I've been to-ing and fro-ing between home, work and mum's for the last few days and trying to Christmas shop in-between. We posted Harry's present yesterday, just catching the last posting day for parcels. Mum is much better, she had a visit from a physiotherapist who helped her shower and change her clothes and being the uber-organised person she is got comfy with the phone on one side and pen and paper on the other and booked meals-on-wheels for herself. My eldest sister has come up from Northamptonshire this weekend to visit her and swap pressies.
When I got in from work yesterday John had a message for me. My mum had slipped on some wet leaves, fallen and broken her arm. Its in the same place as one of my customers broke hers last winter, so I know what to expect at least. Its at the top of her left arm so can only rest in a sling - no pot. We will visit her tomorrow and see what we can do to help. I am one of five, four of whom live locally so she isn't short of lifts in cars and people to do shopping. I have spoken to her on the phone and she sounds okay but I am still worried. This is my invincible, strong mother who has suddenly become frail and old overnight.
I've ordered some sequins, we are running low on crafty its and bits. Stars and snowflakes to make Christmas cards and tree decorations. Sunday's Observer had a free Christmas crafts supplement with extracts from Big Book of Christmas Things to Make and Do Collection.
Yesterday John got out the gloss and emulsion and smartened up the bay window before we put up the Christmas tree. Now the paintwork in the rest of the room looks scruffy...and the other rooms....and....
We have been watching BBC 2's Earth: The Power of the Planet tonight's episode featuring glaciers. After watching the programme almost to the end Robert declared "it wasn't as good as the last one because they didn't set fire to the ice."
Bedtime and as usual Robert's mind is racing. "I know how electricity works, mummy" he sits bolt upright, wide-eyed and takes a deep breath which always precedes an explanation. "Plugs have metal pins and they have wires that attach to them. The thing you put the plug into has metal inside it and metal conducts electricity. That also has wires in it going to the metal."
I then said he was quite right and that was a circuit. He then continued with a brief synopsis of how electricity flows (current) and potential difference (voltage.)
All that from a set of magnets.
Robert ran into the museum, took one look at the dinosaur in the lobby and said "that's a Diplodocus" and went to the map. Pointing at the red zone he informed us he wanted to see volcanos in the red zone on the second floor. He meticulously worked his way through the zone studying rocks and how magma is released from the earth's core.
After a picnic lunch he said he needed to visit the Science Museum again, they have a better shop.
We had some spare time before our train home to ride the underground, stopping off at Covent Garden we walked to Leicester Square. Then back to St. Pancras to see the Eurostar.
Uncle Robert enjoyed seeing his little nephew. He kept us all on our toes, its suprising how things change as kids grow older, so many little bits and bobs from Robert's games had to be removed from the floor before we could let Harry run about.
Robert had Geomag for his birthday and some money. Which he used to buy more Geomag.
We looked on the internet for some Geomag ideas and found Geomag Constructions
Robert said "this man is Geomag bonkers!"
Now we are going Geomag bonkers.
I phoned my mum the other day to arrange a meet up in town and whilst we were chatting she mentioned a theory my brother in law has been expounding and claiming as his own.
The temperature of Heaven can be rather accurately computed. Our authority is Isaiah 30:26,A quick Google and I find his theory is common knowledge and bearing in mind my mum is 81 and has no access to the world wide web I think it unfair to preach as fact something which is obviously meant as a joke. I also find it remarkable anyone would not see that this is a joke of some kind even if it is in very poor taste.
"Moreover, the light of the Moon shall
be as the light of the Sun and the light
of the Sun shall be sevenfold, as the
light of seven days."
Thus Heaven receives from the Moon as much radiation as we do from the Sun, and in addition 7*7 (49) times as much as the Earth does from the Sun, or 50 times in all. The light we receive from the Moon is one 1/10,000 of the light we receive from the Sun, so we can ignore that ... The radiation falling on Heaven will heat it to the point where i.e., Heaven loses 50 times as much heat as the Earth by radiation. Using the Stefan-Boltzmann law for radiation, (H/E) temperature of the earth (-300K), gives H as 798K (525C). The exact temperature of Hell cannot be computed ...
