is on the left, you can see the curve of the spine at the top and the belly at the bottom, the legs are bent with the knees pointing down and you can see its little foot at the end. 🙂

Faceplanted baby!

Faceplanted baby!

That’s it for this week. Everyone’s comments are enjoyed and welcome always!

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Monster Babies & Contented Calf

We’ve had some exciting arrivals this week (not quite as exciting as the real live people arrivals we had last week though!) Jessy and A have been eagerly awaiting the special commission of monster babies they put in with Ames Likes Toast (https://www.facebook.com/ameslikestoast?fref=ts) As they were made to order it’s taken a few weeks but judging by the squeals of excitement followed by hours of play they were worth the wait!

The new babies

The new babies

Dexter, Mertle, Frank, James, Jess, Rufus, Alfie and Seb.

Dexter, Mertle, Frank, James, Jess, Rufus, Alfie and Seb.

Continuing the letter writing theme, both Jessy and A sat down to write thank you letters for the new babies. A included a comic in hers. She was very excited when, in a few days time, a picture of her letter appeared on the Ames Likes Toast Facebook page! Unfortunately Jessy’s letter hasn’t arrived yet. It’s a real shame, but we’re hoping it might turn up late. They’ve been writing so many letters that I’ve stopped checking the envelopes. I also allow them to go on their own to the nearest post box as it only takes a couple of minutes and they only have to cross side streets, so they quite frequently rush off to post things I haven’t seen. Jessy used to check the address with me, as although he can be careful with his writing, it can sometimes to be difficult to read and we’ve talked about how that can cause problems with letters reaching their destination.

Writing more letters mean that the children have also started to receive letters. They want to keep them safe so they’ve made letter boxes to store them in. Jessy made his on one of their visits to Dennis’s house. It’s very shiny and I love the hearts and ribbon. 🙂

Jessy's letter box.

Jessy’s letter box.

I had my own exciting arrival. An old friend from Uni has written a book of wonderful recipes designed to increase breastmilk production. She has a website and a blog at http://www.contentedcalf.com I’ve had my eye on the book ever since it was first published and always intended to get a copy once I was pregnant. I was excited when it arrived along with a cute babygro.

The Contented Calf Cookbook.

The Contented Calf Cookbook.

My mouth was literally watering while I read the recipes and it’s so comforting to think that by eating delicious food I could help my milk supply. I had a lot of problems with breastfeeding last time around. It’s so important to me that I persevered through some very very trying times but it has left me anxious, and anything I can do to help myself out this time around is very welcome. I have a good friend who has agreed to cook me up the recipes to put in my freezer before the baby is born. Luckily all the recipes are designed to freeze well!

At the weekend we went to a friend’s Pirate party. Even I took the chance to dress up. It was one of those lovely simple parties, with simple games and time to play and a bouncy castle. In my experience these parties tend to work the best and they all had a good time. Jessy won Musical Bumps! We’d had to get a couple of buses to get there and when we arrived back in Manchester City Centre, A remembered the large music shop we’d noticed and asked if we could go in. She enjoyed browsing the pianos and keyboards and looking at the music books. She tried out a few little tunes.

A trying out a tune from the Disney songs book.

A trying out a tune from the Disney songs book.

Jessy has never shown much interest in learning to play music so he entertained himself by trying to pull faces before I could take a picture. He succeeded!

Oooh-arrrgh, look at me tongue!

Oooh-arrrgh, look at me tongue!

Mondays have suddenly got very busy for A. She has Wood School, then her and Jessy do Martial Arts, then straight afterwards she has Scouts. This was her first week at Scouts. She really enjoyed it and came back excited about a Caving Trip they have planned for next month which will also earn her her first badge. The busy day is made much easier now that their friend does Martial Arts too which means they get a lift back from Wood School. We enjoyed sitting down to dinner with friends again. They introduced us to something fun, where each person shares the best part of their day, the worst part of their day and the funniest part of their day. We had some good laughs! We had more good news today that A can also start Thursday Wood School as from this week. A is really happy about this and it will make things easier for me too as I now have my two free days again.

I got out for afternoon tea with friends at the gorgeous Richmond Tea Rooms. (http://www.richmondtearooms.com/) Cake with friends is always a good way to recharge the batteries! The kids weren’t with me today as I had an antenatal appointment and Dennis took them out, and then to Circus Skills so I ended up with a day to myself. Today was taken up with washing up and lying in bed with a headache though! The kids came home enthusiastic about walking the tightrope! That’s all for this week.

An exciting visit for everyone!

Hello again! The day after I wrote my last blog was very exciting. Years ago I used to be part of a lovely parenting forum called “I want my Mum’. When it closed down several of us became friends on Facebook and I ended up chatting to a lovely Mum called Clare. We began talking on the phone and found that we could happily spend hours wittering away. We’ve been hoping to meet up for years now but one thing and another got in the way and it never happened. Until Wednesday! She drove up with her two daughters aged 9 and 5 and we planned to spend the day together with the possibility of them sleeping over if the kids got on well. We were both so pleased with how well they got on. We eased the way for them with a bit of ‘giant Minecraft’ (playing Minecraft on our 60” TV) which always goes down well with fans! I think they spend the next two days jumping on and off our giant bean bag whilst singing loudly. They were all very happy, not counting the occasional heart aches of a left out or roughly handled 5 year old which Clare always handled with a lovely sensitivity. I always really appreciate being around thoughtful and kind parents. With the children occupied Clare and I were free to talk and talk and talk and .. well… talk! I’d forgotten to plan extra food into my shopping but luckily I had enough sausages to go round and made a big bundle of mash with lashings of gravy and runner beans and everyone was happy. Well almost everyone – there has to be one child who rejects the greens but I won’t tell who! 😉 The kids decided they all wanted to squeeze into Jessy’s room, so we rolled out the sleeping bags and let them get away with giggling and wriggling for an hour or so before insisting on some peace! Clare and I clearly hadn’t talked enough because we carried on for several more hours until I finally had to call it quits and go to bed at gone 1am!

We meet at last!

We meet at last!

Jessy with new friends.

Jessy with new friends.

The next afternoon all the children were swapping addresses and promising to be Pen Pals and I felt sad to see them go. It’s especially lovely when someone who already seemed lovely turns out to be even lovelier in real life – and that’s a lot of loveliness! Jessy missed Wood School which I wouldn’t usually do, but as I have no idea when Clare and the girls might be able to visit again as they’re not local, and Jessy was so keen to stay home and play I let him do just that!

