Monday, February 28, 2005

Manic Monday

Today was our HE group day. Dani went off to work and I (slowly) got the kids up and dressed.

We have fallen into a bit of a pattern of watching the classTV on the CBBC channel in the morning. This is not a bad thing in itself as lots of the programmes are excellent. Pearl particularly enjoys the primary history and Leo and I were gripped by a new Look and Read story today. I remember watching Look and Read at school when I was about eight and I enjoyed it then. The stories are well done, rather in the tradition of good BBC children’s drama, with just a short bit of tedious ‘teaching’ in the middle. It amuses me that I can remember my eight year old self wishing they’d get on with that bit quick so we could continue the story – and I felt much the same today! Today’s story involved time slipping, a old diary and spooky Victorian building. But the down side of watching the schools tv is that we often have to tear ourselves away if we need to get somewhere in the morning.

Our theme at group today was part one of a two week stint on books. We also tried out a beginning circle of kids and adults to share news and introduce the theme and any activities on offer. This is new, and a lot of our kids are quite young, so it was quite challenging - but I think it brought the group together a bit and got us off to a good start. Leo astonished me by opening up his folder of newly drawn comics and explaining them to the group – very confident and self-assured. Strangely he was also quite fragile today. I think this fits with my current understanding of him. He is able to be very grown up in short bursts but finds it very tiring. After lunch people settled to various activities. Pearl was able to show some people a neat little book she can make out of a single sheet of paper. She also sat happily playing patience when she ran out of things to do. She was a real star as she so often is these days. She is suddenly much more grown up and very sociable. Sadly we had to leave early to get P and L to the dentist.

On the way from the bus stop to our house (to drop off group stuff before walk to dentist’s) Leo decided to throw a huge strop about the fact that I was not going to buy sweets at that very moment. Quite apart from my reluctance to buy sweets just before a dentist trip I was unable to buy them as I had NO money on me. HE group subs and bus fares had cleaned me out. Somehow I remained very calm (if a bit fed up) as we trudged along the road while he shrieked at me. It is a sad fact that he has a tendency to be a bit comical in his fury. Today he alternated between telling me to go away and never speak again and then demaning I come back as he was talking to me. His anger crumpled up as soon as we got through the door and he flopped about eating bread and butter and drinking milk. I think the very cold weather is tiring us a bit. Ten or fifteen minute walks (which we often have to do several times a day) are just so much more tiring when the weather is bitter.

We met D at the dentist where she and the kids were duly checked and sent on their way. It is great that the kids like the dentist and generally come away with praise and a sticker. Leo seems to be hanging on to his recently loosened teeth.

Once home we nearly forgot Woodcraft Folk for P. She arrived a few minutes late but had a good time – playing games and seeing friends.Kids are finally reliably in bed and I think we will watch a that grissly Wire in the Blood thing which we have taped. Our new bed is due tomorrow – thank god. The rocky sofa bed in the kitchen is getting a bit tedious…

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Pukka Pies - they're delicious

Quick extra post here to acknowledge how much the kids seem to be enjoying having a bedroom each. D tells me that they tidied their rooms today in anticipation of a visiting cousin – without being asked! Guess that won’t last. I believe they had a great time playing with said cousin.

When I got home from work this evening I found Dani and both kids playing fours with real playing cards. I don’t think Leo has ever played with playing cards before but he seemed to be doing admirably and has an endearing habit of calling them ‘the sixth of spades’, ‘eighth of hearts’ etc. Apparently they have been having a games filled day, including Connect Four and more games with playing cards.

Leo has just made a sign saying ‘Knock befo entry’ for his bedroom door – I’m guessing Dani helped with the spelling of some words and not others! Pearl announced last night that she would like a Pukka Pies sign for her bedroom door. It seems this needs to be like the one at the chip shop with a little sliding open/closed sign and must include the unlikely legend ‘Pukka Pies – they’re delicious!’ I think I’ll have to go their web site and see if one can be scrounged. Needless to say neither Pearl nor any of us has ever tasted a Pukka Pie!

It’s very peaceful here tonight. We all had a lovely sit down tea of baked spuds and various salad and other veg and now people are playing cards, drawing and listening to music around the house. Suddenly the children seem very grown up – nearly five and eight – and quiet evenings are sometimes possible. Amazing!

