In rain and (sun)shine…

This week has been good. We’ve been just the right amount of busy I think. On Tuesday we spent the morning at home and I managed to get some Maths done with all three kids. We used Khan Acadamy after a conversation a few days ago reminded me how much the kids enjoyed it. Thomas did basic multiplication, Jasmine did some 2 digit addition and Ben did some early maths addition. They all really enjoyed it so I will have to remember to use it more.

In the afternoon we met up with some HE friends at Banstead Woods for a woodland/Bluebell walk. It had been raining in the morning and the forecast wasn’t great for the afternoon but we were really lucky and the rain held off for the whole time we were there. The kids had a great time with their friends and we saw lots of Roman Snails.

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On Wednesday we had the usual two friends over in the morning and Forest School in the afternoon. As we arrived at Forest School at 1pm the weather took a dramatic turn for the worst and it absolutely threw it down! Even Gordon and I had to shelter for about 15 minutes before running back to the car as we would have got soaked! When we collected the kids two hours later they were dripping wet through to their underwear, despite all wearing full waterproofs! They weren’t bothered though!

On Thursday morning Jasmine and I went to the hairdressers for our hair cut. In the afternoon we went to HE Group where the kids made a simple record player from paper and a pin, made playdough soap, did some painting and played with their friends.

In the evening I took Thomas to Cubs and he joined in every activity again 🙂 He did have one moment during some “fitness” training (basically, football training) where is wasn’t happy because he didn’t score a goal, but other than that he did great!

Yesterday we started the day with a trip to the library. I was mostly aiming to renew all our books rather than get more as we are on holiday next week but Thomas reminded me that he had read a couple of his so we took them back to swap. We ended up taking out about 6 new books for him and Jasmine to read! He can’t get enough books at the moment, now he is confidently reading short chapter books.. I think he is averaging two or three a week at the moment! After the library we went to a local playground to meet a friend. Jasmine and Ben played on the equipment and did some bug hunting while Thomas sat and read one of his new library books!

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Yesterday afternoon Thomas had his swimming lesson. Despite spending most of the morning saying he didn’t want to go again he took my pep talk (about swimming being an important life skill) to the letter and swam several whole lengths on his back with no float 🙂 He was so excited and you could see his confidence soar! Now we’ve just got to tackle swimming on his front!

 

Sunny days

Last week ended with a couple of really nice days. On Thursday morning the sunny weather called the kids into the garden and Jasmine decided she could climb the tree! She has spent years watching Thomas do it, never being bothered herself.. but all of a sudden she wants in on it too! In the afternoon we went to Home Education Group where Jasmine and Thomas did French, the kids all played outside with their friends, we all joined in the science (put a marshmallow in a vacuum and see what happens), and they all did some painting too. It was a busy session!

In the evening Thomas got Invested at Cubs 🙂

Cubs1We spent Friday with Granny and Grandad. We went to the garden centre and Thomas had his swimming lesson.

On Saturday we went to Headley Heath. It was a beautiful sunny, hot day and we managed just over 5km over a couple of hours. We explored parts of the Heath we haven’t been to before, although I was surprised to realise how little that was and that we already know most of it pretty well. We found  some stunning carpets of blue and had lunch in the shade of a huge tree.

HH1 HH2Yesterday was another glorious day and we had some friends over for a BBQ. The kids played in the garden while the adults chatted in the shade. It was a wonderful way to spend a sunny Sunday!

Today we managed to fit in Reading Eggs for both Jasmine and Ben before their swimming lesson. And then this afternoon a lovely friend watched the kids for me for an hour so I could fit in a short run and then I stayed for a cup of tea and a chat before heading home for dinner and kids baths.

Boats and Bluebells

We didn’t go to the Bluebell woods on Monday after all. The weather didn’t look great for the day so we decided to postpone that and we headed out to Greenwich and the National Maritime Museum instead. We drove over and parked in Greenwich Park.. despite taking 50 minutes to drive the 15 miles it is still quicker than using public transport from our house. The museum is a short walk down the hill and, while it was quite windy, the sun was shining.

