Thursday 31 March 2011

One down...

...a few more to go!

Luke had his poetry slam competition last night. He and his team were a real credit to themselves. There were 18 teams, all performing poems they'd written themselves. Some added drama to it, there were funny poems, serious poems, a whole range. It was a real privilege to see all this creativity happening across Worcestershire.

Luke's team performed their Afghanistan poem, which they had tweaked a bit since Luke wrote it. They were dressed all in black, and stood stock still, no drama, just powerful words. It took me two performances after theirs for me to stop shaking, and I also had to wipe a tear from my eyes!

Anyhow, they came second!! They were over the moon, so proud of themselves! I wish I could post the picture of the holding the trophy afterwards with all their ecstatic grins on their faces.

It was so lovely to see Luke going to bed with a smile on his face. He said it was because they'd done well, but also because that was one thing off his list!

Wednesday 30 March 2011

How much can a 12 year old fit in?

I feel it is like a competition at the moment to see just how much can be fitted into Luke's life before he cracks!  He has the poetry slam competition tonight, an arts evening tomorrow night where he is playing in the orchestra, and performing the poem again, and then last night we found out he has his drum exam on Monday!

Fortunately they are all short-lived things.  But combined with other things that are going on ie life outside school, it means he is going to have a ridiculously busy few days.  He is taking it all in his stride, but I think he will need a well deserved break after all this.  A bit much for a 12 year old I reckon!

Introducing Playmobil!

We have a silly amount of playmobil, from castles and farmyards to houses and shops. All of it packed away in boxes as the boys had moved on to things like lego and xbox's!  Yesterday, Sophie was feeling a little off colour, so I thought I would get some of the playmobil out to take her mind off feeling unwell. 

I love playmobil, the detail that they go into, how it is sturdy and well made, and brings out alot of imaginary play.  Sophie was really taken with the house and the shop, and it certainly tookher mind off feeling unwell.  I secretly enjoyed a little play too, remembering the hours I had played with it with the boys when they were younger.

When the boys (well, Alec and Ethan) got home from school, as they walked through the door they were chatting about playing on the latest lego star wars game on the xbox, but then as they walked in the lounge, they got distracted, and spent the afternoon playing with the playmobil. 
 Later, as we approached bed time, once again there was playmobil playing going on.
And then this morning I had to drag the boys away from it (not literally!) to go and get ready for school.  I can't see this being packed away into boxes again for a while! 

For Jacqui

Let me know what you think.

Monday 28 March 2011


 For Christmas my Mum bought me a day course on wet felting.  So the other Wednesday I trotted off to our local craft centre, whilst Mum looked after Sophie, and spent 6 hours learning how to wet felt. There was me and 7 teachers who were on a teacher training day (now we know what they get up too!! ;) ), all learning how to produce a felt bag.
 We felted onto fabric, which ended up as the lining of the bag, and the bag was made without any sewing, just folding and more felting. 
 I am really pleased with the outcome, I have yet to attach the shoulder strap on, but I can see a few more of these being made over time, now that I know how!!  And I will be saving even more bits of scraps of material and wool for my felting supplies now!!

Other creativity that has been going on, WarHammer!  Stuart has set up a local warhammer group who will be having their first weekly meeting on the 4th April. So he and Luke have been busy creating a fort to aid their game play.  Already there have been quite a few people sign up, so fingers crossed it will get off the ground, and become a regular opportunity for gamers to get together, paint and have a game.
For Earth Hour, Luke very kindly made some candles with a beeswax kit he got for Christmas.  I think we may have to increase our amount of materials, as it is quite addictive, and the rate we go through candles, we need a steady supply.
 And look what arrived in the post these last couple of days.  I have been wanting to read Juno for a while, and from a quick glance through this morning it looks like a lovely magazine, with a wide breadth of articles.  Thank you Jacqui.
And this book.... wow, I think this is the first education book I have read where I am nodding in agreement from the first page.  The perfect book for a would be homeschooler who sits on the fence way too much!  Thank you Sarah, it's just what I needed!

