Hello Tim and Mark

Glad to see you’re still here! How is secondary school going Mark?

The weather forecast looked good so I decided we would go out for a picnic just in case it was our last warm day of the year. We went up to Burghley park at Stamford. The boys brought their bicycles and we walked/cycled for the morning while being much distracted by fork lift trucks and tractors still clearing up from the horse trials a few weekends ago. We watched the deer and had a lovely moment when one came up and stood very close to us . We looked straight into his eyes and I told Benjamin and Isaac a poem I had learned when I was little about a deer
….Beautiful, brown and unafraid those eyes returned my stare
and something with neither sound nor name passed between us there…..

It wasn’t exactly word perfect, but I can still remember most of it, although I’m missing a line at the end. Benjamin then announced he had done a poo, so we returned to the less romantic side of life and hastened to a large oak tree to hide behind while we dealt with it!

No need to bring any leaves home for identification today – their trees all come fully labelled in English and Latin. I did note a row of sweet chestnuts which looked promising for later in the autumn, assuming Lady Victoria Leatham doesn’t object to scavenging in her park. I didn’t see any notices prohibiting it anyway.

We had our picnic, but skipped the sculpture gardens as they were charging for admission and I had no money with me. We must have gone out of season last time, because it was free when we visited before.

We came home via the Hills and Holes at Barnack which we hadn’t been to before. It is an old stone quarry from Roman times and provided the stone for Peterborough and Ely cathedrals. It is all grassed over now and is a nature reserve and very good for children to explore. Lots of little tracks to follow going up and down the “hills”.

Isaac is getting the idea of tree identification. We had tea outside under our walnut tree and he pointed up and announced that it was an oak tree.
More photos, but Matt is out tonight and the tax returns are still unfinished….

I’m ironing tonight, but just taking a quick detour via the computer…..

Matt is insisting I learn to type using a typing tutor he’s found. It has encouragingly told me I have a typing speed of 63 letters per minute. I can now type ” asdfghjkl; ” without looking. Very useful.

Today Colourstrings began again with the new teacher. Although we miss Brigid very much Kate is also very good and the boys were obviously happy to be there again. Isaac copied everything she did without prompting and when I sat aside to feed Joel he carried on very happily without me. Benjamin mostly joined in, but had to be prompted and acted shy. Which is funny how he does that in any slightly “official” set up, whereas if we are at a park, for example, he talks to anybody and everybody. We went over the road to Central Park afterwards and a group of older teenage girls had taken over the boat. I was inwardly mumbling about how it wasn’t fair because the children don’t feel confident to go and play when Benjamin went straight over and climbed on and started talking to them. Not sure where this comes from – I was scared of teenagers when I was little- but it’s nice to see.

Home for lunch. Isaac had a crisis and cried for half an hour. One of those times when a television would be useful. Even the swing didn’t work. Eventually came up with the idea of letting him scroll through Tammy’s blog to find pictures of Sam, and this instantly restored things.

Then rest time (much needed by then!) and out to Orton Mere to watch the steam train at the station. We walked to the lock and the rowing course, but no boats anywhere. Lots of rabbits and a heron though, and when we got back to the lake saw lots of water rats bouncing around. There were model boats out too. Couldn’t find my car keys to go home, but eventually realized I had left them in the door.

Joel is moving around the floor and has 4 teeth through. Today has been one of those days when he has wanted to be carried a lot and he is getting heavy.

It occurred to me today that I don’t really spend any one to one time with Isaac. Perhaps he would be a bit less prone to falling apart if I gave him some individual time?

Tuesday was Ferry Meadows in the morning and Happy Faces in the afternoon, and Monday afternoon we were also at Ferry Meadows, and saw some other home schooling families from the Muddle Puddle group. Monday morning Isaac found a felt tip while I was upstairs putting Joel to bed and drew over 2 doors, assorted walls, the bin, a rug, Benjamin’s first picture of a person displayed on the fridge, a window…… NB Mummy – keep all felt tips on top of bookcases which can’t be accessed by a handy chair to avoid repeats of the above.

