Saturday, October 28, 2006

Being busy and our reading story...

One down and it’s weird...

It’s very strange here this weekend as Pearlie is off at her first ever Woodcraft camp without one of us. I’m sure she’s enjoying herself but the rest of us are all missing her.

Here’s the briefest of catch-ups.

Tuesday 24th was a day at home for me and the kids. We have a current interest in the Vikings and spent most of the morning reading aloud (me), learning Futhark (Pearlie) and making silver finger and arm rings from foil (Leo). We are planning to spend a day in costume doing Viking things and eating Viking food – as soon as we have another free day!

Wednesday 25th had Squeezebox for Pearlie in the morning. As the weather was poor Leo and I waited around at the studio and Leo did some reading and writing. Pearlie had a good session, as usual.
Pearlie and Leo spent a happy afternoon playing together. They have big sticks that they are using to fire rubber bands around the place – inspired by Robin Hood. Dani also read them lots from 'The saga of Eric the Viking.'

Thursday 26th
My mum came round for the day and she, Dani and the kids went to the park. There happened to be a biggish clutch of home eddors in the park – so the kids were pleased. I went to work as a cleaner, and then as a librarian.

Friday 27th
Dani and Pearlie set off for the camp site. Pearlie had been pretty stressed (in her usual cryptic way!) about going but was happy when she got there and got stuck in to pitching tents.
Leo and I went to town for a fabulous back stage tour of the Theatre Royal where a local home edding dad is performing this week. He had generously sorted out a tour for local home ed kids. It was really interesting and such a treat for me to see the back stage of somewhere I love so much – all surprisingly pokey and fairly grotty really! One of the strangest things is that the theatre expanded at some point and swallowed up a small fisherman’s cottage – and it is still there, inside the theatre! To get to the dressing rooms you go in the front door and up the stairs.
After the tour Leo and I went to the shoe shop to get him some decent winter shoes.

Saturday 28th
We took a few books to town today to sell in a second hand shop. This boosted the family coffers a bit and we treated ourselves to some takeaway cakes from the gorgeous tea shop.
Leo also thrashed Dani in a game of Casino, while I slept off a threatening migraine.
Tomorrow Leo was to have been looked after by cousins but he has decided to go with Dani to fetch Pearlie from the camp – so he can, ‘see her as soon as possible!’

Books and reading – an aside

Leo is deep into his current passion – The Edge Chronicles. He has now written about ten books in his ‘Corner Chronicles’ series and he draws, talks, plays Edge Chronicles things. He has read two of the Edge Chronicles books by himself and we are reading him others at the same time. The books he has been reading are really dense – complex plots and long passages of description. At first I was not sure that he could really cope with them alone but he tells us things about plot and character and it is clear that he is coping fine.

I have been reflecting on this whole reading thing quite a lot recently, as there has been debate on some blogs and lists about autonomy and learning to read. I think I have probably been somewhat guilty of misrepresenting our approach to reading in the past. When people ask how Leo learned to read (they don’t ask about P as they assume she learned at school – actually she started reading before she went to school) we tend to say that he ‘just started doing it’. We didn’t teach any phonics systematically, we didn’t follow a reading scheme, we didn’t ask him to ‘practise’ reading with us. But that doesn’t mean that we didn’t ‘do anything’ to enable him to read. I realise more and more that what we think of as just normal life involves a passionate relationship with the written word – and especially with books.

We started reading to the kids pretty much from birth. I guess lots of people do that but I don’t mean a book or two, I mean ten or twenty a day, or more. Even our whippet child would sit still for hours if we read to her. I can remember her standing on her head on the sofa as I read to her and she watched the book upside down. We’ve got a photo of me reading to Pearlie while breastfeeding Leo and a second one of him turning round to look at the book over his shoulder. We probably read to the children for three or four sessions a day when they were between one and three. Sometimes the stack of finished picture books would topple over beside us.

So, maybe it’s no surprise that both the kids seemed to read by magic. I guess it isn’t inevitable that that will happen - children may have dyslexia or some physical impairment that makes reading difficult or impossible. But I think if you make something a central feature of day to day life then children will identify it as significant and try to find out about it.

