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Month: December 2012

i-viking

i-viking

The vikings, it seems, were not really called vikings.  The term i-viking, meant going off raiding and generally causing a bit of a fuss in boats and furry coats.  This is the kind of thing you get to learn when you study vikings for about a month!

I always knew that this would be one of my favourite bits of  Story Of The World 2 and we have really enjoyed exploring these naughty norse folk.  There are some links to activities and documentaries on my homeschool history pinterest board for anyone who is looking for inspiration.  We’ve also had fun using the book World Book Encyclopedia: Vikings  that I borrowed from the library.  It has lots of fun crafts that are just right for boys of 3 & 7 (and their Mummy) that can be executed with what we have already in a reasonable time frame.

vikings-7020vikings-7022vikings-7100As we’ve progressed through learning about different aspects of Viking life, from the battles to the wonderful myths and stories, I’ve been really inspired by how much the boys have enjoyed and embraced the topic.  Huwyl has been particularly motivated, bringing ideas to me from the craft book we are using and being much more proactive about the project than ever before.

Being a little perfectionist (don’t know where he got that from *cough*Stephen*cough*) he has needed my help getting some of the details just right but I’ve tried to inspire him to give it a go too.  He simply can’t bear a project going south because of a little mistake, so things like tricky cutting out or lacing have had Mummy help.  I’ve had to reign in my own perfectionist tendencies (not always successfully) and tried not to take over, I hope we’ve struck a balance.  Certainly the projects were child led/demanded!

vikings-7104vikings-7108vikings-7107vikings-7105I’ve loved the diversity of the crafts and activities and the fact that both of the boys seem really engaged and interested within their own capacities.  Neirin has dipped in and out while Huwyl has been much more focused.  True to form Neirin most enjoyed having his own axe and decorating the Viking warrior, he placed the clothes on just so, his dexterous little fingers working to position them perfectly.

Today he did a bit of painting and then created what appeared to be a mini art installation!  Really it doesn’t matter so much to me the specific outcome of each project, or even the focus, it is simply that each child is motivated and keen to learn and create.

vikings-7112I don’t know what it is, but he does.

Festive Deficiency Disorder

Festive Deficiency Disorder

Right I’m going to admit something that may make the general populous curl their lips at me in scorn, but it is the bare truth.  I don’t feel Christmassy.  December has arrived and I’ve got nothing.  I’m buying gifts (cool previously loved ones that will rock my kinder’s world), I’ve got christmas themed school for the boys, we have activities to attend this festive season and I’m starting to get my act together re gift giving.

But the truth is I am a hollow shell, the vibe just isn’t there.  The kids have started to nag me about decorating, Stephen mentioned (very gently) that last year was a bit spartan and that we could probably do a bit more bling this year, my friend’s houses are as festive as a festive thing.  I’ve got nothing.  No creative juices flowing, no bursting desire to craft home made advent calendars and hand made wreaths made from beautiful paper (my sister actually did this, she’s awesome), I have no Christmas mojo.

festive-7096 festive-7095

Maybe it’s my general level of disgust as things like Black Friday and the ravenous consumerism that surrounds the holiday season.  Maybe it’s the fact that November basically kicked our family bottom with one illness or crisis after another.  Maybe it’s the rainy weather and cloudy skies that have washed away the snow and left sludge in it’s place.

Maybe.

Reading this post by Erin Goodman today shed a bit of light onto my dilemma. In this season of noise, rush and buy, buy, buy it is easy to get overwhelmed.  Even easier for me than most it would seem (I ticked 23 out of 25 on the highly sensitive test) and my reaction to that is to stop, shut down and block it all out.  It’s not that I don’t want to be a festive machine it’s just that I really can’t.  My brain is looking for a way out and a dark cupboard to lie down in, away from crafts, fun and neon related frolics.

As I look around at the internet and the real world, all decorated and ready for festivities I know there’s only one strategy.  Fake it.  I may not be feeling festive but the kids are so decorate we will, advent calendars will be purchased and gobbled, gifts will be planned and bought.  But I’m a fan of Erin’s suggestion to go easy and to cut myself some slack if I’m not exactly full of zippety do da.   It’s ok to be quiet, steady and gentle with it all; which is sort of ironic because I’m guessing those aren’t really words that anyone who knows me would immediately attach me with.

I am ready for a festive season of genuine sharing and closeness.  I’m happy to go crazy with the glitter and tinsel the house to within and inch of it’s life, as long as we are doing it because we really want to, not just because the world says it has to be.  So I’m going to make peace with the fact that my body clock always seems to be running on go slow around Christmas, that I will never have a house full of hand made gifts and decorations that I crafted myself from woven stalks of white chocolate hay.  And, as they like to say these days, that’s ok.

festive-7089 festive-7090festive-7097

I think I just prefer the bits of Christmas that reflect a genuine celebration of the season.  Making gifts for friends, unearthing decorations we’ve had since long before the boys were born, making treats in the kitchen while the fire roars.  Those are the bits I love.  And I have to admit, as I listen to the excited Christmas chat from the boys and contemplate making up a big batch of peppermint bark to eat in front of the fire while reading all the festive books I snagged at the library, I feel my festive juices beginning to flow, the first tingle of a tinsel laden vibe.

Perhaps, as is so often the case, I just need to admit my feelings in order to make a change.  By being honest about my lack of festive feeling I can open the door to this season of celebration, but I also need to be truthful about what brings me the most joy at this time of year.   I may be a chatterbox of the highest order, but when it comes to Christmas my heart lies with the traditional and gentle celebrations of years past.  It may not be neon, or bling, but it’s what I love.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake

What do you do when you have a lot of extra eggs to use up and a poorly looking beloved in the house?  Yes, you guessed it, make a flourless, egg consuming chocolate cake.  Or in my case, two flourless, egg consuming chocolate cakes.

cake-7080cake-7081cake-7082cake-7084cake-7086Despite my terror of all things Martha Stewart (though I’m sure her recipes are written by minions chained to food processors in small cupboards not the great lady herself) I find the recipes on her website nice and reliable, with the joyous bonus of using real ingredients.  The flourless chocolate cakes are, as I write this, cooking away in the oven under the watchful gaze of my children who have contented themselves with licking the chocolatey mixing bowl while they wait for them to cook.

If the batter is anything to go by the cakes should taste lovely (and earn me brownie points at science club tomorrow), Huwyl is particularly impatient for it to be cooked.  This is how that chat went:

H: How long will the cakes be?

Me: A little while yet.

H: 10 minutes?

Me: A little longer than that.

H: (After a pause to consider his next bid carefully)  11 minutes?

You’ve got to love an optimist.

 

PS Just in case my friend Movita reads this I can assure you I folded the egg whites in at the end, I didn’t whisk them.  Please don’t send baking ninjas after me xxx