All change

Well, we have pretty much done the furniture moving, and everyone is sleeping in their new rooms (except us, we’re still on the sofa bed in the kitchen). The kids seem happy, and even spent quite a while playing with toys in their own rooms this morning, which is previously unheard of.

A load of stuff should be arriving from Ikea on Tuesday, courtesy of Flatpack Brighton. It’s quite shameful how excited we were when we heard that this service existed! Then it’s just Pearlie’s new bed to come. Let’s hope it arrives before the visiting cousins in 3 weeks time.

Allie and the kids spent most of Friday tidying up the house in advance of the HE group grownups meeting we hosted in the evening. They also picked up one P’s school friends from school and she came round for a play and tea. Going to school was a bit strange for everyone, but the (very wild) playing was, according to P., “lovely”, and the girls and Leo all played together with good humour.

P. and L. were brilliant while the meeting was on – they watched TV and looked after each other in the other room, and we were both able to take part in the whole meeting.

Yesterday was a very busy day for P. and a quiet and peaceful one for L. She went to trampolining in the morning, and worked on her somersaults. Allie wasn’t working for once, so she was able to take her.

P. and I popped in briefly at the Brighton Science Fair in the afternoon. This was really good, but a bit crowded. We looked at pedal powered generators, moon rock and meterorites, cuttlebones and crab shells from the sea, an experiment to see if some numbers come up more often when rolling dice, and other cool stuff. We bought a couple of packets of eggs to grow into triops.

Then she was off again to a birthday party of the same friend who came round on Friday. They did a Scooby Doo style clue hunt in the local park, and it sounds like she had a great time.

Meanwhile, the rest of us were rearranging rooms. Leo was a bit grumpy on and off, but generally great while we heaved books and cupboards up and down stairs. I think he was pleased to have a day where he didn’t have to go out and could arrange his possessions around him and choose his costumes for each moment. He did lots of drawing, made a dinosaur out of egg boxes, helped a bit with the moving, chatted, watched Power Rangers, etc.

We started off our triops this morning, after a slow getting up. One of our local cousins is coming round this afternoon, so I’d better go and do something about lunch.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Thursday already?

We are in the middle of the huge reorganisation of the house required for P. and L. to have separate rooms, so we have been a bit busy to blog regularly. So far two beds have left the house and one TV has arrived (company for L, once P has moved to her new room). Now we just have to move most of the furniture in the house to make room for the new stuff we’ve ordered from Ikea and P’s (unbelievably expensive) new bed, which should be arriving in the next two weeks.

In between all that, we have squeezed in a bit of home ed:

On Tuesday, Leo went to A’s mum as usual. A. and P. watched more of Roots, bought a few things in town, and made a lapbook about tapirs. Leo made one about elephants when he got home.

On Wednesday, Allie and the kids did an experiment from How to Live Forever, in which you blow up a balloon lots of times to illustrate how skin gets more saggy with age. Then they had a look on the internet for images of people’s faces at different ages. We also went to capoeira, but L. didn’t join in this week. On the way we took some more pictures of the building site behind our house and exchanged a few words with the builders.

Today was P’s turn to go over to the grandmothers’ house. They took her to the garden centre where she saw rabbits in the pet shop bit and fell in love with a cuddly bear – she’s buried it in the toy basket to save it for her next visit.

Leo and I went to the shops with an eclectic list:
- buttons (for their cardigans),
- big underpants (for Captain Underpants themed games at Leo’s birthday party),
- 10W light bulbs (one each for night lights in the new rooms),
- painkillers (just for life, really), and
- a TV/DVD/video (see above)

We also managed to pick up a cuddly pterosaur and a cat shaped money box in the PDSA shop. Not sure if all that was educational, but it was all quite successful. Leo made the trip dressed in an odd assortment of his own and Allie’s clothes and stuff from his dressing up box, including some enormous black glasses frames that make him look like an infant Harry Potter.

This evening we watched Europe: a Natural History, on BBC Four. Pearlie and I did, anyway – L. baled out half way through to watch Power Rangers on the other telly. He is now peacefully producing huge amounts of Power Rangers inspired art.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Just a quick catch up

P. and L went to their cousins’ house for a sleepover on Saturday night (though only P. actually stayed the night), and we went swimming with the same cousins on Sunday afternoon.

