Saturday, July 29, 2006

An entertaining week

Saturday 22nd

Our day with no plan was soon filled up. Allie went to work and the rest of us decided on a library and music shop trip. Both kids borrowed books right up to the maximum number allowed, and were pleased to get their reading mission cards. While I chose a couple of knitting books, they settled down happily on a bend in the stairs to read, and carried on reading most of the way home. On the way to the bus stop we popped in at a music shop so that P. could buy an album by Outkast, with a track she enjoyed hearing on the radio recently.

Sunday 23rd

Leo and I went to Frog Firle Farm for a 'Water Day' organised by a friend from our Woodcraft Folk group who works there. We did pond dipping, made water rockets, and picked up owl pellets in the barn. It was a beautiful place and a lovely day.

Meanwhile, Allie and Pearl made a good start on the decorating, and Pearl and her cousin set up their own blog!

Monday 24th

We had three social engagements on Monday – luckily, all three were in our local park, so the kids put in a full 8 hour day there. MMs was a bit better attended than lately, and Leo really enjoyed the chance for a good long Doctor Who session with his two friends there. P. is a bit out on a limb at MMs at the moment, as she is the oldest by a good couple of years. She and Allie played with her flying disc and they also went over to spectate at her old school's sports day for a while, where she saw her cousin win a race and caught up with some other friends.

Our second gathering was to say goodbye to some friends who are moving to Amsterdam. Allie had to go to work but I chatted with people I haven't seen for a long time and the kids played with their cousins and other park friends.

Finally, we switched to the other side of the park for an end of term Woodcraft picnic and parachute games session.

Tuesday 25th to Thursday 27th

After Squeezebox, Allie and Leo dropped Pearlie off at the station with my dad and she went to stay at my parents' house for a couple of days, with her cousin from Leicestershire (my sister's daughter, also 9). By all accounts they had a very productive and interesting time – swimming, spotting bats and moths, building a model trebuchet, playing chess and discussing geometry.

While the girls were busy there, my sister and her son (aged 7) came down to stay with us. Highlights of their visit included a couple of park trips, a surreal visit to the beach in the middle of a thunderstorm, and the sale of three home made comics (starring 'Poo Man' and 'Wee Man') to people walking past in the street. Altogether it was very pleasant and the boys were mostly very good (if exhausting) company for each other.

After they had left on Thursday and before P. arrived back with my parents in the evening, Leo and I had a lovely, restful, pottering about sort of day. We caught up with the laundry, made bread together, swept and hoovered, and did some painting and knitting.

Friday 28th

More socialising today as we were looking after another cousin for a few hours. I wasn't here, but I gather there was some archaeology at a local park, and exploration of the new play equipment there.

Pearlie updated her blog in the evening and Leo swapped maths challenges with Allie. He managed all his with no problem, including dividing 20 by 5 and multiplying 52 by 2 in a flash.

Both kids lost it a bit this evening, mainly due to exhaustion. We think we will do our best to move towards a more rational approach to sleep management than their current practice of staying up till past 10 every night and setting alarms to wake up before 8 every morning.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

An aside!

Finally got round to doing this piece of writing that others on the ring have done.

I am from books. From Sunblest white sliced and a newspaper trailed in marmalade.
I am from the house that always faced the sun, watching its path across the threadbare carpet. From losing my finger-tips in the long white fur of a cat belly as I smelled the cheese scones rising in the oven.

I am from the flints, jutting out of walls in garden or playground, the chalk, the sea.

I am from cousins at Christmas, floors covered in sleeping bags, a barrel of home brew. I am from unconditional belonging, from my everyday mum and my weekend dad and my ‘others’.

I am from the reading and arguing.

From the treacle mine that used to be beside the railway line and the nasty Thatcher lady who was out to get us. I am from the music hall songs. “It’s the same the whole world over, it’s the poor what get the blame, it’s the rich what get the pleasure, ain’t it all a bloomin’ shame.”

I am from no God, no heaven, no hell. I am from the duty we have to make the world better, the meetings and letters and demos.

I'm from Brighton, from sun warmed sandwiches in greaseproof and a big bottle of watery squash.