By the evening I think all the excitement had got to me and I had an awful head ache. I decided that a walk in the fresh air would do me good, a take away probably wouldn’t, but it would mean I didn’t have to cook with an awful headache so we headed off in the rain to browse the local take aways of which there are many! The kids had been so busy playing they hadn’t even got dressed yet. I give almost complete freedom when it comes to clothing choices, however, I draw the line at pyjamas in public. I find it interesting where our own personal lines on these kind of things lie. My son has been out in pink polka dresses, pumpkin costumes with shades, he’s been Dorothy and Superman and all sorts, but for some reason pyjamas are my personal limit! He didn’t want to get dressed so he decided to cover up – with a dalek costume. He now fit my criteria for acceptable public attire so off we went!

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He made a lot of people smile on our brief trip out! We watched another Tribe documentary while we ate burgers, chicken and chips. When I give up on cooking I also tend to give up on eating at the dining table! This episode was quite different from the others, following a nomadic Mongolian Tribe. It looked like a hard life in the cold and snow. A particularly liked how the young children rode in crates stuffed with blankets attached to the horses and said she wished she could try it. On Monday, she managed to not only replace the arrow she lost last week but make several new ones to go with her bow.

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On Friday A arranged to go and play music with her friend Stan. He’s been learning guitar, largely self taught with some guidance from his Mum, and he recently got a Bass too. A is very keen on playing her keyboard, so they got together to play and compose some tunes. Jessy was going to stay behind with me, but when Dennis arrived he changed his mind and ran off to get in the taxi in his pyjamas. I almost avoided him being out in his pyjamas this week! Jessy came home with potatoes picked from the garden which I cooked and made into mash to go with our casserole. Jessy was very excited that Dennis and co. had grown them, he had ‘picked’ them (his words) and I had cooked them. A real team effort! They were delicious! A went to spend some time with her Mum and I didn’t see her until late Saturday night.

After dinner Jessy and I had to rush to pack his bag for Cubs Camp. This one was an Activity Camp where they did canoeing, climbing, abseiling, rifle shooting, back woods cooking and archery. It seemed like a lot to fit in in two days!

I had a free evening on Saturday which coincided with a ‘Womb Yoga’ event a friend had told me about. I felt a bit nervous at the last minute going on my own to a place I’d never been to before to do something new, but I plucked up my courage and went. I was so glad I did. It was a beautiful evening and felt very nurturing. Uma, the lady who ran the session was so welcoming, not just to me but to my unborn baby too. I was the only pregnant woman there and she even included my baby in the welcoming ceremony. The part that touched me the most was when we were doing a practice to transfer energy from the heart into the womb and then back up into the heart. Uma explained that when you are pregnant you also have a heart within your womb, so the energy goes from heart to heart as well as from heart to womb. It was a wonderful way to connect with my baby. You can read more about Womb Yoga here: http://www.wombyoga.org/about/

It was just A and I in the house on Sunday. A had brought her PLay Mobil toys from home as she’d like to sell them on EBay. We spent quite a bit of time talking about the different stages of selling something. She began by sorting out all the different sets and checking to see which bits need a clean. It was Jessy and A’s friend’s birthday party in the afternoon so we went to find some presents for her. We were happy with what we found and came home to wrap them. There was nearly a disaster when I was wrapping and wondered why I kept getting whiffs of cat wee. One of the cats (no doubt Naughty Nimbus!) had weed on the wrapping paper!! Luckily I hadn’t actually wrapped it around the present yet and we had just bought some spare paper!

I’d arranged a lift for A to and from the party as I had to stay home to pick up Jessy from Cubs Camp. He came back full of very enthusiastic stories about all the activities he’d done and told me exactly which order he did them all in. He had to work it out in reverse order first which he said was easier! He’d lost his spending money (I found it in his bag) but a kind friend had given him a couple of pounds. He’s managed to buy enough sweets with that so I think it worked out for the best!

Today we went back to Circus Skills. A was quite anxious about doing the trapeze again, but today they focused on juggling and spinning plates instead. Jessy struggled at first, but with a little extra focus and reminders to concentrate he got the hang of it in the end! We currently have a loose gerbil in the living room and I’m hoping someone manages to catch her before the kids go to bed as she keeps making me jump! I’ll leave you with a lovely bunch of flowers my sister sent me. I call them my ‘Dragon Flowers’ (they are actually Gladioli). The colours look a lot more fiery in real life.

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Tribes and Trapeze

I have so much more energy this week which is great. The horrid exhaustion has gone along with the permanent nausea and I feel as if I’m nesting. Unfortunately for the kids I think it means I’m even more of a nag about housework than usual! So what have we been uo to this week? I recently bought a box set of the ‘Tribe’ documentary series aired on BBC a few years ago. I really enjoyed it at the time and was reminded of it when Jessy and I looked at pictures of Tribal tattoos. It has a 15 rating which I wouldn’t usually consider letting him watch. However, having seen the series before I felt it would be appropriate as long as I watched them with him to explain anything he didn’t understand. There is a lot of violence in many of the Tribes featured and many people live naked which I believe is the reason for the high rating. It’s a world away from a violent 15 rated film containing nudity though! Both Jessy and A have really enjoyed them. They’ve both been most squeamish about the blood letting and blood drinking in a couple of the episodes.

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On Monday they went to Wood School feeling inspired by the programmes to try making some arrows and fighting sticks like the ones they had seen. I mentioned it to one of their teachers who said she was sure they could facilitate that. A came home with a very impressive bow and arrow she had made, that worked wonderfully. Unfortunately she lost the arrow while playing with it in some bushes before we even got home. Apparently the arrows have to be made from very straight strong sticks which can be hard to find but I’m hopeful she’ll be able to make a replacement next week.

At home the children have done a lot of letter writing. Jessy often writes letters to people he’s close to and has an ongoing letter dialogue with Dennis who we see regularly. His letters are very often Hogwarts inspired, detailing term start dates and who might be enrolling at the school. A decided that she would like a Pen Pal and I felt sure that other Home Ed kids would probably enjoy that too so I put up a message on one of the Home Ed Facebook groups I’m on. We got a reply within less than a minute from the Mum of a girl who is the same age and has many of the same interests. Interestingly, she also goes to school at the moment so they will have that in common too once A goes back. A was so pleased to have a new Pen Pal she wrote a letter before she even knew her name! The wax sealing stamps have been hugely popular this week again and they’ve gone through almost two whole sticks!

