Sunday, 8 March 2009

The Sun...

.... doth shine upon this little corner of our green and pleasant land. Looking like a good day to get tidying the garden, although bedrooms are first on the agenda and we decided on a trip to Hobbycraft as the girls have birthday money burning a hole in their pockets.

I haven't blogged for a while 'cos we have been getting stuck into clearing the loft. For once we're going great guns and stuff is shifting. Its taking some time to get rid of it although L at the Art Factory took a lot for eco art which is her thing!
Hettie went to her first art award session there and apart from having a slight return to old nervous habits - which I haven't seen for a long time now - mainly rolling her tongue around and twisting her sleeves, she got pretty geared up for it. Strange isn't it suddenly your child matures without you really noticing. She's very much aware she's doing this a year early, but keen to prove she can do it. She has to choose an art hero or heroine to research and she's picked her nanny - aah. You're right up there nanny beating Leonardo da Vinci, who came a close second.
Issy will be doing a similar project, and while Hettie chose pastels and watercolours, she has chosen textiles and fashion.
In the course of loft clearance I found my tapestry frame, and after an hour trying to remember how it went together I finally managed it. Now to find something to get my needle busy creating.
They also went to a second maths session, which was a little more chaotic than the first. The main problem was basic maths skill were not good, although you have to remember most of these kids are dyslexic. This has in turn sent me on a maths drive here. They had to design a garden and work out areas and costings. Hettie did really well and persevered even though she has never done this type of maths before and Issy after a slight meltdown in the middle of class, also gathered herself and got it finished. They must have enjoyed it because we repeated in on Saturday. Maths on a weekend, never been heard of here before!
So I was busy last night printing off worksheets for Issy - she loves them - and writing out lists of sums from Hettie's GP maths book, so she's ready to go.
They went into the garden and cut some grass for the guineas - I was hoping they would trim the lot but it takes a while with scissors I suppose!

The guineas turned their little noses up at grass and more or less demanded spinach and curly kale, which are their favorites. They ate it eventually once they realised they weren't getting anything else.
So back to the garden, I really must get it sorted this year and get growing. Mrs D as usual has reminded me of her fantastic canning skills. Not sure I'll ever 'can' but sure I can grow enough to eat and freeze. Plus I can't afford to keep buying veg for 5 hungry guineas.
Well off to do something or the day will drift by and I'll miss the sun, it might be gone tomorrow!

Saturday, 28 February 2009

We started....

..... clearing the loft today. It was postponed slightly as dh had managed to delete the drivers on his computer 'cos he 'didn't think we used those'. Still once I sorted that out we got stuck in.
Deciding it would be best to work down one side at a time, we dragged it down, and got filthy in the process. I think we had about 6 boxes of videos, and no longer own a video player. Also boxes of books. But I found some old letters and photos, a couple of diaries from when I was about 10, which the girls fell about laughing when I read them aloud. I found some autograph books - remember those - which my nan and grandad had signed! One letter was from my nan and was a lovely find. I'd forgotton how funny she was. She wrote 'Thank you for the book, I really enjoyed it and finished in a couple of days. Mind you, some of it was a bit saucy' Obviously I had sent my nan a risque book to read!
I found this lightshade which I rescued from a clearance some years ago:

Unfortunately although it was perfect when I acquired it, Hettie kicked a ball at it and broke a panel, and its been in the loft ever since.

I will get it repaired, because for one I love it and for two it will go nicely in the house.
And the girls have generally dossed about, got in the way, sneakily saved things from the 'dump' pile and cuddled the pigs!

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Pastels Today!

I had to work this morning which is always pretty boring for the kids, but they were very good and so got MacDonalds for lunch as a treat. This afternoon they played with the baby guinea pigs for a while and then it was back to art!

Hettie had taken a liking to a picture of The Scream she had seem in an art book we got from the library and decided to make a copy in pastels.

She loves using pastels and its one of her favorite ways to produce art work. Issy seeing the pastels out thought she'd have a play about with them and came up with this:

Which I kinda like! Looks like something I'd paper my wall with!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Birthdays and Art....