I am from the dawn dying in a Northern city, the bleeping machines and my sister’s fingers in my palm. From the long dark time that cloaked us all after she died.

I am from the insistent hum of life that carries us on. My true love, hot summers, long letters. From the next generation - blood and babies and new, new people. Their voices and hands and eyes.

I am from the notes of a Barnardo’s home that took my infant grandmother from poverty and hunger. From the stories of the ‘care’ she endured and the love she still gave. From my few memories of her stroke garbled speech. From the sanitorium photos of the grandfather I never knew – the bloody minded socialist and atheist who used to sit in a garden chair and ask the Christians why they weren’t smiling on their way to church. From the box of foil chocolate papers in my mum’s cupboard– every colour, shade and pattern, that my grandmother wrapped around sweets she couldn’t afford to buy.

I am from my mum’s wartime tales of bombs and rations and a beach of barbed wire. From the 11 plus she passed and the pride of going to university. From the couple who met serving fry ups in a seafront cafĂ©. From my mother’s insistence she would be no vicar’s wife.

I am from the seventies cine film of a family that split but never broke in two. I am from the beach and the park, the back garden larking about – reading Enid Blyton up a tree.

I am from all night parties and cross-dressed photos and little burns on the album covers we used to roll our joints. I am from the sticky dancefloor and the big shots of vodka – from the crisp shaved heads and the wild exhilaration.

I am from an Amsterdam hotel room we barely left, from beer in the park and the moon on the canal. I am from letters sent across the world that told of elephants and mountains and that promised adventures we could take together.

I am from the tiny tags that labelled up our newborns. From the suckling mouths and the determined steps. I am from nappy buckets and a swinging line of tiny clothes. I am from the parades in summer sun with a child on my back, whistles, ice-cream, body paint and feather boas. I am from the parades on solstice night with a child’s hand in mine - lanterns glowing, fire crackling and fireworks ripping through the sky.

I am from the skinny legs pedalling a bike, the shouting and laughing, the standing on heads and climbing up door frames. I am from paper and pens, glue and card, sticks and stones, wool and string. I am from books.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Scorchio!

Life continues at a blistering pace…

Wednesday

Allie and the kids spent the morning of the hottest day ever at B&Q, buying paint for our new TV room, and various other things – a fan, a fire blanket, a sign saying 'Office' for Leo's bedroom door and one saying 'Manager' for Pearlie's. Later, we had to go out again, to town to pick up the kids' photos from Jessops, then straight on to a mega capoeira session for the last one of term.

Thursday

Both kids went to Kids Club, where the photography project was continuing. They took lots of great photos and had a lovely time. Allie and I had a couple of hours at home together, which was very pleasant, then we both went to meet them at the end – I came home with Leo, Pearlie went to the grandmothers' house as usual, and Allie went to work.

Leo and I spent the afternoon creating a huge underwater scene, featuring the octopus, squid and cuttlefish from the Guardian's recent poster.


There was a bit of bubble play for the kids in the evening and a slightly early night.

Friday

Despite having a migraine today, Allie has managed to take the kids to the big drop-in HE group for some socialising and to the beach for paddling, ice cream and chips.

Before all that, Pearlie went with her aunt to see her cousin sing in the school choir, and after it all, the kids and I set off for the evening family swim session at the local pool. Leo was excited about this, but had a funny turn in the water and had to be brought home, just in time to be sick on the kitchen floor! Not sure what brought that on – maybe the sun, the ice cream or chips on the beach, the mud project in the garden, or just exhaustion after being woken at 7.30 this morning to watch Level Up with Pearlie.

Everyone's in bed now, and there's (amazingly) no plan for tomorrow, so I'm hoping for no more puke and a chance to breathe and restore some order to the house.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hot and fire

I'm trying to keep up the blogging momentum and it's too late and too hot to do any decorating.

Monday
Dani went off to work and the kids and I went to the local park with paddling pool – hopefully to meet up with some MMs friends. We were few, and it was hot, but the kids played a bit and I enjoyed some good chat.
Dani and I did a quick change over in the park, and I went off to work. They all went home for a rest before Woodcraft, which was meant to be a session on wild food. The kids were disappointed when this didn't happen (some organisation mix-up) but they had a good games session. That ended a bit sadly for Leo who took the skin off his knee after being dropped by an older boy who had been swinging him around by one hand (?!)
The kids had to be called inside for bedtime, as they were busy blowing bubbles in the street.

