Apologies for the long post and many photos. This is what happens when I don’t post for over a month! I find myself using Instagram to post snippets of our days instead of blogging.
We’ve been making an effort to go along to the local home-ed group’s events whenever they are accessible by public transport. So far we’ve met at the swimming pool, an adventure park and Ilfracombe Museum. The museum was really interesting, especially the nature section, but Esther was in a terrible mood that day! Afterwards we had a picnic lunch on the beach. However, we didn’t stay long as it was freezing cold.
We’ve had some nice family days out at the weekends too, including a visit to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter. It had lots of hands-on exhibits which the children really enjoyed.
We have been using The Good and The Beautiful’s language arts curriculum for some of our English work this term. Tabitha enjoys it as there is a wide variety of activities in the lessons. This video was taken back in early January and her reading has improved so much since then! She is now steaming through the Biff, Chip and Kipper books. Aaron is less sure about TGTB. His reading and spelling is quite advanced but we need to work on his grammar. He likes the art appreciation which is included in some lessons, but he finds some of the exercises very tedious. I’m not sure whether or not we’ll continue to use it long-term.
Aaron has started reading these “Murderous Maths” books and finds them very amusing! I’ve been setting him a chapter or part of a chapter at a time, and then getting him to do relevant worksheets from www.worksheetfun.com.
We’ve also been playing some maths games recently to convince Tabitha that times tables are not as scary as she thinks. This gave me an idea and we’ve invited one of Aaron’s friends to join us for one afternoon each week to do some maths games and hands-on activities, starting after half term.
We’ve had lots of playdates with the girl next door. She and Tabitha get on really well. It’s so easy for them to just knock on each other’s doors and ask if now is a convenient time to play. Aaron gets a bit jealous sometimes but hopefully having his own friend round on a more regular basis will help!
I had a nasty virus towards the end of January, so we had a few pyjama days and a week of not doing very much. Aaron and Tabitha were both really helpful and offered to look after Esther in the morning so that I could go back to bed for a little while.
These two photos make me chuckle. In the second I unintentionally captured Tabitha stopping to pray and Esther picking her nose!
She really does love her babies. And other people’s babies too!
She has been interested in matching recently. Tabitha and I made her these cards to match with her wooden Holztiger animals. Another time she lined up all the Grimms semicircles and started colour matching with the little wooden peg people.
I recently took Esther to her first ever toddler group at the library. She has plenty of siblings, cousins and friends, so I’ve never felt the need to “socialise” her. But I thought it might be fun and Aaron and Tabitha could look at books or play on the computers while we were there. She did enjoy it (especially singing Hokey Cokey at the end) but wasn’t very interested in the stories (even though she loves books at home) and kept wandering off.
This was Aaron reading her a story (with all the voices and sound effects!) at my parents’ house a few weeks ago. Tabitha can now read to her as well, which is lovely.
Aaron and Tabitha have recently started group swimming lessons. Tabitha started in a lower level but is moving up to Aaron’s class next week. Their instructor is the same one they had for private lessons, which is nice. However, Aaron has been rather unimpressed by the behaviour of the other boys in his group!
Tabitha is very excited about taking part in a ballet show later in the year. She has been hoping that they would put on another show ever since she started three years ago! She would quite like to try another kind of dance as well (modern or tap) but those classes clash with swimming at the moment. We have so many weekly activities now that there isn’t much wiggle room!
At the beginning of the month, Esther decided that it was time to start potty training. She got the hang of it really quickly with hardly any accidents. After five days she was reliable enough to do long car journeys and days out. She has had a bit of a blip this week with several accidents, but she’s also got over her fear of using the toilet so it’s going pretty well on the whole.
This week has been half term and it has been so nice to spend more time with Colin. Saturday was pouring with rain so we went to the National Marine Aquarium. Esther shouted “fish” or “shark” whenever we saw one and she soon learnt “ray” too. Then she saw the turtle and she loved it so much that it rather spoilt the rest of the aquarium for her! She kept saying “no turtle, more turtle!”. We bought her some turtle bath toys to bring home.
On Monday we woke up to sunshine and decided to go out for a walk. However, it soon turned into rain and we headed towards Mole Valley Farmers instead. On the way it began to snow quite heavily and the carpark was white when we arrived! After a mooch around Mole Valley, we drove up onto Exmoor in search of snow. There wasn’t much to be found, but we did have a lovely walk and saw a hydro power plant with an Archimedes screw and a beautiful rainbow. Colin also spotted his biological father and grandmother, which was the first time he has seen them since he was ten. We found it rather ironic that his grandmother smiled and made a nice comment to the children as we walked past, but had no clue that they were her own great-grandchildren!
I had a gallbladder attack (the first in a long time) during Monday night so on Tuesday Colin took all the children out for the day with his sisters and their children. Wednesday was spent with a lady from church and her visiting grandson. He’s quite a bit younger than Aaron and Tabitha but they get on well.
Friday was a beautiful sunny day. Aaron and Tabitha had been at a sleepover and swimming in the morning, but when they got home we drove to Westward Ho! to meet up with Colin’s sister and her children on the beach. I’ve barely used my camera recently (camera phones are so convenient but the quality is always disappointing) so I made a special effort to take it. We had a lovely time playing in the stream and building sandcastles and dams.
The tide was coming in, so the adults and older children decided to build mounds and see whose would be washed away first. I was standing well back (I was using my telephoto lens) with the two toddlers. I had already moved our bags and belongings back several times to what I considered a safe distance. A small wave came in and surrounded the mounds. Tabitha was the first to run as she didn’t want to get her shoes wet, and Aaron followed soon after. At that point it still seemed like a normal wave, but a second or two after these photos were taken we all realised that it wasn’t.
The water just kept coming and coming! I picked up Esther, grabbed hold of my niece and ran. At some point she was washed off her feet and I fell with her. For a few horrible seconds I couldn’t get up or lift her out of the water. Thankfully her mum caught up and took her so that I could get up with Esther. Once the two toddlers were safely on the slipway I looked round to see Colin trying to catch the rucksacks and shoes which had floated off!
We have since looked at my photos for reference and measured the distance on Google maps. As far as we can tell, that single wave covered about 400 ft of the beach! None of us had ever experienced anything like it before. I’m thankful that we all made it out safely and that we were even able to recover all of our belongings (although I kept telling Aaron and Tabitha that people are far more important than things!). My camera was around my neck and got completely wet when I fell, so it will be recuperating in a tub of rice for a while.
Back to reality on Monday! We’ve got lots of exciting things planned over the next few weeks but I’m a little concerned we may end up being too busy!