Friday, 31 October 2008

A bit of this and that

This has not proved to be the quiet week I was expecting and so this is a bit of a catch up on what's been happening here this week.

This is a jelly that D made on Sunday. He even managed to get it out of the mold without any help from me. Sunday evening the boys watched Bear Gryls on television and then had to make their own shelter.

It looks quite good here when it is empty, but it was a little cramped for two people.

Ever since the weekend, J has been camping on his bedroom floor. I did think the colder nights would have encouraged him back to bed, but so far he has stuck it out.
On Tuesday at MEND the children that were there decided on a short list for their reward outing if everyone achieves their targets. All the children should be making the final decision next week.
The programme has also been extended for another week so the farewell party will now be on 13 November. We have four recipes to cook for the party, all MEND friendly food.
Yesterdays session was slightly different as so many were missing. There was only the activity session and the parents joined in. We played badminton and basketball. We all had great fun and it was quite nice to get home early.
On Monday we went to Hobbycraft and J managed to lose his wallet. Fortunately it was handed in on the tram, so Tuesday morning we had to go and pick it up. At least it meant we got to the library to take books back. We were so relieved to get his wallet back as all his passes for the bus, library and leisure centre were in there. It saved us a lot of messing about.
D got his knitting out and did a couple of rows this week. He has been looking through one of my magazines and deciding on what he is going to knit when he gets better. He has big ideas!
This week the BBC have begun a dramatisation of Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens. The boys watched the first episode Sunday and decided they would like to watch the rest. The second episode was last night but we have to wait until next Wednesday evening for the next one.
Today we are having the quiet day we wanted. Have to build ourselves up for another busy week next week.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Salmon Stir Fry

I love the boys learning to cook and it will be a real blessing in the years to come. Today J was cooking salmon stir fry.

First of all he washed and cut all the vegetables. He used-carrots, celery, garlic, ginger, pak choi, sugar snap peas, baby sweetcorn and bean sprouts. The salmon he cut into cubes. When he cooked the salmon he added sesame seeds then some soy sauce to the whole dish. It was served with noodles.

Delicious! These book marks and pencil topper where cut out when the boys did some work on medieval times a few weeks ago. We have just got round to laminating them.

Friday, 24 October 2008

More Cinema

I am glad we are coming to the weekend and there is no need to rush out in the morning.

Yesterday we were at the bus stop at 8.30 to get the bus and tram to get to the cinema. Yesterday we saw the Golden Compass. There was a storyteller there, so the children had a story before the screening.

Afterwards we went to Hillsborough for the boys to go swimming. That means both the boys have met their activity targets this week.

This morning, we were at the bus stop for 8.30 again for a repeat of yesterday, this time to see Horton hears a Who.

It was straight from the cinema to Sheffield ice as it was ice skating week. It was quite fun to watch the ice hockey team practising before and after the children were skating.

The other day we bought some sweet chestnuts, so I baked them today and the boys enjoyed tearing them apart tonight. This is the first time they have tried them. I have memories of walking by the British Museum in London, and my mum and dad buying them for me from the street sellers. They have their braziers with them roasting, fantastic on a cold day.

We are looking forward to a quieter week next week as the local schools are on half term. It means we don't tend to venture very far away from home.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Grass Snake

We were very fortunate again today with the weather. The rain showers had cleared by the time we had to go for D's Spanish lesson.

In his lesson today, D did numbers up to 50, the days of the week and more animals. He has two weeks now to reinforce these before his next lesson.

As we were sat in the park J was exploring along the river bank accompanied with the brother of the other boy who does Spanish with D. All of a sudden, they came running back all excited. They had seen a snake.

They weren't sure what it was so J and I did a search on the internet when we got home.
It was a grass snake. They usually live near water and feed on amphibians and occasionally fish. I have never seen a snake in the wild here, and am so happy that J has had the opportunity to have this experience.

