Saturday, 29 June 2013

Invitation to.... create with ribbon weaving

Please don't ask me why this photograph, which was the correct orientation in my photo folder, has decided to realign itself.  Still, the invitation is the same.  This is on my dining table right now, waiting for eyes and fingers to discover. 

Sadly I'm next to useless and cannot for the life of me remember where I got the wicker shapes from.  I've only ever ordered from a couple of educational catalogues, so I figure it must be one of them, but my search on their websites hasn't yielded any joy.

Anyway - wicker shapes, bag of assorted ribbons (bargain on e-bay).  I've started weaving some of the ribbons in with the wicker, so lets see what they come up with!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

How to be free: STOP MOANING; BE MERRY

I’m writing a series of blog posts exploring the books “How to be free” and “The Idle Parent” written by Tom Hodgkinson.   I enjoyed a lot of the ideas expressed in these books, and think that exploring them further will help me to explore further the principles behind my own way of living and parenting.

Chapter 18 - Stop moaning; be merry - COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

In this short chapter Tom talks about moaning.  There are a few different types of moaning.  There's moaning and feeling sorry for yourself, and not really expecting anything to be done about it, just wanting other people to hear your dissatisfaction and perhaps commiserate; or there's moaning about something and then deciding that you do have a choice and you can do something about it.

Tom suggests that we should just cut out a few of those first type of moans, and instead either find a way to change what we don't like, or look around for something to feel happy about.

How does this match up to the ink-spots-and-grass-stains life
I may be speaking completely out of turn here, and I'm sure people will put me right if I've missed something... but I don't think I'm that much of a moaner.  I like to see the glass as half full, and I generally do look at the world and see brightness.  Of course I'll have a moan about the drivers who insist at driving at 40mph in the 60mph zone (and also in the 30mph zone), and a bit about the weather, and occasionally about the children... but comparatively, I'm not much of a moaner.  So I think I can safely say that there isn't much for this chapter to tell me.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Topics for toddlers and pre-schoolers - Woodlands

As you may remember, I try to have a vague topic or theme each month, to keep activities fresh and give some direction to exploring.  Since we love woodlands, that's what our topic is for June.  Here are some of the things that we've been up to or are planning to do:

  • lie in long grass and look at the sky
  • forage for food - a bit early for wild raspberries, but Wood Sorrel and cleavers are out there, as well as nettles for soup.
  • identify wild flowers - Bug chose to buy a wild flower ID book with her holiday spending money, which I think is awesome!
  • visit woodlands - as well as our local deciduous and conifer woodlands, while we were on holiday we found our way to the Stackpole Estate, to Colby Woodland Gardens and to Lawrenny Quay (all National Trust properties in Pembrokeshire) so we've had a wide variety to explore.
  • tree and leaf collages with pictures from magazines
  • read woodland books
  • make a bird box
  • make a collection of interesting "finds" from the woods - seed pods, feathers, interesting sticks etc.
  • wild weaving
  • sing "Teddy Bear's picnic"
  • press leaves and flowers
  • have a picnic in the woods
  • roll down a hill
  • make trees from newspaper
  • introduce woodland words such as names of woodland animals, deciduous, conifer etc.
  • identify types of tree
  • string print tree picture - use string dipped in paint to print branches of tree
  • leaf and pine cone printing - a painting activity for outdoors I think!
  • play a matching game with pictures of woodland animals and their young
  • camp out in the garden
  • make a giant spiderweb in the woods out of string between trees

Friday, 21 June 2013

Things to do on holiday with children

Keep your penny arcades.  Keep your expensive "days out".  Holidaying with children doesn't have to be a pain, and in fact can be both cheap and joyful.

  • Do your research.  Look up maps of the area you're visiting.  Find out what's around.  Look for woodlands, Google "free days out with kids in.....", where are the beaches?  Check out the Rough Guide, and yes, look at those expensive places to visit too.  On arrival, check out the Tourist Information Centre.  There might be a carnival, a festival or special (free) events being run that you can tap in to, and you can also collect leaflets.  Don't forget the National Trust, Historic Scotland, CADW, English Heritage and the RSPB too - if you're already a member that gives you plenty of free days straight away, and if you aren't a member, but there are lots of places to visit in your holiday area, then membership might be worth while.
  • Keep it simple.  Don't try to do too much each day.  The children will feel rushed.  They need time to just play and relax and be with you.  If your younger ones still nap, then this needs to be factored in, whether you return to base to sleep, or allow a long walk with a pushchair or drive in the car to let them get some shut-eye.
  • Let them have a say.  For the first time this holiday we all took it in turns to plan the activities for the day.  When it was the children's turn we gave them three choices, and then a fourth alternative "any other idea you might have".  To our astonishment, one day we offered C the choice of the "Dinosaur Park" (costly attraction), castle, beach or other; he suggested that we go for a walk in a bluebell wood in the morning and then visit a bookshop in the afternoon!  We had a lovely day.  Bug wasted no time on her next turn in opting for the Dinosaur Park.  Having their choice in what to do gave them a real sense of ownership over the holiday, and we soon spotted them looking at our pile of leaflets, and looking out of the car windows to see what they might choose to do next time they got a choice.
  • Wet weather doesn't mean that you have to stay in or spend money.  Beaches and walks in the woods are just as much fun in the rain.  Puddle jumping competitions, sea swimming in the rain, catching raindrops on your tongue, all are great in the rain, though you might be more inclined to warm up and dry off in a cafe afterwards, and your trip out might be shorter, so don't throw away the board or card games just yet.
  • To keep things flexible and less expensive, always pack a picnic.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Where I've been

Firstly, apologies for my long absence.

I spent a week in North Yorkshire where the children and I were "support crew" for mum as she completed the second week of Wainwright's Coast to Coast.  The weather for her was awful!  I was sorry not to have been able to walk more of it with her (if not all of it), but that's the way when you have two small children.  Four out of the five days we were there with her were 19 mile days, so there was no way I was going to slow her down with a couple of toddlers.  Instead we made her some sandwiches, made sure that her bed was made at the hostels, and made sure that she had an evening meal.  And of course were there to celebrate with her when she finished two weeks of awful weather walking.

After that we went to Stoke-on-Trent for a family weekend celebrating my father-in-law's 80th birthday with a trip on the Churnet Valley Railway and a dinner out

Back home for a couple of days and a Scout AGM.

In the caravan and off to:
- Bewdley in the West Midlands for a couple of days and a visit to the West Midland Safari Park.
- Pembrokeshire for a week and a half of glorious weather for beaches, castles, woodland walks and fun.

- Devon for a couple of days to celebrate my mum's 60th birthday!

Since then I've been tackling the overgrown lawn (broken the lawnmower), and garden, and gradually working my way through the laundry mountain that is the result of two weeks away with little ones.