First Day Of Summer Holidays!

Well, okay, not the first. We’ve already had a week. But I mean the first without sun, sea and sand on our doorstep. Well, with a little sun perhaps…. πŸ˜„

First thing yesterday morning I made three summer holiday rules…

a) Be awake by 9am

b) Dressed and eaten breakfast by 10am

c) Before any screen time you need to have…read for 20 minutes, tidied your room, done a maths problem or a writing task (of which I will provide), done a job from the job box, and played or done something creative for 40 minutes. πŸ˜„


Of course, Alfie growled at this. But he would do – and esentially it is mainly meant for him – for he is our ‘screen curiosity box’! πŸ˜‚

(And the waking times are meant for Leon and Maya…the teen / preteen…who could sleep until 11am if we let them!)

Then, Maya wrote us a ‘bucket list’ of things to do, before the words ‘I’m bored’ arise…. 


So far, so good!

Leon and Maya spent the day playing board games, messing about in the garden and doing some gardening, and some maths problems. Barely any screens involved.

And Alfie was a little trickier – he did keep sneaking back to that screen! But he also read a book for an hour, tidied his room, did a job, did some drawing, made a film with Lilly, and played outside with his friend Rasmus, as well as with his siblings.

Ted is never a problem with a screen. He’s never even touched an ipad or a mobile phone!

I also have a ‘vague’ structure to each day, which I kind of used last summer holiday, being ;

Monday – Library Day

Tuesday – Art Day

Wednesday – Outdoor Adventure Day

Thursday – Recipe Day

Friday – Educational Day

Well. We’ll see how that goes. As far as I’m concerned, every day is educational day really. And sometimes we won’t want to do what’s on the ‘structure’ – like if it pours with rain, or if we don’t need to change our library books. 

But it’s nice to have a bit of structure. And nice to have a bit of a routine. But as I want to be flexible, I’m going to make it depend on how we feel on the day!

For example, yesterday was ‘outdoor adventure day’ (though essentially I want us to go outside every day!), but having just got home from Turkey, we didn’t want a big adventure.

So I just chunted them out in the garden as much as possible. And we had fun.

Jumping over the water sprinkler…


And playing ‘Star wars’ with badminton racket ‘laser swords’ and bubbles from the bubble machine…. πŸ˜‚


And Leon and Maya spent a lot of time in the garden, especially in the evening. I’m not sure what they were doing – but there was a lot of laughter – so they must have been having fun!

And Ted. Well, he spent the whole day with Celina, in her paddling pool. πŸ˜„

So, it was an ‘outdoor adventure’ kind of day, despite being in our own back garden! 😊

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End Of The Pre-School Years!

Four children, and the last of the four, has had his last day at preschool! Ending with the traditional summer concert in the church, followed by cake…


Goodbye preschool years!

It doesn’t feel sad right now – but I might be sad when he goes off to ‘big’ school (Reception / Kindergatan) in August! 😳

England

It was a long time a go I wrote.

I went to England to see a sick friend, and every time I visit, my heart breaks a little, and I feel a little sad for a while afterwards…

But these are some pictures I took, on my walk up to the train station, on my way to the hospital.


I miss England every time I visit, and one day I hope to move back.

When I visit my friend, I stay with his parents, in what used to be his own ‘penthouse’, and I always take a photo out of the window while I’m there….


Two seperate mornings. One rainy, one sunny.

Until next time……

Learning With Alfie

As always, I try to make sure that I teach my children what I am able – being that my dream is to homeschool, but that we unfortunately live in a country where homeschooling is forbidden.

The older two have a lot with school, homework, and with Maya in particular, afterschool activities. I also think it is important for them to have social time with their friends, in an unstructured setting – and I’m happy for this to take up a big proprtion of their time.

I count ‘afterschool activities’ as part of their ‘home’ learning – they both do a sport (riding and climbing), and Maya is still a member of the scouts which ensures she gets time in nature, in the forest, camping and cooking over an open fire, fotunately for her, with three very good friends. She is also an avid member of a youth theatre group, and presently two book clubs at the local library – her dream is to be a writer, and she spends most of her free time reading. And has lately taken up the piano. Plus of course there is the ‘English Club’, which she thinks is mostly fun – plus of course, there is the learning element in the topic.