This was all OK, but I think Leo was physically exhausted by the walk on Saturday and emotionally tired by trying to sleep in an unfamiliar bed, followed by yet more socialising and exercise, so he was very fragile at the HE group today.

He was OK, with a lot of support from Allie, but when I arrived and she had to go to work, he fell apart. He calmed down eventually, and found sanctuary with P, one of the other mums from the group and a couple of the kids in the branch library next to the hall where we meet, while I gathered up our stuff. We went home a bit early, and everyone vegged out for a few hours.

P. went to Woodcraft Folk and Leo and I designed an invitation for his party – here’s the front cover.


The Flap Man! Posted by Hello

Planning to pull our horns in a bit for a few days now.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Guided walk on Wolstonbury Hill

One of the members of our HE group had organised a guided walk for us, led by a local storyteller. Allie had to work, but the kids and I got up early, wrapped up warm and caught the bus to the meeting place, near Hassocks.


We walked from the bus stop Posted by Hello

It was a beautiful, bright, but cold day, with a biting wind. We had the most wonderful time, stopping every now and then for stories and games.


The view was worth the climb! Posted by Hello


Elizabethan house called Danny Posted by Hello


The humps are nests full of hibernating ants! Posted by Hello

Leo forgot to eat his lunch or drink any water, he was so excited. He was a bit out of resources by the last game, but he rallied and we all got home in one piece - thanks for the lift, Jen!


Flaked out on the sofa afterwards Posted by Hello

Friday, February 18, 2005

Park and writing - a happy Friday

D set off to work and I got up shakily and got kids fed and dressed. Their cousin B and his mum arrived and we set off to the Level – park at the bottom of the hill. The kids had a busy time; climbing, swinging and eating ice lollies (!) They chatted with the park attendant who showed them where field mice are living. B came back for lunch, but then left, and then Pearl and Leo settled down for a quiet afternoon at home.

It turned out to be a lovely afternoon without any Scooby Doo – a merciful break! Pearl and I played with the new onset and rime game blocks. When we bought them I thought they’d be useful for Leo - so he wasn’t interested at all. They present no challenge to Pearl but she thought they were great. Actually we had fun trying to pass off unlikely words on each other and checking them in the dictionary. I was greatly amused to find that Pearl was able to match onset SH with rime AG in our first game and onset F with rime UCK in game two! I dread to think how a teacher would cope with using them with a group of canny kids.

After playing with the blocks for a bit we investigated the ‘pick ‘n’ mix’ word thing we bought with P in mind. This was remarkably successful. I suggested that we could write poems and Pearl wrote the following. I helped a bit when she couldn’t get it to scan, but it is basically all her own work - her layout, punctuation and spelling.

Pearl’s poem

On the motorway, at midnight,
a wizard met a farmer,
the wizard got a big fright
the farmer made him calmer
they grabbed a torch and rode
into the motorway,
the torch became a toad
the toad just flew away.
they flew up into the sky
the toad was very wobbly,
they found a crème-cheese pie,
the crust was very nobbly.
they came across a mountin,
it was very high,
they didn’t know it was a mountin,
but they got there by and by.
they came across a film star,
his name was Pancake day,
he was a stranger, from afar
he asked them all to stay.
hooray!

Leo dictated a story to me after picking words for himself and writing some down. Here is Leo’s story – using all the words he had picked from the board and some of his own invention.

Flap man screeched to a halt and had poopy palt for his vamplaw. He attacked an old man with a canine dog. Before dawn he ate some poo. He went to his garden – which was a playground.

Flap man is a villain of Leo’s own invention who has been around for a few months now. When I asked what ‘poopy palt’ was I was told ‘Just write it!’ – so I did. I think it is an experiment with rhyme. Leo never wants or takes any suggestions in his writing, drawing, or anything much really! He illustrated it with a wonderful dog picture.

Tonight Leo has announced that he doesn’t really want his own room after all. But Pearl is adamant that she does. This is going to take a lot more talking through…

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Things went wrong, but we were OK

Today started fine. I don’t have to get up for work on Thursdays, so we all slept in and got up slowly. Allie was a bit migraine-y, but decided to take the pills and hope it wore off.