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Allotment days

 The lovely warm weather has meant that I am able to get down the allotment a little more reliably.  The other day I managed to get the peas sown, and used the twigs from the Rowan tree we cut down last year.  Sophie very kindly watered the peas on this trip down to the allotment.
 This last year was the first time we grew purple sprouting with any seriousness, and it is coming to fruition now, with some lovely sproutings close to being ready to harvest.  I am amazed how much patience we have needed to have with this crop, sown this time last year, and only really producing now.  We lost quite a few plants over the winter too, but the plants we have left look good and strong, so fingers crossed we will have an ok crop.
 The spinach overwintered well, and I am looking forward to regular pickings from here.
 I usually try to time my visits to the allotment when Sophie is tired, and will have a sleep.  She associates the allotment with a time to have a breastfeed!  Anyhow, this Monday when we went down, she wasn't quite as tired as I thought, she helped out a bit, and then came and watched me trying to uproot a very stubborn tayberry plant!  Whilst doing that I found some snails, and introduced Sophie to them.  Now, Sophie is rather scared of any creepy crawlies, which I have found quite frustrating, as there are so many around, and quite curious, as no-one else is so I don't know where this fear has come from!  Snails were a good introduction though, as they move so slowly.  She found some grass to give them, and watched as they peeped out of their shells.  We also found lots of worms, but she wasn't so taken with them!  Slowly, slowly, and hopefully we'll get there!

We've had the wildest patch of the plot under carpet for a good 18 months now, and this is where the potatoes are going to go this year.  So I also made a start on uprooting the remaining stubborn weeds (mainly dock!), Going to have to be quick though as the potatoes are busily chitting away!

Finally I noticed that the blackcurrant bushes have a bad case of "big bud".  This is where the leaves do not develop properly, and can harbour a mite which lives within the bud, and can carry a disease which affects the plant, and reduces the crop.  Last year we had this a little, and I pruned out the affected branches, we still had a decent crop of blackcurrants.  However, this year the bushes are extensively affected.  I will have to cut it back severely and see if that sorts the problem out.  However, I fear that the crop this year will be compromised.  There is no treatment for this that I am aware of, but should anyone know any different, I would love to hear it!
I am loving this time of year, things aren't too manic yet, and I feel we are making headway.  You never know, this year we may actually get the whole plot being productive!!

Sunday 20 March 2011

Season Swap

 The beginning of Spring, means warmer, longer days, plants growing, and the GP season swap!  Look at the gorgeous bouquet of felt flowers we received from Caroline.  All in their own little wooden vase.  They are so bright, and cheerful they have pride of place on the season table.
 And this is part of what I sent, don't seem to have a photo of the chicken I made too.  But this is supposed to be a tulip!  I hope it is well received.

Big Birthday!

Ok, bear with me!  Looks like I've got some learning to do with the new editor on Blogger.  But all it means is today will be back to front!  It ended with a rendition of "Happy Birthday" played by Alec on his guitar.  He played it beautifully.  Even though he felt very nervous.
 We had cake...
 ...and beer! Purity (our local ale) in a new purity glass, whilst sporting a Purity t-shirt!
 We had a trip out to Bourton-on-the-Water.  What a lovely spring day.  We ate outside, and had a look around birdland.  Sophie started talking about "mole caves" whilst we were at this spot.  It took a while for me to figure out what she meant.  But just behind her, whilst on Stuart's shoulders she had spotted a rabbit warren.  I think mole caves was a good deduction!
 We watched the penguins for quite a while, marvelling at their sleek and shiny feathers.
 The morning had started with some presents!  I had been busy crocheting these characters from the "Angry Birds" game you can find for the Ipod.  Each of the children gave Stuart one, but I think they were quite taken with them themselves!  Sophie thinks they are all cockerals (apart from the pig of course), and the boys are wanting to build defences for the pig to go in, and see if they can knock them all down!

The biggest present, was actually received on Friday.  A second hand Herman Miller Aeron chair.  Stuart fell in love with these chairs about 10 years ago, but could never justify buying one.  However, for a special birthday, it seemed the right thing.  A long time to wait, 10 years!  But I think it was worth it!  Saturday was spent very productively making headway with lots of things that had been hanging over him.
Happy Birthday Stuart.


