Wednesday, 31 December 2008

New Year Past and Present....

When I was a little girl we always went to my nan and grandad's house in the East End of London to see in the New Year. My cousins and I used to love it, not only was it the last family get together of the season, but we got to stay up late! As midnight approached we all used to go into the front street and be armed with metal dustbin lids, two each, and as midnight struck we used to bash our lids together and my uncle used to shout Happy New Year. My nan's neighbours would come out and it was a great moment every year. I was laying in bed this morning pondering where all those dustbin lids came from, my nan certainly didn't have enough bins for two each - there was quite a few of us - presumably my memories have left me with an impression there were more lids than there actually were in reality or my uncle's and dad 'borrowed' them from the neighbours!

As time passed and we inevitably preferred to go out with our mates at New Year, years were spent in the pub squashed, merry, and trying to hang onto your drink that had taken half an hour to buy and trying to avoid the bloke who came out once a year to snog girls that he would usually have no chance with!

By the millennium New Year dh & I had a 10 month old baby and went into our little back yard to watch the fireworks our neighbour inevitably set off - he went all out for millennium - and drank champagne.

And for the past several years we have stayed in, neither of the girls enjoy parties and so we watch Jools Holland's Annual Hootenanny, dh is usually asleep and I wake him up just before midnight. Last year however my neighbour from two doors away was rather inebriated and flashed her chest at dh through the front window at midnight, being a rather buxom lady he woke up rapidly :0) Her 80+ year old mother was also extremely unsteady, having decided she no longer needed a walking stick , and was unable to get up her stairs - she lives next door - so dh and I (me in pjs) ended up in the street, singing and shouting out Happy New Year and pushing and shoving a drunk OAP upstairs to bed.

It seems I've come full circle, back out in the front street at New Year!

So whatever your age, and whatever you do, here's wishing you all a very happy and peaceful New Year x

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday time. Hettie was up at 5.30am, which is much better the the usual 4am, and sat with my in laws chatting until 6.45 when we woke up Issy!

Issy checked the mince pie and brandy had gone from by the fire - there was just half a carrot left. Present opening commenced. The dog had to wait for his walk, and as some pretty horrible smells were eminating from him dh hurried us along after an hour.
Everyone round for dinner which was lovely - we ate, drank and were merry - and we had a smashing day!

Mmm, where to start!

Bear boots!

Just what I wanted - its a robotic dog thingy!

Just what I wanted!

Guinea Pig calendar!

This seems to be a Bag Puss outfit!

An obscure book, about an obscure guitar legend - just what dh wanted!

These are hot water bottles - which looked pretty funny in the microwave!

Oh and me - well I got a lovely set of Global chef knives from my mum & dad, and a years membership to English Heritage from my in-laws - brill. Dh bought me a lovely jewellery box which I really wanted and lots of other bits, including the Mamma Mia dvd which I watched last night and cried with laughter, and sang along - loudly!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

The Best Gift Ever ...

... I got this gift today, a little early, but still I have to say my gift this year was the best I have ever received. In the midst of the mayhem of tidying and organising on Christmas Eve, and Issy's extreme over excitement, I went in search of Hettie to give me a hand. When I opened her bedroom door - there she was, laying on her bed, engrossed in a book, so intent she didn't hear me come in.

This may not mean much to other mother's, but to a mother of a child age 10 with severe dyslexia, this was absolutely fantastic. I was so shocked I couldn't speak. Never have I seen her read a book, so this was a first for us and a brilliant present - nothing else she can ever give me will mean more than that sight of her engrossed in a book.

So, a very Merry Christmas to you all - keep your faith, because sometimes the impossible becomes possible. Maybe it's my own little Christmas miracle!

The Best Gift Ever ...

Saturday, 20 December 2008

You Know Its Nearly Christmas...

