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….. We make
….. We explore
….. We nuture

Three children *** One big, grey dog *** Two parents *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

We’ve been blogging, about everyday happenings that bring us joy, since January 2010.

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Just a thought….

“A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe.”

 

Thank you….

  • Merlinda Little The riddles game reminds me of that Tom Hanks film called Da Vinci Code! Its so awesome and sadly I am not very good with... 25 Feb
  • Louisa Your code wheels sound like great fun. My daughter is also fond of riddles and is always testing me with them. I enjoy the thought... 24 Feb
  • Craft Mother Absolutely. It ticks so many boxes but, most importantly, captures their imagination and creativity. Hope your son enjoys it in the future. 24 Feb
  • Craft Mother Never easy, but worth the effort. I need to keep reminding myself. 24 Feb
  • Christy I love the idea of riddle solving and hidden messages. Creative and gets them thinking! I'll definitely be using this when my son is older.... 24 Feb
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Sticky

Additional

(snowdrops from above)

It’s been a week of added extras. Little extras. Nothing major. Nothing bad. All planned ahead. Some we’ve chosen and some imposed by others, but never the less, embraced. When something breaks you out of your routine, it can go one of two ways.  You can either welcome it with a smile or dig your heels in deep. I try the former.

To start with, youngest was offered a day away from school, attending a course at one of our local universities. Only one of his classmates was going. No teachers. He was excited, but also apprehensive of something new. Butterflies the night before, but he hopped off happily when the time came. Probably the best part was having this new experience more than the course itself. Opening his 10 year old eyes to the possibility of going to university.

We also had a next steps meeting for Eldest at school. I’m pretty sure that most of this could have been accomplished by a questionnaire, but a few interesting points came out of it, so maybe it was worth missing an hour at work.

Everything is focused on her exams this summer. She seems upbeat and keen to do well. Even accepting going in to school over the Easter holidays for extra classes that are being laid on.

I’ve bought the Corbett Maths revision cards to give her additional help. She already has two other online practise sites, but this one supplies the equivalent to flash cards, that she can carry around with her. They seem a good way to tackle the subject in bite size revision portions. I hadn’t realised they link to online practise questions (and answers and videos).  She’s started using them and finds them really helpful.

I love adding an activity for them all to do after school. Something that they probably wouldn’t do at school. Used to be art or crafting mostly when they were younger, giving them the chance to paint something of their choice rather than the focus of the art class at school.

One of my favourite activities is riddle solving. I pin riddles to the fridge for them to find, but it’s logic puzzles I love the most. I dug out one of my well thumbed code books from when I was their age and my old code wheel fell out.

After showing them how it could be used, I set up a series of clues. One clue leading to the next clue until they found their prize. The clues were written in code and the code changed in the middle of the trail, to keep them on their toes. I know they would have learnt it otherwise. They worked as a team to decipher the message.

They loved it and asked for more. Hope to get time this weekend to help them make their own code wheels so they can send messages between themselves. I’m also going to start showing them ways to crack simple codes, without a wheel next.

On the same theme, youngest and I had fun creating secret messages using lemon juice. This was fun, and I want to try some of the alternatives to lemon juice, with him.

The best kind of additional at this time of year is when you plant seeds (read old seeds) and more than three come up. That is my kind of additional. Won’t be long until after school activities will include helping me in the garden.

Hope you have a good weekend. Joining in with Jocelyn’s #wotw. What word sums up your week?

The Reading Residence

Almost World Book Day – Planning

World Book Day is next Thursday. Hurray!  Are you excited? I know not everyone likes it, but I love making costumes.

We’ve had the notice for a while, but I always leave the costume for the last week. Apart from the fact I work better under pressure, it allows time for them to change their minds. I’ve learnt. One year, I had a definite a Golden Compass Lyra who proceeded to change her mind a day before, and was transformed into an Arietty from The Borrowers. It’s OK. I’m good at short notice.

(Can’t find a  photo of Arrietty, but this is Hobbit’s Kili from two years ago)

This year is our last year.

(silent sob)

Youngest will be at Secondary school next time, where it is major uncool to dress up. (Probably not cool to say “uncool” either, but I’m old school) This is our grand finale. Time to go out with a bang.

(Klaus-Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events – last year)

Given the choice*, we always make the costumes. It’s half the fun. Trying to use what we already have in the house. It’s always their choice when it comes to World Book Day. I have a capsule costume wardrobe (tips and tricks here) that pretty much covers it, with a few accessories thrown in. Other costumes are even simpler and just use their normal clothes with props.