After reading his survival books, he knew what to do had it been an adder and they had been bitten. J was so pleased that he was able to use the things he had read in a practical setting.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

MEND-Internal Triggers

It's been a full day here today. After normal, everyday chores the boys did some work before dinner, then we were out this afternoon.

The boys started the day with doing some work on the American Civil War. This lead to a discussion into the slave trade and the reasons why it was so hard for some people to give up. J looked on the internet and looked at some of the weapons that were used. It was quite an eye opener for D to realise that planes were not used in this war. I suppose with the news coverage of wars they see today, it is not surprising.

After this J and I caught up with our reading for MEND. It was all about portion sizes and it was very comforting to realise that on the whole, we were getting them right. We have made a conscious effort to reduce them over the last couple of months. J was pleased we didn't have to reduce any more.

After dinner, J caught the bus and went swimming for an hour before today's MEND session.

It was quite an emotional session this afternoon as we were talking about internal triggers for eating. The children were asked about bullying, the reasons for bullying and the effects it had. To show them that no one deserved to be bullied they were asked to say what made them special as individuals. Parents then had to say what made the child special and one of the volunteers did the same.

This process was to help the children realise it didn't matter what others said, they were special and shouldn't feel bad about themselves. I think we all sometimes have problems with self esteem and it is good to be reminded of our good points from time to time.

We only have two weeks of MEND left and I am pleased to say that J has enjoyed the whole programme.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Film Education Week

This week is Film Education Week where schools and home educated families get the chance to go to the cinema and watch films free of charge.

This week is the first time we have attended in Sheffield and have managed to get booked into three showings. This week is going to be a bit hectic.

Today we saw Spiderwick Chronicles. This was followed by a talk from a representative from the British Board of Film Classification. She explained to the children why films were classified and how they received the classification they did.

BBFC have a website designed for children, so we are going to check it out later in the week.

After the film, we returned books to the library and then walked back through the woods on our way home.

D was really excited as he found a puffball. There is still a lot of fungi out there to be seen.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Catch Up

I have had one of those weeks this week where I have been too tired to keep up with blog writing. My brain hasn't been working well enough to get the words down properly. Hopefully I will get down the most important things of the last few days.

You may remember I said to keep an eye on the bits and pieces collected from our walk in Norfolk Park. Here is the picture D made.

The inspiration for this came from the fact that when D saw the twigs in the park, they were laying crossed over, looking just like a fish. The leaves were chosen to look like seaweed and the body was filled in using acorn cups to simulate the scales.

J's MEND nutritional target every week is to make a MEND friendly meal. Tuesday he made tuna pizza. He served it with corn on the cob-which he had to remove from the husk-and carrots. This was a scone based pizza so was quick to make.

J did all the weighing out and made the scone base. The tomato sauce he made from scratch too. It was a very delicious dinner and there was enough pizza for two days.

On Tuesday at MEND the children learned how to read food labels and for next week they have taken 10 items and checked the fat and sugar content to decide if they were MEND friendly or not. The target is to eat food that has 5% or below fat and sugar content.

The adults discussed the external triggers there were for good and bad food and activity behaviours. This was in preparation for the discussion on Thursday about the importance of the parents example.

Both boys have fulfilled their targets for activity and nutrition this week, so they got their reward of going to the park and their star. Every child on the programme succeeded this week.

J went swimming before MEND Tuesday and both the boys went Wednesday. D's Spanish was cancelled Wednesday, so it was an ideal time to go. Yesterday, we went to Hillsborough Park before we went to MEND.

D has started reading the book on Kenya and was surprised at the age expectancy of the population there.

J wants to do a project on what he has been learning from his survival books. On Monday we will go to Hobbycraft and get some card to make their displays.

As we were coming home the other day we were talking about animal tracks, so I have to do some printouts so they can try to identify them. I thought I would do the same with fungi and other plants. All this may have to wait for a week or so as it is Film Education week next week, and they are at the cinema three times.

