Sunday, 19 May 2013

Silent Sunday

InsideOut support day for Training Advisers - Forth Region

Friday, 17 May 2013

Out comes the sunshine! = What have we been doing with the little ones

I made this simple number matching game for Bug.  She got them all in the right spot apart from inverting the 6 and the 9, and was very proud!
Another number game, this one for C.  We used buttons to count  and work out the total.

1) Draw around a circle, divide into seven triangles, and show where each rainbow colour goes...
2) the children colour the triangles...

3) we make two holes, about 1cm apart, in the middle of the circle, and thread through a loop of string.  Twist the string and then pull to make a rainbow spinner!
We printed off some weather symbols and pictures, and the children stuck each one to a piece of card.  We hung them from ribbons near the table, and it gives us something to look at while we talk about the weather!
A trip to Almond Valley Farm Park...
...where we played on the bouncy castle...

A visit to Scout Camp, where C joined in with cooking sausages and marshmallows.  Both were pretty disappointed to be going home and miss mummy building up the fire ready for campfire singing in the evening.
And finally the sun came out!  Bug is letting the Waggy-tailed-one finish off her yoghurt.  She was wearing something different, but helped herself to this outfit from C's wardrobe.
A new rainbow spinner to celebrate the sunshine!
we have a collection of critters hiding in various spots around the garden.  They like to migrate around, so there's always a game to play... "find the creatures"!
She's getting quite good on her scooter now, though still painfully slow if you actually want to go anywhere.  

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Aspiring Writer - what to write about?

As somebody who likes to write it's a good idea to have some clue what to write about.  Yes, I'd love to churn out fiction, and there are plenty of ideas in my head for that, and several unfinished manuscripts in folders above my desk.

To begin with, to make a bit of cash, it would probably be a good idea to stick to non-fiction.  For a start, that's where I've made money in the past.

As an article writer, or for non-fiction books, it's a good idea to write about things that you know about or are interested in, so for me:

  • voluntary youth work - Scouting, adult training, youth programme, good practice, development etc.
  • child care - bringing up young children
  • crafts with children
  • history
  • wildlife and the outdoors
  • outdoor leisure pursuits
  • camping and caravanning.
The next stage in the process is to drill into each idea, come up with some ideas for articles, think about what publication or publisher might be interested in them, do the market research and get on with the writing!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013


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 17 - In praise of melancholy - THROW AWAY THE PILLS

Melancholy, or depression, or whatever you want to call it, is normal.  Tom explores "An Anatomy of Melancholy" by Robert Burton in 1621.  Burton suggests that poor diet is one cause for melancholy, and suggests "merriment" as a solution.  Dancing, having fun, spending time with friends.  Today, good company, good cheer and good beer are gone as solutions to depression.  The state has been professionalised into a "condition" with pricy pills to "cure" it.  An estimated one in twenty-five people in the UK are on anti-depressants, including 60,000 children.  Could it be that it is not us at fault for depression, but the society that we live in and the expectations placed on us?  Why can't people be allowed to wallow in depression if they so feel like?  Is taking an anti-depressant handing control over our feelings to a pharmaceutical giant?  It would be better to wrest back control - do things our own way and be self reliant.  Hard physical work - bread baking, gardening and carpentry unite body and soul, unleash creativity and make us feel good about ourselves, an antidote to depression.

How does this match up to the Ink-spots-and-grass-stains life?
This is a difficult one to answer.  I suffered with Post-natal-depression after the birth of Bug, and am gradually getting myself off the anti-depressants now.  Could it be that my suffering was the result of society - of my isolation?  I've chosen to believe the medical professionals who have reassured me that it was nothing to do with me, but was a hormonal imbalance in the brain which stemmed from the hormonal turbulence involved with having a baby.  Is this because I'm letting myself off the hook?  I'm glad of the anti-depressants.  Without them I certainly wasn't able to function as wife and mother, or even as a human being.  Now though, I am glad to be on my way to getting rid of them.  I hope that I never feel the need to seek their support again.  I would like to be able to embrace the full spectrum of moods and feelings, but Tom is right that in today's society you are expected to be on "top form" all the time - there isn't space for a bout of mooning about feeling sorry for yourself.  Making yourself do both physical and creative is certainly good practice.  I tend only to  to combine my efforts in the garden, or with a spot of baking, otherwise they are separate - going for a jog and doing some writing, but not at the same time.  Certainly food for thought in here.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Activities to do with pre-school children - some recent activities

  • Making butterfly biscuits - simple biscuit recipe, butterfly cookie cutters, coloured butter icing and sweeties to stick on.

  • Family visit - lots of playing with family, cuddles and stories. 
  • Large scale painting on the floor.  Big sheet of paper (from a roll of lining paper), sponges, rollers, paint, and other bits and pieces for printing and painting.  Just a couple of colours so that they can see what colour is made when they are mixed.

  •  Dressing up - the dressing up box has been out a lot just lately, and I've now moved it so that they can access at any time.  This means that Bug almost permanently has an item of dressing-up clothing on - though this morning she disappeared into C's bedroom for a while and reappeared with two pairs of his pyjamas on, and a set of swimming trunks - she's very good at dressing herself!
  • Visiting a castle (or two).  While I was busy Scouting on the weekend the family all went off to Doune Castle.  It's a fantastic castle, and best known for being used so much in the filming of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail".  Then this weekend we went just a few miles, to Kinross, where we have been neglecting to visit Loch Leven Castle.  You get a boat out across the Loch, which takes about ten minutes, to the island.  The castle was used to imprison Mary Queen of Scots for some time, and is a magical place, particularly on a blowy but sunny morning, when for the first half hour you have the island to yourselves!  We took a picnic which we enjoyed in a sheltered corner.  I also bought a plastic sword and helmet to add to the dressing-up box, so they were used a lot by the "King" exploring his castle.

  • K'nex - a neighbour with grown up children appeared on the doorstep with a shoe-box full of this awesome construction material.  On establishing that Bug is unlikely to eat it, he was happy to pass on the box.  C and I have been having great fun with it.  I downloaded some instructions - a bit random since I don't know which number set I have - and have had a go at making a few things, and C is determined to make cars, motorbikes and more.  He definitely has a fascination for the wheels, but is also delighted with the ferris wheel that I made!