I have seen small children (all boys, if I’m honest) who have skills with a football that I have never mastered. These are children of three or four years old. I guess that the minute they found themselves on two feet a ball was placed in front of them. They took to kicking it about as this was clearly ‘something you do’ – in the way small children learn everything. If the adults in their lives love football, play football, watch football, become animated around football, then children will think football is very important. I think we did the same thing with reading. Dani and I would read, read things aloud to each other and start laughing, or arguing, or get tearful. We turned to books to cheer the children, to comfort them, to re-assure them in new or frightening situations. We did that for a period of years before they ever read anything for themselves.

So, in all the debate around methods of teaching reading – phonics and all that stuff – I am always drawn back to the place that reading has in our lives. I think that this central place that reading occupied was the most significant thing we ‘did’ to enable our children to read easily and with confidence. I don’t claim that this is ‘the way’ for people to learn to read. I can only speak from our experience. But I think that it is a shame that this approach is not promoted more in the world.

It would cost very little in terms of a lifetime to give children four or five years of complete freedom and joy in the company of books – preferably enabled by people who love them. I used to despair when Pearlie’s reception teacher (a very nice woman in many ways) would destroy a book by ‘simplifying’ the vocabulary, or stopping to point out things she deemed important. She would even do that with a story that bubbled and flowed with rhythm and rhyme – chop it up and try to make it ‘accessible’.

Pearlie learned to read like someone cracking a code and she loves to read to squirrel out facts. I can remember the first word she read – in the street. At four years old she announced, ‘if B is buh and U is uh and S is Suh then that must say BUS!’ We had thought she just watched ‘Words and Pictures’ for the stories while we sorted out Leo’s nappy or breakfast – but it turned out she liked the phonics. Now she does read fiction but she prefers things she can skip about in – noting stuff down and linking up things she knows. She will often fall asleep surrounded by different editions of the Guinness Book of Records. She uses books like tools primarily, but still loves to be read to, and in a moment a crisis will be comforted by a book. One night recently I took ‘Mole goes to bed’ into her room and offered to read it to her when she’d been really upset and cross. It was like a balm on everything that hurt and we ended the book with a hug.

Leo loves books as objects and for the stories they contain. At the moment he often carries a small rucksack full of books on his back. He says he is Cowlquape – a character in the Edge Chronicles who carries his barkscrolls wherever he goes. He loves the pictures and the covers, and the way he can collect a set. He loves the world he can find in the books and the fact that he is an expert on that world. He reads words he doesn’t know and he learns them – he speaks those words to test them out – and he writes them. He swirls in a world of words that carries him through every day. He says that he will be an author and illustrator. He asked for a study this week – a desk where he can work and create his books. He owns books with such confidence that I think he will never be intimidated by the written word. And I think that this gives him great power, as well as joy.

Of course I love it that my children have this close relationship with books – because I do and it’s nice when you can share things with your kids. It is part of our family identity – something that defines us. When I say that the children ‘just started to read’ that doesn’t really tell the story properly. People often look at me as if that is hard to believe. But I find it hard to explain what happened in a few words. I can’t say we used a particular book, or scheme. I can’t say we made sure they had good knowledge of phonics. We didn’t ‘teach’ them in a formal sense at all but that doesn’t mean we didn’t do anything.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Weekend wetness

Saturday was pretty frantic for me and the kids. In the morning we had places booked on a fascinating bus tour organised by Brighton & Hove Black History, as part of Black History month. This was lovely – we were welcomed with a bag of snacks and a drink on every seat of the bus, there were lots of interesting facts and stories about famous and not so famous black residents of the city over the centuries, and everyone was extremely friendly.

The bus tour arrived back at our local Indian restaurant, where there was free food laid on, but we had to leave to get to our next engagement, so they gave us a couple of takeaway boxes of delicious rice and curry, which we ate while walking along the street on the way to…

… our afternoon activity, which was a birthday outing to the Sea Life Centre for seven year old C. with an assortment of (mostly) home ed friends. Sea Life Centre was interesting – Leo surprised me by looking at a creature in a tank and saying “that’s a common cuttlefish, I think”. It was – he had learned it from the collage we made of that Guardian poster, which was hanging on our noticeboard for several weeks. We saw them feeding giant turtles and several people got quite into the rockpool display, where you can touch the animals. Afterwards we went back to C’s house for cake and rampaging.