Do we still have any Grandparents out there? It’s been a bit quiet in the comment box lately….

Still lots of photos due to go up, but Matt has been a bit preoccupied with the tax returns so far this week…

Yesterday Granny came to visit and we went to the farm. They are having a ‘Home Made’ weekend. We watched potters making pots, wood turners turning wood, violins being made, the mill was in action grinding flour. So lots for the boys to see. We had such a nice time that we decided to go back again today. Matt came with us this time. This time we took a picnic so we could be there the whole day. In addition to seeing all the above again, the boys made bread rolls in the mill bakery, had lots of rides in the tractor trailer, watched a puppet show, saw archery, thatching, a blacksmith, shire horses, stone masons, a whole pig roasting… It was all fascinating, just seeing how skilled people needed to be a few generations back. Even just listening to a description of the making of a cart wheel showed the complexity of such a ‘basic’ thing.

Benjamin made a plaited loaf in the bakery with Matt. Trying to describe it to me afterwards, he said “it was twisty, twisty, twisty and it went over that and that and that”.

A change of weather

Stuck at home all day. Matt had taken the Prairie as his car is still at the garage having something else done (!) and it rained all day. So looked for some new wet weather clothing on the Internet for the children, but I guess that may be dependant on what the garage want to charge us!
We got the clay out (Benjamin started to make a house for his Lego men but got sidetracked into making them sausages to eat instead), made scones, listened to story tapes, read some Teddy Robinson, and they all had baths. Joel is so funny in the bath. He splashes so hard, and then his reaction to having splashed himself is to splash again, and so he continues until I take him out to break the cycle. He’s always very excited to be getting in the bath, and always very relieved to be taken out!
I was hoping we would get the bikes and bike buggy up and running this weekend but the weather doesn’t look promising. Tax returns also have to take priority I suppose. Although we have another 2 weeks to do them. We don’t usually do them this far in advance……..

The last few days

Time for a quick catch-up…….

Sunday we went to Cambridge. We went to our old church and then went and had lunch with some friends and their 1 year old. A picnic was planned but it was too wet, so we just went for a nostalgic walk along the river and showed Benjie and Isaac where I used to live. Lots of boats racing on the river, and Benjamin asking questions about everything. Usually such a visit would set me into “I want to go back to Cambridge” mode, but this time it was Matt who was feeling it more while I was hoping that we would be staying in Peterborough. We’ve put so much effort into the house and we would swap all that lovely space for something much smaller if we went back. And , once you have searched them out, Peterborough has some good things and places for children. Some real pluses of Cambridge would be closer proximity to Grandparents and a bigger Homeschooling scene. Three of our homeschool friends here are planning on moving over the next couple of years.

Monday we went to Central Park, Tuesday was library story time and then Happy Faces. Tuesday lunchtime I was putting Joel to bed upstairs when I suddenly heard Isaac crying downstairs. He had wanted to reach something on the mantelpiece and had tried to climb onto his stool which he had balanced on a drum! Then, from what I could make out from Benjamin, having fallen off and given his chin a nasty graze, he ran blindly to find me, tangled himself with the laundry basket, and hit a wall. Bruising the other side of his face. Poor Isaac.

Today we took Matt’s car back to the garage for a new radiator, and then in the afternoon went to Ferry Meadows. It was so lovely there. Joel had his sitting up toddler seat in his pram for the first time and had his first go on a swing. He’s also been sitting up in his high chair. So time to get the bikes out! He’s also just cut another tooth. Benjamin managed to climb various things at the park for the first time, so he was very pleased with himself. When I see them playing like they were this afternoon at Ferry Meadows I can see why Charlotte Mason wanted children outside for 4 – 6 hours a day, and why she was in favour of delaying academics in favour of some “quiet growing time” .

We finished the day with Isaac falling downstairs. Lots of tears, but no bruises this time.

A new Colourstrings teacher has been appointed so we can resume classes next week. Very pleased about that. They will be on a Wednesday rather than a Saturday this time, which is better I think. Although it was nice for Matt to be able to take them it is nice to have a more freed up weekend.