She took Pearl and her cousin S over to the grandmothers’ house for the usual weekly visit, then went on to work from there.

Leo and I watched the Mummy: the inside story programme that we had taped last night, and L. rebuilt his tomb with more elaborate details. I was puzzled about why the Egyptians didn’t preserve brains. The programme said they had no idea of the function of the brain, but this seems odd to me. They obviously took a great interest in anatomy, and had identified other organs as being important. Did they not notice the effects of injury to the brain?

This took up the whole morning, then we headed over to Hove Museum where there was supposed to be a cartoonist doing caricatures for £1. This was to tie in with their current exhibition, about Leo Baxendale, creator of the Bash Street Kids and Minnie the Minx. Naturally, the place was packed, but there was no cartoonist in sight – they just hadn’t turned up and the event was cancelled. I was a bit disappointed with the exhibition too – it was all just pages from the Beano and the odd bigger picture, in glass cases on the wall, way above Leo’s head. I would have had to carry him all the way round, but he didn’t seem that interested in it, so we went upstairs to the wonderful toy gallery instead.

We bumped into Pearl etc there; they had come for the same event. L. didn’t really enjoy it with all the crowds – it’s normally much more peaceful when we go. We popped to the museum shop then went home.

More Egyptology followed, and I finished his cardigan (hooray!) except for the buttons. It’s a bit shapeless, but it seems to fit him alright and he’s pleased with it.

P. was returned to us about an hour later. We played hangman, played games on the internet, and investigated some new resources that arrived today – a set of ‘onset and rime’ blocks and a ‘pick and mix’ story writing tool, both from Philip and Tacey. Not sure quite how we’ll use these, but they both look interesting.

While all this was going on, I was phoned first by my work, to tell me I’ll be on my own there tomorrow morning as everyone else is sick, then by Allie, whose migraine had got the better of her, to say she was coming home early from work. Then my work colleague knocked on the door on her way home, to say the fuse had blown at work and there was no power there. So I’ve had an evening of phoning various people to make plans for sorting out the power and arranging emergency childcare tomorrow in case A. isn’t better.

But I managed to keep the kids on side; P. got a go on the Dav Pilkey website and I read Leo the second half of Captain Underpants and the Big Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy (Part 1). They’ve gone to bed fairly silently, with a little bit of Carrie’s War for P, and kisses all round. Now I’ve just got to tackle the washing up!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Catching up again. Busy, busy, busy...

Sunday 13th to Wednesday 16th February

Another catch up I’m afraid. It’s been hard to get on the pc since Leo discovered the Dav Pilkey site!

Sunday

Dani took both kids swimming to our local pool. One of P’s old school friends was there so she pottered around happily. Dani and Leo played catch with a ball and jumping off the big floats. By the time I got home everyone was pretty tired and kids a bit scrappy with each other.

Monday

The theme at our HE group was the South Downs. We have some new members at the mo so kids are all adjusting to having more people around. People brought various things to do and we all went for a walk to see where a bus stop has been cut into the edge of a downland field. Kids all took a bit of chalk and we spotted flints here and there.

Pearl had a go at an experiment to show how mountains and hills were formed by the collision of big land masses. This involved the slamming together of two slabs of clay, and it worked quite well. Leo took little notice of the theme but just before the end he sat down and traced a lovely picture of a blackbird and all the accompanying text. But he was pretty tired by then and very frustrated by the paper moving around. Both he and new friend burst into tears at the same moment as their respective pieces of work let them down!

The session ended happily with a circle where the kids suggested some of the things that are a good or bad idea at the group, and how we all try to take care of each other’s feelings. We have done this before with the kids and wanted to re-visit it now we have new members. The kids also suggested themes for coming weeks. These were wonderfully varied – drawing horses, Victorian crime and punishment, electricity and magnets, robots, dinosaurs and lots more.

We had a quiet evening at home. Pearl and Dani played a game in her ‘Vile Victorians activity book’ and then P and I played Connect 4. Leo was pretty settled on the computer as usual. At bed time Leo and I read ‘Frog and Toad together’ – taking it in turns to do a page each until he got tired. It’s interesting to see his reading skills develop. Pearl learned to read so fast we felt a bit like we looked away for a minute and missed it! Leo reads a lot these days as we go about the place. He was very chuffed to figure out ‘staff only’ in a shop the other day. But he has also started to try to read books and comics independently. Yesterday he came to me proudly to say that he had read ‘Come on. We must help him.’ What was interesting was his explanation of the process – ‘first I though it said com on, but then I realised it must be come on!’