It was Issy's 8th birthday - at last! She was much calmer than last year and we only had a couple of outbursts of tears the night before. She more or less knew all her pressies, but still had a lovely time. My mum was in hospital so we went round on Monday and had cake etc and as it was pancake day on her actual birthday I did my best to cook and toss them! Ok so the dog got to eat two that ended up on the kitchen floor. Well actually one landed on the bin, but he still managed to scoff it.

iPod Nano complete with Dolly Parton greatest hits!

Monsoon top (which as matching bag at considerable expense) - her favorite shop!

Now, this is dh, in bed in his work clothes, family tradition we sit in our bed while they open birthday presents and he was already dressed for work so had to get back in, having just learned he has games on his iPod which he has had for a year now. Hettie informed him!

Today we went to our HE meet. Group is going great and we have lots of regular turn out which is nice for parents and kids. We usually go to nanny's for lunch but she has just come home from hospital after having a kidney op, so we gave it a miss. After lunch we got down to some art and craft work.

Issy made geometric shapes from paint stamp sponges.

Working on a rabbit mask.

Hettie had some good news this week, thanks to Lyn at the Art Factory - she can start the Art Award, broze level, a year early. This means although she may not be able to register until she's 11, she can do the work, and then register and have it assessed when she turns 11. Great because she is very keen to do it, and some of her HE friends will be starting Monday so she'll join with them. This meant she immediately started looking at art, so we looked at cubism type work and she produced this:

Today she started on a bigger piece, looking at how she can use different textures and materials to produce a similar effect. I'll blog the finished pic - well when she's finished it! Note the straightened hair Nanny Norfolk!

That's about all folks!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Thriller and Dolly Parton.....

... strange combination, but that's what happened here tonight. We watched Let's Dance For Comic Relief where some well known and lesser known stars dance famous dances, a type of dancing X Factor for charity over 4 weeks. If you missed it, available on BBC IPlayer.

Dh and I quickly realised the girls didn't know the famous dance routines, having not seen the films they were from, with the exception of High School Musical. The Flashdance routine performed by Robert Webb of Mitchell and Webb fame was the funniest thing I've seen for ages, and boy has he got legs I'd kill for! He somehow seemed to look strangely attractive in a leotard and leg warmers. Anyway I digress, and so after the show I scanned You Tube for the original dance scene clips.

Its been some years since I've seen the M Jackson Thriller video and so I popped it on. Unfortunately it scared the living daylights out of Issy -surprisingly Hettie laughed all the way through it and she has nightmares if she watches Scooby Doo. They howled with laughter at the Blues Brothers though, and at John Travolta strutting his disco dancing in Saturday Night Fever. Thought it was even funnier when I said all the girls loved John Travolta. There was a sudden outburst of the strut and dance routines in the lounge.

So we stayed on You Tube because Issy asked me if they have Dolly Parton on there. I wondered where she had heard of Dolly Parton and discovered unbeknownst to me she's a closet DP fan. Nothing wrong with that, I like her myself! Turns out DP is Hannah Montana's aunt in the tv show. So we got over my scaring the life out of her by watching half an hour of DP on You Tube, whilst Issy told me how glamorous she is, what lovely hair she has and how slim she is. Hettie pointed out she has big - well lets call them Dolly's - as well!! We checked out a few Billy Ray Cyrus videos as well, and I learnt more about Hannah Montana. Seems to be Issy's specialist subject, maybe she can do a lapbook ;) We also checked you can buy a DP album from itunes, just in case she gets an ipod for her birthday next week.

So click here if you want to see a much younger DP singing Jolene, which is my favorite! I was 8 years old as well when this was on, and I thought she was pretty glam too - sadly, I never grew such a nice pair of Dolly's though ;o)

I've been tagged!

OK, so I got tagged - more thanonce, thank-you blog friends! You take the 6th picture from your 6th folder and post it. Here's me in Bath!

And I'm tagging, anyone who wants to have a go as almost everyone I know has been tagged already ;o)

Friday, 20 February 2009

Thank Heaven for Mrs Beeton...

... now she may have been born in 1836, but boy she's handy when you're having a cookery crisis. The girls both begged - sorry asked politely - for those cake mixture boxes when we were in the supermarket. I gave in and Hettie bought Butterfly cakes and Issy bought some Barbie mix. Both from a well known cake mix company.

