Monday, February 23, 2009

Big Update

I keep making notes of what we've been doing over the last 3 weeks, but it never seems to make it into a blog post, so I'm condensing everything into one.

We had a fab time. It was great to see people again that we haven't seen since the last Kessingland, and also meet new people. For one thing, it means that I don't feel so much of a stalker going round the blog ring now!
I got moulded to one of the kitchen chairs, M spent the whole time off playing, particularly with S, and A was happy. If I'm honest I was more worried about A than any of us, because his laptop is surgically attached to him, but he was happy playing with the kids, doing some washing up (wonders will never cease!) and playing board games (we now own Carcassone).

M has continued going to atelier twice a week. He does really enjoy it. I will be sad when he has to stop going in the summer, although he may be able to join on a Wednesday with the kids from ecole enfantine (first two school years) although we will have to think about that, as lots of other activities happen on a Wednesday (school half day).
I've set him a challenge each time to come home with a new French word. Obviously he always forgets until he sees me at the end, and hurriedly asks the monitrice what the first thing he sees in French is. Although last week she was confused she told me as she didn't know what 'poo' was. Just hope that he didn't see one of them lying around!

M and I had a meeting with a language school last week, about getting lessons for him. All seemed to be very positive and exciting - until we got the price. I imagine that there are some private schools that would cost less for 6 months, than it would cost us for M to have a 90 minutes lesson once a week for 6 months!
Still, we have another lead for a teacher who got a friends eldest child up to speed for entering school that I am going to contact.

Amongst other things:
We checked the life of a load of batteries and sorted them into dead and alive.
We went to the supermarket and used their hand held scanners to do the shopping. I also showed M how to weigh all the fruit and veg (making sure he wasn't leaning on the scales whilst doing so!)
We planted some seeds in troughs for the windowsill (lavender, asters, mixed herbs and mixed salad leaves). The salad leaves led into a discussion about doing things for others, as M doesn't like lettuce so wanted to know why he had to plant some!
We read through the Usborne book See Inside Your Body, as a result of a bony cuddle (me having the bony arms, apparently!).

On the evening we arrived back from the UK, M had just gone to bed when we heard a shout. He had managed to get his plastic kaleidoscope stuck on his finger! In the end we had to cut it off (the kaleidoscope, obviously!), but managed to salvage the 'mirrors' and the end of it, so at some point we'll get round to putting it back together again.
Over the winter M's eczema has got worse again, so we've tried him on lactose free milk and yogurts. A definite improvement. It hasn't solved it (the summer will be the true test) but its a start.
Both M and I have had a cough almost all the time since coming back. Its beginning to annoy me somewhat, although M seems to be unfazed by it.
We've all been to the dentist for a checkup and clean. M's teeth were fine, as were A's, but I've had to have a wisdom tooth out and a filling. Hopefully that will be it for me for a while!

We made some fimo aliens (pics maybe, when I get them off the camera) from a kit from Merry.
We drew a scene for some animal stickers to go into, finding out that we could smudge the felt tip on the photo paper to give different effects.
We also made a stained glass type picture of a bird, adding feathers for a tail to dramatic effect.
Conquistadors are one of M's fascinations (he wants to be one when he grows up!) so we made a Spanish flag for his ship. (Note to self, Christopher Colombus)
I bought M a small hardback book with blank pages, to take with us on the train etc. He has been drawing in it, and then likes to write the name of what he has drawn. We have also done some writing on the whiteboard, either him asking me how to spell something, or I ask him. I think that he has a good idea in his head how things are written and how to split up words, but cannot translate a written word into speech (ie reading). I find the whole thing fascinating.

M has investigated a few more of the Daily Mail DVDs that MIL sent us a while ago, including Black Arrow and Westward Ho. He was interested to know that the same author, Robert Louis Stevenson, had written a couple of them. Maybe I can follow that up by finding out more about the guy.
Tintin is still watched, over and over again.
We also have French TV on in the mornings. There are several English favourites dubbed into French, and M doesn't sit down so much to watch it, but I'm working on an idea of osmosis!

We went to the English storytime session at the local English bookshop. M was definitely more attentive than the others (schooled, you see ;P ) although I was slightly concerned that when we got home he insisted that we could only speak if we raised our hand.
We bought a couple more Magic Tree House books when we were in England. It hadn't occurred to me that there would be an American and British version, so the two new books have a different cover style to the ones we already own, which seems to offend my sense of completeness! Anyway, I have read Night of the Ninjas to him setting off lots of sneaking around play, and also Lions on the Loose (I know, I realise that they are probably best read in order!).
His English and French magazines arrived and they've made good bedtime stories.
Lots of other book reading going on, and I am slowly suggesting that he spell out one word in the story, although he normally does that once and refuses to read the same word in the rest of the story. I guess reading will be another thing that he comes to in his own way.

Obviously plenty of these have happened, but a few have stood out for one reason or another.
We talked about charity, what it means and the idea of doing something without expecting anything in return. I tried not to focus too much on the 'starving children in Africa' side of things, partly because M is very sensitive about anyone being hurt (although this doesn't translate to his playmobil games!) and can start wailing at the most surprising things (Nanny McPhee was an example yesterday) and partly because I would like him to get hold of the global idea of charity. Obviously this concept will take a while!

