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Boys very excited today as we were off to a ‘Castle’ party. We started off by finishing off their tabards, by putting a picture on the front. We had printed some pictures from a site on heraldry. The boys chose; Bee – Ship, Mip – Castle, Jj – Unicorn. Justine traced them on to the tabards (I – Matt – had been to Woolworths as soon as it opened to go get a fabric pen – nothing like planning in advance!).

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All sorts of fun there including making shields. Bee painted his all red.

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I was a bit worried about his shield at one moment as it looked like a disaster had occurred, when a princess reached over to get more blue paint on her brush!

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Lots of thank yous for the party!

Plus we have got ‘Castle’ by David Macaulay coming soon too. I wonder if he has done ‘Eiffel Tower’ yet?

the week is flying past, with no space left to blog. yesterday we had j,f and t, and p and t to lunch. today l and j came to visit. tomorrow the flooring and carpeting of the playroom, friday a muddlepuddle picnic, then housegroup in the evening, saturday a castle-themed party. endless practicalities of car services, new tyres, house insurances, child tax credit forms, holiday planning, emptying the “playroom”…. i’m sure we have some children somewhere, too…..

catching up again….

Sunday – a bit far back to remember, but the space shuttle puzzle was made, and Matt and Bee worked on their model house.

Monday – J and I had planned to go to the Garden of Surprises at Burghley, but it looked as if it was going to rain, and the forecast I looked at suggested rain, so we decided to just drop by to Ferry Meadows instead and save Burghley for a better day. Wrong decision. It was beautifully warm and sunny and we ended up coming home after our picnic because I hadn’t taken Littlest a sunhat .

Tuesday – “socialisation” today. K and H came to play in the morning and J and D came in the afternoon. H and the boys looked at aeroplane books. D came with a lovely children’s Ikea storage unit they have grown out of. Littlest spent the day balancing on her hands and knees ( and sometimes hands and feet) and looking incredibly pleased with herself. She also sat up in her high chair for mashed banana, and we got out her 6 month clothes. Finished the day with playdough and Brahms. ( which only means it was on in the background. I tell the boys who wrote the music, and we listen out for an instrument or 2, and then it’s just left on. I don’t want to give the false impression that we all sit carefully listening !!)

Wednesday – sponge painting in the morning (or “spudge” as JJ calls it), followed by Magnetix and playdough. Continued in the afternoon, while listening to some Tchaikovsky and the rest of Wind in the Willows. Also made bread and ice cream. (I’m getting the hang of bread now by using the bread maker to make the dough and then cooking it in our oven.) Today we made a bread plait.

Thursday – This morning JJ came in to the kitchen with the post and a big smile on his face – Granny had sent a bus post card. So the morning began with making bus pictures, and moved on to pictures of other things. We listened to Postman Pat (!) and a Bruch violin concerto. Then Magnetix and Fuzzy Felts. This afternoon we were visited by S and K, who are going to be sharing a chalet with us at Cefn Lea. K (girl) is 8. We made some fairy cakes together as the children were all a bit shy, and then they all headed into the garden. It POURED with rain, and they all decided it was fun to stay out and got totally drenched. We left them to it as they seemed to be getting on well. K went home in some borrowed boys hand-me downs that Bee hasn’t grown in to yet! Bee was a bit stroppy tonight, probably because he hasn’t seen Matt for 3 days. He comes back from Spain late tonight.

I’ve been reading “Not on the Label” which L lent me. Did you know that chicken for use by caterers is often injected with a mixture of nasties, including beef or pork proteins,to enable the chicken to hold up to 50% water? Who thinks these things up?! Having read about the conditions of the migrant workers picking the salad and veggies, and being constantly frustrated at how much plastic our food comes in, I think we’re just going to have to make the jump to using a box scheme. And using Sainsbury’s where necessary instead of Tesco’s.

Photo’s of the boys to follow when Matt gets back…..

Very briefly – the boys spent the morning at the kitchen table, first with playdough and then with Hama beads. After lunch Bee found a Bible story sticker book (probably from Granny, thank you if so). So, we did that while the other two played outside. The afternoon disappeared with stories, puzzles and general playing.

Bee showed J his pictures of USS Constitution when he came around to put another coat of paint in the playroom. We listened to half of Wind in the Willows on tape. Bee and Mip spent at least an hour this evening sitting at the kitchen table cutting up bits of paper into tiny scraps with great concentration. Matt and Bee looked at shipping flags on the computer, this was also prompted by the museum visit last weekend.

Bee is showing signs of developing his Father’s sense of humour. We did a world map jigsaw puzzle this afternoon. When we got to Thailand Bee said ‘Tieland? Is that where they have lots of ropes and string?’.

We have a definite boat theme going on at the moment. Yesterday Matt looked up lots of information and pictures of U.S.S. Constitution (from Bee’s favourite Old Ironsides book) and lots of conversation about Titanic is going on. And the Cutty Sark still gets discussed. Bee has pictures of Constitution up by his bed now. He keeps saying how they are ‘really beautiful’. Mip has a picture of a group of penguins with a chick.

