Friday, December 23, 2011

pre-Christmas Adventures

We have been enjoying the lead up to Christmas and all of the excitement that brings when there are children in the house.  Big Brother and Little Sister love opening the drawers on their advent calendar and hanging a new decoration on the tree each day.  They take turns to wind the music box to play "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".  The Playmobil nativity scene has been a hit, although LS insists all angels are, in fact, Little Bo Peep.  I think Little Sister's Favourite Christmas toy is the Lego Santa man though - she comments on him every morning.

The presents are mostly wrapped and under the tree and we are entering the "coking and baking" phase of preparations.  Big Brother helped make these Reindeer cookies today:

and tomorrow I will prepare Christmas Eve dessert and food for taking to various meals on Christmas day (and not to forget the whitebait patties for Christmas breakfast!)

Big Brother and Little Sister have been out to see some of the wonderful light displays around Christchurch - it's so great that so many people are willing to go to all this trouble and to share their displays with us - it really makes it magical for the little ones.  

Of course we've been to sit on Santa's knee (I might even add a photo if I manage to scan it one day) and Big Brother has established that they are not real santas.  Little Sister has changed her mind after saying she didn't like Santa all year and this year climbed up on his knee quite happily.  

Grandma took us to see the Santa Grotto run every year at the Spreydon Baptist Church, and it was wonderful as always, and yesterday we met Gran at  the giant Snow Dome set up in Hagley Park, complete with fake snow, snowman and Christmas trees.  

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Letter to Santa

Big Brother has been using an online learning programme for the last two weeks (free trial ;) )

I found this today when checking through the work he's done.  I guess these nasty old earthquake things impact on us all... even santa.

Dear Santa

I am still here in Christchurch. I am making sure you know because lots of people have gone away from here now but I did not. I still have a chinmy too because it was not made of bricks. Don't be scared to come to see us this year, no more bildings will fall down. The engineers have checked them all and they are ok now. Tell your raindeer I checked and I know they like apple with skin so I will not eat the last one before they come. My mum said you would like a chocolate brownie to eat so she will make one and she won't eat it. If you have room in your sleygh I would really like a new game but if your elfes can't find one a surprise would be very nice. My sister would like a halmet for her new bike. She likes pink and stars and she needs a small one because she is small. 

On Christmas night I will go to sleep as soon as I can and if I hear your bells I will go to sleep fast. I hope you can find everyone who has moved but I think your raindeer will know. 

Merry Christmas Santa

from Big Brother

p.s. Santa, if there is an aftershock when you are here you have to make a turtle and keep safe. Please don't run outside or you might get squashed. Tell your raindeer too. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Building Blocks

Little Sister has been really enjoying making towers and houses and "gag'es" with the wooden blocks lately.  They all have a story that go with them, and she can entertain herself for quite some time with them.

It reminded me of when Big Brother was a similar age and spent some long afternoons doing similar things:

I guess wooden blocks are a good toy!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monkey Bars

Big Brother has been determined to master the monkey bars so he's worked hard at it.  He finally got it sorted a few weeks ago... yay Big Brother!

Not to be out done, Little Sister has come up with her own version:

Note the helpful tongue... I think it's genetic

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tired Girl

Little Sister was naughty after her bath tonight so she was sent to her room to wait until we went to get her.  I think we took too long because this is what we found:

Yep, that's a nekkid, not night trained, light sleeping little bunny all tucked up in bed sound asleep.  

She must have been very tired because we managed to slip her nappy and jammies on <phew>!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Artistic Pursuits

We've been trying our hand at a few arty things lately - Big Brother has enjoyed the experience.

First we headed off to an art class organised by the local homeschooling group.  BB had a hard time keeping up - he tells me he got confused by the instructions but did his best.

As soon as we got home he wanted to have another go so he drew this one from memory, based on the instructions given in the art class, but taking his time. 

He was much happier with this one, but is keen to have another go to change a few more things.

Next up was the local homeschooling gala.  There were opportunities to make both sand saucers and vegetable animals. 

Big Brother spent aaaaages choosing just the right rose for the centre of his sand saucer and then twice as long finding the right shaped leaves to go around it.  He was very proud of the finished product. 

He also made himself a horse/dog called rover out of carrots with lettuce for ears and tail.  Unfortunately we didn't get a photo of that one.