[However] Revelations 21:8 says
"But the fearful, and unbelieving ... shall
have their part in the lake which burneth
with fire and brimstone."
A lake of molten brimstone means that its temperature must be at or below the boiling point, 444.6C. We have, then, that Heaven, at 525C is hotter than Hell at 445C.
Its Christians like my brother in law who reinforce my belief that churches only encourage ignorance.
In geometry the net of a polyhedron is an arrangement of edge-joined polygons in the plane which can be folded (along edges) to become the faces of the polyhedron. Polyhedral nets are a useful aid to the study of polyhedra and solid geometry in general, as they allow for models of polyhedra to be constructed from material such as thin cardboard. Source Wikipedia
This morning we have been turning these printouts into 3D models and talking about shapes and their relationships. We looked at a screenshot from a PS2 game and tracked down the 3D shapes that make up animals, people and buildings. The models are simply made from printer paper but would be improved if the flat sheets were stuck onto thin card before being cut out. So the models in the photo are prototypes.
Robert would also like to colour the panels and add patterns on PhotoImpact before constructing the polyhedron on the next set we make.
Saturday night I fell into bed at 1.30am after diligently cleaning out all my email inboxes, I have 4 major email accounts some of which receive forwarding from other addresses. I was just nodding off at 2am when Robert shouted me. It would be another 3 hours before I could rest my eyes again. He had a stomach bug which inevitably involved 2 bed changes and much to-ing and fro-ing between bedroom and bathroom. If I had known I wouldn't have risked a late night and would have got my head down by a sensible 10pm. Anyway at 5am Robert's stomach abated and we slept til 8am when we did a rerun. Every sip of water recoiled..."I've got springs in my tummy" he wailed. Sunday morning passed by in a blur, Sunday afternoon I had to go in to work and John took over the nursing. I got home just after 7pm to find the "springs" had recoiled all over John. This morning Robert woke feeling much better. I've spent most of today washing and ironing bedding. Now I know why my mum kept so many old sheets and pillowcases "just in case" its a good thing she got me to do the same.
I popped into town with Robert this afternoon so he could stretch his legs and get some fresh air. Also we just had to fetch Charlie and Lola 8 which was released today. Now bearing in mind the backdrop of the last day and two nights in which I have barely left Robert's side as he has been cuddled in my arms. I literally came to a stop in the middle of the street my eyes fixed on a young mother who was resolutely ignoring her son thrashing about in his pushchair and crying his eyes out. I gave her one of those looks, you know the kind that says..."well aren't you going to DO something?" but she glanced back with hollow eyes, there really was nobody home.
BTW Sunday was my 18th wedding anniversary. We married at 11 am on the 11th day of the 11th month. I like serendipitous stuff like that.
Robert has been busy the past few days...24 CD Roms came through the post from a Daily Mail offer. He has encyclopedias, quizes and atlases and best of all a new copy of World Explorer because his old one got scratched.
He also received his set of Horrible Geography books from the Daily Telegraph. We collected the Horrible Science set on holiday - WHSmith was only a short walk from our flat.
Then today we got an email from the editor of CBeebies Weekly asking for our address so they can send Robert a goody bag for having his photo published in the magazine. We sent in a pic of him holding Number Zero from our set of felt NumberJacks.
Lisa rang to put off her usual November visit until December - just after Christmas...a little longer to wait to see Harry again.
We did the usual Jack O Lantern carving today and made small carrot cakes with halloweeny orange icing.
Spotted a wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) flitting about on the garden yesterday. This is the first time we have seen one on our patch. Our conifers do attract the birds because they harbour many different kinds of insect. We have seen plenty of sparrows and blackbirds this year and Robert was hoping to see a robin on the garden but no luck so far.