Letter for a new Pen Pal.

Letter for a new Pen Pal.

The renewed popularity of the wax stamps has meant that they’ve wanted to turn the gas hob on and off many times a day which has been a good opportunity to give reminders about doing it safely and sensibly. A can be very cautious, but she’s gone from being quite scared and flustered to being able to light the gas ring calmly and confidently. I’m pleased as I think a calm confidence is safer than being flustered and uncertain. We also extended the theme to give A the opportunity to practice striking a match and lighting a candle. Again, she was keen to try but very nervous at first. I let them gain some confidence by burning a few matches over a sink of water to ensure it was safe. I think they would have gone through the box but I wanted to be clear that whilst knowing how to use a match safely for useful purposes is important, they are not to be played with simply for the fun of it.

The crocheted monster game is still going strong and this week they decided to make robot staff for the little world the monsters live in. Since Jessy was very young it has been quite common for him to leave new things untouched on a shelf for up to a year before taking an interest. He was given a robot craft kit for Christmas last year and has shown no interest in it until he suddenly took it down from his bookshelf and built lots. He shared them with A as she had used her kit a while ago and shared hers with other friends. They made some cute and quirky little robots.

Robot staff.

Robot staff.

The Harry Potter theme is still a constant in the background in our house. A has been very excited to finally finish reading ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’ and Jessy is steaming ahead towards the end of ‘Order of the Phoenix’. They have watched a couple of the films this week. They developed a habit of watching a film in the mornings when I was so tired out in my first trimester. I relaxed the ‘no screens’ rule in the mornings as I needed the rest and they needed some compensation! We all love films and I don’t really object to them watching a film either. This week they have been inspired to make their own Harry Potter film. Jessy started a video series a while ago based on the book he was writing ‘Jessy McAlister and the Secret Monster’. A offered to help him expand on it. With her experience in theatre from Stagecoach, she helped provide some structure and created a simple script for them to follow. I even got to play myself in the story telling them to get their books ready for Hogwats (Jessy’s imaginary school for little witches and wizards). They were very dedicated and kept persevering even though they had problems with the recording device and had to keep starting again.They had a 10 minute long little film in the end which we all watched.

Today we went to something new – Circus Skills. New activities can often be very difficult for Jessy and we tend to stick to what he knows. However, on this occasion two of his best friends were going and the plan was to go along after they’d both come to our house for a bit. A is often keen to try new things and having her around always seems to help Jessy’s confidence too. I was really pleased that he was happy to go along and join in. We were lucky because the group was going to be cancelled but when our friend said we had 4 children who wanted to come she agreed to put it on. She also put the word out on our Home Ed e-mail list and another 4 friends also turned up. They all had a great time trying juggling and the trapeze.

Jessy's first go on the trapeze.

Jessy’s first go on the trapeze.

A's first go.

A’s first go.

At first they were taught how to do ‘the pike’ and then how to go from a pike into hanging upside down. I could tell this part was a lot more nerve racking. Jessy looked quite anxious and A seemed positively terrified! They both managed it though and everyone clapped for all the kids.

Jessy upside down

Jessy upside down

A upside down.

A upside down.

As for me, I feel like I’ve spent most of the week tidying. I have a friend coming to visit tomorrow with her two daughters. I’ve never actually met her before but we’ve got to know each other over the years, first on a parenting forum and then over the phone. I do like the house to look nice if possible when new people come to visit so it’s been a great excuse to clear some rooms that have been abandoned for a while and get on top of things a bit more. I’m feeling very pregnant considering I’m only 15 weeks! I felt the baby move for the first time when I was in the bath which was very exciting. I’ve decided to start taking ‘bump’ pictures as I already have a big one! I didn’t look anything like this at this stage with Jessy! I have to admit that too much scoffing has definitely added to it, but I think I actually look pregnant too. You can make up your own mind!

15 weeks. Bump!

15 weeks. Bump!

Another year older

Yes, I am another year older! The waiter at my birthday meal asked in all seriousness if it was my 15th birthday and refused to believe I was 36 until several of my friends verified it. This has been happening for so long now that I just find it annoying! It was my birthday on Friday and I decided to celebrate with a day of delicious food! I met a friend for lunch at Richmond Tea Rooms (with the kids of course) It’s one of my favourite little places to go in Manchester and even though pregnancy has diminished my love of both tea and cake, I still wanted to go as it’s so lovely. I treated myself to the Queen’s Tea – a platter of finger sandwiches, mini cakes and pastries and a big scone. Delicious!

Richmond Tea Rooms

Richmond Tea Rooms

We went home to watch a film (Sister Act 2, which incidentally is rubbish which was a bit disappointing as I love Sister Act.) In the evening we walked over to the Nawaab – an excellent Indian Buffet that often caters for wedding parties. The staff kept pestering me about people being on time which stressed me out as I am a very punctual person – lateness makes me anxious. However, my bunch of Home Ed hippy friends (as I affectionately call them) don’t seem to have this problem and usually arrive in dribs and drabs at various times only vaguely relating to the actual time agreed! Eventually I had to stop wringing my hands and looking at the door and just go and get some food! They all got there in the end and the latest one did have the very good excuse that she’d been baking me a cake. Every year she bakes me one of her amazing Guiness Cakes and this years was a particularly fine vintage!

Birthday buffet

Birthday buffet

At the Nawaab with lots of friends.

At the Nawaab with lots of friends.

I was surprised by how many wonderful presents I got. Someone even got me a pink suitcase to take them all home in! One friend bought me packets of jelly and jelly babies which really made me laugh. Anybody following my secret jelly saga on Facebook will understand! The first baby clothes arrived too – my favourite was the cow print babygro. I think my best present of all though was my friend Peej coming home from Canada. I was so excited to see her I just squealed and jumped on her!

Anyway, enough about me! I feel as if we’ve taken things easy this week although the kids always seem to be busy at home. A has been creating a play pen for her hamster. Unfortunately the hamster doesn’t seem too appreciative and simply climbs out as soon as he’s put in! She’s working on constructing higher walls! Jessy and A both did a little bit of sewing, making little toys with button eyes. Jessy managed to thread his own needle this time which is progress.