So today we started. Hettie made hers and the mixture just didn't look right to me. She licked the bowl out and said it tasted funny. We removed them from the oven, and they were rubbish, and so ended up in the bin. Issy started hers and the mixture looked like slop tbh. And yes I did follow the instructions carefully!! I didn't even bother baking them.

We'll go back to the proper old fashioned way of baking fairy cakes I said, reaching for Mrs Beeton. In fact we really did go back because I had no self raising flour, so it had to be plain and add baking powder. Well Mrs Beeton won the day and we finally produced 12 cakes which looked like they were edible. Actually being on a diet the ones I threw in a bin looked quite edible to me!
After finally producing something worth decorating we made Issy's pink butter icing from the pack. It was Yuk, no-one liked it, so after my arm nearly falling off beating it, the whole lot went in the bin. By now I was getting a tad grumpy. So I made normal butter icing for Hettie and pink icing for Issy!

Girls spent a happy hour decorating their cakes. Unfortunately I can't find my camera, so no pics but the girls and dh said they tasted good. No I didn't eat one, I'm on a diet.

Other than taking 3 hours to produce 12 small cakes, I washed and ironed all day.

Our loft conversion starts in 3 weeks and so I really need to get sorting all the stuff that is stored up there. Strangely enough one of the builders employees is the grandparent of HE children and so hopefully there will be minimal disruption. Ok who am I trying to kid? They've already told Hettie she can go and learn carpentry!!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009


... those little blighters have struck again. So far in scoring tables Issy in lead with 33 - yes 33 and some of those whoppers - Hettie 2 and Dh 0. Me - I'm waiting for the hot water!

Spent a nice day at my friends and we let the kids ride their bikes over to the common alone, 2 minutes away. This involved crossing one road. 'What on our own!' they cried, 'Yes on your own, clear off and play' we replied. We followed that up with, 'Check back in half an hour, stay together, don't talk to strangers' and much watching out for their return and so on. They had a great time judging by the rosy cheeks and thick mud.

My friend and I spent some happy time discussing the correct use of apostrophies and commas!!

Stuck to my diet - Day 3 and could kill for a bit of chocolate!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Birthdays, Diets & Waffle....

The girls had a party at Build A Bear on Sunday with 6 friends. It was really nice and they all had a good time. We weren't going to have a party this year, but my arm was twisted! So they had 3 friends each and I got the big bear!!

Although they insisted dh was in attendance he sloped off to amble round the shops. I forgot my camera, but fortunately my friend had hers in her bag!

Yesterday we had friends round for lunch and the kids all played out and got some fresh air. Issy having a bit of a meltdown week, think the big bear may have set her off and all the excitement of the party, and she spent an hour this evening cleaning the bathroom and lining everything up in straight lines. She said could everyone stop leaving the toothpaste oozing on the side of the sink, cos it makes a mess. Pretty rich really coming from the one who leaves the toothpaste on the side :O Anway the bathroom's sparkling LOL

Managed to get out in the tank - sorry car - I've borrowed and get to the supermarket, which was necessary because a) I didn't go at the weekend and b) I started a diet.

So bringing me nicely onto dieting. Since my wedding 6 years ago I've gone up 4 dress sizes and put on 2 stone and 4 lbs. Now I don't expect to be 40 years old and be that slim again - I was breastfeeding 2 babies and burning up 600 calories a day in milk production -but lets face it, its not good is it? I used to just basically 'cut out the crap' and loose weight, but now that no longer seems to be working - mmm maybe a little middle age spread then, harder to budge. So I dived onto the book shelf and found Rosemary Conley's original hip and thigh diet, and decided I'd better stick to it pretty drastically!

I like this diet because you can have no fats or oils ever - easier than being allowed 4 grms of butter on your toast. Lets face it you never weigh the 4 grms so proably end up having 20! Also you can have 1 small glass of wine a night - yipee! Its pretty straight forward 1 breakfast, 1 lunch and 1 dinner. OK now I've blogged it I'll have to stick to it!

We're out again tomorrow to friends - girl's twigged its half term and don't want to do any work - so I should be hoovering and mopping now, but its nearly time for my small glass of wine and I want to savour it!

