Wednesday, 31 March 2010


Hermione had her first taste of skiing today. Even the rain didn't dampen her spirits as she spent a morning on the slopes with a few chums.

No falls or broken bones. Yay!!

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The ants have landed

Not a lot to report as yet. They seem a little reluctant to venture along the tube from the container they arrived in to the ant farm. They go so far but then turn back. Odd things.

I've printed off lots of education resources about them to include sheets for keeping records of tunneling activity. We went swimming today, (third day in a row and don't my thighs know it!), and expected to see much activity when we returned. No such luck. I think they're still finding their way around the tube.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Ants in my pants and smells in my kitchen

Miles made an odd request out of the blue a couple of weeks ago. He would like an art farm. I looked on line and asked on lists for recommendations. No replies. Well, fate works in a mysterious way and as luck would have it I wandered past a charity shop the other day and in the window noticed a brand new ant farm still in it's wrapping! I couldn't believe my luck. It only cost £1.50.

Craig and Miles set it up today and we have placed it in an empty shaded shelf.

The farm only cost £1.50 but the ants I have ordered cost £5! We are all now eagerly awaiting their arrival but I have to say I am worried in case they escape. Cats, rabbits, hens and gerbils are one thing - but ants loose in the house, no way!!!

Hermione finished reading Wuthering Heights late last week so we will be working on that a bit over the next few days. I have to say, I didn't set out with the intention of using it for character study, but it is perfect! I had forgotten just how extreme and 'real' many of the characters are. It also illustrates the 'narrator' concept well with there being two distinct narrators. Throw in the strong theme of destruction, enhanced with lots of nature imagery and I think we'll have gone as far as I wish to with that one for now *grin*.

In addition to Wuthering Heights we are looking at eggs and all things eggy this week. There are lots of bargains to be had here this week and I picked up a unit study about eggs for 50p. It's great as it will appeal to both Hermione and Miles.

I'm padding the study out with lots of kitchen science about eggs - to include finding out how strong egg shells are, how to dissolve an egg shell, how to make a bouncy egg, sucking eggs into bottles and how to tell if it is boiled or not (without cracking it).

We have made a start by placing two hard boiled eggs (one dyed with coffee, one with beetroot) into a glass with white vinegar. Can you see the bubbles forming on the eggs?

This combo seriously stinks. I have put them in the garage. I can't possibly have them festering on the kitchen windowsill for the next two or three days.

Got to dash. I'm doing a lot of preparatory work to help overhaul our local home ed Book Club at the moment. It may be that some folks won't want a more structured club and it may fall flat. That's okay though - some families, including us, do want a bit more structure and all of the things I'm spending time on I can use at home quite independently of club. I'm just up to my eyes in cutting, printing, laminating etc right now!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Easter sewing project

Three fabric decorations, backed in a floral print and with wadding inside for body. I made a loop slot through the top of two to hang on a willow cane. One was a bit big to hang in any available spot I had so I've draped it across the back of the chair in the kitchen.

Job done!

Had I planned on doing something like this I probably wouldn't have been able to find the fabric - and if I had I may not have been able to afford it. It's odd what you can stumble across for a couple of pounds when you're not really looking.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Another grumble about health care professional

Unfortunately I found myself at an emergency clinic with Miles today *sigh*. Sitting there in hospital, ever so anxious and concerned, the doctor decided it was appropriate, *before* having checked Miles over, to enquire as to why I don't have my children vaccinated. Ahem, but I'm not here in hospital with a special emergency service appointment because I wish to discuss the rights and wrongs of vaccinations! Back to the matter in hand please.

Now, had she asked me *after* having checked Miles over and confirming that there were no serious concerns I may have been willing to discuss. Timing is everything eh?

The upshot of it all was that he had a very thorough check up. I wonder if he may have had such a thorough check up in the circumstances had the doctor felt able to reassure herself of the wonders of vaccinations? Possibly she just felt the need to check every nook and cranny since he has such a bad (aka known as not following the trodden path) mother. Ho hum, I don't care, he got a good check over and that is what I was there for.

As we drove home Craig asked why I didn't explain about home education when the doctor asked. Oh, I wonder why? For the time being I can just say 'no' when people ask about school because he isn't official school age. Sometimes I just can't be bothered frankly to explain to people that I have a mind of my own and the ability to make informed and rational choices.