We have been to Greenwich with the kids before, but not for a few years so they didn’t really remember it. Thomas did recognise the Observatory of course! I doubt he would ever forget anything involving Space!

Once inside the museum we decided to have a quick look round the ground floor before lunch. The first thing that caught the kids eyes was the speedboat Miss Britain III so we spent some time watching a short video about it and looking at the engine. We worked our way slowly round the ground floor, but nothing really gripped any of us. After a quick lunch in the cafe we headed back and I thought we should start with the older children’s gallary. It was good, but it didn’t really inspire any of us unfortunately. The kids did have fun with the Morse Code machine though and both Jasmine and Thomas managed to spell out their name in Code!

After the children’s gallery we moved quite quickly through the rest of the museum and then back up the hill to admire the view before heading home.

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Tuesday was a much warmer, sunnier day. We spent the morning doing some work at the table (English and French) and then after lunch we went to Banstead Woods for a walk and to see the Bluebells. It is a beautiful woodland, made even more stunning with the carpets of blue at this time of year.

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In the evening Jasmine went to Brownies and Thomas started reading one of his library books, The Legend of The Worst Boy in the World by Eoin Colfer. This is the third of his books that he has read and he really enjoys them.

Today (Wednesday) has been a regular Wednesday with two extra children in the morning and forest School this afternoon. The kids started the morning playing upstairs before gradually coming down and heading into the garden. The girls and Ben all did some crafting as well.

Finishing April, starting May

May? Is anyone else wondering where January, February, March and April have gone?! I really can’t believe it is May already!

Back to last week though, when it was still April. On Thursday we started the day with some maths.. individual table time still works better so I did one after the other. Thomas wasn’t keen at first so he just worked through the Star Wars workbook. Its pretty easy for him but he enjoys it and the pages he did revised the 3 and 4 times table, and counting in 50s and 100s. Jasmine is keen on measuring at the moment so I found some worksheets for her. We also did the 3 times table and I think she has finally cracked it 🙂 Ben also did his Star Wars workbook, pages on place value and more than/less than.

In the afternoon we went to HE Group. Jasmine did French but Thomas was being very disruptive so I had to take him out. I think it is because we haven’t done the work at home recently so he is going into the class unprepared. I need to fix that because when we put the work in he does enjoy it. Hopefully I haven’t left it too late to turn it around.

The science activity was ink printing, which Ben and Jasmine enjoyed. Other than that, the kids played with their friends.

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Thomas had Cubs in the evening. I am still staying with him but this week he joined in every activity, even the games! He did really well 🙂 And he is, finally, getting Invested next week! The leaders all told me how pleased they are that he is finally joining it. I know it will take a while still but he is enjoying it and, really, that is all that matters!

On Friday morning we went to the library to change books over, then over to the new larger toy shop in Sutton to feel Lego Minifigure bags for the figures the kids wanted! After lunch Thomas had his swimming lesson. He did great for the first 10 minutes but then a small group of school children came into his lane, which seemed to throw him a bit. He spent the next 10 minutes refusing to do anything his teacher asked him. Finally his teacher (who is great!) got him back and the final 10 minutes were pretty good again, although were mostly on Thomas’ terms. We’ve agreed that next week they’ll work on a “one for Thomas, one for James” (teacher) philosophy to try and get Thomas to do some swimming on his front as well as his back (which he prefers)

Yesterday we went to the Morden Hall Park May Fair. Its a tradition for us as we’ve been for the last four years I think! We did all the usual things but this year Jasmine and Thomas got to go on the petrol Quad bikes rather than the electric jeeps – they were so happy! And we all had a go at some target shooting at the Reach the Core stand with a longbow, crossbow and a ballister.

z 2 z 3 z 4Today has been a quieter day spent mostly at home. We did nip out into town for a bit of shopping after lunch but other than that it has been a Lego and garden kind of day. Gordon cut the grass for the first time this year. I did my first workout of Couch25k week 8.. 28 minutes of running. How can just 3 minutes extra seem so much harder?!

