Not sure what we have been doing over the last few days. Thursday I think was a ‘getting things done’ day. I think we made a list and hung up a noticeboard. We received our first Tesco-direct delivery. Very impressed, will do this again.

Friday Matt started making some wood-block houses to go with the wooden railway with the boys. They liked sawing, but not sanding, so they remain unfinished. Instead M made a curry with them, which B ate in huge quantities.

Saturday was the last colourstrings lesson for this term. Also the last lesson with our teacher Bridgid, who is moving to Derbyshire. This is very sad as we all liked her and her family so much. Afterwards we went to see our new playhouse and arrange for it be deliveered. Then in the afternoon Matt started to build my computer. Then we put together a desk downstairs in the playroom and set it all up. So now I have somewhere to organise our life from.

This afternoon we went to an independence day party at a friends house. The children had a lovely time playing. I had a lovely time talking babies with other mothers.

‘But why?’

The weather this morning looked better than the forecast predicted last night. So after a bit of a slow start, with M still feeling rough with a cold, we quickly packed up a picnic and headed off to the Nene Valley Railway. The Peterborough end of the line is only ten minutes walk from our house, but M pointed out that if we go to Wansford, we would get two extra rides. So we drove twenty minutes to Wansford.

We spent the rest of the day chugging into Peterborough and back three times. Joel slept most of the way and Matt slept for a good part of one of the journeys. The boys were blissfully happy.

The ‘but why?’s hit today. All day B was asking ‘but why?’… ‘but how?’… ‘but when?’… I was again beginning to doubt my commitment to home-education by the end of the day! Came home and put two very tired boys to bed.

Joel is starting to reach out and grab things on his baby-gym now. Still being extremely happy and extremely noisy with it. He loves B and Ise and giggles away at them.

Camping experiment

Matt is on holiday this week and the weather forecast looked good, so we decided to try out a nights camping. We had camped several times with Benjamin, but only in a caravan since Isaac. So we packed up our tent and headed down to Sacrewell farm (20 minutes away). I was busy with Joel, so Matt heroically put the tent up by himself.

The weather was idyllic and we cooked sausages for supper, while the boys ran bare-foot around the field chasing rabbits and birds. The rabbits were too fast for them, so we stuck to sausages for tea. We spent a lovely evening with them and got them ready for bed. However they were too excited and it wasn’t dark enough, so no-one went to sleep. In the end M put them in the car and took them out for a short drive. They promptly fell asleep in the car.

We then discovered that the single mattress M was to share with B had a puncture and was completely flat. So they had to sleep on the ground. The double mattress I was sharing with Joel and Ise also had a slow puncture and was fairly soggy. So when I moved to sort Joel out in the night Ise woke up. Isaac cried, I got cross with Isaac (emphasis added by M). Joel might have been sick, but as we had forgotten to take a torch, we couldn’t see what had happened. Eventually we all got back to sleep. But woke in the morning feeling very frazzled and that we were definitely not ready for camping yet.

Boys had a nice day at the farm. Fantastic weather again. But M and I didn’t really recover from the night before. Then Matt took the tent down and we came home. After going for cake at the farm cafe, this being one of a number of sweet things M wanted throughout the day to help recover (where did those biscuits go that we had left over).

S came to tea and bought the boys new books about diggers and trains, but the boys were very tired. Joel and Isaac full of cold and generally not at their best.

We all had a very good nights sleep in proper beds.

Picnics

Have a look at our Church building as it goes up!

Back to normal today with a 6am start. Matt got up and went off to set-up for PA at Church. B, Joel, I and I made it to the 11:15am service. Joel still has a bit of a cold and is making a lot of fuss about it.

After Church we picked up our picnic from home and headed off to the trains for the afternoon. We had collected a full set of 24 different tickets, so were entitled to free rides for the afternoon. At the end, Matt got to drive all of us around on Samdog (or Amdog as Ise calls it).

Then back home to pick up another picnic and a walk down to the embankment for the yearly Perkins concert, by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. They played for 2 hours, lots of short pieces. Both children were absorbed to start with, but were very tired and so got a bit wriggly. But being outdoors, with lots of people chatting around us, it didn’t really matter. The sky had cleared and it was a beautiful evening. The Cathedral was just behind us, a hot-air balloon drifting overhead, Peterborough was feeling a nice place to be.

A Lie In

An amazing start to the morning, Benjamin woke up at 8:30, Isaac and Joel at 8:45. Considering somewhere between 5 and 6 is our usual start time, this was quite impressive.