Last but not least, we've been checking out Vincent Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" and thought we'd have a go ourselves.  Over the course of two weeks we made our own versions 'inspired' by the original with oil pastels.  We tried to move our pastels in different ways to imitate brushstrokes on our 'canvas'.  

Big Brother made one, the decided he'd like to try again.  He didn't like the uneven size of his petals, and wanted to try making 'brush strokes' in a different way.  Here are his two efforts:

Lotsa arty stuff for a non-arty Mum!

We're going to have a bash at some Christmas cards this week... wish us luck!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Too much Thomas?

LS (holding a remote control): Is this a fat controller?


Tuesday, November 22, 2011


There's a conversation going on outside just now:

LS: Daddy's gone to work.  Mummies don't go to work.
BB: Some Mummies do, but not our Mummy.
LS: Mummy go work in da office
BB: but she doesn't go anywhere to work
LS: yeah.  Mummies don't go to work.
BB: Some Mummies do though.  Gran goes to work.
LS: Gran's not a mummy.
BB: Yes she is.   Well she was when Daddy was a baby and a boy.  That's before you were even born.
LS: (shocked tones) NO!
BB: it's true.  Daddy was a little boy one day, and that was before we were born.
LS: Is Gran Daddy's mummy?
BB: She is.  Amazing, isn't it!
LS: yeah!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Snail Discovery

Today we found some snails in the garden and decided to have a closer look.  By putting them on the window we could look at them from all angles.

After close examinations we returned then to the garden where they made themselves scarce remarkably quickly.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Birthday Party

Big Brother enjoyed his birthday party today, the gymnastics party he's been hoping for since he turned three.  The Christchurch School of Gymnastics is a little worse for wear after the earthquakes, but they're carrying on as much as possible, and hosted us today.  The kids enjoyed the trampoline, beams, bars and (of course) the foam pit.  Lots of smiles and everyone seemed to be happy and having a good time.

Far too much sugar was ingested afterwards, not the least of which came from gymnastics themed six layers of gluten and dairy free rainbow coloured pound cake with an awful lot of icing on it.  Yum!

I had fun making this one... but it took a while!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Growing Up

Tomorrow Big Brother turns five... and does not start school.  I'm still having mixed feelings - I know it'd be a bad idea to send him, but I also feel like he's missing out on something.

Anyway... here's my baby boy in his last photo as a four year old.

And when he gets up tomorrow he'll be greeted by this:
In the parcel is Four "Life of Fred" maths books (apples, butterflies, cats and dogs) and a Geopuzzle (Europe).

Little Sister has a parcel tucked away for him with books and a game.  

Here's the first cake... the one for tomorrow night
As requested - a pink five with spots.  

Happy Birthday, Big Brother!

That's a Good Idea

We've been heading down to the local school after the school day finishes to let BB practice his bike riding in wide open spaces.  We also like to play on the letters and numbers painted on the ground outside the classroom.  BB likes me to give him words to spell and he jumps on the letters.  I asked him to spell "light", then "delight"... oh, that has a prefix, he says.  Then I asked him to spell "delightful".  Yay, a suffix AND a prefix he yells.  At this point a head pops out of a classroom.  And the following conversation happened:

Teacher: hello, are you visiting us?
BB: yes, I'm riding my bike on TWO wheels, and spelling some words
Teacher: how old are you?
BB: I'm nearly five!
T: will you be in my class soon?
BB: oh no, I'm going to be homeschooled
T: (looks at me) that sounds like a good idea.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Nearly Five Year Olds and Two Wheeled Bikes

Big Brother learnt to ride a two wheeler this week.  He's been riding around on a bike with training wheels for a couple of years but has shown no interest in his Glide2Ride bike.  Last weekend I thought he might be ready to start learning to ride, so we headed down to the local school.  We forgot to take the pedals off before we went but he was happy scooting with them on.  A little bit of practice scooting on flat ground and then he started rolling down the wheelchair ramp to get used to balancing.  A couple of abortive attempt at pedaling with Daddy holding on behind, but he wasn't really getting it.

Today we went back down to the school to try again.  Big Brother started off rolling down the ramp again and after a few tries I suggested he have a go at pedaling when he got to the bottom.  And that's all it took... off he went, a two wheel riding boy. I'm very proud of you Big Brother.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Say What?

Big Brother, on arriving at the breakfast table:

My tummy is well below 'E'

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Visit to the Beach

Labour Day... the day we celebrate the 40 hour working week by taking the day off ;)

We headed for the beach for lunch and a play.

