Journey into Unschooling

Alfie is 9 and Spring has Sprung!

April 3rd, 2015 by becki

So, my little baby boy is now 9. NINE! How did that even happen??? Surely he was snuggled up to me in the sling only last week??? Unfortunately, his birthday plans with both family and friends have had to be deferred to next week after I succumbed to the first bout of tonsilitis since I was 17! Hideous :-/ Thankfully I am starting to recover now. Alfie, being the amazing child that he is, claimed that he still had the best birthday ever, and actually got a bonus, as he had a takeaway on his birthday yet still gets all his birthday plans next week. I have never met a more kind, thoughtful, grateful child than that boy.

So, what has been going on these past couple of weeks? here are some of the highlights :-)

Alfie wrote his own white board entry :-)


Home ed ice skating at Telford ice rink.  Afterwards, we went into the park to play with friends in the sun, and celebrate the birthday of a HE friend.

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A fun day at the Big Play Barn with lots of our HE friends. As ever, the jumping pillow was the most popular feature ;-)

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Eclipse watching. Alfie and Daddy walked up to the top of the hill in Shire Oak nature reserve for a birds eye view, whilst Amber and I watched from the garden. We were disappointed that it didn’t go very dark, and the chickens didn’t even seem to notice, but it was an amazing sight, viewed through our homemade pinhole cameras.

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Afterwards we all went for a family fry up at the Crown breakfast buffet, before friends came over for a lovely play date. Holly tested out her new roller boots, whilst unpacking the Approved Foods order, and making their initials out of almond milk and apple juice cartons ;-)

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We had a lovely, if rather chilly, meet up with Uncle Steve, Aunty Andy and cousin Toby at Emberton Country Park.

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A day spent gardening in the sun.

Swimming at Oak Park, where lots of progress in swimming confidence was made. Now Alfie and Holly can both swim unaided.

Ice skating with friends at Cannock ice rink.

A lovely meet up in the spring sunshine with lots of Staffs home educators at Victoria Park. The children were having so much fun that it was difficult to drag them away when our parking time was up! Holly made a sand turtle and Gary the rock, the subject of much conflict, negotiation, support and friendship ;-)

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Cycling in Dartmouth Park with lovely friends.

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Friday Club fun making dens and candles at Clifton Road, before wild adventures at Red Mountain.

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A last visit to Walsall Museum before it closed down. Also, to the library for new books and audio CDs, and for a Wetherspoon lunch.

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A trip to Telford ice rink with Nanny and Grandad to buy Alfie’s birthday present of ice hockey skates. He is so pleased with them :-) We had lunch in the Wrekin Giant, then caused mayhem in the windy park ;-)

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A trip to Cannon Hill park with our bikes to meet Caroline, Lauren, Tom, and Martha. Lots of riding bikes through puddles, collecting pink daisies and climbing trees.

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Pizza Hut lunch with Sally, Evie and Finn, followed by a spot of marbling.

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Jigsaw fun

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Alfie turned 9. He loved his Lego City museum break in set and spent all day building all of the models. He chose Indian takeaway for his birthday tea. A wise choice! :-)

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Rich and Elaine took Alfie and Amber to their tour through time and coin minting at the 500 year old Ancient High House in Stafford. They had a fantastic day.

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Holly took the opportunity to make Alfie a delicious surprise vegan chocolate birthday cake :-)

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Today has been a day of games :-) Snakes and ladders, chess, 3D snakes and ladders, Guess Who, brainteasers, Herds of Words, alphabet dinosaurs, marble runs and Mario.

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Next week, postponed birthday fun. Lots more spring fun to come :-)

Spring Fun

March 17th, 2015 by becki

We have been having lots of fun during these early spring days. The children have been pursuing their interests more and more as they get older, and we now ice skate and swim every week. Both Alfie and Holly have now taught themselves to swim during our weekly swimming sessions. We go on our own, with friends, and even had Nanny and Grandad come to watch and see how well the children were progressing. All three love the water, and Alfie is currently into diving down to the bottom to retrieve rings. Ice skating with friends has also become a weekly adventure. We go to a session at a small local rink most weeks, but venture to a home educators’ meet monthly at a larger rink 25 miles away, with much smoother ice. All three children love ice skating, and only Amber needs a support now.


