Saturday, 26 July 2014


Ickwell Nature Reserve

Lychee woke up, now officially a four year old, and decided to commandeer one of my T-shirts as a dress. More and more she is wanting to wear my things, be it slippers or hair clips, she's just so desperate to grow up. When all the other children are playing she likes to have a cup of tea with the mummies. Sometimes I can't decide whether she really is shy or if she just really wants to be a grown up.

To be honest, she looked remarkably cute in the T-shirt/dress (more so than I did!) so I'm going to let her keep it.

The T-shirt was originally my little sisters (I got a massive new wardrobe when she emigrated -sad story) and I love it. The 'Beloved' logo is cute enough, but what you probably can't quite read underneath is the red script which says 'because you never looked more beautiful than in His eyes'. I really do love the One Truth brand clothing.

Lychee wore it to come on a fun day out with some friends at Ickwell nature reserve. Several people were camping for the whole weekend, sadly we had to leave because I had a wedding today.

Cosmo and Lychee had great fun climbing trees, catching insects with her new bug hunting kit and generally building dens and stick fighting with lots of new friends.

Cosmo's highlight was teaching other children how to use his fire steel to make little fires. He just loves it when he is confident in a skill that takes others a bit of practice. It's a great way of getting him to talk more easily when he is feeling shy.

Lychee's favourite part was catching crawdad (my kids love that song) and cooking them. She didn't eat them, but both kids loved running around checking the traps and seeing how many were there. We of course, did eat them and they were very delicious.

Here's the video:

Tuesday, 22 July 2014


Wicksteed Park

It's the end of the summer term and our home ed co-op decided to celebrate with a visit to wicksteed park.
It was awesome.

Saturday, 12 July 2014


Our musical garden

Behind the scales I built last week there's a secret passage that led to a massive compost heap. 

We dug all the compost out and used it to build our raised beds, but it left us with a massive crater that was just begging to become a play space. 

A few xylophones and some tambourines later and we have what the kids are calling their 'musical den'. 

All that was needed was a little fishing wire for hanging some cheap plastic instruments.

And a screw driver to remove some of the fun parts from said plastic instruments.

And the best part is that now all the noisy play can happen in the garden making our home a much more peaceful place ;-)

Thursday, 24 April 2014


Baby Chick update

Five hatched, five to go...

Tuesday, 22 April 2014


Easter Holidays and Pet Eggs

The Easter holidays were so much fun. We had beautiful weather and it was great to spend lots of time playing outdoors, digging in the garden and general enjoying the sun.

The children played their first ever game of cricket, watching the new baby tadpoles in our pond, and even took part in some of the planting out.

We started our 'Kitchen Chemistry' online course and they loved experimenting with molecule density using the toaster from the boy's kitchen and a bin bag, and experiment that was repeated with a hair dryer and a mini hot air balloon on a camping trip over the Easter weekend.
Heated molecules are less dense
The children also went to the energy show at the science museum in London with their dad and had a fantastic time as well as Cosmo going camping in the peak district with daddy to climb a 'mountain'.

We had a lovely time celebrating passover with my sister's family and some friends, and the children took great joy in the charoset (I used mango, pear and cinnamon with walnut) as well as joining in with some really fun songs.

 But the part the children have been most excited about this Easter is getting their 'pet eggs'.

We currently have ten eggs incubating in the school room and the children cannot wait to see them hatch. They've been very diligent in checking the temperature regularly and topping up the water and the eggs are due to hatch Thursday or Friday.

I'm sure I'll manage to film it, and will post it here after. The baby chicks will then live in our house 6-9 weeks (weather dependant) and then move out into the chicken coop and run that we have built for them in the orchard.

Exciting times!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014


Reading Practice

I made a playlist of flash card videos that we use with Lychee for reading practice - so I figured I'd post it here in case anyone else wants to do some practice with little ones.

It's for children learning sight words or 'whole word' reading methods, NOT phonics.

Enjoy :-)

Thursday, 23 January 2014


Learning Self-Regulation

I've heard over and over of parents who allow their toddlers to self regulate with food, claiming that if we leave them to it and don't interfere with 'on demand' feeding that children will learn to recognize their own hunger cues and equally know when they have had enough.

I like the principle - but I don't know anyone who has made it past about three years old.

photo credit
The reality is that society dictates we should eat at certain times, and it's kind of awkward if you refuse lunch whilst everyone is seated at the table and 20 minutes later you are hungry but mum has put everything away. So you either end up telling your kid when to eat - or feeding them junk because real food takes time and preparation.

Still, like I said, I like the principle.

It's something Cosmo's doctor told me about when he was very young and I was getting frustrated about him just wanting to watch the same DVD on loop, or when he just wanted to read the same book (or sometimes even the same page!) again and again. He said he's trying to puzzle something out. I assume that because he can read the words, he's got all the information, but particularly for children who learn to read early, being able to understand what they are reading may take more time.

He asked me to indulge him.
Read the same page 50 times if necessary, move on when he is ready.

Gosh, that took a lot of restraint from me, but it worked! He would watch the 20 minute DVD on loop (brilliant baby by the way if anyone is interested) but then he'd know everything on it and never choose to watch the same one again (at least not for a long time, and when revisiting an old DVD it was for comfort, watched once and then relegated to the 'I've seen that' pile).

We've been up against this battle again recently, only this time it's grated on me even more because his current obsession is Minecraft - and I am not a gamer.

Everything in me wanted to limit him to 20 minutes a day - or some other such rule - but having been through plenty of other past obsessions I let it play out properly.

My mum bought him the game for Christmas and for a couple of weeks I was convinced it was all he would do with all of his free time - and then we hit our breakthrough. He just turned around and said 'I think I'd like to take a break from minecraft for a little while'. He started playing legos with his sister again (boy, has she missed him!) and at the end of the day, it's only really been a two and a half week obsession.

He still enjoys playing minecraft, but he's also enjoying other things too and he doesn't play it for hours at a time.

So, here are my top tips for surviving obsession phases:

1) Try not to worry about making everything meaningful. I like to relax and read a magazine sometimes, or watch a movie. Not everything I do has value other than relaxation and not everything your child does needs to either.

2) Respect what they value. I don't love minecraft. I don't think it's awesome. But my son does and I wouldn't like it if he told me I couldn't look at pinterest because he doesn't think it's cool. Live and let live.

3) Find ways to work it into other things they might enjoy. Cosmo is currently working on a book of tips for his Dad so that he can learn how to play too. It's still Cosmo's favourite topic, but thankfully it's away from the computer screen!
Top tip for Minecraft... but also life in general...

4) If you really need to limit their time on something (eg. I don't want him sat at a PC all day) rather than saying no to it, find something else that will take up some of that time. If Cosmo wants to spend all his free time on the computer, but I don't want him to spend more than an hour, I need to find tasks that will take up all but an hour of his day, then he can play as long as he wants without a conflict. If you tell them they can't do something (or they can only do it for a limited time) it becomes the craved for 'forbidden thing'. I'd rather say 'of course you can play - right after we get back from the park and have picked up the groceries'.
We also have a rule where nobody has free time until they have completed their curriculum based activities for the day.

If you have anymore strategies, let me know. It might sound like I have it all sorted, but I really don't. It pains me to wait out an obsession, but it's totally worth it in the end. The result is a happier, less frustrated child, who learns how to self regulate their own time.