Bank Holiday tomorrow and we have no plans. I’m thinking bluebells .. maybe? I’ll let you know what we decided in a day or two!

Trespass Ridgeway Womens Technical Boots – Review

We love our walks.. parks, gardens, woodland or heathland. We go out come rain or shine and the threat of several muddy puddles has never put us off! The kids have wellies and full waterproof clothing, the husband has walking boots but I always struggled to find anything to keep my feet warm and dry. I have wellies, but my feet have been known to get so cold they hurt! And the cheap walking shoes I picked up were definitely not up for the job and were neither comfortable or waterproof. I’ve been looking at getting some good walking boots for a while, so when Trespass contacted me and asked if I would like to review an item from their range, well it was an obvious choice really!

I went for the Ridgeway Womens Technical Boots. They look stylish with the contrast colour lacing and braiding, and the Vibram soles mean they should be durable and hard-wearing. They also feature Tres-Tex technology which repels away unwanted moisture, and they are both waterproof and breathable thanks to the suede and mesh upper section.

Boots 1I have worn the boots a few times now, to Richmond Park, the local Ecology Centre, Morden Hall Park, and Box Hill, meaning they’ve been tested on both short walks and longer hikes, on tarmac paths and muddy tracks, on level ground and steep hills. These boots are everything they say they are. From the moment I first put them on they have been comfortable. My feet have been dry and cool, but not cold. The Vibram soles really do provide excellent grip even in the slippy mud, although they did once slip slightly on the wet chalky ground on Box Hill as we were walking down a particularly steep part. Apart from that I can’t fault them at all.

Boots 2These photos were taken at Box Hill. As you can see, it was very muddy! We walked four miles, first around the play trail (and I deliberately walked through some deep mud to test the boots out!) and then down to the stepping stones (where I dipped my feet in the river) and back up again. By the end of our trek my feet were not only dry but still felt fresh thanks to the Tres-Tex technology.

Later this year, the husband and I are planning on walking the Box Hill Hike, an strenuous eight mile hike over tricky terrain, and I finally feel like I have footwear that is up to the job. These boots RRP at £129.99 but at the time of writing are on offer at £60.99. You can check these and the rest of the Trespass range over on their website.

Disclosure: I was sent the Ridgeway women’s boots to review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own

 

Out in nature

We’ve had five children (my three plus two more) and two mostly nature-based days yesterday and today.

Yesterday morning the kids all played Lego and Jasmine re-potted her beans into larger pots. In the afternoon I had arranged a social meet-up at the local ecology centre with some of our home educating friends and we had a great time. We saw sunshine and snow showers! And lots and lots of wonderful creatures.

In the pond we found tadpoles, water boatmen, pond skaters, sticklebacks, damselfly larvae, dragonfly larvae and a water scorpion. Elsewhere, in the woodland, we found toads, common newts and a couple of slow worms.

Ecology Centre 1 Ecology Centre 2I’m not sure what excited the kids more; the snow or the creatures.. I’d like to think it was a bit of both! It was definitely different, pond dipping in mid-spring in the snow!

Today the kids played games this morning (Uno, Snakes and Ladders, Mastermind and Guess Who) because Thomas didn’t want some of his Lego models played with. We also did some crafts – Ben made a bed for his Furby and there were other crafts going on that included googly eyes and glitter! – and everyone played with the Geomag. Thomas made a diamond and one of our friends made a pretty cool helicopter!

This afternoon the kids all went to forest school and Gordon and I did some shopping and then went for a quick walk through Nonsuch Park. Back at home there was some more crafting involving more glitter, more Geomag play and finally some TV.

 

And we’re back!

