Category Archives: housework

Wow a vacant laptop, I can update my blog!

I had a flash of inspiration earlier, so thought I would use the moment to nudge me into updating my blog for once!

Today we have made a second trip to a new Home Ed group in our area.  This was yet another opportunity to have a picnic (we’ve been having them daily for the last week or so) and enjoy the fantastic sunshine we have at the moment.  As well as running round with sticks (L), drawing beautiful pictures of rainbows and snails (E), and making up complex role play games with friends (H), we had a fun time playing with some ‘squishy circuits’, which if you haven’t heard of, then you need to have a go! The main details and ingredients can be found here, there is also a pdf ‘classroom guide’ under the ‘publications’ section which is well worth printing out as an easy to follow guide. You essentially make 2 types of playdough, one with lots of salt, and one made with sugar and distilled water. One is a conductor, one an insulator. You then alternate your playdoughs to create your circuit structure, add a battery, some LEDs or a motor, and off you go. Very simple, cheap and easy.:And if you’re H, you can just play with the playdough…

I then had to rush home, and walk the puppy with L.  Well, I meant to rush the walk to as we were meant to be meeting B at Ikea, but L will not be rushed.  He came armed with a bowl of snails (his sisters had been racing them earlier), which HAD to come on our walk with us. After they had fallen out of the bowl at least 3 times, I managed to rehome them into a happy looking hedge to save them from any further trauma. L was mortified when he realised what I’d done, but I distracted him by looking for tadpoles in the ponds. We recently hatched and raised a batch of frogspawn, which we returned to our local pond as froglets a couple of weeks ago, so we go and check on them regularly. Armed with his bowl, L scooped up some water and was delighted to catch several tadpoles (obviously a bit behind developmentally from the ones we released), and prodded them, examined some water snails, and puzzled over little whizzing insects he also scooped. The bowl was emptied and refilled several times, examined and oooh-ed over, before I made him hurry along. L then spent the rest of the walk gathering stones and other exciting finds in his bowl all the way home.  That bowl turned out to be a brilliant thing to bring on our walk…though the snails probably didn’t think so.

Girls racing their snails yesterday

We then bundled ourselves into the car and dashed to Ikea. We’ve decided to buy a double bed for H and L to share. We’ve tried bunk beds and midi-sleepers, and no bed arrangement has so far worked for these two. E has her own room and bed. L still co-sleeps with us, but we are all for encouraging him out of our bed 😉 H sleeps in her bed sometimes, sometimes wanders into ours in the middle of the night. She claims she needs company. They both sleep beautifully in our bed together, but I would like to sleep in our bed too! So we’ve invested in a double bed in the hope we can get them to sleep together in their own bed, in their own room. Its always good to have goals and aspirations right?!

It’s not often that L gets to spend time with us all on his own, so he was quite spoiled this evening. We bribed him round Ikea, letting him choose a toy from the children’s area as we passed through. We then went to pizza hut, which he thought was the best thing ever: “Me love pee-ba” says L. I have a fab photo of L eating ice cream covered in sweeties, with a huge grin on his face! Will have to add it in later.  Ah, found it:

L (Buzz) enjoying his ice cream without sibling interference!

H is at a friend’s house for a sleepover, E has a friend here for a sleepover, so while they’ve sorted themselves out watching Springwatch and having a bath, I’ve painted H’s room ready for her new bed to be installed. I’d forgotten how quick it was to paint a wall without small children wanting to ‘help’ me!!

Typical Home Ed day huh?!


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Time flies, particularly when you’re having fun!

I feel like we are so back on track at the moment, reading my last blog post has actually made me laugh, which  I guess is good, in a cleansing sort of a way!

Here’s today in pictures…awful, grainy pictures from my horrible phone, but at least they give an idea of what we’ve been up to 🙂 Actually, I say from today, they are all from this afternoon, as I spent the morning completely clearing this room and sweeping the floor :-O Then look what they did!

Toddler L painting his aquadraws - d'oh! After scattering magnetic letters everywhere :-S

L playing with his favourite toy, and H drawing beautiful pictures of her family with 'flowers in their hair'

We drew round L's hands and feet and turned the shapes into fish, birds, penguins, ghosts etc.

