Tabitha made a birthday card for her cousin Henry. I love the way she now draws all of her people with bellybuttons!
Apparently this is a birthday cake with candles, possibly her first recognisable non-person drawing.
I created some simple matching/patterning cards to use with our magnetic mosaic cubes as a pre-reading activity for Tabitha.
Aaron was able to extend his patterns beyond the cards.
My Granny was visiting last week and we enjoyed some lovely days out with her. Aaron took this photo of her at Rosemoor.
Aaron has been very interested in the differences between wasps and other insects such as hoverflies and bees, so together we collected photos of the ones we spotted.
We also went to the North Devon Show, where we saw lots of different animals and watched some fun events in the ring, including Freestyle Motorcross and Pony Club Games. Aaron drove us to distraction by moaning and whinging the entire day!
A light panel has been on my wishlist for a couple of years and I finally bought one secondhand from another childminder. It has been very popular so far and I’m looking forward to trying out lots of ideas from Pinterest!
Tabitha struggles with spatial awareness, such as knowing which way round puzzle pieces go. These pattern blocks challenge her but not so much that she finds it frustrating. Aaron likes to build his design off the pattern board as an additional challenge!
More creativity with blocks. Aaron recently built a brilliant conveyer-belt system, but unfortunately I didn’t get a photo.
A cheeky monkey showing me her drawing!
Today Aaron worked with our base ten set as an alternative to the “100 chain” and “1000 chain”. He used arrows to label by units up to 10, by tens up to 100 and by hundreds up to 1000. He often proudly announces to new acquaintances that he can count up to 300, so I thought we would go up to 1000 today. This kind of work familiarises children with the sequence of numbers and shows them the big picture. We also practised counting forwards and backwards by tens and hundreds.
Tabitha often wants to join in with Aaron’s maths work and gets upset that she can’t, so I set up a little activity for her instead. I’ve noticed that she consistently recognises the numerals “2” and “3”. She can count objects up to about ten but her finger and mouth don’t always work in sync, so we’re concentrating on objects up to five at the moment!
We were recently given £50 from MoneySupermarket to throw a fantastic summer barbecue, so Colin and I took the opportunity to invite both sets of parents for a family get-together at the allotment. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great and Colin’s parents couldn’t come for health reasons, so we phoned around a few friends at the last minute!
The children and I spent this afternoon making a pompom garland to decorate the shed. I’ve never used a pompom maker before (my mum taught me the old fashioned way using circles of cardboard) but the children found them pretty easy to use. The only slight frustration was that the loose end of the yarn kept getting in the way or tangled with the working yarn.
Colin and I purchased our first ever reusable barbecue a few weeks ago from Maplin for the bargain price of £2.99. A large bag of charcoal cost £5.50 and we also bought a £2 disposable barbecue for extra cooking space, which turned out to be useless. It barely warmed the vegetable kebabs and certainly wouldn’t have cooked any meat! The ingredients for the vegetable kebabs (cherry tomatoes, courgettes, mushrooms, peppers and red onions) came to £5.54, but I only used about half of the veg. Tabitha really enjoyed helping to thread the chopped veg onto the skewers.
There was lots of time to relax and chat whilst we were waiting for the food to cook. Aaron and Tabitha helped to pick runner beans and blackberries, Uncle DJ tried out the children’s tiny slide and we enjoyed occasional moments of sunshine.
I paid £8.10 at the butchers for 18 burgers (he kindly threw in half a dozen for free as they had run out of our favourite lamb and mint ones) and 8 sausages. The burgers were lovely, the sausages were not. Colin thought they would be nicer than supermarket ones, but from now on I’ll be sticking with my favourite 97% meat or even Tesco Finest. I am definitely a sausage snob! 4 packs of various bread rolls came to £2 and we used my dad’s little gas stove to fry up some onions with a pinch of sugar and some balsamic vinegar.
