Madness and Mayhem part 2

Wednes­day, we left our core work in order to get some other things done.  Sam wrote thank you let­ters for his birth­day presents and a let­ter to his pen­pal. 20151118_50 We sorted out the final bits for our ruck­sack for the Ruck­sack Project, a friend we were due to meet in Portsmouth had kindly agreed to drop it at the venue for me (as I’ve been too badly organ­ised to get it to Fare­ham like I meant to).

We took some cheques in to the banks.  I showed Samhow to fill in the pay­ing in book and gave it to him say­ing ‘it’s yours so you can do it’.  His response was ‘isn’t my bank HSBC?’  So we left San­tander, where no one in the fam­ily has an account, and went to the right bank!  The boy’s con­fi­dence in deal­ing with prac­ti­cal things like this stands out.  Which is good as I’m obvi­ously los­ing my marbles.

Into Portsmouth where we were meet­ing some friends to tour the Guild­hall.  It had the poten­tial to be really inter­est­ing, unfor­tu­nately the lady giv­ing the tour was young and ner­vous and obvi­ously had no idea how to engage with the kids.  Too much focus on the corporate/wedding side.  Sam was in an odd, hyper mood and hard work.  Was a good thing to do though and I saw things I didn’t know were there/hadn’t noticed, such as the murals in recep­tion and a pub­lic exhi­bi­tion of music in Portsmouth.

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Here’s Susie pho­to­bomb­ing Sam in revenge for his con­stant pho­to­bomb­ing of every­one else’s pho­tos. 20151118_43  Sam’s favourite bit.


The thing that caught me was this tree


What you can’t tell until you are up really close is that all the snowflakes are cor­po­rate logos.  It’s really, really clever!

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Try­ing to blow away the madness 😉

20151118_49The last two days have been much needed home days.  Catch­ing up on clean­ing and work backlogs.

A lit­tle bit of what we’ve done.

Dis­cussing ‘fan­tasy objects’ for cre­ative writ­ing.20151120_16 Catch­ing up on our Chris­t­ian sto­ries work.  Writ­ing a sto­ry­board for Daniel in the Lion’s Den and learn­ing about parables.20151120_14

Learn­ing about vol­canic intru­sions and see­ing how less dense liq­uids rise.20151120_6

Mak­ing choco­late cov­ered prunes (and apri­cots) as part of work on Rus­sia.  We also had kiev for tea.  We’ve spent a lot of time dis­cussing com­mu­nism and the USSR so okay kiev isn’t Russ­ian but fell into our gen­eral area.

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Car­ried on look­ing at Cezanne,20151120_18Mov­ing on from por­traits to still life we started with Three Skulls.  Focus­ing again on shading.


Scratch20151120_3 Kinect20151120_2 Read­ing and doc­u­men­tary watch­ing also fea­tured.  He’s loved Wild Weather and we watched some­thing on volcanoes.  20151120_4

Ran out of steam this after­noon as had some sort of aller­gic reac­tion to some­thing — lumps, water­ing eyes the works.  No idea what but a nap and a bath seem to have done the trick.  Wine and the Hob­bit now.

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Madness and Mayhem

I may have taken on too much the last cou­ple of weeks.  Doing a decent impres­sion of a head­less chicken while life rat­tles on at a very quick pace around me.  Add into the mix that Sam appears to be on another planet and life is inter­est­ing.  No idea what has got into him but have con­cerns he’s becom­ing one of ‘those chil­dren’!  You all know the ones I mean, the ones you all gig­gle at on home ed trips while their par­ents cringe :/

Mon­day didn’t get off to the best start when I dropped a half built Lego model on my toe and got a sur­pris­ingly deep cut — but the panic of try­ing to repair the model was worse!  It picked up though.  We rat­tled through the morning’s core work and fin­ished off a sec­tion of the Europe work­book we’re work­ing through as part of our Geog­ra­phy project.  Then it was time to head to the Dock­yard for laser quest.  Still the high­light of Sam’s month.


Nice num­bers this time after last month’s spike.  Laser quest is my favourite activ­ity to organ­ise.  Dock­yard are so easy to deal with, we’ve a decent core group and always a few extras so last month when we hit max­i­mum was my only con­cern on num­bers, he loves it and I enjoy hav­ing time to chat to other home eders in a way many activ­i­ties don’t give you.

Back home and there was lots of snug­gly read­ing time.  A friend at laser quest had kindly given us two Usborne ver­sions of clas­sic sto­ries.  By bed time he’d read Franken­stein and was a good half way through Moby Dick.  We’ve since gone on to add the Drac­ula and Jekyll and Hyde ver­sions of the series on to the kin­dle, def­i­nitely lov­ing the gothic hor­ror at the moment.