Tuesday

Leo went over to my mum and partner’s house for a special visit - his cousin B went too. B is three months older than Leo and they have always been close. I think they had a lovely time – both came back clutching cuddly bunnies they had borrowed.

Pearl and I had a quiet day doing things she chose. We watched a lot of ‘Roots’, went for a scoot around the streets, did some maths from a book and then made a zoetrope from the ‘Vile Victorians activity book’.

Wednesday

Dani went off to work today and the kids and I set off to the Booth Museum for a special event – the ‘Zoolab rainforest roadshow’. We saw, and had the opportunity to handle, a giant African landsnail, a big black millipede, a madagascan hissing cockroach, and an American corn snake. The woman doing the show said she couldn’t provide a rainforest snake as they are either poisonous or too big. Pearl and Leo touched or held all the creatures and I astonished myself by touching the snake – something I didn’t think I would want to do. P and L were great - listened and were careful and respectful with the creatures. I thought it was a bargain for £3 per child and nothing for me.

While we were at the museum Leo read the word ‘Neotropical’ from a display of butterflies. Pearl was very impressed – which I think meant a lot to him.

We met up with Dani and I handed over the kids and set off for work. They came home for a rest and warm up. It has been very cold here today. After a bit of computer time, comic reading and hangman they went to capoeira. It was a very quiet week because it is half term here. Dani thought that Leo felt a bit exposed as the group was smaller and his efforts were more visible – but he stuck with it. Pearl showed me a new move (banana!) when I got home.

This evening Dani and the kids watched a documentary about a mummy exhibition that we went to see at the British Museum last year. This was very good and inspired Leo to construct a tomb on the bookshelf in the kitchen. It had a label saying ‘BIWE’ - BEWARE! He let me look at all the contents when I got home – mummified rubber duck, canopic jar with grisly toy heart in it and a lucky charm (Incredibles fridge magnet!)

Pearl also watched a documentary on the history channel this evening about crime during the second world war, so I think Sky tv is starting to look like a good buy.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

21st century green house

P. had a lovely time on Thursday as always. This week, A’s mum had arranged a visit to an unusual house in their neighbourhood. The owner was very welcoming, and showed P. her collections of bones and shells. She even gave her a Sylvanian beaver that had no child to play with.

Yesterday was the Sky installation day. A. and the kids went to the library in the morning, as we’d been told they weren’t coming until the afternoon. They stocked up on Tintin books and videos, and some dinosaur books, and had a fine time.

After a few hours of frantically clearing up mess as soon as it was made, the Sky installation men turned up around three, quickly went away again ‘for 20 minutes’ and came back some time after four. When I got home from work at quarter past five they were up on the roof in the gathering twilight and rain.

Finally, the job was done. We can see the pictures on the telly at last! L. was overjoyed to find that this week is Scooby Week on Boomerang. So much for Sky as an educational resource! (But I’m sure it will be, really.)

Trampolining this morning was good. P is almost at the point of doing somersaults, much to the excitement of her teachers. She herself is deeply embarrassed by all the attention but (I think) secretly proud.

A. went to work and the rest of us came home for a mixed afternoon at home involving some painting of pottery, a spot of Zoombinis, plenty of snacks, Toy Story and Toy Story 2 on video.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Three day catch up

Tuesday
Pearl and I took Leo over to my mum and partner’s house as usual. He had a fine time and drew lots of pictures of ‘Rat Dog’.

While Leo was there Pearl and I watched a bit more of ‘Roots’ and then took a load of washing to stick in the laundrette driers as we had too much to dry at home. We took a book of maths puzzles and I succeeded in being less than helpful to Pearl in her attempts to solve some of them. I got hung up on trying to get Pearl to remember a particular method I was taught when she needed to think it through in her own way. So we grumped home (me kicking myself all the way) and then Pearl scooted up and down the street and I read the paper.

