Monday, 30 November 2009


There was much excitement today as the children sorted the advent tree.


I had grand plans for an advent spiral but have just rushed off a pastel spiral on a bit of paper *sigh*. Better than nothing I guess. I didn't want to abandon my plans completely.

Posted by Picasa

I'm hoping to have a bit of an advent circle time each day when we will light the candle in the spiral and ponder going within and finding our own light to share with others.

The two gifts under the tree are a book and some cards. The book is a wonderful book of short and illustrated stories, suitable for both a younger and an older child. The cards are called 'attitude cards' which I found online a while ago. Each card details an attitude and portrays positive ideas to do with that attitude. I'm hoping that we can read stories and having uplifting positive chats whilst watching the flickering advent flame. Over optimistic perhaps? Well, I can hope *grin*.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Opera and woodworking

Hermione had her first trip to the opera this weekend. We went with friends to see Swanhunter performed by Opera North.

I wasn't familiar with the story before we went and was a little taken aback at the darkness of some aspects - it was an adaptation for family audiences. I need not have worried. At the end of the performance we visited the ladies before heading home. A little voice came across the top of the cubicle, 'mummy, I feel I have just had an experience of a life time'. I love opera but Craig's not keen. I'm hoping I may have a new companion for trips to the opera!

You can read more about the performance here.

I have been thinking that I would like to make some wooden decorations for our mantle. These are the sort of things I had in mind. I spotted them in an etsy shop.

Our first session didn't go particularly well. I realise now there is a lot more to this than meets the eye. Hopefully there will be an update and I won't get so flaming exasperated that they go in the fire.

Friday, 27 November 2009

River Study and Festive Recital

We went on a River Study as part of our local HE group earlier this week. It was a visit lead by a couple of education officers, who, as education officers go were very cheery.

Looking for beasties. I'm surprised they found much at all in November but there were a fair few minnows and flat mayfly nymphs.


See, I told you the education officer was cheery! She proceeded to produce a strip of typed letters in varying print darkness and placed it behind the tumbler of river water. This was to measure how clear the water was.


Measuring depth with a jointed stick. I will remember this. I could make one of those with two garden poles and some masking tape.


Here is Hermione standing at the end of a tape measure having measured out ten metres. She was watching for a fir cone which had been placed n the river at the start of the tape measure. Someone else was on stop watch, measuring the speed of the flow.

Posted by Picasa

They repeated all of the above at a different area of the river and recorded and compared results.

We've not done much on rivers before and decided this would be a good place to start. Disappointingly we don't seem to have many, or perhaps I should say any, books about rivers. We went to the library this afternoon to try to remedy that but they had none either *sigh*. We got two books out about asylum seekers instead - bit of a change in course (if you'll pardon the pun) and we'll revert to rivers some other time. Perhaps rivers are something best done in better weather as we would no doubt want to do lots of hands on stuff and I'm not up for yomping about on cold river banks right now, no way!

Oh, nearly forgot to say, I have organised a Festive Poetry and Baroque Music Recital for our HE group. Sounds rather grand doesn't it? I'm quite sure it won't be *grin*. We are blessed to have a very talented young lady in our group who plays baroque recorder music and also lots of budding poetry reciters - throw in some carols and mince pies and there you have it!

I must say that at times like this having access to a hall which we can use almost whenever for only £4 per hour is a real bonus. It makes it so much easier to say, 'hey lets do this!'

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Playing with matches

Headless craft matches that is...


This was Blackpool Tower designed by Miles.

I bought them here. I picked up a few handy bits and pieces including some value felt and this cool festive electricity project for a couple of quid.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Free maps for schools and home educators!

Grab your copy here.

Here's hoping to lots more offers like this being opened up to home educating families.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Red Kite

I'm certainly no twitcher but have to say I was delighted when we spotted not just one, but a few Red Kites today. It was difficult to appreciate their phenomenal 5 foot or so wingspan as they were flying at such heights - but still most definitely a sight to behold!

It was interesting to learn that despite their great size they just eat worms, grubs and dead things. They rarely go in for the kill with anything much bigger than extremely small mice and the likes. Apparently despite their large wing span they have very little body strength and could not carry off a smaller bird or the likes you would expect from other birds of prey.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Space not script

Isn't it amazing how when you cut back on script (planned, directed activities), and create space, children seem to engage in so much more creative play?

I've always believed in this, but find it important to keep reminding myself right now when I keep unscripting life because I feel so tired.