Well, technically we didn’t go anywhere, but I’ve had a bit of a blogging holiday. I was ill for about 10 days after Easter (horrible nasty bug that gave me both laryngitis and sinusitis), and then we had just one week back to normal before Gordon worked a week of night shifts sending us all into disarray once again. But this week I am well, Gordon is off work and I am therefore hopeful that normality can once again rule! I have printed my planners (daily and weekly), planned excursions and table (lesson) time, and renewed Reading Eggs for all three kids. So fingers crossed the blog will begin to look up-to-date once again!

I’m not even going to try and catch up on what I’ve missed. I think it is enough to say that we kept ourselves busy with lots of social meets with friends and days out.

Today has been a good start back to our normal. Despite Thomas seeming to be awake half the night with a snuffly nose (it was probably only a couple of hours but for us that is unusual and therefore hard!), we had a successful morning of sorting and tidying. I never do much housework while Gordon is on nights so it rather built up last week. Add to that the fact that Gordon pulled Ben’s carpet up yesterday to retrieve some Lego and stirred up loads of dust (causing Thomas’ snuffly nose) and it was time for a thorough tidy! By the time we left for Jasmine and Ben’s swimming lesson half of the living room was done and Gordon and Thomas were making good inroads upstairs.

The swimming lesson went well and once back at home I made lunch while the majority of the rest of the tidying was done.

After lunch and the last bits of housework I did some English with the kids, mostly spelling and phonics with all of them. While Thomas is above average for his age at reading, we’ve never really done any spelling and so it is a definite weakness for all of them. Now both Jasmine and Thomas have cracked joined-up writing I am going to focus more on spelling.

Once we’d done a couple of worksheets each I thought we could all do with some fresh air so we went out for a walk/scoot. I’ve been wondering recently whether the kids could scoot while I run so today was a sort of “test” to see how they managed over 3 miles. We had a break in the middle and had a quick wander around Wilderness Island, a London Wildlife Trust managed nature reserve, but even with that they struggled on the way home so I think we’re a way off yet. We did however have a great time at Wilderness Island and I saw my third Kingfisher 🙂 For some reason my iCloud isn’t syncing all my photos from phone to pc, so this is all I have to share..Wilderness Island

The whole walk took us two hours! So back at home the kids settled in front of the TV while I cooked dinner. Then it was bath, story and bed, and fingers crossed they all sleep tonight!

 

Our Easter Weekend

Happy Easter!

We’ve had a great long Easter weekend and have filled our time with baking and three National Trust Easter Egg Trails.

On Friday we started with one of the best Easter activities we know .. making chocolate nest cakes!

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In the afternoon we went to Morden Hall Park to take part in the National Trust/Cadbury’s Easter Egg Trail. We love doing these trails and have done at least two a year for the last few years! We haven’t done the Morden Hall one for a few years however, so it was a nice change to our routine.

We took the bus to Morden as I knew the car park would be busy, and it was definitely the right decision! The park was packed.. full of people doing the trail as well as the normal weekend visitors. Once we’d got our sheet (there was quite a queue!) we set off following the map and answering the questions. We did miss the first board though, so had to go back to it at the end! My excuse was that we didn’t know what we were looking for at first!!

mOnce we’d completed all the questions we went to get our prizes. And while the kids were eating them (chocolate bunnies) I thought we’d go for a quick walk round the wetland area of the park. As a lot of Morden Hall, and all of the egg trail, is on paths we were all wearing trainers rather than wellies. The paths around the trail has been mostly dry so it didn’t occur to me that other areas of the park might not be… well, how wrong I was! As we walked along the path through the wetland area there were a few puddles, then a few more. It got boggier and boggier and by the end of the path (it isn’t very long) it was flooded! Someone had kindly laid logs along part of it but they were almost in the blackthorn bushes so not easy to walk along! We did it though and managed not to get too wet!

nOn Saturday morning we went to Claremont Landscape Gardens, another National Trust property hosting an Easter Egg Trail. This is another one we’ve not done for a couple of years. The weather forecast wasn’t great but we put our wet weather gear on and weren’t going to be beaten by a bit of rain! As it was, it was very grey but only drizzled a little bit while we were there so we got lucky!