Aside from the usual playdates and playing at atelier, and being with other kids at football and yoga (am I allowed to say that the yoga teacher thinks he is attentive and responsive and really a great kid? ;) ) we had a sleepover (M and me) and we also went to visit a homeschool family in another canton that we had met about 2 years ago. I expected to stay a couple of hours, but after 8 hours I decided it was probably time to go! S and I chatted about anything and everything, I admired and coveted her vast array of books and resources and M, A and L played with very few hiccups. I think that S enjoyed it, as A is autistic and as a result they find it difficult to go anywhere and meet new people.
We also met up with some friends to go to a time exhibition in the same building as M's atelier, also with a exhibition by Niki de Saint Phalle. Unfortunately, M wasn't feeling very well, and spent most of the time on my lap, but as it is so close, we can go back again.

Other Stuff
M has had a haircut :( We have always left it his choice, but ask him every now and then if he would like one. However, in this case I think that he was influenced by certain members of my family when we visited them. Grrrrr!
There has, as usual, been lots of playmobil playing going on. We really need to have a sort out, although I've been saying that for weeks now, but the amount we have is really ridiculous.
The base ten blocks and pattern blocks have come out and structures made. One day, we might get round to using them for the purpose for which they were made!

Phew! Of course, I've now taken so long to write this that another few days have stacked up, but they will have to come in another post.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Catch Up

I keep writing notes to help me remember what we have been doing and then not blogging them, so I'm making the effort today!

Over the past week, and by no means exclusively we have:
  • discussed the healthiness of apples, if they are classed as sweet things and what type of sugar they have in them.
  • played shops. Chose items to sell, decided what price to sell them for, wrote the price stickers, then sold some items and we worked out what change was needed
  • read M some Faraway Tree, most specifically the part where Connie gets ink on her dress
  • more being read to.
  • played with the pattern blocks, making pictures leading to a discussion about the differences between squares, rectangles and diamonds, introducing the idea of right angles (which I found extremely difficult to explain for some reason)
  • lots of den and dungeon making, including making me an accessory to an escape attempt
  • card sewing (you know, the cards that have pictures and pre-punched holes in them)
  • had a film afternoon - watched Madagascar in the blacked out living room with popcorn
  • discussed what camels eat. I wish I was a bit more confident in my answers. I felt the need to check my reply, whereas M had the confidence of youth, and was right anyway.
  • gone to football. I love watching M playing football. He isn't that skilled in it, but he concentrates so hard. I just wish some of the others were a little less aggressive and more friendly. A lot of them go to the same school and so know each other pretty well. They can be quite mean to kids that they don't know. It makes me sad. I was impressed by M helping the coach to put the bibs, balls and goal posts away without being asked. It was only him and another child doing it, all the rest buggered off home.
  • watched quite a lot of tv as usual. The Peter Pan obssession has calmed down a little, which I am grateful for, as I find that film disturbing in so many ways. Even though the dvds that MIL got from the Daily Mail are poorly produced, they cover some good stories, and this week he has watched The Odyssey, Hiawatha and Tom Sawyer again.
  • more story dictation has occurred. When we are in the UK next week, I am going to see if I can get hold of a dictaphone for M so that he can record stories in his own time. Maybe we'll try to develop them a little and draw pictures to accompany them.
  • learnt some French. We've done a little more with Léo and Lulu the puppets from La Jolie Ronde and I challenged M to learn a new French word at atelier on Tuesday. I said that if he did, he could have a small treat (which ended up being half a piece of chewing gum Lol!). When I went to collect him, he turned to his teacher and said, "Ima, whats twin in French?" and then ran outside to tell me the answer and demand his treat. Not quite what I was wanting, but he did fulfill the terms of the agreement!
  • Today we are going to see if he can do a taster session of yoga. All his friends do it, but in the past he hasn't wanted to go. He has now changed his mind, partly I think because he will be able to see his friends regularly.
In other news, I have enrolled myself on an intermediate French course. I feel that my French is of a reasonable standard, but I'm not really progressing much, so I need a helping hand.

Tomorrow we are going to look at some camper vans. We had planned to do another Big Trip this year to Canada, but A has a contract until at least July, and the flights alone were a lot of money so we thought it would be better to buy a camper and then we can just take off more easily at weekends etc.

And then on Sunday we fly to the UK to go to Melrose for the week and then visit rellies for a week. I always get apprehensive attending these type of events, partly because a lot of people know each other pretty well, including the children, and also I can find them fairly intense.
So go easy on me! Please.

Monday, February 02, 2009


(as dictated to me by M)

Once upon a time in a far off land there was a guard called Sir Maxalot, and he just loved money, but there were pirates in the caribbean and that was a problem because he lived in the caribbean sea too.

One night as they were sleeping, a big big ship arrived which looked like a merchant ship but was actually a pirate ship!

Then they saw it, and they raised the conquistador and navy flag, and then there was a big battle and some got killed and some were alive and there was 100 guards and there was 1000 pirates and then all the guards got killed but there was still one left, Sir Maxalot and then he took out his spear and the pirates raised their guns and swords and axes and then there was a big cry from the magic fairy and she was going to get killed but she had spells and the pirates also had a naughty witch who cast a spell on her and turned her into ice!

Then Sir Maxalot took out his lance and then the pirates raised their guns right into his eyes. Then they raised all of their weapons in his eyes. Then Sir Maxalot took his knife out and stabbed one in the eye so he had to have a pirate patch. One was a grumpy pirate and he got out his two guns and he spat right on the leg of the armour. He was a really grumpy and nasty pirate.
Then Sir Maxalot and Sir Lancelot came and there were a few surprise attacks. Then the prince came with a really long sword and then the king came. Then the guard came, so there was a lot of good guys to defend and a lot of bad guys to attack. There was a big battle.

Finally the prince was dead and the guard and the king was still alive, and he chopped all the pirates in half pieces.

Then they all lived happily ever after and that is the end of the story.