Thursday, 26 May 2011

curriculum overhaul

so after a short while with waldorf grade one we realised it just wasn't for us. There is a lot that I find appealing in waldorf but it simply felt far too restricting for us.
We are using a mishmash of things now, a lot aimed at a rightbrained child because I think E is leaning that way, it certainly holds his attention & enthusiasm.

So here the links to bits and bobs we are using now. I'll probably forget stuff and come back later
Ellen McHenry (all the sciences a lot free some interesting paid for stuff)
MEP FAb complete math curriculum by plymouth uni. Based on the continetal Europe aproach to math
Ambleside online Online Charlotte mason based complete curriculum. many books used are available for free online.
World Builder this is really new and looks interesting though I have not got much of an idea about it yet. it is aimed at much older students but I'm thinking of modifying it for us.
SF Reading (grammar)
The great plant hunt Kew
Bring Science homea whole bunch of science experiments
Science Jimscience Jim has some fun freebies also on currclick.
sciencebox lots of free science stuff
Sheppard for Geography
Story of the world for history we ended up deciding on this one thanks to this blog
Progressive phonics Euan loves this!

REAL science odyssey
Peep in the big wide world
Koekeloere we use the programs to watch as its suitable for all 3 boys
HBB again something we can watch together as its suitable for all
Leesdas just for Euan
avi lezen again just for Euan. AVI is the dutch reading ability grading system. You start with 1 and work your way up to 10. When you get to that you are considered a fluent reader.
Lots of stuff in Dutch (from math to social studies)
squidoo a website where people can make a lens (a page) which contains a lot of  informations on one particular subject. There are a ton on Homeschooling
homeschoolshare lots of free unit studies & lapbooks
Happy Scientist has a membership section and a freebie section. Also he has a science question a day on Facebook.
worksheet works I especially love the maps

Iphone Well I won't link to everything because there is so much! For earthday  MyNature had all their apps for free which was great. I run stanza & kindle on my iphone which gives me access to some reference books and an amazing selection of literature for children and adults.

A fair amount of science stuff just because its so easy to tie all the other things into it, and far more fun than reading from a boring book!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

10 years

J 4 V

Today 10 years ago I got on a plane in Amsterdam, with everthing that I owned in 2 boxes and a suitcase, set for London and here I am still in the UK (though we left London because I just could not consider raising kids there) with the person I moved here for. Proving everyone who thought we'd not last the year wrong!

Anyway I thought it was worth a small celebration so I'm running a promotion on the ravelry shop use the code 10YUK(valid for the next 10 days) for 50% of my patterns. I'm also having a little giveaway. Just leave a comment on this post and I'll choose a winner in 10 days :)

Mini break

We spend a few days in brighton enjoying the company of some very dear friends, more wine than I have had in the past 6 years and 4 boisterous boys who all learned to share their toys.

We spend some time in Rottingdean a short busride along the coast from Brighton where we found some awsome hagstones and half a bucket of shells. We had lunch in a tiny little teahouse that served some great cakes, and the tables where cleared by a giant seagull!

We spent some time on the pier and had a day to spend at the sea aquarium. The best bit for the kids was seeing Nemo and Dory in the flesh :)

We got back after a long and exhausting journy involving 4 trains and a bus and the boys all falling asleep during the last 10 minutes of the trip.
For now I am caught up with the laundry thanks to the awesome weather and I'm catching up with the gardening.

Here's the slideshow of what was on the fuji I have more on the phones and ipods and whatnots but that will have to wait because the internets are sloooooow today :)

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Monday, 28 March 2011

Funny nature video

great to discuss the impact humans have on their surroundings even if we are being considerate!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

threat to artistic freedom and how giantcorp cares more about $$ than kids

An artstudent studying in Amsterdam is being sued by louise vutton (not sure if the sp is right I had no iea who they are lol!) because she drew/painted an image with a bag that looks like it could be a vutton bag not an exact copyi. they are suiing for 20 000 us dollar for each day she uses the image. She is making no money of the image there is no personal financial gain involved. the aim of the image was tho highlight the absurdity of society who worry about the likes of paris hilton and her pooch and not a starving child in darfur.

Anyway her website is here to highlight this case
her personal website is here
an interesting newsarticle showing the image is here

this case is so wrong on so many levels not just the artistic level but the fact that a giant corp is so stuck up their own backsides they actually sue over this, a poor (ie moneyless) student trying to support a very good cause. For an obscene amount of money trying to bully her into submission, makes me sick!
It would be great if you could help spread the word on your blogs facebook twitter etc.
The twitter hastag is #lvgate

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

ROTH -spring issue- is out!