H's plate monster, with smile, letter H and necklace!

Inside the monster - shows his tongue, oesophagus down to its stomach!

E constructing her mummy case

The books and equipment required!

Constructing the mummy

E constructing her mummy from kitchen foil - look at the concentration required!

E has been very focussed on finding out all about Ancient Egypt for a while, and it has become an obsession over the last few weeks. We started with a ‘Read it Yourself’ ladybird book ‘Mummies’ which was simple, easy to understand, and provoked too many questions for the poor little book to answer. So we skipped to this amazing book: Egyptology – the search for the tomb of Osiris, which E bought for with birthday money last year, which answers many questions, but sidetracks you a lot! I also trawled Pinterest for ideas, and made a board of all the things I found. E particularly liked the paper dolls and we’ve printed these a few times now, for different eras. E also found this audiobook: There’s a Pharoah in Our Bath by Jeremy Strong, at our local library and found it hilarious 🙂

We also made a disastrous trip to Bristol Art Gallery and Muesum. Their newly refurbished Egypt exhibition housed some amazing exhibits, but they were poorly explained, and really hard to interact with – everything was accompanied with a touchscreen for ‘more information’ except they either didn’t work, or were appallingly slow. It did not engage E at all 😦

I’d also bought her the usborne ‘Egyptian things to make and do’ which led to the activity in the photos above. First she made the mummy case – cutting out the base shape, self-drawn, then using the base as a template for the lid, making the edges, and sticking it all together. Covering the whole lot in metallic-coloured tissue paper and pva glue. Then she wanted to make a mummy to go in the mummy case, luckily they have instructions for that too, so she constructed her mummy parts from silver foil, and wrapped them in strips of wet kitchen towel, dried them, then covered in pva glue too. Tomorrow she is all set to draw hieroglyphics all over the mummy case, ready for her ‘museum’.  After her rubbish museum trip, a lovely lady on twitter (@mamacrow) gave us the idea of making our own exhibition. This has totally gripped E’s imagination, and this will be the first exhibit! The intention is to create some canopic jars, some egyptian jewellery, and other ‘artefacts’. It’s all keeping her busy anyway!

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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in art and craft, history, Home Education, housework


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The day of rest??

It’s Sunday. We are in mid-tidying frenzy as I am determined to get our kitchen reorganised and the hallway clear in anticipation of the arrival of a large Essentials delivery. Scary scary. In between tidying and directing, we have been very busy today.

We finally dug our potato council potatoes up. Got a fab haul is year, really pleased with our efforts, and having a roast chicken with beautiful, fresh, boiled potatoes to celebrate!!  We didn’t quite the timings right, so can’t enter our results in 😦 Will try harder next year!

E and H are into baking at the moment, so asked if they could make some biscuits. Not best timing when mid-kitchen mayhem, but we managed it. E couldn’t cope with the stickiness of the dough, so H and I followed the recipe directions, which said to put the dough between a folded sheet of greaseproof paper and roll away. This worked really well, and will be definitely using this method in future! H and I cut out all our shapes, H rolling her own dough and doing her own shape cutting, then piled them in the oven. Recipe was for 30 but we seem to have made double that using small cutters, so all good!

E then decided to make the hairy caterpillar from her Rainbows handbook. I bought the bits to do this about a year ago, and she finally decided to do it today…probably to do with clearing out the hallway and finding the stash! Required a pair of stockings, elastic bands, sawdust, grass seeds, decorations to make a face. E mixed the saw dust and seeds (we didn’t have any grass seeds, so hoping cress and mustard seed will work??!) then spooned mixture into one of the stockings. she then tied the end with an elastic band, then 3 more bands along the length to make a series of caterpillarish bulges. She then drew a face on the front with permanent marker and put it in an old ice cream tub and covered in water. Will see how it grows!!

L took the remaining sawdust mixture and happily sat spooning it backwards and forwards between two bowls.

It’s E’s birthday next week, and we are planning an outdoor mini-celebration with hopefully lots of bubble-blowing. I’ve been gathering bubble blowing ideas from Pinterest, and tried out one of the ideas today. We bent a pipe cleaner so it had a heart-shaped loop at the top, then dipped in fairy liquid and water mixture. It blew lovely big bubbles. Here are a few more of my bubble-blowing ideas!

