- Rest of Wednesday – P & L resolved their differences over the day’s plan and we photographed the planks washed up on the beach, went swimming and popped in at the library
- Thursday – much less eventful Kids Club session for both kids – new topic is Resistance and Revolution (!) Leo was angelic at parents’ meeting for P’s Woodcraft group in the evening
- Friday – I went to work. Allie already blogged happy street playing
- Saturday – Park trip with cousin B. Some ghost hunting, some football.
- Sunday – The kids and I went on a lovely country walk with the good folks of Craggers. Around 5 miles, from top of Eastbourne Hill, down and along the coast to Birling Gap, where there was a little bit of time to play with more of the washed up wood. Allie rewarded us with a delicious banana cake.
- Monday – Kids Club again for both kids, as Allie was on the rota. P. went over to the grandmothers, while Leo and I did some more chemistry in the afternoon. Spray starch and iodine experiment didn’t work (it was supposed to be invisible ink) but the other invisible inks were better, and we dropped some iodine on a potato, where it did do its thing with the starch there.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
The kids have been out playing in the street this morning. They have a foam plank on a rope, which they tie to the upstairs front window and swing to each other. The neighbour (who is a prison inspector) says that it is like the swingers that prisoner use to pass things between cells! But, they are getting looks from someone working on a house up the road.
Allie: "I expect he's just wondering why you're not in school."
Pearl: "Because we've got better things to do!"
I'll do a proper update later, maybe, if I don't get seduced back into a story...
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I have felt like a slightly cracked ping pong ball getting thwacked around…
I was an extra helper at Kids’ Club in the morning, which, though the science workshop was good, was not without incident.
The twenty minutes at home in which I was attempting eat lunch, iron and get changed into work clothes, and make sure I had some correct paperwork for a meeting, was also spent with a very sad, crying boy. I was glad that Dani was the adult I was leaving him with and that I knew he’d be comforted and calmed in the end.
But, at that moment, I felt like joining him in the wailing and fury.
My concentration was sketchy at the important meeting to which I raced. I have a lot of different priorities in my head at the moment – relating to all areas of life, and I feel like I can’t give anything my proper attention.
All the while my writing group has planted the seeds of several stories and I’m being constantly disturbed by the whispers of characters I want to write. (Not actual whispers, you understand, before anyone starts to worry about my mental health). I keep imagining a room, silent – in which I’m writing all the day through. Unlikely to happen…
The time of year is probably not helping with this. If I could just have a few hours of sunshine I think everything would feel less difficult and painful.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
We’ve just watched the first part of the Summerhill drama, which we all enjoyed. The kids say that they wouldn’t want to go there, because they’d miss us – which is good, because we’d miss them too! But they like the look of the grounds. Mind you, it isn’t always high summer at Summerhill, is it?
Leo spent some time on
Pearlie went to Kids’ Club, where they made top trumps and drew pictures of animals in their natural habitats. There was a graffiti clean up squad at work in the park and some of the kids made “Save the Graffiti!” placards but were too shy to go out and chant.
Leo went over to the grandmothers’ house, where he did some cool creating. This was His Dark Materials themed, so I don’t entirely understand it as I haven’t read any of the books yet. Apparently it involved a soul eater – I think!
Pearlie and Dani went on a fruitless trip to the sorting office to pick up a parcel that they’d failed to deliver to us. Unfortunately, it was somewhere else in town, not having made it back to the office yet!
I went to an extra meeting at work and then a work trip to another library. I wasn’t actually due to go to work at all today! This is all adding to my time owing and I need to find a time to take it back.
Pearlie is currently working on colouring a lovely Eurolights design, with some watercolour pencils. She says we can blog it when its finished.
Here’s some lovely Homer wisdom:
“Lisa, if you don’t like your job, you don’t strike! You just go in every day and do a really half-arsed job.”
Sunday, January 20, 2008
We all came home for tea and a chat. Pearlie and my dad did a bit of investigation of pendulums, and she is planning to produce a graph showing the relationship between length and period. Meanwhile, Leo dashed off this lovely picture.
Today started with a bit of a panic when we realised we had slept in until 11 – only half an hour before Allie had to leave for work! The rest of us decided to get up a bit more slowly and then to do our own penny hike in our neighbourhood. We know about penny hikes from Woodcraft Folk – you start out walking and toss a coin at each corner to decide which way to go. It was lovely – we discovered an alleyway between two streets that we had never seen before, and explored a driveway we’ve been wanting to investigate for ages.