Tuesday we went stick collecting, picking up fallen branches to paint. Some looked like animals - a giraffe, snake, horse - and some didn't. That was after we wrapped up Harry's birthday present and got that sent off. I don't think he will get it by today though 'cos of the postal strikes. Robert chose this Activity Tunnel for Harry. Tuesday night Robert fell to sleep listening to the CD that comes with Poetry Speaks to Children one of his favourite books nowadays. Yesterday, after getting the Tesco shop done, we visited Queen's Park. Robert busied himself making friends.
We are back from our annual holiday, this year we headed for the seaside. Paignton was chosen for its wide choice of clean beaches and visitor attractions. Although the train journey was a little arduous at five and a half hours due to Chesterfield station being closed for track maintenance, it was well worth it once we arrived.
The sun shone and the air was warm. I had heard about Torbay's micro climate but it was a remarkable experience to feel the rise in temperature.
Everything in paignton was ideally located, buses run frequently and on time connecting with other services perfectly. We hopped on two different steam trains, one from paignton to Kingswear with a ferry trip to dartmouth and the other train took us from Totnes to Buckfastleigh in order to visit Buckfast Abbey by a short vintage bus ride.
We visited Paignton Zoo and Living Coasts in Torquay. I was a bit put out at the joint entrance fee just to see the penguins at Living Coasts but John found a shop dedicated to Agatha Christie while we were in Torquay so that made the excursion more worthwhile.
We want to go back again to Paignton next year to see everything we missed because one week isn't long enough.
Any Sunday morning peace and quiet was shattered this weekend when the workman came to fix our leaking bay window roof. It needed re-felting. Robert watched through the bedroom window directly above the bay.
Today he's been drawing and making his own jigsaws from paper plates.
Yesterday he spotted this:
If you look at the numbers 1234567890 you will see the numbers 12 34 56 78 and 90
12 + 22 = 34
34 + 22 = 56
56 + 22 = 78
but 78 + 12 = 90
We've made Numberjack One and Zero from felt, quite easy to make using printouts from cbeebies as patterns, some stuffing, stick on googly eyes and embroidery thread for the mouth.
We are making one a day. Robert also wants to know if we can make the other characters - the Problem Blob, Shape Japer and the Puzzler. So once I have figured out how to make a felt ball....
I still haven't had a cigarette since July 1st, so its 27 days smoke free for me *hurrah*
Not much happening here apart from more rain. We try to get out between downpours but its beginning to feel fultile. So we bake and knit and study maths and english, play computer games and look out of the window. I've paid for our annual holiday. We're going to Paignton this year, so far reports are good from friends who have been there already, shirt sleeve weather apparently. Fingers crossed then.
Not much else to report, I've quit smoking...now there's a thing. Well I work in a pub and since the smoking ban I haven't smoked. I always blamed my work environment for my habit, having attempted to quit several times before and failed. So now its been 21 days and I don't feel bad at all. Its a bit quiet at work though. What with the ban and all this rain.
Monday morning and Robert had a wobbly tooth. I have been checking for wobbles since two adult teeth appeared behind his bottom front baby teeth. He was a bit upset by the fact he couldn't eat properly so he drank a lot of milk through the day to keep him going. By Monday night it was out, embedded in some ice cream. Under the pillow it went. Tuesday morning he woke, checked under his pillow and announced, "the tooth fairy did come!" Implying some sort of doubt about the whole thing. Now he has a gap, which he is very self-conscious of.
Stuck for something to do indoors while the rain continues to keep us from any outdoor activity I went looking for something for Robert to do...
Coloring Pages Website - Coloring Pages, Dot to Dot and Free Kids Drawings
I'm thinking of building an ark if this continues.
An average Monday spent cleaning, washing and generally rearranging the chaos left by the weekend when neither John or I have the time to do so much as think.
Robert has been continuing his writing, concentrating very hard on getting it right. He found my knitting bag (has it been that long since I picked up the needles and yarn?) and asked me if I could knit him a jumper. So I have started knitting again.