On Sunday it rained all day. I was hoping for a quiet day in, but Leo discovered he had exactly enough pocket money for a new Metal Ages dragon, so we had to go to the toy shop. P. spent some of her savings on a fluffy dressing gown, and we picked up some milk and stuff while we were out.

Apart from that, there was quite a lot of archery with improvised rubber band and stick bows (inspired by Robin Hood), some breadmaking, and some bickering.

It’s still raining today (Monday). The kids went to MMs with Allie this morning and I don’t really know what happened there, because we did a swift bus stop changeover before she went to work and there wasn’t time to pass on any information. We have run out of cash, so the kids and I raided the penny jar for sweets money and they are now comatose in front of the telly.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Just stuff - and a powerful read for me

Tuesday

Dani went off to work and the rest of us got up slowly. The kids are spending quite a bit of time doing secret diary related activities in Leo’s bedroom at the moment. I am forbidden to read these (of course) so all I can say with any confidence (from evidence on hands!) is that Pearl is doing quite a lot of writing with a very leaky blue pen.

We watched some schools tv progs. This has been something of a feature this week and P, in particular, has been quite gripped by a series on different religions.

In the afternoon the three of us played Scrabble. Leo needs quite a lot of support as he can sometimes find reasonable words in his hand but finds it tricky placing them on the board. I was in the awkward position of not wanting to help him so much that I was essentially playing for him, but not abandoning him either. I think I got the compromise about right – and played pretty generously myself – which enabled Pearlie to win, Leo to come second and me to come third! I was impressed that they both saw the whole game through and I am more pleased that I can say that Scrabble can now be a family game.

In the later afternoon I took Pearlie and her cousin S over to yoga. This was the last such trek we shall have to make as the teacher has started an after school class at cousin S’s school (much closer to home) where Pearlie has been able to get a place. It is a bit odd for her to be going to her old school for an after school activity but it is much less tiring than the three hour trip across town in the dark and cold.

Wednesday

Dani went off to work and the kids and I got up tired and grumpy. Somehow we managed to get out the door to Pearl’s Squeezebox session where P enjoyed a really productive practice. This is often the way with P, she finds focus through working hard and cheers up. L needs the opposite usually – quiet chilling time at home.

We picked up various Doctor Who magazines and came home where P got very frustrated by a missing Tardis. The state of the house means that things are going missing, just lost in the junk. I try to sell the idea of a clearer, easier space, but neither kid is keen on getting rid of anything. Pearlie hates the idea so much that she would rather never bring another new item in to the house than entertain getting shot of some stuff. I guess this will get resolved somehow…

I went to work in the afternoon and Dani took the kids to the dentist. They both had some sealant put on back molars. Dani managed to get me registered there, which is a weight off my mind. I have wisdom teeth that need sorting and had ended up with a dentist I didn’t like or trust – not a good position to be in. The practice the kids go to is a big NHS one and they have always been fine there, so I’m hoping I can get all sorted without it costing too much.

The kids both did their capoeira classes, during which Dani left to go to the AGM at her work - she was giving a speech. Pearlie and Leo went home with their cousins after class and were minded by my brother until I came to pick them up after my work. They had feasted on Chinese takeaway chips and prevented their little cousin D from getting to sleep, so they were on a high!

We watched ‘Who do you think you are?’ which was interesting as usual. Both kids watch this programme in total silence every week, which I think means they are getting a lot out of it.

Thursday

I did my usual Thursday of morning as a cleaner and afternoon as a librarian. Dani rushed about taking P to Kids’ Club (must watch that apostrophe!) and L to the grandmothers’ house. Pearlie is looking at chocolate at Kids’ Club at the moment, and this week she worked with other kids to design a chocolate bar. Next week they are going to make adverts.