I've been so neglectful of so many things of late - interests, friends, causes etc. I feel bad about it. I met with a community group this evening to help plan a Christmas party and spring ceilidh. That was good. A couple of people signed my parliamentary petition too. That was also good.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Electricity, lingering lurgies etc

Where has this week gone to? It's passed by in a drug fuelled haze I'm afraid to say. A haze of echinacea, homeopathic remedies, antibiotics, horse pill sized vit C tablets, paracetamols - the whole damned medicine cupboard to be precise! I've had this whole chesty/sinusy/earachey/cough, throat type thing going on since September and it's driving me nuts!

I've had to cancel some plans this week which is a shame as I was looking forward to seeing friends. Hopefully those I have had to cancel on will understand, and thankfully for me a couple who live near by came to my rescue too - one spent a whole afternoon reading stories to Miles when I felt incapable of speech and another did a great science session with Hermione about light and shadows. I am blessed.

Earlier n the week we went on a home ed trip to Pizza Express. It went down a treat - like last time. I know I've said it before, but if you have a Pizza Express near you then pop along and ask for a free visit. Pass on breakfast, arrive early (they do it before the restaurant opens for lunch) and let lovely waiters wait on you and your children - pizza (children and parents), juice, cappuccino etc all for free! It's fun gong out for a free pizza breakfast with your chums. I can recommend it.

Why do satsumas just come in large boxes at this time of year? I think they taste better out of a box and at the rate Miles and I eat them they should come like this all year.


Did I tell you that Santa brought Miles a balance bike last year? It is beautiful wooden bike, a real one off. trouble is it's very heavy. We finally decided just to take the pedals off an old bike of Hermione's and he's managing much better with that. Much cheaper solution that buying yet another balance bike. They charge a fortune to leave the pedals off!


Hermione has been learning about electricity this week. We have looked at the basic process in power stations, renewable and non renewable fuels, possible green fuels of the future, circuits, electric safety and more. Here she is receiving a lesson from Craig in how to wire a plug.

Posted by Picasa

Goodness, it won't be long till December. Does anyone have any advent plans or ideas? I was contemplating making an advent spiral like this one but haven't got round to it.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Parliamentary Petition

I am co ordinating a parliamentary petition in the City of Durham to help preserve the right of parents to home educate their children.

Areas covered by the City of Durham include Brandon, Langley Moor, Meadowfield, Coxhoe, Cassop, Park hill, Quarrington Hill, Esh Winning, Waterhouses, New Brancepeth, Ushaw Moor, Brancepeth, Broompark, Croxdale, Hett, Bowburn, Shincliffe, Tursdale, City Centre, Bearpark, Witton Gilbert, Framwellgate Moor, Pity Me, Brasside, Gilesgate, Gilesgate Moor, Sherburn Road Estate, Nevilles Cross, Crossgate and Framwelgate, Newton Hall, Sherburn Village, Sherburn Hill, Shadforth, Ludworth, High Pittington, Low Pittington, Littletown, West Rainton and Leamside.

If you live within the City of Durham and would be willing to support me then please contact me (email in profile) and I will email a copy of the petition plus further information directly to you.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Threading nuts


Posted by Picasa

I've not done this in a long time. Hermione didn't even know what I meant when I suggested it! Like most needlework, she soon got the hang of it, and was keen to do lots.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Making bears

Posted by Picasa

Here are a couple of new additions to our home - handmade by Hermione, following a pattern from Woman's Weekly Christmas Special magazine. She made the one on the right especially for Miles. He chose the eyes and colour of the wasitcoat. Sweet.

I have never read Woman's Weekly. I'm much more of a Country Living or National Geographic kinda gal, but I am impressed by some of the patterns and ideas in this craft special.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Out of the Ashes

I happened to mention to another home edding mum that Hermione and I looked up lots of old newspaper clips about the 2001 UK foot and mouth outbreak following our recent home ed visit to a farm.

When I saw this mum last week she gave us this book. It is written in the style of a diary belonging to the thirteen year old daughter of a farmer.

It was informative and moving. It portrayed the stark reality of the animals being slaughtered and burned on huge pyres. It also gave an insight into how it could affect the farmers and their families when the girl's father was hospitalised with depression.

Well worth reading but I'd recommend pre reading it for young and/or sensitive children.

Friday, 13 November 2009


We had a fabulous time here earlier this week. The highlights for me had to be the Vindolanda tablets. The originals are in The British Museum but there were replicas and lots of information about them. They are voted one of our top ten treasures - and I can see why. Amazing.



Posted by Picasa

Most of the time we were the only people there. Fabulous.

We have been to a few roman sites now but I still think it is worthwhile to visit numerous as they all have such different things to offer. We have seen lots of reconstructions but Vindolanda was the first place we had visited with a reconstructed temple. Very interesting. Great book shop too - too good to be honest, I could have spent an awful lot of money there!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Transforming children's art work into tea light shades

I'm sure I'm not the only one to run out of wall space for art. Yesterday we turned some of our art (and some newly created for the purpose art) into tea light shades.