J cooked dinner again today, but I forgot to take a photo. He did a cheese omelette with mash potato and swede, carrots and broccoli. It makes a lovely break for me and he enjoys doing it.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Books and Art

We had to go to the library today to collect some books that we had ordered. J has found another book that he would like to buy, this time by Ray Mears. D has also borrowed a book by Bear Grylls, they both seem to have caught the survival bug.

They were delighted that they managed to light kindling with a spark from the flint. However, they weren't able to light a proper fire. The little spark went out. This definitely is going to need some more work.

We also got some books on Kenya for the boys to do a project. We couldn't get any specifically to do with the Masai, so I think we will have to do a bit of internet searching.

After the library, we went to W H Smith. D needed some artists pencils and an A3 pad for some drawings.

This is D this afternoon. He was up on the shed roof for well over an hour concentrating on his drawing. This is what he came in with. This is his eagle.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Sid Spider

Well the squirrels are still busy taking away the conkers and the boys are even considering collecting more for them. We have two squirrels coming in, and they have been better than television.

Saying that though, we are sad that Big Cat Diary is ending after tonight. We have really enjoyed following along all this week.

This evening D sat at the table and came up with this masterpiece. This is Sid Spider.
I love watching the concentration on his face when he gets engrossed in his art. It is all absorbing.
We are off to have a bonfire now.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

A Thief in the Garden

This morning the boys were out and I was preparing vegetables by the kitchen sink when I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. I was expecting to see a cat, but it was a squirrel. These are all the conkers that the boys collected yesterday. They didn't know what to do with them this morning, so they put them on the decking until they found somewhere to put them.
If this little chappy has anything to do with it, there won't be many to find homes for.
I was so pleased that he was still coming back to collect conkers when the boys got home. It was so fascinating to watch him pick up a conker and position it in his mouth until it was comfortable then carry it away. We are waiting in anticipation to see how many conkers will still be there in the morning.

This afternoon we managed to get our walk in the woods. We were joined by a friend and her grandchildren.

We found this bracket fungus. It was shaped a bit like a bowl and was a darker brown on the edges.

We even managed to fill a small tub with blackberries. This year they blackberries are so small, you have to pick so much more to fill the tub. There haven't been many around at all. I should have enough to make a pound or two of jam and a blackberry and apple crumble which will please the boys.

As we were leaving the woods, D found this chrysalis on a sign post. I hope it gets left in peace so it can hatch in due time.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Weston Park Museum

We had a lovely time today at Weston Park Museum and it was a very varied trip.

The first exhibit to catch the boys attention was the weather station. We had to check out the weather for various significant dates. We found out that the day my mum was born, 5Th September 1945, was a warm day for the time of year, very much like we have been enjoying this week.

We then spent some time looking at the Life of Sheffield. D really enjoyed himself working in the butcher shop. It was the interior of a shop that was demolished in Attercliffe. It had been moved and rebuilt in the museum.

I was soon called to see the boys, they were now Anglo Saxons. D even managed to get the shoes on too.
D then surprised us dressed up as an Innuit.
It was in this section the boys were trying their hand at working out the food chain, before we listened to a recording of traditional Innuit throat singing. J said tonight, he wouldn't want to hear it on a dark night. It had an eerie feel to it.
J spent some time identifying different minerals.
This was linked to a computer program that asked questions to try and identify the different rock types.
After a couple of hours in the museum, we went and had lunch in the surrounding park. The boys were delighted to find conkers. This small handful quickly turned.....
to this!
While we were at the museum, D bought himself this ant hill. He set it up tonight and is hoping to get some ants to go in it tomorrow. He wants to see them make burrows and watch them build their colony.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

MEND-Nutritional and Activity Goals

This morning as we were traveling by bus to Chapeltown we were delighted to see the glorious autumn colours of the sycamore trees. The leaves have turned a beautiful red colour. These trees seem to be the only ones that have changed colour and it seems to have happened overnight. If these trees are anything to go by, over the next week or two, we should be in for a glorious show. We can't wait to get up to the woods to see the changes there.

