Sunday, November 27, 2005

Not a catch up…

… as it's been too long since we blogged, but here are some of the things we've been doing.


  • Is enjoying her new group – they've started filming their short films, and she's roughed out a design for her page on the group's website.
  • Has discovered kakuro puzzles, following a tip from my dad – she's spent the last couple of days working on one he sent her
  • Was pleased to find a non Tintin book by Herge and a Tintin dvd she'd not seen before, at the library
  • Liked the discussion of migration at Woodcraft Folk, and was pleased with her I Begin and World Friend badges.
  • Spoke to a television reporter at a demo we went on at the Town Hall, protesting against plans to build a park and ride car park over allotments and homes in the north of Brighton. We were only on the news for a second or two, though.


  • Was thrilled to be given his trampolining badge 3 at the class this morning
  • Happily joined in beautiful singing in rounds at our HE group on Monday
  • Has been enjoying reading various Captain Underpants books for himself – his reading is growing in fluency by leaps and bounds
  • Held his own in a group of 6-9 year olds at Woodcraft Folk, when he and I had to step in to help out at short notice
  • Has made loads of lovely comics featuring his own superhero, Super Squidgy, and various dragons


Has been writing a report on our last year, so that we're prepared in case the LEA come calling. P. and L. have decided they don't want a visit again, so we want to be able to respond with a weighty tome when/if they write asking to come round. Six pages so far…


Has almost finished (at long last) knitting a waistcoat for Leo, featuring illusion daleks on the front and dragon on the back. It's lovely, but I'm looking forward to knitting something with less fluffy wool!

All of us

  • Enjoyed working together on a jigsaw of the British Isles. Infuriatingly, it had 3 pieces missing, but I made replacements by enlarging the picture on the box and sticking the appropriate bits onto card – here it is in all its glory.
  • Had a lovely relaxing day today, as nobody had to go to work for a change. We played cards, read the paper, and generally lounged about.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Speed blogging

  • HE Groups: One for P (painting, film making), one for me and both kids (general free for all).
  • Classes: Capoeira for kids, Woodcraft Folk leader's training for me
  • Family: Popped round to cousins' house to look at stars, and spotted Mars on the way home; P. went to grandmothers' house for the afternoon.
  • Guinea pigs: New system seems to be working OK – having cut fleeces in half means they get clean in washing machine.
  • Christmas: Most presents bought, cards slowly being made, advent calendar finished, general mood of excitement building.
  • Reading: L. read alone for an hour and a half. P. has started Roman Mysteries again from the beginning.
  • Writing: L. is keeping a daily diary.
  • Bits and bobs: card games, jigsaws, excellent conversation about characters in children's programmes, home made vegetable soup, fascinating research about railway line that used to run near our house.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Potential venue

This post is mainly for members of our weekly HE group to check out some photos of a potential venue. I have left the venue nameless but you MM people know where it is!

So, here are photos.

Main room showing low table and kitchen at one end

The quiet room

Kitchen area

Sports hall/gym

Monday, November 14, 2005

Fruity Fun

Went to our weekly HE group today. We've started a new system where we take it in turns to bring activities, rather than all bringing something every week. It was our turn today, and Allie struggled over there with two enormous bags of fruit and equipment for making fruit salads and smoothies. A few other families were also on the rota, so there was also houmous making, spice grinding, discovering exotic fruits, investigating a variety of eggs, and an impressive experiment where an egg was pushed through the neck of a milk bottle by air pressure, after burning a piece of paper inside the bottle created a vacuum. It was hard work, but all the kids joined in with something or other, and it was a successful start to the new plan, I think.

While P. was at Woodcraft Folk this evening, talking about refugees and migration, we made a new home for our guinea pigs, following the plans given on It takes up less of our kitchen, and we think they'll be happy there.