We have been having lots of fun with friends too. We went to a big HE meet up at Monster Mayhem soft play, which the children loved. We also went to a home educators’ day at All Things Wild wildlife and dinosaur park. The children had a fantastic time – completing the stamp trails, building dinsoaurs, playing games in an old RAF helicopter, following the time walk and climbing trees, as well as spotting the animals and birds.

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We spent a lot of time baking for the Time for a Cuppa sale we held at Friday Club, raising money for Dementia UK, a subject very close to mine and the children’s hearts at the moment. Amber made sugar cookies, Alfie made his famous vegan rocky road, and Holly made vegan cupcakes. They all enjoyed running the stall selling cakes, and with games to win prizes. We raised £70 for Dementia UK :-)

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The children all enjoyed den building and parachute games at Friday Club too :-)

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We had a lovely day at the National Forest Adventure Farm with friends. Alfie overcame his fear of the red drop slide, Amber got to feed the lambs, and all had fun playing with friends.

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We had more fun there a week later with Nanny and Grandad, including a tractor ride, feeding the alpacas, and Holly conquering the blue drop slide :-)

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We had an amazing day at the Big Bang Fair at the NEC. The children got to crawl inside a giant nose, find out how the spine works, go inside an ambulance, design their own machines, make circuits, dig up dinosaurs, take fossil rubbings, operate a giant drawing machine and try to defeat a computer at strategy games, against many other things!

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We had a fantastic time at Friday Club building catapults, trying out archery, balloon sword jousting, computer gaming and parachute gaming.

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We also went out to spend our World Book Day tokens (with a quick drink stop!)

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Made cards

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Went to gymnastics class, and learned lots of new skills.

Did jigsaws and played games

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Used lots of media at the same time ;-)


Protected ourselves from brothers who had eaten too much of their homemade tarka dhal…..


Learnt how a hare and rabbit differ…


Did lots of cooking – and washing up – and even made our own chilli oil.

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Spent lots of time doing crafts.


Went to the big library in Birmingham for lots of new books and CDs.

I even got to go out with a bunch of fantastic fellow unschoolers, as well as to my aqua fit class!

A lovely first couple of weeks of March :-)

The End of Winter!

March 1st, 2015 by becki

Today, spring is here. It even looked like it for a few hours this morning! Amber and I set off to the supermarket in bright sunshine, planning on hanging washing on the line when we got back and there was no danger of chicken poo water spray from Rich’s coop cleaning duties. However, it was not to be – our drying and gardening plans were thwarted by heavy rain and gales! Still, we have buds on the trees, seedlings emerging and bright mornings. All a good sign, right?

Here is a sneak peek into how we have spent these last few weeks of winter :-)

Friday Club fun – designing a Lego croissant and pain au chocolat maker ;-)


Cooking a special Valentine meal for Daddy :-)


With yummy sugar cookies

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And vegan sushi – yum!

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Making Valentine cards


Helping clean up a spill


Fresh air in the park, spotting crested ducks and getting some exercise.

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Learning all about the amazing Erasmus Darwin – humanist, inventor, evolutionist, doctor, scientist and poet! Finding the 26 mice hidden all around his house.

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Making more sushi and vegan Brie!

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Play dates with lovely friends – playing babies with Phoebe, sun bathing and water fights (all indoors!) with Jess, Lego with Jacob, catching up with Evie and Finn and showing off the chickens. Train track fun!

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Hungry Horse for dinner :-)


A trip to the farm and Dartmouth Park with Nanny and Grandad

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A sleepover with Cadi – pizza, dolls, loom banding, colouring, midnight snacks and giggles galore!

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Blowing off the cobwebs in the Arboretum

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Jigsaws, elephant and monkey leaping games, dominoes and memory games

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Apple crumble, malt loaf and vegan Jaffa cake baking :-)

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Badger cull protest and wildlife festival visiting, followed by lunch in the Warehouse veggie restaurant. Trio of hummus followed by refried bean tortilla for Alfie :-)

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Play Doh monster making

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Seed planting

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Visiting the Stones and Bones geology exhibition in the Library of Birmingham. Finding the fossils built into the Hall of Memory and Baskerville House.