Its here. I love the little birds nest and might have to try my hand at it for our spring table.....

Friday, 25 February 2011

I can't really think of a title for this post, in fact its hard to think full stop. the kids are sleeping horribly. If I am lucky I get 5 hours of sleep (broken up in chunks) James does his best to let me catch up over the weekeds but this has been going on for a good couple of months now. so posts have not been as often as I'd like and realy there is little to say right now. We are doing lots of painting and drawing. Euan is loving his form drawing, we're telling lots of stories and have nearly finished all the tiptoes books we got for Christmas. If you like the tiptoes stories btw there are a bunch of free ones on the website here.

On top of the complete lack of sleep, one of my uncles died very suddenly of lungcancer, he was diagnosed the last friday of januari died the next and the funeral was the thursday after. Its hard because you can't say goodbye, not really any oppertunity to find closure. Going back to Netherland next will be weird, so many graves to visit.
2 weeks later one of my sisters friends was murdered! Now you have to know that I grew up in a small town right next to an even smaller town, where everyone knows everyone and people know each other by nicknames and their parents. There is very little crime in general and to have something like this happen was ratehr a shock. They arrested a suspect only a few hours after it all happend so I guess that is something right?

To wake up tuesday morning to the destruction in Christchurch was horrible...and put life back into perspective.
Everyone we know is safe and well. Our elderly neighbour across the road has her daughter and grandchildren out there, who where all fine. It is heartbreaking to see the destruction and see how many lives have been so brutally taken. There are so many stories right now of those last moments but thankfully there are some happy stories  amongst them.
My heart goes out to all in Canterbury.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Buddha Badges Giveaway :)

Elm please could you contact me? I have no way of contacting you :)

An unplanned, unexpected give away.

In October last year I ordered some bages from Buddha badges, they where sent out but never made it to the other side of the pond. Buddha Badges kindly sent out another order which I recieved a week or so later.
And what just arrived in the mail? yup that very first order! So rather than walking around with 2 badges of each I figured I'd give them away.
You can see them here, I have Thich Quang Duc, G-G-Gassho, Black Lotus, Avalokiteshvara
Enso Wheel.

Leave a comment on this post and tell me which one of the 5 you would like!

WIP Wednesday

Bumblebees waiting for stripes
Windowstar notes
Flowers for the bumblebees

The current wips

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Monday, 14 February 2011

Mindful Monday - Children and Mindfulness

I often hear people say that children allready have mindfulness down and that we slowely grow out of it. I'm never sure how to reply to this as yes children live very much in their own world very often but I would personally not call this mindfulness. My eldest will often be playing with something as he is walking along with me to the shops, at that moment he is wrapped up completely in what he is doing and at the same time walking. He often will walk into things or people. In mindfulness he would take the time for his play and really enoy that not distracting himself with walking. I do think that because children are so able to completely focus on one thing it is much easier for them to join in a mindfulness practise, especially if it is done as part of the family.
I have a little mindfulness bell that the kids are allowed to invite, they have to asl for it since it is up high. They know to bow to the bell and to breath 3 times as it is ringing. They know the bell has to be woken up before we invite it. If you have no idea what I am talking about and you have never heard of a mindfulness bel have a listen to this podcast by sister Dang Nghiem, there is also this video cast Both are free on Itunes and as far as I know they are not avalailable anywhere else.
I think the best way to teach is by modeling and involving our children as much as we can in our own practise of mindfulness.

There is a very good website started by monks and nuns from the plum village tradition that is aimed at young families. It is currently available in English, French, Spanish, german and Portuguese.

Some books we have enjoyed here have been "each breath a smile" by Thich Nhat Hanh (Author), Sister Thuc Nghiem (Author), Nguyen Thi Hop (Illustrator), Nguyen Dong (Illustrator). It has been a favourite that gets read on a daily basis for over a year now. The illustrations are lovely and uncomplicated there isn't a lot on each page to look at, just enough to keep your attention for a short while before moving on.

Next up are the zen tails, these books are available as ebooks which I like because you can have a few on your iphone/ereader etc and they are easily available when you unexpectedly have to wait somewhere.