Big Brother enjoyed tempting the waves 
But Little Sister preferred to focus on more artistic pursuits.

Feeling Small

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Google Sites

I'm not sure how I managed not to know about this for so long, but I've recently discovered the wonder that is Google Sites.  I have set up a site for Big Brother and Little Sister so that they can find links to all the interesting things I'd like them to discover on the internet right there on their home page when they start the computer.  And more importantly I can do it from my own computer whenever I happen to discover them, quickly and easily.  Yay!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Conversation with a Two Year Old

Little Sister pooed on the grass today.  ick.

This evening we were talking about it.

Me: where should you put your poos.
LS: my put my poos on da lawn.
Me: yes, you did.  That was yucky.  Where should you put your poos?
LS: in da toilet.
Me: that's right.  Only dogs poo on the grass.  Girls poo in the toilet.
LS: (after giving this some thought) and penguins poo in da water!

Do you think she got the message?  I sure hope so!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Acids and Bases

Big Brother has been asking to try this ever since he saw it on Suzy's World (more than two and a half years, oops!)

One purple cabbage, chopped up and soaked in boiling water.

Strain - voila, indicator!

Mummy may like to over organise things a little... but it looks pretty :-)

Add kids, mix and enjoy!

Ranking the results:

Big Brother wanted to test some more things too, so we added toothpaste, hand soap, milk, apple juice, mandarin juice and yoghurt.  

On discovering that coke, apple juice and mandarins are all acidic, but toothpaste is slightly alkaline, Big Brother thought of a reason why cleaning his teeth is a good idea.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Lonely Giant

Creatures Under the Floorboards

Daddy had to do some work under the house so Big Brother and Little Sister wanted to have a look too. After lots of exploring and much giggling and playing with torches this is what emerged.

And then it was straight into the bath!  

Friday, September 30, 2011

Decision Time

I wanted to share this because it expresses a lot of what we're trying to figure out for Big Brother at the moment... can we even begin to make same age classes work for him?  Or maybe more importantly, should we try?

Blogs | TalentIgniter

School is Not Real Life, Part 2

By Deborah L. Ruf, Ph.D.
Everyone knows that the reason we put children in school by age for their instruction is that there are centuries of excellent research that proves this is the most effective way for children to learn, right? Well, no, actually, there is no such research at all. I think it had something to do with following the Henry Ford factory efficiency model and no one ever seemed to think of questioning its validity for the schooling of generations of children around the world.
In the "olden days" of mass public education, we had the one room schoolhouse. It worked quite well. Students proceeded through the curriculum at their own pace and worked with anyone else, of any age, who was ready for the same material and production. My goal is not to give a history lesson here but to point out that we no longer do this in schools. Whether you are ready for more or not, it is not allowed because the student will get ahead and, "What will we do with her next year?"
Here is a little IQ lesson, though. Whether or not you approve of the concept of IQs or IQ testing, the research shows that IQ results correlate with all kinds of real-life outcomes. The average IQ in the US is 100 and regular standardized tests that most people take in school (or when they enter the military) all start as low as around 50 IQ and as high as about 150 IQ. Yes, there are some other kinds of tests that have different scales, but that's not what I'm talking about now.
The average IQ difference between people who choose to marry each other is 12 points. Basically, they get each other's jokes. That old magic feeling of someone thinking we're amusing! The genetic mingling of the parents' genes gives them children who will usually be within 15 points higher or lower to their parental average. Same with siblings- only 15 points between them on average. Most people know that there is a bell curve shape for most human qualities, and IQ is no exception. There are more average people than there are very low or very high IQ people.
American school classrooms are set up by age. Kindergarten screening tells the schools which children are most ahead and most behind others their age. The principal stacks the kids by ability and then considers gender, behavior, ethnicity, and socio- economic background, and then deals the kids out to the four different kindergarten classrooms so that every class has the same number of each kind of kid. This means that the four most advanced children will all be in different classrooms. No one will get their jokes except maybe the teacher! The typical IQ range in such a classroom is 70 to 80 IQ points, but we are generally comfortable with and drawn to people who are within about 12 points of us. Then we tell the kids that they need to learn to get along with their "peers." But peers might not be age-mates unless they--by some stroke of luck--are fairly close to us in intellect and get our jokes, get us.
School is not a very happy time or place for many, many bright children.