Saturday, 26 February 2011

A Viking Life

We were suppose to go to York this weekend and attend the Viking Festival but due to circumstances beyond our control we were unable to attend. Big disappointment for everyone! My husband is a member of Regia Anglorum which is a reenactment group that specializes in the 10/11th century Saxon, Viking and Norman peoples. My husband has been participating in this group for almost 2 years and has really enjoyed it. Regia has many local groups across the British isles and even in America. Grantanbrycg is the local group that my husband participates in and they were, along with all the other groups in England, going to converge in York for a huge battle re enactment and ship burning. It is a lot of fun!

Here are a few pictures from last year.

Practice battle on the castle grounds

Hubby in his battle gear next to the castle wall
(which is one of my favorite pictures) and then lying dead in the battle field.

A parade thru the streets of York in various costumes

Yelling as they march, here hubby is looking very fierce:)

There are lots of activities planned for the festival such as living history encampments, crafts of the time period, huge vendor markets as well as the famous Jorvik Viking Center. Since that was our first year attending I didn't get good pictures of those events but I have some other pictures of different events my husband has participated in over the past year.

The encampment site at Broadstairs last year.

There are various crafts and life activities happening. My daughter has gotten very good at playing 9 Man Morris which is an old game sort of like chess. There are many hands on activities the public can experience.

A scaled down replicate of a Viking Long ship.

Some shows end with a ship burning ceremony which re enacts how some vikings would send fallen warriors off to Valhalla after a battle. It is always poplar with the public!

A ship is built and covered with the shields of the fallen warriors.

The parade down to the beach to say farewell to the fallen. Fire arrows are shot at the boat to set it on fire

The ship burns to the ground and then the Valkyries arrive to carry the souls of the brave warriors to Oden's Feasting Hall.

For those who did not fall bravely their souls would be taken to Niflheim, the frozen wasteland which served as the equivalent of hell.

As a family we have learned so much about this area of history and have enjoyed seeing the performances and many in these groups do their absolute best to make sure everything is as authentic in as much as possible. This spring the rest of the family is planning on joining my husband in his group and learn how to be the wife and children of this era.

For those interested in this period of history, I recommend the author Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Tales series, which is historical fiction set around the time of Alfred the Great and the Viking invasions of the British Isles.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Dragon Festival in Norwich

Saturday we went to Norwich, England for the Dragon Festival. This is a relatively new festival which only started in 2009. It was such a hit with the children that Norwich decided to do it every year. If you read my blog regularly you know my daughter is a huge fan of dragons and mythology so despite the rain we drove 90 minutes to see what it was all about.

During the 11th Century, Norwich was the 2nd largest city in England, so it has quite a bit history. It was once quite wealthy and prosperous. The short time we spent there I have to say I like what I saw. We are going to go back on a sunnier day and do some more exploring but back to the Dragon festival...

Most of the activities were in the Forum which is a large building housing the tourist information center and the library. First up was playing with Dragon snot.

Basically it was green colored cornstarch and water and something called "non-Newtonian fluids". Even Daddy had to try it. Kids loved it!

Pet a bearded Lizard -- called a Dragon today:)!

Play a game of "what do lizards eat?" and see a real "super worm" which was the lizard's dinner. That thing was huge and ugly:).

Okay these next few picture are a bit gory but they had make up artist there putting on dragon wounds on the arms of anyone who wanted it. My kids and husband took one look and walked quickly away. I don't foresee my children entering the medical profession in the future. Since I have worked in the hospital I found it fascinating

Creating a Dragon wound

First arm had a burn from the Dragons breath and the second arm was claw marks. Most of the people in this line were teenagers:).

We also visited the Dragon Art show, where local schools had children create various Dragon art. These were some of our favorite pieces.

Around town there were Dragon themes everywhere. Here is a mustard shop and it's mascot for the day was a Dragon! They were doing tasting of Dragon's mustard, which my husband had to try.

At the bookstore there was a artist and author giving demonstrations on drawing Dragons and reading Dragon stories.

And finally the Dragon parade!

