A review: The Juicer Comic

Poppet and I were asked to review The Juicer Comic, so this post is our thoughts on the comic and associated resources which are available on the Jack Cherry website at Jack Cherry, where anyone can get a free trial of the comic.

It is a comic aimed at 7-11 year olds to increase their resilience and confidence and deal with issues such as bullying. It comes with activity books and an online video or actual workshop for groups (such as schools, cubs, etc) or individuals – everyone can use it 🙂

Poppet enjoys comics in general (she is a retro Dandy and Beano fanatic!) so she liked the format. She read the story and first commented on how she was glad she no longer attended school (as it was based in a school) but then her focus went to the characters and the setting didn’t seem to matter at all. She was particularly outraged by one of the negative comments ‘such a girl’ as we often discuss feminist issues (at her level!) and how comments like this are unacceptable. So she instantly felt an affinity for the main ‘nice’ character.

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Poppet loved the follow up activity book and particularly enjoyed designing her own positive fruits (the theory is that if you put positive fruit/thoughts in, you get positive juice/feelings out).

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Her main thoughts about the comic were:

  • It was funny in some places – “I liked it when the juicer exploded”
  • It made her think about the difference between people who have good and bad thoughts – “It’s better to think good thoughts so you are happy”

We would both recommend this resource as an aid to help groups understand the importance of positivity with yourself and others 🙂

 

Our Christmas Traditions: part 1

For me Christmas is a chance to include a bit of magic in our lives and to spend lots of quality time with family. I am not religious, but I do feel that it is important that my children know the origins of the celebration and not just the current consumerism focus that seems to have taken over.  I find Black Friday intolerable and the Ps know that gifts do not always have to cost loads of money, if any at all.

All that said, of course making it magical does take time and money.  So today (the Sunday closest to 1st Dec) is traditionally our Christmas tree buying day; for the past few years we’ve visited a quaint little farm where we can buy the tree and get into the spirit of Christmas with their craft fair and Christmas activities.  This year they also had a Shetland pony dressed as Rudolph which the big Ps sat on – we’d assumed that the £2 per child would include a little walk around, but no! (Sometimes Christmas gimmicks really are a rip off!)

This afternoon was spent in the lounge with the fire blazing, decorating the tree with as many ‘balls’ as Piccalilli could possibly fit on (all quite low down!)

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I know some people don’t agree with starting Christmas until a few days before the actual day, but for us it’s all about having a magical build up to the big day and making the most of it while the Ps are young enough to really enjoy it.

Tomorrow our elf will arrive to begin our Christmas tradition part 2…

Christmas crafts: Loo roll Father Christmas!

The weather today is awful; I was meant to be taking the Ps to see Christmas lights being turned on but nobody would enjoy that in this torrential rain…

So, it’s an arts and crafts day…

This morning, I actually left the Stinker in charge (or should that read ‘Poppet’?!) while I went out to do a big food shop. While I was out they did the best thing possible with loo rolls at this time of year:

Loo Roll Father Christmas

You will need : loo rolls, red paint, red felt, cotton wool, black pen/paint

  1. Paint 2/3 of the loo roll red
  2. Draw/paint a face on
  3. Make hat with red felt and cotton wool
  4. Attach hat and cotton wool for beard

And here they are…

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Can you guess who made which one?!

The big Ps are currently making Christmas cards to send to the Japanese students who have stayed with us for the past two summers. I’m not sure of postal dates, but it’s keeping them busy so the Stinker and I can watch the tennis!

Money matters…

Since we started home ed the third most common question (after the one about socialisation and the one about my sanity!) is “how much does it cost?”

Well the answer is that annoying rhetorical “how long is a piece of string?” We don’t have a specific home ed budget but we do budget in general,  so our home ed funds have to come out of our weekly funds for food, fuel and all social/sporting activities.

Obviously it varies from week to week, and I think we’ve got costs down significantly since we started home ed due to the fact that in the beginning you want to attend everything, but our weeks can include:

Monday social group and hula hooping for the big Ps  £5

Tuesday alternate pony club for the big Ps £10 or trips to museums on the train £5

Wednesday social group £4 and alternate band or recorders for Poppet £20 per term

Friday Forest school monthly £10

Obviously on top of this we have the fuel to get to these places and the inevitable extra food costs of having everyone at home full time.  We also spend a small amount on extra resources like some felt for the sewing that we did today, but to be honest I bought these sorts of things even when the Ps were at school.

We luckily don’t have the costs of uniform, shoes, school trips, keeping up with other kids…

But I guess the biggest cost is the fact that I can’t really work and home educate, although we are trying to find ways to make this possible, so any bright ideas would be appreciated!

Feeling thankful…

If you’re American you are probably celebrating Thanksgiving today and although this tradition is not part of our culture I am still feeling thankful today for:

