Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Rest day

We've had a lot of time at home lately and it's been lovely. Exactly what we all needed after a very crazy Term 3 and the first half of Term 4.

Yesterday we had nothing planned except resting at home and we had a varied and interesting and overall restful day. Some of the things we did

- Jigsaw puzzles
- dominoes
- lego
- watching and caring for the chickens, collecting eggs, observing the evolving pecking order now that we have so many new chickens
- gardening - watering, weeding, mulching
- planning a cubby house, drawing up plans using a drawing app on the iPad, and starting work on clearing the area
- drawing pictures on the iPad
- playing on the trampoline and swings
- Millie pretending to be a kitten and eating and playing like one
- packing picnic lunches and eating outside
- reading books (the bear books by Nick Bland, and others)
- playing games on ABC3 website - the 5th Boy, and Huebrix (this is a great puzzle game, Liam and Caitlin and I all had a go and between us were able to solve a lot of the puzzles. Liam really grasped the concept and quickly solved some that I struggled with)
- maths games on the computer
- playing Red Fish/Poisson Rouge on the computer - this is the best kids website I've come across and Millie can spend hours exploring it, while the older kids and I still enjoy it as well
- playing with MAB blocks
- Movies - The Incredibles, Cats & Dogs - the Revenge of Kitty Galore, Winx
- lots of discussions about all of the above as they were happening

It was interesting too, when I said on Monday night that we'd be having a rest day on Tuesday, the kids all said 'cool, we can watch movies all day!' I wouldn't have minded if they did, but they were so busy playing games and exploring other things that the movies didn't get put on until 5.30. And while there was a fair bit of computer and iPad use, it was all collaborative and very social

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Best Halloween Ever

(I wrote this post the day after Halloween but was having internet problems and didn't get it past draft stage - then remembered this morning that I hadn't published it yet)

As fun as last year's Halloween celebrations were, the kids have been saying since then that this year they would like to go trick-or-treating in town. I knew that some of their friends had done it in the past, and I'd seen kids in costumes going from door to door in our local town on Halloween over the last couple of years, so I knew that some households at least wouldn't be overly surprised by a knock on the door by costumed kids.

As the day drew closer they talked about it on and off and were definitely keen to go. We were all sick in the week leading up to Halloween so I did wonder if the idea would fizzle out. Liam realised early in the day that it was Halloween (he must have seen ads on TV saying that it would be on Thursday, and was counting down in his head) so we watched some Halloween themed TV shows and Caitlin started thinking about her costume.

Caitlin went with a similar outfit to last year, although by this time I had found the cool witches hat (it had been hiding under my bed) and she had a great black dress and black boots to round off the costume. Liam was a dragon again and Millie a ghost again. Tony came with us into town as I wasn't feeling well enough to manage it by myself. Caitlin had gone to a friend's house for the afternoon so we picked her up, she got changed in the car and we were ready to go.

Caitlin and Liam were quite confident knocking on doors and saying 'Trick or Treat' (although next year they are going to say 'Happy Halloween') and most people who were home had a basket of lollies for them to choose from. Millie was a bit slower (and after a couple of houses Tony modified her costume so she could get her arms out and the eye holes didn't slip away from her eyes, and tied the front of it up so she could walk up steps) - if she didn't make it to a front door Caitlin always let the person know that her sister was coming and could she have something for her too.

We saw about 6 other groups of kids out in costume as well, and there was quite a party feel to the evening. We just did a couple of local streets, and it was much more fun than I'd expected. The kids went to the doors and we stood back where we could see them, lots of other parents were doing the same thing and it felt like a community experience.

Millie was the only ghost that we saw and Liam the only dragon - and one lady pointed out that Caitlin was the only witch with gold hair - so they came home feeling that their costumes were pretty special.

Each of them received a decent haul of lollies and on the way home Liam said that it was the 'Best Halloween Ever'. They've been slowly working through their stash, there's still a bit left, and they've traded things they don't like with the others, or kept some to give to friends.

We also looked up the history of Trick-or-treating and quite liked the idea that originally kids were given sweets or cakes in return for singing songs or saying prayers for the dead. We've been thinking about the dead this week with the anniversary of Tony's Mum's death, and we sent our thoughts out for the loved ones of the people we approached on Halloween, so it feels like we are tapping in to that old tradition.