Right got more washing to put on, and a dishwasher to empty. Oh and must get dressed…it is nearly 2pm after all!

Later update…ended up going on a nature walk this afternoon, we’ve found our local ponds (very newly made) are finally teeming with life.  We saw loads of different butterflies, beautiful dragonflies, watersnails, and lots and lots of frogs!


E catching frogs



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Dog days

Today has been a bit of a special day, as we were adopting a dog for a day.  Radley is the Dad of the puppy we are hopefully bringing home to be part of our family towards the end of this year 🙂 B and I got up stupidly early (i.e. before 9am!) to tidy up the downstairs bits, not having had a dog before, we weren’t sure what Radley’d make of the array of buttons, barbies, fridge magnets etc. that are normally scattered all over our floor, and certainly were this morning!

Only E was awake so she made a sign to go on the front door saying: ‘Don’t ring the bell, knock on the door’, so the little ones didn’t wake up when Radley got here!  By the time Radley arrived at 8.45am we were ready!  E then got to spend some time playing with him on her own: following him round the garden, round the kitchen, round the dining rm, up and down the stairs (we swore we weren’t going to let him upstairs…!).  We got a running commentary of his every move!

When H woke up finally, she got a lovely surprise, and had fun joining in the Radley-adoration-club! L was a bit more shocked by Radley’s appearance, but once he’d woken up properly he loved him being here too.

We made some communal rounds of toast for breakfast, and then we all went out for a walk with Radley at about 10am. This led to a session at our local playground, then an introduction to the downside of having a dog…cleaning up after it (bleurrggghhh!), not my favourite bit!  This a big pet hate of mine – people not clearing up after their dogs – so kids were well up on what was needed, we had nappy bags with us, and E found us a red dog bin too.

Back home and friends came over to admire Radley and see if they could still visit us with a dog in situ!! Radley was beautifully behaved, and loved the increased attention! The small girls disappeared off to play, and E dug out a find from a nearly new sale we’d been to at the weekend, a Crayola Illumination Station and we figured out how to get it to work, and replaced the batteries!  E then set to work on her creations! That was her set till lunchtime, which is a pretty impressive concentration span for her 🙂

After lunch we set the kids up with playdough, and B and E took Radley out for another walk.  When they came back, L took Radley out into the garden to show him his sandpit, and generally mess around in the dirt with him!

Our friends went home, and we set to work converting a punnet of strawberries we picked yesterday into Strawberry ice cream using this recipe! I’m leaving out the vanilla bit, and just sticking with the strawberry bit!  E cut up and measured all the strawberries, blitzed and sieved them.  I separated the yolks and creamed them with the sugar, but she poured the cream in and stirred on the hob.  She then stirred it all together, and sieved it into the tub we had ready for it. It’s now in the freezer and I’ve got to remember to stir it every half an hour!!

Radley is now fast asleep.  We’ve exhausted him!  We’ve just made some popcorn and covered it in icing sugar. It has now been mostly scoffed, and the kids all have icing sugar all over their faces! We’ve sat down to watch H’s Angelina Ballerina DVD, and having some down time. Phew!

Radley will be going home soon, and we’ve had an absolutely fantastic day with him.  We’re really pleased with how he’s fitted in with our family and really looking forward to meeting his puppy progeny in a few months time!


Sunshine makes such a difference

Last night I got a rare night out, and went with some friends to see The King’s Speech.  I’d been really looking forward to seeing it, and was not disappointed.  Lots of things to think about, and reflect on.  Need to do more social stuff just for ME!  I do actually enjoy it once I’m out of the house!!

Today has led to some interesting discussions.  E came downstairs at one point and asked me what gelatine was, and before I could answer, she was telling me what it was :-S  It was something she had just heard on a CBBC programme, but she wasn’t sure which one.  E wanted to know what sort of things had gelatine in them.  I had a pack in the cupboard, so brought that out, then we went round the kitchen looking for other things that had it as an ingredient.  Jelly, the pack of dolly mixtures I had hidden on the table!  Then we moved onto animal products, and laid out cans of tuna, packets of ham, frozen fish, pork steaks etc.