For pudding we cooked foil parcels of fruit on the barbecue, costing £10.30. I adapted the recipe from my Marks & Spencer “Easy Summer Food” book, which I’ve been wanting to try it for years. It’s very simple, just chop up peaches, nectarines, blueberries and raspberries with the juice of 1 orange and a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon. We served it with natural yogurt.
And of course no barbecue would be complete without marshmallows to toast!
I spent £14.19 on various extras such as drinks, crisps, salad (my verdict is don’t bother as nobody seems to eat salad at a barbecue!), salad dressing, coleslaw, potato salad and pickled onions, bringing the total cost of our barbecue to £50.62. It was a wonderful evening with friends, family and far too much food! We’re looking forward to using our bargain barbecue again, hopefully with Colin’s parents next time.
On Saturday we spent the day with my mum at the Devon Country Fayre, held in the beautiful grounds of the Castle Hill estate. An old lady who lived with us for a while when I was a child grew up on the estate in the early 1900s. Her father worked for the Fortescue family, so it was interesting to imagine (with a little bit of inspiration from Downton Abbey) what her life must have been like.
As well as stalls, arena events and a funny but very interesting Sheep Show, we also had the opportunity to watch the English National Sheep Dog Trials. Colin’s dad used to be a sheep dog trainer and the children have long been fans of Mist: Sheepdog Tales, produced by a local farmer, so they enjoyed seeing the dogs in action.
Aaron and Tabitha queued very patiently in a stuffy marquee to have their faces painted.
The highlight of the day was watching the Friends of the Dartmoor Hill Pony display team perform their wild west routine. Tabitha seems to have inherited the pony bug from her mother and grandmother, as she begged me afterwards to “go to Tesco and buy me a horse”! She has been talking about horses ever since and I’ve got my old pony books out of the loft for her to look at.
On Monday I spotted a slide being sold cheaply nearby, so the children and I drove round to collect it. We then spent the rest of the morning at my parents’ house and the local tyre garage sorting out a puncture on the car, before taking the slide up to its new home at the allotment. It’s only small, but it will be perfect for my little mindees and the children soon put it to good use!
We spotted quite a few ladybirds around, hopefully helping to keep the aphids and blackfly on the runner beans under control.
Dad and I filled up his old lorry tyre with earth and compost to turn it into a herb bed. While we were working, I suddenly spotted a huge frog just a foot or so away from us cooling down in a bucket of rainwater. After watching him hop off behind the shed, we decided to sink the bucket down into the earth and create a little nature area. This evening Dad sent me a text message to say that he has seen froggy back in the bucket, so he obviously approves.
Today we went to Home Grown Kids for possibly the first time this year, as I can’t remember if we attended any of the January meets or not. I’ve been working pretty much every Wednesday ever since but am now off for a few weeks. The group breaks up this week for the summer holidays, but it was great to go today and see some old friends, as well as lots of new people! There was a magic show with a Punch and Judy show, which had Aaron roaring with laughter. Tabitha mostly stayed close by my side, although it was lovely to hear her chatting with a little friend who is the same age. They have known each other through home-ed group since they were about 10 months old and I was struck by how “grown up” their conversations sound now!
The rain has finally arrived here this evening, so I am hoping for a cooler day tomorrow. The children get tired and crabby in the heat and I have fallen a long way behind with the housework!
We’ve been treating this last week as our family holiday. The weather has been scorching hot, Colin’s sister and fiance have been visiting and Colin had the week off work, so we’ve been making the most of it.
We spent a day out at Croyde beach. The children went bodyboarding for the first time, which brought back memories of the first time my parents took me bodyboarding on the uncovered polystyrene board my mum used as a child.
Working on the allotment has been hot and sticky work, so Aaron watered the plants and himself to cool down!
I love these colourful marigolds against the blue shed.
Aaron helped Grandpa do some painting.
Another day was spent rockpooling at Westward Ho! Tabitha was thrilled to drive the children’s karts for the first time, whilst Aaron came on the big go-karts with the grown ups.