Dani spent some time on a home ed stall at a local community event. This was actually being ably staffed by some home ed kids, so she got to do some all important chatting.

Pearlie and her cousin S started the new yoga class at the school, which was fine.

Friday

Dani was at work today and the kids and I did a home ed group and a trip to the library. The group was a big busy one where people of all ages mainly rampage and chat. We stayed for a while but then headed off to a favourite branch library - two buses in the pouring rain.

I had stupidly timed it so we got to the library halfway through the lunch closure period, so we ate sandwiches in the bus shelter and played ‘Curate’s Cat’ until they opened again. The kids wanted some quiet reading time in the library and they did their best, in spite of two rather loud kids (of about ten) who were looking up ‘sexy boys’ on the internet?? Almost more distracting was a father who spoke like a foghorn and read his child picture books with extremely exaggerated voices.

We picked up some books on the Vikings as we think we might do a day a bit like our Roman’s day last year, with appropriate dress, food, games etc. Not sure if this will happen – we shall see. I don’t really know much about the Vikings, though I think Pearlie knows quite a lot. Dani was very fond of Norse myths as a child so she is keen to read some of those.

I retreated into a book once we got home. The book is ‘Name all the animals’ and it has been really unsettling for me. My mum came across it in a charity shop and read it first, before passing it to me with the cryptic message that I must read it. I almost couldn’t get through it; such were the parallels with my own experiences. It is about a girl whose brother dies when she is fifteen, in 1984, and it charts her grieving and coming out experiences through the next few years. My sister died when I was fourteen, in 1985, and I grieved and came out too, over the next few years. The people in the book live next to a suburb called Brighton. The book has a lot of stuff about religion that doesn’t parallel anything in my life, but it is incredibly well written and speaks some truths about sibling bereavement that I’ve never seen written down before. It was such a strange experience reading this book that I feel a bit like I’m dreaming at the moment. I know it will wear off but it is odd while it lasts. I remember my mum getting close to removing ‘The Bell Jar’ from my fifteen year old hands when I got all wrapped up like I am now. Sign of a good book.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Apples and apples and apples

The title is a quote from a much loved picture book we probably read hundreds of times – guesses in the comments box please.

Friday

Friday the 13th brought us ‘The End’. This is the last Lemony Snicket book in the ‘Series of Unfortunate Events’. This series has been a wonderful experience for us all. We have shared all 13 books and delighted in the resourceful Baudelaire children. I won’t say much about the book in case there are people reading who are followers yet to complete ‘The End’. Suffice to say I was moved to tears at one point and was left feeling strangely satisfied.
But we weren’t able to pick up our book until the afternoon, so we spent the morning at home pottering. Leo did another fab dragon themed picture, and Pearlie did a bit from her Alpha maths book.
We spent much of the afternoon, and evening, reading the book aloud. We worked late in the night sorting out the comments we got from our recent survey of home local home eddors. D and I managed to get them sorted into part of a report we are going to circulate locally, and share with the LEA… Debate on lists at the moment has me very edgy about the future of HE in this country. I hope that we manage to keep the freedoms we currently enjoy so much.

Saturday

Pearl and Dani set off early - on the train to Chichester, with bikes. They rode the seven miles to West Dean gardens where they enjoyed the apple day event. Pearlie was particularly taken with a machine that had revolving blades that peeled apples. Dani was taken with a swish apple corer that also cuts the apple into slices. They also picked up a lot of different varieties of apple, for a Woodcraft session Dani was running today.
Leo did some pages from a maths workbook in the morning, which was all very straightforward. He is ever more confident with maths these days. I presumed to tell him what diameter meant and he cut me off with ‘I know!” He also amazed me the other day when he casually said that he liked something ‘about fifty percent’. I asked him what he meant by that and he said, ‘you know, about half.’
In the afternoon Leo went to the theatre with his uncle J and cousin D. It was a short play - ‘The Sea Demon’s Heart’ – a cast of three and a large puppet. Leo told me the whole story when he got home, so it was obviously done very well.
I popped in to town to get the nose pads on my glasses replaced – again! This is the third pair that I’ve had on these frames.
In the evening I went out with my good mate A to a gay, Christian karaoke evening. This was a fascinating blend of Christian (lights full on in church hall and free quiche) and gay (‘YMCA’, ‘I am what I am’, and identically dressed lesbian couple singing duet). Dani had to stay home as we were without babysitter, but she gets edgy when people may assume she is Christian so she may have found it hard to relax anyway.