You need some art, hole punch, glass jar and tea lights. Cut a strip of art to wrap around the jar. Go wild with the hole punch. Sellotape around the jar.


Light and add candles and there you have it. Ever so pretty.

Posted by Picasa

Monday, 9 November 2009

Dinky Dig and thoughts on Balls, Badders and the process

We went on a mock dig at the local archaeology museum today. The trip was arranged by another home ed family. The children enjoyed it but the pickings were sparse. I think the dig should have been relocated to our back garden. We have found masses of very freaky stuff here. The previous resident was a doctor and at first I feared he could have been a Harold Shipman, but I think it's much more likely that he had lots of pets!



Posted by Picasa

I'm struggling with home ed at the moment. Not so much struggling with educating my children - more with the whole vibe of the political situation.

I know the situation is of grave concern and there is much to be done, however, I truly believe it's important to approach anything which life throws at us with optimism, positivity and a willingness to learn.

The air is thick with fear upon which anxiety, depression, paralysis and stress feeds. I don't want to live in this way. I will not be sucked into this vortex. I firmly believe that the main thing we must fear in life is fear itself. I won't succumb to fear about what may come of home education in this country. I will continue to do all I can - but with positivity and joy. I am fit and able to serve my children - to look after them, educate them and strive to maintain the right to do so. I'm pleased I'm in a position to do all this and will do so in love not hate.

This doesn't mean that I'm stupid, ill informed or apathetic. It means that I am willing to cut myself free of all the dross emotions which I could attach to the situation. It is possible to make change without anger, hatred and fear - so why buy into feelings which weaken us rather than strengthen us?

Saturday, 7 November 2009

All of a tizz and Tower Ballroom

Here are a couple of pictures of our trip to Blackpool Tower. I thought it was going to be mega naff but I actually enjoyed it and could have spent more time than we had allocated. I hadn't realised there would be so much to see and do inside. The circus and aquarium were a particular hit. Hermione was also delighted to see the ballroom where Strictly Come Dancing will be broadcast from this week.



Posted by Picasa

I'm aiming to do some stuff about tourism, seaside resorts and seasonal economies with Hermione this coming week.

I'm all of a tizz. I was very cross when I realised last week that I had bought theatre tickets for two different shows, in two different venues, both for this morning. I had a rough night with Miles last night as he's not particularly well. Craig agreed to take Hermione to the theatre so that I could stay home with Miles. He went to the wrong theatre - one of the few in the region that we didn't have tickets for this morning *sigh*. Despite having doubled booked, Hermione ended up not getting to see anything. I'm so naffed off about it. I just hate it when I get in such a tizz, juggling way too many balls, that I end up chasing my tail and essentially getting nowhere!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Shop assistants are getting slack these days...

When I went to the shops to buy a box of fire works today, no one queried my age! I'll let them off on this occasion. We've just got back from a couple of very hectic days in Blackpool of all places. I suspect that's why I'm not looking as youthful as usual *grin*.

Will be back in a day or so when I've recovered - my eyes are still smarting from the twinkly lights and I'm still rather nauseated by the excess of window boxes full of plastic flowers.

Ta ta for now. Hope you're having a rip roaring bonfire night.


Monday, 2 November 2009

Fire Station

We went on a trip to the Fire Station today. The children both had a wonderful time. I asked to see their sparkly pole and they obliged. One even demonstrated pole usage -three times. So, yes, I have smiled today - even if only for the time it took a fire fighter to slide down a pole. It was worth it. Enough said.

Why is it so damned difficult to delegate? Why when it comes to life around the house do I feel over whelmed with so much to do, but won't delegate? Is it because I subconsciously sense that some don't wish to take on more responsibility? Is it that I think I can do it better? I dunno but it's something I need to get sussed *sigh*.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Halloween fun

The party mood started early with Craig and Hermione dancing in the kitchen - it's becoming a regular thing those two swinging their stuff in there!


The toffee apples were just a partial success. My main worry was that I wouldn't get the toffee to stick on the apples. Well, it did stick on but it was rather crystalised and icky.


The boys didn't have to be asked twice to get the fire stoked up ready for friends arriving later.


A few hours later after halloween jazz, pumpkin soup, jacket potatoes,much marhmallow toasting, stories of hairy toes etc everyone dissapeared.

Posted by Picasa

In the dark and the peace I lay on a blanket next to the fire, watched the full moon and toasted my tootsies. I collapsed into bed with rosy cheeks and smoky hair. Bliss.