Bananas (Chocolate ones)

It has not been a particularly eventful day – we have been at home all day. The amazon order arrived yesterday and I (Justine) read B the story of George and the Dragon from one of the anthologies.

B and Isey have been playing happily together for hours at a stretch. Joel has been holding on to toys and putting them in his mouth. He continues to be very happy and smiley.

We had a couple of friends over for a BBQ this evening. Food was lovely. I put together chocolate bananas for desert, made with Green and Black’s chocolate. They were nice.

At one point when M was preparing to mow the lawn, he asked B to carry something for him. B immediately rushed off to him explaining to me “Daddy needs me”. Now why do I never get that response when I ask him for something??!

Playhouse so far

Today was Matt’s day off, so he finished putting up the playhouse. It still has plastic sheeting over the roof as it needs some re-felting. Apart from that it is up and running. Benjy and Isey have been playing in it very happily this afternoon.

B and I in the playhouse Afternoon tea in the playhouse.

Towards the end of the day Benjamin decided that he would paint a picture to go on the door of the playhouse, but Justine managed to convince him to paint one for the inside instead. Isaac joined in and I left them to it for a moment, while I did some laundry. What is it that prompts a two year-old to paint his baby brother when he has run out of paper?

Joel in Red

We listened to an interesting programme on Radio 4 this evening. They were looking at how they teach reading in Finland, where they have 100% literacy levels. There, they don’t start to teach children to read or write until they start school at seven, and they don’t test children. This very much tied in with the research done by Dorothy and Raymond Moore, which we have looked at. They have looked at the the problems caused by pushing children to read before they are developmentally ready. Charlotte Mason also did not advocate teaching children reading or writing before they were six. The approach we are planning to take is similar to this. We will be reading a lot to our children and exposing them to letters of the alphabet etc. If they are interested and start to learn, then that is fine, but we won’t start formally trying to teach them until they are six. Benjamin knows probably about half of the alphabet so far and is very interested in letters, but hasn’t shown any particular interest in whole words yet. I will try and put in some links to this research soon.

First tooth

Joel cut his first tooth yesterday. He seems very pleased with it – keeps feeling it with his hand – and hasn’t been dribbly or upset at the process.

A fairly quiet week so far. On Monday we somehow managed not to get out at all. Yesterday we cycled around Ferry Meadows and Matt built most of the playhouse. Today we went to Orton library. Although we do have one just down the road it isn’t much bigger than a couple of beach huts and very limited. The selection at Orton is so much better. We came back with more tapes in the lovely Beatrix Potter series I wrote about last week, Paddington , narrated again by Michael Horden, and The Wind in the Willows . I don’t know how he will get on with this but thought I would try it……………… Also books on castles, tractors, and trains, and a few stories.

With a pile of new books Isaac managed to stay in his room for the whole half hour of rest time.

I keep being amazed at just how sociable Benjamin can be when we are out. He talks to anybody – adult or child. He was doing this at the library this morning, just joining in with other families and their conversation.

A note for Granny – you can’t see it on the photo, but at Sunday’s dedications all the boys were in their matching stripey T-shirts that you bought for them. They looked very sweet.


This morning was Joel and Isaac’s dedication at Church. Matt was on PA, so he had left by seven, but I still managed to get them all to Church just before the 9:15am service. That was a first! Matt’s friend Andy came up for a flying visit in his Lotus. Well he tells us the Lotus can go so fast that it does fly, but the roads were a bit wet and the speed limit too low for us to see it happen!

It poured with rain all afternoon so we couldn’t begin the playhouse or go to the little trains, which was a bit disappointing, but we had a nice time with Andy and pottered around with the boys. Benjamin is already planning what to do with Andy the next time he visits, something like ‘we could always build a railway track…’. Andy and Matt went for a drive in the Lotus to show Andy the Church building.

Photo from this morning:


The first thing we (M, B and Isey) had to do today was go to town to sort out a mobile phone and pick up a Teddy Robinson book for Benjmain. B suggested that we go and sit somewhere to read it before going home. I said we could read it at home instead. He opened it up and started looking through the pictures. He is such a bookworm,

Came home and we had lunch (didn’t read the book to B yet, but he didn’t ask).