Tuesday
Dani had a day with the kids today – as I had to go to Eastbourne on a fire warden training course. The kids went to Squeezebox and then Leo went off to play at the grandmothers' house.
Pearl and Dani went to drop off the kids' cameras at the shop – for developing – and then came home to play games. They played 'Black Box' and 'Nine Men's Morris' and then had a look at the Dulux website, where you can play around with colour on a pretend room. We are settled on our colour for the walls and are now thinking about fabric for the sofa and chairs.
When I got back from my course I had a bit of a chat with the others about what I had learned (loads) and what I'd done (scary stuff like using extinguishers and fire blankets) and was amazed at how much they already knew about fire. Leo impressed me by volunteering that fire needs oxygen, and Pearlie said that you shouldn't use water on an electrical fire. We are full of sensible plans to get more smoke alarms. I also have a vague hope that we may be able to work towards a slightly clearer house as I can now present it as a fire safety measure.

Anyway, must get some sleep.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Too busy to blog

Oh dear! Well, it had to happen sooner or later, a busy time that meant a blogging break- and now it's too much to try to catch up properly. Here are a few things that have happened:

The kids have continued their weekly music sessions at Squeezebox, which they are enjoying a great deal.

We went to the big, drop-in home ed group that runs locally and I had a lovely moment of happiness about the whole HE thing. I was watching all these people of different ages co-existing and it looked good!

The kids have been to trampolining twice and it is now finished for the summer break. Leo finished on a high – getting badge five. I saw him do his routine and was amazed at how his co-ordination has improved. Poor Pearlie was practising her somersaults, with help from the teacher, and she landed painfully on top of her! She was shaken at the time but got over it fine.

The kids and Dani went to a lovely event in a small local park on Saturday 8th July. The kids got to go on a climbing wall – which was great.

We have a new floor in our back basement – vinyl that looks like wood. That sounds horrid but is actually nice! We have lots of patches of different coloured paint on the walls at the moment – and we're not getting very far with making final decisions about that.

I've been for a bit of maintenance – a doctor appointment (antibiotics for a yukky tonsil that was my third throat infection in the last couple of months) and optician (prescription hasn't changed so no need for new specs). I bought some prescription goggles, which have been fab for swimming with the kids.

Swimming – LOTS! The kids have been asking to go swimming on every possible occasion. The last time was Friday 14th. I had my new goggles and this inspired Leo to great bravery about putting his face in the water. I spent nearly two hours in the water with the kids – doing 'high fives' under water and other such fun things. Leo's swimming gets ever more confident.

A meeting with someone from the LEA. This was quite positive, in that I think it may lead to a process of consultation with other local HEors and an improved policy. The existing policy certainly needs some improvement – ahem!

While we were at the meeting both the kids went along to Pearlie's regular 'Kid's Club' group, where a photographer is working with the kids. As part of this, both the kids have been going around armed with a disposable camera for a few days. They seem to be enjoying this! The work is all based around them and their identities – imaging a series of galleries like those in the local museum – their heritage, furniture, bodies, and fashion. We were pleased that Pearlie was happy to have Leo along at what is usually 'her' group and that he was very happy to be there without us – and seemed to join in very well.

Dani and the kids went to a lovely 7th birthday party of an HE friend – at their house out in the country. The weather was grand and they enjoyed the food, company, play and chat.
On the way to that party they also went to beautiful nature reserve in Lewes, with a muddy stream.

We had some adult friends staying for a couple of nights as they had a family wedding to attend nearby. This was good and involved two very late nights sitting up gassing – so we're tired tonight!

Tonight (July 16th) was a Woodcraft ceremony up on a sunny hill. Pearlie jumped over a stick to mark the occasion of her progression from Elfin to Pioneer. Marshmallows were toasted and crisped munched. We saw a Skylark on the way home – an amazing sight.

The kids have been spending roughly equal time being very happy and playing in the back yard (making a dam of mud) or street (blowing soap bubbles and chasing them along the road) and being very argumentative and cross! They have been exhausting themselves a bit with hours of outdoor play and lots of swimming.