They gave me a lovely surprise the day after my birthday. They’d been working hard on tidying the playroom and that morning they cleared it completely and then A hoovered the whole room. Thy did a really good job and it was a genuinely lovely surprise as the mess has been getting on top of me recently and I do feel more relaxed when things are a bit tidier. Mess really is an inevitable part of home education and I wish it didn’t bother me quite as much as it does!

I made the most of my one days off while both the kids are at Wood School. I forgot to say last week that Wood School has found a temporary place for A on a Monday which really helps. I browsed round charity shops which is a favourite ‘day off’ pass time of mine. I found sticky toffee cheddar on a market stall which I adore but very rarely find. I also decided that if other people have bought me baby clothes I can get some too. I found a little babygro with stars and a robot on and a little hoody jumper which says ‘Think Outside the Box’ on it. I’m not a fan of designer clothes, but even I couldn’t resist the TK Maxx bargain of something with an RRP of £70 reduced to £7! I met my friend M for lunch and very much enjoyed the adult conversation. We always seem to have interesting and in depth chats. Today’s topic turned out to be how you would feel if you fell in love with someone of a different gender to the one you are usually attracted to. It obviously only works if you are pretty much monosexual but we enjoyed mulling it over!

We played ‘Destination Hogwarts’ one afternoon. Jessy and I have only played it once before and A had never played. It’s a fairly simple game based on working out the quickest route to your various destinations collecting house points and hoping to stay out of trouble. We decided to take out the two cards that result in someone leaving the game as we just don’t think it’s fun.

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A seemed amused that when she won Jessy and I sung ‘Congratulations and Celebrations!’ to her and she asked why we do it. It’s something I developed with Jessy years ago. It can be hard for young children to enjoy others winning, however a poor loser is no fun for anyone. Whenever someone else won the game I would clap and cheer and say ‘Congratulations!’ with a big smile and it developed into singing a song. It puts a pleasant and fun atmosphere at the end of the game, whoever wins, and gives something fun for the losers to join in with. It’s become a habit now and it’s one I’m happy to keep.

The other thing that stands out about this week was out evening of silliness. It’s easy to underestimate the importance of silliness and how much children enjoy it when you join in. After dinner one evening A created some spontaneous art with her leftover sauce. It was a portrait of Ron Weasley but we soon all started giggling because Ron’s eyes did look rather a lot like boobs! We came up with silly names for him!

Ron Boobley

Ron Boobley

That set the tone really and then Jessy started making silly faces with his chips while A messed around.

Super silliness!

Super silliness!

In the end the kids were almost falling over laughing as they dropped the contents of the fruit bowl into the hood of my jumper one by one! I then pretended to be annoyed and started running at them pretending I was going to throw various objects at them. The more I put into my role the more they laughed – I think Jessy’s favourite was the kitchen roll holder complete with unravelling kitchen roll! By that point they actually were on the floor rolling around laughing! It felt good to all be silly and laugh together.

I’m happy to say that A has had a lot more energy for fun and laughs since being out of school. Sometimes I think the times where it seems the least is happening – the days like today where they didn’t get dressed until just before dinner and spent all day playing with crocheted monsters and watching The Sound of Music – those are the days that refuel you, that leave your mind refreshed and happy and ready to keep thinking and working and figuring out the world.

MOSI Monsters!

Life must be feeling more manageable because here I am on blogging Tuesday actually writing my blog! Hooray! Last week my head was filled with school. As a home educating Mum I can safely say that my brief dabble into this world has left me feeling never more happy about home educating. The super early morning 5 days a week SUCK! The constant keeping on top of school uniform SUCKS. The sending a child away at the crack of dawn knowing I won’t see her until late in the afternoon for no good reason that I can fathom SUCKS. Most of all the exhausted, morose, grumpy, headache filled, unsmiling child who arrives home and stays until bedtime SUCKS. That part sucks in a really sad way. I don’t recognise that child. Does school take your happy, vibrant, enthusiastic children and lock them in a cupboard somewhere while they send you  a re-programmed clone hoping you won’t notice? I am very happy that as from yesterday I don’t have to send her to school for a couple of weeks or so. Thank goodness her school has been reasonable about it. I will say in their favour that the staff have been very understanding and helpful in this difficult situation. Some parts of the conversations have been interesting – they talk about how well my niece does at school and how she must get back as soon as possible, and I talk about how well she’ll do being home educated as she’s so motivated and full of ideas. At least we have the best common goals possible though – A’s happiness, education and well being.

I’d say our Home Education all together began on Sunday. The Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) celebrated it’s 30th birthday this weekend and they held special events to celebrate. A was quite grumpy about going the evening before and kept complaining that she didn’t want to. I explained that home education doesn’t take place Monday to Friday at set times like school and that one of my jobs is to look for interesting events for us to go to. I’ve wondered about what would happen if I home educated A full time. I have read enough of other people’s experiences to know that a period of de-schooling is very common. It’s a time where the child just wants to relax and enjoy being free from the shackles of school. They may appear to ‘do nothing’ and actively resist anything obviously educational. The difficulty for me is that I wouldn’t have two children going through the de-schooling process at the same time. Jessy has never had to de-school and I’d already got rid of most of my schooly ways of thinking before Jessy was even school age! In the end I did say that I couldn’t have Jessy miss out on an experience because she didn’t want to go.

Whilst A has some truly terrible mood swings lately they don’t last long, and once we arrived at the museum and it had the busy bustling feel of a big event her innate enthusiasm and interest took over and she was happy and keen. We got badges and signed in with a special swipe card on a machine that took your photo and projected it onto a sculpture of screens. We caught a talk about transport part way through and A was chosen to get involved in the demonstration about engines (or was it planes? Hmmm, I was paying more attention to getting a photo than to the talk I think!)

A taking part in the show.

A taking part in the show.

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Moving on we caught another part of a talk about Manchester’s cotton mills where they turned on some of the old machinery. It sounded pretty treacherous for the poor kids who worked there. I was surprised to learn that Manchester used to weave and dye 70% of the world’s cotton! The damp atmosphere made it ideal. Nowadays Manchester produces medical cotton textiles and we saw examples of cotton arteries and shoulder replacements that are used today.

A talk on Manchester's cotton mills.

A talk on Manchester’s cotton mills.

Heading out we heard a lovely choir singing and stopped to listen. We noticed a Home Ed Mum we know was in the choir too. They sang songs from around the world which we all enjoyed.

The choir.

The choir.

