Hello, and welcome to my monthly newsletter!
This is a place to document and share a few monthly highlights, along with book recommendations, recipes, interesting articles, links to other blog posts, free resources etc. If you have a specific request, please drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcoming Chocolate and Brownie.
At the beginning of the month, Bean celebrated her 9th birthday (you can read all about how we celebrated her birthday in this blog post), and so we welcomed Chocolate and Brownie, our rescue guinea pigs, to our family. Bean had announced shortly after her 7th birthday that she would like a 'pet of her own', so we immediately started reading and researching, and 'test driving' various pets by pet sitting for friends. She also took an online course on animal care and welfare. We settled on guinea pigs, because we felt that we would be able to offer them an excellent quality of life.
Guinea pigs make lovely pets for children. They're docile and easy to handle. They don't scratch or bite. They're fairly easy to care for (although I haven't cracked the nail clipping yet) and, once they settle in with you, are full of personality. They've brought such joy to our daily lives, and have been a welcome distraction during this long period of being at home.
I wasn't sure if we would be able to find a pair of guinea pigs during lockdown, but the lovely Lesley at Little Wheekers Guinea Pig Rescue Centre saved the day with this sweet pair. You can read more about our set up in this post from my Facebook page, where I also answered a lot of questions from my wider community.
June has been the month of raspberry harvesting in our garden. We've picked 12 kilos of raspberries so far this month, and so have been working hard to eat, share, prepare and preserve them. We made jam, a raspberry crumble cake, sorbet, ice lollies, smoothies, fruit leather and Eton Mess, as well as carefully preparing the excess in batches for the freezer. We've never had such a huge glut before. In March, just before we went into lockdown, I pruned our raspberry canes for the first time, and then my Mum emptied our huge compost bin into the raspberry bed, which is my only explanation for our bumper crop this year. Thank you all so much for your help with recipe suggestions.
Bean has been mostly rejecting formal reading tuition for the past few years. She loves books, and reading to her has been a huge commitment on my part, so you can imagine my delight when she recently declared that she was 'completely and absolutely desperate to learn to read'. We've been gently working our way through the hands on activities in Reading Reflex by Carmen McGuiness. I'm not suggesting that this is a miracle book to get your child reading, but I've found that the exercises, along with Bean's readiness to learn, have been just the right fit for us. You can read more about my views on reading readiness in this post from my Facebook page. It seemed to hit a nerve with a lot of parents.
Kiddiwalks Near Bristol and Bath.
It's been a month since our first socially distanced walk with friends and it was so therapeutic that we have prioritised a weekly walk every week since. We have been using this wonderful book, Kiddiwalks Near Bristol and Bath, to discover child friendly walks that are off-the-beaten-track. Kiddiwalks is a series, I believe, with editions for other regions of the UK. This particular edition has roughly 20 walks, all within a half hour drive of Bristol, and all carefully considered with young children in mind. The instructions for the walks are clear and easy to follow, with a simple accompanying map. Each featured walk includes details such as parking, whether the path is pushchair friendly, toilets, refreshments, sights to see, nature to spot etc. It's been so wonderful to get out of the city, into wide open spaces, and away from the crowds.
We've had two new additions to our morning basket this month, both of which have been an absolute hit and are perfect for dipping into during our morning time.
100 Things to Know About Food is one of a series (of which I'm confident we'll be adding another to our collection once we're finished reading this one). The others in the series are about History, Planet Earth, The Human Body, Science and Space. As the title suggests, these are information books, packed to bursting with interesting facts, but presented in a really fun and accessible way. Did you know that cornflakes are magnetic, or that we eat less than 1% of the edible plants on earth?!
Hidden Wonders (from Lonely Planet Kids) is a guide to the planet's wildest, weirdest places. Divided into 6 chapters, covering specific lines of longitude, each page introduces you to a natural marvel or man made oddity. A natural water slide in Fiji, the giant pumpkin regatta in Oregon, Winchester mystery house in California. We've been looking up each place in our atlas and then searching online for interesting videos or articles to find out more. Our world is a fascinating place.
If you've been struggling to adjust to parenting during lockdown, I can't recommend Eloise Rickman's debut book Extraordinary Parenting enough. It really is the essential guide to parenting and educating at home. It includes chapters on building family connection, rhythm, the prepared environment, awakening your child's natural curiosity and self care. I wish every parent could read this book during lockdown. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that it should be prescribed for every parent, to counteract the rise in mental health issues predicted in our children as a result of these stressful times. It's currently just £1.89 on Kindle too.
Audio Books This month we have been venturing out in the car a bit more, often to travel further afield than we ordinarily would to seek out quiet places for a walk. Bean has been really enjoying listening to the stories from Shakespeare's Storybook on our journeys. It is a set of two audio CD's, created by Barefoot Books, who are renowned for producing excellent quality children's books. A great introduction to Shakespeare for children and aduts alike.
We've also started the sixth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, on Borrowbox, which has renewed Bean's passion for this extraordinary magical world. She's been making wands, reciting quotes from her favourite characters, playing potions in the bath and generally immersing herself in imaginative play.
I'm half way through listening to I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race on Audible, which has been humbling. I'm ashamed to say that I thought I was doing enough to tackle racism by being inclusive and kind, and by teaching my daughter about diversity and equal rights for all. I have a lot to learn about being actively anti-racist, but am committed to doing just that, and am currently researching how to go about beginning the conversations with my daughter. I'll share the resources I discover in the coming months.
I've just started listening to The Giver of Stars by Jo Jo Moyes, the first novel that I've listened to in a while. I read so much about parenting and education that I forgot how nice it is to be swept away with a story that hasn't been written for children!
Here are the blog posts I published this month, just in case you may have missed them.
If you have enjoyed reading this monthly newsletter, and don't want to miss another one, perhaps you might like to subscribe? I can promise not to flood your inbox with spam (but I can't promise that I'll remember to send newsletter reminders either!) Scroll down to the bottom to subscribe.
Next month, I'll be sharing the progress we've made with our collage project, and hopefully a few photos of our trip to visit Granny in Wales (if it is safe for us to go).
This blog post contains affiliate links. If you do click through, Bean and I will receive a small amount of commission which will contribute to new books and resources for her home education. You can, however, find all of these resources elsewhere, including other online retailers, second hand selling pages and your local library.