Later, Pearlie went swimming by herself at the local pool, where she bumped into a couple of girls she knows from round and about and had a nice play.
Leo has taken to putting out of order signs on everything. These are getting more and more bizarre. Here’s a selection for your amusement!
Friday, January 18, 2008
The builders were great. They were with us by 9.30am for a quick look. They went away and spoke to the plumber (who assured them that he’d thoroughly tested everything and it wasn’t his work) and came back to squirt water all round the place in the shower room. It seems that some of the tiles have shifted a bit in the corner where the shower is and the grouting has cracked. They’ll be back to re-do it asap. It is amazing that just a little crack can let through so much water but I saw it happen! If I regularly used the shower I’d have seen the problem and (tbh) would probably have suggested to D that we have a go at re-grouting it ourselves. But I am pleased that they’ll do it because we paid for it and to have it crack after just a couple of months is not good.
I’d been building up a scenario where the false kitchen ceiling was holding gallons of water that was about to come down on our heads – so it was a relief to find that this was not so!
While D and I dealt with the leak stuff the kids went off to a science workshop at Kids’ Club. The guy did some activities about balance, inflated a balloon with carbon dioxide (which is apparently one and half times as heavy as air), made film canister rockets with fizzy vit c tablets and water, did the raisins in lemonade experiment and made a coke/mentos fountain. We’ve done some of that before but the kids liked it. He’s coming again to one of the sessions next week.
I managed to squeeze in a bit of work on my short story but was a rather distracted by builders!
I went off to work for the afternoon and evening.
Leo spent the rest of the day (after Kids’ Club) reading a new book he had bought himself, which had finally arrived from an Amazon Marketplace seller. He has been very taken with the TV programme and was thrilled to find that they were based on books by Jamie Rix – a favourite author. He came down at about 11pm last night to tell us he’d finished it and to fetch his diary so that he could document the fact.
My mum came over in the afternoon to do a bit of French with Pearlie. She has got a referral to the eye hospital to get her cataracts operated on. I’m very pleased about this because her deteriorating sight has been getting in the way of her life. She goes to a weekly Italian evening class at the university and has been finding walking in the dark very tricky. And it’s been getting harder for her to read for any length of time, which is a real hardship for my mum. It sounds a bit scary but Dani’s mum had it done years ago and it worked a treat, so that’s a comfort. Doubtless I shall not be able to resist using all the medical databases at work and attempting to read papers I don’t fully understand (or even understand at all!) but that’s what I always do! Somehow I’m never satisfied with the little leaflets and basic Q and A web sites that patients get offered. Let's just take a moment to appreciate the NHS....
I came home to find people watching Fawlty Towers and eating pasta. So I joined in with both.
It’s raining again here but we need to go out to get a birthday pressie. Another cup of tea first, I think.
Oh, a quick housework update! The kids are doing well with taking responsibility for their own laundry - keeping it in a basket, washing it in the machine, putting it on an airer in their rooms and then putting it away. (I will iron individual items on request.) Dani and I are the ones who keep running out of underwear! People are also doing quite a few little jobs like washing up and sweeping floors. The system of small payments for all jobs is working quite well for all of us at the mo. It is amazing that it actually does make me feel more positive about cleaning the loo if I know I've got 27p for doing so. (Yes, I know it's my money in the first place!)
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Leo went off to Kids’ Club, where there was a show and tell session. He took his cuddly stoat, which he got for Christmas. There had obviously been some planning going on between the kids, as various other children had brought along cuddly creatures. This led to a collaborative puppet show style of play involving all the creatures – written and presented by the kids.
You can't quite see the stoat here. He and Leo's precious rabbit are good friends and they spend a lot of time like this!
I was very pleased to hear that this Wednesday group is going so well. It involves mostly children at the younger end of the Kids’ Club range, which is bound to need a bit more adult support. But it seems to be working. Let’s hope I haven’t jinxed it now!
Pearlie and I came home and, at her request, made chocolate cake. Actually, my role was just to have a recipe in my head (I do) and pass things and wash up a bit. Pearlie popped out to the shop for white chocolate buttons to decorate the top. It was very yummy!
