Thursday, April 27, 2006

Eye eye!

Catch up time again!


We went to London for Pearlie's birthday treat – Sylvanian Families shop and London Eye. It was a pretty cloudy, rainy day but we had a great time. The shop was very odd, as these specialist shops tend to be – tucked down a side street near Finsbury Park tube. Inside was every Sylvanian fan's dream!

Pearlie had managed to hang on to some money since Christmas and she had fun buying lots of little creatures – baby moles, a complete hedgehog family and a baby bear. Leo bought a small crew of creatures who 'go with' a 'captain' and boat. He was quite unsure about getting the crew without the boat but decided to go ahead after I promised to help him make them a boat – more later…

The London Eye was great and the kids loved it. We could probably have seen more on a clear day, but the whole experience was magical anyway. Dani and I were amazed at how quiet and calm the whole experience was – no clanking or jolting – just gliding up into the sky. We were booked in for 4pm and it was not busy at all – we basically walked on without any queuing . The kids didn't recognise much as, after all, London is not their home town! But they recognised the houses of parliament, Buckingham Palace and were particularly happy to see Battersea power station – as we pass it on the train. They also enjoyed looking at the structure of the Eye itself. All round a fab birthday treat – we heartily recommend it.


Wednesday morning Pearlie had a grand Sylvanian play – getting out all her creatures and setting up a camp in the hallway. For some reason playing with Sylvanians is always better if done in the middle of a busy thoroughfare. Leo and I worked together to make a boat for his new crew. We used an old cork tile, card board and tape and made them a speed boat.

In the afternoon I went to work and Dani took the kids to the park – as it was the beautiful sunny day we should have had for our London trip. They played happily for an hour or so and then went on to capoeira. They both had a good time at capoeira - Leo played with a boy he has never played with before.

In the evening we found that our bank account has paid £140 quid to an online poker service! Some b*****d has used Dani's debit card number. The bank are investigating and we should hopefully get a full refund. We spent several fruitless hours trying to work out how this had happened - but the card is cancelled now so let's hope that doesn't happen again.


Pearlie went to kids' club this morning. She was happy to see her friends and she is really enjoying the book that the playworker is reading to them over lunch it's a Alex Ryder book Stormbreaker. It certainly sounds thrilling.
Meanwhile, Leo, Dani and I worked on our costumes for the festival children's parade – which is fast approaching! We have never taken part as home educators before and we are all a bit excited. Dani spent the afternoon making a chart showing all the things we want to do in the festival this year. As usual, we found nothing we wanted to do in the main programme, and far too many in the fringe programme.

I arrived home from work tonight to find everyone playing with Pearlie's flag cards. We have found that Pearlie's almost complete knowledge of the flags is nearly balanced by our greater knowledge of capital cities. Well, actually it isn't but we played a game that did enable our knowledge of capitals to win us a few cards! Pearlie now knows 185 flags and loves her new cards. This learning of the flags is a classic example of Pearlie's idea of fun –an entirely self-directed exercise of her phenomenal memory.

During conversation this evening God came up. Leo's contribution was pretty typical of his current interests (no offense to any believers reading):
"God? What on earth's that? Oh, I know – that thing in the sky. I wonder how big his willy is?"

Monday, April 24, 2006

Happy Birthday Pearlie

It's Pearl's 9th birthday today. She chose to spend it at home and in our local park, just the four of us, and it was a relaxing and happy day.

Her party on Saturday, attended by all the grandparents and the local cousins, aunts and uncles, was a bit more fraught, but it all came good in the end.

She's garnered a lovely crop of presents, including everything on her wish list – as well as the coins we bought her in Bath, she now has a lop eared newborn bunny, a set of flags of the world cards, another Sylvanian baby grey bear, the Balderdash and Piffle book, a flying disc, a 20Q, an Italian flag purse from Italy, Divided by a Common Language, lots of lovely things to do with cats, and some walkie talkies that really work. She is thrilled with them all.

During the party, she worked with my dad to construct a splendid marble run out of bits they had each made in advance.

Inspired by our visit to the British Engineerium yesterday, she is planning to make a machine to deliver marbles to the top of it.

We went to the Engineerium because it was the last day it would be open – the trustees have decided to close the museum and sell off the collection due to lack of funds. This is a great shame, as they have some lovely machines there. The place was evidently open because it was the destination of a Rotary Club motorcycle rally, so it was full of motorcyclists interspersed with occasional steam engine enthusiasts taking photographs.

Allie has been reading the inspiring George and Sam, P. borrowed a couple of Horrible Histories from the library on Friday – the Angry Aztecs and Ireland – and Leo has been reading Bart Simpson's Guide to Life (!). We are reading Ghost to the Rescue to Leo at bedtime and A Small Person Far Away to Pearlie.

I must just blog my recent knitting achievements: a knitted celtic knot, which I turned into a pencilcase

a waistcoat for Pearlie, which was based (quite loosely) on this pattern, and which I'm very pleased with

and I'm now working on a waistcoat/cardigan design of my own, which involves producing lots of little experimental scraps of knitting, and this first prototype for Action Man – I think it suits him!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Ups and Downs

I'll spare you a blow by blow account of the last 9 days – they've been action packed and highly charged!