Thursday, 12 February 2009


The weather report said 'sleet' this evening. Well it looks suspiciously like more snow to me:

It looks very, very pretty and girls are extremely excited at the chance they may be sledging again tomorrow. It is very unusual for this part of UK to get so much snow this time of year, so off to check the only pair of warm trousers the girls have each are clean and dry for tomorrow.

Good work by the girls today. Hettie worked hard with maths, history and science. I had to rake about deep in the recesses for teaching photosynthesis!! Issy completed all her Sonlight. She read the history/geography out loud beautifully and worked hard with her handwriting today. Hettie went to a party so Issy got a whole hour piano tuition all to herself.
Ah well back to slipping and sliding tomorrow!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

The Bard is hanging out at our house!

I haven't blogged for a while, been a bit busy ;)

Girls have been to their Shakespeare workshop, seen Romeo & Juliet and The Tempest at the theatre - Shakespeare 4 Kidz theatre company - and old Will is the latest hot thing in reading round here. We stated reading children's versions by Andrew Matthews and Tony Ross and they give a good outline of the actual stories. Hettie wanted something a bit more so I bought No Fear Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet This is the full play plus modern translation on the opposite page and we started today, and Hettie wants to attempt the whole play. She's got a good grasp of the language and even if we get through some of it I'll be pleased. I also bought Macbeth from Comic Book Shakespeare which is abridged but good for getting the story and the original language comic book style. She really wants to read Macbeth - thinks its the witches!

Hettie followed up by making a character poster for R & J, and is making a collage of the balcony scene. Not usually her type of thing but I think the artist in her over ruled the 'yucky' love bit.

Good day for Hettie HE wise today. She produced some good history work and we managed to finish the chapter on cells for biology. Issy didn't do a great deal today but we did complete all her allocated Sonlight work, and we remain on schedule!

Returning to the saga of my eternity ring, the car died on the way to dropping off the girls. I just about gave up hope of ever getting the ring. My BIL rescued us and fortunately had a spare car to lend us. So we managed to get my ring, which is lovely. I'm not overkeen on driving the borrowed 4 x4 or 'tank' as I call it. Much bigger than I'm used to driving, but I've stuck with it. That was until that died on me yesterday as well. My mum had to rescue me. So not much luck in the car department this week!

Oh well its only a car. Sure I am able to get a bus if necessary, but we got lots of HE done today 'cos we couldn't go out anywhere ;)

Friday, 6 February 2009

Birthdays All Round...

.... Hettie was 10 today and my mum was 70 today, so double celebrations!

We went to see Shakespeare 4 Kids production of Romeo and Juliet last night with our HE club and back to see The Tempest today. Highly recommended, we loved them both. So what with that and fitting in birthday shopping and the snow at the beginning of the week we haven't had 5 mins to do anything else.
Hettie is over the moon with her ipod nano, although I'm frantically trying to sort out how to upload stuff onto it! I have managed to put some audiobooks on, so tomorrow I'll try to sort a bit more if I can. Girls are off to stay with their old nanny, as in a childcare nanny - not a grandma, tomorrow am until Sunday am, so dh has promised to take me out to buy me an eternity ring. He's been promising for about 3 years now so so long as it doesn't snow I should finally get one. If it does snow I probably will just trudge through it and break in the shop if necessary LOL
Got lots of pics of my nephew travelling in Thailand, Australia and New Zealand today. My sister cried as mums do and then got cross as we pointed out he seemed to be with a different girl in every picture - there were about 25!! The girls pointed out he was laughing in every picture - well he would be wouldn't he! Male members of the family muttered 'lucky so and so' under their breaths and wandered off. We women closely scanned the pics to decide who we thought looked worthy of him. Also some great pics of him bungy jumping, so I'm glad he is having a fabulous time.
I'm off for an early night, ready for shopping tomorrow!!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow...

... and it did today! Good thing about a garden with a steep slope is when it does snow for one day you can at least get some sledges out!

Dh took the girls off to the woods - with a mass of other kids and dads - to do more sledging, steeper slopes! We took the dog out with us this afternoon, but he was just a yob! He pulled the girls physically off the sledges by yanking at their coat sleeves with his teeth, and kept knocking us all flying. He was sent in for bad behaviour!!