Lisa phoned with various questions concerning Harry. He has a rash. "What's a viral infection?" she asks John. "The doctor says Harry has a viral infection." I can see his blood pressure rising from across the room "doesn't she know what a viral infection is?!". Lisa's health visitor has enrolled her on the Sure Start programme, John and I sigh, look at each other and hope she gets through the latest drama unscathed. We worry but each time Lisa and Harry visit we can see Harry is thriving.
Robert found concrete poetry on the Woodland Trust website and made a tree poem. He's been practicing his writing, copying out his favourite passages from his Charlie and Lola books. He said to me "I am going to do writing for a whole week!" I guess we have been focusing on maths and science for a long time now so he's ready for a change.
Robert has also found this game from the Environment Agency very useful. Build your own interactive city garden, meadow or pond.
He has also started to take an interest in history recently. So we are looking at some timelines to tie in with science looking at when things were invented and when famous scientists lived.
Robert is such an avid reader. He looks over my shoulder for as while to see the pictures then gets me to read aloud from my current book. So I am reading to him while reading ahead to filter out any content I deem unfit for young ears. So much for a relaxing read!
This weeks book is The Home Front: Civilian Life in World War One
World War One continues to fascinate but little has been written on the civilian's war. From bombing to rationing, from civil defence to war work, the face of Britain was radically changed as a result of the conflict. More than once Britain was almost brought to its knees by unrestricted submarine warfare and by the end of the war German Zeppelins and Gotha bombers had managed to bomb many parts of Eastern England, while in 1914 the German High Seas fleet bombarded the East Coast destroying buildings in places as diverse as Hartlepool and Lowestoft. The First World War was the first war to have a huge impact on civilians and few were safe from attack. All endured hardship as rationing came into force. What was life like during the war for the civilian population? What hardships did they endure? How did they live? What was the feeling of those who stayed at home? Peter Cooksley tells us the true story of civilians at war on the Home Front.
So airships are the current topic. Huge balloons with engines...it doesn't get much better than that!
Yesterday we went to the Tramway Village at Crich. We have been before when Robert was three to see Thomas the Tank Engine. This time we just went to adore the trams....
Ride on trams...
Have a picnic...with my mum's old picnic bag which she passed on to me because it has Tardis qualities and I am sooo into vintage stuff at the moment. The bag has been to Crich before in the 70's.
Discover new and wonderful creatures....giddy up.
Puzzle over things...
Get lots of fresh air and exercise...up hill an down dale.
Flop down exhausted....waiting for the bus home.
The good news...it may be fairly expensive to get into the museum (£24 for the three of us) but now because I gave them my details for Gift Aid I have FREE ADMISSION for the rest of the year (excluding Bank Holidays and Special Event Days.) Wow.
Robert and I have had a baking day today. We have made lots of yummy food for a picnic on Thursday. In between baking and chores we watched the bees on the London Pride in the garden.
Yesterday we made collages from old magazines on the theme of 'Our House' rather than our actual house I ended up making a picture of where I would like to live. Mine was a cottage by the sea with an abundant garden. Robert's was a composite image made of woods, fabrics and coloured textures with both indoor and outdoor features....and a car of course.
Later we played Microsoft Train Simulator on the PC and tried to get the Flying Scotsman from Settle to Carlisle in one piece.
Sometimes I have days when my feet barely touch the floor. I do too much I am sure, homeschooling, gardening, going out to work and working from home.... So about once every few weeks we fall back on takeaway food. I know its bad for us but what choice do I have when I am exhausted.
Well now I have a choice and a very good one. Real food, healthy food I can order in over the internet and it works out cheaper for a family meal than Dominos! And they deliver nationwide using a network of local suppliers. How cool is that.
Wiltshire Farm Foods extensive menu has something for everyone – from hearty, traditional favourites such as roasts, pies and stews to more exotic dishes like Duck in Brandy Sauce, Coq au Vin and Fillet of Trout with Prawns.