But Leon doesn’t enjoy masses of activities ; he doesn’t like big social situations with people he doesn’t know, and the long school days, often with homework or the need to revise for tests, often makes him feel tired and under stress. He needs time on his own, and time to de-stress. He still needs to learn simple social ‘code’, despite being fourteen, and so I see his social time as one of the most important things for him. When he does his climbing, he can focus as an individual, and doesn’t have to make conversation – but when he is in my ‘English Club’, he needs to converse, to be social, to work in a group and share ideas, and to help and encourage others with their english language. So, despite it being ‘my’ group, and him not learning much english that he does not already know, he learns to socialise, to create (and to use his imagination) and yes, he learns about the topics we are doing! 

So, while I make sure that my older two are having appropriate social time, and activity time, according to their needs, with school, and homework (though to be fair, they don’t get a lot), I don’t get a lot of time to ‘homeschool’ them anymore. My english clubs comes in handy however, as I can sneak in a little learning there, according to topic – and I must say, they have learnt quite a bit… 😊

Alfie, however, is different. His school day is shorter, and he is not one for after school activities – right now it is swimming, and scouts – both of which he is luke warm about, because he would rather not have any weekly commitments. Which includes school. He would rather not go to school. Why? Because he finds it boring. Here is a child who is grades ahead of many of his peers, yet the teacher seems to be taking a long time to grasp this. He is also a child who is young in age, and needs to move…but that’s another story….

So, with Alfie I continue to encourage him in his learning at home.

We try to do some maths.. 

  
The book on the left is a ‘ten minute a day’ book (though we don’t get around to doing it every day). It is for 6 – 8 year olds, Alfie turned 8 in December – but he doesn’t find it too easy. It’s not too hard either – just right – and a variety of tasks – which he enjoys. Especially as he can set a timer to do it! πŸ˜„

The book on the right is for 5 – 8 year olds, and is about multiplication. He doesn’t enjoy this as much, and thinks parts of it can be tricky – though has more of a grasp of it now than when he first started.

These books are originally written for an ‘audience’ in England. And looking at the age groups, I wonder how far behind we are in Sweden if we were to compare? In retrospect it doesn’t matter, because children learn different skills at different rates, and so it should be….but when you are stopped from learning naturally, being pushed to learn before you are ready, or in Alfie’s case, have already grasped the concept, and are sitting waiting for others to catch up – it is soul destroying, and not okay. 

Recently we finished reading Robin Hood in the evenings…

  
It is an abridged version, but still far from easy. Some of the wording is very old fashioned, but he loved it!

And now we’ve moved on to African folk tales. I found these in the library (yes! In English!)…

  
These are simliar in content to Aesops fables and other animal tales we have read, in that the animals show their characters, often being ‘tricksters’, which appeal to Alfie, being a little trickster himself! πŸ˜‚

And so it is. I havn’t yet figured out how to enthuse his writing, but right now he is happily writing reels of information about ‘Geometry Dash’ levels in his free time…..  

These are instructions on how to play and complete his own ‘Geometry Dash’ levels. Limiting computer time definately has a bonus – Alfie simply continues to ‘play’ by creating his own levels on paper. This is simple ‘coding’ I believe? πŸ‘πŸ˜„

For a child who is at traditional school, and doesn’t feel thrilled about the work they offer, I feel it’s important not to ask him to spout out reels of pointless writing. He certainly needs to learn to spell, and to punctuate, and to write in different ways – but I definately think the writing should have meaning, especially to him – which is exactly what he is doing himself right now. 

I have also been toying with doing some activities from this book…

  
Esentially I bought it for my younger english group, to tie in with their project – and it is excellent, but much of the activities require a great amount of preparation (and cost), which is fine, but probably more appropriate for an individual. Which is why I think about Alfie – playing with the ‘elements’, rather than learning the serious science behind how it works probaby makes sense right now. Observation is important, and making your own conclusions about ‘why’ something happens is important, but I think some of the ‘real’ science might go over his head and best be saved for when he is a bit older – which is why it is also good for my younger english group (10 – 12 year olds), who are learning mainly about the science behind the elements.