We had a full and exhausting day. Even with the rain we had a great time. Kids have already requested going back next year. I have put it on the calendar:)

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Dentist Field Trip

On Friday, we had a American homeschooling field trip. They don't happen very much as many of us live quite a distance from each other. There is little housing on the military base so Americans are spread out all over the region, so unless the home schooler's participate in some of the base children's activities we don't see them very much. However this year the dental clinic on base asked if the home schoolers wanted to have a field trip. Emails were sent out and we were able to arrange a great field trip! My kids have been quoting what they learned all weekend and even implementing some changes all on their own.

First the children sat thru a 30 minute presentation side show on taking care of your teeth, what a cavity looks like and what a dentist does. I know my kids where listening because all weekend my son has been telling anyone who will listen that sugar causes bacteria in your mouth to make plaque and that will cause a cavity -- hasn't stopped him from eating candy but he is at least aware. My daughter shocked me on Sunday morning while at a breakfast buffet as she added water to her apple juice on her own and willingly. Telling her Dad proudly what she did and why. I just love little moments like that:)

Taking a tour of the dentist office -- seeing an exam room and being told what all the equipment is for.

Seeing what a clinician would wear while performing a dental surgery. Trying on the X-ray vest

Explaining the X-ray machine and seeing some x-rays on a computer.

Okay I have a confession to make, since moving to England my kids haven't been to the dentist in 2 years. So all of this was really new to them. I will be making a appointment for them very soon.

Next we went into the lab where we were shown teeth models and told why and how they were made. We were also shown different types of fillings and why some people prefer one over the other. For instance I didn't know that gold fillings and crowns were better as the gold wears away before the opposite teeth do. Whereas porcelain fillings grind away the opposite teeth.

Drawers and drawers of teeth. Did you know there are over 27 different colors of teeth. And your teeth might all be slightly different colors. The Dentist showed the kids a computer that reads the color of your teeth and this allows the dentist to make the perfect color match for your teeth. I had no idea!

Each child then got a quick dental screening and thankfully both kids passed with flying colors. They also got a much better understanding why I nag (yes, I nag) them to brush for 2 minutes twice a day!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award

I got another Blog Award!! Thank you Aubrie Anne at Who's your Editor for passing this lovely award on to me! Please take a peek at her blog it is a fun read!

This button is good enough to eat!!

So here are the rules: Share 4 guilty pleasures. Pass this award on to six amazingly sweet blogs.

So here are my 4 guilty pleasures:

1. Books, I can't pass up a bookstore and often come out with a lot less money than I went in with. I love to read and will read almost anything if it is not to technical in nature. The last few good books I have read are:
Heretic's Daughter
Andover's Wolves
Ice Dragon - My daughter recommended it:)
Candle in the Darkness
The Red Pyramid - another my daughter recommended:)
Raising the Spirited Child

2. I love HOT bubble baths in the winter. I miss my soaking tub, our bath tub in the UK just isn't as cozy as the one I had in the states.

3. I am addicted to diet coke and chocolate. Really I need a 12 step program for both!

4. Traveling, I love going somewhere new and and learning about a new place and the history that goes with a new country, or city.

Now on to the the blogs that I have chosen to pass this award on to in no particular order:

Be Our Best

Momma In The Middle

Happy Hearts Academy

Home Grown Learners

Homeschool Escapade

Live, Love, Educate

Have fun passing on the Blog Love!

Please join Tracy, Lynda and I at the NOBH for the entire month of February!
The blog with the most link ups for the month wins a blog award and a spot light of their blog!!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Weekly Wrap Up

Not sure where the week went but is has flown by! Made a few changes to the family rules as things have gotten a bit out of hand recently behavior wise. I used to let the children watch TV or play the Wii or DS every day after school for 90 minutes. However I have been slipping a bit with keeping track of the time and the children are no longer willingly turning off their screen time so after much reflection my husband and I have banned all screen time except for a 2 hour block on Wednesday and Saturdays. We have implemented a family game night for Tuesday night and one night a week we will watch an educational show. The kids were NOT happy with this new plan but I have to say we had the best weekend this past week under the new rules!