Last week included:
  • A Christmas card making session on Sunday morning, followed by some energetic playing with cousins.
  • Trampolining for both kids on Saturday, followed by a very enjoyable family cinema trip to see Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
  • A lovely visit to Allie's dad on Friday. P. wrote a coded message for him to decipher, the kids did experiments with a long cardboard tube, they all played blow football, the cat was duly worshipped, and a lovely lunch consumed.
  • P's second week at her Thursday group. No more film making, but some good games and a couple of new people to meet. She came home and downloaded the Pink Panther music from a website, for use in their film.
  • Meanwhile, Leo and I made this, inspired by The Big Bang on Discovery Kids. It's a musical instrument – it makes a note when you bang it on the floor – and it actually works.
  • The arrival of our Christmas craft supplies box from Baker Ross. We treated ourselves to plenty of black card, gold and silver pens, wooden snowmen, etc, and a few bits for making presents for grandparents too. P. has been making a very lovely advent calendar out of matchboxes.
  • Jigsaws and mosaics, courtesy of the library service.
  • A zoo in our living room
  • A reorganisation of Leo's room, to create a cosy corner in which he can watch videos. He has been using the room more, and inviting P. in for company as well. Tonight, they even played one of the hundreds of board games that gather dust in there!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Too late to blog, but...

You're To Kill a Mockingbird!

by Harper Lee

Perceived as a revolutionary and groundbreaking person, you have
changed the minds of many people. While questioning the authority around you, you've
also taken a significant amount of flack. But you've had the admirable guts to
persevere. There's a weird guy in the neighborhood using dubious means to protect you,
but you're pretty sure it's worth it in the end. In the end, it remains unclear to you
whether finches and mockingbirds get along in real life.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

and Allie is...

You're Prufrock and Other Observations!

by T.S. Eliot

Though you are very short and often overshadowed, your voice is poetic
and lyrical. Dark and brooding, you see the world as a hopeless effort of people trying
to impress other people. Though you make reference to almost everything, you've really
heard enough about Michelangelo. You measure out your life with coffee spoons.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Terry Connelly

You might remember I was at a family funeral recently. Thanks to my brother, Jon, this obituary appeared in The Guardian on Thursday.,16381,1637341,00.html

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

"Where are we going today?"


I’m beginning to understand what people mean when they say they are worried about the social side of HE – too many social opportunities and not enough time spent at home with each other!

On Thursday, P. went for a tryout session at a new HE group for kids over 6. There is a paid worker there, and one parent stays to help out each week. They are working on a long term theme of ‘media’ and last week began a new project to make a short film. P. knew most of the other kids already, and seemed to settle in fine. She is keen to stay involved, and I think she’ll really enjoy her time there.

On Friday, I took the kids to another HE group at lunchtime, and then P. went to an after school birthday party and cinema trip with a gang of her old school friends.

On Saturday, both kids did trampolining, which has now become pretty much an entirely HE class, after we prompted a bit of an influx from our regular Monday group. They then went straight over to their friend J’s house, where they had a lovely time and bravely stroked the family dog.

Later, we all went round to the house of our local cousins to see fireworks from their upstairs window with a spectacular view across town. P. and L. stayed there for a sleepover, and we went home. We were fully expecting a call to say that Leo didn’t want to stay, but for the first time ever, he did! This was our first night without a child in the house for eight and a half years – which was nice but a bit strange…

All the kids insisted on following the sleepover with a swimming trip to the local pool, so they and Dani trudged through the rain to get there on Sunday afternoon, accompanied by our other local cousin and his dad. P. bumped into some people she knows from her school days at the pool, and had a splendid time jumping in and diving to the bottom.

And Monday was our weekly HE group, followed by Woodcraft Folk in the evening. Dani had to go to a Woodcraft parents’ meeting, so Leo played at his cousin B’s house.

Whew! It’s no wonder we’re all a bit tired. We’ve decided to pull our horns in a bit, but we are pretty much committed to 5 weekly groups, so it’s not going to be easy.

A day at home

Tuesday we decided to make no social arrangements and try to relax and do things at home. This worked wonderfully as the morning began with the delivery of some small pulley blocks from Dani's dad. Pearl fell on these with joy and set about devising a pulley in the stairwell. She tried several designs and the final one was used to carry her book and drink upstairs at bedtime. Unfortunately it was not strong enough for her hot water bottle, but no doubt she's planning modifications.

Leo was interested for a while too and using a pulley to move some wooden building bricks led to building a nest of bricks on the stairs.