Alfie’s fine motor skills have always been excellent, and although I should probably do a little more crafting with him (he really wants to do more sewing!), often there isn’t always time (mainly because he is so social and always wants to play with friends!), but also because this is an area where Alfie is often happier to create his own projects (and does so often) ; drawing, making books, making films, making bead plates, creating with playdough, building, etc.

Gross motor skills is interestingly an area where he is less confident. He needs to become a confident swimmer, and to learn to ride a two-wheel bicycle. His climbing skills, and confidence in playing ‘team sports’ lacks – he worries about ‘not being good enough’. Something to continue working on…and especially this summer. 😊

Gender Differences : Ice Play

So Ted used to love singing songs from ‘Frozen’, and a little over a year ago he used to long for the plastic ‘Frozen’ magic wand in the toy shop – the one where you press a button, and the ‘Frozen’ melody plays, and the ball with Elsa the princess in it, turns around….πŸ‘‘

But I draw the line at paying nearly 300kr for a piece of plastic where you press a button. Even for his birthday. So however many times he rushed to it whenever we went there, I never once considered buying it.

And that was just over a year ago. And now he’s 5, and things have changed. His older brother Alfie (8) has delicately explained that “Frozen is for girls, and you are a boy”. Sad though it may seem, Ted has been ‘indoctrinated’ – just as Alfie was, when he learnt not to wear his pink t-shirt in the first day of school. πŸ™„πŸ˜

So now Ted rushes to the ‘Star Wars’ lego section in toy shops – because he knows “Star Wars is for boys. And I am a boy”…. 😜

However, Ted’s best friend is a girl, Alice. And Alice’s little sister Noelia, is also a good friend of Ted’s – and on Wednesday they came to play.

I had pre-prepared some ice blocks in shapes of towers, bricks and stars, and added gold, silver, blue and purple glitter to the ice beforehand. And when I took them out, I added Ted’s ‘Frozen’ characters, which he had last year…..

   
    
    
   
And what happened?

Indoctrinated or natural – who knows? But out came the lego men, and out came the pirate ship. The ice was promptly removed from one tray and firm round stones were placed there instead, and the pirate ship was plonked on top.

There.” I’ve made my point” he seemed to say. Hilarious! πŸ˜‚

Happy New Year

We spend a very nice new year’s eve with old friends (and our God-daughter Lykke), with food and chocolates, non-alchoholic champagne, noise-makers and balloons, indoor fireworks and streamers and sparklers.  

    
   
    

    
 Our friends have a dog, who they chose to leave behind, as she is a ‘bird hunter’, and we have hens…😳…so they had to leave early, but it didn’t matter, because afterwards we baked and decorated ‘firework’ cookies, played 2015 memory (we made our own family version), and after Alfie and Ted went to bed, we watched a film and watched the fireworks outside…

 
  
I hope you all had a good new years eve, and I hope you all have a wonderful 2016, full of happy things and good health.

2015 for me was quite a sad and difficult personal year, with one of my best friends being diagnosed with breast cancer, the mother of my oldest childhood friend dying suddenly, and someone very special to my heart suffering a severe stroke. While my friend is now, thankfully, in remission, and my friend’s mother was 83 and had a beautiful funeral, the latter still continues to suffer, and it still saddens me every day.

Fortunately, today, I have the opportunity to go and visit him in England for a few days – surely a lovely start to a new year!

Here’s hoping 2016 is a better one! 🍾🍸

Christmas Time In Sweden

Christmas Eve is the time where Swedes celebrate. There is a lot of waiting, a lot of preparing, and a lot of excitement in the air. 😊

We used those last few hours to do last minute preparations, to deliver chocolates and cards to neighbourhood friends, and the children gave eachother, and us, the presents they had bought, and made.

At 3pm, it is traditional that everyone watches the annual Christmas Disney hour on television. This is a culmination of different Disney clips throughout the years, from very old, to very new, with a completely new one added to the end each Christmas. It’s a tradition in Sweden that the family gather around the television in this last minute of relaxation before the guests arrive, in anticipation of ‘Jul Tomten’ (Father Christmas).