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Ice skating fun, with tips from the coach

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Gymnastics class, and the achievement of level 6 badge and certificate.

A visit from Nanny and Grandad. Grandad loved Alfie’s vegan sushi. he had never had sushi before!

A fun, mad day at water World with friends – splashing, swimming and having fun.

Friday Club Minecrafting and chat.


Play Dough creating

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Victorian House sticker book


Treating the 13 lovely ladies to some scrambled eggs

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Story telling at the library, new books, spending Xmas money, art gallery and Frankie and Benny’s lunch :-)

Loom banding galore – amazing creations beyond belief from Holly, who has also been giving her siblings lessons :-)

Spring cleaning – in more ways than one – curry with friends, aqua fit, time spent reading and drawing, cuddling and watching Operation Ouch. The end of Winter has been full of fun and adventure. now bring on the spring :-)


February frolics :-)

February 12th, 2015 by becki

At the moment it is freezing cold and overcast, and winter feels never ending. There are signs of spring though – lots of pairs of blue tits, robins and coal tits visiting our bird feeders, snow drops blossoming, and the chickens are back in lay. There is light at the end of the tunnel! In the meantime we are trying to have as much fun as we can, despite the cold :-)

We had a lovely day with lots of home educated friends (including 17 children!) at Snibston Discovery centre. This place is threatened with closure, which would be a real loss. It is an amazing resource, and the kids love it.

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Holly and I headed to Pizza Hut the following day – her very belated birthday treat! She only decided that this was what she wanted to do a few days ago! We had a lovely girly lunch together, whilst Alfie and Amber played with Nanny and Grandad at home :-) Later, Amber built Scruffy a new kennel out of Mega Bloks, and Alfie went to his gymnastics class.

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The following day, after an opticians appointment for Holly (where all was well), the children had a play date with Grandad, whilst Nanny and I went to Birmingham together for a shopping day.

A wonderful day at the National Forest Adventure Farm with the Kelly, Webb, Turner and Hewitt-Hardacre clans  followed. We even got some snow!

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Friday Club was a morning of electrical circuits fun and learning, followed by lots of playing with friends.

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The weekend involved croissants for breakfast…


……and a lovely walk around Sunnycroft National Trust house, spotting signs of spring. The inside of the house was fascinating too – especially the Sunday lunch menu of sheeps head (blurgh!) and the Scary Mary portrait that followed you wherever you went!

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followed by marshmallow toasting back at home :-)

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We had a fun week to follow too, involving a meet up with lots of home educators at Funaticz soft play, ice skating at Cannock, gymnastics class,  a visit to Sutton library followed by swimming at Oak Park, and a meet up with the lovely Webb, Kentish, Jones and Kelly crews at Come Into Play. Both ice skating and swimming skills are coming on fantastically for the children. Holly can swim without flotation aids now, and Alfie is doing great at staying underwater whilst holding his breath. Both can ice skate well without holding onto anything or anybody too.  Amber is growing in confidence each time as well :-)

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At Friday Club we made our own hex bugs from toothbrushes, and had great fun testing them out. A fun play date at the Webbs followed.

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Last Saturday, Amber and I went to see Whatever the Weather, a First Stages play at Birmingham Rep, whilst Rich and the Bigs went to the giant library. Afterwards we met up for lunch at Bella Italia. Amber loved the play!

On Sunday we had a baking day, practicing our recipes for our Time for a Cuppa event, in aid of Dementia UK – a charity close to our hearts at the moment. Holly made chocolate fudge cakes, Amber iced fairy cakes, and Alfie made rocky road as well as rice crisp slices.

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Nanny and Grandad came round the next day for a taste test ;-)

Holly made a Bendaroos mouse, and Amber some flip flops :-)

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We went to see Shaun the Sheep movie with friends on Tuesday, which the kids all loved :-) Later, Alfie went to his gymnastics class. On Wednesday it was home ed ice skating at the big rink in Telford, for lots of fun skating with friends and being pulled around in a toboggan :-) Today, play date fun with Jacob, Jess and Violet :-)

All in all, winter isn’t so bad :-) There has also been a lot of time spent crafting, card making, cooking, playing and reading. Good times :-)




January Fun

January 25th, 2015 by becki

We have been making January a month of fun and learning to banish the January blues that consume the country at this time of year. Luckily, despite the odd snow shower, we have not yet been snowed in like other Januarys, so have been able to get out and about meeting friends and having fun.