We went out this afternoon to Dogsthorpe fire station (in Peterborough) as they were having an open day. I guess this can be counted as our big educational excursion for the week. There were lots of fire engines for the boys (including me) to have a look in. Isaac was very taken by this as you can see in the photos below. I think he was almost in awe of being there. He wanted to do everything he could do when sitting in the fire-engine cab, but was very good when asked not to do things. Yes that is Isey’s white rabbit you can see in the pictures, he is suddenly very attached to it.

Isaac wearing fireman's helmet Isaac driving

In the fire station we showed them the fireman’s pole and helped them to pretend to slide down the last little bit. We kept pointing out to them the clothes that the firemen wear, as there is a bit in one of their books about ‘fireproof coats and trousers…’. It mentions the helmet and boots too. There was a demonstration of what not to and what to do when a chip pan fire happens. After seeing it, one would not even think of putting water on that kind of fire. Later a demonstration of the ‘on-duty’ firecrew driving in to rescue a ‘damsel’ in distress, and yes the damsel was in a dress, but where he had got it from I don’t know!?

Told B and I about the tools that the fireman used to cut and lift things and the fireman demonstrated them to us. Had an interesting chat to a fireman about their ‘hazardous materials’ unit, so I learned some things too today.

Benjamin in Engine Boys in Engine

Benjamin’s badge says ‘I have seen a fire engine’. Finally we went over to central park and just took it easy over there. This was nice. Came home and sat them in front of Thomas (their Saturday treat). All had tea together. B asked our lodger if he would read the Teddy Robinson story, so he got one chapter there. Then while Justine put Isey to bed, he got some more from me. Then he went up to bed and his biggest teddybear was in there, so he named it Teddy Robinson and cuddled it while he went to sleep. Hopefully we will go and see the Robinsons soon!?


Benjamin woke up fairly early today, but went off and amused himself, and the other two slept in till about 8:45. So we had a nice lie-in. In the morning we took Matt’s car to the garage for an MOT. Then I took the children off to their HE under-eights Muddle-Puddle (MP) meeting.

Flight was the theme for this week at MP, so the boys made a variety of insects, parachutes, birds and butterflies. Isaac made a ladybird. Unfortunately, due to various American friends and with Isey’s tendency to slightly elongate words, he insists on calling it a ‘ladybugga’. Merry (who usually organises it) was away, so everyone brought craft activities to contribute.

Collected Matt’s car. Matt and the boys carried on with the base for the playhouse and then it was the end of the day.

Do we need a television?

The last few days have been a bit wobbly. The children have been difficult and I haven’t been patient enough. By the end of yesterday I was wondering whether we needed a television. Having three small children and no TV means there is no respite if things are heading downhill. Had a better day today, so we won’t rush out and buy one quite yet.

Isaac got upset over breakfast. He gets upset so easily. He is definitely the two year-old that Benjamin never was. Anyway, we got out of that one and spent a fairly peaceful morning at home. Isaac decided that he wanted to wear pants, not a nappy, so we had quite a few puddles around during the morning. Benjamin also decided he would join Isey in making puddles. I don’t know why!

Lunch was followed by rest time. Then we went down to Orton Mere. We watched the steam train going through, went and watched the river and the lock- but no boats going through- then threw stones in the lake. All very therapeutic things to do.

Then home, tea and bed.

A lovely party

This morning Matt began again with the concrete slabs for the playhouse base, having spurned my offer of help with carrying them. He promptly hurt his back and has spent the rest of the day moving around very cautiously.

Today the church building site was open so Matt took the boys along. I stayed at home as Joel had just fallen asleep and I needed to try and find our bedroom floor again. Felt much better for a general clear up. Also put in an Amazon order for books for the boys, but couldn’t find quite a lot of what I wanted.

We had a quiet afternoon reading, playing railways, playing piano, and watching some Thomas DVD. Then off to a party at Whittlesey at the home of some friends from church who are also home educating. We had a lovely time. Benjie and Isaac had their faces painted and as the evening went on 4 piano accordians appeared, which created a lovely atmosphere. Apart from a chewy bar and a few raisins I had somehow forgotten about lunch today, and I’ve never seen Benjamin eat with as much enthusiasm as he did this evening!

Isaac as a Tiger Tiger again
Benjamin as a dog

BBC HE discussion

The following link is to a summary of the BBC Breakfast programme (no we haven’t started watching Breakfast television!). There are a couple of clips and a bit to read. It’s interesting stuff, but doesn’t go into any detail. It will probably only be on there for a week. (Click here, then scroll down a bit to get to the right article.)