In the evening I had a good talk with Dani and she made me feel much better about the maths incident. She was brought up by mathematicians and has a very relaxed attitude and belief that maths is fun. I, on the other hand, worked hard to get my maths ‘o level’ and did well by virtue of having a good memory. I just memorised all sorts of methods and facts, often without really understanding why they worked. I know that Pearl has a fantastic grasp of maths and has always been creative in her thinking so god knows why I got us both upset about something trivial.

Wednesday

Wednesday morning was good. Pearl made some paper springy shapes by folding paper strips. Leo did some drawing – as usual! Then we made biscuits using a recipe in a fun maths book from the library. I was proud of myself for rescuing the dough by adding milk (not mentioned in the recipe) when it clearly needed it. I halved the dough and the kids added food colouring so L’s biscuits ended up green and P’s bright pink.

I left for work and then D mixed some icing for the kids to decorate the biscuits. They did this very enthusiastically and produced mountainous creations of icing and sweets. There are still a lot in the kitchen – hidden away in Tupperware boxes.

Dani took the kids to capoeira where poor Pearlie fell on her face during the warm up and drove her teeth into her lip. Lots of blood and P didn’t want to go on with the class so they came home. It looks pretty blue today but is clearly healing fine.

In the evening Pearl did maths – bits and pieces from here and there, including working out sequences in her head up into the thousands. She asked Dani for a few sums of the sort that we had bickered over in the laundrette on Tuesday. I was at work. She checked with Dani over something but clearly understood it fine. She also tried some long multiplication but got in a mess with her columns and so got the answer wrong. But she and Dani went through it and worked out the problem.

Leo had a fine time playing on the Dav Pilkey web site. His reading skills now cover phrases such as ‘Keep your mouse pointer in the game, bub’ and ‘Click here to continue’.

Thursday

I took Pearl over to my mum’s and we did a bit of French – some basic conversation and then number and animal lotto in French. It was good fun as usual. We are very lucky to have my mum and her partner supporting us. They were both teachers (they are now retired) and I do appreciate that our decision to HE must be hard for them.

I had a day off work so popped to town for a bit. I went into Borders where there were some tempting offers. I got P two Geronimo Stilton books for the price of one, and a dinosaur book containing jigsaws for Leo.

Leo and Dani had been to Maplins buying phone extension cords and micro filters in anticipation of our Sky installation tomorrow. I’m feeling a bit anxious about it. I hate having people in the house doing work that I can’t really understand and knowing that I may be called upon to be assertive!

We had a quiet afternoon. L and I did the jigsaws from his new book. He read lots of ‘Mog’s Box’ to me and then did drawing and playing on the computer. When P got home she and L settled down with different Tintin videos. I have to say I really enjoy those too.

Kids are both still awake but in bed. P is bound to read at least one o her new books tonight and L is working on a new comic. He very sweetly asked me yesterday if I do colouring in bed or go straight to sleep. I had a lovely image of me and Dani sitting side by side in bed passing each other felt tips late into the small hours.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Hustle, bustle

Yesterday was very up and down. We went to Rainbow Families (our local lesbian & gay parents’ group) in the morning (including a shared lunch), popped home for an hour, then went to the park with some local cousins in the afternoon. P and L. had a fine time during both these outings, played with an assortment of people, ate food with everyone, etc. But after the birthday party on Saturday, it was all a bit too much socialising for Leo, and he dissolved into tears and rage both before and after the park trip.

It was all very upsetting for him and me – I didn’t handle it very well – but we made friends eventually, and we have been OK with each other today. He even coped with yet another social occasion – our weekly HE group – with quite a lot of support from Allie.

I guess we need to make sure we plan in some more days where we aren’t doing anything in particular.

The group was lovely today. We had two new families join, and everyone seemed to get on fine. We were looking at bodies – people drew round each other on lining paper, measured their feet and hands, looked at books, watched a video (Rat a tat tat, C4 literacy programme, about the book My Body Your Body), played tag and stuck in the mud outside, and ended up with some parachute games. Some of the braver people tried a blindfolded, nose-holding taste test game! Not that there was anything dangerous involved...

While Pearlie and I were at Woodcraft Folk tonight, Leo and Allie played Digby Mole’s first sounds game, and Leo wrote out some questions for Allie to answer. Things like “DOOYOISMOCK” (Do you smoke?), and “DOOYOIGOONHOLDAS” (Do you go on holidays?) When each question was ready, Allie had to come to the sofa for her appointment and write down the answer.