Not good news for adults, but all the kids in the South East of England have a had a ball. We only had 3 or 4 inches of snow, but the girls have never seen that much before. So tomorrow comes the black ice and slippy stuff, which the country is equally unequipped for ;o)

We got some video, nanny and grandad as well. I'l get a copy in the post!

Saturday, 31 January 2009

An awful lot of biology....

..... this week in our house. In addition to the guinea pigs, who apparently are not calling to their babies, as my maternal instincts decreed, but are in season and calling to any boy available, we had our Labrador neutered.

Now I had explained to the girls that he had to go to the vets for a little operation because he was barking a lot and was trying to find a girlfriend lady dog, which was also making him wander off when daddy walked him.

Unfortunately he returned with a great big plaster stuck on the affected bits. Hettie roared with laughter and said 'I didn't know they were going to cut those bits off' and Issy asked if he could still 'poo'. Oh, and 'Why did you do that?' looking shocked.

The dog, looking distinctly fed up at the intimate examination, returned to his basket. I added further explanation that those were the bits that made him want to find a lady dog to be his girlfriend. 'Is he a girl now?' asked Hettie. 'No he's still a boy' I replied. A long silence ensued, before all eyes turned to daddy, and then there was an outbreak of hysterical laughing.

While myself and the girls fell about laughing dh joined the dog!

So after guinea's breeding and dogs neutered, it was time to return to school today. Hettie worked hard and Issy finished Week 3 of Sonlight with no complaint, so that was good. I spent a lot of time talking to many people about maths club, art club and science for the HE group and didn't seem to get anywhere tbh. Still sure it will all get sorted in the end.

I ordered some larger protractors and set squares from a company having a clearance sale, not realising quite how big they were. The long side of the triangle being about 2 foot long!! Dh asked if we were planing to do the loft conversion ourselves :o) OK so they're a little bigger than I thought. I'll blog some pics!

Weekend plan: Housework as usual!

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Faith, Snails and Guinea Pigs!

An unlikely combination in some ways, but they've all been discussed this week in our house.

I don't really discuss religion as a rule - or blog about it - I always feel it's a thing personal to myself. I was bought up within the Church Of England as a child and my faith is my own. I don't call my dh an atheist as I don't care much for the word, so I usually say, on the rare occasion someone asks, that he has no religion. A general discussion between us some years ago led to us to agree we would bring the children up and allow them to decide which religion, if any, they wished to follow. Not all of you may agree with that, however that is the mutual decision we came to.
Now, both children have been given the same answers to questions, information and so on, but Hettie, it has become apparent, believes passionately in evolution, and Issy believes just as passionately in the Creation. So we have somewhat of a split in belief around here. Further discussion between dh and myself. Decision remained the same really, but we've had a long chat with the girls about understanding and tolerating the beliefs of others. So Hettie has continued her study of Charles Darwin and Issy & I - well we snuggled in bed and read the Bible. We re-read about the creation and her comments were 'that's much better' and 'I think God probably should have had 3 weeks rest, he was probably really tired, the earths pretty big' Oh and obviously 'Did God create Guinea Pigs?'
And so onto snails, more precisely our Giant Land Snails. Created or evolved, they sure are rapidly increasing in size:

A little bit of science - Hettie built a model of DNA and amazed me by pretty much remembering the parts of a cell.

And Issy made a sheep that grows crystal wool, its not working that well so far!!

And lastly we come to the guinea pigs. We let them out in the indoor run and I'm not sure whether it was the sudden freedom and space but it became quickly apparent that at least one baby was a boy - if you see what I mean ;o) Dh woke me with a cuppa at 6.30am and the phrase 'Your guinea pigs are at it' OK time for action! All babies are boys and so they have been separated from their mummies. This in turn led to mummies standing on their houses and squeaking loudly - into the early hours of the morning! This morning dh woke me by saying 'Your guinea pigs sound like they're going to explode' He was right - the mummies were making the strangest noise like a phone ringing, which got louder and louder. They really did sound like they might pop!
All seems quiet this evening at last, children, snails and guinea pigs. Peace at last.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

I'm Becoming Obsessed....