Hello Mark

I think you are the only person reading this BLOG. What did your nephews get up to today?

It is Matt’s day off, so this morning they went out with him to collect some concrete slabs for the base of the playhouse. While Matt went out for lunch with some Church people Benjamin listened to his Beatrix Potter tape and then they had their rest time. Isaac still kept popping into B’s room every few minutes. Eventually it all went quiet, so I assumed he had settled down.I found him later busy with the Lego in B’s room. They spent the rest of the afternoon helping Matt begin the base for the playhouse. So a fairly quiet pottering around sort of day really.

Have added a link to the Church website. We now have a webcam taking pictures of the building site. It doesn’t really show the scale of things, but you can see it steadilly coming together.

Central Park (again!)

First thing this morning we finished making the banana cakes we began yesterday and had them for breakfast. (It’s a very healthy recipe!) Then packed a picnic etc and off to the park while it was still cool enough and quiet enough. Boys had a lovely time in the sand and paddling pool and I had a nice time catching up with a friend who also has 3 boys. By 11 it was getting hot and busy so we cycled around the park in the shade and then had our picnic and read stories. Joel managed 20 mins sleep. Came home at some point and Benjamin listened to his favourite tape of the moment. It’s Mrs Tiggywinkle, Jeremy Fisher and Pigling Bland narrated by Patricia Routledge and Michael Horden with lovely oboe music. It came from a library sale and is very listenable to. Then rest time, Isaac again reappearing every 5 mins! Joel had another 20 mins sleep. The boys played for the rest of the afternoon, mostly in their tent in the garden and Joel finally managed a reasonable sleep. We read poems while we had our afternoon tea. Isaac loved a nonsense poem by Spike Milligan -Ning Nang Nong, or something like that- and asked for it over and over. I’m thinking of making poems and afternoon tea part of our home school routine.

Benjie is starting to sing a lot. He’ll rarely sing with us, but he listens and then when he’s playing I hear him singing, usually mostly in tune too. He’s gone to bed by himself 3 nights in a row. I keep finding him asleep still sitting up in bed with a book on his knees . Matt is reading “Winnie the Pooh” to him at bedtime at the moment. He’s got a very lovely edition which Granny gave him.

Here is Matt’s favourite poem from their book:

To amuse
on warm summer nights

do wee wees
from spectacular heights.

Hot weather fore-casted so decided a walk in a shady wood would be best. We went back to Longueville woods. Last time we were there the pond was full of frogs and frog spawn, but no sign of them today. The boys had a nice time throwing pine cones in, fishing with sticks, etc.

However Joel is not liking being in his pram if he is awake, so had to carry him in the sling, which is OK, but a bit hot in this weather. We brought back an oak twig for identification in our book, but couldn’t tell if it was English of sessile – the acorns would have given it away, but we hadn’t brought those back with us.

The boys had rest time after lunch. B loves this, but Isey comes out of his room every few minutes to find someone to play with. Which is funny, because I had thought it would be the other way around. Tried (again) to make banana cakes with the boys, but Joel woke up every time we started, so gave up.

Endless questions from Benjamin all through the day, especially about thatched roofs. We had been watching a thatcher working on a house near the woods. So generally a very good day, but I was a bit frazzled towards the end of it because Joel had been awake most of the day. He seems to have gone off day time sleeps.

Central Park

Decided we needed to get out, so packed a picnic and got us all ready for the park. That took most of the morning! On impulse phoned a home educating friend as we left to say we would be at the park for the afternoon, so she and her 6 year old son came and found us. We spent probably 4 hours there. The boys had a lovely time and we all felt better for being out. All very tired when we got home. Benjamin decided I was taking too long getting everyone to bed and put himself to bed (omitting teeth cleaning and getting undressed of course!)

A fairly uneventful day. Happy Faces this morning, and then too hot to go out again by the afternoon. Joel has hardly slept, but been very tired so I have carried him around most of the day. Benjie and Isaac have niggled each other a lot this afternoon and both have bumps on their heads from where they were both insisting on being in the same place at the same time. Tried to divert them with some cake making, but Joel fussed too much so gave them a bubble bath instead.

Joel rolled over for the first time yesterday and is getting very wriggly. I think he’ll be shuffling around the floor quite soon.

I’m still trying to work on reading more from the Ambleside Online link, and the Charlotte Mason books and some other bits to make some more progress on deciding some more of the details on how we are going to home educate. But so difficult to find more than 5 mins here or there.