The children’s favourite part was the ride in the simulator. They very rarely put it on and on every other occasion Jessy hasn’t been tall enough so he has waited years for that ride! I was sensible and stayed out as it said not to ride if you’re pregnant. I only had a minor sulk as I love simulators and didn’t really see what harm it could do, but better safe than sorry. They were offering a special ticket which included reduced price into the 4D cinema show so we went to that afterwards and got very wet faces in our underwater adventure!

We rounded off the day in the Air and Space Hall which has been a favourite of Jessy’s for years. We even had his 6th birthday party there. We found a larger version of the wheelchair motorbike our friend Dennis has:

The wheelchair motorbike.

The wheelchair motorbike.

They couldn’t resist a quick climb afterwards (almost always on things that are not really supposed to be climbed!) and then we headed to Barburrito for some dinner.

Time for a quick climb.

Time for a quick climb.

It was a good day apart from Jessy leaving his coat on the tram which we haven’t been able to get back.

Today’s plan was the visit our local library. It was due for closure but the local residents raised such a successful campaign that it has stayed open despite near by ones not surviving. I haven’t made use of libraries since we moved back to Manchester. A was very keen to go. Unfortunately when we arrived we discovered it is shut on a Tuesday. To make up for the disappointment I suggested we do the Volcano kit I found in a charity shop a while ago. At first the kids wouldn’t concentrate and I got very grumpy and refused to do it with them. After calming down on Facebook though we went back to it. We started with a little mini volcano to show the principle of how the bigger one will work.

A mini volcano.

A mini volcano.

Then the kids painted the volcano, first with a whitewash and then colours. The little paints from the kit were old and dried up but we have acrylics which worked well.

Painting the volcano.

Painting the volcano.

We didn’t have time to do the next part before dinner so it’s been put away for another day.

A firm favourite at the moment are the little crocheted toys the kids bought with their pocket money from a stall at the Whitworth event. They are made by a little company called Ames Likes Toast ( http://www.facebook.com/ameslikestoast or folksy.com/shops/ameslikestoast ) and they are adorable. They offered to show me the little world they have created for them and I really enjoyed the tour so I’ll share it with you. Meet Mertle and Dexter the monsters, Frank the penguin and his little monster friend James. Mertle and Dexter found love after moving in with us and were recently married. They have now set up home and are eagerly awaiting the arrival of twins.

Newlyweds, Mertle and Dexter enjoying a smooch in their kitchen.

Newlyweds, Mertle and Dexter enjoying a smooch in their kitchen.

As responsible parents to be they have already arranged the nursery although apparently they haven’t decided whether to have the twins sleep together in the nursery or whether they will co-sleep with them in their room. The nursey already has a fully stocked toy box for the little twins:

Looking forward to the babies' arrival in the nursery.

Looking forward to the babies’ arrival in the nursery.

During the day Dexter works as a bug delivery man, delivering unusual exotic, preserved bugs which he has collected from childhood. His work van can seat up to four and is ideal for transporting the precious bugs:

Dexter and Mertle off on a delivery.

Dexter and Mertle off on a delivery.

Meanwhile, Frank and James are at the pioneering edge of science. They already own an impressive transportation device. Frank has suffered for his work, however, and is currently using a wheelchair after an accident involving the transportation device.

James prepares to transport Frank.

James prepares to transport Frank.

Frank (in his wheelchair) and James in the transportation room.

Frank (in his wheelchair) and James in the transportation room.

They are currently working on a space rocket in their spare time:

Working on the construction of the space rocket.

Working on the construction of the space rocket.

Home sweet home

Home sweet home

Frank also holds down a day job working with preserved bugs in an office, so he’s earned his rest by bedtime!

Frank and James in bed after a busy day.

Frank and James in bed after a busy day.

Frank and James, although not in a relationship have decided they would like to co-parent together and are hoping for two children.

It’s always good to see the ‘mess’ through fresh eyes, and this time I actually know what is going on rather than guessing as I did in my Sneak Peak blog!

Time to get the little darlings from Cubs soon. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Jessy that he got a place on the October Activity Camp. They can only take the first ten children to hand the form in so he literally ran in today clutching his envelope as he really wants to go!

Difficult times but life goes on.

It feels like so long since I had a chance to write here. It’s been a difficult time. What should have been a lovely summer holiday turned into a time of family crisis and yet again I have felt so much gratitude for the wonderful people around me who have pulled together to offer support when it was really needed most. Jessy and his cousin (who has lived with us for most of the summer) spent almost 2 weeks on and off living with a good friend of mine. She already has a chaotic life and 3 children but she opened her home happily to two more and put in so much effort to help the children have a good time at what must have been a worrying time for them. I went to stay with my sister who has been very unwell and in need of constant care for a while. It stretched me to my limits, but another wonderful friend stepped in and filled the house with her happy singing and wonderful home cooked meals. She cooked enough food to feed a family for weeks and as she put it ‘played Tetris with the fridge and freezer’. She also found time to nurture me a little and help keep me strong while we all had days where we wondered if the light at the end of the tunnel would ever show. The light still seems small but it is growing a little every day. Other friends drove around and bought shopping and visited when I couldn’t be there.

My niece is still living with us for the immediate future which has thrown me into an unexpected place – the World of School! How do people survive here? Preparing for school was a mission in itself! Every day a new thing was added to the list. The saga of trying to find school skirts went on and on and she still only has two that aren’t quite the right fit! Only today she came home with the news that she needs a lacrosse stick! I thought lacrosse went out sometime around the 1950s because too many people lost half a mouthful of teeth and approached adulthood with a crooked nose. It appears not! Yet again, a wonderful friend has come to the rescue and takes A to school on his way to work. It does feel strange sending her off in the morning while Jessy and I get on with Home Edding. She will get to join us for a while though as the friend who takes her to school is having surgery and will need a couple of weeks to recover. Luckily the school have found a way for her to be temporarily home educated and Wood School has given her a temporary place on Mondays so I will still get one day off to keep me sane!

We have managed to have some good days in between the worry and upset. I arranged back up care for my sister and we went away for a weekend for my ex’s wedding. It was held at a beautiful country house in Lincolnshire. We stayed for two nights and it was a very welcome break as well as a chance to catch up with old friends and meet some new people. Jessy was the Ring Bearer and A was the flower girl. A isn’t a girly-girl and she really didn’t want to wear a dress so her and Jessy wore matching suits and they looked amazing! They took their roles seriously and although they were both nervous I know they felt very proud participating. Jessy told one guest that he was ‘excited about being professional’. It was a lovely little break and the kids had great fun exploring the 13 bedroom house and the grounds. We stayed up in the clock tower.