We have decided to give the children an allowance to help understand money better. I purchased these banks that have dividers for Spend, Save and Charity. We have tried weekly allowance before but the children were too young and really didn't care about money. However my oldest is showing more of an interest so we thought we would give it a try. I want to encourage both children to save and donate and thought these banks would help. The children made a goal on what they would like to buy with their savings and who they plan to donate to at the end of the year. We wrote this down and placed it in their banks. I also told them what things they would be responsible to buy from now on, ie magazines/books, trinkets/toys, and the occasional candy treat. My husband and I also are trying the monthly allowance instead of weekly as we never seem to have the right amount of money on us when allowance is due. I also added it to my calendar so I can call my husband up to remind him to go to the bank to get out the children's allowance in single dollar bills. I am hoping this will make it easier for us to mange.

The children are continuing their studying on space and this week we learned about Jupiter and it 4 main moons. We have been doing lots of reading and working on our solar system models.
I thought I would post some of the fun sites we have been using to explore space.
We have watched the DVDs Wonders of the solar system and I ordered the free DVD Journey to the stars. Both were excellent!

To read our posts on the other planets we have studied so far and see some of the experiments and art projects we have done, follow the links below
Earth's Moon

We did have a minor detour this week with science when my 6 year old son wanted to know where babies came from. You can see how we handled that here. I would love know how you handle this very sensitive issue:)

Kids are still working on their spelling program and we are really enjoying this program. My daughter is on book 2 and my youngest is on book 1. I have to say we are going fairly slow with the books as I really want the kids to understand the rules, plus we often take a break while traveling and have to do a lot of review to remind us where we are. My son appears to be a natural speller where as my daughter struggles a bit more.

Continuing our Piano lesson with Pianimals Just ordered book 3 and 4. I really can't say enough about this program, my kids love it and are truly learning to play. I can't play a single note and it is so easy to teach the kids. (I do not represent this company in any way--just a very happy customer!!)
We are also trying to introduce the children to different types of music. So far we have made a CD of early Rock N Roll music that we listen to in the car. It has been interesting as at first both kids didn't like the music but now say they do. I am still looking for a great music appreciation program so if you know of one that is reasonable in cost please pass it on!

We are continuing to learn about the space race between the Soviet Union and the USA. I am also continuing our discussions on the first men to walk the moon as well as other significant astronauts. I found a great children's autobiography on astronaut Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. We are considering having the children watch the movie Apollo 13 but our library doesn't have a copy so we are still looking.

We are continuing to work on our solar system models. We have also built a new bird feeder to go in our backyard. We were hoping to participate in the the Great Back yard Bird watch but just found out that although we are on time for the US we are too late for the UK bird watch which was 3 weeks ago:( We are going to do it anyway but won't be able to submit our bird numbers this year. i hope to be on time next year!

This was the first time I let the children use power tools and it was to heavy for them so I had to do a little more helping than I anticipated. We are going to paint it before setting it outside. The kids are excited to see what birds will stop by to visit their bird feeder.

I am using the free Salsa Spanish videos to carry us over until I find a new program. I am currently looking into Olivita's Oink: Bilingual Barnyard but I haven't seen any reviews so I am a bit hesitant to to purchase. The Library on base has just installed a new computer program which will supposedly have a on line Spanish program so I am waiting to see what that is. I am told it will be up and running next week:)

Extra Curricular Activities include:

Boy Scouts where we had the British K9 dogs come and visit. We got to learn all about police dogs!

Girl Scouts where the girls are working on their pet badge and went on a field trip to a horse center and learned all about horse!

Rock Wall climbing
My daughter made it to the top but had to be rescued--twice! She is still over coming her fear of heights!

My son has nearly made it to the top and Daddy is learning how to use the rope system so we can go on our own sometimes.

Both kids are continuing their swimming lessons and are showing real improvement this year. My youngest has finally decided that wearing goggles is not a bad idea and is thrilled he can no find swim toys at the bottom of the pool -- This accomplishment has taken almost 2 years of lessons:).
My daughter is really improving in her strokes and looking more and more like a real swimmer.

Whew and that has been our week!