Category Archives: The importance of Play

Ha, Ha, Very Funny

I was in the kitchen when I heard Esa cry out, “Mummy, there’s something really heavy on my back and I can’t get up!” He didn’t sound particularly distressed, but I can take a cue.

When I entered the living room, this is the sight that greeted me:


Posted by on September 5, 2010 in Family Life, The importance of Play


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Toes in the Sand

The weekend before last we went to Formby Beach. Unfortunately, the sat nav took us the long way and it took twice as long to get there as it should. And then my husband got pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving. Ok, not really, I’m joking. They were stopping people at random to make sure they hadn’t been drinking. This was a good opportunity for us to ask for directions. My husband is one of the few men who don’t have a problem asking for directions…but only as a last resort.

We couldn’t find the car park, so we parked along a road and had to walk it a bit. But it was worth it. Here’s why:

Nothing but this…

And this…

And then…

After taking fifty-million photos of this stunning poppy, we continued on our way.

At last…

Father and son built sandcastles…

While I sat, with my toes in the sand, taking in the view, the salty sea air, sketching and dreaming.


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I Leave Him Alone with the Camera for 5 Minutes…

…and this is the result.

Self portraits, by Esa



Sleep Over

A few days ago, Esa went to his cousin’s for his first sleep over. Whilst packing his little pull-along suitcase, he chattered away about the merits and risks of taking this item or that. (“Hmmm…I might lose this…and I probably won’t even play with that…do I need 6 pairs of socks, or just 5? Shall I bring my perfume?”) When his auntie arrived to collect him, he shot out the door, the wheels of  his suitcase straining under the weight of his over-packing. Forget a goodbye hug and kiss; he didn’t even look back to wave! He jumped into the car, whooping it up with his 3 cousins while my sis-in-law and I chatted about the adventure the little munchkins were going to have.

That evening, I stayed up way too late playing Barn Buddy and Gardenhood reading and writing a blog post. The next day I ventured into town and had a nice long look at (WHSmith’s limited range of) watercolour supplies and books. Esa’s at that age now were he doesn’t really enjoy shopping, unless it’s for toys or clothes for himself (although he does like grocery shopping). So, I try to go alone now. I often go while he’s playing football Saturday mornings, but that only gives me an hour. I was able to have a long, leisurely look at things. I bought a bunch of stuff, and then returned all but one book. (Damn WHSmith and their 20% off voucher!)

I then did a little painting and reading and thoroughly enjoyed my time alone.

When I collected Esa the next evening, he was exhausted. Apparently, they’d all woken up at 4am, giggling and whispering. My sis-in-law informed them of the ungodly hour and told them to go back to sleep. Which they did. Until 6:30. Esa never gets up that early; he usually sleeps until 8. They played hard and had a great time. When we got home, he had some milk and fell asleep on the sofa at 7:30.

A lovely time was had by all…especially me. 🙂

The next day? We ditched lessons and had an art day. Esa decided to paint with watercolours.


Blogging Break

The Thursday after our holiday ended, dh left for a short holiday to Morocco with his brother and some friends. I had every intention of continuing with our lessons.

But, well, you know…

We were good until Wednesday which was my husband’s first day off from work before leaving for Morocco. He wanted to go out, so we skipped lessons that day. I thought, “we’ll make it up on Saturday.” We were going to be holed up in the house anyway because of the protest going on in town that day.

On Thursday dh was due to leave in the afternoon. “We’ll do our lessons in the afternoon,” I said. The afternoon rolled ’round. We did history, read a Greek myth, copywork,  reading, and handwriting. When it came time for math, we just couldn’t be bothered.

“We’ll do lessons on Sunday as well,” I said.


Friday came. “We’d better go out today,” I said to Esa that morning, “because it’s nice out and we won’t be able to get into town tomorrow. I’d also like to go to Hobby Craft to check out their watercolour stuff. Daddy hates Hobby Craft, so we’ll go now. We can take our time.”

So we went to Hobby Craft and I got a few little bits, nothing big. Esa wanted a silver metallic pencil.