Animal product discussion

Then the discussion was over as quickly as it had begun.  I am just left with lots of pictures of the contents of my freezer on my phone :-/

I had to amuse 4 children today, so of course we got the playdough out 🙂  L managed not to eat his, but just catapult it round the room.  I left them to it for a bit, and E came through with this:


E's playdough masterpiece

Pretty cool huh?!  She went into great detail about how the sail was made out of 2 triangles stuck together, and that she’d actually wanted to have the sun going down, but couldn’t work out how to show that!

Much playing later, I caught this snapshot of them mid-dressing-up-show.  L in a gorgeous pink dress of course 😉  And also my nice, swept floor, there’s usually so much stuff on the floor you can’t walk across it!  Am revelling in its tidiness today!  Much thanks to have having my children amused by other children, and a friend who is happy to sweep my floor with me!


Dressing up

It was a beautifully sunny today, so managed to throw them out into the garden for quite a bit of the day, and there was much trampolining in the sunshine, and also a lovely long walk, where L tried to go and swim with the ducks :-S


Posted by on March 2, 2011 in art and craft, housework, Uncategorized


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Cathedrals, trapezes and boats

Luckily it has been a pretty busy week.  B has been away since Saturday, just to make things a little bit easier :-S

Monday we went along for an ‘educational’ session at Gloucester Cathedral on ‘the Senses’.  It was absolutely fantastic, and something I think everyone living in or around the city should do.  We all learned so much, it was history, local information, architecture, and much more.  We go to the cathedral quite often, but we’ve obviously been going round the place with our eyes closed!  After spending an hour looking around the Cathedral itself, we then transferred to the Cathedral’s Educational building, were there was an array of activities to keep the kids busy: making tea light holders from clay, drawing symbols on stones like the stonemasons do on their work around the Cathedral, identifying a series of pots of herbs by smell, among others.  Definitely time well spent!

Later on, E brought me a piece of paper and said that she wanted me to help her write some words down to show her (schooled) friend, as apparently she’s been teasing her that E can’t read or write!  Tsk!  She was determined that she was going to show her that she could!!

On Tuesday we went to pick up a ballet outfit for E that I won on Ebay – I like bargains!  Then we went straight on to a Home Ed Circus Skills class at Cinderford’s Artspace for 2 hours of fun!  We did juggling, hula hooping, plate spinning, and the girls learned some new tricks on the trapeze to practise at home.  Its been about a year since we last went along to a session, and the girls have really changed in that time.  Last time I had them both clinging to me, refusing to do anything without me there by their sides.  This time, I made it clear I was watching from the sides and looking after baby L, so they had to get on with things on their own.  E went straight in and joined in with the warm up games and introduction ice-breakers, which she often doesn’t.  L was a complete nightmare.  He has turned into a whirlwind and doesn’t keep still for a second.  I had to take him out of the room when he was determined he wanted to bounce on the crash mats that were in use!  We walked up and down stairs and in and out of rooms, and then settled on the sofa in the reception.  I had just breathed a sigh of relief when he spotted his chance, and slalomed through the double doors, straight out into the road outside.   Man, I had a heart attack. Luckily no cars were passing at that moment.  I’ve decided some kind of cage is in order.  Or perhaps an extendable lead?  Do they produce these for toddlers?!!

We dashed back for E’s ballet lesson in her new outfit!  She seems to be really enjoying it, and we’ve weedled her into the older class as they put her in with one of her own age group, and she was twice the size of them!  She came out asking why everyone was so small!  Luckily the teacher let her try the next class up to see if she could cope, and has got on brilliantly, and no longer looks so out of place!

We’ve had a nice chilled out day today, after a stressful start!  We piled over to spend the day with 2 other families, supposedly to watch a lightship (don’t even know what one of these is?!) coming down the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal.  It bailed on us, but had a nice day sheltering from the pouring rain in our friend’s barge anyway.  Lots of kids for the girls to socialise with, and some thought provoking and fun conversation with the adults!

