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!'