Sunday

I had to work on Sunday but Dani and the kids had a nice day at home. The kids did a lot of dangling their cuddly owls out the front windows on long ribbons, and swooping them along the street. Dani baked bread so I came home to the smell of warm rolls.
In the evening I went through the teetering heap of drawing, writing and so on, that was balanced in our kitchen. I filed quite a lot in our filing cabinets and felt virtuous for a bit!
Monday
Today was Kids’ Club for P and I am woefully ignorant about what she did. She then went on to the grandmothers’ house, where she did quite a lot of French and played cards.
Leo and I went to MMs – another busy session. A plumbing crisis meant that it was a pretty tiring session. There was also a bit of overly wild play involving plastic hockey sticks that led to someone getting hurt. Leo told me that it was ‘The Brightonian Revolution’. Whatever it was we diverted some people towards ‘Junior Monopoly’. Sad to see me admitting the inevitable violence involved in the overthrow of the state and steering children towards capitalism…
Dani and Leo went to Woodcraft this evening where they made badges promoting apple eating, and played Apple themed games, and ate apples! Dani was pleased that all the planned activities went down well.
Pearlie and I watched a DVD of Cadfael, which she enjoyed.
Now I must go and get a child in a bath…

Friday, October 13, 2006

Photo blog

This is a just an excuse to celebrate the fact that, after weeks of never working, the photo thing on blogger worked today. I had the bright idea of putting in the photos first, and it seemed to work!



Bunny had a bath recently!



Pearlie enjoyed making this lovely picture with wax crayon and water colour paint - water birds on a pond. P doesn't often choose to paint but this was all her own idea.


One of Leo's bed time drawings. We find these in the morning. This is a rather fine beast of some sort. I know I had a full explanation but I can't remember it.

Both kids have been doing a lot of this - P wasn't so happy to be photographed. This shows off Leo's new pjs - and the sheer amount of clutter in our house!


Another bedtime picture - a city on 'kind of scaffolding' - influenced by the 'Edge Chronicles'.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bits and Bobs and Bugs

Here is a very brief catch-up.

Saturday
Dani and Leo went to the South of England show of the Amateur Entomologist’s Society – we now have stick insects! Pearlie went to Stanmer Park and flew kites with cousins. I went to work.

Sunday
Dani and kids went in search of a farmer’s market but failed to find it. Pearl got new Roman Mystery book and Leo new Edge Chronicles book. – much walking along pavements with reading children… I went to work…

Monday
Leo and I went to MMs where we made finger puppets for a little while and Leo rampaged with friends for a long while and ate a big bowl of stewed apple. Apples had been brought in by lovely home ed mum who had climbed the tree in her pjs to pick them for the group. I had some nice chat with other parents and then went to work (again….)
Pearlie went to Kids’ Club where she played wild games and did some arty thing related to the current theme – vampires! She also took her book as she cannot be parted from it at the moment.
Leo went to Woodcraft in the evening and was soon joined by Dani and Pearlie who had to perform a mercy dash with a tape player. They all did folk dancing, which was very popular.