.... with 3 ring binders or folders as we call them in the UK. You see I order a fair amount of the girls curriculum from the US - you may have noticed :o) Sonlight is great because it comes with a binder for the instructors guide and I think I got a binder for science or was it language arts?? Anyway I digress, what I hadn't realised was that the US have 3 and 5 ring binders and we have 2 or 4 ring folders.

I tried re-punching the sheets and basically it made a mess and it was easy to tear. I'm a bit fussy about things like that. Hettie's Real Science 4 Kids workbooks have 3 holes punched. The problem is if you want to add any work, you need a 3 ring hole punch. OK so after chatting with some other HE mum's we decided you could make a template and use a single hole punch - I have one already, never used before - for punching additional work.

This still leaves the binder problem. Dh said just order them from Sonlight if you really need them, I think I only want about 4, but they only do blue and we like different coloured binders for subjects. Now that sounds really finicky but it helps the girls quickly find their work. Besides blue is for boys - only joking ;)

Tonight I had another brainwave! PING - Amazon. Oh goodness there's a vast array on there, with sizes in inches and all sorts. Are all US 3 ring binders the same size??? Help me out here I just want some 3 ring binders!! OK I do like the ones with the clear pocket on the front, but we can live without those.

I must have something better to be doing - aah yes a chilled glass of wine!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Now I'm Mad...

... there's yet another 'consultation' [and I use the term loosely] by the government about home education in the UK. The difference this time is it is being heavily insinuated children are more at risk from child abuse and neglect and are more likely to be enforced into marriage. Its insulting to home educators and other minority groups who are being targeted, with no evidence to back up these opinions. Home education groups are asking for the evidence of this, but they have none of course. Having worked with abused children and adults in the past I find it very worrying that apparently if you attend a state school you're less at risk. Who is looking out for those children who attend school and ask their teachers for help only to be ignored? or those children who attend school and are too frightened to ask for help?

Please, please fill in the consultation - we need to make ourselves heard - here Children can give their views - here

Its quite amazing to me that schools are failing to reach standards yet we as home educators are apparently failing our children by removing them from a system that fails them day after day.

Hettie made an observation this week which for me entirely validated every reason I have for home educating. Her friends at Brownies (schooled) asked her what she was doing 'at school' She replied world geography and for history Ancient Mesopotamia:

H: 'Mum they didn't know what I was talking about'
M: 'What did you say?'
H: 'I said it was ancient Iraq - they looked blank'
M: 'What did you say then?'
H: 'I said there's been a war in Iraq, don't they watch the news or read the kids newspaper?'
M: 'What are they doing in school?'
H: ' They didn't really know - must be really boring, they just watch tv all the time'

On a lighter note our baby guineas are growing fast. Here's dh helping out - ha ha ha:

The Alphasmart Neos went down a storm - and they're actually using them:

We went to a Shakespeare workshop day and met some new HEers. Girls had a great day, Hettie swopping email and phone no's with some boys she met and I made friends with some new mums. We've been invited over to their houses so that's great. Issy joined in and had a fab time.

We're planning a loft conversion and the architect came today to measure and give us plans. Fantastic news is the building regulations have changed and we probably won't need planning permission, so it should all go through really fast. Mrs D - have I got some organising to do, best buy dozens of storage boxes!

And finally laugh of the week goes to Issy! My cousin - Little D [6ft 2 and stocky] - a builder came to take some measurements for the conversion. He is loud and chatty and makes the girls laugh anyway. But Issy was completely amazed when he sat at the key board [dirt and mud and all] and knocked out some 'rag time' and a variety of music. She could not stop talking about it, she was so shocked - 'he doesn't look like he can play the piano' was all she could say. I can see my building work is going to be constantly interrupted by piano playing:

Off to write to my MP!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

A Long Day Out!

Meeting up with other home schoolers on the train and at the museum went smoothly thank goodness and we all gathered in London's Natural History museum. Issy was delighted because her new home school friend J - who happens to be [in her own words] 'a real life American' - came along for the day.

We managed to get a good discount and went into the Darwin Exhibition. I have to say it was very impressive. Firstly there was no feeling of this is definitely what happened in the past, more of a this is what Darwin did and what conclusions he came to. The children all went off and did lots of work - well they looked like they were anyway! Very fortunately Issy and her friend J were taken by J's 'mom' and went off to see the dinosaurs and bugs in the museum. I had the buggy - great it had no children attached, just a heap of bags and coats!