Alfie and Holly went to the Old Rep theatre with Rich and lots of HE friends to watch Horrible Christmas, from the Horrible Histories people. They had lots of fun. In the meantime, Amber and I met Nanny and Grandad at the National Forest Adventure Farm for a fun filled day – tractor and trailer ride, sliding, Lego building, guinea pig stroking, pedal tractors and chicken feeding :-)

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We had lots of fun the next day playing board games, doing jigsaws and building marble runs, before heading to Alfie’s gymnastics class.

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As Daddy was away in Germany, we decided to treat ourselves to tea in Pizza Hut after gymnastics :-)

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The next day we had a lovely time ice skating with the Jones/Thomas clan :-) All the kids loved it, and made me promise that they could go again the next week.

A play date with the lovely Kelly family followed the next day. The kids had a lovely time.

Friday Club the next day, with parachute design and testing galore :-) Lots of parachutes have been made at home since too ;-) Game playing with friends, play dough, painting and Lego fun followed!

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A weekend of Lego model making, board games, telling the time matching cards, followed by a day in Stafford. Pizza Express lunch, Shire Art Gallery, exploring the old court and holding cell, shopping, and a walk through the park and aviaries to the old water wheels.

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A lovely day with nine HE friends at Enginuity, museum of science and engineering. We made bunnycopters then tested them from the overhead walkway, as well as exploring all the displays and interactives :-)

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We went ice skating with Cian, Cadi, Mael and Iolo again, and the kids were thrilled at how much they had improved already. A quick shop and recycle stop, then onto Alfie’s gymnastics class.

The following day we had lunch at Taybarns with Granny and Grandpa. Later, Alfie went to the kids’ gymnasium for a workout :-)

Next, a fantastic day at Water World with the Webb and Kelly crews. A wonderful day of sliding, surfing, swimming and playing :-)

Then Friday Club again – playing with friends and admiring the KNex theme park they had built.


A busy weekend – library for new books and CDs, building Lego models, mopping and cleaning, RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, card making, play dough, puzzle books, knitting, baking blueberry lemon cake, vegan donuts, sugar cookies, cottage pie, chicken cleaning, playing and reading!

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January Fun

January 11th, 2015 by becki

The new year started off with a lovely meet up in Dartmouth park to blow away the festive cobwebs. Lots of our home ed friends turned up to cycle and play, and catch up on our Xmas fun.

The girls then headed into Walsall the next day  to spend their Christmas money on lots of My Little Pony toys ;-) We chose new library books and discs from central library, had some lunch in Asda, did a bit of shopping, then home to watch Esio Trot :-) Holly took most of the pictures of the ponies – there were many, many more that I have spared you all ;-)

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Amber had fun making her bird feeder, whilst Alfie completed his first wind up, build your own car.

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We had fun at Mere Green Library, choosing yet more books, recycling at the Sainsburys opposite, and having a play on the playground outside.

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Back to aqua fit for me that night too :-)

We had a lovely day at Big Play Barn with Elaine, Jacob, Jess, Bex and Violet. Later, Alfie went to his gymnastics class, and Amber came along to watch and play with her friend Phoebe.

We had fun swimming at Oak Park. Holly practiced her swimming without any flotation aids, and Alfie practiced staying underwater for as long as he could. Amber had fun playing with the toddler toys :-) I managed to get out for a curry and catch up later with 3 lovely friends :-)

On Thursday we had an amazing day with lots of our best friends at the National Forest Adventure Farm. Lots of games being played, drop sliding, building of houses, jumping pillow fun, guinea pig stroking and tractor and trailer rides :-)

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Alfie did his second induction at the kids’ gym, and passed the test, so is now a full member. He is really enjoying using the weights and cardio equipment :-)

Friday Club was full of fun, friends and adventure. Everything and everybody was tested to see if they were magnetic ;-) There were clay owls, dancing competitions and fairies with sparkly wings :-)

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Today, a walk in the park and woods, spotting animal footprints and tree seeds, followed by a buffet lunch at Jimmy Spice, then a long walk back through the park and woods in the dusk :-)


There has also been lots of cooking, crafting, Lego, loom banding, reading, game playing and other fun :-)



December Part 2!