Lots of pictures to follow when Matt has time to put them up.

A Rainy Day

Woke up this morning with a sense of panic. It was obviously going to rain all day and after a long sunny summer I couldn’t imagine what we would do if we had to stay in all day. We couldn’t think of anything to do in Peterborough so we decided we would have to go down to London and do a Museum. Matt researched train times etc. and we began the debate Natural History versus Science Museum. Then we realised that the travelling would take up most of the day and we would only have a few hours in London, so gave up that idea. We will save it for another rainy Saturday when we can leave earlier in the morning.

As it happened, we had a very lovely and peaceful day at home. We both read and had quiet times. Benjamin built a den with Daddy. Isaac had a sleep. I made cookies with Benjamin. It was all very restful and therapeutic.

Joel slept in his cot until 4am this morning!

Our sunflowers have finally flowered. They are only two foot tall, but that is an improvement on last year!

Matt has won bids for a couple of books on ebay. One on Wilberforce for him and a King Arthur story illustrated by Arthur Rackham. We’ve put bids on lots of others too. Someone in the Isle of Wight seems to be selling lots of very lovely books!

Reading Readiness

This was posted by someone today on the Ambleside online e-mail list.

“According to the research of Dr. Ingersoll, a developmental ophthalmologist who did a great deal of effective research on the subject when his daughter turned up with dyslexia, not only developed a treatment for dyslexia, but seems to have determined the point of visual-readiness-skills which children need to have reached in order to have *no* children develop dyslexia/dysgraphia because they learned to read too soon (which is developmental, and only tested by ophthalmologists, not optomitrists). To find out more about this, you
can contact Excel Institutes (by doing a search for them online). They can advise you of developmental ophthalmologists near you whose office staff could answer any questions you have on the subject.

I personally wish that ALL children were tested for developmental readiness before being given the opportunity to learn to read. There is a school in Michigan that does just that! Their LD’s (including ADD/ADHD) are virtually melting away. When their school doors opened, 40% of their student body was on ritalin. Within one year (or was it two?, but I think it was one), that changed to 1% of the student body, which is in line with clinical ADD/ADHD (in other words, a small portion of ADD/ADHD is actually chemically induced, but most of it is due to poor visual skills, which make visual attention skills extremely difficult to
attain to).

The impacts of learning to read before eyes are visually ready are more far reaching than many of us believe, even if they don’t affect all children.

There is no reason to rush reading. Waiting is fine, and in more than enough instances, important.”

The last few days

The last few days have been relatively peaceful. Yesterday we went to Ferry Meadows in the morning and then to Tammy and Sam’s in the afternoon, and Joel had 4 tsps banana for tea. Today we stayed in because Matt needed the Prairie in the morning (and I didn’t achieve anything because Joel didn’t sleep but was tired and wanted to be carried) but escaped to the farm in the afternoon with friends. Forgot to try Joel with any solids. Benjamin made a Christmas tree.

Christmas Tree

Yesterday we put Joel to sleep in the cot but I couldn’t sleep, lying watching him separated from us, so as soon as he stirred slightly I snuggled him back in with us and went straight to sleep! I think this cot thing is going to require some adapting to.

Matt has a cold.

Several good things conspired to make today a relatively good one. Firstly I arrived at my pre-Joel weight, (not pre-Benjie yet though!), secondly the cleaners came and we were tidied up in advance, and thirdly Isaac had slept through until a quarter to seven.

We went to library story time in the morning and then out to Longueville wood this afternoon.Noted squirrels and mushrooms and brought home oak leaves and acorns to identify. English oak, we discovered. Benjamin was very interested in the acorns as he now understands what the “haycorns” are that Tigger doesn’t like eating in Winnie the Pooh.

Then they played in the garden a while, and then Benjamin listened over and over to Jemima Puddle Duck and Tom Kitten on story tape. We also played letter lotto, but no french as we had taken the book we were using back to the library this morning. Must get some Beatrix Potter in french – I know I’ve seen them around.