  • The Stinker – I spent my morning out shopping while he was at work… It doesn’t seem fair, but it’s the lifestyle we’ve chosen to make our lives happier for now (not me shopping all the time I hasten to add!) I’m thankful that he’s happy to support me and the Ps in every way possible.
  • My parents – I’ve said it before (in Mum’s the Word…) but if it wasn’t for my mum and dad we, literally, wouldn’t have the life we have now. They help us out in so many ways and we are eternally grateful for their support and guidance.
  • My big blister – As I’m sure is the case with all sisters, we have gone through stages where we weren’t close, but my sister is my best friend and I trust her implicitly ~ she would be the one, along with her lovely husband Uncle Big Dan, to become the Ps guardians if the need were ever to arise; in the meantime we really appreciate the time they give to them, and us! (We had a lovely surprise visit from her today when she was extremely lucky to meet Father Christmas and Rudolph!)
  • Extended family – As I’ve said before, I’m lucky to have a small close family and we love spending time with Grauntie Jane, Gruncle Jim and cousins Marie and Joe. Their time and support over the years have also helped us to get where we are and I have many happy memories of the younger me having lots of fun with my lovely cousins 🙂
  • Old friends – Today I spent the morning catching up with an old friend (not old old, but you know ‘old’!) Despite moving away from each other (we used to live one street apart and now it’s close to 45 minutes) we try to meet up as much as possible at our halfway point – shopping, cuppa and cake anyone?! Don’t mind if I do! Old friends are so important – they know you from a time before and it’s always good to reconnect with that old you and to share fantastic memories with fantastic people. Last weekend I also saw some old friends and despite the conversations being interrupted often, by the children who now outnumber us, it was just nice to spend a few hours in their company.
  • New friends – Over the five years since we left the city to live in the country I feel lucky to have made lots of lovely friends through different areas of life: dancing and exercise, craft groups, baby and toddler groups, school, home ed groups, neighbours and now blogging! I’m very thankful for the friendship and help of these lovelies in many different ways over the years: from childcare to the loan of a wheelbarrow to the delivery of some 3p sweetcorn (you know who you are!)
  • The Ps – They are all I ever wanted (as I wrote about in Stop, I want to get off!) and despite the challenges they bring, I am so thankful to have them, and their bonkers ways, in my life.

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So today I have been thinking about all of the wonderful people who enrich our lives, therefore this post is dedicated to everyone who knows me – thank you 🙂

The Pickle Returns

Today I saw a different side to Pickle since she left school…

I am aware that deschooling (getting out of the school way of thinking and behaving) can take months, and during this time children can regress and generally be hard work, but Pickle has been taking this to extremes! In school she wouldn’t say boo to a goose and was always impeccably behaved (not herself!), then horrendous at home. Many people say they prefer it this way, but not me – I’d just like my kids to be themselves in all situations, and hopefully generally nice 🙂 I used to help out in Pickle’s class and found her behaviour quite upsetting really.

When we removed her from school the horrendous side took over and the compliant side completely disappeared (Goodbye Dr Jekyll, hello Mr Hyde!) I know I wanted her to be her but I really hoped this angry, defiant, aggressive her wasn’t going to hang around for too long. She also started to tic quite badly, something that we’ve noticed in Pickle since she was quite young, but always seems worse at stressful times – cue questioning if we’d done the right thing and me nearly having a breakdown after a particularly bad week.

Things have gradually improved and Pickle seems a lot happier to be her. Although her angry side still rears it’s head occasionally, we are all learning better how to respond (generally with a tight hug) and situations are diffused much earlier and with less shouting and stress all round.

She has been quite reluctant to sit down to learn on the whole (she found the whole ‘sit-down learning’ at school very boring!); this is something I’ve not been worried about as she’s still deschooling, is only six anyway and can learn in many more ways than sitting at a desk (see Where do we learn?!) but with a very keen older sister, I think she has felt some pressure to join in with activities (from Poppet, not me!)

Today however she chose to join in with no requests (I often ask her if she’d like to as I’d hate for her to feel left out) or pressure. Poppet and I were sitting up at the dining room table making really long number lines to practise counting in 3s, while Pickle and Piccalilli were playing on the floor in our newly created small world area (to make room in the lounge for our Christmas tree!) Pickle observed from a distance for a while before asking if she could join in, but could I help her to draw the lines? ~ of course 🙂 She focused on her number line for nearly an hour and was really pleased with her learning.

I’m sure the lack of pressure to be involved helped and I hope that she continues to enjoy learning alongside her big sister…

Wildfowl, Wet Bums, Whinging and Wrestling!

I love days like today when a theme emerges by itself and everyone goes with it and embraces it… That makes it sound like we had an idyllic day but from my title you can probably see it wasn’t all plain sailing!

We decided to head out to meet a good friend and her 2 year old daughter at our local WWT (nothing to do with Wrestling, a lot to do with Wildfowl!) After some membership issues, a spilled cup of tea and a tantrum from Pickle, we made it to see the birds! All four girls had a great time feeding them and Poppet was thrilled that there were so many of her favourite Nene (pronounced nay nay) Geese.

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We got chatting to one of the volunteers about migration, which we’d started discussing on the journey there. It was good to hear confirmation that the things I’d been telling the Ps were correct! (Strangely, the theme continued on our weekly trip to the library this afternoon where the librarian read a story about birds migrating ~ great coincidence!)

We headed off on our usual route to the otters, via the smelly ‘mingoes and managed to avoid Wellyboot land, ’cause we didn’t want to get too wet and cold…

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When we got to the far end we had the playground to ourselves and the girls had great fun climbing, swinging and digging (with a bit of whinging and wrestling thrown in for good measure!), while we drank extortionate hot chocolates (although they were good!) My friend enjoyed sliding down the wet slide – cue soggy jeans and much hilarity (and a lost phone, which she had to return to find hiding under the slide later!)

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The girls had the most fun jumping in puddles and of course getting wet, making our earlier avoidance of water completely pointless!

Tiredness, and therefore stroppiness, was creeping in by this point and that was just the grown ups 😉 So we headed home for naps and a quiet couple of hours ~ all in separate rooms doing our own thing peacefully and calmly ~ before our library visit which Poppet particularly loves and always gets chatting to someone about the benefits of home ed!

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Another great day spent outside with nature and a lot of impromptu learning ~ I also love home ed ❤