Tuesday
Dani went to work all day. The kids and I had a quiet day at home:
· I read the kids a fairy tale from Leo’s lovely illustrated book.
· This led to calls for story consequences – so we played for an hour or two. The resulting stories were enough to reduce the kids to hysterics – much mention of bodily functions. Quite a good parallel with fairy tales which are often the product of many story tellers over the generations. They sometimes have a strange little unconnected bit in the middle!
· Lunch and news and interesting conversation with Pearlie about North Korea. Pearlie’s plan is that all the countries should write a letter to North Korea, telling them that we are not all out to get them, so they should stop the nuclear testing. She decided that China should give the letter to North Korea, as they would be most likely to re-assure them. It’s as good a plan as any I’ve heard.
· Then a sad conversation about what happens when kids commit crime. Leo was horrified that a child could kill someone ‘What kind of child would do that?’ Hard to answer. Bottled out and turned news off when story of serial rapist of old women came on…
· Arty stuff. Leo made a two colour fimo slug. Pearlie made pictures with wax crayons and water colour paints.
· Car racing. Pearlie invented a system to determine the fastest car and recorded the results on charts.
· Then off to yoga for Pearlie and her cousin S. I fitted in some good thinking time on the beach while the girls did their class.
· Leo played with cousin D for an hour or so until Dani picked him up on her way home from work.
· Evening of tv – Doctor Who, Autumn Watch and Horizon. Late bed for kids and still later bed for me…

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Dog poo, dragonology, and the Doctor

Wednesday

As no day of the week is now complete without a home ed group activity, Pearlie went to Squeezebox in the morning. Allie and Leo cunningly went to the library while she was there and continued reading their bedtime book where they had left off.

We swapped mummies at lunchtime, and I worked solidly in the house for a couple of hours, making no visible impact on it at all. I took Leo and cousin D to capoeira, then gave them tea at our house while Pearlie and cousin S did their class, accompanied by S’s mum.

Spurred on by the powerful incentive of dog poo all over the bathroom floor (from cousin D’s boot), I finally made an impression on the house, while the kids helpfully watched Doctor Who and Autumn Watch. Allie was home in time to watch Who do you think you are? with us, so we all learned something about the genocidal persecution of the Armenian population in Turkey in the early twentieth century.

Thursday

Yesterday seemed to disappear in a blur of rainy journeys. Allie took a much needed day off work, and I took both kids to Kids’ Club, as it was my turn on the rota. We went birdwatching in the local park, where we were led very rapidly through the undergrowth by an expert eight-year-old in the group, to discover robins, blue tits, blackbirds, and even bats (though I didn’t see any!).

After we got home, Pearlie and I set off in the rain to buy wellies and some food at the big out of town supermarket. She added up all the prices on the way round the shop, and pretty much agreed with the till at the end. On the way home we suddenly realised we were going to be late for her doctor’s appointment, so we had to rush back with heavy shopping bags, then sit in the doctors’ waiting room for twenty minutes.

We got our referral to the podiatry department, dashed home for a bite to eat, then out again to drop P. off at Woodcraft Folk. They made sandwiches in rehearsal for a weekend camp planned for the end of October. P. is not sure whether she wants to go to this or not. She’d kind of rather I came along too, which I could do in terms of practicalities, but it’s not that kind of camp – nobody else will have their mum there – and I don’t want to be looking over her shoulder all the time and thereby deprive her of the actual experience. On the other hand, I went on a school camping trip at about her age and was terribly homesick, so I’m a bit worried that she’s just not ready to go without us yet.

Meanwhile, Allie and Leo had been reading the Edge Chronicles – they have now finished The Winter Knights, and are a bit stuck without a copy of the next book, the newly published Clash of the Sky Galleons. They also did a jigsaw of the British Isles together, he did some writing, and he enrolled both of us as dragonology students, giving us the task of making notes on each of his dragons while P. was at Woodcraft.

Friday

I was at work all day today, so my knowledge is a bit sketchy. The kids worked hard on getting completely soaked in the rain as often as possible, in celebration of having new wellies. Leo managed to achieve this even before having a wee or eating any breakfast this morning.

They went to the big home ed group, getting soaked in the rain on the way, then played outside in the rain in their dry change of clothes while they were there. Then they got soaked in the rain on the way home.

The evening was a Doctor Who fest, as I had managed to track down a copy of Doctor Who Adventures for Leo and Doctor Who Battles in Time for Pearlie in my lunch hour. No Autumn Watch, so we followed Doctor Who with Say No to the Knife – unsurprisingly, women who had access to some decent talking therapy chose not to have plastic surgery after all.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The three great stimulants

Title is a Joni Mitchell track. In her song the stimulants are artifice, brutality and innocence - it's a great song from a great album 'Dog eat dog' - 1986 I think. In my case today it has been tea, paracetamol and codeine - as I am feeling grotty.