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Choose from more than175 delicious dishes and enjoy great food as often as you like, every day, or as a special treat – the choice is yours.
You can enjoy scrumptious dishes like hearty Beef and Stout Pie, tender Lamb Steak with Ratatouille and creamy Coronation Chicken.
Each dish is balanced, nutritious and full of flavour, with carefully controlled levels of salt, sugar and fat.
They can provide details of meals ‘free from’ nuts, dairy, onions etc and also cater for a range of special diets. Look for the colour-coded symbols indicating diabetic, lower fat, reducing, moderate salt, gluten free and vegetarian options.
Convenience is one of many advantages of Wiltshire Farm Foods. Meals are so very easy and quick to prepare. Meals arrive frozen, in sturdy plastic trays, ready to put in the freezer. When you fancy something to eat, it couldn’t be easier, you simply heat your meal from frozen in a matter of minutes and enjoy.
John said to me today quite wistfully "Robert's nearly six, theres only 10 years left 'til he's sixteen."
Is that all?
We have only got 10 years to teach him EVERYTHING.
10 Years to teach Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Maths, History, English, Geography, Geology, Economics, IT, Cookery.....AND all about how to survive life in the adult working world.
But we've hardly scratched the surface and in many subjects he's way ahead of his state educated contemporaries. How do they manage?!
*Takes a deep breath*
OK, easy now.....
On Tuesday Robert and I went to Tesco, he asked me to buy him a pineapple. They were half price so I agreed thinking I would end up eating it rather than him. He then asked me to turn this strange spiky fruit into homemade ice cream. I dug out the ice cream maker and froze the bowl. On Wednesday we chopped up the pineapple, blitzed it, added sugar and double cream and created the best ice cream ever! And Robert loves it.
Then Robert started asking me about gravity.
Gravity is a force which tries to pull two objects toward each other. Anything which has mass also has a gravitational pull. The more massive an object is, the stronger its gravitational pull is. Earth's gravity is what keeps you on the ground and what causes objects to fall. Gravity is what holds the planets in orbit around the sun and what keeps the moon in orbit around Earth. The closer you are to an object, the stonger its gravitational pull is. Gravity is what gives you weight. It is the force that pulls on all of the mass in your body.He has been experimenting over the past couple of days with various objects from a balloon to his own body weight in air and water. So I've added Dead Famous - Isaac Newton to my Amazon Wishlist.
I've found the perfect cure if you are feeling down in the dumps. And to celebrate the return of big Brother (which I vehemently loath and detest) a return to the good old days of innocent but mindless violence on TV.
I came home from work yesterday to find this strange concoction in the kitchen.
I wondered what it was and Robert was keeping quiet on the subject. An empty sugar packet was a clue. Then John came in and said he had wondered why Robert's hands were blue earlier. He thought it might be felt pen.
So here's the recipe - don't try this at home!
Half a packet of caster sugar (oh yes not just any sugar but my baking sugar)
Several drops or maybe a splash of blue food colouring (I don't know the exact amount)
Some seedless grapes (mushed up of course)
Mix well with bare hands and grin when its done.
Robert has spent most of today sleeping and watching a bit of TV because he is poorly. The usual symptoms, runny nose and sneezes yesterday and general malaise today.
Monday night I had a dream. I dreamed huge rabbits were flying, using their large ears as helicopter blades. They flew towards me through a beautiful field of daisies. On Tuesday I told Robert about this dream because I knew it would make him laugh. After the giggles subsided he said, "you know Mummy. You had the dream because you watched Curse of the Were-Rabbit and that had a giant rabbit in it and Sonic Heroes and that has a rabbit that flies with its ears in it."
Thank you Sigmund.
Bugguide is a great site for bug fans. Its focus is US and Canada insect life but worth a look at if your kids are doing a project on mini beasts.
Bugguide is hosted by Iowa State University Entomology and is easy to use when beginning to learn about species classification. The photos are high quality showing the detail you need when studying insects.