Sunday 13 March 2011

A brief glimpse of life

They say the kitchen is the hub of the house, and whilst stirring the porridge this morning, I glanced around and saw this scene, which I thought neatly summed up recent activity! Books, there are always books strewn around, usually by Sophie! A pile of fruit that is awaiting juicing, or other fates. Black bananas tend to end up in a banana cake, or at least the freezer awaiting enough other black bananas to warrant a banana cake! A pot of glue, and some glitter from some recent crafting, Abel and Cole leaflets from the recent veg box, and my bag thrown down as I was probably in the middle of doing something else (as is the way recently!) So there we have it, a quick glimpse at the story a kitchen worksurface can tell you!
Today there were some very tired people about. Ethan was struggling to hold things together, I was feeling tired despite a relatively good night, and Alec was doing his best to get a reaction out of the tired Ethan. So off we went to the park, after a false start as Ethan melted down yet again!

It was all a bit much at the playground. Too many people out and about in the Spring sunshine. So we headed off the beaten track. Found some trees to climb, generally chilled out, and then with sticks accumulated (there always has to be sticks, and for Ethan the bigger the better!) they spontaneously started beating out a rhythm on a gate. I wish I had a video camera with me, it was really good, something you could really dance to. But alas, a stills camera is all I had.

The fresh air did it's trick, well until low blood sugars kicked in, and the bad tempers returned. But the lull was a very welcome relief.

Friday 11 March 2011

A new chapter

Sophie has started pre-school. I was unsure whether she should start at 2 and a half, like her brothers had done, because she would only be there for a few months before she moved to the pre-school linked to the first school. But we thought it would be better to treat her fairly, and so she has started.

I must say, I am very impressed with their approach. I sit in for the sesions with her (she is doing one session a week), and they actively encourage parents to do this until the child is ready, as they recognise the children have to create a relationship with the staff there. They do not make her "do" anything, she can join in with as much or as little as she likes. She will follow the crowd until she gets bored and decides to prance about the room at story time, and that is ok. So lovely and gentle.

I took some crocheting to do this week, and sat in the corner, trying to get on with it. Except I then had a hoard of children gather around me wanting to know what I was doing, could they have a go, why had I not finished it yet etc. So impromptu crochet lessons were given to those that were interested, and it was interesting seeing how they interpreted what they were seeing me doing, one lad trying to pile all the wool onto the hook! I had various children hanging on to the end of the hook whilst I tried to crochet, as this was the closest we could get to them actually crocheting. I can see me taking it along next week and they can see how much more has been done! Interestingly though, Sophie would just come along and tell me to put it down, and go to play with her, to her it is just a thing that mummy does, not something intriguing!

I can't believe that I have managed to raise 4 children, and never come across this particular activity for outdoor play. A bowl of water and paintbrushes! They were entertained for ages, and again, such a simple unstructured activity.

I am sure that Sophie will have a fantastic time there, well she does already, but once she is independent from me for a couple of hours. It's such a shame she moves on so quickly, being one of the youngest in the academic year

Tuesday 8 March 2011

This is the day...

...I have been looking forward to all winter. A good few hours down the allotment, really getting stuck in to all the big jobs that need doing.

We decided to call it a day for the Tayberries as they were so rambling, and would get mildew before they ever ripened properly. As well as having so many nettles amongst them that you could never get near enough to harvest what was there anyway!

So, today I set to it. Started grubbing up the plants and nettles. There were nettle roots in there easily as thick as my thumb, and creating an impeniterable mat of roots. However, 2 hour later, and there was definite headway made. Clear ground, and a growing pile of stuff to burn! Having said that the nettle tops went in the compost, and I have brought the roots home to wash, as apparently they make a good hair rinse!

I also managed to move the pallets from the old compost bin over to a distant corner, ready to be made into an insect hotel, and also spread some leaf mould from 2009 over the bed ready for the onions and leeks. As I could only find one gardening glove, my hand looked decidedly grubby, and I now have that very appealing ingrained dirt look about me! Do you think it is a thing that could catch on?

I know one thing for sure though, I am going to ache to high heaven tomorrow! But it is worth it, to be back out in the sun, with my hands in the dirt, dreaming of what will be growing, and all those days to come this growing year, spent down the allotment.