The Ring Bearer and the Flower Girl.

The Ring Bearer and the Flower Girl.

Our arrival home was probably the worst time. My sister had taken a sudden turn for the worse. We’d been due to go on a holiday to Wales with friends the next day to stay in wooden huts in the wilderness. Instead the kids had to pack bags and get taken back to my friend’s house even though it was late and past their bedtime. They were so wonderful about it. Jessy said to me ‘well Lucy, that’s life’ and asked if we could go next year. A said she’d been really looking forward to the holiday but made no word of complaint. They really have been super stars. The next morning I woke to photos on my phone that made me smile. My friend D had created a camping holiday for them in the back garden by turning the trampoline into a tent using blankets. They’d made a real wood fire and sang camp songs and roasted marshmallows. It was such a great idea.

I finally got back to the children almost a week later. We went to a fun event at Whitworth park marking the closing of Whitworth Art Gallery for a year. There were activities and craft stalls and music. Jessy amused me by finding the Wood School staff with his teachers and making a wooden medal as his first activity. He must have made a hundred similar ones at Wood School already! A made a little wooden table and chair.

Jessy's medal

Jessy’s medal

We watched with interest through the day as a large wicker sculpture took shape. It was only after many hours when we saw the head being created that we realised it was a torso of a pregnant woman. Quite appropriate!

The pregnant woman sculpture (minus her head!)

The pregnant woman sculpture (minus her head!)

We sat in deck chairs eating home made ice cream from the ice cream van we’ve come across at a few events and watched a man recreating a piece of art work from the gallery using food bought in Rusholme. It smelt as lovely as it looked!

Replicating artwork

Replicating artwork

The trees were all hung with umbrellas which looked beautiful in a surreal way.

Tree umbrellas!

Tree umbrellas!

On another day we visited a very interesting pet shop not far from us. I always feel a little uneasy about going in there as they keep marmoset monkeys and a crocodile amongst other things. It is a fascinating place though and I have never seen such a changing array of unusual animals in one shop. This week they had albino hedgehogs, a sphinx kitten, a Jerboa (a giant gerbil) and a scorpion amongst many other things. Jessy fell in love with a newly hatched bright pink corn snake and insisted that he NEEDED it! I told him that I would want him to research corn snakes and to show me that he has a continued interest in and responsibility for his existing pets. He has really risen to the challenge. He produced a corn snake project which is probably the most writing he has ever done in one go. He’s also made more effort to try and hold his gerbil even though we are left with the very shy one who is almost impossible to catch. He moistens the millipedes every morning without fail and holds them a little each day too. Having looked into the cost of a corn snake set-up I have said it would have to be a Christmas present, but his efforts have certainly earned my consideration.

On the way home the kids pleaded to pop into Jessy’s Nana and Uncle’s house to see their new kitten who we haven’t met yet. The kitten was a little shy but they did get to see him. Even more entertaining than the kitten though was Nana’s flash cotton display. If you’ve never seen flash cotton it is a substance that burns in a super quick bright flash. She gave several demonstrations and I even managed to capture the flash moment!

Flash cotton

Flash cotton

Burn baby burn!

Burn baby burn!

Jessy spent a long time plucking up the courage to have a go with much encouragement. He finally decided to do it holding the piece of flash cotton between two keys. His instinct was the hold the cotton over the flame and his Nana explained why it is safer to put in in at the side of the flame.

Another day Jessy spent a long time making his Jessy-mobil using the old childhood favourite of a cardboard box. He put a lot of thought into what to do, from which controls he needed to how to create an opening door. He also came up with an ingenious idea to make it move which I never would have thought of. He cut two holes in the front which he pushed his legs through enabling him to use his feet to scoot across the floor!

The Jessy mobil.

The Jessy mobil.

With A back at school and Jessy back at Wood School the summer holidays are properly over. It’s been a worrying time, but as Jessy said ‘that’s life’, so we keep on trying to make the best of it. Today that has involved a typically home ed eclectic mix ranging from playing Scattergories and Munchkin to reading the book ‘Tribe’ from the BBC series and doing Japanese reading drills. It’s a good kind of life all in all.

By pinkylucy

Camp Levenshulme

One morning the kids didn’t wake me up for a really long time. It was great as I just want to sleep and eat and eat and sleep at the moment. The reason for my new cat like routine can be seen below:

7 weeks 3 days old complete with little beating heart and growing spine!

7 weeks 3 days old complete with little beating heart and growing spine!

I woke up into a different world. The house had been transformed into an indoor campsite! Little lizards and creatures could be seen lurking in nooks and crannies and in case I wondered where I was there was a helpful sign:

And a helpful schedule of events:

The campsite schedule

The campsite schedule

First I was taken to the campfire, (ingeniously created out of logs, sticks and torn up paper) where I was shown how to light the fire and then treated to some roasted bugs!

Jessy demonstrates his fire lighting technique

Jessy demonstrates his fire lighting technique

Little bugs roasting on an open fire.

Little bugs roasting on an open fire.

I still felt hungry for some reason so we moved on to a different cooking challenge – frying bacon and eggs. We all feasted on crispy bacon and egg sandwiches which I never would have thought to make of my own accord. Then I was treated to a little magic show. Jessy did some card tricks and they both made a bottle of liquid magically light up. They also re-created the colour changing drinks trick which I used at Jessy’s Harry Potter party.

Magic drinks trick

Magic drinks trick

The campfire activities have happened over the course of a few days around other things. Jessy’s lovely friend Daisy has been staying with us on and off and my niece came back too so I’ve had 3 kids filling up the house with shouts and squeals and creative mess this week! Thank goodness they entertain each other so well as sometimes I’ve felt pretty useless and grumpy feeling so sick and tired all the time. Today though I’ve had a little more energy and I’ve really enjoyed joining in with more campsite activities.

I went on a Beast Hunt where I had to gather and count all sorts of soft toy animals dotted around the house. My prize was a trip to the Petting Zoo run by Anais where I got to hold and feed a baby polar bear a baby lion and a snake. Anais bravely had all the snakes around her neck at once!