We had the much-anticipated visit from my sister and her family, which was exciting and included several fun things,

but also meant three late nights and early excited mornings, resulting in some (ahem!) novel parenting challenges for us.

Some notable events of the last week were:

  • A visit to the Seven Sisters Sheep Centre – very interesting

  • A trip to see Ice Age II, which all the kids enjoyed greatly. The grownups' general verdict was 'great animation, shame they forgot to write a plot'
  • The start of the new series of Doctor Who – hooray!
  • A mobile easter egg hunt encompassing the houses of all our local cousins
  • A couple of nice afternoons in the local park with boom bats and cakes from the café, one for just us four and one for Allie and the kids with her mum, plus an uncle and cousin.
  • Quite a lot of maths, with Leo figuring out carrying with the help of Cuisenaire rods and Pearl grasping the long division method Allie has been talking to her about.
  • A flying visit for me and the kids to a workshop organised for local home educators to prepare for this year's Brighton Festival Children's parade. We now have several half made costumes adorning the house and will have to get back to them next week.
  • Groups restarting after the Easter break – capoeira and Kids Club this week, Woodcraft and trampolining start next week.
  • Pearlie has started a lap book about her coin collection – photos to follow.
  • Leo has been drawing loads, as usual, including pictures that show the inside of things. He did a particularly interesting trio that showed an animal, its inside (including some features that indicated how it was evolving) and then one that showed what it evolved into.
  • A bit of exploration of anger management websites (see parenting challenges mentioned above!) by me and Allie. We left a print out of a page knocking around the kitchen, and both kids read it with interest. We have both been trying to be more helpful in the face of child anger – and less confrontational – so far, so good…

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Holiday highlights

Well, we had a few days with the luxury of nothing particular to do after a long 3 month stretch of work and other commitments – and we spent them doing nothing in particular, just pottering about at home and enjoying some sunshine in the local parks. Among other things, we:

  • met up with local cousins
  • sorted P's entire coin collection into chronological order and plotted the results on the computer as a bar chart

  • rediscovered monkey bars in one park and climbing poles in another

  • played with other kids on the new roundabout and swing in the park
  • did some knitting

  • baked some bread
  • had an outdoor HE group meet in another park, where P. and I rode bikes for the first time this year and Leo determinedly pushed himself along on a scooter (Quote: "I have achieved movement!") before entirely coating himself in sand.
  • watched lots of Doctor Who clips on, in increasingly feverish anticipation of the new series
  • planned menus, ordered loads of shopping and checked bus timetables in preparation for a visit from my sister and her family this coming weekend
I'm back at work now, but A. has another week off, so we're still feeling holidayish.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Guinea Pig Lump

This is just a quick post to put up a photo of a lump that I found on our guinea pig, Bunny, today. Hoping that some wise people on a gp forum can give me an opinion or two.

The 'hole' in the middle is where a nasty bit of stuff fell off as I parted his fur. You can feel a lump under his skin around the hole - about 2cm across.

This is what fell off the middle of the lump.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Whistlestop tourists

Hot on the heels of a delightful visit from an Australian cousin of mine, we have spent two very enjoyable days in Bath. Here are some highlights:

  • We took my cousin to Stanmer Park for some late afternoon tree climbing,

    conquering of tree stumps,

    and haltingly batting balls back and forth,
    plus ice cream in the café and a nice walk through the woods.
  • After a late night with wine and chatting, we had a slow start the next day, but made it to the wonderful Brighton Museum for the afternoon.
  • We said goodbye to my cousin and the guinea pigs and set off for Bath early on Monday morning, arriving in time for lunch and a leisurely visit to the amazing Roman Baths. We all appreciated the audio tour and were impressed by the museum displays as well as by the architecture and artefacts themselves.
  • Our bargain hotel room had a lovely view.
  • We splashed out on some holiday books, after P. delightedly spotted the Sirens of Surrentum (the latest Roman Mystery) on the shelf in Waterstones. She wasn’t expecting it to be published until tomorrow, so this was a real bonus for her. She finished it this morning. Leo chose How to Train your Dragon, and has read more than 100 pages in 2 days. Allie also snapped up her book, The Minotaur, and I finished Trilobite! on the train home.
  • Pearlie spent a lot of time making notes while we were in Bath, capturing the many interesting plaques and inscriptions we saw on walls around the town.

    Royal Crescent was particularly well endowed in that respect.
  • We noticed Isaac Pitman there, and again later in the Abbey, along with the Queen
    and lots of others. Leo and I did the Abbey's extensive quiz and were eventually rewarded with a small ruler inscribed with the words "God Loves Me". Leo appreciated the comic strip style of the magnificent window,

    and Pearl noticed the artistic effects used in the design of some of the stone plaques.
  • We spent some time in the Postal Museum, which was very interesting, but the facts and artefacts tended to overwhelm the narrative a bit.
  • We couldn't face any more museums, so we wandered over to the river, and found a lovely coin and stamp shop on Pulteney Bridge. On the spur of the moment, we bought P. a couple of £5 bags of mixed coins as an early birthday present, and she has been very happily occupied with discovering and sorting them ever since.
  • The sun shone as we relaxed in a lovely maze garden by the river.
  • All our train journeys were punctual and smooth – all in all, it was a really great trip.
We've just been relaxing and pottering at home and in the local park today. Both of us have the rest of the week off work and we're enjoying the chance to spend time together.