Bit of a rant I'm afraid. I'm just feeling really miffed with the whole culture of raised eye brows, curled lips and side ways glances if you dare to do something which others don't perceive to be the norm. For goodness sakes, live and let live - without assuming the absolute right to ask why!

Given the appropriate time and place I am ususally very happy to discuss and explain the thought process behind most, if not all, of my parenting decisions - but there is a time and a place.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Fireside antics and other burning concerns

Yes, so spring has sprung and we were starting to enjoy it but I then ended up spending much of the weekend cleaning up vomit after Miles was either a) ill with a sicky virus or b) suffering the after effects of Craig having allowed him to have an obscene amount of concentrated apple juice undiluted *sigh*. Once again we end up cancelling arrangements and cosy by the fire to wait for it all to pass...which I think it is doing.

I have been wanting to introduce Hermione to a number of classics for a while but lots of the ones I favour are a bit long and wordy. I've looked at many abridged series and haven't been impressed. I've now discovered Usborne Classics Retold and have to say I'm impressed. She's half way through Wuthering Heights and I can't wait to start discussing it with her - it's one of my all time favourite books!

Nana has been making lots of cakes again -you know, the low cal ones.

Miles, being wiped out by his predicament, has spent an inordinate amount of time lying on the sofa, watching the branches blow whilst listening to Stephen Fry read Roald Dahl's Enormous Crocodile story. Should anyone wish to hear it, not read by Stephen Fry, then I'm your gal! I must know it word for word by now!

Our Easter tree is now up. It sort of lurches menacingly towards Nana's door, waiting for her each time she comes out. I'm surprised I've not had any comments about eyes being poked out yet!

I've a lovely piece of material waiting to be made up into padded wall hangings for Easter. I really want to do them before this weekend as we have a couple of friends visiting. Each season I try to add to our collection of decorations but have to say there is a whole load of cheap plastic tosh out there! I was delighted when I found a metre of beautiful bunny fabric for £3. Only trouble is I need to find the time to transform it!

Felt flower faeries and woodland creatures made from fallen branches of the monkey tree.

I apologise if anyone considers what follows to be too much information - you have been warned and may wish to stop reading now.

With the anniversary of Jade's death the uptake of cervical smears has been in the news again. Apparently the take up, particularly among younger women was high following her death but has dropped dramatically again. People think this may be because people have forgotten or they can't be bothered. Well, no, perhaps the reason is that they went to my local surgery. I went along to do the necessary a couple of weeks ago and could not believe the conversation I had.

Nurse - Just before you take off your pants, I have to tell you pet, at your age (late thirties), should the labs find anything a miss you will have to go straight to hospital for treatment - no second chances here.

Me - Oh, why is that?

Nurse - Because when you get older they don't like to mess about.

Me - I recall accompanying a friend for laser treatment years ago. It was very unpleasant. The noise and smell was atrocious. She found it very painful too. Have things moved on since then?

Nurse - No they haven't. It's bound to make smell and noise because they are burning the bad bits off.

Me - I really don't like the sound of that and find it hard to believe nothing can be done to make the process more tolerable.

Nurse - Well let's hope we don't find anything then!

Goodness, I wonder how many people a week go there to see her but end up declining to drop their pants and run out instead?

Friday, 19 March 2010

The evidence is mounting....

We spotted frogs mating yesterday and this morning we bought some play sand. Yay, spring is on it's way!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Rocks and inventors

Miles has been climbing at at indoor climbing wall this week. He enjoyed it.

Hermione and I went to The Armstrong and Swan Show at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle. They are famous inventors from our region. Swan invented the incandescent light bulb and Armstrong invented the hydraulic crane and made significant contributions to the development and production of armaments and shipbuilding.

The show was fabulous. It featured the ghosts of Swan and Armstrong talking about what inspired them to develop their ideas and how they did it.

We obtained permission to join a large school group in watching the performance. At the end the school children were all quickly filed out of the hall which gave us an opportunity to speak with the actors. They were very friendly and quite interested in the 'non schoolers'. I had not heard us referred to as non schoolers before and it made me laugh.

Here is Hermione with the ghost of Swan, checking out his light bulbs.

Here is Hermione with the ghost of Armstrong, doing an experiment relating to the power of water wheels.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Teen Spirit

We have had a wonderful day today. There's lots to tell but I'll have to do that tomorrow as my bed is calling to me.