P. and L. watched a couple of episodes of the Natural History of the British Isles (one of their favourites) this evening, we planned birthday parties for them both, Allie read them a comic book version of The Hound of the Baskervilles, and P. had the next bit of the Diddakoi in bed.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Fabby Friday and Saturday Party

Friday was a lovely day once we actually managed to get out of the house. It took us (Allie and kids) three tries to leave for the library with the books, no other books, and the library cards. Once we were there Pearl curled up on a comfy chair and read a whole Captain Underpants book. Leo and I took our time choosing a nice selection of books and videos. We had to leave eventually as the library closes for lunch for an hour.

We got a bus to town and chatted about lots of things. The bus passed the Steiner school and Pearl asked me about it. I don’t know a great deal about Steiner but one thing I do know is that they don’t teach reading and writing until people are about seven. Pearl was a bit horrified at that! Then we discussed routes around town, dinosaurs and vegetarianism. It was one of those times when both kids are talking so much, with such stretches and leaps of thought, that I am so glad they are not in a classroom.

Lunch was spuds at the place in the shopping centre. Pearl had a voucher (recently found from her last birthday!) to spend and Leo had saved some pocket money. We ended up in a toyshop where Pearl sat down beside the Sylvanian display. She knew how much she had and I told her to choose what she wanted and pay for it – and she did. She was just so confident – it was a joy to see. Leo was pleased to find a pack of dinosaurs for £2.99. Then we chose a present for an HE friend’s birthday – more on this later.

In the evening my mum came to babysit and Dani and I went to the pub for a drink with the adults of our HE group. Lots of ill-health and work meant that we were few, but we had a great time. When the kids are around we adults never seem to find much time to talk to each other.

Saturday

Today the kids and I went to a bowling birthday party. One of our HE group friends was five and the mixed group of bowlers (ages two to seven) had a fab time. After the bowling we went off to a fish and chips restaurant where the kids filled up chips and racing car birthday cake! It was great but I’m a bit tired now…

This evening I finally snapped when we were unable to get a decent picture on either TV for the kids to watch Jurassic Park. We have lousy reception and an aerial too old for a freeview box to work. So we are getting Sky! After I made the call to set it up I felt a bit sick. We never make big financial commitments like this. We even save all year for the renewal of my bus card. Suddenly we are getting Sky… But now we will be able to get lots of good documentaries and schools progs so I guess we can call it an HE resource?

Disco dresses Posted by Hello

Friday, February 04, 2005

Books, Barbers and Bedrooms

Pearl and Allie went off to A’s mum for their French lesson and usual Thursday things. They looked at the ne…pas construction. Pearlie played an interesting sounding word game (Word drop), invented a new marbles game, played Sylvanians, and had a lovely time as usual. A’s mum discovered she had two copies of The Diddakoi, by Rumer Godden, so she gave one to P, together with Stig of the Dump.

P. has just finished reading Skellig, which she (and I) found completely gripping. It’s written in a beautiful, spare style, and deals with complex issues. It has a very sympathetic home educated character, which was why we got it. I’m hoping P. will want to write a review for the EO newsletter.

Leo and I (after much negotiation) set off for the barber’s, armed with clipboards and pencils for sketching afterwards, and buoyed up with promises of shopping in the interesting shops nearby. This was an enjoyable expedition. Leo surprised me by deciding to have his hair cut after all. I got mine chopped off, to my great relief.

We popped into the independent bookshop across the road and left five minutes later and fifteen pounds worse off, but with some nice books – The Lost World, by Arthur Conan Doyle (Leo picked this off the shelf because it had a picture of a dinosaur on it, but it’s quite beyond him, I think); an Incredibles activity book; The Body Owner’s Handbook for P; and (by bizarre coincidence), The Diddakoi!

After being shorn, we strolled down to the seafront and settled down for some sketching. L. applied himself to this and did a really good picture of a dog, which he has never really attempted before. We had to stop, as our pictures were getting wet in the rain, so then we walked back into town along the seafront. This was lovely – we picked up a cuttle bone and a couple of interesting bits on the beach, popped into an artist’s studio, noticed interesting architectural details, discussed the light of the sun falling on the sea, etc.