... when you lose it and have a tantrum at your family. Dh doesn't just have the horrible virus everyone else has got, no he has MAN FLU. The girls sat in pjs watching tv and playing Wii until 1pm. Did I moan, no. I rapidly wrote all the Christmas cards and rushed off to post them, bought nice fresh bread and cooked a variety of fillings for everyone for lunch, wrestled the rest of the deccies up and stepped over things.

I dosed everyone, and cuddled and cooed. I cleaned the windows, including frames, in the front room - admittedly dh helped a bit, but he huffed and coughed loudly while doing so - and I hoovered and dusted. I ordered and paid for Chinese take out and went to have a cuppa.

Dh disappeared and then a loud crash in the back room, and silence. No-one shouted so I thought I'd best investigate. The Christmas tree had fallen over and landed on Isobel, who was quietly sobbing in a corner that the tree had tried to 'eat her', Hettie was engrossed in the tv and dh was deaf to anything - deafness due to man flu I expect. As no-one had carried any left overs to the kitchen there was a fair amount of rice all over which the dog was rapidly trying to hoover up before he got sent out of the room.

I sent Hettie for dh, comforted Issy and explained the tree doesn't like to be moved around and then directed Hettie to clear away. Dh picked up the tree while I disappeared to clean the kitchen. So why did I have a tantrum, well I returned to find dh disappeared, girls engrossed in tv and tree deccies everywhere.

I flipped and screamed Mrs Darling's one touch rule, ie while you're touching it you may as well put it back where it came from (bit basic explanation but you get my drift) While I stomped around the house ranting about tidying up the girls re-decorated the tree, tidied up in double quick time, went to bed and dh mumbled something impolite about Mrs D and her one touch rule under his breath.

Now all is calm, girls in bed, dh in bath sniffing and me - well a glass of wine and plotting new house rules for the new year!

Friday, 19 December 2008

So I have a bit of a Plan!

I haven't got it quite sorted down to a daily schedule type plan, but nevertheless it's a plan for Issy. Hettie's is pretty much sorted already, but I have warned Issy that the New Year we start, up early and work done, no arguments. And after some recent posts here it may be a bit surprising :0)

I've been looking at everything we own HE wise which is a lot LOL. When it was just Hettie at home we were 'doing' mainly Waldorf curriculum and it was going great, until we added the little minx Issy into the mix and then it didn't work at all. Hettie didn't like losing our time alone together, Issy wasn't wanting to do much at all and we've kinda drifted since September, although Hettie has been doing well with any work I've given her.

We've got a couple of practical problems which are their tables and chairs are really too small for them now and we haven't got enough shelf space. A traditional style desk hasn't really got enough workspace - they need lots of room, dh wants a dining room table that's not folded up behind the sofa & has to be dragged out every night, and they can't work together at the same table without one distracting the other. As for shelf space, well just not enough, I've cleared and cleared books out but I'm buying at a faster rate than selling! So that needs some thought although I've got my eye on some tables and chairs!

So back to what we have curriculum wise. Its got a bit can't see the wood for the trees round here. I bought Sonlight Core 1 thinking they could both work together, which they did but Issy kept drifting and ambling off, didn't like the read alouds and Hettie couldn't concentrate. I was reading bits of books all over the place, Hettie didn't like the Bible reading which matched in with Language Arts and Issy loved the Bible. Added to the mix was trying to read the book for our HE book club. Hettie can't read well enough yet to do the reading on her own, Issy can read but flits from one book to another and its never the one she's meant to be reading. So after 8 weeks I gave it up as a bad job, and thought we can still use all the lovely books and readers.

However after some 'Sonlight' discussion with HE friends, some of whom have used Sonlight for a long time, I came to think my error had been firstly in expecting them to work together when they are 2 years apart, and Hettie has been out of school for 2 years and Issy a couple of months and secondly in not realising that although intellectually Issy is way ahead of her age in terms of actual ability of grammar, writing, etc etc she is about average with her peers, and emotionally she is average with her peers, and she has a learning difficulty which means her concentration levels are poor - well actually about on par with a gnat tbh.