Anais staffing the petting zoo

Anais staffing the petting zoo

Next up we all enjoyed some painting with a bugs theme. I haven’t painted for a long time and I enjoyed creating a little garden scene. The kids were even kind enough to be impressed when it really wasn’t up to much! Daisy spent her time very carefully painting a Leaf Bug. Anais followed the theme loosely and did Adventure Time drawings. She’s been drawing them quite a lot recently and got very good at depicting the characters. Jessy was prolific and created 3 pages of bugs very quickly!

Jessy's bugs

Jessy’s bugs

The next challenge was tent building and we created a great one behind the sofa with a long covered tunnel entrance which I’ve agreed to let them keep up for a while.

Tent building challenge

Tent building challenge

After that we did some singing around the campfire. I taught them Kookaburra which I remembered from Brownies! Daisy taught us one about flowers, daffodils and the campfire. We tried a couple of rounds but Anais came over incredibly shy and hid under a blanket refusing to join in. I found it a bit frustrating as she is the one who goes to Stagecoach and wants a career in acting! I have found Anais and I clashing a little more lately – I think the combination of a hormonal adolescent girl and a hormonal pregnant woman is a difficult one at times!

The campsite inevitably left a lot of mess, so I made a deal that I would create them a Treasure Hunt while they tidied up from all the activities. They did a very good job with minimal supervision and the Treasure Hunt kept them busy while I cooked dinner.

Aside from Camp Levenshulme, Jessy, Daisy and I enjoyed a good day out for National Play Day at Torkington Park. They had traditional fair type games such as ‘Hook-a-Duck’ and ‘Knock the Cans Down’. I think the favourite by far though was the large pile of straw bales where literally hundreds of children played on and off. It was lovely and hot with a little stream to paddle in to cool down. My favourite part was just as we were leaving and everyone was hungry the burger van announced it was giving everything away free, and we all got a hot meal for nothing!

Straw bale shelter

Straw bale shelter

Action shot!

Action shot!

We’ve enjoyed quite a few days in. The kids are so creative together. They’ve barely shown interest in screens aside from occasionally watching a film together or Jessy wanting a little chill out time on Minecraft. One day Jessy and Daisy created a lovely outdoor Drawing Den where I found them colouring in pictures together and chatting away.

The drawing den

The drawing den

They literally play from dawn until dusk. Sometimes they are animals (Daisy in particular spends a lot of time being a little dog and sometimes comes for snuggles) Sometimes they create elaborate games with figures and toys, more often than not they create dens and shelters with the sofas and most of my clean bedding! On the days when I’ve felt pretty ill I have sat and listened to them laughing and running and tried to soak up that childhood happiness of freedom and play. Sometimes their exuberance overwhelms me (and I’m pretty sure it must be overwhelming the neighbours too!) and I become the boring adult telling them to stop shouting and keep the noise down. They’re never suppressed for long though – all that joy just comes bursting back out!! I know it’s a cliche but we really could learn a lot from children about how to keep happy and live life to the full.

The happy trio!

The happy trio!

By pinkylucy

Cubs Camp, Summer Club and Home

Summer holidays have played havoc with my blog writing as one day seems to blur into the next. In some ways I feel as if the holidays are only just beginning as Jessy has been away far more than usual. A couple of weeks ago he headed off to his first Cubs Camp. He was nervous but looking forward to it by the time the day rolled around. I was highly unprepared and Amazon’s express delivery service did well out of me! Jessy prepared by playing camping games, making a tent using the ever versatile sofas and climbing inside his sleeping bag.

Practicing for camp

Practicing for camp

He made a fantastic effort to pack his own bag one morning and I felt sad that I had to unpack it and help him, as fitting it all in was such a tight squeeze! (I realised afterwards that other people just kept the sleeping gear separate!) On Friday afternoon he was packed and ready to go!

Ready for Cubs Camp

Ready for Cubs Camp

I spent a lovely day with my friend Alice and we enjoyed a deliberately grown up evening of cultured entertainment going to see a comedy performance by a duo called Norris and Parker called ‘All Our Friends Are Dead’ which was part of the Manchester Fringe Festival. I even ate some sweets and didn’t have to hide them! I almost had a fit of excitement on realising that we could do something else afterwards rather than just go home early and go to bed! We decided to go to the cinema but the only late film on was ‘The World’s End’ which we both mistakenly believed would be something apocalyptic. In actual fact it turned out to be the most mind numbingly horrendously awfully boring film I have ever had the misfortune to see 20 minutes of. It is appropriately named, as ‘the world’s end’ would surely be preferable to sitting through that utter pile of shite!! It was so bad that we complained and got our money back! That was probably more exciting than just going to the cinema.

Me and my lovely friend Alice

Me and my lovely friend Alice

Whilst enjoying myself I couldn’t stop thinking of Jessy. There was a huge thunder storm that night with lightning streaking across the sky and rain falling in sheets. I kept thinking of my little bean, curled up in a tent, hoping he was dry and finding the storm exciting rather than scary. The next day, I went into town for lunch with Alice, where we discovered that ‘The Thirsty Scholar’ on Oxford Road is a vegan pub and I got to try vegan black pudding and vegan spam for the first time. I’m not vegan but we’d struggled finding somewhere to eat and we were hungry so we stayed there! Alice took me to pick up Jessy where I discovered a soaked through rather shell-shocked looking little boy sitting stiffly on a bench. He was very proud of his bronze medal which he won for his ‘Space Shark from Planet Zargon’ costume.

After one day to rest, Jessy and A were off to Wood School Summer Club! A has always loved the idea of Wood School and the only reason I booked them on was so that they could go together. I wondered what Jessy would make of it seeing as the vast majority of attendees were children who had come just for the summer club and not his usual Wood School friends. I can honestly say that going every day and not having the distraction of his ‘run around’ friends worked well for him. He actually came home with a craft activity on the first day – a book with a cloth cover which he had sewed. At first it was a code book, but later morphed into a Spell Book at which point he decided to rip off the cloth cover as the title was wrong! He made another spell book using an exercise book from Wood School and did a lot of writing in one go filling it in:

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He never tires of whittling wands and came back with a few. Anais made a beautiful wand which she carved a winding pattern into. I have to say I didn’t make the best use of my free time, but I did enjoy the day I browsed round Chorlton charity shops finding little presents to surprise the kids with. I also found a wonderful new outdoor book stall where I found some delightful old books for my collection including an Angela Brazil school story and a collection of entertainments for girls from the 1800s. Many of the games look quite fun and I intend to try them with the children. I was very pleased to find a wooden sodoku set for Anais as she’d been coveting Jessy’s. They’ve both spent a lot of quiet time enjoying those sets. Anais and I managed to complete one together which we were both proud of as it was a first for both of us! Jessy decided to see how difficult it would be to create his own from scratch rather than solving a pre-given puzzle. I thought it would be very difficult but it seemed to be less challenging than solving one.