January 1st, 2015 by becki

Happy new year! What will 2015 bring? I have to say that 2014 has been a pretty difficult year, and 2015 looks set to follow suit! However, 2014 was also an amazing year full of adventure, fun, happiness, love and friendship. Here is to 2015 containing more of the same. The second part of December was as full of festive fun as the first. The weather grew colder, and we even got some snow. Here are some of the highlights of December part two :-)

A festive meet up with Uncle Steve, Aunty Andy and cousin Toby in Zen Gardens Chinese buffet restaurant. The food was nice, but the highlight for the four cousins was playing hide and seek in the winter gardens with Uncle Steve afterwards!

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A play date with Jenni’s lovely children, Eve, Faith, Idris and Rose, resulted in Amber wanting a hamster after holding theirs ;-)

A day of chocolate log making, a visit from Nanny and Grandad, and an induction into using the cardio part of the children’s gym for Alfie.

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A trip to the Library of Birmingham and to see The Witches at Crescent Theatre with Lucy, Jon, Oliver, Benjamin, Sammy, Elaine, Jacob and Jess, would have been lovely if Holly hadn’t developed a migraine and been sick all over the theatre and bar :-/ It was an amazing play too, with really clever use of scenery. At least Alfie saw it to the end and was able to fill us in on the last few minutes that we missed ;-) Thank goodness for lovely friends watching the other children as I fled to the toilet with Holly too!!!!

A lovely home educator’s Xmas meet up at Space Hoppas soft play with the Turner, Webb, Hewitt-Hardacre and Kelly broods plus more fellow HEers. The kids had a fantastic time :-)

A fun day baking with the children. Alfie made rocky road, Holly blueberry cakes and Amber iced fairy cakes. Amber also made some soaps as presents for her friends.

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A lovely BFG themed day at the Library of Birmingham. Alfie and Amber made dream catchers in a workshop on the mezzanine floor, then we all watched the BFG film in the studio theatre. Afterwards, a walk through the German market and Christmas lights for tea in ASK Italian restaurant.

A lovely play date with the Webb family, where the boys barricaded themselves in to finish their Skylanders mission, and Amber held onto my leg crying that she didn’t want to go home. I think she had fun ;-p

A day of crafts. Amber sewed and decorated her owl bag, Alfie started painting his bird house wind chime, and Holly made fairy castles. We scooted a couple of miles to the shops too. Well, I walked (or rather trotted to keep up lol!) whilst the kids scooted ;-)

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A lovely birthday gathering for Iolo with lots of fun, laughter and playing in the Jones/Thomas clan’s lovely new mansion on Xmas Eve ;-) Followed by our usual family Xmas Eve curry night :-)


Christmas Day! Lots of lovely presents, a yummy lunch and dressing up :-) A fun day with Nanny and Grandad, and Great Uncle Martin.

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Boxing Day bike riding at Chasewater

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Building a Meccano robot


Play dough hairdresser’s shop


The girls love their new Girls Worlds.


A festive walk round the lake to feed the ducks and get some exercise, followed by walking into town to have a Wetherspoon lunch and spend Xmas money and book vouchers.


A lovely play date with the Webb and Kelly crews. Guitar Hero, weeing babies (!), Minecraft, Lego, play dough and My Little Pony ;-)

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A fun Pizza Hut lunch with Julie, Will and Evie. The girls discussed toys and the boys discussed Terraria ;-)

Play date fun with Caroline, Lauren, Tom and Martha – from Hex Bugs to sliding down the stairs on cushions to Minecraft to chicken stroking!

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New Year fun – watching Christmas lectures, playing the Magic Cauldron sums game, doing jigsaws, cooking vegan toad in the hole, making a bird feeder and building a wind up car.

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What a lovely end to 2014 :-)

December Part One :-)

December 13th, 2014 by becki

December has been a great month so far, despite a few coughs and colds. It started with our Thomasland Magical Christmas day, which set the scene for lots more wintery fun :-)

Cycling in Chasewater country park before gym class.