From the library, J picked up the book he had reserved. It is Ray Mear's World of Survival based on the television series. It is really interesting as it is based on the experiences of native inhabitants of various countries.

This afternoon at MEND the children had to set themselves nutritional and activity goals. If they achieved these goals every week they were to be rewarded by the parents, and they would also get a star from the instructor. If they all get a star every week, they get to go on a group reward at the end of the course.

J has set himself the goal of cooking a MEND friendly meal every week, and to go swimming twice a week, as well as a walk in the woods. The reward would be for us all to go to a park. There are so many parks in Sheffield, we won't be getting bored.

Tomorrow we are hoping to go to Weston Park Museum and then go to the park for a picnic lunch. We are determined to make the most of the weather we are enjoying at the moment.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Norfolk Heritage Park

We woke up to a beautiful day today and it was a lot warmer than it has been for some time. This is good news on a Wednesday as J and I have to wait in the park whilst D has his Spanish lesson.

As we were there early, J took D to see his den. This is the view near to where it is. It is so relaxing sat listening to the water flowing over the rocks.In his lesson today, D did numbers from 10-20 and also some more animals.

J and I tried to find some blackberries but we were only successful in finding a handful. This year doesn't seem to have been a good year for them.

Once D had finished his lesson, we took the tram and went to find Norfolk Heritage Park. We were going to make the most of the weather today.

This is what we found in the adventure playground. They were in plentiful supply. We think they are young puff balls, but we are waiting to check them out. We had a problem getting onto the web site tonight.

After an hour or so in the adventure playground, we went for a walk through the park on our way to getting the tram home.

Apparently this archway is the remains of the Pavilion Tea Rooms built in 1910 to celebrate the park being given to the City of Sheffield by the Duke of Norfolk. This park was the first park in the country to be open freely to the public.

Just through the archway, D found this on the path. It depicts a tree and birds, animals and butterflies. The date is 1848 - 1999, but we haven't worked out what it is commemorating.

There is a bench just next to this, and it gives a perfect view of the city. It is a perfect spot to see the hills that surround Sheffield and the city nestled in the valley.
This avenue of lime trees were planted in 1841. It is staggering to think of how old these trees are and the stories they could tell.
Of course, no day out is complete without spoils. These are just a few of the things D picked up and brought home. Some of them are going to be used to make some art work, so watch this space.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

We've been Stitching

The boys haven't let me go out for the last two days. In fact, yesterday, I was told to cuddle up on the settee and go to sleep. This meant that we haven't gone to the woods as planned or to MEND today.

Yesterday, the boys did some work on medieval times and D practised for his public reading he has on Thursday.

Today we all spent some of the day stitching.
D has now cross stitched his way to the centre of his daisy. It always brings a sense of accomplishment when he gets to another petal.
J has almost finished the body of the cat. He just has to stitch the white bib.

Tonight we got to watch Big Cat Diary on BBC1. Normal bedtime may be going out of the window this week so they can get to watch all the programmes. Watching it tonight has helped us to make the decision we will do a project on the Masai. The boys are interested in finding out how they live. We will have to make a trip to the library this week.

Friday, 3 October 2008

A Satisfying Day

The day turned out really well for us today, so rearranging yesterday was very worthwhile.

The boys did some work on parts of speech this morning, then D did his Spanish homework and J did his MEND assignments.

J went to the post office for me this morning to post a parcel, and he timed himself. It took six minutes in total. He had run all the way to the post office and a mixture of running and walking back. It is all uphill coming home. He said to me this evening as we were having a cuddle, that after 3 weeks of MEND, he could now run faster and quicker. I am so pleased that he is happy with the whole programme and what he has achieved. It will make it so much easier for him to keep up all the activity after MEND has finished.

D lost no time in going through the coins he was given. Using the book, he identified the coins and the values as of 1998. Here you can see how he has arranged them all on a sheet of paper with the values. He made the link with the age and abundance of coins and their corresponding value.

