Friday, 31 March 2017


Birthday weeks are always busy ones. Blogging takes a back seat to cake making and present wrapping, card making etc. They're fairly simple affairs with the principle that the person who's birthday it is gets to steer the day. That is choose what we eat and what we do. So Frank chose homemade brioche for breakfast, lasagne for lunch, chocolate cake and then pancakes for tea. That was a lot of cooking especially as a second cake had to be made for the one of us that doesn't like chocolate cake (I know it's incredible some one doesn't like chocolate cake!).

He chose to play board games in the morning and head to the beach in the afternoon and we finished the day off with the very enjoyable Nim's Island.

Our cards are always homemade and that means an adult needs to make time to help out the kids, it's usually me except when it's my birthday. Sometimes they make presents too but not every time, it's up to them and this bit can be very last minute or something they work on weeks or even months in advance. I love handmade giving but I don't want it to be something they have to do rather something they love doing. And as with so many things in parenting, our actions speak louder than words.
So just a few photos today and the promise of good things to come ... some news on our spring activities, lino block printing and much more...

Frank - birthday at the beach

Collecting ii
King of Tokyo
Making the cake

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Spring is here!

Happy Spring! We've been enjoying all things spring, spending a lot of time outdoors and beginning to get the garden ready to go. It's so good to shed some of the extra winter layers and breathe in the fresh warm air. And there is so much beauty out there, what's not to enjoy.


Thursday, 16 March 2017

Homeschooling the Seasons : Spring Activities and Crafts

Spring is in the air. At the weekend the weather was so warm I hung my washing outside to dry for the first time in months, it was strangely exhilarating. And yes I am aware that it's a bit sad when you get excited about where you can dry your laundry! 

Phorography - Laudnry on a line
Sunny day

I've always felt it was important to bring the children's attention to the seasons. When we first began homeschooling, Waldorf was a strong influence on my approach and the emphasis on nature, the seasons and hand crafts really suited us. With three children now of varying ages I don't always get to steer the homeschooling in quite the same way I did when I only one. However, I do try to keep an awareness of the seasons in our lives and work on it specifically with our youngest child, Lotta. 

One of the ways we focus on the seasons is with our seasonal books and you can read about our spring favourite here. The garden also helps, March begins the season of planting and we try to get the children involved as this post explains. Last year they each had a plot and they are keen to be responsible for a part of the garden again this season. They love when we eat food that they grew themselves.

Photography carrot
Lotta with one of her own carrots

And I also try to make sure that we get in some seasonal crafts. We often spend some time drawing and painting flowers and blossom and we usually paint eggs for easter and of course there's flower pressing and picking wild flower bouquet's. I've already had my first little person flower offering - lovely.

Photography flowers
Yellow Bouquet

Photography Blossom
Maya in bloom

Here is a quick round up of the crafts I've spotted and think we'll give a try this spring:

Craft and Creativity's Paper Eggs

  • Pom Pom Easter egg painting from Crafty Morning. I think they'll enjoy the novelty of painting with a different medium than paintbrushes for this one!
  • Unbelievably we've never grown cress so I think we'll give something like this from The Imagination Tree a try,  it will be great to tie in work on letters.
  • Eggs for Ornithology is just one of the fantastic ideas on Imagine Childhood's wonderful list of spring crafts, I think we might also try out the blooming petit fours, spring macaroons and probably the rainbow flower wreath.
I'll be sure to update with some pictures of these crafts once we get started!


Saturday, 11 March 2017

Five Little Things : Colour and Promise

Spring is in the air here, the primroses are blooming, the weeping willows have leaves, the first blossom is on the trees and the beautiful yellow bells of the daffodils are covering the verges. It's great. That and the fact that I'm poring over paint charts and decorating books has me thinking about colour a lot and that's the inspiration for today's five little things. Promise? Well that's what I feel like spring is full of, the promise of sunshine and warm days and more time outdoors. I love this season because on certain days, it really does feel like anything is possible in this life.

Photography blossom
Blossom on my knee

Photography daffodil
Drooping Daffodil

Photograph Hortensias
The Old Hortensias

Photography Rock Plants
Rock Plants

Photography series daffodils
Warhol Daffodils


Friday, 10 March 2017

Storms and board games

Lotta nearly blown away by the wind

The last few days, storm Zeus has raged across our part of the world. We've spent quite a bit of time indoors playing board games mostly - one of our favourite occupations and an important homeschooling tool. And something we can do in spite of the frequent and prolonged power cuts (hence today's rather short, belated post!).

Right now we're loving classics like Carcassone which we've amended the rules to so that we can play cooperatively as well as more recent additions to our selection, Jamaica and Mapominoes. We love games and all enjoy playing. We adapt the rules so that everyone can join in and insist upon the importance of just enjoying the playing not only winning. 