While the cake was cooking, and cooling, we played lots of games of cards. Pearlie likes rummy at the moment, and she thrashed me. We also played a game that P calls spit – a kind of simplified racing patience style of game. Pearlie declared that this game must have MSG in it, because you just want to play it more and more once you start!
I had to go to work for the afternoon and evening.
I got home tonight to find Pearlie just winning a 35mm camera on ebay, which she is very pleased about. Dani and Leo were playing casino (another card game) that is one of my favourites.
I finished reading The Flight of the Silver Turtle to Pearlie tonight. We both loved it. Pearlie has plans to write to the author to tell him.
Leo and Dani finished reading Stories from the
Leo is desperate for a book to arrive that he bought on Amazon marketplace – The Subtle Knife – the sequel to Northern Lights. Sadly, other things keep arriving – but not his book.
Pearlie is reading Tennis Shoes, but not enjoying it as much as other books by that author.
Kids have got a science workshop at Kids’ Club tomorrow – hope it’s good.
Pearlie and I played chess, and then we all played rummy too. There was lots of chatting.
Then, mid-afternoon, we walked (in the pouring rain) down to the venue for the kids' new writing workshop thingy. We were approaching this was completely open minds and no plan to make it a permanent group. But, actually, the kids both enjoyed it a lot and want to go again next week. The facilitator was amazed that six people aged between seven and ten would want to sit and write quietly for a long stretch but it's a self-selected group of people who like that short of thing! Leo wrote a story and Pearl a poem.
I had a wonderful hour in a cafe. I took a notebook and, as advised by the woman running my short story course, earwigged conversations in a shocking manner. I got a really juicy one too!
In the evening I walked P down to her swimming club. She found it very cold again and I'm not sure if she'll stick with it. They just plough up and down really, once they can swima couple of strokes reliably. The more advanced lanes are all racing. Pearlie likes to twirl about and get things off the bottom and otherwise enjoy the water. We shall see.
I went to my sort story course and that was great. I haven't done an evening class for years and I'm just loving it. The chance to get away from everything else and just focus on one thing, is really liberating. Mind you, I think the resulting story telling in my head all the time is probably the cause of recent absent-mindedness. Yesterday I lost the pot in which we keep the group money. Dani found it under the sink, where I had NO memory of putting it.
Right, off to drop Leo somewhere and make a cake with Pearlie.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
It wasn’t just the article in G2 today that persuaded me to come off Facebook. I’ve been mulling it over for a while, ever since I realised that I was starting to feel that Facebook was just another job to be done. Then I’d go in, do a silly quiz and decide it was all ok. But, I felt like I was being a rubbish Facebook friend, blowing hot and cold with the thing, so I made a snap decision and de-activated my account.
I’m bleary eyed with tiredness tonight. It is a very busy time of year at work – entry meter totals over 11000 last week and the weekend was non-stop. I’m on a new working group too, as well as trying to just keep up with regular stuff.
Let’s see what snippets I’ve got to share…
Pearlie enjoyed having a friend round to play on Friday afternoon/evening. This involved a lot of leading each other around with blindfolds on – no idea why!
Leo and Dani went to the park with his watercolours and sketch pads on Saturday to have a go at painting trees.
Dani went out on Sunday to be interviewed by someone for her memories of the Section 28 campaign, for a local history event being created by Brighton Ourstory. I’m being interviewed too. I keep meaning to dig out my diaries but I suspect that they have little in the way of useful detail and much more along the lines of, “she was there tonight, but she never looked at me once…” I can only remember meetings by where I snogged after them. Ah, the joys of youth! What is rather odd is that on lots of occasions Dani was there, and I was there, but we weren’t there together.
Pearl seems to have had a lovely time at the grandmothers’ today – doing some French (they’re using a book called Escalier now but I think they’re also intending to keep reading C’est Facile) as well as eating bread warm from the excellent local baker and playing cards.
Leo had a busy day today. In the morning I helped him find pictures and info about stoats and weasels for him to stick on an information folder. He told me it was going to be a “mustelid fact file”, to which I answered “a what???” Leo had been reading an animals’ book in his room and, typically for him, he had picked up lots of info about his current favourite. He did cutting and sticking to make the file, with a few words of his own here and there.
We also went through the drawer of puzzle books. I was thinking we could have a weed, but we seem to have lots of books, with just a few things still to do, that people are sure they will do one day! Leo did some sums from a witchy/wizardy themed thing and then word searches at the speed of light. Little kids’ word searches are a bit of a joke for someone who is happily reading Phillip Pullman books but he enjoyed finding extra words and so on.