By the time we got home, we were exhausted (we’d walked it there and back). No lessons on Friday then, either.

By that point I decided to give up on doing lessons until dh got back. If he’s on holiday, so are we, I thought. So we finished our stuff later in the week. The funny thing is, when our holiday ended the week before, I though to myself, “I could really do with another week off…”

So what did we do, apart from our trip into town?

We watched several movies (Esa watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory four times...gotta let our hair down sometimes). We were completely chilled out. I relaxed the rules a bit and we had a lovely 4 days.

Esa played various made-up Star Wars games, played with Lego, set up a restaurant, coloured, and kept his room immaculate. He likes to clean and rearrange his room…I don’t know where he gets it from 😉

I read, cooked and baked, painted a little, researched watercolour painting online, drooled over browsed Ken Bromley, tidied a little, and did some indoor gardening (sowed seeds, potted up the cucumber plants, planted my sweet peas into large pots and staked them).

And you know what? I’d like even more time off.

But I can’t do that; it would be irresponsible. Esa’s ready to get back to his lessons, so we must get moving again. It’s not that I don’t want to do lessons, it’s just that I’ve got so many other things I’d like to do,  but there just isn’t enough time. The garden is calling out to me, my watercolours are glowing with all their beguiling colours, just waiting to be dipped into, and that fat stack of books has temptation written all over it. But there’s so little time. I’m already getting up an hour earlier than I usually do in order to make more time for things.

Something’s gotta give.

I spend the majority of my time on 3 things:

  • Housework
  • Homeschooling
  • Cooking

None of those can be cut out or reduced. I spend just enough time on the housework to keep things orderly and semi-presentable. I cook enough to nourish us and prevent trips to the takeaway. Homeschooling is an ever-changing thing; we spend as much time on it as we need.

So what can I cut out?

I’m trying to find ways in which I waste time. I spend a good amount of time reading Yahoo! Group posts and writing blog posts. Each post takes something like 1-2 hours, with photo uploads, link insertions, editing, etc. I also spend a lot of time keeping my pages of links and curricula current. I reckon that I spend something like 4 hours a week on this blog. I love my blog. But right now I’ve got other things that I want to do, and 4 extra hours would be great.

So I’m going to cut back on my Yahoo! Groups and have a blog break.

I don’t imagine it will be a terribly long break. I know the urge to write and share will take over and I’ll be posting again soon. It may be a few weeks, or a few months. We’ll see.


Easy Days

We had a most agreeable week off. And I’ve been thinking, ‘we must do this again…hang on a minute, haven’t we done this before?’ The simple answer is: no, we haven’t. Sure, we’ve had time ‘off,’ but it’s either been due to illness, religious reasons (fasting), going away, or because hubby’s taken time off work and we always end up going out. I don’t think we’ve had a single week of just Esa and me at home, chilling out, doing what we want. So, we must have more of that. It was so lovely, so relaxing, so refreshing, so enjoyable. I’ve reworked our last 15 weeks of first grade to include a second week off.

What did we do? A whole lot and a whole lot of nothing. Esa, for the most part, played. He spent hours and hours outside, he coloured, he looked at books, he built ‘houses’ out of blankets, chairs, and pillows. He dressed up as Darth Vader and played out elaborate scenes of fighting and drama. He set up a cookie shop where you could get 1 cookie for £4 or,…deal of deals, 2 cookies for £10. (We then had an impromptu lesson on doubling and discounts.) You paid, chose the shapes of your cookies, and the cookies were rolled, cut, and baked. Play-doh cookies are the best!

Sometimes he was bored. And once he even said he wanted to do lessons (!). But for the most part, he loved his time off.

So what did I do? I read a lot, planned a lot, looked at Amazon a lot, shopped a little, and got excited about nature journaling a lot. I wasted time, which I felt guilty about, then remembered that I was having time off, and since I thoroughly enjoyed the time-wasting it was truly time well-spent. Never once was I bored. As expected, it just wasn’t enough time.