For dinner we ate fish and chips overlooking the sea and then finished off the day with ice creams. I think these two photos really sum up the children’s different characters. Aaron is often serious and concentrates intently on whatever he is doing, whereas Tabitha is cheeky and mischievous.
We live very close to the Tarka trail, which is a coastal cycle path using the old railway routes. We hired bikes and spent another day cycling about 18 miles to Bideford and back. The scenery was wonderful but we were all feeling very saddle sore by the end!
We weren’t sure if Aaron would be able to keep up on his own bike, so he rode on a tag-along on the back of Colin’s bike.
Tabitha rode in a trailer on the back of my bike. She felt sick at first and wanted to go home, but after a while she got used to it and chilled out with some snacks.
Three messy cousins!
Some of the time we were just too hot to venture outdoors, so we’ve also done plenty of indoor activities. The children loved building ball runs with a 2 m length of guttering sawed into three pieces.
Dribbling balls through a slalom of upturned bowls kept hot and crabby children amused.
They also enjoyed this miniature “treasure island” sensory small world created with sand, pebbles, shells, mini bucket and spade and a treasure chest full of colourful gems.
Today we finally got round to making a scarecrow for the allotment. I stuffed a pillowcase with plastic bags which I’ve been saving for months and the children painted the face with acrylic paint.
Grandpa fixed a wooden stake and crosspiece into the ground. For the body we filled a sack with more plastic bags and scrunched up newspaper, tied it around the stakes and then dressed it.
We stuffed the arms with rolled up sacks. By the time we added gloves, wool hair and a cap the scarecrow was looking pretty good, despite missing facial features at the moment because the paint was still slightly wet!
It’s been a wonderful week and I’m very thankful for spending time with my family, enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful area we live in.
It seems like a long time since I last posted. I’ve been ill several times and busy with work. I turned down work for the first time a couple of weeks ago, which felt very strange but I know it was the right decision. My own children need time alone with me and to be honest I’m already absolutely exhausted on my days off. Definitely looking forward to the summer holidays in two and a bit weeks!
The children have been doing lots of building with Duplo and Lego. Aaron still likes to use the Duplo for large scale sculptures of things like dinosaurs, ships and space rockets.
Tabitha and the baby had fun with a puffed rice sensory tray.
Painting has been popular.
Aaron painted a space rocket and a bus.
Aaron has been wanting a skateboard for years so when we spotted these mini ones I finally gave in. He soon discovered that it wasn’t as easy as the teenagers make it look!
We’ve always thought that Tabitha may have inherited dyspraxia, so I was expecting her to struggle with the skateboard. However, she did pretty well and is keen to keep practising, so all that time riding a balance bike and scooter must have paid off!
Tabitha loves to turn on a children’s CD and dance around, making up her own actions. Yes, she’s wearing Aaron’s milo vest so I’m knitting her one of her own, which you can just see in the basket on the right.
I had a scan at the hospital yesterday, then went up to the college to pick up all my results for the year. It’s been hard work but I’m really pleased with my marks, just hope I can keep it up for another two years! As part of my course I have to do a 50 hour work-based learning placement with a specific focus. I chose to focus on outdoor provision in my childminding practice, because not having a garden makes it much more challenging. On Tuesday I spent the day observing outdoor play at Two Rivers Outdoor Preschool, which was a great experience.
We have also decided that Aaron and Tabitha will be starting at Two Rivers for one day per week in September. It is a Steiner-inspired kindergarten, accepting children aged 3.5 – 7 years, with lots of home educating families involved. Based in a yurt in the middle of secluded woodlands, the children have fantastic opportunities to play outside for hours every day. I’ve been following the school’s progress since before it opened, but it is a 20 minute drive away so attending hasn’t been an option until now. We haven’t been able to go to our local home-ed group for months due to the hours I work and Aaron really misses his friends there. When he discovered that his beloved friend Rose goes to Two Rivers, I knew that he would love to go too. At first we weren’t sure about sending Tabitha but she insisted that she wants to go with Aaron. She really enjoyed it there on Tuesday, quickly making friends with a little boy and even talking to the teachers by the afternoon, so we’ll see how it goes.