I have a lot of coins tucked away upstairs, so I might get them out so he can do the same with them. At tea time, the boys were eating yogurt and D decided to make a "telephone" with them. The boys didn't think they would work. They were surprised that I did the same thing when I was little.
They were thrilled at how the sounds were magnified along the thread. D said it was like a microphone.

They did toy with the idea of stringing one with a long enough line to the girls next door but one. I'm not sure what the neighbours living in the middle would think.
D did experiement with making fake blood this afternoon using cornflour and tomato ketchup. He wasn't happy with the result, so he is going back to the original idea of saving his pennies and buying some.
J has been busy reading this week too. He started reading a set of The Worst Witch books Monday, and by lunchtime today, he had finished reading the last one.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

MEND-Sleep and Fish

We had a change of plan for this morning. We decided to go and get the shopping this morning so we could have a full day at home tomorrow for doing some work and other things. As we had MEND this afternoon, there wasn't much time left after the animals had been cleaned out.

At MEND this afternoon, the parents discussed the importance of sleep for children and the amount of sleep that was necessary. For the boys, they are recommended to have 10 hours sleep a night at their age which, most nights, is what they get.

Once the children had rejoined the group, we carried on the conversation regarding fats. This led to the new nutritional goal for this week. As we need essential oils, and because omega 3 is especially beneficial, the goal is to have two fish portions a week.

For one of our meals, or maybe two as it will be a big one, we had already planned and have the ingredients, to make a tuna pizza. Both the boys would like to have fish and chips too, but we will do this in a MEND friendly way.

Tonight, D was given a lovely gift. He was given a bag of old coins and a book from 1998 to identify and value them. I think I know what he will be doing over the next few days and thus a lesson explaining that values go down as well as up. Quite topical in the present economic climate I think.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Sunshine and Showers

When D has his Spanish lesson, J and I are sat in the park waiting for him. Well I sit, J is climbing trees or looking for fish in the river. This morning we awoke to very heavy showers, so we weren't looking forward to our time in the park very much, but we were very nicely surprised.

D was sat inside learning more Spanish names for animals, and the sun shone the whole time. As the sky was fairly clear and we were sheltered from the wind, it was the warmest it has been since we have been going. It was a fantastic morning.

Once D had finished, we were on the bus going to Sheffield and there was another heavy shower. What made our day was when we looked behind, there was a full rainbow across the valley. As we were high up, we were so close to it, it was a fantastic sight. We then had a discussion as to what effected the colours we saw in the rainbow. Poor D, being colour blind, finds it very difficult for to distinguish one colour from another.

To make things quicker, J went to the library to return my books for me while I sorted my bus pass for next week. It meant we were able to get home earlier to have a bit of rest and relaxation time. We have quite a bit to do tomorrow, and as it includes cleaning out some of the animals, I'm not sure how much we will get done.

MEND has resumed

Well the weather has well and truly changed, rain seems to have returned which means we didn't get to the woods as planned. Never mind, we will get there another day.

D did his Spanish homework which was to do with animals and more work on colours. He is colour blind, so he ended up with a purple sky, but as he knew what Spanish for blue was, I don't think we will worry too much about it.

He sometime gets very frustrated at getting colours wrong as he loves art. I am pleased to say, it doesn't stop him from having a go.

J went swimming for an hour before MEND. He caught the bus down and we met him there later.

D in the meantime was checking out special effects. He wants to make fake blood and has found a few recipes to try. I have a feeling I am about to have a raid on the kitchen cupboards.

At MEND this week, the first hour was parents and children doing circuit training and then an hour on nutrition.

This week we were discussing fats. The children were introduced to the different fats there were and which ones were to be avoided and the good ones we needed. Trying to get their mouths around polyunsaturated was quite amusing.

They discussed: saturated fat, unsaturated fat, hydrogenated fat or trans fats, mono and polyunsaturated fats. The focus this time was on fats to avoid, especially hydrogenated fats.

As we had missed last week, there are quite a few handouts to catch up on. I think we will have to do that tomorrow as D has Spanish this morning and then we have to go into Sheffield for the library.