Tues­day saw us back in Southamp­ton for the sec­ond time in 8 days.  A lift from a friend meant that we were able to get the days Maths and Eng­lish done first though.  The pur­pose of the visit was a work­shop at the Apple store.  It was one of those things that pop up in your inbox and you just think — ooh yes.  The idea was they were using ipads to cre­ate adver­tis­ing posters.  It wasn’t hugely edu­ca­tional, but don’t think any of the kids had used the pro­gramme before and they all stayed on task for the full hour and a half ses­sion even though it was on the shop floor so plenty of distractions.

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They all were given a tshirt and a usb wrist­band.  10 out of 11 man­aged an adver­tis­ing poster (although Ronnie’s was a photo of Sam with text along the lines of — ‘iPad, so sim­ple even Sam can use them’ — did make me laugh).  Sam made a wanted posted instead :/


Poor Grace.  She was only his tar­get because she’d pose for a photo.  Ron­nie wasn’t play­ing ball. The accus­ing fin­ger amused me.

After the work­shop we stayed in Southamp­ton and had lunch in our favourite ‘Choco­late Cafe’ (it’s a good job we only make it to Southamp­ton about twice a year).


Then went to Toys R Us to spend birth­day money.  Luck­ily we’d had a reccy last week so he knew what he wanted and it wasn’t too hor­ri­ble an experience.

20151118_11 After nearly 2 hours on the bus on the way home thanks to traf­fic.  Cubs wasn’t on the agenda.  Instead it was an evening of new Lego and Hexbugs.20151118_12 20151118_15

Think I may have to split this post into two and stop there so I can get on with the day.

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Birthday Boy

We lost Thurs­day in a mix of appoint­ments and chores.  A non-day really.  We did do stuff but noth­ing to note.

Fri­day marked the start of birth­day cel­e­bra­tions for Sam’s 10th birth­day.  We seem to have fallen into Birth­day sleep­over rou­tine which is a nice, and low stress for me, way to celebrate.

We picked up Oscar at the ferry and headed up to a local soft play cen­tre for the after­noon.  I think these places are the work of the devil.  We haven’t been to this par­tic­u­lar one (Mon­key Biz­ness) for at least 4 years but it is def­i­nitely still a cut above the other local offer­ings which all feel dark and scummy.  Fun City in Fare­ham at least has the advan­tage of cheap­ness but Play­zone is just hor­ri­ble in every way.  This one is light and airy with an appeal­ing cake selec­tion and pass­able cof­fee at least.

Back home and there was just play.  We had planned to go out to watch a local fire­works dis­play but they weren’t so keen by the time it was leave the house time.  A walk on the beach to see if we could see some­thing from here was the com­pro­mise (pos­si­bly if we’d gone at the right time 😉 )

13-2-15 003 Take away for tea and a film fin­ished off the night.  I do believe they stayed up until mid­night so they saw in Sam’s birthday :).

20151114_1 Sam’s birth­day was a home day (apart from return­ing Oscar).  This is how he likes them.  A day for play­ing with presents and eat­ing cake.

Now I’m not a per­son who goes by boys and girls toys and age things mine get what appeals.  How­ever if this isn’t the a present haul that screams 10 year old boy (obvi­ously with a geek­ish rather than sporty lean­ing) I’m not sure what is.


20151114_6 20151114_5Did I men­tion that there was cake?

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Flowing, Fizzing and France

Can tell I’m feel­ing more myself when the allit­er­a­tive blog titles are back.

Weds was a rare day in (although one with deliv­er­ies and boiler ser­vic­ing to work around) and a day for hands on learn­ing.  We sped through Maths and Lan­guages to get on to project work.

In sci­ence we were look­ing at lava flows.  We started by look­ing at vis­cos­ity by pour­ing a table­spoon each of var­i­ous liq­uids onto paper and watch­ing the flow and com­par­ing the area they spread over.

20151111_41Con­trast could be very clearly seen between water and trea­cle.  We talked about what type of vol­cano each would form.  Oh and dis­cov­ered that you can write with treacle :)

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Sam made mini­books about dif­fer­ent types of vol­cano and one to show how a caldera is formed.


It doesn’t mat­ter how often we do this activ­ity we can’t do vol­ca­noes and not model the for­ma­tion of a stra­to­vol­cano.  Start with a cone of play­dough with a cham­ber and crater.  Set off a vine­gar and bak­ing soda explo­sion and cover the the tracks where the ‘lava’ runs with more play­dough and repeat.  Great fun :)

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We fin­ished up with mod­el­ling vol­cano plugs with cakes and choco­late.  Mak­ing a hole in the mid­dle of a fairy cake and fill­ing it with melted choco­late, then ‘erod­ing’ the cake (soft rock) when the plug had hardened.