Pearlie has been doing all sorts of good stuff – playing with litmus paper and exploring a little weather themed science kit. She's also been playing a good game called 'Black Box', which was mine as a child, as well as lots of chess and cards. She is also constantly asking questions at the moment – about everything from radiation to sanitary protection.

Leo has been drawing tons (as ever) and reading a lot too. He has been reading the first book in the Roman mystery series that Pearlie loves, but I think he's finding them a bit dense. Last night he fell back on a slightly younger, less demanding read – 'The Littlest Dragon'. He also enjoyed finishing a little workbook on addition.

We have been over-stretched – very busy, in spite of having leave from work. We had a lot of hard physical work to do to prepare the back basement for re-flooring – including moving a freezer up our steep, narrow stairs. We always seem to fill our summers to the brim. We need to try leaving a bit more time for relaxation – and sleep!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Happy, splashy days

Friday
Friday Dani went to work as usual and the kids and I had a nice, packed home ed day. We managed to combine library and swimming pool happily.
Leo managed to swim across the little learners pool – a rather stressed doggy paddle, but he made it! Pearlie spent most of her time under the water, as usual, including retrieving someone's lost locker key.
In the library the kids did their usual thing and settled down for long, silent read. We were in the main library, which tends to be a bit loud, but the larger stock is good. We found a 1960s Tintin DVD and the kids stocked up on Geronimo Stilton books and other stuff. Pearlie found a book called 'The Secret Agent's Handbook', which has hardly left her hands since. It has inspired her in a whole new round of code making – she is working on a booklet of codes. Talking of books, I keep meaning to blog that Leo has been positively gobbling up books these days. He recently read a Jeremy Strong book of 'Funny Stories' – three books in one. It seems to be having an impact on his spelling, which is becoming ever more orthodox. When he doesn't get spellings right now they often have some similarity to the orthodox spelling (eg. the other day he wrote sientist, which last year would probably have been syentst or some other phonetic variation)

Saturday
I had to work, which felt tough as the whole town felt a bit like a holiday, what with the sun and the football. Dani and the kids went to Hove Museum where they saw a fabulous exhibition of Malian mudcloths http://www.hove.virtualmuseum.info/exhibitions/bogolan.asp
They also bought some Dr Who Top Trumps (Leo) and some tennis rackets in the pound shop (Pearl). They went on to the park to play tennis but everyone had got a bit too hot and tired to play happily - so they came home.
In the evening we watched Dr Who and felt a bit sad that Rose will be leaving.

Sunday
We got up slowly and pottered around. I don't work Sundays in the summer so we got a bit too lazy and the kids and I nearly missed the start of 'Over the Hedge', which we went to the cinema to see. The cinema was cool and it was quite a funny film. The kids loved it and were happy to eat pop corn brought in a Tupperware from home, rather than the over priced cinema variety.

Dani spent the afternoon tackling all the rubbish in our basement, in anticipation of the new flooring we are getting next week. She did a great job, and I think it was much easier to get it done in an empty house.

After the cinema I took the kids round to local cousins, who had their paddling pool out in the garden. The kids all played happily for an hour or so in the pool and then ate watermelon together.

Monday
Today Dani went to work in the morning and the kids and I went to our MMs meeting – on the beach this week. It was a perfect beach day and we had a great time playing and chatting with friends. Pearlie bravely swam around in the sea. Leo couldn't quite cope with the waves knocking him about, but he paddled and jumped waves, and dug in the sand with his good friend, J. I failed to apply enough sun cream and both kids got a little bit burned for the first time in their lives. I feel very bad about that – just got too laid back now they are older.
Pearlie and I had a talk about why children do not have the vote, which was interesting. She decided that anyone over ten should have the right to vote if they want to.

This afternoon Dani and the kids went to Woodcraft Folk, which was a hike this week. Poor Leo suffered a bit with hayfever eyes and a prickly heat rash that sprung up round his neck. But they had a good walk up on a hill, so there was a bit of breeze. Sadly there wasn't enough breeze for the kids to fly the kites they made at Woodies recently.
Two, very tired, kids are in bed now – and I think we'll soon follow.