"Pebble in your Pocket" by Thay Thich Nhat Hanh. If you take a look at the mindful kids website you will see snippets of the book there.

For the parents I suggest "Everyday blessings: The inner work of mindfull parenting" by John Kabat-Zinn.

I hope you will find something useful in all of this :)

Friday, 11 February 2011

Food Friday - sourdough bread

If you followed last weeks instructions on making sourdough starter you should be ready now to make your first sourdough loaf!

I do this part in the morning when the kids have breakfast. I add 1 cup of the mix that I have in a jar (the prestarted) in a bowl with 1 cup of flour (per load of bread I wish to make) stirr add water to make it a soggy dough and set aside until the evening. This is your starter.

At this point I add another 3 cups of flour to my mix and add more water. How much really depends on how wet your starter was what sort of flour you are using and the general humidity where you are. I go for a sticky dough that is able to be formed into a bal for a short while. Mix it wel so that no lumps of flour are present and slide it into your breadtin. cover and leave until the morning.

The first thing I do when getting up on a bakingday is taking everything out of the oven and switching it on to 240 celcius. I turn this down to 220celcius when I slide the loaves into the oven They need around 45 minutes. Take them out of the breadtins and tap the bottom. When they sound hollow they are done, make sure you tap in the middle of the loaf as this is obviously the bit that takes the longest to cook.

If its done take it out and wrap it in a cotton teatowel, never a plastic bag or an enclosed tin of some sort because the bread will sweat and go horribly soggy.
If it isn't yet done slide it back in and give it another 10 minutes.

Also be aware that most ovens have a hotspot and a coldspot. if you don't know what your ovens hotspot is its a good idea to find out, either by testing with an overnthermometer or filling it up with a pizza and then being surpised that one end of the pizza is cooked and the other isn't. I don't recomend this way but its how we found out our (fan assisted, so supposedly even heat distribution) oven's hotspot.

Kind complaints

A few weeks ago when the boys all had swineflu I bought a new dvd (Horton hears a who), which is rated A (ie suitable for anyone with no scary bits etc) So I handed it to Euan to open only to find a horribly violent leaflet inside. I mean these where pictures from movies *I* don't watch they are so violent and horrible. Nothing that should come near any young child. I quickly whisked it away and took a few pictures and contacted the shop I bought it from. their customer service department initially had some issues on how to deal with my complaint and when I finally spoke to a manager she was very helpful, contacted their distributor who was very apologetic and confirmed to me that this was an oversight during a short production run that this would not happen again. They asked for my address so they could send a couple of dvd's as an apology. this is the box that just arrived:

Fox apology

All 3 ice ages, good boy, fern gully 1 + 2  ( a favorite of mine when I was young!), because of wyn dixie, monsters in the attic, GArfield 1 and 2, alvin and the chipmunks 1 and 2, mrs doubtfire (again a fave of mine when I was young!) fire dog and diary of a whimpy kid (with the book!) on top of that where the 2 squirrels from ice age. I have to say that this was way more than was expected and so much more than I wanted to come out of my complaint. All I wanted was assurance that this would be dealt with and no children would find such images in their dvd's.

Yesterday I made a complaint to my bank (they added a whole bunch of charges for no apparent reason, and I was lucky enough to speak to an indian callcentre and no one could understand me!) they have send me a basket of chocolates can't wait to see what that will turn out to be!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Little Rootchild pattern


Cast on 26 stitches
k4 rows
p7 k2tog p8 k2tog p to end (24 st)
work 4 rows in stocking stitch
k6 k2tog k7 k2tog k to end
work 5 rows in stocking stitch
k6 k2tog k7 k2tog k to end
p to end
k2tog to end
Change to skincolour and purl back
kfab to end
work 7 rows
k2tog break yarn leaving a long tail and pull it up trough the remaining stitches. Seam the back of the head and then thread your yarn trough the kfabs stuff and tighten the neck up. Carry on seaming the back of the doll.
the doll body will not be stuffed and should stand fine on its own.

cast on 6 st and knit an icord for about 1cm change to skin colour knit 2 rows, break yarn and thread it through the remaining stitches. Attach it right under the neckline at either side of the body.