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Homemade pizza


Fun with the Jones/Thomas clan at Come Into Play


Water World, for amazing fun on the flumes, slides and waves with the Webb and Kelly tribes :-)

Play date fun with Jacob and Jess – Lego, Peppa Pig houses, Minecraft and loom bands :-)

Putting up the Christmas trees and “tastefully” bedecking every picture in the house with different coloured tinsel ;-)

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Toasting marshmallows


Lunch at Frankie and Benny’s with the lovely Charlotte, followed by a breath of fresh air at Branston Water Park.

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A day of Christmas crafting – bath bomb making, soap making, card making, Christmas tree decoration making, bird feeder making,  gift bag making, canvas painting….

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Cinema with the Turner, Kelly and Webb crews to watch Penguins of Madagascar. Later, gym class, with a bouncy castle too for the last week of term.

Exploring the library, reading books to the littlies and the teddies, and enjoying the Frankfurt Christmas Market.

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Friday Club Xmas craft fun. Alfie particularly loved the gift tag cutting machine, then decorating them with glitter and using the hot air blower :-) Amber enjoyed the cloud dough and playing in the sports hall with her friends :-)

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Painting wooden figures and building nanoblock Marios

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Ice skating fun at the Brownhills Christmas Fayre.

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What a lovely start to the festive period. The Lego and playmobil advent calendars have been going down a storm too :-) Alfie has also been doing lots more cooking – even reading the recipes himself. I am not allowed to help with any of it! Holly has been loom band crazy, inventing amazing stitches and designs of her own. Amber has been loving Christmas crafts, playing board games and grooming Jasmine ;-)

November Fun :-)

December 1st, 2014 by becki

It has been a fun couple of weeks.  It started with a fun birthday party for our good friend Dylan, featuring lots of fun and games, and multi-coloured fire :-)

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It followed with an afternoon of bouldering and climbing.

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A badge presentation at gym class.



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Play date fun with moon dough and moon sand.


More cooking


Jumping pillow and play barn fun with Ben, Dylan, Aaron, Phoebe, Jacob and Jess.

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A creative Friday Club making 3D sculptures from metal objects, designing Moshlings and junk modelling.

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Holly managed to be artistic even when making a salad!


Painting Christmas canvases.

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Fun in the park with friends for Archie’s birthday celebrations.

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Lunch at Taybarns with Granny and Grandpa (yes, she is drinking melted ice cream through a straw…….)


Ten pin bowling with Nanny and Grandad before gym class.


Exciting Lush package funded by Uncle Matt in Singapore.


More painting, and board game playing.

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The most awesome mini break in Manchester with friends. Thirteen home educated children having amazing fun. Creativity in Legoland – building amazing creations, learning how to build a gingerbread house in the master model builders’ session, riding the police cars and other rides, admiring Mini Land and building earthquake proof towers. Sea Life centre, following the Octonauts quiz trail and admiring the beautiful creatures. Minecrafting with friends in the hotel, before a starlit walk for a pub tea. Manchester Museum of Science and Industry – an amazing place where you can experiment to your hearts content, admire amazing aircraft, descend into the sewers and look at fantastic machines. What an adventure!

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The girls had fun in the library choosing lots of new books and audio books, and colouring Xmas designs, before heading to the charity shop and shoe shop.

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The Lush Fun snowman making kit was put to good use – and the snowman reused for hair and body washing afterwards!


Christmas cards have been made.


We had an awesome day at Thomas Land Magical Christmas with Elaine, Jacob, Jess, Bex and Violet for Amber’s birthday treat. We went on ride after ride, admired the wonderful festive light displays and fireworks, chatted to a talkative cockatoo and had lots of festive fun :-)

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Other activities the past couple of weeks have also been Dan The Diamond Minecart videos (Holly), loomband creations galore (Holly), a fascination with documentaries about 13th century castle building (Alfie and Amber), dinosaur excavating (Holly and Amber) and lots more games and craft. It has been an amazing November!


Happy birthday Holly and Amber :-)

November 15th, 2014 by becki

It hardly seems a minute since Holly Persephone was born at 1.30am on 12th November 2007, weighing 8lb 14oz, and Amber May was born at 5.51pm on 12th November 2010, weighing 7lb 12oz.



Happy 7th and 4th birthdays, girls :-)


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