We trekked back along the tow path, waving to the passing boats and admiring a beautiful family of swans with 4 cygnets. On the way home we detoured to our favourite camping shop to purchase one of these that I’ve had my eye on since L was born, but now, with his recent antics, I got it in the hope of keeping him vaguely safe!

Back at home, E disappeared off to play with friends, and I got to work in the kitchen making fishcakes (from scratch!!!), and a sauce for the lasagne I’m planning to make tomorrow.  H decided to get out the marble run and soon turned the game into ‘look how many marbles I can stuff in my pockets and still be able to walk around without falling over’!  L enjoyed chasing the marbles too, and luckily didn’t eat any!

B is home tomorrow – yippee!!


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Rules – 3 days on

I can’t believe that we’ve managed to stick to the rules I came up with for 3 whole days!  The difference is unbelievable.  Whereas my usual evening routine  is chasing the kids out of the kitchen after tea and herding them up to bed, leaving the clearing up ‘for later’, and sweeping all the toys in the sitting room to round behind the sofa, I now have a clean, clear kitchen, and a toy-free sitting room.  Woop woop!!

We’ve had a couple of wobbles from E, who likes to refuse to do something before she’s even heard what she’s being asked to do!  At the outset when I said 1 person was to clear table, 1 person to lay it, and 1 person to make lunch and tea, both E and H said that I would be making the food, and they would do the other 2 jobs between them.  When E has refused to do her part I have in turn said that I would refuse to make the food then!  That has done the trick so far!!  There have been a couple of times that the table has been cleared from the meal before so well, there has been no clearing to do before the next meal!  Or with the extra time I have I’ve cleaned, cleared and laid the table if they’ve been absorbed in something else and I feel guilty to drag them out to do chores!

I expected E to kickback against the new ‘regime’, and also expected H not to really get it.  H is generally a bit rubbish at helping out, usually refusing point-blank to do whatever it is we’ve asked her to – well it is a 3 year old’s prerogative!!  She has really surprised me in how well she has got involved in the jobs.  I didn’t know she knew how to stack plates, or if she actually knew where our food-waste bin was!

The bribery element is on track, and all bribes have been delivered 😉  If they keep it up all week they have a special treat to reward them at the weekend!!

Meanwhile, with the time I have saved, I’m setting a few new challenges for myself.  Not only have I managed to keep the kitchen counters clear and cleaned (previously unheard of!), but am also ontop of the dishwasher filling and emptying, the bread-making, and the washing (more or less).  Also found time to tidy the play room, clean out the guinea pigs and sort out the clean washing that’s been hanging around for days, and tidied the kids’ rooms.

My new challenges stem from noticing that our food-waste bin was mainly full of stale bread from where I have a complete inability to cut a loaf of bread past a certain point, so always end up with a dried-up chunk left over!  I’ve invested in a tin of custard powder, and some large freezer bags, so will be saving these bits up and will make a bread and butter pudding once a week.  I have also bought some tinned salmon and am going to try a recipe in E’s cookbook for fish cakes which needs breadcrumbs!

As part of the new and improved, Super Me, not only am I teaching myself how to run a household, but also to cook.  I love baking, but hate cooking.  I bought some casserole steak a couple of weeks ago and stuck it straight in the freezer.  I decided to defrost it a couple of days ago, and have been alternately looking at it and searching recipes, and finally turned it into a beef casserole today.  I know all this sounds ridiculously simple to most, but I am well chuffed with myself 😉  I last attempted a casserole a year ago, or maybe even longer ago than that!  I didn’t really like it, so have been searching for a different recipe, not that I’m fussy!  I have tasted it, and it is good!  At least tomorrow night’s dinner is sorted.  I am tempted to try making dumplings though…!!

Also – can anyone recommend a source of recipes (either a book or online?) for baking recipes, preferably sweet treats 😉  We’ve exhausted our usual stash of recipes and are on the look out for something that isn’t a cookie, a muffin, a banana cake or a flapjack!!  We even tried to make profiteroles the other day.  They came out beautifully, unfortunately it turned out I had well over-cooked them and they were crispy to the touch…oops!  Crispy profiterole anyone??!


Posted by on September 27, 2010 in cooking, housework


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