(I forgot to blog this yesterday). I woke up and realised I had heard a tap running for quite some time, so thought I had better investigate. Found that B and I had woken up and decided they would run themselves a bath. They had undressed and were just about to get in when I discovered them.

Back to today. Colourstring this morning. When we arrived, we were the only ones there, so B’s teacher asked B if he would like to try out a Violin or a Cello as she had some around for the older classes to try. B made fish faces and was generally very shy, but soon after another boy arrived and he happily tried them out. Bridgid had a spare ‘baby’ violin and asked B if he would like to borrow it for the week to give him a chance to try it out at home. Unsurprisingly B warmed to it quite quickly at home and had to be prised away from it in the end.

An un-eventful afternoon including Tesco’s shopping. Joel quite unsettled, which is unlike him. He has a slight cold. We put in our bid for a playhouse on ebay and won it. So we will now have to arrange to collect that and install it. Matt decided to put in the bid at the last minute (literally) and as these things happen, the price on ebay jumped by a third in the last thirty seconds.

Playhouse OutsidePlayhouse Inside

B wanted to read his ‘creepy crawly’ book a lot again today. This evening watched a bit of the fourth Pink Panther film and prepared picnics (x2) ready for a busy day tomorrow.

Swimming in the Rain

This morning, after lots of discussion, we decided to try out the Lido, Peterborough’s open air swimming pool. We arrived about 11. It is a lovely 1920s listed building with three pools. One full size 25m pool, a children’s 75cm deep pool and a 20cm deep paddling pool. Plus some lawn area with some toddler play items.

Swimming

We were surprised to find we had it nearly to ourselves. It seemed chillier than it had done first thing in the morning, but Matt and the boys bravely jumped in anyhow. The boys enjoyed it, but were soon shivering so they jumped out again, while M went for a proper swim in the big pool. The boys played on the play train.

Cleaning the funnel

Suddenly from out of nowhere (well, I guess the clouds, but they didn’t look like rainclouds) it just poured and poured and poured. We had scrutinised the BBC weather forecast in the morning and the rain looked as if it was going to miss Peterborough. We sheltered under a tree, but the rain was so heavy that I soon decided we would have to be under proper cover. So I threw towels over the boys in the buggy and Joel in the pram. Then I dashed to shelter.

The boys were only damp, I was soaked. The rain didn’t give up, so Matt had to run home, get the car, and drive back to pick us all up. So not too successfull, but we did like the Lido and will try again another day.

This afternoon, Matt went over to help Mr. P set-up a printer on his computer. Mr. P helps run the little trains and also has a small railway set-up in his garden! The plan was to take the children to go to see the garden trains, but it was too wet, much to B’s disappointment.

We stayed at home and pottered through the afternoon. We read some poems from B’s new book, looked through a book on insects and other ‘creepy crawlies’ (J must have been having a brave moment), etc.. Joel slept for the afternoon after this morning’s excitement. M came home with some home-made DVDs of steam garden railways for the boys to watch (at least that is what he said they were for!). The boys were fascinated. Then reluctantly off to bed. Matt and I then looked on ebay at a couple of children’s play-houses we are thinking of bidding on. I remember when I was little, desperately hoping for a play house in our garden. One of my friends had a really big one and I remember one day being there and finding a ladybird, which I decided qualified me to make a wish. So, I wished that when I got home a playhouse would have appeared in my garden too. But it didn’t! So M has been out in the garden with a tape-measure to try and work out where we can fit in an 8’x6′ playhouse. We will see how the bidding goes tomorrow.

After My Birthday

Had a lovely birthday (Matt). We had profiteroles, I should have taken a picture of them, but the image below is a pale shadow of what they were like and cannot get across the taste of the chocolate sauce made with Green & Blacks chocolate
Profiterole

Got much needed T-Shirt and socks from the boys and Justine, plus a Shakesspeare DVD to watch. I’m getting some percussion bits as well. On that note, have just come back from music practice. Am enjoying the practices and playing on Sundays. However sometimes it is a little difficult to know what to play, as I haven’t seen that many people playing percussion in a band. So how do I know which thing to pick up in each song? I guess I just try and listen to see what can be added. I need to learn to play the tambourine well, it is not easy, and I don’t want to play it badly! However still playing my Djembe and really enjoying that, it is such an easy drum to play.