I had to rush in to work early for a meeting, as soon as Dani got in. In the afternoon, she and Leo did some experiments with the chemistry set he got for Christmas. They got the little spirit burner going and learned:
- that you can dissolve things faster in warm water
- you can recover something from a solution by evaporating the water
- that there is nothing dissolved in distilled water.
I brought in some children’s books on animal rights tonight, thinking that Pearlie, in particular, would be interested. Actually, they just upset her. Poor old P is very upset and angered by the injustices of the world at the moment. I think I remember being similarly pre-occupied at her age. I can distinctly remember my teacher keeping me back after school to tell me not to tell the other kids about nuclear weapons.
Now I’ve got to print off some writing to share with the virtual strangers in my new writing class. Nervous, me?
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Life has prevented blogging this week. Let’s see what I can remember…
Leo has started a second session each week at Kids’ Club. He is at this session without
When Leo first started at Kids’ Club I think it was great that he had
The kids started back at Squeezebox, working on a Feist song that Pearlie got on a Christmas cd.
Dani and I have nearly finished our collaborative annual home ed report to send to the Local Authority. I’m leaving Dani to lay it up, using Pagemaker, which is her favourite dtp software.
We are all very happy to have a trip to St Ives to look forward to at this gloomy time of the year. St Ives is my second favourite place in the world, after
Pearlie has been moved up at swimming and is now in a colder pool. This is tough on her as she gets cold very quickly, but hopefully they’ll be moving around enough to keep warm. The showers were also broken and only giving cold water – so that didn’t help!
Leo has finished reading Northern Lights. I think I’m next on the list but I’m really supposed to be reading short stories as I’m doing a four session evening class in short story writing. I had the first session last Tuesday and it was great. I encountered a teenager that I know through the world of home ed and a woman that my first (and wildest) girlfriend used to babysit for – twenty years ago! The class was a strange environment but it was wonderful to immerse myself in something so self-indulgent.
I wrote ten or twelve stories years ago, when I did a Certificate in Creative Writing at the
Dani is knitting a gorgeous waistcoat for Leo.
Oh, and having just been pleased to have dropped group commitments we’re thinking of trying out a children’s fiction writing workshop! This is just to see what it’s like, really, but at £1 per session and a 7-12 year old age limit, it is too tempting not to try.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
A big enough bedroom for each child to be happy spending some time there enjoying their own company and spreading out their stuff without everyone else falling over it. This is especially useful when people are not in the best of moods.
TVs in those bedrooms! I know this is meant to be the cardinal sin in the book of modern parenting but, not surprisingly really, the kids don't actually spend their whole lives in there glued to the box. They choose to watch in their rooms if they want to be alone or if no-one else wants to watch what they're watching. It means that I can happily say that I don't want Mortified or Basil Brush on in the living room and they will go away and watch elsewhere.
Our living room and kitchen are part of the same big space. This means that the person cooking or washing-up isn't banished from the place where everyone else is chatting, or just being.
The kitchen has enough worktops to cool scones, make tea. and stack the dirty trays etc. - all at the same time. You can put out four plates and serve up on to them, while the chopping board is still sitting there too! This will be hard for you to understand unless you've lived with one small worktop and a family of four. It is liberating.
The living space is cosy in the evenings as the TV, PC and tea making facilities are all in the one room. Oh, and the sofa is there too so I can fall asleep in front of a late film while D's typing away.
Pearlie having her own shower is great too. She wakes in her own space, watches a bit of TV, maybe does something else for a bit, and then can shower and dress right there - a civilised start to the day.
One of our chief causes of rows used to be arguing over bathroom access in the evening, when people always seemed to want to brush their teeth at the same exact moment. Now people can do that in two different bathrooms! Hooray!
Dani and I are back on the top floor to sleep, which feels much better than the basement. I like to see the starry sky before I sleep, and wonder what people are doing in the flats behind our house.
All in all it feels like a Christmas present I'll enjoy for years to come.
And it is a much calmer swing this year. I can see more experienced home edders laughing when I say we have finally realised that we were *seriously* over committed with group activities before. I think we pushed it right to the limit before realising that there was just not enough of that slow paced, pottering time at home, when interesting things happen – and good conversation pops up.