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We’re at the perk­ing up our Europe project stage by start­ing to try and look at a coun­try a week.  This week is France.  We started with a lunch of French onion soup (no one will eat it besides me so while I love home made it just wasn’t worth the time this was a hor­ri­ble packet mix to get Sam to taste it), baguette and brie.


Then we spend a ridicu­lous amount of time, effort and thought on con­struct­ing a model of the Eif­fel Tower from spaghetti and marshmallows.



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Time and Space

Yesterday’s walk to Cubs was longer than usual as they were vis­it­ing the parish church.  We spent most of the walk dis­cussing the mer­its and the eth­i­cal issues of being able to fast for­ward time (it is Sam’s birth­day at the week­end and it is too slow in com­ing!)  While I acknowl­edge that at times it would be appeal­ing — Sam’s missed bus argu­ment was per­sua­sive — I was not con­vinced.  Often days where we are ‘mak­ing the best of things’ turn out to be good days.  Last week the inter­net, tv and phone all went down, we made a snap deci­sion to go out for a meal.  Yes­ter­day was exactly one of those ‘skip if you could’ days on paper but turned out to be a lovely day.

Mon­day was a good day too in a dif­fer­ent way.  We were booked into a film about the inter­na­tional space sta­tion as part of the Into film fes­ti­val.  Only one we’ve booked as tbh I don’t like doing the cin­ema in the morn­ings (and Sam doesn’t like it at all really), the cost of travel is usu­ally more than the DVD and some are on Ama­zon Video.  How­ever, the space thing looked some­thing dif­fer­ent as there was a Q&A after with some­one from the UK Space agency.  These things are always a bit of a wild­card as to whether they cap­ture Sam’s imag­i­na­tion — this one did.  He now wants to be an astro­naut if he can’t be a rich entre­pre­neur who tells peo­ple they’re fired.

Took a photo in there on my phone.   Came out as a rather atmos­pheric pix­e­lated arty pic­ture.  Appalling photo but I quite like it.


Now the bus diverts via Fare­ham it takes us nearly as long to get to Southamp­ton as it does to get to Lon­don (we cheated on the way there and went to work with Pete and jumped on the bus near there miss­ing out a good 45 mins of the bus — was an early start though!)  So decided we should do some­thing else while there.  Had a google in the morn­ing and chanced upon a new exhi­bi­tion at SeaC­ity with images of space.  Highly rec­om­mend it, very pleas­ant way to spend an hour.


Tues­day started with a trip to the nurse, booked early so Sam could go to cafe for break­fast with Pete.  To sal­vage the early start/out of rou­tine we made the most of being out and spent a lovely half hour or so on a very windy beach.

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Back home we warmed up with hot drinks and spent a very pro­duc­tive rest of the morn­ing work­ing on pen and paper and com­puter and app style learn­ing.  The bread and but­ter basics.

After­noon was spent on Scratch and then on a new Lego — took about 1 1/2 hrs to build.  Love that he’s got back into it again.

20151111_2620151111_3120151111_32Evening and it was Cubs at the church with a tour and appar­ently they made churches from cock­tail sticks and jelly babies.

Really enjoy­ing the slower pace of life at the moment.  Sam’s read­ing, lots of mur­der­ous maths and play­ing with the con­cepts, Hor­ri­ble Sci­ence and more cod­ing books.  He wants to talk to us about what he’s read­ing too which is inter­est­ing (and slightly mind blow­ing).  Also strangely he’s go into folk tales.  Lots of cod­ing, Lego and Minecraft is resur­fac­ing as an inter­est  Feel like we’ve got some much needed time and space to relax and explore.


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Intermittent Signal

Nearly there with the find­ing the mojo thing but not quite.  Men­tally have come out the funk I hope but prac­ti­cal stuff like unre­li­able inter­net sig­nal and putting my knee out have hampered.

We have made the best of things and spent a lot of time read­ing together which is nice,  Aesop’s Fables, Enid Blyton’s Nature Book, Children’s Bible, var­i­ous non-fiction relat­ing to vol­ca­noes and I man­aged to find a book about the Gun­pow­der plot suit­able for Sam (every­thing else seemed to be writ­ten for 5 yos).  He also read a book of folk tales to him­self inspired by the story from Writ­ing With Ease this week — he’s gone on to read a few books fol­low­ing on from these exerts now.  He tells me he’s read­ing Lord of the Flies too and enjoy­ing it :/

Maths has moved on to addi­tion and sub­trac­tion and we’ve had fun with some games.  Still using the print­able activ­i­ties and online ver­sions of Math­let­ics hand in hand and it’s work­ing well, the playful/puzzle ele­ment works well for Sam.