And so Jul Tomten came, and sat on his chair giving out presents, asking the children if they’d been good this year, and joking about getting ‘soft packets’ (which ultimately mean clothes!). Actually our Jul Tomten was very funny this year, and had everyone in peals of laughter. πŸ˜‚

After Jul Tomten left, and the presents were opened, came the Christmas dinner. Different kinds of pickled herring, ham with mustard, boiled potatoes, root vegetable gratang, egg halves with prawns, meatballs, chipolata sausages, Christmas bread and crackers, and cheese. Followed by Christmas porridge – with one almond in – a surprise for anyone who gets the almond, for they then will be married within the year….

I can’t pretend that I don’t miss the English Christmas dinner, but over the years I have come to appreciate and enjoy the Swedish one – and I daresay I would even miss it if I was to move back to England. 

After dinner, the adults played a present game, which involves rolling a dice to get a 6 or a 1, to attempt to get the wrapped gift you have your eyes on – despite the fact that you have no idea what the gift might be! It is a lot of fun. We played it for the first time last year, and this year invited Leon and Maya to join in.

And so Christmas Eve in Sweden ends. But in England we are just beginning – and I know that my children, at least, are going to sleep in tje anticipation that Father Christmas will come in the night to leave gifts in their stockings.

So today is Christmas Day. For me, this will always be the ‘real’ Christmas – this is, after all, the day that Jesus was born, and the reason that we celebrate Christmas, whether you believe or not.

When I moved to Sweden eight years ago, I usedto feel quite sad that Christmas Day was left feeling ’empty’, after all the madness and festivities of Christmas Eve. But now I actually feel thankful. In Sweden much focus is put on the food, and on the presents from Jul Tomten, and I feel that a lot of the Christian tradition, and our reason for celebrating, whether you believe or not (that I was brought up with anyway), gets pushed aside – almost completely ignored. 

And so I actually have begun to feel relieved, that after the revelry of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day can be calm, and a time to reflect, to be together and appreciate eachother and the world we live in.

So today, the children will open their stockings (actually the smalls already have!), but after this, when most of the day is left, we will spend time together. We will eat a simple but good lunch, with the treat of the English Christmas Pudding for desert ; we will spend time playing those new board games we were given and crafting with new kits ; we will spend time creating snacks for the birds and decorating their tree ; we will take a walk outside, and appreciate the nature around us ; we will read the story of Christmas, and move Jesus in to the crib, ready for the Three Kings to start their journey, and we will light our last, and fifth candle on our advent wreath, for Christmas Day.

And so I leave you with three pictures – of Jul Tomten alone, and with the smalls, and of the smalls eagerly opening their stockings early this morning. I couldn’t get photos of Leon and Maya I’m afraid – which was a shame, because they both dressed up and looked lovely – and Leon especially looked stunning and very grown up in one of Richard’s dark blue shirts. 😊😘

   
   

An Old Friend

The best gift ever was sent to me the other day. My old friend Lotta, whom I met and lived with in Africa when I was 5, sent me a bag of stones that we collected together on a beach in France in 1986.

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Such a wonderful gift.

Her mother, whom I knew well, recently died, and had evidently kept absolutely everything from Lotta’s childhood.

I also remember that Lotta always had some shelves with tiny compartments in her room, and on each tiny compartment stood a tiny, interesting object.I always used to be fascinated by these objects, thinking how lucky Lotta was to have them. Well, imagine my surprise when each of my children received a small packet containing a few of these objects, with a little letter about each objects history. 😊

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What a fabulous friend.

 

 

 

 

Feeling Loved

A very old friend of mine took the time to send me these personalised wooden hearts for my birthday.

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When you’re a mum of four, running a busy family, with activities, and pets, and housework, and cooking, and lots of your kids friends to feed too – sometimes your needs get forgotten, and you can sometimes feel taken for granted.

How wonderful then that sometimes people make that tiny little special effort to tell you that you’re loved. ❀️

Something that we all need to remember to do, from time to time. 😊

Christmas Crafts At Playgroup

I love Ted’s playgroup. The ladies that run it are amazing. He loves it too. We’re so lucky to have found it.

Today they had organised a ‘Christmas craft morning’ with the parents – it was lovely.

As always, the atmosphere was lovely and calm, they had fun crafts for us to do with the children, they had a lovely ‘fika’ (snack), and everything was amazingly organised!

Here are a few pictures of the morning. Oh, and a picture of Ted in his favourite room – the ‘kudd’ (pillow) room! πŸ˜ƒ

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