I'm not entirely happy with it at the moment but this was the only wool I had carded and ready to go. I was hoping to have some wool dyed but I and the supermarket where out of vinegar so this has to do for the moment. It was felted on much the same as I did with king Winter (look in the tutorial section for the instructions).

cast on 10 stitches and knit until you have a square cast of and attach a corner to each hand

Mindful Monday - Movie night

For those of you reluctant to pick up a book to learn more about mindfulness, here's a movie.
It's called "Peaceful Warrior" and it is based on a book by Dan Millman. To see the trailer of Peaceful warrior go here, the dvd is available from, and probably any other dvd shop.

brief Synopsis (from

In the Peaceful Warrior DVD, Dan Millman (Scott Melchowiz) is a talented, yet arrogant college gymnast who seems to have it all. He gets good grades, has disposable relationships and is trying out for the Olympics. But he still wakes up in cold sweats at night. His (Scott Melchowiz) world is turned upside down after he meets a mysterious stranger he refers to as Socrates (Nick Nolte). Socrates (Nick Nolte) seems to hold the power to tap into new worlds of strength and understanding and becomes Dan's (Scott Melchowiz) mentor who guides him through various avenues of his life.

Dan (Scott Melchowiz) suffers from a serious injury, and with the help of Socrates (Nick Nolte) and a mysterious young woman (Amy Smart), he grows to realize that strength of spirit is what leads a man to his true greatness. He (Scott Melchowiz) learns that he has to let go of the person he thought he was and start living in the moment by appreciating the journey and accepting his lack of control over the future.

If you prefer to read the book its here in the UK and here for the US.

To learn more about Dan Millman and what he does now you can go to his website here

I really enjoyed watching this movie, hope you wil too!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Food Friday Sourdough - getting Started

A few weeks ago I started a sourdough starter. I wasn't sure if it was going to work, I tried it once a few years ago and it went funky not yeasty soo....

It was very simple and worked even in my rather cool kitchen.

Day 1
Have a reasonably sized container (I'm using a 1.5 ltr preserving type jar) add 1 cup of WW Flour and 3/4 cup water stir and put it aside until tomorrow.

Day 2
add 1 cup flour and 3/4 cup water again stir and put away till tomorrow again

Day 3
Your mix should be quite wet and have bubbles by now. though if your kitchen is very cold this could take a little longer!
take half of the mix out add 1 cup of flour again and 3/4 cup of water. Stir it again and scrape the sides well. put it away again till tomorrow

Day 4
If you are lucky your mix will have risen (but if not just keep going it could take a little while if its cold where you are!) if it did rise you can start making bread. Again remove half (save it for your 1st bread) add 1 cup of flour and 3/4 cup of water. your mix should be ok now to use daily for bread. it can be kept in the fridge and fed weekly (remove half add 1 cup flour 3/4 cup water)

Some thoughts

*It is easiest to have a see trough container so you can check for any activity
*Best not to use metal, some metals can react with the starter
*a sloppy starter is easier to deal with than a drier starter.
*It can take up to 2 weeks to get it going, if you live somewhere cold don't get discouraged if you don't have bubbles on day 3!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Great resources

Some Dutch some English bits of german well just see if its of use :) And don't forget babelfish!

Zonnejaar Dutch site with a lot of handwerk things lots of pentatonic music with sheetmusic and audio files. Should be easy to understand the crafty stuff because of the drawings.
DoehoekDoehoek means do it corner so again lots of things to make and do.
Straight line and curved Rhymes and poems for MLB and circle time

Monday, 31 January 2011

Mindful Monday

A very quick one this week since I don't have anything to add to the resource I am about to share. simply because they say it so much better than I can lol!

This week I would like to share a particular series being done by the Deer park Dharmacast on meditation. Here is verse 1. There are 14 verses in total and if you haven't yet have an established meditation practise now is an excellent time to start :).

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Horses of Newbury

The video is called wild horses of newbury but as far as I can find out there where no wild horses near this site at the time of filming.
Beautiful little clip at the same time so very very sad

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Mindful Monday - Why should you bother?

* The autopost didn't work so apologies for being a day late :)*

So why should you bother practising mindfulness?
Mindfulness has shown to help people suffering from depressia, reduce stress and increase general happiness. It helps people to be more patient, which when you are parenting little ones is something that is tested multiple times a day.

A good Non-Buddhist autor on the subject of mindfulness is John Kabat Zin, He has many books including wherever you go, there you are.
He has several video's on youtube which you might find interesting. Here is one I particularly like:

I'd love to know how you are getting on :)

Euan reading his mail

A letter from granny

Posted via email from Vera Lothian's posterous


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