I was ill on my last Day Off so I missed a blogging opportunity. At the time I was just so grateful not to have to be at work or, worse, looking after the children while I felt so ill! I think I’ll skip writing about January and move straight onto February, since we’re nearly at the end of the month anyway.
Scanning through the photos on my phone it seems we have had a pretty busy month!
Museum visits remain a staple of our family life. One Saturday we all went along to Verulamium Museum. Verulamium was the third largest city in Roman Britain and the museum contains incredible Roman mosaics as well as showing what life would have been like at the time. There are remains of a Roman theatre nearby – I remember visiting them in Year 3 on a school trip. Anyway we took Freya there for a talk called Archeology Apprentices. It started with a storybook about a clay dog made by a Roman potter for his daughter, which gradually becomes lost under the earth over the centuries and is eventually discovered. It was a very accessible introduction to the idea of archeology, how objects can end up underground, and how sometimes they are discovered by accident! The very engaging lady then simulated an archeological dig by removing layers of fabric that represented layers of earth, and allowing the children to examine different objects that might be found in those layers. For example, each layer included a coin from the era to show how objects can be dated if found in the same layer of earth. Freya was particularly delighted by the stoneware pots, and found the talk very interesting. (It was definitely a talk rather than a workshop, as there wasn’t much for the children to physically do beyond handle the objects.)
After the talk we explored the (quite small) Museum. Freya enjoyed dressing up, using a guidebook to identify icons in the mosaics and completing a ‘treasure hunt’ worksheet provided by the museum.
In other February museum news, the kids also visited Tring Natural History Museum twice (did I mention Hannah loves animals? She does) and, while I was off relaxing in an idyllic location with other mums on a retreat run by Chilled Mama, Jeff took them on an adventure around London. Freya was “in charge” so they did everything she asked for – went up the tower in Tate Modern to look over the city, lunch at Wagamama, over the Millenium Bridge, they tried to go in St Paul’s (as she had read about the Whispering Gallery in a great book from the library about visiting London – see pictures if you’re interested) but it was too expensive, then took a ride on a red London bus back to the station.
We went along to a kite-making workshop at Dunstable Downs visitor centre organised through a home ed group on facebook. This was an easy-going workshop: Hannah was allowed to join in and Freya didn’t feel under any pressure (except when I repeatedly suggested sticking eyes on her fish kite, which she didn’t want to do, sorry kid). The one improvement I’d suggest is providing chairs. We were all standing around the tables in our coats and scarves which made me a bit on edge, like we were all about to rush off instead of settle in for an hour of kite making. After the other families went outside to try out their kites, Freya hung about adding finishing touches and helping the lady to clear up, a situation she engineered so that she could talk to the lady one to one. Classic Freya. I had hoped the workshop would get us playing in the great outdoors, but it was so windy that Freya’s kite broke as she stepped out of the door. I would have persevered but the kids decided to run around in the visitor centre making their kites twirl around (luckily not too many other visitors there to be annoyed with us) and we had chips. Freya struck up a conversation with a Granddad about why he was here today and did he like going to coffee shops? Classic Freya.
We’ve also discovered a new place to have fun on a Friday – a freeflow session at a gym. My friends have been going for years but I was happy with the cheaper mininastics session nearer our house. Actually, mininastics is still good, but this other gym has a couple of big trampolines and a foam pit and A LOT of space for running around.
We’ve been doing some baking. Here is Freya trying out that recipe I mentioned in an earlier post, that I developed to be simple enough for her to bake on her own. Turns out that even just mixing the ingredients together is “too tiring, mummy!” – time to do some muscle strengthening activities! Aside from that, with practice, I think she might be able to make these herself.
Hannah, suddenly this month, is passionate about jigsaw puzzles and Orchard Games type games. Every evening before bed (and several times during the day) she will demand a “Pushul! Pushul Mummy! PUH-SHUL! Come!” She’s observant and sparky, figuring out puzzles with a little bit of help but not too much, and is definitely getting the hang of taking turns with games and learning the rules. She enjoys the social aspect as well as putting images together. The girls have a lot of fun with Can You Guess?, a sort of charades game, raucously acting out the pictures on the cards together.
I’ve been making few birthday cards, exploring pop ups and using watercolours. Freya reeeaally enjoys watching me make these. After the first dinosaur card, she commissioned me to make one for Jeff’s birthday and stipulated all the criteria (which is why I’m pictured wearing my “wedding dress, but golden” and why cousin Anna is there too). It has inspired Freya to get arty again more often, and whatever Freya does, Hannah wants to do. I introduced Freya to the colour wheel (painting in a coffee shop, bliss) and she also made some pieces (the glitter glue-drenched ones) inspired by a Mister Maker episode. The blackboard side of the easel has been used more often this month that ever in all the time we’ve had it – a bit of drawing but mainly painting on it with water.
My dad and I took the girls to see The Bear at the local theatre, an adaptation of the Raymond Briggs picture book. I personally found the play fun and the bear puppet and puppetry incredible, though both girls were quite frightened. The bear did have a very loud and quite aggressive growl! Luckily Freya was enchanted by the lighting and the music “it’s so beautiful!” and the final scene of the bear at the north pole won them both over, so they came out of it very happy! We haven’t seen the book or the animation yet so I’m interested to see how the girls respond to those having experienced the play first.
Finally, we spent half term on holiday, first visiting friends in Exeter and then on our church’s weekend away in Somerset. In Exeter we went swimming, we walked in the woods and we played a lot in the house. The venue for the weekend away was Quantock Lodge, a nineteenth century Gothic revival mansion (thanks Wikipedia) – so lots of exploration of the house and grounds, plus running and dancing in the grand rooms and generally being surrounded by friends big and small. A good time was had by all!
By the way, those fantastic balloons are by Rich Oster of Balloons Inc. If you are near Exeter and need an excellent entertainer for an event or a party, check out balloonsinc.co.uk
I have felt the blackness of winter ease off a little this month. The lighter evenings and the appearance of flowers lift my soul. Next month Hannah will turn two, Spring will arrive more confidently and I shall feel even more hopeful.
Linking up with Beautiful Tribe, Enchanted Pixie and Along Came Cherry for This Homeschooling Life.