Two of the key features of a Charlotte Mason education are living books (see here) and narration. Narration is used after every ‘lesson’ and the child tells back in their own words from what you have just been reading. This replaces the usual worksheets etc. and is meant to help the child connect with the material, and retain the information. And it also teaches them to concentrate! But it isn’t recommended that children are asked to narrate before they are six years old at the earliest. But I have realised that Bee is naturally narrating from everything we read anyway. As soon as we finish a chapter he will start with “so, …” and tell me something from what we have just read. Sometimes quite briefly, but usually in great detail and he does seem to be retaining a lot of information. We have just been listening in to him having a conversation on the phone to our friend (who has been decorating for us) probably for ten minutes talking about USS Constitution, things we have seen at the museum, etc..


Two recent drawings by Bee. I am not sure what the first is. The second is a tree and all the leaves except the top one have been eaten by a Giraffe.

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We keep finding JJ in the pram. He climbs in to reach the books on the shelf and then stays in the pram to read.

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JJ napping on the sofa and Littlest trying hard to move.

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…just remembered that we did do something “educational” yesterday after all – we spent 20 mins or so doing some french using an Usborne book (which must be quite old as it had a record player in it!)

The day began badly. We woke to find Mip had come into our bed in the night, and had wet it. So he had to be hauled off for a shower ,and he was over tired from yesterday. When anything goes wrong for him he falls dramatically to the floor and wails “but I’m wobbling” and pretends not to be able to pick himself up. So he did this for the first 20 minutes, and then gradually recovered with Matt reading stories.

Anyway, once we were all put back together again I put together a picnic, planning to take them all off to Ferry Meadows for the day. But Bee said they all wanted to play in the garden today, so that is what they did. They had their picnic in the playhouse, and in the afternoon they had the paddling pool out. I’m not sure that anything “educational” happened today. I didn’t even read a book to them! But they all tired themselves out and after yesterday’s late night have gone to bed at a much more respectable time.

Church this morning. We even arrived a few minutes early – very rare!! We pottered at home for the afternoon. Matt read some Paddington stories to the boys and worked on the roof of the model house they are building. Then we took a picnic tea down to the Embankment for a concert by the City of Peterborough Symphony Orchestra. But the stage had been blown down and replaced by a much smaller one which they couldn’t fit on, so they had been replaced by a jazz band. Not quite the same, but JJ and Littlest happily danced around as the band played and sang ” I wanna make l-u-r-v-e to you”! They sang some classic songs and then we came home as it began to get chilly.

Matt phoned a friend from church briefly, and then we found Bee in tears because he had wanted to talk to him too. So Matt called him back and Bee talked to him for several minutes about the Titanic, then he went off and coloured in a bit more of his Titanic picture and has just gone to bed at 10 pm. Just as well we don’t have to get up for school in the morning!

This morning Matt discovered the Museum had a display on Titanic. Bee came across the Titanic a few weeks ago when a friend of mine was discussing boats with him. So, he was full of enthusiasm to go. We packed a picnic and walked in to town. Not a huge exhibition, but enough to keep the boys happy. The favourite part was the morse code (Marconiogram) switch/buzzer that they could play with and were very noisy.

After that we walked down to the embankment to see some African drumming as part of Peterborough festival. All very noisy. There were some medieval music too and a man in a Robin Hood outfit, plus another in Roman clothes who was very disparaging about the drumming.

Eventually we wandered home along the river and the boys spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the garden. Bee and Mip were very busy making German sausage out of German grass.

another 2 weeks have gone by. the weather has been wet every day, so we haven’t been out so much. it has been easier to be at home and for the boys to play in the garden and then quickly rush in when a shower comes. today though we had a muddlepuddle picnic planned, so we spent 3 hours at central park. it only rained briefly and the boys had a lovely time playing with friends. matt was at home today, after having spent the last few days in holland, and he spent the afternoon putting up the wires for the curtains in the playroom while j. mac painted it. (yellow). i’m so looking forward to it being finished and gaining some more shelf space. this week we’ve also had picture rail put up in the sitting room, and had pipes in the hall boxed in.

i’ve re-read libby puves’ “one summer’s grace over the last few weeks, and matt finished “mister god this is anna”. bee continues to listen to a little house story tape daily.

and we’ve been doing lots of h.e. reading and thinking, and trying to decide whether we will be starting the ambleside online curriculum when bee is 6, or waiting a bit longer. Eventually we decided we are still more convinced by the arguments for leaving formal education until at least 7, so we’ll be carrying on as we are for now. i discovered a piece of paper in my file yesterday from maybe 6 months ago where i had written down all the same questions and ideas that we have just gone through – i should have just re-read it and saved lots of reading and thinking time!