So I purchased a lot of Montessori equipment and its worked well. Issy loves getting down something to 'play' with whilst actually teaching herself maths, and I have about 10-20 minutes input before she gets on with it. We started some of the Zoology Montessori curriculum and again we actually started to get somewhere. So, back to Sonlight discussion after which I began to think I had perhaps aimed a little high and been to slavish to the plan. Issy likes a timetable and knowing what shes doing everyday - she needs the structure, so finally after much waffling here's her plan:

Sonlight Core K for history/geography/language arts & readers

Montessori Language Arts as it fits in with Sonlight K

Montessori Maths and Zoology (science)

Living Maths books to reinforce maths work

Any time left over for arts/crafts/lapbooks

Not sure if that sounds a bit much, but we can just slow down when necessary. Now to fine tune Hettie's :0)

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Christmas Time ....

I feel like we haven't stopped for weeks, home education has gone out the window and we seem to spend all week rushing from one place to another! Monday art club & meet with a couple of HE friends at mine in the afternoon, Tuesday catch up & Brownies, Wednesday HE club, Thursday catch up, Friday Science Club, weekend housework and anything else we haven't managed to fit in.
So the New Year will be one of order and planned education & activity - well that's the plan :0), maybe I could make it a resolution! I need to get the HE sorted for definate, I thought Hettie's was pretty much sorted, but have been browsing again at the Waldorf that works so well for her - and me! Decisions, decisions!! Mind you who wants to do anything when you can just watch tv with your piggie all afternoon! No neither moved for about 2 hours :0)

Brownie Nativity play tonight which dh managed to get to, they were about 18 Brownies down sick but the choir, including Issy sang brilliantly, well loud enough to hear anyway and Hettie was Joseph (a non reading and speaking part) She looked pretty bored I have to say!

Dh is off trying to assist Santa with the last of the pressies, as usual what's on our list is sold out! Oh and me I'm off for some of that organising, so here's a little snippet of some of our deccies which have been a total disaster this year, so I'm not blogging the 'grown up' front room tree cos it looks dreadful and I can't seem to salvage it!

This tree was my mum and dad's - its 48 years old, not one branch lost!

Decorated dog!

Favorite Christmas Toys

Door wreath, made by Hettie, which the dog growls at!

Home Made Angel!

Home Made Star!

Got better at stars!

Picture is the right way up, robin RIP!

Children's finished tree!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

At Last...

... we managed to get the Christmas deccies up this weekend, well bar a couple of swaggy things to put up tomorrow. I worked this morning and so its all been a bit hectic, but at least its looking festive and jolly. Just the shopping to finish now. I'll post some pics tomorrow of the tree and such.

Hettie made a lovely wreath which dh hung on the front door. It covers the glass panel and the dog has spent the evening growling at the door 'cos he thinks someone is standing there!

I need to really get a plan sorted for next years home ed, so I'm organised. I need to sort out what I've got - which is quite a bit - what we're using and when, at least for the first half termy bit. Hettie is fairly organised and working well, so I just need to double check what we're doing and Issy I'm going to have to get thinking about, she really has taken to the Montessori things I've bought and loves getting them out to 'play'. So off to read up!

Friday, 12 December 2008

Oh Yuk....

.... Issy went to bed feeling unwell, and then I heard sprinting towards the loo! I sprinted as well but unfortunately didn't see the pile of vomit on the floor and stepped in it with a bare foot!

Oh well, that's kids for you! Although she was up nearly all night throwing up, she made it to the loo the rest of the night, approx every half hour. Still unwell today but no more sick, thank goodness. Thought best not spread the bugs round science club so fortunately my SIL picked Het up and my friend is dropping her off.

So not much HE today either but I have managed some housework! I'm off out tonight with old work collegues so best go and decide what I'm wearing as I only have 3 1/4 hours left til I've got to be there!! Leaving the sicky child with DH - may have to forget my phone :0)

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Still musing...

