Monday, 31 May 2010

What we're learning about

It's a while since I've chatted about our 'work' here. I call it 'work' but it really doesn't feel like it. We're still having fun and still being lead by Hermione's interests, (which thankfully tend to balance out across a really broad spectrum of subjects).

We're doing lots of work on Mathletics. It's helping her mental arithmetic no end and it's also brought lots of rather dry areas of maths to life. I was chatting to one of Hermione's friends who goes to school and she was telling me how they share text books and have to copy all the questions out before they even begin answering them - sheesh, that must waste so much time! I think it's one of the really strong points about online maths programmes - they can rattle through so much so quickly.

We're currently reading this version of The Canterbury Tales. The language is very much toned down in comparison to the original. It does contain words such as 'fart' but I think that just makes it all the more appealing to some! Hermione has roared with laughter at many parts.

We've been looking at Mystery Plays, considering medieval entertainment and how entertainment has changed over the course of time.

We've added an additional column for literature to our English history timeline so that we can see at a glance the progression through from he likes of Chaucer, to Shakespeare, to Jane Austen, to Mary Shelley, to the Bronte sisters and so on. We'll keep adding to it just as we do our history discoveries.

We have spent a while recently looking at the English Civil War. Prior to becoming a home educator the only things I really though of in Staurt times was the Great Plague, Gun Powder Plot and Great Fire. I'm ashamed to say it but the Civil War seemed to totally pass me by somehow. Thankfully I've now educated myself about it. Miles has quite enjoyed listening to tales of roundheads and cavaliers too!

Biology has featured quite heavily of late round here too. We have done quite a lot of work on biomes and animal classifications. We're soon going to re visit food webs too and on this occasion look much more particularly at man's place in the food web and the impact he has upon it.

I have obtained information from various mental health charities and we are going to start discussing mental health issues soon. We touched upon mental health when we read Jane Eyre a short time ago but we are going to look back and explore in more detail. We are going to research attitudes towards mental health and bigamy in the Victorian era so as to get a better understanding of one of the main characters in Jane Eyre - Rochester. Was he harsh and cruel or do his actions just reflect societal norm at that time? We're hoping to find out whilst also comparing and contrasting the current societal views on mental health.

Australia is a bit of a hot topic. Hermione is very keen to learn about it at the moment. I'm not sure what has triggered her interest and I'm trying hard to satisfy her thirst for information about it. We've spent a while looking at various resources about the aborigines and very early settlers. We're hoping to visit a place in Durham where prisoners were brought from the prison and loaded onto boats bound for there. Next on the list is the climate.

So, that's how we're spending part of our days at the moment. Looking at this and that, exploring, going off at tangents and finally finding our way back again. We're also swimming anything from two to five times a week, pottering outdoors and hanging out with friends. We're comfortably occupied as opposed to being flat out and I think that's how it will have to stay for some time. Nana's time in hospital has been a bit of a wake up call to me. I'm reassessing a lot of what we do and trying to think of ways in which to make life easier, reduce traveling etc etc..

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Twenty Books

Following on from this article which states that, 'Keeping just 20 books in the home can boost children’s chances of doing well at school, according to a major study' there's a mem doing the rounds inviting folks to show and tell *grin*. You can find out more over at Clare's place here.

Without further ado here's some of our collections.

Books in baskets.

Books in corners awaiting shelving or baskets.

Books on the stairs.

Books under the bureau.

Books on the coffee table.

Books in kitchen cupboards.

Books in Craig's office.

Books on the rack.


Books on the window sil.


Books interspersed with games and stuff.


Books in the dining room.

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No books by the toilet! That's one place where I will not tolerate books. It's hard enough to get in the bathroom without people becoming too comfortable in there!

Off now to tidy my books and bathroom *grin*.

Please feel free to play along. Leave a comment so we can be sure to come and have a snoop through your collection.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Celebrating community

At Steiner group yesterday Miles made white paper doves to celebrate Whitsun. I have to be honest and say that I'm not familiar with this festival, but I was discussing it with Miles' group leader and she told me that for many Steiner groups this is a time when they celebrate community.

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I'm thankful for my community - not so much *a* community but lots of overlapping and interlinking communities. Whenever I stumble and fall they are always there to dust me off and help me back on my way. I'm blessed.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Fall of Lucifer

We went this evening to see the first in the series of the 2010 Durham Mystery Plays, The Fall of Lucifer. I was totally blown away by it. It really was a work of creative genius. I had my doubts when I heard the play was being set as a talent contest, but they really did pull it off! I enjoyed it so much that I would have liked tickets to see it again, or failing that the second play - sadly the tickets are sold out.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Take a pew

Do you like my early birthday present? I've wanted a pew for a long time and now I have one complete with hymn book shelf and row numbers at the end!