The community is run by an online community of naturalists who enjoy learning about and sharing our observations of insects, spiders, and other related creatures.
Robert's latest mathematical quest is to know the names of every 2 dimensional geometrical object. If you are curious too, here they are (courtesy of Dr Math):
1 monogon (Monogon and digon can only
2 digon be used in rather special
3 trigon, triangle circumstances. Trigon and
4 tetragon, quadrilateral tetragon are alternatives to
5 pentagon triangle and quadrilateral;
6 hexagon the adjectival forms trigonal
7 heptagon and tetragonal are more common.)
14 tetrakaidecagon, tetradecagon
15 pentakaidecagon, pentadecagon
16 hexakaidecagon, hexadecagon
21 icosikaihenagon, icosihenagon
50 pentacontagon ...
60 hexacontagon ...
70 heptacontagon ...
80 octacontagon ...
90 enneacontagon ...
100 hectogon, hecatontagon
One of the things we like to do when we are not in the garden is to trawl round the net for any freebies we can find. Looking through the exhibitors for the Chelsea Flower Show this year we came a cross a charity courtyard garden. They are trying to encourage gardeners, especially children by giving away a free pack of pumpkin seeds.
The garden is based on a children's book called Where The Wild Things Are. This is one of those truly rare books that can be enjoyed equally by a child and a grown-up. If you disagree, then it's been too long since you've attended a wild rumpus. Max dons his wolf suit in pursuit of some mischief and gets sent to bed without supper. Fortuitously, a forest grows in his room, allowing his wild rampage to continue unimpaired. Sendak's colour illustrations (perhaps his finest) are beautiful, and each turn of the page brings the discovery of a new wonder.
The wild things - with their mismatched parts and giant eyes - manage somehow to be scary- looking without ever really being scary; at times they're downright hilarious. Sendak's defiantly run-on sentences - one of his trademarks - lend the perfect touch of stream of consciousness to the tale, which floats between the land of dreams and a child's imagination.
We took Robert for his first swimming lesson today. He was excited before we went, nervous when he first got into the learner pool and more relaxed as the hour progressed. He enjoyed getting used to the water and towards the end was confident enough to slide into the water from the edge without using the steps. John is an excellent swimmer so he is teaching Robert at the moment and we plan to go once a week. I am a non-swimmer unfortunately but I like to float near the side lol. Saying that, as little as I did my stomach muscles ached when I got out of the pool.
The lifeguard asked how old Robert was and then why he wasn't at school. So we explained about home education and had a moan about the state of our local schools, I guess they see lots of school kids at the baths. Indeed when we were in the cafe that overlooks the pool we had the chance to watch a class in action. Organised chaos was the word. Swimmers swam, non-swimmers floundered and those in-between messed about. Three adults supervised this group of a dozed or so kids. It took me back to when I had swimming lessons in the last year of junior school, I started out as a non-swimmer and as I said I still am. Another addition to my growing list of areas in which school failed me. I won't let this happen to Robert.
On the way home we chatted about swimming. John said to Robert, "Uncle Steve says he'll take you scuba diving when you've learned to swim." Robert replied, "I can't swim with SHARKS!"
Where did that one come from?
The weather seems a bit topsy turvy this year. April was hot and sunny like May usually is and May is wet like April should be. Well, I've always been the sort of person who can make the most of a bad situation so this week we made a rain gauge.
Its just a two litre plastic lemonade bottle cut in half. The top half inverted to make a funnel to catch the rain and prevent evaporation if the sun does shine. Insulating tape holds it together and also makes 10mm markers to measure rainfall.
We will plot rainfall on a graph weekly. With all this weather it should be a good experiment.
Yesterday Robert read about tornadoes in this book about Weather he wanted to know what tornadoes looked like in real life so off we popped to youtube to find clips of twisters. He was in awe of their power and quiet relieved we don't have them in England.
Today I mentioned to Robert how tall he was getting (122cm) he can reach all the light switches in our house now. His reply, "but I am not as wide as a bush."