Joel is starting to be mobile. He tucks his legs under his body and pushes out again, and combined with rolling he manages to manoeuvre around a bit. He still has a black eye and is still very content and easy going. He is 6 months tomorrow. Time to start thinking about some solid food.

Yesterday Matt decided we needed to get out so we tried to go to a railway museum near Oakham. It was closed, so we drove into Oakham and spent the afternoon there. It is a very small and very pretty market town which used to have a castle. The great hall is still standing (and restored) so we had a look inside. it was built 1190 and I think is the oldest Norman secular building. The boys climbed the walls, now just grassy hills and then played in the park, sited in the old moat.

On the way home we were passing Rutland Water, so thought we would stop and let the boys throw stones in and have an ice cream. We went into the shop and Benjamin was suddenly sick all over the floor. The shop lady was very understanding and mopped up and Benjamin recovered instantly, shared an ice cream and went off to the lake. ( Matt had made pancakes for breakfast and we lost count of how many Benjamin ate with “maple syruple” and then he didn’t eat much for the rest of the day, so perhaps it was caused by a surfeit of pancakes.

We’ve put a cassette player and some story tapes in Benjamin’s bedroom so on a morning now he lies in bed listening to them instead of coming through to us. Joel is only waking up once, very briefly, so it’s just Isaac we need a plan for now……

Joel has a beautiful black eye after managing the falling-off-the-change mat-onto-the-floor trick while the hairdresser was here on Friday.Oh dear..


Not such a good day…

It didn’t begin too well. Matt had left a spider under a glass in the hall so I had to escort it outside. It turned out to have passed away overnight.

I hadn’t made a proper plan for the day but bundled us all together and set off for the farm. We were there for 9.15 and didn’t see anyone for an hour. There was a new calf to admire and lots of pretend cooking went on in the mill house kitchen. Came home for lunch. We had rest times but Joel didn’t sleep. I was very tired, my tooth ( ex tooth) was bothering me a lot, even with increased pain killers, and I just wasn’t quite as patient as I would have liked to have been when Isaac emptied Hama beads all over the floor, banged doors, threw a stool downstairs (? I don’t think he knew why he did it either! ) emptied all my shoes out of my wardrobe………….

Eventually Joel fell asleep and Benjamin rescued us by reminding me that I had said we would hoover out the car. So that gave us a project. The boys had lots of fun and I felt very accomplished at being able to cross something off of last years list of things to do.

I definitely need to plan my days in advance……..


No need for a schedule today as we were off to visit friends in Ely. But we had time to run down to Ferry Meadows for an hour first. Lovely and peaceful there at 9.00 ! We usually find that no one gets to Ferry Meadows, Central Park etc until gone 10.00 so we try and go early and have it to ourselves and enjoy the cool of the morning.
Anyway, a lovely day with friends. Lots of water play in the garden and the boys very reluctant to leave.

Matt arrived home before we did with some pictures to show the boys that he had taken on his way to Rugby. We’ll post them in a day or two….

Scheduling – Tuesday

Having just read a book on homeschooling about scheduling I thought I would start creating one. For today it looked like this;
8.00 breakfast and bible story
9.00 Central Park
12.00 lunch
1.00 rest times
1.30 playing/cleaning windows
3.00 afternoon tea and a poem
3.30 french and alphabet work with Benjamin
4.30 make tea
5.00 tea
5.30 tidy up
6.00 bible story and singing
6.30 bed

The idea is that you create a schedule that remains roughly the same most days so that the children know how the pattern of the day runs, that has enough changes of activity to keep them focused and avoid deteriorating behaviour, and that gives you space to do the things you need to do. I always work much better if I’m following a plan.
Anyway, the day went extremely well and we did almost everything. We played letter lotto for Benjie’s alphabet work which was very popular. One of the “M” pictures is a monster – the friendliest looking one possible – but when Benjie took it he paused and then said that he thought he would have all his pictures upside down and promptly turned them all over. He is very sensitive about monsters, giants etc.