We perused the shop and obviously came away with a couple of books each, and then off to the science museum. We went straight to the 'Launchpad' and the kids had great fun playing with everything, we mums' sat and chatted. Great thing is there are lots of people who work there with bright orange T shirts helping out the kids and encouraging them to try things.

Issy and her friend J, who is 5 years old and Issy is 8 - they sure grow them tall in US!

We obviously then went to the shop here as well - more science kits than you've ever seen in one place! We got a couple more bits here and then time to head home through the London rush hour. Not fun with a group of kids but they were all really good. Issy managed well although she was a little stressy with all the crowds.

Kids all thoroughly enjoyed themselves and we mums' had a great laugh with R who is American, while we compared what we thought Americans did and what she thought British did!! We discussed God, evolution, queuing, online dating, jogging, diets, teeth and the weather, amongst other things. Isn't it nice when you make new friends!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

We Were...

... surrounded by teachers at the London Bett Ict Educational exhibition, which made my SIL and I chuckle no end, especially when presented with a badge each with HOME EDUCATOR stamped on the front. They could have just stamped 'leper' on our heads. No offense to anyone suffering with leprosy, but you get my meaning.

Still we had a great day. We purchased a Neo 2 for each of our children, a variety of books and a copy of Word Shark and Number Shark each. Neo's should arrive tomorrow, and the 'sharks' have been a great success here already. Amazing if you tell chidren its a 'treat' rather than 'school work' how much they can do! Have to say these computer programmes are very very addictive - I've been playing with them :o)

We loved Writeonline but refrained from subscribing! Well at least for now - we blew our budget on the Neo's. Managed to stop for a bite to eat and a quick drink on way home though!

Hettie has managed to write about an A4 side for history today about the laws of ancient Mesopotamia - great work! Issy has completed all her Sonlight work and more.

Tomorrow we're off to the Natural History Museum to see the Darwin exhibition and hopefully will have some time to spend at the science museum. Some difficulty here, because I have one child who believes in Evolution and one who believes in the Creation. However the lesson has become one of respecting the beliefs of others and that is no bad thing. So packed lunches are ready, worksheets ready to print out early in morning and lifts etc arranged.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

What actually is....

.... a curriculum?? We structured home educators bandy the word around and after a recent post of Luke's I got to thinking what actually is a curriculum? Is it the whole package meaning the plan and all the resources or is it just the plan alone? I did a bit of web searching and found a guy wrote a book in 1918 called The Curriculum. Maybe we all need to get a copy :o)

The word curriculum has its roots in the Latin for race course. This guy described the race course as the deeds and experiences whereby children learn to be members of an adult society, or some such thing. It seems to back up home education nicely I thought. The deeds and experiences of my own children do not need to follow a state school system to be part of adult society. In fact with their learning difficulties/challenges that definitely doesn't work for us. For some children it works and for others it doesn't.

But not so much info on what a curriculum actually includes. I had always really believed that the curriculum was the plan and schedule, and not the resources needed to carry out the plan. With Sonlight its a bonus because you get the plan/schedule and all the resources in one [or two] boxes, ready to go. Same with some others - Winter Promise, FIAR and so on. Then you come to classical education, like Well Trained Mind and Ambleside Online and there's no actual resources included. Does that make the second any less of a curriculum or does it mean that no-ones cashed in and packaged a curriculum? Not that I believe the first have cashed in by the way, I think they've offered something needed by Home Educators and offer good products.

I can't really decide if the plan/schedule alone classes as a curriculum because you have to get the resources in order to implement them. What I do know is there is a severe lack of curricula which include resources for UK home educators. We constantly turn to the US for both curricula and resources. Maybe there's an opening for someone?

As for me - well I have my 'in a box' Sonlight for Issy, it works and it's easy, saves time and she's learning. For Hettie I've 'made' a curriculum and resourced it from a variety of sources and that works for her. They're both learning.

Not much learning this week actually, as the baby guinea pigs have taken up a lot of time - 5 guineas eat far more than 2, and they're just so sweet! Issy had to have an anaesthetic and have 4 teeth extracted, which was another day gone and its been mad.