Today I decided to reorganise our craft supplies by colour, inspired by some of the amazing Reggio photos Ali has sent me! Tabitha helped me to sort things into the right jar.
More happy rainbows in my home! Hopefully having lots of different supplies in each jar will help the children to discover things that get forgotten and not used very often.
Colin’s youngest sister has a birthday this week and his middle sister is coming down to visit. For the first time ever, Colin has the week off work and I don’t! The sunshine is back so we’re hoping to enjoy some family outings in the lovely weather.
Today is your last day of being two. It’s been three whole years since you were born so peacefully at home. Three years since your Daddy and I discovered we had a daughter. Three years since your brother woke up in the morning and stared in amazement at you.
You make me smile every day. You say such funny things, like the time you were lying in my lap playing with your eyelid and announced “I’m trying to take a picture of you with my eye!”. You are so affectionate, often demanding “cuggles” and telling me dozens of times each day that you love me, holding up your arms to show me “I love you this big”. You have a wonderful imagination and can be very dramatic at times! You have also inherited my determination (Daddy would call it stubbornness) and have your own ideas about how things should be! You and Aaron may squabble and fight, but you adore each other and spend hours playing together every day.
You are growing up. I may still call you “baby” sometimes, but you are definitely not. You are getting taller, your hair is growing longer and you are learning so many new things. You now like to have your hair done in two plaits and wear a long dress to be like Carrie from Little House on the Prairie. Your doll, who has been known as “baby” since you got her on your second birthday, has finally been named Laura. This next year will bring many more changes and I’m looking forward to knowing three year old you.
Today we had a little party for you, with just a few relatives and friends. People often comment on how quiet and peaceful you are, little do they know how noisy you are normally when nobody is around! You spent a long time carefully filling your feeder with nesting materials for the birds, then when you had finished you tipped it all out to start again! You had a wonderful time surrounded by people who care about you and were in no rush to open your lovely presents. You want to be like me and do knitting, but I love you because you’re you. I hope you will always remember that.
Thank you very much to Jet at Sustainably Single Parenting for nominating me for this award. You are such a strong person and I am full of admiration for the way you have made it through some difficult times. I owe you an apology actually, because you nominated me for a Liebster Blog Award back in November and, although I started to write a post for it, I completely forgot! So I am honoured that you have nominated me again, despite my procrastination and forgetfulness!
The rules of the award are as follows:
- Display the award logo on your blog.
- Link back to the person who nominated you.
- State 7 things about yourself.
- Nominate 15 bloggers for this award.
- Notify those bloggers of the nomination by linking to one of their specific posts so that they get notified by ping-back.
So then, seven things about me:
- I have a gap between my front teeth. As a teenager I was offered braces but declined, on the grounds that I liked to whistle through my teeth. Of course, I haven’t whistled for years and have now lost the ability to do so anyway!
- I love bright rainbow colours and all things colourful. One of my favourite sights is pink blossom against a clear blue sky in the spring.
- I’m very competitive, which motivated me to be at the top of the class throughout school, home education and university. That is something that I’ve had to work through with regards to my own children, by realising that there are more important things than academic skills, resisting my urge to push them too early and taking a more autonomous approach.
- My favourite TV series (we don’t have a TV but I sometimes watch online) to watch at the moment are Call The Midwife, Castle and Once Upon A Time.
- Recently I’ve been feeling the need to practice what I preach with regards to lifelong learning. So at the moment I am learning to play the ukelele (so far I can play Old MacDonald and What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor) and learning to speak Esperanto (tio estas homo kaj tio estas virino).
- I would love to live on a widebeam canalboat some day, continuously cruising the waterways. Or maybe a log cabin in the country, with a bit of land to grow veg and keep animals. A girl can dream!
- I found it really hard to think of seven things about myself and I’m now completely stuck for ideas! What do you mean, that’s cheating? Of course it counts!
