Monday, 21 January 2013

Party Weekend

Wow, busy few days!  It was Middle's birthday this weekend, so since Friday its all been about getting ready for the celebrations.  He had a party on Saturday afternoon - I don't know whether that was more for him or me, as last year's party for him was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back for me, regarding school.  It was when he invited his entire (small) class to his party - he's not the sort of child to leave anyone out - but to cut a long story short they basically (with one beautiful exception) boycotted his party.  That was my penny-dropping-with-a-loud-clang moment: I knew of Home Ed and definitely liked the idea, but I had bought into the socialisation ideal of school life - and at that point (when I heard that one of his "friends" was persuading their peers not to go to the party) I realised what a fallacy the socialising argument was - I had sent the boys to school so they could make friends and have fun social experiences, but for Middle at least it was quite the opposite.  It was tortuous to watch and obviously I still haven't quite got over it.  Judging from his behaviour (showing increased social anxiety) in the few days leading up to his party I would guess that he hadn't forgotten either.  So it was such a joy to have a really lovely party this year.  Considering the dreadful weather and road conditions, the fact that only one of the invitees couldn't make it speaks volumes.  He had so many people he wanted to invite, I even had to restrict numbers, as there's only so much our house will take!  And they were all happy to come, happy to join in and make it a lovely day for Middle. Perfect!

Other than the party planning there have obviously been lots of wintry excursions: snowball fights, sledging etc.  And speaking of making the most of the weather, a few weeks ago we made some giant ice marbles to put in the garden when the temperatures dropped below freezing - and we used them this weekend to decorate outside for Middles party.  Making them was a bit trial-and-error - we eventually got them to work by putting a squirt of food colouring directly into the deflated balloon, then putting the neck of the balloon over the end of the tap and filling it with water that way (holding it so the weight didn't pull it off).  We tied knots in the balloon necks and put them in our freezer.  Friends who have also made them have tried freezing theirs in the garden once the temperatures dropped below zero, but I have heard that freezing them this way takes several days, and you can still risk having them explode due to not being fully frozen - so we recommend the freezer route (although of course, they may take several days in the freezer too)!

When not outside we've been enjoying lots of snuggly time indoors, including TV time, which led on Thursday to a lovely little project.  As you may well know, we record plenty of programmes from the BBC2 learning zone, as well as CBBC and others, for learning purposes.  Then it is up to the boys to choose whatever takes their interest.  Last week it included an episode of "Finding Stuff Out" on volcanoes.  Well that set off the day's activities nicely for Eldest and Middle.  They drew some volcano pictures, they read the books we had at home, Volcanoes and Horrible Geography's Violent Volcanoes - and I found a lovely workbook resource on Volcanoes, from the TES website.  (You have to be a member to download their resources, but it's totally worth joining for hundreds of great ideas, plus it's informative those of us who like to keep up to date with education in this country...).  I said to the boys that they could do as much or as little as they liked of the workbooks, I just thought it would be interesting for them.  Eldest whizzed through his, and loved it.  Middle took his time and stopped when he'd had enough - he can pick it up again later if he likes.  We could have made our own volcanoes (we have a bottle of red fizzy drink and mentos in the cupboard), but with all the snow on the ground expected to stay for at least a week, I didn't want the garden to look like a bloodbath for that long with red splashes all over the once-pristine whiteness! It sounds silly, but I know it would bother me... so we will be revisiting volcanoes at least once again soon, after the snow has all gone!

 Eldest's 'Volcano' (sadly we cant find Middle's)
Following on from the theme, there's a programme on CBBC at the moment called "Fierce Earth" - the episode we watched today was about hurricanes,and we had a good chat about why the eye of the storm is safer than being on the edge, ranging from spinning tops to centrifugal force etc.  Also today we watched some clips of my favourite owl, the great grey owl, like this one - and then we got the sketching pencils out.  We've got a set ranging from 5H - 5B, and we definitely need to practice with them, to get the full benefit of the range.  Youngest wasn't really in drawing mood today (he was off playing with some of Middle's birthday presents), but the others loved experimenting with the soft smudgy look, and produced some lovely pictures of the owl hunting in the taiga.

 Middle's 'Great Grey Owl Hunting'

 Eldest's 'Great Grey Owl and Lemming'

 Mummy's 'Great Grey Owl'


  1. Happy Birthday to Middle! Glad he had a nice time, and sorry you both had to go through that horrid experience last year, that's so awful, were the parents aware of what was going on? I'm not surprised you pulled them out after that, I would have done the same. Love the owl drawings, and those ice balls look fab! (Unfortunately for J, I doubt there's room in our freezer, maybe just some coloured ice-cube "jewels" would do...?!)

    1. Thank you! I don't know if the parents knew. I think the teachers did, and tried to address it, but the damage was done by then.
      I think icecube jewels sound an excellent idea - maybe you could fill a large clear bowl/ vase with them? I might have to try that myself...