(Astrid and dragon from How to Train a Dragon – two years ago)

Except…not this time.

He has decided to go as Gandalf. He loves the Hobbit, so I’m happy with his choice. My challenge is that it’s all grey apart from the beard. I’m not big on grey and my craft stash echoes this sentiment. Give me bright colours any day.

I’m excited about making the hat. A pointed, slightly crumpled, wide brimmed, wizard’s hat is required. I’ve been longing for an excuse to make a felted hat. It may end up being more cream coloured than grey, due to the fleece I have at hand, but maybe I can slightly spray it afterwards to give it a travelled look.

I have a choice with the beard and hair. Either white fluffy fabric or untwisting lengths of a ball of icelandic wool that I’ve had for eons and not used. Maybe a mixture of the two.

I found an old grey storage blanket. The sort house movers use to protect goods in transit in their vans. No idea why we have this as we’ve always moved house by ourselves. Anyway, it has a couple or so holes but I reckon I can make it into a cloak. I’ve made a few cloaks (instructions here if you’re interested) in the past, so no problem. It is a quick project.

The only parts I’ve not solved yet are the footwear and the grey gown underneath. I could adapt the cloak, so no gown is needed, if all else fails.

That’s my weekend sorted. I’m looking forward to it. Might even start tomorrow if I can wrangle it. I’ll share photos of the resulting costume once I’m done.

How about you? Are you making a costume this year? If you need a costume, do you usually make or buy? Do you love the call for a costume or do you dread the request?

Our last year. Can I come round and make costumes for anyone else next year?

(costume from 3 years ago)

*We love making our costumes for dressing up days and plays. Not always possible. One year, we were sent a link to the desired costume to buy for a play. I could have bucked the trend and made my own, but then he wouldn’t have matched the rest of the class in the line up, so I reluctantly bought instead. Not a happy costume maker.

Not clock watching

Over half term, we have relaxed. I put it down to less clock watching. More time taken. Even after almost 12 years of doing the school run, I still struggle to be fully productive in the hours between dropping off and picking up. It’s not quite long enough for me. I check time. Estimate if I can squeeze one more task in. A feeling of constant interruption. It’s a pattern for all areas of my life.

So half term is bliss.

We spent longer doing activities. I’m not constantly watching the time, to make sure meals are on time or people picked up. Taking over to speed proceedings up. I’m reminded of their time at a Montessori nursery, where an activity was complete once the child had tired of/finished it. Not cleared away, to start break time. The children controlled the end point. Not the clock.

Over the weekend, I set up a science experiment. Secret writing with lemon, on different paper, with my youngest. It worked really well and lots of science was discussed.

While the paper dried, we used the rest of the lemon to make raspberry and lemon muffins. The muffin baking was my attempt to stop him wandering off and being caught up by another attraction. Screen or book. Either way, it would have resulted in a half an hour or more wait while he finished it. Plus I knew everyone would be pleased to see a tray of muffins.

It worked. He loved the science, as I knew he would, but it was the baking that he enjoyed the most. Taking his time, with only a little help from me.

This is new. His sisters weren’t elbowing him out of the way. They often over shadow him. I wasn’t hurrying him along. It was his project. He was going to see it through. He chatted away happily.

And I stepped back and gave him time.

Once the muffins were in the oven, we used the heat from the Aga hotplates to reveal the secret messages on the now dry paper. He approached it with maturity. Assessing the dangers. Taking his time. Innovating different methods. The writing appeared perfectly and no fires required extinguishing.

He has grown. Again.

At that moment, I heard a familiar cog clunk into place. It started a slow rotation of many other interlinked cogs. All moving in perfect synchonism. A thing of beauty.

I’ve been here before.

The process of realisation had begun. I couldn’t carry on feeling like I need to do it all, to fit in with the clock. I need to let go a fracture more. I’ve helped him grow into the person he is. Now it’s time to step back a little bit more and see what he can do.

In reality, most parents will tell you, that the growing up process happens all the time. The pendulum swinging from the adult leading to the child doing. Continuous. Hopefully effortlessly and with the smoothness of a well oiled machine. Just occasionally, you are present enough in the moment to experience a small jolt as they step up a gear. Changing the rhythm of growing up slightly.

So there you are. Spotting that they’ve outgrown their trousers is a piece of cake. Seeing that they are ready to take more on? That’s more sticky.

It will be interesting to see if my own production increases after September when there will be no more school runs. Will I give myself more time and see what I can do? Only time will tell.

In the meantime, anyone for cake?

Debs Random Writings
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