In this photo, I’m attempting to draw Van Gogh’s Irises. I’m using a brush to soften and blend the pastels. I don’t know if this is a ‘real’ technique, it’s just something I thought might work. I like the effect.

The weather was glorious, although I didn’t spend too much time outside. There’s still a chill in the air, and unless I’m moving around, it’s just too cold for me. At this point, there isn’t much gardening for me to do yet.

I spent a lot of time working through Keeping a Nature Journal. I’ve totally fallen in love with this book. I’ve been taking copious notes, I made a small shopping list (tin pencil box √, A6 sketch pad (to carry

in bag) √, small pencil sharpener, small ruler, compass √, few more sketch pencils, Pilot fine-liners, fixative), and I’ve added about 7 books to my wishlist, and of those, I’ve purchased 3:

These are books that I’ve purchased for me. I’m mentioning this because so much of what I buy is for homeschooling,  but the lines between ‘real life’ and homeschooling have blurred so much and it was kind of a shock when I consciously thought  about the fact that I’d chosen these books for myself. Not only that, but I’m benefiting so much from our homeschooling and I now have this new obssession interest. Of course, once I get going with them, I’ll be able to pass on what I’ve learned to Esa. And when he’s a little older, he’ll be able to read them himself and get more from them.

I’m still trying to decide what format I want my nature journal to take. Here’s a list of pros and cons I’ve draws up:

Ring Binder Pros:

  • Clean, neat
  • Doesn’t matter if you ‘mess up’ a page
  • On-going
  • Can move pages about
  • Can insert dividers
  • Can use different types of paper (lined, blank, graph, sketch, copy, watercolour, coloured, etc)
  • Can insert folders and other storage

Ring Binder Cons:

  • Don’t like using plastic sleeves
  • If sleeves are not used, holes much be punched in paper
  • Pages may not fit properly in sleeves, so will need to be trimmed or mounted (if too small) onto A4 paper
  • Notebooks difficult to store, do not look nice on shelves, cannot stack easily or at all.

Sketch Book Pros:

  • More visually appealing
  • Nicer feel, more book-like
  • More portable
  • Other paper can be mounted (but time consuming and may make book bulky)

Sketch Book Cons:

  • Pages ripped out if a mistake is made
  • Cannot add pages
  • Cannot move pages around

For the time being, I’m drawing on loose sheets of copy paper, sketch paper, and watercolour paper until I decide. Decisions like these are enough to stop me in my tracks and prevent me journaling, but KNJ has helped me keep things in perspective: it doesn’t matter what format you use, as long as you use it. I’m leaning more towards a combination of the two: I’ll draw on loose paper, then mount it in the sketch book. If I change my mind, I can always tear the pages out of the sketch book and insert them into a ring binder. I may end up keeping two books: a sketch book for sketches and the ring binder for more elaborate work, such as watercolours. We’ll see.


A Fine Spring Day

When I tell  people that I like January, most people find that strange. Why? They ask, January is cold and miserable. That’s true, but I see getting to January as sort of getting over the hump of winter. And the time between January and March always seems to fly by. And this year has been no exception. March is here already.

There’s a slight chill in the air, but after a few minutes in the sun, it’s really rather warm. Esa did not want to go outside today. He told me that he would go out, but if I went back in, he was coming in, too. We went out and I did a little gardening. My wisteria and little pink rose, which are in pots, have got buds. I’m so pleased they didn’t die over the winter. I trimmed a few things, and put some stiff netting on the vegetable patch to keep the neighbourhood cats out; they’re using it like a Roman toilet.

Esa and I assembled his old picnic table. It’s a bit small, but he’s still able to make use of it. I sneaked inside to do a few chores, and Esa happily stayed out to play. He came inside to get a yohgurt and some books and settled down at his table for a while. Later, I came out with a book and we sat in the sun reading. After that he played footie for about an hour, then some made up games, then some digging, and then complained that he didn’t want to come in.

I think he’d just forgotten how much he enjoys playing out.