Dani went to work today. The kids and I had a lazy morning at home - I seem to have a cold that gives me spells of feeling like I have a vice over my face, and spells of just craving sleep.

Leo started the day with feeding his dragons. He makes them a bowl of wet tissue and cardboard (sometimes with acorns!) and arranges them around the bowl. Then he writes a few sentences in his log book. Dani says that he got the idea of this from his Dragonology book. It is very nice. He decorates the pages with scratches and scorch marks made by the dragons.

Pearlie decided to have a go at the nonagram puzzle from the local paper. It is quite tough, one of those things where you have to make as many words as you can from a selection of letters. Then she went off to hunt for a missing triceratops. She didn’t find it but she did find some big foam tiles that fit together like a jigsaw and she spent some time make a big box to sit in.

I spent some time putting a selection of tracks on my MP3 player and listening to old vinyl. It amazes me that songs I haven’t heard for fifteen years, or more, are all there in my head. I guess I spent hours listening to them in my teenage years. I can’t remember half as much of anything I was studying at that age.

After lunch we popped to the park as we guessed that some other home eddors would be there. Both the kids played happily with various others and I had a cup of tea and a chat.

We didn’t stay too long in the park as we had to get home for a snack before Pearl went to yoga. I dropped Leo off with his cousin D for a play and took cousin S and Pearlie across town to a leisure centre. Cousin S had done a short summer course of yoga but it was the first formal lesson Pearlie had ever had in yoga. She loved it but was a bit perplexed at the lying still on her back bit – something she has never really done! The class had only three kids so we shall ask around and see if any friends want to join. The teacher seemed very nice and calm – as I guess she should be with all that yoga! She told me that Pearl was 'very good' at it - those lax ligaments I guess.

The whole trip took about three hours – an hour of bus and walking at each end of the class. This is the only drawback, as I can see that being rather unappealing in the dark, cold winter months. I guess it will be a test of how much the girls like yoga.

Got home to dinner waiting for us and all watched Autumn Watch before bed. We are all very worried about the baby seal who seems to be being rejected by his mother…

Monday, October 02, 2006

Here comes the rain again

Title today relates to the weather and is one of my teenage favourites, recently returned to me by the acquisition of a record player. Hoorah!!


This morning Dani went off to work and Leo and I dropped Pearlie off at Kid’s Club. They were doing drawing each other today. Pearlie has a passionate hatred of drawing people – so she and another child did the wordsearches that were on the back of the drawing paper. Later on she joined in with three boys of 8, 10 and 12 and they made an island of sand in the huge puddle that had formed just outside the door. The weather was really fierce here today - wind and rain. Pearlie said that the island was ‘Cow Island’ – in the shape of a cow, complete with udder apparently. One of the best things about HE is Pearlie’s re-discovered pleasure in having boys as playmates.

Leo and I went off to MMs for another busy session. It wasn’t quite as busy as last week, but still plenty of people. We did a fun experiment where a peeled hard boiled egg gets sucked into a milk bottle, made smoothies, painted and made jigsaws. One of the adults had brought loads of fruit, juice, milk, yogurt drinks etc and most of the kids made super healthy snacks. Poor Leo kept up his current pattern of injury – he just seems to be going through a real spate of scrapes and bangs. Today he skidded over in a puddle (roof had leaked) and soaked all his clothes and bruised his elbow. Later he shut his thumb in a door hinge. I was impressed by his ability to keep going in the face of all this bad luck. He paced himself with some drawing and reading and was thrilled with a plastic eagle we got for 50p at the charity shop next door. I also returned with 50ps worth of wool for Dani – hopefully some hat material for kids.

We all flopped at home in the afternoon – as I didn’t have to go to work. I fell asleep while Tintin faced some danger or another. Leo cut up cardboard and tied things together with string as well as rattling off a few drawings. Pearlie had a good snuggle and finished a rather super home made jigsaw – a present for my dad.