Eng­lish, as men­tioned he’s been inspired to read the book from this week’s WWE Andrew Lang’s The Crim­son Fairy Book, not some­thing I’d have expected to appeal to him so always pleased when he tries some­thing dif­fer­ent.  We’ve had fun recap­ping adjec­tives in gram­mar.  In cre­ative writ­ing he designed a kingdom.

20151107_1  Have man­aged some prac­ti­cal stuff.  Pres­sure and vol­ca­noes in other words men­tos and cheap cola and lemon­ade.  I man­aged to end up drip­ping :/  Vol­cano jam tarts, but we didn’t make the main vents big enough so they exploded out of the sides.20151104_9 20151104_4 20151104_520151104_11Weather has really not been good (which hasn’t helped the knee) so there has been kinect and table ten­nis to burn energy, with Grandad and Jack respec­tively.20151107_2 20151107_3

By the end of the week I was a bit stir crazy but couldn’t think of any­where that was inside, I could sit down and we both fani­cied.  Then inspi­ra­tion struck.  I spent Fri­day morn­ing sit­ting on a friend’s sofa with cups of tea while Sam played Lego and Magic with his friends.

Week­end was pro­duc­tive.  I man­aged some work, lots of Future­learn study and a thor­ough house clean as well as time spent relax­ing with boys.  Bit of a Dr Who marathon.

Sam caught up with Art and started our Cezanne study by look­ing at the ‘Por­trait of the Artist’s Son’.

He then drew a pic­ture of Pete. Sorry for bad photo.

20151107_4Sam is still lov­ing and made a char­ac­ter cake for his baker patch pretty much independently.

20151107_7 20151107_8 20151107_12 Then of course they were both on parade for Remem­brance, first time in many years I haven’t been with them.


Missed lots like our Geog­ra­phy and RE projects but no pho­tos to jog me and try­ing to recall too much for one post.  Lots of plan­ning of days out and activ­i­ties going on too.  Here’s too bet­ter inter­net sig­nal and more reg­u­lar blogging.

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Out of the Fog


I know I’ve men­tioned a few times lately that I’ve been strug­gling a bit.  Not with HE really, but with other things. The knock on effect though has been to crash my energy lev­els and moti­va­tion in gen­eral and every­thing includ­ing HE was feel­ing hard work.  Deter­mined now that it has gone on too long and it’s time to put it behind me and find my joie de vivre again.

Halfterm wasn’t exactly the relax­ing break I was hop­ing for, it was non stop hard work but maybe that in a way was bet­ter.  I’m much bet­ter when I am busy with stuff I ‘have’ to do.

Yes­ter­day was an odd ‘bright start’ sort of day.  The world was almost wrapped in a blan­ket of fog.  That said we started early, had all our ‘core work’ done by 10am.  Man­aged some work through the Europe project — still on the work­sheet side and moved on from look­ing at the ori­gins of the bible to bible stories.

We even had time for a decent read­ing ses­sion — a cou­ple of bible sto­ries and the last two chap­ters of Alice in Won­der­land before it was time to go out for bowling.

Back home there was Minecraft for the first time in months as he felt inspired to build an ark.  Then a fam­ily quiz night to end the day on a relaxed note.



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Half term, House Stuff and Halloween

I really don’t know where half-term went.  I seem to have blinked and missed it :/  I vaguely recall watch­ing Dr Who with Jack at one point — oth­er­wise he’s been away on camp or out with friends for much of it (or they’ve been here en mass).

There was some ‘work’.  Fin­ish­ing off of stuff from our lazy few weeks before half-term.  Caught up with all the mul­ti­pli­ca­tion games on Math­let­ics and spent some time play­ing Timez Attack for fun.  He wasn’t hard to con­vince to do our last pen­cilled in Sci­ence activ­ity for the half term as it was demon­strat­ing plate move­ments and bound­aries using ryvita on oobleck.  Have to love oobleck!


The other big fin­ish­ing up job was our Van Gogh unit which fin­ished with Self Por­trait at the Easel.

He painted his own ver­sion with oil paint.20151029_120151030_3The rest of the week seems to have van­ished in work on the house.  The boys had new win­dows and we have had both doors replaced.  Means we took the oppor­tu­nity for a sort out and  lots of flat pack fur­ni­ture build­ing.  Still have to decorate!