.... we bought the girls a digital camera each in the summer. They've used them to make an endless variety of short video clips, mainly funny - but only to themselves! So we had an Autumn walk to a local ruined castle for a photography lesson, and here's what they came up with.

Hettie first:

Issy next:

Although it looked sunny and warm, its actually very windy up at the castle sometimes. We need to go back now and have a Winter photography walk, but I'll try to catch a frosty day. Issy isn't usually up before the frost has gone though!!

I've decided tomorrow we can clean through and rake out the deccies and take down our Autumn wall display and make a Winter one instead. Lots of craft and Christmas activities for now, after all excitement levels are rising :0)

Monday, 8 December 2008

Musings of 2008.....

.... well HE has been pretty much at a stand still last week and I've got a lot to do this week, work and buying the trees etc. Excitement is at a premium here already, which reminds me why I don't put any deccies up early. But we are going to start some Christmas work tomorrow and continue for the next couple of weeks.

So to musings. I was thinking about what was really good this year and my 40th birthday weekend to Bath had to come very near the top. Not at the top 'cos the girls weren't there, but we had a fabulous weekend away, the sun shone and we walked miles, and I immersed myself in Jane Austin! So here's a few pics of my weekend....

At the Roman Baths, which were brilliant!

I so, so wanted to just dip a toe, but security people everywhere!

English tea at the Assembly Rooms is a must - the scones were great.

You have to stand here to believe it, honestly its just fantastic!

Here's Mr Darcy at the Upper Assembly Rooms, worn out from my enthusiastic wanderings!

We walked here, 'cos I thought it was a great idea, a romantic Austin stroll, tbh I could hardly breath by the time we got to the view, let alone enjoy it.

And obviously you have to surreptitiously stand outside Jane Austin's house for a piccie - I also have pics of about 4 other houses she stayed in, but hey that may get a bit boring :0)

Sunday, 7 December 2008

It can't be nearly Christmas!!

I did some Sunday morning blog reading to find it seems nearly everyone has their deccies up and preparations in full swing. As usual I seem to start off ahead and then all of a sudden I'm behind!!! Oh well dh and Hettie went off to a fencing competition for the day and so I blitzed the house while Issy made Christmas cards. And as I'd been at work nearly all off this week it really was a tip everywhere. Now I just need to sort some shelf space for all the books I've just got through from amazon.

Not sure how the girls will get on with me adding a bit of Living Maths with the new books, but I'm really enjoying reading them first!

Hopefully this week we can start sorting out the Christmas stuff. And of course I must order the turkey this week, otherwise we'll end up with fishfingers!

Hettie came 3rd in one round and 4th in another and then 12th overall in the girls fencing competition. Dh video'd her matches and we had good fun watching them back, especially listening to her coach cheering her on from the sidelines!

Time to start slackening off on the HE and replace with Christmas activities.

Friday, 5 December 2008

A Funny Thing Happened Today....

.... life with Issy is never dull, however frustrating it sometimes is :0) I've been really busy with work all week but managed to get along to one of our HE groups for science club today. A new little boy came along. He also has Aspergers and finds it very difficult in a group. It was the first time he had been to science and he really wanted to join in and did really well. He unfortunately has sprained his ankle and is on crutches. Now Issy desperately wants some crutches for some reason and has for a long time and here was someone with their very own pair!!

Afterwards we were standing outside and I ended up with some of the kids waiting for mums to get organised and the conversation between two 7 years old with AS went like this:

Issy 'Are you ill?'
S 'Yes very ill, I've hurt my ankle' (swinging the crutches around his head & shooting people with them)
Issy 'Do you like being ill?'
S 'Yes I really do'
Issy 'I like being ill as well, and I'm often seriously ill'
S 'I'm am the illest though because I've got crutches'
Issy ' Mmm I've always wanted crutches'
S 'You can have a go if you like'

Much hopping up and down the path went on while Hettie and I howled with laughter.