Anyway, I just had to share something that had me and another home ed mum laughing till we almost cried today. Craig thought it was funny to make a cd of most of my favourite songs, as performed by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. What a hoot! I can recommend Kate Bush a la ukulele too. Enjoy!

Monday, 15 March 2010

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells and cockle shells? Hmmm, if it only it were that simple!

Spring has certainly arrived - even the snowmen and snowflakes have disappeared from the playroom window and been replaced with something more seasonal.

It's the time when seed catalogues start landing in the mail box and my thoughts turn to the year ahead in the garden. In fact, I've already made a start. The broad beans and rainbow chard are shooting on up in the greenhouse. I've also planted a few pea seeds this week which are still in the dining room right now.

I think I need to be mindful and plan carefully this year though. Last year I had a hard time digging. The veg patch became a bit of a chore as opposed to my usual escape. Xrays which I had at the turn of the year revealed a couple of degenerating discs in my spine. I've been reading here and there about 'no dig' veg growing. I'm not convinced. I think for a start I will have to make sure I get set paths sorted so as not to compact soil needlessly - thereby reducing some of the digging at least.

Another thing to think about is our new addition Bobbity, the wild rabbit who arrived during the heavy snowfalls and appears to have made our garden his home. While our own free ranging bunny respects our veg boundaries I can't see this little fellow doing that. I fear he may see the results of my labour as fair game. Not sure what I can do about this but need to figure out something. I don't have the budget or energy to wire it all off with chicken mesh dug down deep as well as covering on top.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Mothering Sunday

A beautiful lavender heart which Miles sewed himself at Steiner Group. Usually we help him with the needle but he managed almost all of this piece alone.

The day has been spent in true mothering style - wiping runny noses, offering lots of fluids, dispensing copious cuddles and reading tales from Enid Blyton amongst others.

Why do we always seem to catch lots of bugs in spring time?

Friday, 12 March 2010

Mmm Mmmm

I never thought a packet of M&Ms could have such educational value!

After working out what fraction each colour made up we worked out a few percentages too. We divided the whole and selected colours amongst various group sizes. We worked out the ratios of some colours to others. The fun just went on and on!

I had hoped Miles may at least have sorted his Jelly Tots into their various colours but temptation overtook. He's very much into instant gratification.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

X Factor

Well, from lectures about feathered dinosaurs to ghost hunting with Jedward - I defy Eduction Welfare to say I don't offer my children a diverse range of experiences!

We've just got home from watching Jedward et al in the X Factor Live Show. Hermione got the tickets as a birthday present.

It was good. I enjoyed it. My throat is sore from cheering and my arms are aching from all that arm waving I did, but it was certainly worth it. It was Hermione's first 'big' pop concert and I think she was a bit over awed by the noise levels and lighting effects at times. She didn't say so but I sensed she was.

We are both now Jedward fans. We thought they were prats on TV but they put on a good show tonight. Their singing wasn't brilliant but their aerial stunts and exaggerated gimmicks have won us over.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Feathered Dinosaurs from China

Hermione and I went to visit friends this afternoon. The plan was that children would play while mums would plan some collaborative learning experiences. All went to plan. I even got to graze on coffee and chocolate most of the afternoon!

Anyway, our friends were going to this lecture later in the day and offered to take Hermione along, (I had to head home), if she wanted to go. She thoroughly enjoyed it.

I love spending time with other home edding families and checking out what they do. It really broadens my horizons. I would never have thought of taking Hermione to a public lecture at a university before but I'll certainly consider this for the future.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Yes, it could be a whole lot worse!

I have a wonderful friend who I don't see anywhere near often enough, however she regularly drops me a funny email. Right on time, one dropped in my inbox the other day, entitled, 'When you reasonably can use the F word'.

Here are a few of the pictures taken from it. I hope they make you laugh as much as they did me.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Whoa, where do I begin? We're having some seriously dark days (and nights) here at the moment. My eyes are red and swollen. My face is sore and itchy from the salty tears. I don't know if life is going too fast or too slow. I just don't know. I think I've taken a break from reality. Sometimes I hope really hard that this isn't reality. But it is - it's my reality and I wouldn't have it any other way.

How would I feel if I set out to climb a mountain but instead I found myself standing at the edge of a beautiful lake? Would I, could I, appreciate the lake in all it's beauty? Or would I always mourn having not experienced the mountain? I'm staring out at that lake and it's one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, but I just can't shake the vision of the mountain.