Leo watched quite a lot of 'Discovery Kids' programmes during the morning. At one point I wandered in to the kitchen and he looked a bit comatose.
Allie - "What's this about, Leo?"
Leo - "Jus dis" (face fixed on tv)
Allie - "What is this? What is it about?"
Leo - "Jus dis"
Allie - "Leo, if you really don't know what it's about then maybe you should do something else instead of sitting there staring at it. I mean, you seem to have no idea what it's about." (Autonomous home edder status rapidly slipping here)
Leo - "I told you what it was about. JUSTICE! Trial by jury and things like that!"

After lunch we went to the library. Pearl was on a roll so she brought her inventions notebook, as well as her current Roman mystery. Leo settled down with a Dav Pilkey book and read it with great dedication. (I think he is being influenced by Pearlie's reading of the Roman mystery books as he seems intent on finishing it tonight!)

Pearl went to the science and technology shelves and found a book to explain how electricity is generated from solar power. This was necessary because she had moved on to a design for a pulley system to get people up the steep hill on which we live. She took this all in, incorporated it her in plan and drew her design in her notebook.

We borrowed some books and toys from the library and went home. We were pleased to have a surprise visit from the Brighton grandmothers, on their way home from the fracture clinic. My mum doesn't have to have surgery but she has to keep her arm in a sling for the next five weeks. The doctor got her to do things with her arm that hurt a lot, but I think she was relieved to hear that metal pinning won't be necessary. The kids gave her very gentle kisses and cuddles.


P. is rattling through the Roman Mysteries. She is on the 9th book now, and may then have to wait for her cousin S. to finish reading the 10th and lend it to her. She reads at every possible moment – on the bus, walking down the street, during HE groups, etc. I don’t think she has ever been grabbed like this by a book/series of books before.

L. got a free book with an RSPCA magazine in the local newsagents. He has been reading odd pages here and there, which is pretty hard going for him, but he seems to be following it OK. We have been helping out by reading it to him in bed, too. He's also enjoying reading Dav Pilkey again, and often asks for Dr Seuss favourites at bedtime too.

Random highlights

  • The RSPCA magazine had a competition to design a new Sylvanian Family. Both P. and L. decided to enter, and produced these lovely pictures:

  • P. made a creditable sound with a didgeridoo one of the dads brought along to the Monday group.
  • Somebody else brought along a giant stick insect that lives free in their house – both kids stroked it.
  • P's Christmas list, which includes "wood, tools and stuff" and "a good strong ball of string".

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Another exhausting week

Life is relentlessly eventful round here. I'll attempt another swift catch up…

Thursday 27th October

Allie's mum is incapacitated by her injured shoulder (now thoroughly x-rayed and discovered to be broken), so both kids were home. Lots of Hallowe'en preparations.

Friday 28th October

Lovely visit to Fishbourne Roman Palace for their Roman Army week activities. Allie went with our two, and their cousin B. and his mum. They had to complete a range of tasks – eat Roman food, practice drill with swords, shields and helmets, throw stones and spears, make clay medals, watch the apothecary make potions, have a 'tattoo' on their hands - to earn their day's pay, a replica denarius. All three kids had a great time. A. picked up some half price books, including the next of the Roman Mysteries for P., and the kids spent their pocket money on coins, cuddly boars, etc.

Saturday 29th October

Off to Lancing for Nic's party, dressed as witches, a vampire and a dragon.

Failed to meet the Where the Days go gang at the station, but found them on the train, and shared an enjoyable meal of chips in a caff at the other end. Party was quite a surreal experience – a bit like being in a room full of people you've seen on the telly. Nice to meet everyone, finally.

Sunday 30th October

A family gathering at the ailing grandmother's house. Allie had to go to work, but popped in on her way, and the rest of us went over there later.

Monday 31st October

A mad day, involving HE group in the morning, followed immediately by a meeting of the grown ups in the group at a pub with attached play area, followed immediately by a Woodcraft Folk Halloween party, followed immediately by trick or treating with cousins.

HE group theme of 'favourite things' was a great success – Leo took his dragons, Fafnir and Tiamat, and a dragons book, P. took some Sylvanians, her coin collection, and her current Roman Mystery – she's going through them at a rate of knots.

Tuesday 1st November

Quiet and productive day at home, followed by manic after school arrangements with cousins.

Wednesday 2nd November

More pottering at home – tracing, comics, secret detective work, maths worksheets from Enchanted Learning - followed by capoeira classes with cousins.