There was time for library and Lego.  Old inter­est reignited.


Plus it’s been Halloween!

We’ve made fancy food.


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Had a lovely party with friends mid week.

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He is still stained from that fake blood 5 days later!

Dec­o­rated pump­kins and made soup.20151101_7Had fun with more dec­o­rat­ing.  Didn’t get many pho­tos as the liv­ing room was taken over by teenagers watch­ing films.  Jack too old to trick or treat which makes me feel old!

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Sam not too old to trick or treat though :)  Love the local atmosphere.


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The big event of the half-term was Wednesday’s trip to Kidza­nia.  I wasn’t sure what to expect to be hon­est.  The con­cept sounded great but we all know promise isn’t always realised.  Reviews I’ve come across from home edu­ca­tors have been a bit mixed, seems the make up of the vis­i­tors has a lot of impact on the over­all expe­ri­ence.  I was a bit con­cerned after I realised it was half-term in some places.

We had a fan­tas­tic time.  It was busy but it didn’t feel over­crowded, mostly fam­i­lies and the only real wait­ing was for the next activ­ity slot.  Tbh I’m not sure I’d like it too quiet I think it would feel a bit ghost town and creepy.

There were 54 of us and it ran so smoothly right the way through the book­ing process.  Few issues of peo­ple leav­ing pay­ing until last minute but every­one did.  Few issues with peo­ple being late because they strug­gled with park­ing but I knew they were all near so not a prob­lem.  Venue accommodating.

As an edu­ca­tional trip I don’t think there is much to be gained for the over 8’s but I think the older ones prob­a­bly enjoyed it more and really embraced the ‘play’ aspect.

Sam’s thoughts “On Wednes­day we went to Kidza­nia which is kind of like a ware­house with small build­ings in it and chil­dren do jobs like police or fire brigade. My favourite job was air con­di­tion­ing because I got to crawl around in vents. I also enjoyed the radio sta­tion and choco­late fac­tory. there was also a smoothie fac­tory and a ice cream fac­tory. You get paid for the jobs in money which you spend in the gift ship and food stalls. The entrance is made to look like a air­port. They give you wrist­bands to make sure you don’t leave with­out per­mis­sion. there was a fire sta­tion and a British air­ways sim­u­la­tor. for some activ­i­ties you had to pay in the money they pay you with.”

Some pho­tos, they aren’t great as through glass and it was dark and chil­dren were mov­ing and I was try­ing to avoid get­ting chil­dren I didn’t know in shot.  Missed sev­eral of the activ­i­ties he did.

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Down but not out

I think this might be one of the longest breaks from blog­ging in quite a while.  Nearly a fort­night to catch up on!

It’s been a meh one really.  Had Jack home for 3 days last week ill and then Sam was full of cold.  I’ve very much felt like I’m going through the motions and not up for things that require a lot of energy and drive from me.

We’re on tar­get with Maths and Eng­lish though.  Not so good with read­ing, Latin and Span­ish.  We do seem to be mak­ing very good progress on the Eng­lish and Maths front though so will take the suc­cess and be happy.  He’s start­ing to embrace cre­ative writ­ing and the draw­ing of comic strips has restarted.


Sci­ence we’ve looked at tec­tonic plates, noth­ing excit­ing to report as not really doing any­thing new.  We have been watch­ing Rise of the Con­ti­nents which is really good!

Fin­ished off our look at the ori­gins of the Bible with some draw­ing, think­ing of the images and emo­tions dis­played in the Bible.  This is the Gar­den of Eden and Adam and Eve being banished.

20151023_1In art inspired by Van Gogh’s Pris­on­ers Exer­cis­ing we looked at light and shadow.We went out and sketched a tree look­ing at the light through the branches and the shad­ows on the ground.

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We’ve moved on from Spies to Europe as a project.  At the moment we’re mainly plod­ding through work­sheets from a study pack but actu­ally they are work­ing well for us in cur­rent frame of mind.

Other things we’ve done is start to get in the Hal­loween spirit.  He made a cos­tume for the cubs party.

20151020_5 We had laser quest with a huge turn out.  While we were at the Dock­yard we vis­ited the WWI ship M33.20151020_1

We’ve also nipped in to the new exhi­bi­tion at Gosport Gallery about the evo­lu­tion of dinosaurs to birds (some­thing that was a pet sub­ject of Jack’s) and had quite a few trips into var­i­ous libraries.  Lots of books read.  We did man­age a big trip to Kidza­nia in Lon­don but that one is worth a post of it’s own.

Glad half term is upon us.  I need to find my mojo again.

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