It took us about an hour to complete the trail because, unlike the one at Morden Hall the previous day, there was no map to help you find the boards so we walked round the entire grounds looking for them! It was a good walk round but I think the event would have been slightly better if there had been signs pointing the way to go!

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Once we’d found the boards and completed the sheet we went to collect the prize – another chocolate bunny each – and went to the adventure playground to eat and play. We didn’t stop for long because it was lunch time and I was getting hungry. I did ask the kids if they could spare me any chocolate but only Thomas gave me some, and he only gave me a piece about half a centimetre square!

In the afternoon the boys helped me make some Hot Cross Buns. I was hoping we could have them as a late afternoon snack, but I hadn’t read the recipe properly and they needed leaving three times to rise! I’m not sure why as, having followed it and done as asked, they are quite stodgy. So next time I won’t be leaving them as long! Anyway, the boys did well with the baking and enjoyed weighing and mixing. They helped put the cross on at the end of the day once the buns had finally done all their rising.

We made our own muffin pizza’s for dinner and once the kids were in bed I got all the Easter eggs and gifts ready for the morning.

pSunday was a quiet day spent at home. The kids loved all the Easter eggs they found when they woke up, but were especially excited by the Minecraft activity books I’d picked up for them, and the Wild Pets Spider and Habitat I managed to order last minute on Amazon Prime Now without them knowing on Saturday! They spent most of the day playing with the spider, doing the activity books and building Lego.

And then finally today we went to Polesden Lacey for a final National Trust Easter Egg Trail. We were wondering whether to fit two in today (one on the morning and one in the afternoon) but Storm Katie answered that question for us by blowing trees down and forcing the cancellation of several events locally.

So this morning we stayed indoors and watched the storm .. we lost three fence panels in the garden but think we got off lightly compared to some others in the South East.

And on the way to Polesden Lacey after lunch we had to take a detour as our chosen route was blocked by a fallen tree, and we then had to drive carefully around three other trees on the roads around Headley Court. But we got there in the end and had a good time completing the trail.

Even through the worst of the storn had passed us, we saw all sorts of weather as we walked round. It was sunny one minute and hailing the next! We got rained on, and the wind changed all the time! It made for an interesting walk, but of course the kids loved the hail the most!

Once we’d found all the clues this time we went to the adventure playground for a short time (until the hail got too much and the adults were freezing!)

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Hatchlands Park, Sports Relief Mile and our new car

I am really struggling to find the time to blog at the moment. I have been pretty tired in the evenings for the last week or two, and so once the kids are all asleep I have just been collapsing in front of the TV for an hour or two before going to bed myself. It’s great for me getting up in the mornings and going out for a run, but not so good for having the energy to stay up and blog!

But anyway, here is a(nother) catch up blog on what we’ve been up to over the last four or five days.

On Saturday we went to Hatchlands Park, a National Trust country house and parkland on the edge of the Surrey Hills. Despite being only 10 minutes from Polesden Lacey, where we have been many times, we’ve never been to Hatchlands before so it was lovely to go and explore. We walked The Long Walk, which at just under three miles round the edge of the park, gave us a good introduction.

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On Sunday we joined in with our local Sports Relief event and completed a mile walk around Nonsuch Park. One of our friends joined in too so once our mile was completed the kids played together for a while and we had a relaxed picnic lunch until the adults got a little too cold to sit around any longer!

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Monday was swimming for Jasmine and Ben. It was the last lesson before the Easter holidays so only half the lesson was “taught” and the rest was free play – the kids favourite! In the afternoon we did some baking. We made marshmallow crunch and peppermint creams, both recipes from a library book Jasmine chose a few weeks ago. They were both quite easy to make and didn’t take too long but the peppermint creams were rather sticky! I think I used too much egg white so ended up having to add loads more icing sugar to make it into a dough! The kids enjoyed the activity and we were all looking forward to the tasting later on in the afternoon. While I was clearing up however, the kids (I think all of them but can’t be sure) splashed soapy water all over the bathroom while washing their hands. I wasn’t impressed as they used a whole (almost new) bottle of hand soap. Needless to say, I got a bit cross.