Oh, I forgot to mention the risotto was nice before the profiteroles too! We ate the meal outside under the walnut tree (it must be about 80 years old and very big). We had a bottle of sparkling wine with the meal and when I opened it I was a bit surprised by the cork poppoing out early. Thankfully I had the bottle pointing straight up. The cork disappeared up into the walnut tree and a few seconds later dropped down onto the table. It was up for just long enough to think ‘I wonder where that has gone, its not coming down’. The boys, especially B, were very amused by this.

Matt’s Birthday

Joel

First some photos of what the bigger boys got up to yesterday! It was an open meeting of the Peterborough Small Model Engineers (who run the trains at Thorpe Hall, where we go on Sundays). With a Bar-B-Que and opportunity to drive some of the trains. Matt is starting to get to know them quite well.

Matt on Samdog David on Samdog

Fairly peaceful day today. After Library story time P and her 16 month-old son came over for coffee in the garden. After lunch the cleaners came. They are being very good, they are very flexible about what they do. Today T caught up with the last 6 months of ironing (not as bad as it sounds as we iron very little, usually only one work shirt for Matt per week is considered essential). If we look creased and crumpled, then nobody has been blunt enough to mention it yet!

Then I made profiteroles with the boys for Matt’s birthday tea, which we ate in the garden. Also tried using c lay today, not very successfully and they did some painting. Their fingers aren’t really strong enough yet to do clay, playdough is better. B painted pictures. Ise painted pictures, his hands and the sink.

The boys went to bed a bit late and then we discussed some Charlotte Mason home-schooling ideas. More on Charlotte Mason later.

No coal for my fire

Its being hard to find time to write this, Tuesday evening was spent with David, Wednesday I went to cell, Thursday Matt went to music practice (and I don’t know how to operate this without him yet – let alone type at more than 2 w.p.m.) and now it is Friday evening.

Yesterday I discovered my friend Tammy’s blog. She is home-schooling her son Sam, who is half a year older than Benjamin. On reading it I discovered all the amazing things they do with Sam and decided I couldn’t possibly do this and should I enroll B in school straight away? Woke up this morning still feeling very incapable of doing all this, so a bit of a stroppy start to the morning.

Decided I must get to Central Library more often for some better reading material for the children. Although we go to our local library (just down the road) every week, it is very limited, also that I must find some planning time.

This morning Matt took my car for new tyres, while I tackled the laundry mountain. Then this afternoon we went to the Muddle-Puddle meeting. We were ‘doing’ native Americans. I don’t think B or Ise really picked up on the theme. They had a nice time anyway and made nice bead things. Then over the road for Central Park and a play in the sandpit. Came home for a Bar-B-Q, which we cooked under the grill as we couldn’t find the coal, much to Benjamin’s disappointment.

Joel has discovered his hands this week, so he spent most of the week holding them together and watching them. He still continues to be very easy-going and smiles and chats lots (we’ve not quite worked out where he gets this from). I think he is only waking up once a night now.

Click the pictures below for a bigger view. Benjamin being a train driver and B and Ise playing ‘Jack in a box’ in the shoe box.
Train driver B Playing Jack in a box in the shoe box

Happy Faces this morning, but as it doesn’t start till 11:15, we had quite a while at home first. Isaac was sent to the stairs quite a few times this morning and at one stage I even smacked his hand even though we had decided not to do this. He just doesn’t like to do what he is asked to do and seems reluctant to learn! He gets so wrapped up in what he is doing and it is a struggle to get his attention. But when we tried out smacking a few months back, we felt that he was making less eye contact with us and not relating so closely, so we decided it wasnt going to be a productive method with him.

Then off to Happy Faces, home for lunch, and then off to Ferry Meadows with the boys on bicycles to avoid a repeat of the mornings frustrations. All had a nice time there, and Joel stayed asleep all through it, and during tea and getting them ready for bed!

Busy Sunday

Once a month I (Matt) play percussion at Church. So this means going for all three services and playing at each one. It is good fun, but makes for a long day. After the second service (two in the morning and one in the evening) we went to Thorpe Hall. There was an exhibition at the little trains and we were doing our usual Sunday trip to the trains anyway. B and Isy enjoyed a few rides on the trains. There was a model exhibition in the house. I thought we would go and have a look, but that the boys would just go round it quickly having a look at each bit, then come out. However B was totally taken by it and went from train to train looking at each one. Isy was very good and clearly enjoyed looking at the models, he even managed to not touch everything he saw.