They strolled off down to the cars, chatting away and smiling and laughing while myself, S's mum and Hettie trailed behind. It took about 20 mins of standing in the cold to persuade them it really was time to go home. Hettie requested ear plugs! Issy was completed amazed that she had found someone who viewed the world in exactly the same way she does and obviously has gone on, and on, and on about it. Oh and then she went on some more about it.

Hettie remarked 'Its probably because you both come from Mars and the rest of us are from earth', followed by 'Perhaps we could put him in a cage next to the guinea pigs!'

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Ooh New Stuff...

I know its nearly Christmas but some things you just can't turn down, so when a friend decided to sell her unused Montessori Geometry Cabinet, how could I turn it down!! Anyway it arrived today, while we were out of course, but was unpackaged by this afternoon. So now I need to print and laminate all the bits to go with it tonight. Oh and learn about the shapes, as my geometry knowledge is about on par with my geography!

Hettie had a good go though and measured and compared angles, which is something we've done very little on. Don't ask me why she's wearing her coat indoors, we have got heating now!

Issy drew round shapes and named them all.

I've been having a look at Living Math for Issy to run alongside the Montessori math curriculum and it looks pretty good. I've got a couple of the books, although not nearly all of them, but think I can use some of it.

Off to laminate and find somewhere to put the cabinet which may mean clearing another bookshelf !

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Counting, History and Christmas!

We were up and about early today and so got on with some work! Hettie made a good start on her new history project on Ancient Mesopotamia. We started using some notebooking pages and she produced some lovely work. She started making a Sumerian coracle out of clay, and after a bit of maths work got on with making her Christmas Tree decoration. I've bought a lovely book - The Christmas Craft Book from Myriad.

OK, so we may need to change it from a tree bauble to a ceiling decoration, but at least she made most of it with no help! I may need to check dimensions on the next project.
And Issy faffed about all morning and played on the laptop, but we did manage to get some maths done:

Christmas countdown begins soon, so I must sort out some shopping over the next week and get organised, and I'm hoping to make an advent hanging decoration at the weekend. And I've just put my cuppa on the side and missed completely so off to wipe up tea!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Change of Template and Wool Dyeing...

I've been having a bit of trouble with blogger this weekend, but all sorted now, thanks go to CJ for her help late last night!! Anyway I changed the template again in an attempt to get it all going again. I've started a new blog to show our planning for anyone who's interested. Its not perfect and it doesn't list everything but its just, well, what we're doing - at the moment anyway!! Its here at Boyceview Planning.

Amidst a fair bit of time spent on the computer today - I haven't indulged for ages - and cleaning the house from top to bottom I maaged to find time to supervise Hettie dyeing some wool from a kit she got last Christmas - OK it's probably about time we got round to it!!

White wool - soaked

Dyes mixed

Poured over the wool, then wrapped in cling film and microwaved.

Rinsed and hung up to dry 'til tomorrow

Actually Hettie did most of this herself with minimal help, except from getting it out of the microwave. It worked pretty well and hopefully she can roll into a ball tomorrow and knit into a scarf.

And Issy, well she watched Kung Fu Panda and practised with the piggies - don't ask!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Brownies and Visual Timetables....

... Brownies is great isn't it? The girls have been gone nearly all day and had a lovely time, coming home with pressies from Santa (apparently not the real one 'cos you could see the strings holding on the beard), made cakes and generally had fun. Dh got called to work and has had to go miles away so we won't see him again til midnight. That left me and the piggies and the dog, bliss, I mean it was really quiet round here.

The cakes were pretty yuk, very, very sweet!

I cleaned all through downstairs and no-one made a mess behind me, sorted out the girls schoolwork boxes & a heap of school stuff I had hanging around, whilst watching Columbo. I know its old but I love it!

There's been a discussion on the Structured Home Ed Group about a variety of things but visual timetables cam up, so here's the pics of Hettie's. Issy's are a bit different and more focused on listening, sitting still, as well as subjects.