P. and L. were quite grumpy with each other after P. got home. I think they were both hungry. After I fed them they were much calmer and more productive. P. made several “disco dresses” for her Sylvanians – cut from felt, to her own design, and fastened with Duck tape. L. drew and then traced a copy of a beautiful superhero picture.

P. announced today that she wants her own room, so we are now considering a major reorganisation of the house, which will involve losing a living room to be our bedroom. If it means they go to sleep once they’ve been put to bed, it will be worth it!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Wobbly Wednesday

Day started badly when P. woke first at 8.30, and woke up the rest of us. This was good for me, as I had to be at work at 9am, but not so good for Allie (who had a migraine) and Leo (who had been awake past 11pm the night before).

After this frantic start, Allie and the kids settled down to some calmer pursuits, such as watching a video about Odysseus and doing some related art; picking kings and queens off a wallchart our neighbour gave us and reading more about them in a book from the library.

Then a five year-old HE friend came round for the rest of the morning. This entailed quite a lot of rampaging and by the time I came home at lunchtime all three children were clad only in underwear.

Allie went to work, the friend went home with her mum, and the kids and I eventually went out for a walk and scoot round the block. This was good for P., who loves to whizz along on two wheels, but her choice of route was inexplicably upsetting for L, so it wasn’t much fun for me. He cheered up when we went to the corner shop and he got a magazine.

After a short rest, we set off for capoeira, still a bit snippy with each other. Both kids concentrated hard and learned lots during the class.

While waiting for the kids to get ready this afternoon, I figured out how to put photos on their blogger profiles. I wanted to put the pictures on the sidebar of our blog, but the photo appeared right at the bottom. Does anyone know how to do this properly?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Downs and ups of a couple of days

Monday

Dani went off to work and kids promptly started arguing. As I was trying to get the stuff together for HE group I got in a big grump. Once we had all shouted at each other a bit Leo settled down to crying in the hallway and hurling snotty tissues at me. We put the pieces together as quick as we could and made it to the group with everything – including lighthouse.

Group was good but we were all a bit washed out. One of the kids brought a shiny silver futuristic house he had made. Lots of craft stuff was available and someone had brought withies, bamboo and blankets to make tents. One of the HE dads arrived with his van full of tools which gave a very real idea of construction.

Unfortunately the fall out of our earlier row was that Leo was upset when I had to go to work. He often barely notices when I leave the group but this time was different! Luckily I only had to leave him crying with Dani but it brought back memories of leaving a wailing Pearl at nursery and school.

After HE group D took the kids home and P went off to Woodcraft Folk. It was apparently a bit of a mad atmosphere and she got trodden on and pushed during some game. Not sure what else happened!

Tuesday

Dani went off to work and I decided that today was going to be a better day – and it was. Pearl and I took Leo over to my mum and partner’s house. He was very happy to get there as he loves them both and the chance to have some ‘special time’ with them alone.

On the way back P and I went to a charity shop and found four books (2 on dinosaurs, one on puppet making and a little story book about a mole) and a box of mixed stickle bricks and octons. We have both of those and so the chance to top up our stock was very welcome. The stickle bricks include some axle and wheel bits which is great. Five pounds for the lot seemed like pretty good value.

When we got home P and I ate lunch while watching a video of ‘Puzzle Maths’ which we had borrowed. It was not really my cup of tea. It was supposed to be for nine to eleven year olds and had two puppet characters sniping at each other and teasing about ‘boyfriends’. YUK! Pearl watched three episodes but wasn’t very enthusiastic.

Then we sat down with tea and chocolate to watch more of ‘Roots’. We were gripped and after we had watched a whole episode we looked at the family tree which is on the final DVD. We were amazed to see that it was just six generations from Alex Hailey back to Kunta Kinte.

As the DVD was ending the phone rang and it was a mum of a friend of Pearl’s checking that she was coming to tea! We had thought that this was a vague idea but it turns out she thought it was a firm arrangement for today. So we met Leo at the end of our road and walked on up to Pearl’s friend’s house. This meant we were caught up in the post-school swarm. I felt a great wave of relief that we were no longer part of it. Even though the last few days have been a bit rough I am sure that HE is the right thing for us.