Busy with sodoku

Busy with sodoku

Notable conversations have included a discussion of racism in older films after watching ‘One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing’. I often remember films from my childhood and we add them to Jessy’s Lovefilm list. Sometimes, however, I’m shocked by the blatant -isms in the films. This one is particularly diabolical, using English actors to play Chinese characters and relying on ridiculous and insulting stereotypes to show they are supposed to be Chinese. They even went as far as sticking very obviously fake eyelids onto one of the actors! Sometimes I struggle to explain things. Jessy loves slapstick humour and anything very ‘obvious’ which means he find things such as people talking in obviously nonsense Chinese words very funny. (There is shockingly a lot of similar humour in ‘Furry Vengeance’ from 2010!) I feel uncomfortable because I want him to recognise the racism, but I can also see that he is mostly laughing because he knows that people speaking Chinese don’t sound that way. I think he laughs because they have got it wrong and it sounds so silly, rather than because he thinks it’s a funny imitation of a Chinese person. I still feel uncomfortable with him laughing at it though.

One morning in a taxi we ended up discussing the Government’s ‘no spare room’ policy and the bad impact it was having on a lot of people. We’ve briefly looked into volcanoes, the egg experiments have been enjoyed AGAIN and we came late to the Olympics and watched the Opening Ceremony on DVD which allowed lots of historical and geographical discussion.

Anais was keen to do some ‘Adventure Time’ crafts, but everything we came across seemed to be rather ambitious and needed lots of materials we didn’t have. Then we found a great site: http://www.paperfoldables.com/ which allows you to print out foldable characters to make. Anais also showed us a great site where you type in your Minecraft username and it provides you with a paper foldable print out of your own Minecraft skin: http://pixelpapercraft.com/print/minecraft-character So Anais made Adventure Time characters and Jessy made his Minecraft skin:

Adventure Time models

Adventure Time models

Jessy's Harry Potter Minecraft model

Jessy’s Harry Potter Minecraft model

Other than that we have enjoyed ‘fun with a box’. First Jessy filled it with broken polystyrene and then enjoyed making the polystyrene fly up in the air and out of the box by bashing a stick hard inside the box. Another day it became a makeshift paddling pool on a hot day as it had already conveniently half filled with rain water.

Making polystyrene bounce

Making polystyrene bounce

Cooling down on a hot day

Cooling down on a hot day

That’s all Folks!

Jumping the first hurdle…

I’m sitting here wondering what to write. My last blog felt very full with activity and emotion. This has been one of those weeks where I don’t feel we’ve done much. On one day Jessy watched the entire series of Madoka Magicka, our favourite anime. At first I felt bad, but when I considered that it’s all in Japanese with English subtitles I figured it was actually very good for both his Japanese and his reading! Afterwards we went on Language Nut together and learned how to sing ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ in Japanese, so I decided that the day was an intensive Japanese studies day! It’s lovely to see how confident Jessy is at sight reading in Japanese, it doesn’t phase him in the slightest. He can’t read the words out loud like I can but he learns to recognise the words as a whole.

Madoka Magicka

Madoka Magicka

Mostly Jessy’s been enjoying a relaxed pace doing his favourite things: reading, drawing, building dens, playing Minecraft, watching films and playing board games. In between he talks incessantly about Harry Potter until I feel as if my brain might melt! . He’s racing through ‘The Worst Witch’ series. The reading level is very easy for him which makes them a nice relaxing read but he also finds them entertaining. I’ve enjoyed watching his competence around the house in small ways. He now confidently cuts fruit, uses the toaster, helps himself to breakfast and simple lunches as well as drinks. He fixed our Hoover-bot which needed the old broken brush removing and a new one screwing in.

After last week I’m very happy to report that Jessy had a really happy last day at Wood School before the summer. They implemented the excellent suggestion of my friend, and Jessy was asked to choose 3 places which he would be happy to use as his special private place that he can go to if he feels the need. The teachers then said which was their preferred choice and luckily it was the same as Jessy’s. We took his wooden sudoku set to Wood School for him to play with in his special place. As it turned out he enjoyed playing with the sudoku but felt very settled all day and didn’t need to use his new place. I think we’re all hoping that just knowing it’s there will help him feel less anxious and therefore less likely to need it too often.

In the absence of any relevant photos of this week please enjoy a random photo of my rather funky kettle!

In the absence of any relevant photos of this week please enjoy a random photo of my rather funky kettle!

I’m going to try and stay positive that by putting our heads together we can find a way for Jessy to keep enjoying Wood School without taking up too much teacher time. After the worries of last week I finally made a decision to go to my GP and discuss my concerns about Jessy. I feel as if the difficulties he has are having an impact on his life, and that more knowledge, and potentially support, can only be a good thing. I like and respect my GP. He never jumps to conclusions, but he listens carefully and has a good balance between being matter-of-fact and caring. He believes I’m on the right track and agreed with me that a lot of Jessy’s difficulties are not what you would expect in a child his age. He’s made us a referral. There will be a couple of months or so to wait. I’m glad to have jumped that hurdle. (not that I actually can jump a hurdle – my legs are too short and stiff!)

It’s never completely plain sailing, there was a disappointing evening when Jessy missed his Martial Arts lesson. As Wood School had finished I hadn’t registered that it was a Monday and didn’t remember until about 4.30 that he had Martial Arts. By the time I reminded him it was too late, it wasn’t in his mental plan for the day and he got very upset when I tried to encourage him to go. His uncle said not to worry and he relaxed a lot after that, but agreed to make a deal to go next week. It was a good reminder to me to actually use the tools that help. We have a large wipe clean weekly wall planner but I need to remember to check it with him each morning so he knows the plans for the day. I made sure to remind him about cubs the evening before and at regular points through the day. Once he knows he’s doing something he is usually happy to do it (unless it’s something new!).

We had planned a beach trip for today, but the rain seems determined to come along whenever we have a beach plan, so we opted for a soft play area instead where Jessy ran around with a couple of his friends and I chatted to a couple of mine. We’ll aim for the beach another day!