Tuesday was handwriting/spelling/English in the morning and all the kids were pretty cooperative for the first time in weeks! In the afternoon Thomas had his swimming lesson.. it mostly went OK although there was a lot of fiddling with his goggles. When he is really engaged in his lesson the little bit of water in the goggles doesn’t bother him, but other times he can’t cope with it. But we have two weeks off now so hopefully it will be a good break and he’ll go back refreshed.

In the evening Jasmine went to Brownies. She came out with a letter about this years Pack Holiday and on the way home after picking her up I realised the venue is the same place I took my Brownies several years ago when I was a Brown Owl! She is now even more excited about going!

And today we had the two extra children here for the day. And Gordon went to pick up our new car 🙂 There was great excitement when we went to Forest School this afternoon, as we got to go in the new car!

Other than new car excitement, the kids played Lego and playmobil and we did some glitter and polystyrene ball crafting.. it was going to be Easter themed as I thought I had egg shapes, but I only had spheres. So some of the kids made glitter balls but others made snowmen – obviously!

Good days and car shopping

Goodness, I’ve managed another week without blogging. Mind you, we haven’t done anything particularly exciting this week so it won’t take long to catch up this time. And having just checked for photos (I can always tell what sort of a week we’ve had by the number of photos I’ve taken) I haven’t taken any since Monday!

Tuesday morning began with handwriting and English. I worked with one child at a time and I think this does work better than all three together, although it can be tricky when one not currently working decides they need something. None of the three are very good at sharing my time and, even though they are usually really good at entertaining themselves, as soon as I start working with one the other two can suddenly become much more demanding. But not all the time. Sometimes they play upstairs and I don’t see them. But this week they all needed to be downstairs checking what each other was doing.

We got the work done though, and I still found it easier than all three at the table at once.

In the afternoon Thomas had his swimming lesson. After a really good week last week, this week his teacher tried something else new and Thomas struggled with it. He wanted him to “dolphin” swim and poor Thomas tried but couldn’t manage it easily and then gave up. And he then gave up for the rest of the lesson. He was “too tired” or his goggles “didn’t feel right”. His teacher really tried to stay positive but I know how hard it is and I found myself sitting watching and getting really frustrated! I think I am going to suggest saving any new skill to the second half of the lesson going forward so we get at least half of the lesson with maximum effort!

In the evening Jasmine went to Brownies.

On Wednesday we had the extra two children here in the morning. All five played with Lego upstairs and I didn’t see them until rumbling tummies started just after 11am! Luckily I do lunch early on a Wednesday to ensure we have time to eat without rushing to get to Forest School for 1pm.

At Forest School they all made bows and arrows. Back at home later on and the children spent a long time (not) tidying their bedrooms.

Thursday turned out to be a really good day. I had a text from a friend in the morning asking if we were free and she came round with her children. It was lovely to see them all.. we see them most weeks at HE Group but haven’t had a playdate for a while and the kids loved it.

At midday we all set off for HE Group. J&T had French and then they all played with various friends for the rest of the session. Jasmine and two of her friends made “potion” in a blocked drain and she told me afterwards that she’d had “the best day ever”!

In the evening Thomas went to Cubs and I stayed with him. J&B stayed at a friends house. He did really well this week and joined in everything except the game 🙂

And today we went to the library this morning then drove to Newbury to look at a car this afternoon. Our current car isn’t quite what we wanted and so despite only owning it for 8 months we are getting rid of it and going for another one. Luckily, after the really long drive, we liked the car, shook hands on the deal and will be picking it up next week 🙂

After our long afternoon we decided on dinner in Pizza Hut this evening.

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Oh, one last thing though.. I have also signed us all up for our local Sports Relief Mile on Sunday. If you fancy sponsoring us our page is below and all money is very gratefully received 🙂 Thank you 🙂

http://my.sportrelief.com/sponsor/3-kids-group-mile