Anatomy, Magnetism, Biscuits & Baby.

I’ve been knocked out by a nasty bug for a while, hence no blog last week. I slept almost solidly for about 3 days and then on and off for almost a week! Luckily it wasn’t the kind of bug where you feel terrible – just sick and exhausted, but staying awake has been, quite literally, impossible. Jessy stayed with friends for a few nights while I slept off the worst of it.

So, there’s a bit to catch up on! A finally went back home to live with her Mum and brothers again. It was an anxious time as we really had no indication of time scales. I had a very disheartening phone call with the people handling her school admission, where it seemed they hadn’t even received the forms I’d sent and had no idea how long the whole process was going to take. I phoned my sister to tell her the frustrating news only to find out that she’d been left a message on her answer machine saying that A had her school place and could start on Monday! Clearly, the communications are not working well in that department! It was already Thursday which meant that A would go home the very next day so that she could have the weekend to unpack and settle back in at home. It was quite a shock when I told her and I still feel sad that our careful efforts for a smooth transition didn’t work out. Although we had already had her leaving party I felt that the occasion needed marking in some way so we went up the road to The Nawaab – the very nice Indian buffet that I go to on my birthday.

A farewell meal

A farewell meal

Happy cousins

Happy cousins

A is happy to be back home and I’m glad that this anxious time is over for her, as even though I know she’s enjoyed aspects of being home educated and living with us, it’s not the same as being at home with your Mum. She knows she always has a second home here, though, should she need it. She’s going to carry on going to Martial Arts and Scouts too which means she’ll be round on Mondays for dinner, so we will at least see her once a week.

Now that I’m back to just the one child I’ve had a little more time to notice the things that Jessy is showing an interest in. He was playing a lot with the magnetic base from a little sculpture he has, to the point where he didn’t want to stop playing with it at bed time so I ordered him a magnet kit. I got a small one at first to see how much he enjoyed it. I’d imagined exploring it together, but he had already opened it and got stuck in before I was awake! As well as doing the experiments suggested, he’s come up with some of his own and also used it to create a model of a battle ship which he played games with for days.

Exploring the magnet kit

Exploring the magnet kit

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Another day he created a rather gory picture by colouring a piece of paper red, drawing a person on top of another piece of paper and then cutting slashes into the person to look like he’d been cut! I felt a little disturbed by this creation, but it did give me an idea to use the concept a little more constructively. I thought of using it to learn about human anatomy and cutting the person on top in order to find different organs. We couldn’t find any anatomy pictures in our books and our printer is playing up again, so we went to the library. Again, we didn’t find anything is the books but we found something online and printed off a few different sheets of anatomical diagrams. A first Jessy wanted to make his own, but we found the inaccuracy made the game quite tricky, so I also made one using the anatomical pictures. It was a fun way to learn about the human body.

Anatomy

Anatomy

I’ve been interested to notice this week that despite having a room full of toys and drawers full of craft materials, Jessy often finds inspiration in simple things around him. This week he was inspired by the tiny little premature baby socks I bought. (Jessy was so small and thin that socks never fitted him so I’ve bought some as a precaution!) He said they looked perfect for making little toys. He decided to buy a set with his pocket money and we then agreed that he could have one of pairs I’ve bought for now. He can get a little frustrated with the fiddliness of sewing and often wants to give up and get me to do it instead. I’m encouraging him to persevere so that he improves which in turn will improve his frustration. He’s already got a lot more competent at threading needles. I sewed a little face on the toy for him but he did the head and the arms. He did stop part way through for an all out stroppy whinge complete with rolling around on the floor, but once he had got that out of his system he went back to it and now has a cute little toy named Spuddy.

This week Jessy has also independently baked a batch of delicious biscuits. He decided to copy out all of the ingredients and method, including all the weight conversions so he doesn’t have to work them out each time. On Thursday I was dealing with square roots before 9am which is good going for me! Jessy was working out the square roots for large numbers after I showed him the symbol to look for on a calculator. He then tried squaring the numbers by inputting them himself to see how accurate the calculator had been. After months of not doing much independent reading he’s been up reading so late that he actually fell asleep on the sofa one afternoon! He’s always had a very good radar for when I start to feel wobbly about something. I’d just got to the point of feeling that I needed to schedule in some time each week for independent reading, when the tide of autonomy turned and he got back into it himself!

We’ve had Bellatrix the hedgehog for a little over two weeks now and I’m very impressed by how well Jessy is caring for her. Even on a Wood School morning he makes sure he’s up in time to change her food and water bowls, and clean her litter tray. He feeds her in the evening and makes sure he plays with her every day. She’s quilling at the moment, which is a process all young hedgehogs go through where their quills all fall out and the adult ones grow in – like humans losing their baby teeth. It makes them rather sore and grumpy. Jessy is luckily not taking her grumpiness to heart. He had some confidence problems at first when he was finding her difficult to handle as she’s spikier than he’d expected, but he now wears thick gloves and has regained his confidence. I’ve supervised him with the big weekly clean outs but he has pretty much done everything himself, including putting the fleece liners on to wash in the machine and then putting them in the tumble drier. We are struggling a little with finding time for her in the evenings as we don’t want to wake her too early, but it can be difficult to fit in enough time between dinner and bedtime. We find she really does need to be handled for at least half an hour to stop being huffy and calm down a little. Luckily he often holds her in the early mornings when she’s still awake.

Holding Bellatrix in thick gloves

Holding Bellatrix in thick gloves

Bellatrix in her new play pen

Bellatrix in her new play pen

Bellatrix

Bellatrix

I’ve been busy making final preparations for the baby and I feel much more organised now. I’m 34 weeks pregnant and growing by the day. The baby still moves lots and feels strong. I’ve washed all the clothes and nappies and muslins and organised everything into sizes. My house looks ready for a baby. I went to the hospital today for blood tests to check whether I have Obstetric Cholestasis again – a rare pregnancy related liver condition I had when I was pregnant with Jessy. It has a high recurrence rate and I’ve felt anxious about it as I would just love things to go simply this time and to have the home birth I am so much looking forward to. I’ll know in a few days whether it has come back and if it has I’ll have some difficult decisions to make. I’m still under a lot of pressure to have growth scans because Jessy was so small, but at the moment I’m still not feeling that is something I want to do. I’m loving having the support of my Independent midwife Jo and my doula Lisa. We all got together for the first time this week and I felt really happy that these wonderful women are going to be with me when I birth my baby. I feel that, as a team, whatever happens I will birth with good support around me, hopefully in a peaceful way in my own home.

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!