Some of our games like Conjudingo (french) and Chronicards(french version of Time Line) are obviously educational and help with specific skills, conjugating verbs, learning history, counting or maths to name a few. But in fact all our game playing has educational value. Board games offer a really ludic way to integrate skills like communication and cooperation as well as strategy and anger/frustration management. Rory's Story cubes develop our expressive, creative and literary skills as does the wonderful and very original Dixit.

In fact we like games so much and find them such a wonderful way to learn that we recently attended a games festival with more than 200 board games. We're also always looking for new games. So if you have any favourites of your own do let us know.

Our next purchase...

This post and it's title turned out to be inspiring which for me was a nice confirmation of why I write a blog - it gets me thinking about things, about our life together, here and it stimulates my creativity. Pictured below a draft of a poem I'm working on titled Storms and Board Games!

Writing poetry
Scribbled notes for a poem

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Five Little Things : Thinking about Photography

Back at the beginning of February I decided to begin a 52 week long photography challenge (link here). I take a lot of photos but have never taken a course or spent a lot of time thinking about how to take better photographs. In my last post I explained our approach to kids and photography and there haven't really been any differences in my own. Of course I've been finding it hard to stick to taking a photo a week. There's so much going on in our lives that this project was always going to be difficult to fit in. At the same time I still want to try and do this and so I thought why not just catch up when I can even if that means four or five photos in a row and perhaps sneaking the odd one or two in from the archives when I haven't had much time out with the camera. Here is the fruit of my labours for weeks two and three alongside some other pictures I either came across or took recently.
Week Two : Straight out of the Camera

#dogwood52, #dogwood2017

No photoshopping or editing was allowed. This is simply a close up of some seaweed on a beach in Iona. I love this shot for the colours and the strangeness.

Week Three : Land

#dogwood52, #dogwood2017

A landscape or something inspired by land. I take a lot of nature pictures, I like the colours and the sense of peace I find out there. The seashore is one of the most restorative places for me and I love how this picture feels like a soft caress of sunlight across the land.

Some non photography challenge shots...

Horse and Child
A beautiful close encounter

A little Photoshop work was required here to clean up the image. It was the fruit of quite a few shots.

Musée d'Art et Industrie St Etienne
Running to the Museum

I gave this photo a colour wash (Bazaar in google photos) to make Noah and the windows stand out more. I love this photo because it captured Noah's joy returning to St Etienne's Museum of Art and Industry where they have armor and weapons and bicycles!

Photo Door
Mysterious Door

I love a mysterious door and often photograph them. This one has seen some time I think and wears it proudly. I still don't know what's on the other side...

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Coming Home and Kids Photography

We are back from our little trip and as always it's a mixed bag. Joy at being home and the inevitable chaos that always seems to accompany our return; unpacking, washing, the finding of homes for the new things the children have accumulated, the picking back up of activities and the hundred and one new projects floating around everyone's heads. Oh well, it is like all transitions I suppose, a little uncomfortable, somewhat frustrating but also quite enjoyable at times. 

I didn't really have a post planned this week with all this chaos. But looking through our photographs from our trip and just before I decided to share some shots from my apprentice photographers... 

Kids photography
Noah takes Lotta taking something
Kids photography
Noah's joy taking photos (by me)

In this learning experience we really only apply one rule which is to give them decent tools and show them the basics of how to use them. Their patience won't stand for anything else, this is definitely one skill they seek to master through a lot of practice. We do try to look through their many photographs with them afterwards to discuss things like not putting your fingers in front of the lens and how sometimes taking lots of pictures of the same thing isn't necessary - that's a hard one because as every photographer knows sometimes that is exactly how you get a good shot!

They both have small digital cameras; a Fujifilm Finepix which used to be ours for Noah (7) and a Coolpix S220 which we bought for them on sale and is a little broken for Lotta (4). Both have a viewer rather than a lens and that seems to work for them for now. The basics we teach them our to always attach the camera to their wrist so as not to drop it and where not to put their fingers - this latter hasn't always been successfully integrated particularly by Lotta but she is only 4 and the camera is small. I can see that for her one of the big kids cameras would be more adapted. Maya our oldest also uses the Fujifilm and occasionally takes over our Canon digital SLR with supervision. 

Without further ado, to the photos...

Kids Photography
Lotta waiting for her Pony Quiriquou (by Noah)
Kids photography
Shooting the shooter (Noah)
kids photography
Noah (by Lotta)
Kids photography
Things that interst me (Lotta)
Kids photography
Camera Man on the Run Action Shot (Noah)
Kids photography
Noah gets Arty

This last shot we retouched together in google photos cropping it slightly to the right to remove some grass and clean up the image and flushing it shades of blue. I was very impressed with the result. How do you handle photography and kids? What advice to do you give them and how free a rein?