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Sunday, 23 May 2010

Body boarding

We may be in the throes of a heat wave but there was no way I would venture in past my ankles!


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Incidentally, can you see that ever so beautifully weathered wooden sleeper in the photograph? If only I drove a truck, not a car, I think it may have found it's way here.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

A walk through the garden

Bobbity, the 'once was wild but now part of the family' bunny.

Cherry blossoms.

Prayer flags which we bought when exploring China and Tibet.

Blackbird in the bushes.

Mixed salad leaves.

Broad beans and nasturtiums.


A very dusty bunny chilling out, where flowers once grew but has since been turned into a dust bowl by digging bunnies, scratting hens and a small boy with a bucket and spade... .


The grave of a honey bee found dead on the deck.


Solar lanterns in amongst the apple blossom.


Curly kale, perpetual spinach, a flowering plant that I cannot name, and of course, a random plant pot!

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Sunday, 16 May 2010

Jin Go Lo Ba

Yay!! I've just smashed my best Jin Go Lo Ba score.

Wii Fit has never floated my boat, but as for Wii Dance, well that's another matter!

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Carding and making pledges

Quick catch up on a couple of things we've been up to this week.

Last week Miles washed raw wool at his Steiner group. This week we carded the same wool. It was fun. Little ones needed some help and support with the carding brushes as they require brute strength - the wire teeth are also very sharp if you catch them at the wrong angle.

Next week we are going to felt with the wool we have washed and carded. We often felt but have never followed the whole process before.

On the craft front Hermione has been planning a special quilt design. The quilting guild to which she belongs are making quilted pieces for each British athlete to carry at the next Olympic Games. I don't know all the details and it sounds rather bizarre to me - but apparently that is what's happening!

We visited the Chapter House at Durham Cathedral. This is where the monks used to have their meetings. It's not now open to the public but we went in with an eduction officer.

Hermione and a friend made a pledge to become a monk and join the monastery. They agreed to give up all of their possessions and make a gift to the monastery. After their pledge they had to lie on the floor while the abbot made a speech. It was fun and helped to bring to life somethings we had read about in history books.


There are no monks at the Cathedral now and the Chapter House now seems to be used as robing room for clergy (see their robes below), conference centre for theological meetings and of course a film setting (Harry Potter)!

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We have been looking at the legend of King Arthur in detail ready for Book Club next week. We have been concentrating particularly upon how a legend changes and adapts in keeping with what is happening in the world at that time. The King Arthur legends rewritten in war times have a very different slant in comparison to ones written at times of strong feminist activities.

Hermione went on a wild food forage with friends. They collected nettles and made bread and nettle soup over a fire. She wasn't particularly keen on the soup and had a fair few nettle stings but had enjoyed the day immensely all the same.

I am currently reading this book about the English Civil War, as I think this is the direction our history explorations are going to take us next and I'm ashamed to say but I know very little about this period.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Salt scrub

With Nana sick, friends have really gone out of their way to support us as a family, and in particular to help cushion the children from the stress and anxieties that seem to fill a home when someone is very unwell.

At the weekend Hermione spent a day with one of her friends. The little girl's mum, who is a good friend of mine, brought Hermione home at bedtime with armfuls of fresh rhubarb from her allotment and also a lovely aromatherapy salt scrub she had made for me.

The scrub was really invigorating and Hermione was keen to make more as she had watched how it was made. She mixed salt, olive oil and essential oils until it reached the desired consistency.


It was then 'dolloped' into a little container with a lid and placed in the fridge till used. Lovely.

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Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Heartfelt thanks

Thank you so much to all who have commented, emailed and called about Nana.

I'm pleased to report that she is now home from hospital and well in herself. It's not done yet - there's to be more investigations and surgery, but the most important thing is that our very worst fears were not confirmed and that is a tremendous relief.

Looking on the positive side, Nana was so sick last week that my sister jumped on a plane from Canada and it's really good to see her.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Blog Break

I'm taking what I hope will be a short blog break because Nana is poorly - worryingly so.

Healing vibes and prayers most welcome.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Our May table

We took a cup filled with wet oasis, some thin ribbons, flowers, foliage and a stick.


We turned it into a maypole - much appreciated by half a dozen wooden cows!

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