My 15 inspiring nominees are:
- An Everyday Story
- Classroom Free
- Delivering Grace
- Here We Are Together
- Heidi Elizabeth
- Lazy Seamstress
- Little Blossoms
- Little Woodlanders
- Living and Learning
- Love, Laugh and Learn
- The Barts Go Adventuring
- The Real Life of a Narrowboat Wife
- Worms Eye-View
There are some wonderful blogs in the above list, I’m sure you’ll enjoy checking them out if you haven’t done so already. And please don’t feel obliged to participate if I’ve nominated you, just know that I enjoy reading your posts.
This video is from over a month ago, but I came across it today and it made me chuckle so I thought I’d share it with you. This was taken when the children’s aunt and uncle-to-be came to visit, hence the excitement!
The children have been playing dressing-up literally all day! They started off this morning as police officers, writing things down in their notebooks. Tabitha asked me very seriously “how do you spell jail?” and then “how do you spell police?”. I spelled out the letters and she listened carefully, making squiggles in her notebook.
By lunchtime they were fire fighters and spent the afternoon putting out fires, rescuing cats from trees and reenacting scenes from Fireman Sam (why do I have to be Trevor Evans?!).
This evening they were doctors and vets. I gave them an old first aid kit full of out-of-date supplies and they spent a long time bandaging me, Colin and each other. At one point Tabitha was a cat with a poorly tail which Aaron had to bandage! He did quite a good job for a non-existent body part.
I know I’ve been rather quiet around here lately. Things have been busy as we settle into a new rhythm of life with Colin and I both working, although I’m only doing a few hours a week at the moment. Having to share his home and his mummy with other children has been much harder for Aaron than I anticipated, although he’s been going through a difficult patch since just before Christmas anyway. I’m hoping they will both adjust soon, as I have a family coming to see me tomorrow about possibly caring for their 8 month old. Eeek!
Come back and visit soon, as I’ll be posting about a fun water play setup in the next few days!
Aaron’s birthday fell on a Sunday this year and for various reasons we couldn’t do a party, so we had to find other ways to make the celebrations really special. On Friday, the children went for a sleepover at DDS and Grandpa’s (my parents) house, which they were very excited about. Then on Saturday afternoon Granny and Grandad (Colin’s parents) came to visit.
We woke up early on Sunday morning to the sound of excited children playing with balloons! We all sat around the table together for breakfast (a treat in itself as Colin and I often skip breakfast, naughty I know!) and ate pains au chocolat, enjoying the flickering candlelight and the sweet smell of beeswax.
Aaron wore his new birthday crown, custom made by Maureen Cracknell. It is absolutely beautiful, she did a wonderful job of interpreting my ideas and it’s come out far better than I could have imagined! It has an adjustable velcro fastening, so he’ll be able to wear it every birthday from now on.
He opened a couple of presents from us, a recorder and a new scooter. The scooter was a bit of an after thought, as we only got it yesterday! He’s been perfectly happy with the rusty old scooter we pulled out of the river for him, but last time he went out for a ride on it I felt really sorry for him. Also, it’s started to ooze a black liquid on my carpet, so I think it’s time to banish it.
After church, DDS and Grandpa came round for one of Aaron’s favourite dinners of beef stew. He opened some more presents while we were waiting for the roast veggies to cook. Then we all had a slice of his chocolate hedgehog cake. I feel a little guilty that he had a bought cake again, but I’m just so busy with uni work at the moment. Maybe next year he can have a homemade cake and his first proper party!
After lunch he wanted to go to Sunday School as usual. Meanwhile Tabitha had a bath and changed into her pyjamas. Keeping that girl in clothes is almost impossible, but at least she now prefers pyjamas to being naked!
Nanny and Auntie Kirsty popped around in the afternoon with some presents and everyone had lots of fun with the bubble machine, which was a present from us. It’s the only thing he requested several months ago when I asked him what he wanted for his birthday. I don’t normally buy battery-operated plastic toys, but I knew that this one would bring lots of joy!
Happy birthday little man! I can’t believe you’re 5 already!