So, Monday now starts with Dani off to work, and Pearlie off to Kids’ Club. She sewed a little hacky sac thing (no idea how you spell that and can’t be bothered to check!), caught up with friends and shared a four day diary of wildlife she’d spotted during December. Leo and I get a couple of hours or so at home alone – a bit calmer than our Mondays used to be.
Leo and I spent an hour on
We then settled down to do some drawing together, at Leo’s request. He invited me to try out his new pens and pastel pencils. They are lovely, but I find it very hard to ‘let go’ when drawing and it’s all very stilted. He rattled off a few pictures and then we walked over to the grandmothers’ house.
We had lunch with them and then I left Leo there and came home.
Pearlie and Dani were home from Kids’ Club and work. We discussed this vague idea about IGCSEs and Pearlie said she wasn’t that keen after all. She’d like to wait a few years and see – so that’s what we’ll do.
At the moment
While Pearlie was poring over maps, and Dani was poring over a tricky email, we watched a Midsomer Murders we’d taped at New Year.
Leo was dropped back to us – very tired but happy. He’d constructed something elaborate out of playing cards. We’re waiting for the photos.
In the evening, Dani and I put the boxes of Christmas decs in the loft. Leo dug out a couple of little lego kits, as well as reading some more of his current book. He’s more than half way through Northern Lights, by Philip Pullman, and has told me several details that are different in the book.
Oh, I forgot to mention that I brought home a couple of Noel Streatfield’s from my mum’s stock – The Growing Summer and The Painted Garden – for Pearlie.
Right, off to sort laundry, make breakfasts and help remember the scale of E major.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
These done on small pieces of paper (A6). The lower one is drawn from memory - it is a tea room and fountain from a museum in Edinburgh. Pearlie says it is during a fire drill, as there are coats and bags but no people.
We've had a day of walking in the rain to B&Q (paint for our bedroom and some tiles), eating Christmas cake with the grandmothers' (went over to deliver birthday pressie), eating cheese scones and deciding to re-jig the report to the Local Authority. We have done a report for the last couple of years and it's been an uncomfortable hotch potch of divisions by child and by 'subject'. We've decided to do a month by month thing that we'll actually want to keep for ourselves as well as do the job for them.
Got to go now and read bedtime book before bickering escalates further.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
Leo drew this picture this evening. It is an engine. He used a new set of pens we bought him for Christmas and added colour with new pastel pencils. Click to enlarge the picture and you'll be able to see the detail better. Leo still loves to draw and does so every day. He has done this since he was a tiny toddler.
The last thing I would like to mention is a minor achievement by me and Dani. We managed to put up a curtain rail in Pearl's room. This may not sound very impressive but our house walls are so unpredictable that you can never tell what will happen if you drill a hole. Well, Dani (as lead hole driller) and I (as assistant rawl plug mangler) drilled eight holes and so far the curtains have been up for four nights without crashing down. I'm just waiting for the crash now I've boasted about it...
Friday, January 04, 2008
Dani has been
Going to work
Altering a cardigan so it fits me better
Going to a meeting for one of the kids' groups
Making a blog digest for us to use in compiling our report to the local authority
Allie has been
Going to work
Watching old Poirots on the TV
Sorting out another free trial on Education City. I'm still not very keen, but they have some French games that P enjoyed.
Encouraging everyone else to think about a week in Cornwall in the spring, which looks like it might happen!
Pearlie has been
Weaving with a little IKEA loom that we found in room tidying.
Making up an album of her recent photos. Pearlie has a current craze for photography with disposable cameras. She got another one for Christmas.
Reading Noel Streatfield. She was inspired by the boxing day adaptation of Ballet Shoes and read that in a few days. I found her When the Siren Wailed at work, which I think I read to her a few years ago and which she is now enjoying herself. She whizzed through The Secret of the Crocodiles.
Doing a few Education City games.
Leo has been
Making a new graphic novel in a plain note book.
Reading all sorts of things at once.
Playing generally with cuddly creatures, small figures, Sarah Jane Adventures toys - and string etc!
We all went to The Golden Compass, which we enjoyed a lot. I think we might read the books to the kids as bedtime books.
Dani and Leo are enjoying a Chrestomanci book and Pearlie and I are loving The Flight of the Silver Turtle.
Off to cook Leo a Quorn burger - his current breakfast favourite!