Working on her lovely collage jigsaw Posted by Picasa


Just before it was cut into many pieces! Posted by Picasa


Change in Leo's style here - influenced by 'The Edge Chronicles'. Posted by Picasa



In the evening Leo went to Woodcraft. It had been planned as a session in the woods – but the weather made that impossible. Not too sure what went on – but he came home with a big bit of paper wrapped round his arm and declared it ‘great’. He then had to feed his dragons and write up his dragon keeping diary.


The dragons eating their tea Posted by Picasa

Dani made bread and I made scones - and risotto for dinner. The kids and I watched Autumn Watch – we all liked Spring Watch - and the kids danced to the theme music.

Dani is busy doing calculations for her latest knitting project and we’re listening to my Tracy Chapman album from 1988. It is great to have my vinyl accessible again!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Oh, behind again....

Once again we have fallen too far behind for a proper catch up – here’s a little bit for each day.

Wednesday

Pearlie went to Squeezebox in the morning – where she had a good session. Leo and I did a bit of shopping and then went into the bus company office to get some leaflets about days out. We found a possible Christmas treat to Monkey World in Dorset.
In the afternoon the kids went to capoeira.

Thursday


I did cleaning next door and then went to work. Leo went to kid’s club with Pearlie, as Dani was on the rota as parent helper. They did some bird watching, which was good. But Leo managed to get injured twice – once when P hit him round the head with a big stick. This was by accident – she was aiming at a ball!
In the afternoon Dani and Pearlie went to the chiropodist. Poor P had been complaining about painful hard skin on the soles of her feet. It turned out she had corns, which the chiropodist removed with a devilish instrument. Poor P was pretty scared but managed to get through it. The chiropodist said that P shouldn’t have corns, of course. She told us we need to get P referred to the hospital for biomechanical assessment – to look at the way she walks. She said that both Dani and Pearlie have ligamentous laxity. Anyone knowing anything of this then please do tell us!
Later in the afternoon they did some hama beads, which everyone enjoyed. One of the things I like about Hama is that it is fun for adults as well as children.

Friday

Dani worked for the day, and I took the kids on a trip to the Natural History Museum. This had been specifically requested by Leo, who wanted to see the Dinosaur Jaws exhibition. I was congratulating myself on bringing the whole day in for under twenty quid but then realised that we had to pay for the exhibition – adding another eighteen pounds! We had a very good time at the museum, as usual. We did:
Fossil marine reptiles (as usual!)
Arthropods
Dinosaurs
The discovery centre - where P showed the explainers some of the bones from an owl pellet she has dissected and Leo fell in love with a stuffed puma.

Saturday

It is a bit sad that the kids’ trampolining class has folded, but quite nice to have relaxing Saturday mornings. Leo and I went to town where he bought a copy of ‘Midnight Over Sanctaphrax’.He is hoping to build up his own collection of all the books, as we have read most of them by borrowing from the library. Later in the day we found a cheap second hand copy of ‘Stormchaser’ on the internet too.
Dani and Pearlie had an enjoyable time doing some of the geometry that Dani’s dad has sent Pearlie. After that they went for a bike ride.
Leo and I had a brief visit to the park and then we all ate a hurried tea as we were off to see some

Fireworks!!

The fireworks were free, which was great, but came with funfair. We took enough cash for one ride for the kids and some chips, and they patiently waited the hour and half for the show to start. We had cousins D and S with us for a while but they were too tired to wait. The fireworks were great - very dramatic. D and I had our arms around one child each, and we could feel their little hearts thumping with each bang.

Sunday

I was working today. Dani, Pearlie and Leo went to an event for Black History Month, where there was capoeira roda. It was a bit of wild roda, so Pearlie didn’t fancy playing, but Leo had a little go.
Tonight there was a great thunderstorm and Leo went out to float a message in a bottle in the gutter?? Pearlie rushed her bath so she could go out and get cold and wet too. In between the wildness P wanted an explanation of the thunder and lightening. I found a short answer in one of Leo’s usborne science books.

I am full of good intentions to actually blog daily this week!