Basically its a Tesco display folder to start. Then I laminated 7 A4 day tables, I think from Do 2 Learn get organised section. Then I used sticky velcro and added 2 strips on each table.

Then I printed a whole heap of little cards and laminated them, and backed them with sticky velcro, got cheap from the local market. The cards are available from Do 2 Learn and Meyer-Johnson Boardmaker, they have a free trial. You can make them for older children/teens to fit in a filofax type folder. I pull out the box of velcro pics and set out what that day's work is, or sometimes Hettie sets out her own.

Then they have a coloured A4 laminated sheet with 12 pics on (see above) and a strip (see below) which they can use for any communication needs. It works quite well with Hettie, because she uses this as a memory prompt, and it usually has hungry and thirsty on it most of the morning. Issy has more emotions on her board, and a 'I need time out' card.

I also make A5 cards, just printed - no velcro -for when we go out on trips for Issy, eg first we're getting a train, then we're getting a bus, then we'll get to the museum and so on until home again. Its all in pics with simple words and she says it makes her feel much better about going out because she knows exactly what is going to happen. Only problem is she wants to stick to her plan rigidly, so if it says we're getting the tube - then we are getting the tube!

Friday, 21 November 2008

Its been a Busy Day...

I rushed around all morning at work and then rushed off to take the girls to their science course. It's called Mad Science and the guy who does it is called Professor Kaos. The kids love it, as its all hands on - no reading and writing! Also lots of experiments. It was quite amusing to hear lots of the kids saying 'cool we can do this at home' and poor Prof Kaos explaining it could be dangerous and so they couldn't. We (parents) explained after that as we all HE we probably would repeat a lot of it at home and he was pleasantly surprised, because when he'd encouraged school children to experiment at home their parents had complained!

Hettie & her cousin

Issy, not looking too impressed!
(They got to keep the rainbow glasses, great after a glass or two!)
I had arranged both the girls separate work stuff into a plastic box with lid, but as I can't lift them off the floor I think there's a tad too much in each. Fortunately both girls are off to Brownies for the day tomorrow and dh is at work, so I could sit on my behind all day reading or I could sort the school stuff and do some housework. Lets face it, it'll be ten times quicker doing housework if I'm in on my own!! So I should have time to sort the school stuff in peace, well except for the squeaky guineas!
Edited to add: This template is driving me mad - none of the gaps will save, maybe I'll do that tomorrow instead of housework!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Piggie Pics & Sonlight!

Today we have been to our home ed meeting at the library, which had a great turnout today. We went off into town to check the Works for any cheapy books and got a few bits. There was a huge truancy sweep which coincided with our HE meeting day, but they were nice enough to those HE'rs they stopped, although the girls and I zig zagged up the high street and deftly avoided them:0) This afternoon I went off to work for a few hours and the girls went to nan & grandads. Piggies are thriving and re-named.

This is Ginny Weasley

And this is no longer Ruby, or Mrs Squeak (her 2nd name) but is now Hermione Granger!

As for Sonlight, after a comment left here I feel I should explain a bit further. The things I love about SL is it comes in one big box and the book titles are great, both fiction and non-fiction. The whole curriculum is well laid out, easy to organise and above all you can just pick it up off the shelf and carry on from where you left off. The language arts programmes was good and the girls got on well with it, and we love the timeline book and geography mapwork. Issy loves the bible reading and I wouldn't send anything back.

My problem with it is a) it is an awful lot of reading, and then more reading. We didn't find we had much actual 'doing'. b) When we added more 'doing' ie a lapbook or project we got behind with the reading. c) I didn't like the science curriculum.

Having said that I think Issy will come back to it, as I think she will be able to work through it better next year and as she begins to work more independently. So I would recommend it with reservations that you need to be quite dedicated to keep up with it all and it is mainly an American curriculum not a British one.

I hasten to add this is only my humble opinion and I know many UK HE'rs who love using SL!!!