So we will try to get some sort of 'curriculum' met tomorrow and Saturday I'm off to an educational exhibition in London with my SIL. Theory being we can look before we buy - Ok maybe just an excuse for a day out with no kids, a nice lunch, and a credit card :o)

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Enter the Babies!!

As you probably guessed they've caused quite a stir and a rush to the supermarket to buy lots of nutritious green veg for the mummies.

Lovely for my girls and Issy came down at midnight to have 'one last look' Babies are venturing out today, so lots of time to watch them. Of course Issy's baby is bouncing and leaping about the cage and started nibbling some veg today. Hettie's are quieter but following mum out. All look healthy and well!!
Issy preparing lunch:

Hermione and Baby 1:

Baby 1 is very nosey and seems to always have her nose poking out the door!

Ginny and Babies 2 & 3:

Baby 3 or 4, we can't tell the difference yet!

Hopefully all will settle down again in a couple of days. Oh well its all science!

Monday, 12 January 2009

We Got A Great Deal....

.... because I paid for two guinea pigs, but today:

This little guinea pig had one baby,

And this little guinea pig had two!

So now we have 5!!!!!! Oh yes, I definately had two girls, no not me, I didn't get conned into buying a boy and a girl, but actually I had two pregnant girls! Dh commented 'only you could get 2 pregnant ones' A big shock when I looked in the cage and found a minature of Hermione. My friend looked on in shock having never seen a baby guinea pig and said she never had that last night! My SIL whipped Ginny out to check 'she' really was a 'she' only to find a fat and squirming tummy. Ginny obliged us by having twins this afternoon.

The pet shop gave me a free cage for compensation and offered to take them off my hands but is that going to happen?? - I think not :0)

Anyway mummies and babies doing well. Baby 1 has been out skipping and hopping around the cage and getting squeaked at by mum. Babies 2 and 3 have not been out, but mum as been stuffing her little piggie face!

I was a little concerned in case I was doing anything wrong and the book I've got just gave detailed instructions on how to resuscitate a baby GP - I think not - so I rang dh's Aunty A who said 'how lovely', leave them to it and they'll manage fine on their own!

So no Maths, English or Sonlight today but - don't tell dh - we had a fantastic zoology lesson!

PS Pics to follow - I didn't want to scare them with the flash,

Thursday, 8 January 2009


..... the TV series of Little House on the Prairie. It's available to collect now with a magazine each week. My sister and I loved it - apparently dh can't stand it, which I can't really understand. Anyway we went out at lunch to buy the first issue - American pioneer history in educational terms - and popped in the bakers with Hettie carrying it and its excessive packaging. Much to the girls amusement the 3 ladies behind the counter and 2 in the queue all started shouting 'oh that was my favorite' and other such phrases.
Hettie having enjoyed the books asked me if the TV series is the same to which I unfortunately had to reply its about 30 years since I watched it! Isobel, with full confidence in her mummy, said 'well it must be brilliant if you still like it'. So it was with some trepidation I sat down to watch it with them. All turned out well, and it was as great as I remembered. The girls sat riveted and we really did have a good discussion about what life must have been like for Laura and Mary.
The morning had gone fairly well and Isobel carried on with her Sonlight Language Arts and then went onto some Montessori maths, using a home made tens and teens board and then did some spelling work.

And she did some addition using the beads. We worked on number bonds to ten and she grasped it pretty well.

Hettie opted out of Galore Park Maths, but happily got on with some division work using the Montessori board.

Isobel played with the cylinders, which she loves. We have a small set rather than full set which I purchased at Absorbent Minds.

It's actually quite tricky to fit the non coloured ones back in their gaps although Hettie is fantastically quick! We did some matching work with them.

We read our Sonlight history and Read Aloud, and Hettie worked on her geography project and notebooking.

So, after lunch it was a well deserved DVD afternoon I think. Hettie's Chemistry book and workbook arrived today. This is most definately not my area, so I'm wondering if I should have bought the teachers book as well. Oh well I'm sure it can't be to difficult - after all its aimed at children :o) OK I've looked - I may need to use the web for back up here!

I'm hoping to get out tomorrow and have a nature walk, even if it's just around the garden!