Crafty R Us!!

As many will notice-I’ve taken a bit of a computer break for awhile. I had to take a breather from all the home education problems here in the UK, and rejoin with regular family life. I knew I was spending a lot of time on it, but hadn’t noticed how much until I read something Hazel wrote. It was basically a note about how ‘angry’, a rather harsh word for Hazel, she was because of how much time I was spending on Home Ed stuff because of Mr. Badman. I know in the long run the fight will be worth it if it preserves our way of life, but nothing should make my little girl feel like that.

So-what have we been doing? We’ve gotten into our old routine of the kids doing some bookwork a few days of the week. I always like doing it in the winter days-takes your mind off the wet & cold outside!

We have also been a bit crafty. I’ve been working on a sweater on and off for Hazel-mostly haven’t been working on it-as I get daunted when I don’t know how to do something. Hopefully I’ll get it completed-at least before the summer comes!

I also knitted two little cats for the kids. So I’ll post a photo of those so my family can keel over from the shock! Look-I made two knitted cats! I made these the very same day I told a friend I didn’t really like the toy knitted kits in a book we both got. I took another look at it when I got home, and thought actually-the cat would be a good starter for the kids. Which of course meant I had to make sure I could make one.

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Hazel and I have had a couple of ‘very calm, but serious discussions’ this past month. My daughter is a joy-and I LOVE that she loves to read. But I have had to ban her from reading. Yes, you read that correctly. I have banned my eight year old from reading. Why, you may ask? Well, because that’s all she does. I can see all the Badman’s around the UK jumping up & down shouting they knew they were right and we are all bad parents-banning a child from reading-how insane is that??

But I will just laugh in their scornful faces, and say I stand by my ban. It was a very serious ban-as all 55 of her then-current library books were packed away and returned to the library. (Don’t worry-she had read them all at least twice in the two weeks she had them!) Getting all our library books together was a massive feat on my behalf! I didn’t miss out any of all of the books we all had out-nearly 100!

And yes-I am serious-she has a partial reading ban in place, and is forbidden to get any fictional books from the library for 3 months. Doesn’t that sound serious? And in a way, it is. Hazel will literally spend all day reading. Poor me, huh? A child not interested in TV, DVD’s, video games or computers-and I’m complaining!! I am.

Yes, it’s time for my daughter to branch out and get a few more things done in life. Hazel is a girl of many talents, many interests, and a houseful of kits she hasn’t done because she’s too busy reading. So we had a few discussions, and we are going to get a few things done every week. We will not introduce any library books till the ban is up, and possibly longer if some projects are not completed. This may sound silly. An example is: she has been working on a latch hook pillow kit for a year now. She would take her time and each row was taking over an hour-and then she’d stop for another couple off weeks. No-she hadn’t lost interest in it-the books were just more interesting. And I fear she has inherited my procrastination skills-so we are working on nipping it in the bud, before it becomes a problem. (Like putting off working on a sweater for weeks!) I have used the word ‘diligence’ quite often of late!

Every week she must finish something crafty-and she has to use her own initiative to start it (and not while I’m busy cooking!). I don’t want to have to remind her. She has needed some encouragement-but has gotten into the habit of a weekly craft session. We are also including baking in this arena. Hazel is multi-talented, and I really don’t want to push her, but I also don’t want her not squander her talents. Hence, we will be doing more sketching, more art work in general, more crafts-and just making it a part of daily life. So far she has mostly worked on the latch-hook pillow. And to her surprise-she realised if she put some effort into it, she could do 2 rows within 30 minutes. She was amazed-and I was proved right-so a great result all round! (Don’t worry-we still have hundreds of books for her to choose from at home-but she can’t read all day!)

She and Kieran also made small felt teddy bears for their dolls. I was rather surprised by their colour choices, but I’m sure the dolls will love them! Hazel’s pink just wouldn’t photograph well-it’s not as garish as the photo makes it look.

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We’ve also done a bit of baking. We entered in Hannah’s Home Baked Challenge for January. The theme was ‘frost’. Kieran came up with the snowman idea, Hazel & I baked the cake & made the frosting. We all cut out the shapes, and Michael and I did the icing. We had fun making it, but it was far too sweet for us to eat!! I’ve never made ‘American frosting’ before. I think if I do it again I’ll try an actual American recipe, because I don’t think Mary Berry (British) has ever had American frosting -the recipe turned out nothing like any frosting I’ve ever had!!

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Hazel & I also baked our first Bara Brith (a Welsh fruitcake). It’s basically a tea bread with lots of dried fruit-we used raisins, sultana’s and currents. If I do say so myself-it was rather delicious! Mary Berry knows how to make that! : And Michael and I made Mary Berry’s Chocolate brownies. They were really delicious, but probably the most expensive brownies I’ve ever eaten. We needed to use two large baking bars of Green & Blacks dark chocolate for the recipe!! But they were worth it!

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We’ve also been showing more attention to the garden birds. (This counts as other activities!) The kids made some peanut feeders with their friend Jenna. Just have to wait and see if the birds will actually eat them. The kids have been great all winter with helping to feed the birds daily-our Wood Pigeons are the biggest birds in England!! We also participated in the Big Garden Birdwatch. We had most of the usual daily visitors, but not in their normal numbers while we were doing it, as is always the case! But we had about 11 varieties during the hour we watched.

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And as you can see-we are the proud owners of a bird house! I’ve wanted one for ages-and we finally chose that one, and the new feeder in this tree. The kids and I were so excited as a couple of Blue tits were checking it out the next day. So we are hoping one of them will use it for nesting. We have decided to get another one-and possibly two more feeding stations! I do love watching them all!

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This is just a photo of Kieran using his cross referencing skills. I came downstairs one morning to see him engrossed in these books. Kieran always reads non-fiction (something we discussed this past month-he has to read more fiction now!) and he generally does his own cross referencing. He was reading something about Japan in one book, so he got out an ancient Atlas to look up Japan-and on the floor is his maze book, which he later opened to a page on Taiwan. I love when he does that!!

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