Later we came out and the boys wanted to take Justine around the expedition! We went around again and B said “Mummy I haven’t shown you this one yet”. They loved looking at a small model train that went around a tiny track. It was hard to pull Benjamin away

When we got home B wanted to make a long white engine. He must have got the idea from a part finished engine he had seen. So the next day that was the first thing he wanted to do. So we started to make a ‘pretend model train’. They’ve got their gloves on to drive the steam train and apparently they needed their wellies on too.

At Exhibition In front of Gladys We made a model train Click the pictures to view full size.

Colourstrings and the park

The day started off quite early (6am) for me (Matt), so I spent a couple of hours playing trains with the boys and being grumpy with them because of not coping with getting up early. I realised that I was being grumpy, but struggled to do anything about it. I got the opportunity to go back to bed and woke up feeling better. Suddenly the day had been rescued.

We went to Colourstrings Music Kindergarten, which is our usual activity for Satuday mornings. First is the class for Benjamin’s age group, then the one for Isaac. They both consist of singing songs either with actions or various pieces of percussion and some ‘dancing’ around the room. They are run by Bridgid, who is the loveliest music teacher possible, but she is moving at the end of this term, so we are not sure what will happen to the classes. The songs and activities are aimed at introducing children to music and continue in later age groups to a knowledge of music theory and the learning of an instrument.

Benjamin sometimes joins in quite a lot with this, but today was a bit reluctant, choosing to play his claves and castenets etc. quite quietly while looking at me with what he calls his ‘fish face’. At one point there is always an activity where the children choose a bear from the basket and the children cuddle and rock them, then Bridgid sings a lullaby. Benjamin has got into closing his own eyes and pretending to fall asleep. He really loves this bit and cuddles himself up on my lap for it. Isaac went for it and really enjoyed his class.

We headed over to the park with children’s bikes, buckets and spades. Benjamin only wanted to play in the sand. I only wanted a Hot Chocolate and something sweet from the cafe in the middle of the park (which I highly recommend). So we did both. The Hot Chocolates helped to keep out the breeze, which was a bit chilly and the boys played in the sand. Then we let the boys have their chocolate teddy biscuits (not that we would usually do this kind of thing of course!). Isaac concentrated very hard on his and it took quite some time for him to eat it. Benjamin’s was gone in no time and he took me back into the sandpit to play. I had a lovely time first just with B, then with I too.

Home for lunch. I had another sleep and finally took them over to the model steam railway for about an hour. They didn’t want to leave until all the engines had been put away. We only had a chance for one ride, but after this Isaac saw a train that looked like Duck, so he was watching that carefully.
Benjamin in the Sand (Fish Face) M, B and I
Bikes Britannia (Little Train)
Other pictures from today are, Benjamin and bucket, B in sand, Isaac after cake, Justine and Joel.

Dentist and Muddle-Puddle

Began today with a visit to the dentist. I needed a filling in a wisdom tooth, which is due to be removed in hospital at the end of September. Our dentist is very nice. He chatters away in a broad scotch accent, most of which I can’t understand, but it is very reassuring.

This afternoon was a Muddle-Puddle meeting at Activity World. Muddle-Puddle is the under-8s home-educating group run by Merry (click to go to her blog). Activity World is a big indoor play centre, a sort of three leveled soft play-climbing-playground.

Benjamin is really starting to join in with the other children now. He spent lots of time running around with Sam, Johnny, and Merry’s girls. Isaac mostly pottered on his own, but very happily. At one point Johnny came up to me with Fran (Merry’s eldest) and said “It’s alright, my girlfriend and I will look after your little ones.”

Isaac was very tired and tearful when we got home. So we put them in front of a DVD, while they recovered. Then baths, tea, etc. and bed.

Teddy Bears Picnic

The weather forecast being good, I decided that we would pack up a picnic and head over the road to central park after NCT toddler group. On parking outside the park I remembered that today was the ‘Teddy Bears Picnic’ organised by SureStart and so every toddler/nursery group in Peterborough would be there. But too late to avoid it now. Nice time at toddler group. E was there with H, 11 days old, and chatted to S about home-birth (her third is due September and this will be her first home-birth).

Then on to the park. Horribly busy, but we found a nice quiet place for our picnic. Benjamin ran all over chasing blackbirds. Isaac ran all over chasing Benjamin.

Then on to Tesco’s and back home for baths. A bit frazzled by then, we’d been out for a long time.